Types of fences
High fence. This fence is commonly used when the attacker has a weapon. The hands are held above the head with the fingers spread and palms facing forward—the classic "hands up" position. You want to causally maneuver so you are in reach of the weapon without having to lunge. The fence permits the defender to use gravity to add speed and power when dropping the arms to deflect, block, or grab the weapon, when it is within range.
Middle fence. The middle fence is well suited for hand-to-hand fighting situations, and is the most commonly used fence. There are several variation of the middle fence:
- Close middle fence. This is basically just the standard middle guard but with the fingers open and the palms facing forward. It is not as threatening as with the fists closed, and, when used in combination with verbal and body language, it helps to portray fear, which may be useful to defuse a situation. You want to stay at a range that requires the attacker to move toward you before he or she may touch you; this you more time to react and makes him or her the aggressor. While open hands expose the fingers to injury, some martial artists prefer to fight from an open hand rather than a closed fist guard.
- Extended middle fence. This fence is similar to the close middle fence except the palms are extended forward toward the threat to help keep the threat further away and help judge range.
- One-arm extended middle fence. This fence is also similar to the extended middle fence except one palm is held in close while the other is extended forward toward the threat. Even though both hands are open, this is a more threatening fence since the attacker probably assumes that you are using the extended hand to measure and set range while keeping the other hand back to make a powerful counterattack if needed.
- Thinker fence. In this fence, the leading forearm is held vertical against the body, hand at the chin, with index finger extended. The trailing forearm is held horizontal across the abdomen with the hand at the elbow of the leading forearm. This is the arm position many people use when thinking; it is a variation of the arm position seen in Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker." It is a pensive, non-threatening fence, but it still allows the hands to instantly defend or attack.
Low fence. This is the least threatening fence. The arms and open hands are either hanging to sides of the body or they are held low in front of the body and used for hand expressions while talking. When used along with talking, the hand movements seem natural and nonthreatening, but they keep the hands in front of the body, ready for instant action. When in a low middle fence, you want to keep yourself at a range that requires the attacker to move toward you.