john hackleman

What You Need to Know About Hand Strikes as Taught by John Hackleman, Trainer of One of the UFC's Best Punchers

That sentence, uttered by John Hackleman — master of Hawaiian kempo, coach of MMA star Chuck Liddell and the man who appeared on the cover of Black Belt's December 2017/January 2018 issue — was not inherently surprising. However, before I could wrap my head around it and formulate a follow-up, he doubled down:

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John Hackleman

Black Belt presents a LIVE training seminar going over self defense techniques with The Pit Master John Hackleman.

John Hackleman is owner and founder of The Pit. He has been the trainer for fighters world wide including Chuck Liddell, Tim Kennedy, and many more. John's style is Hawaiian Kenpo originally which incorporates elements of self defense he has adapted for real life scenerios.

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!

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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."

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