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Shovelglove 104 - Defensive Maneuvers
Urban Primalist
It's been quite a month!  Think back to your first shovelglove workout, how unusual the hammer felt in your hands and how your back complained afterwards.  By now your hammer should be feeling lighter, your back and posture much stronger, and your grip should come effortlessly.  Perhaps you've grown accustomed to moving around a bit and tossing your hammer from hand to hand.  It's time to cement everything we've learned in the context of a truly primal ordeal: defense against attackers.

My main objective with Shovelglove 104 is to engage your imagination, pushing your workout to new heights of intensity by picturing yourself in a desperate situation.
Of course, the chances of you actually having to use your sledgehammer in self defense are slim indeed.  Most predators will be warned away by the mere sight of an energetic biped carrying a hammer.  And even if you were attacked by someone or something desperate enough to disregard your dangerous demeanor, there's no guarantee any of these moves would actually work.  In any case, the contest would be decided in mere moments, and only by honing your instincts to a razor's edge would you have any chance of pulling off the right move at the right time.

Let's face it; your hammer is heavy and slow, designed more for driving spikes or breaking rocks than for martial arts.  On the other hand, you possess some unique advantages: you can swing with unstoppable force, enough to crush all defenses.  And there's that long handle, three feet of solid wood or unbreakable fiber, good for blocking and with a very long reach.

We'll do our best to exploit these advantages while conserving momentum and employing the element of surprise.  We will master three basic stances.  Each stance has a basic attack, which, if successful, leads to a finishing blow.  Each stance also has two blocks with counterattacks.  Once you've learned them all, we'll string them together and throw in some fancy footwork for "SCC Form 1", an all-purpose defensive workout.

Balanced Stance

Our first grip should feel familiar; it's just what we've used for most shovelglove motions.

Hold the hammer with your dominant hand palm-up at High Grip, and your other hand palm-down at Low Grip.  Your dominant foot is a little bit behind your other foot as you stand in a strong, forward stance.

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Our basic attack from this position is the Shovel Smash.  Using the Flying Shovel motion from 103, jab High Grip forward, shoving the side of the hammer head straight along the predator's line of sight -- the better to strike undetected.  If you miss, yank it back just as quickly and take a step to the side.  If you connect, swing the hammer back overhead and perform a John Henry (102) for the finishing blow.  Remember again that the Flying Shovel can be hard on your forearms, so go easy at first.

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Our first block from this position is the Balanced Overhead Block, defending against a downward swing from above.  Drop your stance a little as you block upwards and forwards with the stem held horizontally.  Then counter with a Stomp Kick to the lower leg, lifting your rear knee high and driving down with your heel towards the attacker's shin.  Then return to Balanced Stance.

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Our second block from this stance is the Balanced Outside Block, defending against a swing towards Low Grip.  Drop Low Grip and raise High Grip as you twist, deflecting the attack with the stem held vertically.  Then continue the twisting motion to counter with a Stomp Kick to the attacker's leg.

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Offensive Stance

For this stance, we'll hold the hammer with a grip similar to that of the Iron Roundhouse from 103, but this time we're holding above High Grip, right up against the hammer head.

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Our basic attack from this stance is the Iron Roundhouse.  Just like that explosive motion from 103, bring High Grip up, and then across the front of your body in a hooking blow.  Then bring the hammer back the same direction with equal force, aiming to catch your attacker with the backhand blow.  If you missed, return to Offensive Stance and step to the side.  If you connected, finish with a Pommel Thrust: draw your front foot back as you draw Low Grip to Middle Grip, then step forward, thrusting deeply with the tip of the stem.

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Our first block from this stance is the Offensive Overhead Block.  Just like the previous overhead block, raise the stem horizontally as you thrust upward and forward in a strong stance, stopping an overhead blow.  Then twist a little bit and jab down sideways with the hammer head to counter with a Side Spear.  Then return to Offensive Stance.

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Our second block from this stance is the Offensive Downward Block.  Lunge forward blocking downward with the stem held horizontally, aiming to stop the kick near the top of the attacker's leg.  Continue your forward momentum by countering with a Glasgow Kiss (butt with the top of the head), then return to Offensive Stance.

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Defensive Stance
For our final stance, we reverse the palm orientation of the balanced stance.  Hold your hammer like a broom in front of you with the head down, palms facing inward.

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Our basic attack from this stance is the Low Blow.  Swing the hammer forward, aiming for the knees, upper legs, or groin of the attacker.  Gravity is against you in this move and you're simply hoping for a disorienting blow to a sensitive area.  If you've ever tapped your leg by accident, you know it doesn't take much to get results!  If you miss, return to Defensive Stance and take a step to the side.  If you connect, bring your hammer back along your side as you switch grips to Balanced Stance, and finish with a Leg Sweeper, knocking your attacker's legs out from under him.

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In Defensive Stance, our only blocks are lateral: the Defensive Outside Block (shown first) and the Defensive Inside Block (shown second).  Keeping the stem vertical, swing the hammer from side to side to deflect all incoming blows.  Counter with a Stomp Kick to the attacker's leg.

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SCC Form 1

Now then, can you:
  • Switch stances and grips quickly?
  • Maintain good balance while kicking?
  • Probe with basic attacks, return to a strong stance and side-step when you miss, and follow through deeply after you connect?
  • Block a flurry of incoming blows and riposte with a devastating counter?
If so, perhaps you're ready to give SCC Form 1 a try.  Make sure you have lots of room for this one!

In this form, you have been ambushed by five unarmed attackers, just like our man Pier Gerlofs Donia.  Silly thugs... bringing fists to a hammer fight!

Begin with some slow Bullroarers (101) using your offhand.  Your attackers pause for a moment at the fearsome sight, but continue their advance.  One of them comes within striking distance.  Lash out with the bullroarer by swinging with extra strength at the critical moment -- Pow!  One attacker down.
 
Land in a Balanced Stance and jab with a Shovel Smash.  It missed -- circle around to the side 90 degrees.  You're keeping your attackers in front of you.  Jab again -- another miss.  Circle around again 90 degrees so you're facing the spot where you started.  Jab again -- a hit, and follow up with a John Henry.  Bam!  Two attackers down.
 
Pivot 180 degrees instantly while switching to Offensive Stance.  Launch an Iron Roundhouse -- forehand then backhand.  It's a miss; step forward and repeat.  The second one's a miss too -- step forward again and repeat.  On the third attempt, you connect with the forehand and the backhand.  Draw back, and lunge forward with a fatal Pommel Thrust.  Squish!  Three attackers down.
 
Jump back as you switch to Defensive Stance.  Launch a Defensive Inside Block and counter with a Stomp Kick.  Land strong, step back again, launch a Defensive Outside Block, and counter again with a Stomp Kick.  Land strong, step back again and surprise your attacker with a Low Blow to the groin.  He's doubled over -- finish him with a Leg Sweeper.  Whoosh!  Four attackers down.
 
There's just one attacker left, and he's looking a bit shaky.  Begin a continuous Grutte Pier (102), whirling your hammer overhead with both hands, and advance slowly on your opponent.  He's stepping back -- drop into Balanced Stance, draw back your hammer to the side, and charge forward.  After a few paces, you've closed the distance.  Finish with a Spear Thrust (103).  Oof!  Five attackers down.
 
Now place your hammer head on the ground, stem sticking up, and catch your breath.  If you did this form correctly, you will be very winded.
 
I'd like to show you a video of what this looks like all together, but that will have to wait for another day.  In the meantime, practice this form with special emphasis on the transitions.  You should never be off-balance for more than a split second, and you should pause for only an instant when aiming your blows.

Graduation and Celebration

Congratulations!  You have completed the Beginner's Guide.  If you passed all four courses, you've earned 12.0 credits and a B.S. in Shovelglove!  Feel free to put it on your résumé.  You will never lack for entertaining workout material ever again.  Whether you're a hammer ninja taking down five foes at once, or an endurance shugger committed to perfecting the motions from 101, I hope you've profited from your four-week course of study.
 
Don't forget to send in your teacher evaluations!  We'll use your feedback to refine this course, and to advance our top-secret research and development of the Intermediate Guide to Shovelglove -- the 200-level courses.
 
If it's eternal fame you crave, email me pics of yourself performing your favorite shovelglove motion.  I'll post them to the SCC Alumni Hall of Fame, where future generations of freshman shuggers will draw inspiration from your awesome achievements.
 
In the meantime, I'd like to leave you with this little number, our final bonus motion and perhaps the most effective defensive maneuver of all.  Academic graduates toss their mortarboards in the air; we at SCC prefer the Hammer Throw.
 
You will need lots and lots of room for this one and a nice, soft surface, like the grass in this park in Oxnard.  Make sure there is no living creature or private property within 60 feet.  By performing this motion -- or any motion -- you agree that we are not liable for any damages!
 
Grasp your hammer just under the head with your dominant hand.  Bring it back as far as it will go, and hurl it like a spear.  Go for distance, knocking out an imaginary attacker at 30 feet or further.  Having launched your projectile, turn tail and sprint for 60 seconds, just in case you missed.  Haha!  They'll never catch you now.
 
Class dismissed!

Timothy Williams
May 2, 2010 (Rev 1.0)

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All text copyright © 2010-2013 Timothy Williams