20 September 2008

Punch on the street or not?

If you punch someone on the street there is a high chance that you will break a bone or bones in your hand. The head is a strong part of the body and it was designed or evolved that way on purpose as it protects the brain. This raises the question; should we avoid using punches or training in boxing so we don't break our hand on someone's skull?

Considerations
Im not totally convinced one way or the other. I haven't been sold on either side of the argument as of yet. Should you punch on the street or use the open hand or palm strikes in stead? There are a number of considerations.

First, if you use punching a lot in your training, it is highly likely that you will use punching if you get caught up in a real altercation on the street because when the body is in this stressful environment, it behaves how it is trained to behave... generally. 'You tend to fight how you train' is a well used phrase.


This means that if you train a certain way, it is almost impossible to have the expectation that you will consciously be able to choose to fight in a different way in the heat of the moment. You cant, the body will just react, there is little to no conscious thought.

If you train regularly in boxing (as I have recently), you should expect that if you are forced to deal with a threat, you will throw punches. This can have implications as indicated above with a broken hand or hands.

Second, a lot of boxing defenses against the punch utilize the large area of the glove to block punches either by padding the punches down or simply covering your face with the large area the two gloves allows for.

This can have implications for the street. On the street you will not have those large gloves to interupt those punches coming from another large glove. This limits this tactic considerably on the street. Both the guard and the punches are too small for that boxing method to work.

Furthermore, holding the hands covering the face (where gloves would be held in boxing), leaves the naked hands open to being struck and injured as well.

And thirdly, if you were to punch someone in the head for real, there is a high chance that you will injure your hand on the attackers head. This will have implications if you use your hands in your work such as typing or using tools etc. It will probably not affect you at the time thanks to adrenaline, but it will have consequences later.

Sport to Street

So there are a number of factors to consider when looking at the merits of using punching in training such as boxing. This is one of the areas we must overcome when transitioning the superior methods of the combat sports into street practical strategies and methodologies. Of course some will take the position that it doesn't matter if your hand gets injured in an encounter, at least you have survived and maintained your health and safety. And this is a valid point. If this is acceptable to you, all the best. As long as you have considered the above points.

One simple method you can use to adapt the boxing defence measures is when you cover, raise your hands way up onto your head so your forearms and elbows intercept the punch, rather than your hands. The forearms and elbows are very sturdy parts of the body and can absorb a lot of impact. As well as this, fully utilise slips and change elevation.


This is a method I was introduced to by Ray Floro called the Crazy Monkey. This is just a small, tiny part of that system but is something that may be worth looking into if you have concerns about defending punches on the streets. It is also applicable when utilising the startle-flinch response as raising your hands up, covering your head and face is a natural thing to do.

Open or Closed hand?

And should you only use open hands to the head? It is a difficult thing to train for under pressure with contact which is one of the benefits of boxing. Can you train to use closed fists to the body and open hands to the face? That would be nice but is quite difficult to achieve though is definitely worthy of consideration.

I'm not proposing a magical solution, it is really down to the individual. I just wanted to highlight some areas for consideration.

It's in the Application

So I am not pushing one idea over the other. I just think it is worthwhile considering what is best for you. I will say though, it would be unwise to totally stop boxing for fear of injuring your hands on the street as that is akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Boxing is a fantastic system which quickly teaches people how to APPLY techniques on a resisting opponent who is fighting back. That is an essential component of ANY system for teaching elements of low tech combat.

I am not really sure sure how I will manage this in my own training, but I do keep it in mind when training. I would be interested in hearing peoples opinions or ideas on this matter. Feel free to leave a comment below.



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24 comments:

  1. Interesting discussion. Bill Hayes (Shobayashi Shorin Ryu Karate) always says 'hard to soft, soft to hard.' In that he means, use your hard knuckled fist to strike soft vital areas like floating ribs, nose, mouth, and solar plexus. Use your soft surfaces (palm of the hand) to strike hard surfaces like the head and joints.

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  2. Yeah thats some good advice for sure! That approach is a good way to get around the risk of damaging your hand.

    Its also a way of ensuring you do the most damage.

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  3. A recent article in Black Belt Magazine (I think from March 2008, but I could be wrong) discussed the fact that clenching one's fist is a natural, instinctive reaction to the fight/flight reflex. Flexing of the hands, clenching the fists is one of those things that we often see as "pre-fight" indicators and supports this notion.

    So whether punching with a fist or not is best may not really be a choice. If you know the fight is coming, sure strike with open hand strikes to the head but if you are caught off guard (as in the majority of actual fights), then you may end up throwing punch anyway.

    Blauer teaches in his SPEAR course that its best not to try to resist instinct. Rather, to progress from "primal" to "tactical" in the shortest means possible. This would suggest the same for hand techniques. Instead of trying to resist the urge to punch to the head, it may be better to simply learn how best to punch to the head to minimize potential injuries. You can't necessarily train an instinct out of your system, but you might be able to manage that instinct the best way possible.

    Just a thought.

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  4. Some great insights there BK Price. I agree totally with your comment regarding clenching the fist being a natural, instinctive reaction to the fight/flight reflex.

    That is why I was hinting at it being quite difficult to train for open hand to the head and closed hand to body. It is perhaps the perfect ideal but there are challenges in implementing that method.

    An example of this is when trying to do some light sparring with no gloves where the goal is to (lightly), strike with closed fist to the body and use open hand (slap) to face. It is very difficult to do even when sparring lightly. A target presents itself often only fleetingly and there is often little time for conscious thought as to how the strike is to be applied...

    It is true what you say regarding you can't necessarily train the instinct out of your system. And my perspective is you shouldn't be trying to do that in many areas anyway. You should be using methods that harness and enhance your natural instincts.

    These instincts have allowed the human race to overcome dangerous situations over many thousands of years. In combat, I think we should be using these already present instincts instead of trying to re-invent the wheel.

    All this being said, I am still unsure of what the best approach is in regards to inflicting the most damage with the hands while minimising the risk of injury to me in regards to this subject.

    There is some good food for thought though for sure. Appreciate the comments.

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  5. I agree with Ikigai, and BK beat me to the punch (no pun intended) by bringing up the SPEAR.
    One thing I would add, though, is that the line of reasoning that "you will fight as you train" is not thought through to its conclusion. If a boxer's abilities are debilitated by the loss of his gloves, and his chances of injuries are increased, then it is because he is not training as he expects to fight. Don't think anyone can really count on having the time to wrap and tape his fists and then pull his gloves on on the street.
    That said, I think that if the fist is trained and conditioned for punching, it is thoroughly functionally sound and reliable. However, most people only ever throw a naked fist "in extremis," and then complain that naked fist punches are dangerous when they break their hand. Spend a thousand hours on a hard makiwara, and I think that you can reasonably claim that your fist is now 1)more dangerous and 2) less susceptible to injury than the boxer who employs his naked fist for the first time on the street.
    If the ungloved fist is to be regarded as a primary piece of the fighter's tool box, then training time should incorporate naked fist training and conditioning.

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  6. Also to be considered is cutting your hand on someone's teeth and contracting some sort of disease.

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  7. Wouldn't that also be a factor with any hand striking (open or not)?

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  8. I believe this link sheds excellent light on this topic: http://www.lowtechcombat.com/2008/09/punch-on-street-or-not.html I agree with this author. Punching with the knuckles to the head is too risky . One could render oneself incapable of grappling effectively or grabbing a weapon should the need arise. In the early MMA, strikers tended to fracture their hands. Some arts like BJJ prefers striking with the elbows. I believe that other options like elbows, hammer fists and palm strikes (coupled with effective head butts) are less risky. Also, cutting your palm on someone's teeth is less risky than cutting your knuckles as the palm tends to be more fleshy. If someone attacked me with a knuckle punch, I'd try to catch it on top of my skull or my elbows and damage their hands. Closed fist knuckle punches do have their advantages and uses. I believe that we should practice these as well, at the very least least, we could prepare ourselves how to deal with boxing-type attacks.

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  9. While palm strikes do protect the knuckles from a shattering impact, they bring up the distinct possibility of catching a finger or two and wrenching them violently backwards if you are even slightly off. Even with the fingers curled inwards, any impact above the lower palm and its direct line with the wrist has the potential to cause painful and debilitating injury to the tendons in the area. This isn't to say that palm strikes should be avoided, of course, just that they carry their own risks of personal injury.

    As for punching, I believe that one of the better strategies to reduce the risk is to consider Jack Dempsey's style. He wrote that you can punch harder and safer if you target along the ring finger's knuckle. The idea is that the impact here will almost always involve the knuckles of the middle finger and the little finger as well, not the exposed and solitary index knuckle or the middle knuckle alone. It might seem that this would expose the little knuckle which is the weakest, but in practice it's almost hard to end up landing with the pinky alone. While this certainly doesn't eliminate the risk, I believe it reduces it. Further, this feels like a more natural punch for me, allowing a stronger locked wrist.

    Of course, the best answer is to always hit just what you aim for...

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  10. Since our primary focus is self-defense we teach open hands in the form of palmheel strikes to the nose or chin (either straight or rising) and cupped hand strikes to the ears (packs a huge whallop when you put the entire body behind it as you always should with any striking technique). For SD open hands definitely is better than closed fist since you’re far less likely to injure your hand and wrist but it is indeed true much depends on the way you train and perhaps even more so on the fact whether you’re a man or a woman: men almost instinctively clench their fists when there’s trouble and in fighting they will throw punches, whether they’re trained or not. Women tend to favor open hand strikes naturally and it’s much better suited to them since their wrists are generally weaker and their knuckles more fragile. I think boxing is a great art and a very useful skill to have in your SD arsenal but it needs to be modified and turned away from the pure sports-context: the defenses are generally the same (parries are always useful and actually the best way to defend a straight punch) with the exception of the cover that definitely needs to be higher as you recommend (however I wouldn’t go so far as to put the elbows in front of your face since it exposes the entire body and it’ll be a lot more difficult to defend low blows which can be just as damaging as shots to the face, at least when they’re aimed accurately at the solar-plexus and the liver. You should be able to take some punishment on the forearms and if you lean into the incoming blow you’ll greatly lessen the impact. Of course the moment you feel impact on your guard you should automatically respond with a combination of your own otherwise you’ll be acting as a punching-bag and sooner or later you’ll get hit. Personally I don’t favor covering up but in some situations you have no choice and if you don’t have it ingrained into your system you’ll be in serious trouble.

    In any case: if you plan on using bare knuckled boxing punches or you know that’s what’s going to come out naturally train for it: do push-ups on your knuckles, strengthen your wrists, do rounds on the heavy bag without taping your hands or even wearing gloves (start lightly, it’s also a good idea to get a lighter, softer bag if you’re going to be doing this regularly) … You’ll immediately feel when your punch is perfectly aligned and this is what’ll break your wrist in a streetfight, when this can happen to a boxing great as Mike Tyson then it definitely can and most likely will happen to you unless you prepare for it. Boxers tend to be very careless in the way they keep their wrists or the exact spot they punch (of course it’s hard to accurately target a moving opponent) since they don’t have to worry about injury as they have a padded surface to strike with and the hands are so taped in they can’t even move an inch.

    Here are some excellent posts on the subject that I highly recommend to all boxers or martial artists who are serious about SD:

    http://oldstylemuaythai.blogspot.com/2009/10/bareknuckle-boxing-for-beginners.html

    http://oldstylemuaythai.blogspot.com/2009/11/bareknuckled-vs-gloved-six-thru-ten.html

    Regards,

    Zara

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  11. Of course that should have been 'You’ll immediately feel when your punch (fist & arm)ISN'T perfectly aligned'. 'To err is human' (Seneca).

    @AJF: you definately have a point but if you train correctly and you bend the wrist back so that the palmheel makes contact and you keep the fingers in the risk of injury is minimal but you are right in your analysis. Fighting is inherently dangerous and there are always up and downsides to every technique. Still for women palmheel strikes are definately the way to go since they're generally terrible at punching with a closed fist (I've seen this time and again), their arms & wrists are generally weaker than a man's and they don't have the instinct of striking with the knuckles.

    I think there's far less risk of injury to the fist when punching is done in the WC way of keeping the elbow behind the arm and in front of the body with the fist vertical instead of horizontal. In any case fighting should progress from medium range (boxing style punches, whether done with the knuckles or palm) to short range (clinching, kneeing & elbowing with the possibility of throws, takedowns, locks and chokes) since knees and elbows deal the most damage, it'll be far more difficult for him to defend against them as long as you blast straight through him and force him back and those weapons are very hard to damage regardless of where you strike.

    Just my two cents, lots of knowledgeable comments and thoughts here.

    Zara

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  12. One other point worth raising is what type of strike is more likely to knock out an attacker? An open hand strike or a fist? Whatever strike is most likely to knock an attacker out is surely the type of strike we most adopt in our training?

    Open or closed hand stirking can be trained in ways mentioned above in previous coments. Also, there is a difference between knock out power and causing damage. I would prefer to knock out an attacker than cause damage. A knock out stops an attack dead in its tracks. This argument can also be aplied to the improvised weapon causing damage versus unarmed knock out but that is for another post...

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  13. I think both the closed fist punch and the palmheel thrust have the potential for a knockout and in equal measure since the mechanics of both techniques are the same. It all depends on where you aim, how hard you were able to him him and whether you got a clean shot (i.e undefended) in.

    Of course the knockout is always preferable but it's not that easy to achieve and it would be foolish to rely on just one blow to do the job: doing damage (hurting him physically and disrupting his mental balance) is always good even if you didn't manage to floor him since it'll set him up for the next blow and the next which presumably he'll have a harder time defending. I do advocate learning to hit with knockout power and precision but also to always use combo's: if one fails the other one is already on the way and the next... Just keep going and sooner or later you'll connect (unless he's an extremely good fighter) but better still learn WC or JKD so you can trap his limbs which will only increase your chance of a succesful hit. The idea behind the close-range striking in WC and JKD is to overwhelm his defense with rapid fire blows which may not knock him out or even do a lot of damage by themselves (per blow) but which will stun him while you gain ground and achieve a better position (you're blasting forward while he's backpedaling trying to regain his balance and the initiative, all while getting hit) so you can employ more devestating weapons which he won't be able to defend against.

    I think the atemi with the highest knockout-percentage is the shuto or knifehand to the neck (back or side): this'll easily drop a man since it overloads the nervous system and briefly interrupts bloodflow to the brain. Any blow to the temple is also a good candidate but the downside it the accuracy needed to achieve this effect.

    Zara

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  14. @Zara, If both closed fists and palm heels have the same potential for knocking out an attacker, why is it foolish to rely on only one??? They both have the same knockout ability. One is not better than the other?

    I believe most martial artists (and this is a broad generalisation), practise too many techniques. I am of the belief that it is better to practise fewer techniques, and train them hard and often. It is better to be a master of a few techniques than be average at many. Even the old master always say, be exceptional at the basics. I think this is what they were talking about.

    I think it makes more sense to practise fewer techniques, such as those that instinctively we already have a predisposition towards, learn that technique to a good standard, and then pressure test those few techniques, so the trainee is forced to dig deep and apply them under pressure. After all, a defender will be applying their techniques under pressure in the real thing, so that is how we should aim to train. This approach can be utilised in any martial system.

    I think aiming to knockout and aiming to cause damage are two very different things. When one aims to knock out, then for sure damage can be inflicted if the knockout is not achieved. But just aiming to cause damage is less likely to cause a knockout if the damage is not inflicted. So I would aim for the knockout as it stops an attacker quicker and is more final. Why go for a flurry and cause damage in an attempt to interupt an attackers thought process (which is not a bad approach really), when the first knock out attaempt may work? Situation finish. Going for that flurry gives an attacker further opportunity to continue THEIR attack as well.

    The argument of combinations vs going for the knock out is age old and is a slightly different subject altogether. This is often seen in kick boxing vs Muay Thai training methodologies. Generally (and I am broadly generalising again), western fighters are trained from the combination camp and the Thais train for the knockout. Different tactics for the same tools. It is a personal thing. Me, I am of the knock out school of thought. Strikes with knockout intent can also be applied in combinations.

    Agreed that striking the neck is an excellent idea. In many ways it is a much better target than the heavily boned skull. Only ever to be used in survival encounters and not drunken pub fights. Perfect for me as I think it is very unlikely I will ever get into a pub fight and will only use my skills to ward off an attacker or to protect someone I care about. The neck can be struck with either an open or closed hand with a low risk of injury as well.

    Enjoying the discussion.

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  15. Obviously for self defense striking with knockout power is preferable (hit as hard as possible), at least in serious situations (this is the way I train) but this doesn’t preclude making combinations (we use boxing combo’s with the addition of hammerfists, shuto, elbows…) unless you’re referring to the over-committed form of striking that seems to be favored in karate and other traditional styles which I think is a bad idea since it’ll leave you badly exposed should you miss. In boxing it is said that you should always be in balance and you should be able to throw a hundred or more full-power punches in sequence without having to adjust or reset (one punch puts you in the perfect position to throw another, this the concept of flow). We aren’t trying to blow through armor here: my aim is to hit him hard and fast enough to knock him out or at least get his attention, not to kill him or maim him for life. If I ever need to do that (hope to god I never have to) there are other ways and putting a man down is a great way of ensuring he’ll be unable or at least less able to defend whatever you need to do next.

    In my opinion it is foolish to rely on just one blow (good chance he’ll either block it, evade it or just plain take it: some people can take an awful amount of damage, especially when they’re very angry, psychotic or high) and hope it will be enough: obviously it’s great when you knock him out or down with your first technique but common sense suggests this is not always possible or even likely if your opponent has had training and you’ll be very exposed to a counter if you stop and retreat or put yourself in a vulnerable position. This would be aking to halting an offense before the enemy is defeated and routing or Hitler’s grand gamble at Kursk which cost him the war (if he hadn’t lost it already by that stage). Potential does not equal actuality (‘may’ does not guarantee ‘will’) and Murphy’s law is very much in effect when it comes to fighting. Personally I’d love for someone to try to take my head off with one great power punch: all you have to do is side-step it, bob&weave or just plain intercept and you can go to work since he’ll be very off-balance and vulnerable. It’s much more difficult to fight an opponent who doesn’t over-commit and who punches hard but without trying to overdo it and always keep his balance and guard intact. This is comparable to the difference between someone swinging a baseball bat at you and someone who dances around you with an escrima stick, hitting your hands and knees whenever he can and striking with power whenever an opportunity presents itself: the baseball bat has a fearsome reputation (indeed its main advantage is the fear it inspires) and will deal a lot more damage per blow than the escrima stick (making it popular for up close and personal killings or teaching someone a lesson they’ll not soon forget) but if you see it coming it’s fairly easy to defend against: either step in when he loads up or sway back and let it pass: both his hands are occupied and he can’t fake or change his strike mid-air which is entirely possibly with the lighter weapon. ...

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  16. Another example would be facing a criminal who delivers full-power knife thrusts or an escrimador who’ll dance around you and flick his blade out, slicing you up and doing cumulative damage (why take the change to go for the body if you can go for the limbs which form his defense and let him grow weaker and more stressed out with every wound you inflict?) while denying you a safe way in: who do you think is the more dangerous opponent? At least with the criminal you have a chance (if you’re trained properly and you explode into your defense without the slightest hesitation and with the full intention to finishing him using any means necessary), facing the trained knife fighter is virtual suicide and very difficult even when you’re able to deploy your own blade. Full-power, totally committed blows (following the karate concept of ‘hikken hisatsu’ or ‘one strike one kill’) are really only useful when you’re absolutely sure you’ll connect or as a finishing blow, otherwise they’re just too dangerous and I’d rather have to use multiple blows (if you miss no harm no foul since you’re still reasonably protected and if you do connect it’ll be far easier to sneak the next one in) than stack it all on one shot and face defeat when things go awry. To each his own of course but this is how I feel about this and luckily I’m only responsible for my own life, not someone else’s.

    As to the subject of knockout vs causing damage or even merely pain: there are situations which do not warrant the kind of force needed for a knockout (a drunk bothering you does not deserve having his head bashed in) and some techniques, while not necessarily fight stopping in themselves, are so good at breaking his attention and/or putting him in an extremely vulnerable position (a fingerstrike to the eye, hits to the limbs, kicks to the shin or groin which causes his guard to go down...) they’re equally valuable tools to have in your arsenal. …

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  17. I don’t know enough about how they fight in Thailand to verify the truth of your statement but it would seem they use combinations too and westerners are equally capable at delivering knockout power as proven by Ramon Dekkers and Bas Rutten. As I understand it most westerners are both taller and heavier than most Thais so that should make it even easier to project knockout force (more mass means more impact).

    Zara

    PS: in general I agree with the assumption that it’s better to have a few high-percentage and properly trained techniques than hundreds you only know superficially and which may or may not work. Especially for self defense and teaching people who do not have the luxury of time. This seems no more than common-sense, however even for self defense you need some variation and at least a few options otherwise you’ll get stuck when your original technique didn’t work or the situation just didn’t warrant it. For most people it really would be better to learn palmheel strikes as opposed to closed fist punches since it takes a long time to learn how to properly use your fist and even more importantly to condition it for serious impact which occurs when inadvertly striking the skull. Especially for women since they just don’t have the instinct to use their fists and they’ll rely more on hooking type strikes with the open hand or nails so why not capitalize on that and develop it into a proper weapon instead of trying to go against the grain and spend a long time doing exercises that have little to do with actually learning how to fight. If you can’t go a round bare-knuckled with full power on a standard boxing bag without spraining your wrist or injuring your knuckles you’re not ready to fight bare knuckled and you’d better stick to techniques that offer the same amount of impact while being generally safer to use when striking hard surfaces. Sure, your fingers can get snagged but how often does that happen (never happened to me in any case) and they’ll always be downsides to any technique. If he covers up and you smash your fist full power into his elbow you’ll shatter it and that’ll seriously impact your possibilities and will likely give the advantage to the other guy while leaving you less capable of defending yourself even when you’re able to keep the pain from interfering with your decision making and fighting spirit. If you’re willing to properly condition your fists than by all means do so and you’ll end up with a very potent and destructive weapon but I don’t see the average joe doing this since they don’t even take the time and effort to learn to properly box in the first place (haymakers are oh so easy to defend against).

    In any case I fail to see why it would difficult or detrimental to learn an extra technique, especially since they’re so similar (a straight line attack always follows a straight line and uses the same body-mechanics, it would be like putting another type of head onto a powertool). There is value in expanding one’s base and learning techniques that might be less appropriate in most situations but might be extremely useful as a solution to certain problems. There is more to fighting than just self defense and if two trained fighters meet the one who can pull off a technique the other one isn’t familiar with will has a good chance of winning so it does make sense to train other techniques and approaches as soon as the basics are mastered. This doesn’t mean the basics are to be neglected (quite on the contrary) but there are so many martial arts out there that offer very valuable and useful techniques and strategies so why keep limiting yourself to your chosen few? Once you’ve trained the cross and you internalized it how much can you still improve upon it by continuing hitting the bag, mitts or shadow boxing as much as you did when you first learned it?

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  18. Hi Zara, thanks for the detailed responses! Interesting reading.

    Firstly, when you previously said it was foolish to rely on only one strike when discussing the open vs closed hand striking, I thought you were saying it was foolish to choose just one type of strike whether that is open or closed hand. I did not realise you were actually talking about using just one strike. I misunderstood you there. I was saying it was acceptable to choose just one TYPE of strike and was not saying that it is acceptable to just throw one strike.

    I agree totally with your comments as to how it is indeed foolish to just throw one strike and hope that finishes the encounter. Very unlikely and over optimistic.

    At the same time, that very first strike used against an attacker should be with the intent to end the encounter. Every single strike should be delivered with the aim to end the encounter. Combinations are for sure necessary but no strike should be used without intending for it to end the encounter. To throw a half arsed strike merely to be as part of a combination aimed to overwhelm an attacker just gives the attacker an opportunity to counter it. Thats just my opinion anyway, each to their own.

    Ahhhhh, weapons are a very different matter from punching Zara. I agree totally that wildly and over powerful knife thrusts is a bad idea. That is because the weapon has such more lethal ability than just a punch or open hand strike. A punch or open hand strike MUST be delivered with a certain amount of power to stop an attacker, most effectively by knocking him out. The knife can slip between ribs and cut organs or easily slice vital arteries in the neck. This is a very different matter and an entirely different game than empty hand striking.

    With a knife, it is common to accidently see a 'double kill' as both opponents try to finish each other off at the same time and both achieve their goals but were themselves 'killed' in the process. Just check out any of the Dogbrothers videos for proof of that. That is one of the most dangerous aspects of the edged weapon. But that is totally different than unarmed combat.

    Agree totally about your points regarding the drunk. Other scenarios where survival is not an issue is when trying to split up a fight between family members or when an obviously untrained person is just lashing out due to an extremely heightened state of emotional arousal for any number of reasons which can be brought on by the pressures of life. I was not referring to these situations but actual survival situations.

    The point about the Thais vs Western fighters is based purely on observation and casual conversations with other people who train. I am no expert in Thai Boxing. From my observations, generally a Thai fighter will deploy a combination of no more than three to five strikes but each strike will be deployed at full power. Whereas a western kickboxer will often use combinations of up to seven or so strikes. Often it seems to me, that the western fighter aims to score points and try to wear their opponent out over a number of rounds. Now these are just based purely on observation and I have no firm knowledge on which to base that. Any proficient MT or KB out there, feel free to offer your opinion on this. The Thais always seem to be attempting to throw their techniques at full power and yet they maintain control and are not throwing them wildly. Damn impressive to watch!

    I agree totally that for women, the open hand palm strike is the best. Actually, I would add to that, that it should be used in conjunction with eye gauging and scratching and hair pulling. Females need to be (and in the eyes of law can be) much more nasty when defending themselves against a male. Literally, the gloves are off... pun intended...

    Some of the above was off topic but interesting nonetheless :)

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  19. While I’m a big fan of boxing I wouldn’t just rely on regular punches: in panantukan (Filipino boxing) it is said you should be able to attack from any angle (much like you’d strike with a weapon since from the perspective of technique empty hand and weapons are thought to be interchangeable) and this implies the use of other techniques such as hammerfists (perhaps one of the best striking methods available since it will protect both the knuckles and the fingers), earslaps, forearm blows… All are easy to learn and very effective so why not add them to your arsenal and become a better fighter for it? The open hand has many advantages, at least in a street fight where there aren’t ‘rules’ to prohibit certain techniques (of course there are rules: they’re called laws and violating them will most likely lead to you demonstrating your skills in the prison showers): it’s much easier to transition into a grab (clinch or throw) and the fingers can easily be employed to attack the eyes since they’re already on or near the target.

    I don’t agree all techniques should be thrown as hard as possible: it all depends on where you strike, which body-weapon you’re using and what you want to achieve really… A fingerstrike to the eye or throat doesn’t need much power and indeed using power will impede effectivness (slowing it down) and can be potentially very dangerous since you could break your fingers upon contact with the skull. I don’t know about you but I’d rather eat any jab than receiving a finger to the eye, even if it only slightly grazes the eyeball. The same with a kick or slap to the groin: I’m not trying to kick or punch his nuts up into his throat (common mistakes with beginners: they think they need to try to kick as hard as possible and as a result you can see it coming a mile away and their kick can easily be countered) but to hurt him without suffering retaliation in return and the main object is to open up other targets (mainly the head) should he still be resisting after the first (counter)attack. Of course this is not a ‘fair’ way of fighting and in sparring I would never do this unless there’s an agreement on light strikes to the groin being allowed (of course wearing appropriate protection) but I don’t train for sports and I won’t fight until it’s absolutely necessary, meaning my health, dignity or life are in danger or those I care about. In those situations almost anything goes and the damage he sustains is his fault and not mine since he initiated the confrontation and he basically forced me to take him out. A blow with the edge of the hand to the neck really does not need much power to be effective and throwing it as hard as possible would only be appropriate in a life or death situations since it’s quite likely you’ll kill him with it (at least when you had training and conditioned your hand). …

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  20. I very much like the WC way of punching: chaining short range punches together in a constant barrage aimed at the opponent’s face, cutting the line whenever possible and trapping his arms on the way in: of course this is only feasible on the short range but once there it’s king… If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of the straight blast (multiple vertical fists thrown in quick succession) you know how effective it is and how incredibly difficult to defend unless you’ve had similar training. Sure it’s unlikely you’ll get knocked out with his first punch but the likelihood of it arriving on target is much greater than with the standard boxing punches (plus you’re better protected since your elbow never leaves centerline which is where your vital targets are) and 3 or 4 of these punches easily equal the power of one good cross, not to mention the other body weapons he can employ from the range (elbows, knees, headbutts…) and how by then he has completely broken your posture and destroyed your concentration. Of course it isn’t wise to try to do this from medium range and in that range you’re right it is indeed better not to throw half assed techniques which can be countered (it would be far wiser to employ feints instead) but there are few systems that are so effective in short range as WC, no wonder it’s become so popular these days and it basically forms the core of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do (albeit in a modified form), still one of the best street fighting systems to date. JKD, while more complex and more difficult to learn as compared to krav maga or another close combat or reality based system (good marketing but misleading since a) not all these systems are very practical and b) it implies they’re the only ones who train realistically which is of course not true), is designed to counter trained fighters and to make one proficient in all ranges of combat, especially the short range where it shines. KM is very good to learn solid self defense skills as quickly as possible (especially countering amateurs swinging a variety of common weapons at you, at this they absolutely shine) but it’s not very well suited to fight trained opponents. An escrimador would laugh at krav maga’s weapon defenses since they’re so easily penetrated for one with skill and training (KM’s defenses are predicated on the notion of committed, powerful attacks as employed by criminals or doped up or very angry individuals). The same deal with a trained kickboxer who’ll just dance around the krav guy, fake and create openings to exploit and finish the fight. Each art has its own focus and area of expertise and there are so many attributes and levels of skill…

    I’m no expert in the martial arts but I do have experience and every time I think I know what it’s about I learn something new or I see people who are so good it’s not even possible to accurately gauge their skill level. This is both slightly disappointing (it seems the more you learn the more there still is to be learned) and refreshing/motivating since it makes you realize martial arts are indeed a lifetime endaveour and you’ll never run out of learning experiences and the thrill of feeling yourself improve. At the very least it teaches you to be humble: don’t boast of your skills and never pick a fight since a) it’s quite immoral to do so (you’re disgracing both yourself and your teacher) and b) you never know who it is you’ll be fighting and if you pick on the wrong guy you will suffer. Most proficient and authentic teachers I’ve seen don’t look like much (just ordinary guys with an average build and friendly demeanor, no special features commonly associated with aggression or ‘skill’) but boy do they change when they’re demonstrating or you spar them. My teacher in particular is a very laidback and overall nice guy but whenever he trains he gets this look and you just know he can snap virtually any bone in your body if he so wishes and there’s little or anything or you could do about it (at least I couldn’t). Beware the guy who’s relaxed and even smiling in tense situations.

    Zara

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  21. My general rule for open or closed hands for martial arts and self-defense is "Hard to soft; Soft to hard." Hard fists are used on softer areas like the body and Soft palms are used on the hardest area (i.e. head).

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  22. Should have added liver punches and their applications.

    A closed fist to the liver or floating ribs is highly effective and is a soft, squishy target. It's also a scenario where you can use a knifehand.

    http://taekwondousa.blogspot.com/2012/03/dangers-of-using-fists-in.html

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  23. Target areas are bigger :)

    http://muaythai-style.blogspot.com/

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