I don’t understand. I said I’m sorry. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?
I just want to take a moment to point out how very careful Sherlock is with John in these altercations. It’s especially evident in the first two gifs.
After spending two years attacking and being attacked, surrounded by inhospitable people and places, Sherlock will have a much better understanding of self-defense - and as a certain certificate on his bedroom wall once proclaimed, he didn’t go into that two-year adventure unprepared.
So, reflexes honed by use, he should retaliate or at least control each assualt.
But in the first gif, although his hands do raise to slap at John’s forearms (a precursor to a wrist or grip break, very effective and painful technique for escaping a front hold like that) he quickly reigns in his first impulse and then only holds John’s wrists…and not too firmly at that.
In fact, when he does fall backwards under John’s advance, he doesn’t even try to break the fall, instead maintaining that contact with John.
In the second gif, John goes for another front attack, this time from above(ish) (oh John). It’s a precarious assault, and Sherlock’s hands actually come up to steady John when it seems he might slip. It’s tentative and helpful and so bloody obvious that hurting John is not an option, not even in self-defense, not even in self-preservation.
The third gif is more about not moving out of the way - Sherlock, with his eyes so keen and his brain so detective-y….there’s no way that massively telegraphed move doesn’t ring every alarm bell in his skull…and he just takes it.
Maybe he hopes that John can get it out of his system faster this way, that if John can hit him, perhaps he’ll forgive him.
Maybe he thinks he deserves the abuse. Maybe he thinks it’ll absolve him in John’s eyes.
Maybe he’s caught completely by surprise - but then again, even then, his reflexes should have prevented these obvious and clumsy attacks from doing damage.