View Full Version : The Fence - a Geoff Thompson video

Bri Thai
02-12-2004, 02:52 PM
Review of “The Fence” – a video by Geoff Thompson


Geoff Thompson made his name by applying his martial arts training to the streets. He overcame his fears by becoming a bouncer in one of Europe’s most violent cities, refining his fighting style as he went. He then went on to transcend a life of violence, and develop in the areas of writing (factual, fictional and martial arts technical books), video production and film making. He has received two BAFTA nominations and has authored a Best Selling novel. This is a review of one of his martial art training and application guides, and is called “The Fence”

What the “Fence” is

On a basic level the Fence is can be described as the technique of controlling the distance between potential adversaries and yourself, prior to a confrontation becoming physical. An initial assessment of it would make you think it is merely holding the hands in a certain way, helping you launch your first attack. Watching this video will tell you beyond doubt that the Fence is so much more than that.

Production issues

After an initial introduction to this and other tapes, taking the form of video clips of various fighting scenarios to the tune of rock music, the introduction is given by Geoff himself. He tells us the value of the Fence and how, despite all his extensive fighting experience, if he could only tell us one thing, it would be how to use the Fence.

The vast majority of the tape is merely Geoff on camera (occasionally with an assistant to act as the potential aggressor) both describing and demonstrating the Fence. I was concerned that this type of presentation may become boring. However, owing to the fact that the dialogue and demos are packed full of essential information, I was very wrong.

I think it could have been improved if his assistant occasionally provided more of a real life threat. He was obviously asked merely to stand and provide a reference point to Geoff’s explanation. But I think it would have been advantageous to see the Fence at work in a full scenario, full of shouting, abuse and nastiness. That way the viewer could get more of an idea of the conditions in which he or she may have to apply it. People could have been shown applying it, both well and badly. And then dissecting what went on in order to bring out learning points and counter common mistakes.

The video could be described as being of “home video” quality (maybe a little better, as some good editing is used to break it up), and is not untypical of the genre. It is one hour in length.


This review is not meant to be a “how to” guide for the Fence. It is meant to assess how much a potential customer could learn by studying it. But, inevitably, some of the lessons to be learned will be referred to.

I was impressed by Geoff’s abhorrence and rejection of violence. He outlines his strategies to avoid it, with the fence being the last line prior to a pre emptive attack. But the central message is avoidance in all ways possible. He also doesn’t claim credit for the invention of the Fence. He has merely formalised it and, as such, can pass on a full appreciation of its potential to us.

He distinguishes between ambush attacks, pre arranged match fights and confrontations preceded by dialogue. It is the latter that is most common and most relevant to the Fence.

A key theme is distance. Most confrontations start far nearer than most martial arts training reflects. Therefore a need to develop impact over this shorter range is emphasised. And the Fence is your means to both maintain and use this distance, avoiding a standing grappling affair that will quickly take both combatants down to the floor. The Fence is about finishing a fight without fighting or, if you really have to fight, finishing it before the other guy even knows he’s been in one.

Morality issues come into the perspective. We are conditioned NOT to hit first, no matter what the provocation. That conditioning must be overcome if and when a pre emptive strike is needed. Again he explores the fence at a much deeper level than what you can actually see on the surface. As your understanding increases, the more you see it as a psychological tool than a physical one.

The Fence technique

The tape shows you the depth of the technique. It is not just holding your arms in front of your potential assailant. Yes, this tape will show you many ways of doing this, each with relative strengths and weaknesses. But it will also show you how to read an opponent’s intent, and then go on to formalise your own countering strategy. You can even control your potential opponent on a subconscious level. The “fight or flight” syndrome is explored, even to the extent of real things you can do to purposefully influence people, making them choose the “flight” over the “fight”. It is full of psychological ploys that were tested in real conditions. And the dialogue used is essential to its success. Like Geoff says, he won most of his fights without throwing a punch.

The fence is an art that must be practiced a great deal, even to the extent that you use it in every day conversations with friends. It needs to look and feel perfectly natural. You should be of a standard to be able to apply it when under extreme pressure, of course.

The fence will give you the opportunity to either hit first, or retain maximum safety whilst you de-escalate. It is to be moulded to suit your own style. Your fence should not necessarily look anything like Geoff’s. Geoff outlines the mechanics of his own pre emptive strike, but does acknowledge that people should strike in a way that suits them. As long as it does the job.

Last but not least, Geoff gives you one of this main mantras for effective self protection – “Learn to hit f@ck1n5 hard”.


I found the tape absolutely fascinating. This is all the more notable due to its modest presentation style. I thought I knew what the Fence was before I saw this tape, and now realise I had no idea whatsoever of its depth of application. I have been in verbal and physical confrontations all my working life (as a police officer), and now see just how valuable this knowledge would have been to me had I known it. Watching it was like someone lifted a veil, and I have been studying a wide range of fighting arts for nearly 25 years.

It matters not what your chosen art is; be it Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, MMA etc. even Aikido or Tai Chi. This technique provides excellent guidance on how to actually transfer your skills to the real world, how to apply them in a way that will keep you and your family safe.

If you want to ensure that your hard earned skills can help you out in any real physical threat outside the dojo, buy this video and study it as much as you have ever studied anything.