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Using a body shield safely


A body shield is a large pad that a student holds in front of their body to allow their partners to kick or punch them to the front of their torso with full power without harming either person.

How body shields function

Body shields may be filled with foam or contain an air bladder to absorb the force of a kick or punch. The shield spreads the impact forces over a large area so neither the kicker nor the holder is injured. However, these forces must still be dissipated into the holder's body, so the way the holder holds the shield is important to prevent injury.

Using the shield

Shields are constructed by different manufacturers so their sizes, the location and number of handles, outer covering, etc. are different. Therefore, the following are general instructions.
  • Grip the shield. Most shields have hand grips. Sometimes, when the grips are on the sides of the shield, a kick may miss the shield and strike a hand. Therefore, some people prefer to hold a shield by the back edge of the opposite top and bottom corners, so their hands are protected.
  • Hold the shield against the body. If you have ever fired a shotgun, you know the end of the stock must be held tightly against the shoulder as your fire, so the body can absorb the recoil. If you hold the stock a little in front of the shoulder, when the gun fires, the stock will slam back into the shoulder and it will hurt. The same holds when holding a body shield. Hold the shield tightly against the front of the body so you and the shield are as one object. If you hold the shield in front of the body so that it is a separate object, when the shield is struck, it will slam back into the body and hurt.
  • Stand in a solid front stance. Stand in a solid, low front stance facing the attacker. The front stance allows the holder to absorb tremendous force from the front without being knocked backward. Instead of being knocked backward, the holder's stance will merely be shifted backward.
  • Settle into the shield. Stand vertical and do not lean into the shield. Instead, settle the body's mass into the back of the shield.
  • Keep chin back or look toward the side. Do not let the chin rest on or above the top of the shield. If the shield is struck at an upward angle, it will suddenly move upward. If the chin is over the top of the shield, the shield will strike the chin, like being hit with an uppercut punch.
  • Resist or flow. When the shield is stuck, the holder can react in two ways:
  • The holder can stand in a tense, stationary stance and resist the force. This means all the force will be dissipated into the holder’s body with a jolt. For powerful kick attacks, this jolt may be substantial.
  • The holder may stand in a relaxed stance and let the body flow with the force. This means the force will shift the holder’s body backward allowing some of the impact force to be dissipated into moving the mass of the holder’s body. This means the jolt from the striking kick will be much less.
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