Learning how to fight is not the same as promoting belligerent, anti-social behavior. We live in an exceedingly violent society. Our films, books, TV shows, and video games glorify mayhem and carnage. Our leaders (sic) solve most of their problems through aggression...or the threat thereof. While talk of non-violence is understandable and the struggle for peace has never been more essential, let's face it: The odds are that sooner or later you're going to end up in a confrontation that may escalate into physical violence. So, why not be prepared?
Muhammad Ali screwed up the generation of fighters that followed him. Hands dangling at his sides, The Greatest dared his opponents to hit him. In the years before he was shamefully stripped of his title, the freakishly talented Ali could get away with breaking the rules in such a blatant manner. Unfortunately, few have learned from witnessing the post-comeback punches Ali endured and, as a result, warriors are everywhere leaving their faces exposed...without enough vision and speed to pull it off.
A shitload of bad martial arts flicks have added another component to this problem: dropping one's hands when executing a kick. Unlike those celluloid combatants we foolishly try to emulate, such a glaring error leaves a fighter wide open for a counter. But fear not, remedying this situation is just a matter of conditioning. For this, I suggest you throw in the towel:
Wrap a small towel around the back of your neck and loosely grip the ends with both hands in front of you at chest height and your elbows in-a position that somewhat simulates a fighting on-guard stance. Position yourself in front of a mirror and start kicking. At first, you'll feel your balance thrown off and your elbows will be flapping like a goddamn chicken. But, like all new motor patterns, you'll adjust over time. Gripping onto the towel will slowly build up a natural reflex to keep your hands up, protecting your head and upper body while launching your attack.
Have you ever felt the jarring effects of a solid connection to your jaw? If so, you'll agree that even once is too much. The cause of such a debilitating blow just may be the fact that you carry your chin too high. Especially during in-fighting, a fighter should never leave his or her chin up as a target.
To aid in developing the habit of properly tucking one's chin, try taking one of your bag gloves or a knee pad or anything else that is soft and of similar size and place it under your chin by pinning it up against your upper chest and neck. With the object tightly held in place, try some drills: speed bag, timing ball, shadowboxing, heavy bag, or even light sparring. The idea, of course, is to not allow the object fall out during training.
Eventually, such practice will develop a reflex-like reaction to naturally keep your chin down and out of harm's way and you'll be a much better fighter for it. A tucked-in chin takes away one major target from your opponent(s). With those hands up and that chin down, you're no longer an easy victim; you become a more daunting challenge; and you put yourself in position to dictate the terms by which a struggle is waged.
Again, I am, in no way, suggesting you go looking for trouble...but here's what Malcolm X had to say for those inevitable times when trouble finds you: "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery."