Thanks guys for the responses!
I can see what you mean about instintively retracting the hand to the hip. Although the majority of our practice is from a guard position, we do some practice from the hip. But never mix the two. So it doesn't feel natural at this point to do so. However I'm sure that with some practice it could feel that way.
thanks for the comment. I agree that if you are already in confrontation with someone, and they are within striking range, that you should def. adapt some sort of hands up/passive guard position. Crossing arms one on top of eachother is not a bad idea. I see alot of bouncers and security guys standing like this, not with there arms actually folded like most people would "cross" their arms, but one simply ontop of the other.
Yeah that "thinking" stance could be really good if someone is in close range. I haven't watched all of that bas rutten video but looks good! It doesn't show any sort of "fear" or "readiness" that the "i don't want trouble" stance.
Personally I have used the "don't want trouble" stance, usually when someone steps into range with clenched or raised fists. I like the stance because to the attacker takes this stance to be a sign that you are surrendering, or that you are showing fear or intimidation, then BANG! you crack them with a punch they never saw coming!
But it requires you to decide that, yes, this guy is going to start something. The thinking or crossed arm stances are more of a "ready stance" than "non-threatening guard", if you see what I mean? It's like the first step, is being aware that an attack could happen, and being in a position that you can make some sort of move to defend yourself, and then the passive guards (I don't want no trouble!!) are when you are quite sure the guy is going to come into range and you will have to defend yourself.
We actually practice alot of our blocks from the hip too, and although it might be useful in the situation that you are caught completely off guard, I'm sure most of you have already read our in depth discussion about the problems with blocks in general over in the "weakness in your style" thread. So I believe that these have even less real-life application than blocks from a guard.
However the benefits that I mentioned previously about learning to have things come from the hip (hip turning properly into the attack, hand retracts as fast as it strikes/blocks etc.) still stand. So it's not completely useless.
I see your point about not always knowing who your attacker is going to be. Hopefully the guy behind, to the left and to the right are your mates, who are watching your back, almost literally. If the situation is really so bad that you could be attacked from all angles, yes, get those hands up!
And get into the practice of standing in a "ready" stance naturally where-ever you are, rather than hands down.
So, in conclusion!
Striking from the hip still retains is usefulness in teaching beginners some important lessons about the mechanics of a strike. Hip application, retracting the hand quickly, straight striking, not "cocking" the hand back before you strike.
Striking may be useful if you happen to be caught in a situation where you just happen to have your hands down, but you should avoid this if at all possible. Of course, your can't just walk around with your hands glued to your jaw at all times. Especially if you are actually walking.
"ready" stances are the preffered way to be standing if you are in a public area where violence is likely, or even possible. eg. crossed arms or "thinking"
Passive guards can be very useful when you think a situation can turn bad. They keep your opponent more off guard because you aren't making a fist at him. And the security camera likes you to have a non-agressive, open hand guard, too. So will the witnesses. Especially if you really do say "hey man, I don't want trouble!"