(surprise does happen), there are some things that you can do to facilitate a better outcome if your situation suddenly goes bad in a hurry.
One habit to ingrain is the position of your hands. As
Guro Crafty says “hands are more useful when they’re up” (actually his is a more colorful variation, but we’ll leave that for another time). By assuming a classic “interview stance” with the body bladed, dominant
leg (& weapon) usually in the rear, and one or both hands up and open in a non-threatening manner, this does several things.
a) Provides a barrier if necessary between the opponent and your head/torso/duty
b) Puts one/both of your empty hand weapons closer to your opponent, reducing your time
to contact if necessary.
c) Gets your hands up in a non-threatening manner and puts them in a closer position to
block/parry/intercept an attack.
As Matt Powell from Pramek discusses in this video, practice your responses – blocks, strikes, counters - from a variety of starting points with one or both hands up. Make sure
they are open hands, since posturing with fists in a classic “boxing”pose is perceived as aggressive by an opponent (and/or bystanders) and can escalate things that may otherwise be talked down. I’m not a huge proponent in having the hands together or crossed, but as
Matt discusses, there are ways to do it successfully.