In this Black Belt exclusive, Hall of Famer Burton Richardson reveals five more ways in which you can benefit from adopting silat's open-hand self-defense tactics.

In the first part of this post, Burton Richardson talks about the following silat self-defense principles:


• It’s easier to de-escalate a situation with open hands.

• Open hands facilitate the use of more techniques.

• Open hands make it easier to catch kicks.

• It’s easier to stop a weapon with open hands.

• Use of a physical-restraint technique requires open hands.

In this part, he addresses five more.

— Editor

Silat Strategy No. 6: To parry an attack, the hands must be open.

Blocking punches is fine if your only goal is to avoid getting hit. However, if your goal is to neutralize the source of those punches, the beauty of silat parrying becomes apparent. Why? Because when you parry, you can counterstrike at the same time.

To execute a parry, your hands must be open. That’s because you’ll need to use a palm to divert that punch and thus create an opening for your counter. Yes, you’ll need to spar a lot to fine-tune your timing, but once you do, you’ll find that parrying affords you a higher level of defense than does blocking.

Silat for the Street is the title of a new book from Black Belt Hall of Famer Burton Richardson and Black Belt magazine. Now you can learn the most functional silat techniques. Get more info here!

Silat Strategy No. 7: Open hands foster a relaxed mind and body.

If you want to move at maximum speed, you must be relaxed. If you want to flow, you must be relaxed. If you want your mind to be pliable and ready to perceive all threats, you must be relaxed. Having your hands open relaxes your mind.

In contrast, closing them into fists tends to make your mind tight and your body tense. Because of this mind-body link, keeping your hands open is often the key to keeping yourself in a calm state that will optimize your overall fighting skill.

Video from Burton Richardson’s Silat for the Street. Sign up here.

Silat Strategy No. 8: Feinting is more effective with open hands.

You may be thinking, How can this be? After all, feinting with a fist works very well, right? Yes, it does, but throwing an open hand as a feint presents your opponent with the perception that a larger weapon is incoming. That’s because an open hand is larger than a closed fist.

Because of that difference in perceived size, feinting with an open hand makes your adversary think the blow is closer and, therefore, more of a threat. For that reason, it’s likely to elicit a bigger reaction, which is exactly what you want from your feint. Remember that the bigger the reaction you get from your opponent, the bigger the opening for you to take advantage of.

Silat Strategy No. 9: Striking with open hands subjects the body to less danger.

You’re less likely to hurt your hand when making contact with a palm than with a fist. If you have any doubts, look up “boxer’s fracture” online. You’ll learn that it’s one of the most common injuries in street fighting — and even in boxing and MMA matches, in which athletes have their hands taped and wrapped with gloves.

Breaking a hand in an altercation likely will mean you can no longer strike with that hand or use it to grab your attacker. That’s bad if you’re a civilian. It’s worse if you’re a law-enforcement officer or military member because you might need to fend off a surprise attack before transitioning to a weapon.

Silat Strategy No. 10: Training is simpler with open hands.

I’m a big advocate of putting on helmets and gloves frequently to do safe sparring, but I also believe that you can safely spar with your open hands without all the gear. You’ll want to wear a mouth guard and a cup to make sure face contact and groin strikes are options — remember that you’re polishing your self-defense skills, not engaging in a combat sport — but you’ll want to avoid wearing bulky boxing gloves. They’ll prevent you from working on certain clinches and control techniques that require tactile sensitivity and the dexterity of an open hand.

For this reason, it’s best to do some of your sparring without gloves. Focus on being functional with your open hands. You’ll find it’s fun and a great way to develop more options in your arsenal. And in real-world situations that may involve violence, you want your mind to have access to as many options as possible.

Read Part 1 of this article here.

Article by Burton Richardson • Photos by Robert Reiff

Click here to read the author's post titled "Pencak Silat Expert Gets MMA Smackdown, Regroups, Comes Back Even Stronger With His Martial Art."

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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