Creating space may be the difference between successfully defending yourself or unsuccessfully defending yourself. This is due to the reality of Action vs Re-action, in that action is always faster.
Creating space gives you time, and time allows you the opportunity to assess and make a better, more appropriate response. After all, in our 3-dimensional world, that time is our 4th dimension and thus all movement, whether it be action or reaction, is constrained within those physics concepts. Who said you didn’t need to understand concepts like E=MC^2, but now, at least you can make a connection with the practical application.
In the stages of self-defence the order is important, as the earlier in the stages the more time and more space you have for better decision making. As you go down the scale there is usually less space and less time to react, thus making it more difficult.
For example, in Avoidance (A) running or walking the other way will give you space. In De-escalation (D) stepping back with your hands up will create space; though be aware of what’s behind you, as stepping back might not always be an option. Preemptive self-defence (PE) techniques will help create space, but this may also escalate the scenario. Techniques such as the push kick, educational block, throat jab, etc. will cause pain, off balance and disrupt enough to effectively create space in a quick manner. Of course, if creating space has escalated the scenario, and we are now in full Fight mode, then create space may no longer be an option. When we go on the offensive, we must maintain tight control to prevent the attacker from creating and using space against us.
Another way to discuss this is through grappling terms; if I am on the defensive, I need to create space to get to my feet (technical stand up) or create space using wedges and levers to re-guard. On the contrary, if I am on the offensive I need to close distance (take away space), while maintaining pressure, and control to achieve my desired results.
Remember, if you can create space, so can the attacker. In the end, whoever acts the quickest, with the best, most effective strategy will come out on top most of the time. But, at least if you have space you are more likely to make the correct decision.
*Topics under any principle category (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time. So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.