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The first tip could very well be not to stand there and invite your friend to punch you in the nose. Isn’t that the silliest thing you’ve ever seen? You get bopped in the nose, your eyes water, your nose bleeds or breaks, and of course there’s pain in your snout. Get hit often enough – as I did early in my black belt career, and your nose gets swollen up on the inside so much you’ll have trouble breathing right. Anyway, for those of us who pride ourselves with better instinct for self preservation, here’re my top five tips on how not to get punched in the nose.

Top Five Tips on How Not to Get Punched in the Nose

#5 Why use only your hands when you can also use forearms for coverage

Most people who have little experience with unarmed fighting bring their hands up only in visual range. If you wear gloves, that’s great … but it doesn’t offer you much cover. Instead move the rest of your arm up a little more so you’ve covering yourself with your forearms. There’s more mass and more stability, and your attacker will find it harder punching through them. Wave them like windshield wipers in front of your face. That helps make things a little more difficult for your attacker to land a strike on your snout.

#4 Don’t just stand there, gap close or pull out

Why would you stand there so someone can punch you in the nose? Take a step backward. Take a step forward. If you can’t reach him, he can’t reach you. The reverse logic is true too … if you can hug and touch him, it’ll be more difficult for him to punch you in the nose. Of course there are other things that can happen. But your nose gets to stay on your face a little while longer.

#3 Crunch those abs and scrunch up

See Junior stand ramrod straight? That presents a nice non-moving target for Luke. So why not crunch those abs and make your body a smaller target. Bob up and down so that your head isn’t still. Breathe out and squeeze your abs. The rise up a little. Then breathe out and drop again. Keep moving like this and flailing your arms, pretty soon your attacker might give up because you’re moving so much they can’t be bothered expending the energy. You also end up looking so comical they might not rearrange your face because you’re distracting them so well. JK.

#2 Drop your chin so your forehead is forward

Drop your chin and tuck it into your neck. This means you’re sticking your forehead forward and tucking your nose back into in place. Got a big snout? Pull your chin back more. Let your eyes float around your opponent’s chest so you get to see ‘everything’ using your peripheral vision. This is the way boxers do it. The best thing about this? If you do get hit in the face, the force dissipates evenly into your spine and body, rather than being absorbed in your neck which then rocks your head and knocks you out.

#1 Strike first strike hard

And the number one tip? It’s hard for the opponent to punch you if his own lights are out. Of course, the need for responsible self defence means you’ve got to warn the attacker, deescalate the situation, and attempt to reduce the threat first. Only when you think you’re not going to get out of trouble should you start using force.