John Hackleman

In 1986 John Hackleman opened a gym he named The Pit. That led to fighters who operated from this base being called pit fighters. The most renowned of those early pit fighters was Chuck Liddell, a martial artist who went on to become the UFC light-heavyweight champion.

Looking farther back in history, however, one comes across the term "pit fighting" in reference to a hard form of Hawaiian kempo — which at one time was known as kajukenbo, yet another hybrid martial art originating in Hawaii in the late 1940s. The name kajukenbo, of course, is formed from the first letters of the names of the arts that constitute it: karate, judo, jujitsu, kenpo and boxing. Not a bad mix at all!

Keep Reading Show less
SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

As soon as a developing self-defense situation is detected, a wise martial artist thinks about quickly removing himself or herself from the situation, says John Hackleman, a master of Hawaiian kempo. "If you can, talk your way out of it. Use verbal judo or de-escalation. Or get in your car and lock the door — that's the best-case scenario. If you have to, use stun and run.

"But you need to train for the worst-case scenario. If somebody punches you in the face for no reason, the de-escalation period is over. That's the scenario I'm interested in. I'll let the psychologists deal with everything else.

"Some instructors recommend trying to instill fear in an attacker, but Hackleman is not a fan of that tactic. "If he's on crack, there is no logic," he says. "And you could kick a person in the groin, and he could still manage to attack you. You've got to separate him from his consciousness."

Hackleman, who appeared on the cover of the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Black Belt, identifies several methods for achieving that goal. They include blunt-force trauma to the head from a strike or kick, interruption of the blood flow to the brain from a choke, and loss of blood as a result of a knife wound or gunshot."

When you've done one of these, then and only then are you safe," Hackleman says. "If you're an adult, this is what your training should focus on."

The main reason I fell in love with the left hook started when I was a young kid. As a skinny young 14-year-old Haole (white) kid with long blonde hair, I definitely did not look like the stereotypical aspiring boxer, and I was being driven to my first "sanctioned" boxing match. It happened to be against a local Hawaiian in his hometown. Needless to say it was a long drive. Fighting a local in his hometown was scary enough, but given that his hometown was nicknamed “No Haole zone”, added insult to injury.

Learn the secrets of the left hook from John Hackleman himself! Check out the left hook videos and more from The Pit Online Video Courses.

Keep Reading Show less
Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter