I am one of those fellas that wears glasses... and despite the countless times that I have asked.. “You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses would you?” I have still been in my fair share of minor to moderate scrapes. I bring this up today because I was involved in a minor scrape Saturday night and in a very rare instance I did not loose my glasses in the process.
After everything was broke up and under control and the individual was escorted out of the building I started doing my usual self-check process. The first thing that I am always looking for are any wounds that I may have not felt. Second I start the search for my glasses or what is left of them. This time was different. BUT, this story is not about the tactical skills that I used to retain my glasses, because there were none. It was just plain dumb luck.
I learned the hard way 20+ years ago that when someone throws a handful of sand in your eyes, or your eye is swelled shut, contact lenses actually complicate matters, so I started wearing glasses again. Of course that has it's own issues and the real smart thing would be to go have laser eye surgery and be done with it. That way I would be able to shoot without glasses, wear cool sunglasses, and in a SHTF situation, not be concerned about looking for my glasses. Maybe next years tax return will get that done. But for now, what can I do to better my odds in a close combat situation when my glasses go AWOL?
Your vision just like the rest of your senses, feed your brain real-time intelligence that when combined with past experience determines your next move automatically, and if you are a split second faster than your opponent everything goes well. When you lose your corrective eye wear this intelligence gathering process is disrupted in a couple ways, and it creates first a temporary psychological blindness that is replaced with the actual reduction in vision.
The first thing to go is the speed that your brain receives the intel is reduced. This occurs because your range of focus has now changed drastically and your brain is sending signals back to your eyes telling them to focus better, creating a delay. Being out of focus is just like smokescreens on a battle field, you can deal with the inky slightly covered shapes, it's the shapes just slightly further into the smoke that you cannot process. When those shapes finally do come into vision, your brain does a quick “Where the heck did that come from” and then starts analyzing things like speed and direction and threat level.
The next thing you lose is speed of depth perception. I say speed simply because you don't loose the perception, it just takes more time to process the info. Unfortunately that may correlate to a miss when you really needed to make a hit. Think of it as a Sniper using a high tech range-finding technique during a dynamic situation. He may be able to engage 5 moving threats at 5 dramatically different distances in the time that it would take to hit 1 or 2 with Civil War range-finding technology.
Peripheral vision may be hampered next, however, if you wear glasses this will not be as big an issue, though you will be loosing your “rearview mirrors”. I typically loose mine anyway due to tunnel-vision, something I have never been able to control once the adrenaline starts pumping.
You take those items and combine them and unless you are well trained, you will reek havoc on your eye-hand coordination, and in a close combat situation, you may have an issue. Now that slow punch turns into a slow miss which if your opponent knows what they are doing can be used to great advantage against you. So is this just a handi-cap you have to deal with, or is there a way to lesson these effects.
There are certainly ways to lesson the effects. The first is improve your existing Eye-Hand coordination. In the topic of Close Combat, the Speed Bag is a great choice and if you have access to one, please use it! In an article titled; How to Improve Hand Eye Coordination- Learn Key Exercises for Developing Hand Eye Coordination and Improve Your Athletic Performance, by Robert Rousseau of bodyomics.com ,several methods are mentioned. Please do yourself a favor and look that up.
Once you choose a few methods to improve your eye-hand coordination, take off your glasses and do it some more. If you can enlist a few friends to help your work out, have them toss a small fist size nerf ball at you while you are on the speed bag or punching bag, the rule being you have to hit it with your hand or block with your forearm before it hits you. Start easy with one that is bright colored and then increase the difficulty by going with a gray or drab colored ball, you want to train your brain to react to movement and speed more so than a specific color or shape.
At the Range, bring that target into realistic combat distances and take those glasses off (put some safety glasses on of course) and practice trying to focus on the front sight and shooting the center-mass of the blur. Of course, working on point shooting techniques is a good idea as well.
At the gym, work on hand strength and develop grappling skills. As soon as you have added constant contact to your threat, your brain starts receiving input from another set of senses and the reduction in your vision becomes less of a factor. Learn effective submission and choke holds.
The whole point of the matter is simple, try to duplicate the condition in training, the more often you do, the less of a shock to the brain you will have when you do lose your glasses during self-defense. While I am not a professional scrapper, I hope I given you some food for thought and an appetite to research to learn more about defending oneself while in a compromised situation.