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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
<div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing...">know that attachment to any one idea ultimately will limit your options and make you more predictable in battle. With that said, there is a move that's perhaps the most versatile technique for use in personal combat, and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee" target="_blank">Bruce Lee</a> knew it well.<br/></div><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing...">
Combat Chess<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDM0My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5MTk2MDE3M30.ITCjBPu9aE5EUzwZEIKpzlPE_6ovW911ir-ZjIonfP4/image.jpg?width=1500&coordinates=131%2C345%2C357%2C203&height=2000" id="e612a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3072885226e45985dad115a8f6031564" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><em><a href="https://blackbeltmag.com/jeet-kune-dos-combat-philosophy" data-linked-post="2645906483" target="_blank">Jeet kune do</a></em> is a scientific approach to street fighting, a method for developing complete martial artists who are not bound by any style or system. Rather, they're able to adapt to all styles, systems, situations and circumstances. JKD, of course, is the result of Bruce Lee's search for the truth of combat, and part of that truth is that those who have mastered attacking the eyes and groin while weaponizing their awareness will have a distinct advantage in a street fight.</p><p>A street fight is like a very brief game of combat chess involving two strategists. In this context, the "queen of all moves," the most versatile technique of all, is the <em>bil jee,</em> or thrusting finger jab executed with the lead hand. Simply put, it's the fastest, most effective strike in the martial arts. It can be found in all traditional styles and reality-based self-defense systems. It even appears in MMA — think about how many times you've seen an accidental finger to the eye stop a UFC fight.</p>
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDM5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDM1MDU3OH0.mi7gJxq_ESAbz5R-C7103F1bVOhyEjUyqvdQYjyx16U/image.jpg?width=980" id="d2d22" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="47b73e940d618e11a441b9a883543011" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The Bill Jee eye jab offers an incredible self defense advantage from a speed and range perspective and exceptionally effective." /><p>With the bil jee, you don't need to pierce or penetrate the target; you just need to touch the eyeball. This offers an incredible advantage from a speed and range perspective. To strike with a boxer's jab, you must get closer to your opponent and hit "through" the target in order to cause damage. That makes you slower because your fist must travel farther to make contact and then move past that point.</p><p>In chess, the aim is to attack with the queen while defending your king. The queen isn't limited to any set pattern and can strike from all angles, making it the most powerful piece on the board. Similarly, the bil jee can attack from any angle, and it can be adapted to work with any style. Further, the technique allows you to maintain the "fighting measure," or safe fighting distance, and effortlessly strike your enemy's eyes with the speed of a cobra.</p><p>Whether you choose to initiate the attack or use a counterattack, the bil jee offers an opportunity to create a flinch response or a moment of pain. This is your opportunity to steal the next beat in time and seize an open line of attack. For example, using a high-low-high strategy, you first attack the eyes (high) with a bil jee, then on the next half-beat, you attack the groin (low) with a lead-leg kick. Finally, you come back up to the eyes (high) for another bil jee.</p><p>The real power of the bil jee lies in its seamless integration with other striking, trapping and grappling tools. Depending on one tool or strategy as your be-all and end-all is not a good tactical approach. The chess master knows this, which is why he uses every piece on the board and coordinates attack and defense in an integrated fashion.</p><p>In JKD, the idea is simply to simplify. Attack the eyes and the groin, maintain the distance and intercept the space between. Use elbow and knee destructions to defang the snake and destroy the opponent's punches and kicks. Be deceptive with footwork and timing, and draw him by setting and breaking rhythms. Weaponize awareness to connect to him, create opportunities and adapt like water. When the opponent expands, contract. When the opponent contracts, expand. Recognize patterns and seize openings by waiting, observing and reading his movements and intentions.</p>
Defend The King<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDQ1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzODEzNjc1OX0.auDCI_jr0vTBCXxwU6R-V0Dd-C78ZMvJawePlK8OBSg/image.jpg?width=980" id="4af8d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="42aa0521105d1a2d677d7e77fef723cd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="As Harinder Singh demonstrates breathing techniques and its importance on conserving energy." /><p>As you attack with your queen, you must not forget to defend your king. The king, in this case, is your breath. In chess, the king can move only one square at a time. Similarly, breathing can be managed only one breath at a time. If you lose track of your breathing, you're doomed — in a fight and in life.</p><p>Proper breathing is important for two reasons: It allows you to conserve energy, and it helps you weaponize your awareness. When you fight, fear, stress and anxiety create tension, which can cause you to hold your breath. When you hold your breath, your energy gets depleted. Feeling slower and weaker, you start to panic. Obsessive thinking sets in, and the chatter in your mind robs you of the present moment, making you your own worst enemy.</p><p>Controlling your respiration in tense situations is a skill that must be developed. Learning to relax on demand during conflict, chaos and the ever-changing circumstances of a fight is often overlooked and usually undertrained.</p><p>Fighting changes from moment to moment based on you, your opponent and your environment. Victory is not in the end result. Rather, victory is gained by making the right decisions and adapting from one moment to the next. To effectively adapt to your opponent, you must learn to weaponize your awareness. To weaponize your awareness, you must learn to come from the center of time and space. The center of time and space is where you, the observer, should live. An observer has no thoughts, judgments or attachments. An observer knows without knowing and acts and reacts on his own. That may sound mystical, but it's really not. Consider:</p><p>While driving your car, have you ever swerved out of the way at the last moment and barely avoided an accident? It's almost like you moved before you had time to process the event, and only afterward did you realize what you'd done.</p><p>In sparring, have you ever just hit your opponent and then, in the next moment, realized that he was open? This is the phenomenon you're after. Awareness is always there; it's just that some people have lost touch with it. By reconnecting with awareness, you're not creating anything new. Rather, you're connecting with something you may have forgotten.</p>
Weaponize Your Awarness<p>My <em><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi" target="_blank">tai chi</a></em> master taught that to weaponize awareness and orient from the center of time and space, a martial artist needs to know the four pillars of the mind: imagination, sensation, intention and attention. They're considered the keys to weaponizing awareness because they teach you to task your mind with orienting from the perspective of the observer and not the thinker. Outlined below is the three-step process that I teach all my students, from military and law-enforcement personnel to civilian martial artists.</p>
Step 1: Orient From The Still Point
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDUxNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDUxMjgyM30.5WnGekfNoxNeBdCFWXg6e0yL5tv6c64gZUQJ35jKbp0/image.jpg?width=980" id="b3a7a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="251de2986adecfe7068f28a9142a076b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Start your breathing exercises by directing attention to your resspiration." />
<p>Start by directing your intention and attention to your respiration. When you inhale and exhale, feel your abdomen expand and contract. Now focus on the still point of the breath, the pause between an inhalation and exhalation and between an exhalation and inhalation. During the pauses, direct your intention to your heartbeat. Feel the sensation as it ripples throughout your body like a stone rippling on a pond.</p><p>Count four heartbeats, then slowly increase the number. If you try to expand the duration of your still points too quickly, you'll introduce tension in your body. Your mind will start to panic because it thinks you're dying due to lack of air. Rest assured you're not going to die. Instead, smile, relax and let go of the tension. Don't force this. As you practice and relax into it, the time between breaths will increase naturally, and you'll develop internal awareness. Once this becomes comfortable, expand your awareness outside your body and listen to the sounds in the room.</p><p>Next, you must learn how to operate from the center of space. You need to extend your spatial awareness outward toward the six directions: forward and backward, left and right, and up and down. Extend your awareness by putting your intention and attention on these directions, and you'll be operating from the center of space. Remember that your awareness is a full 360 degrees, not just what's in front of you.</p><p>You can try it right now while you're sitting. Concentrate on extending your attention into the six directions. Let your awareness envelope the entire room. If it seems difficult, do two directions at a time until you feel comfortable, then integrate the others.</p><p>The next phase is to imagine your physical body melting away. All that's left is internal and external awareness, which merge into one "noticing awareness." As you practice removing yourself (mind and body) from the equation, you'll become familiar with this state of being. You'll create a new reference point, which is the center of time and space.</p>
Heed The Wisdom of Musashi<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDYzMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzA5ODY2NH0.Cr5sdMob-cL2ZUz6YeCKrDy4qXrQvmewqxnKR_DWqxY/image.jpg?width=980" id="dbd7e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="06e28928368d80e6122fd83d3f5e2991" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Implement the wisdom of Miyamoto Musashi" /><p>Tactics, strategies and weapons are just knowledge, and knowledge without wisdom can be dangerous. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. You can learn about awareness, understand strategy and know the fastest move (the bil jee), but if you can't apply this knowledge, it's just useless information.</p><p><a href="https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Miyamoto_Musashi" target="_blank">Miyamoto Musashi</a> said, "The way is in training." Your confidence stems from experiential knowledge and knowing that you've embodied your tools and strategies so they can be adapted for use in changing situations. Only then can you be wholly in the moment and surrender to the experience by letting go of victory or defeat.</p><p>The best way to develop this ability is by using a training method that's fun and functional. It should develop your physical attributes, strategies and weapon selection while sharpening your awareness. It should be equal parts feeding drills, counter-for-counter drills and sparring against resisting opponents. Because a fight is a living exchange, your training must incorporate timing, angles, distance and progressive resistance. To help you with this, I have developed a method that gamifies the learning process.</p>
Play Combat Chess<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDY2OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTU3ODUzOH0.vSW3w8FWGRGcNpc1Mfq1ToqiV5SWYm3v3CjqjupG54A/image.jpg?width=980" id="0ddc0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4cf3438b091244ad0911b735b4f7e6d3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Develop your strategy for your own game of combat chess" /><p>To absorb all the benefits of training, you need a step-by-step progression that chunks pieces of information and installs them in your subconscious mind. The greatest chess masters isolate individual pieces — for example, a king versus a king and a pawn. Chess masters learn how these isolated pieces move together on the board, and this information is stored in their subconscious. This isolation method of training accelerates the learning process, which is why <a href="https://blackbeltmag.com/bjj-advice-from-rickson-gracie-grapplers-must-also-learn-to-strike" data-linked-post="2645906301" target="_blank">Rickson Gracie</a> made it part of his <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_jiu-jitsu" target="_blank">Brazilian jiu-jitsu</a> training philosophy. When you isolate tools or positions, you have fewer options and are forced to focus on energy, awareness, timing, and the space between the strikes and positions.</p><p>The four "games" listed below can be used to functionalize any tactic or strategy, but to mesh with this article, you should focus on bil jee attacks to the eyes and lead-leg attacks to the groin. For best results, experiment with opponents of different body types and martial arts backgrounds. Start by feeding each other techniques with no resistance so the correct mechanics can be learned. Next, introduce counters so you can start to understand timing and the appropriate responses. Finally, incorporate resistance and intelligently spar using the isolated weapons and positions.</p>
Game 1: Coordinate Awareness And Movement
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDY4MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzIyNzY1OX0.LMvYPo5riE35Rwgl9u_lQ2-rFvqIqYQzWYe050maJaE/image.jpg?width=980" id="dfc8d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f20531fbc4fde932775b853e57a8a427" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Begin with a partner and feed each other shots with a rapid progression" />
<p>Your partner, wearing boxing gloves, is restricted to using only the jab. His goal in the first round is to hit you 30 percent of the time while feeding you 70 percent of the time. In the second round, he switches to hitting you 70 percent of the time and feeding you 30 percent. Your objective is to move, watch and breathe. When moving, reposition your feet, head and hands as one unit. When watching, extend your awareness in all six directions. When breathing, don't tense up or hold your breath.</p>
Put The Art In Martial Arts<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDg0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDk0MjA5NX0.0jd8wnRcjl7VKjc4pNL79z15oj0AKSBzmgq2B4N_RGM/image.jpg?width=980" id="5309c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b3a9ebb138722b70f6bf83ef5cea4934" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>"Creation" refers to making something that didn't exist before. When you create art, there can be no fear of the outcome, just honest self-expression. By following the combat-chess methodology, you'll start chunking information and installing the chunks in your subconscious. Your subconscious has the ability to connect the various groupings of information and create responses without conscious thought, leaving you to be the observer of the experience.</p><p>Operating as the observer will make time seem to flow more slowly and allow you to "start after but arrive before" your opponent. It's the most freeing phenomenon that can be experienced in the martial arts. It's the instinctive response that Bruce Lee was referring to when he said, "It hits all by itself."</p><p>The master key to success in this fighting process is you. Remember that results rule. Question everything and always look to explore, discover, grow and create. </p>
<p><br/></p></div></div><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."></div><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."></div></div><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."></div><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."></div><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."></div><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."><span></span></div><div class="redactor-editor" dir="ltr" placeholder="Start writing..."></div>
Sifu Harinder Singh<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxMDgzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDk0NTA4MX0.pQ62IzGNpu-B8rhQSCD36VDY69Uq3yBtH8ceH-bYYfA/image.jpg?width=980" id="eeb1c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3359e3406b7d7fd2004ee7ac41a6cf92" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Portrait of Harinder Singh" /><p><em>Harinder Singh Sabharwal teaches jeet kune do, wing chun, tai chi, savate, kali, boxing, wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's the founder of the Jeet Kune Do Athletic Association and Black Belt University. For information about his new online course, visit <a href="http://jkdathletics.com/" target="_blank">jkdforblackbelts.com</a>.</em></p>
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Training in Hapkido, Watching Billy Jack and becoming a sheepdog
On the East Coast and West Coast, schools had been emerging and multiplying since the mid-1960s, but those of us who lived in "flyover country" had few opportunities to broaden our understanding of arts like karate, kung fu, judo and taekwondo.
At Union University in my hometown of Jackson, Tennessee, I'd been fortunate to train from 1969 to 1970 in the then little-known art of hapkido. In a field-house basement, a Korean student and former captain in the ROK Army known only as Mr. Suh organized and taught the system to a small group of dedicated students. Suh ran a no-nonsense traditional class, and for 10 months, we couldn't get enough of his instruction. Despite the bruises and the blood, we always looked forward to our next session.
<p>Fellow student Ivy Scarborough put it this way: "Mr. Suh was trained in an environment that was very much 'real world' and where survival was at stake. I am very glad we had the benefit of that mindset."</p><p>When Suh unexpectedly returned to Korea in the fall of 1970, we were devastated. How could we continue our training? Kang Rhee had a taekwondo school in Memphis where Elvis Presley and Bill Wallace had studied, but that was 80 miles away. As a young man working his way through college, I could afford neither the time nor the tuition. Without an instructor, I turned to books, magazines (Black Belt being the primary one), television and movies to learn about any style I could find.</p><p>Around that time, a seminal movie appeared, and it compelled me to wrestle with some tough questions about my future. I ultimately wound up re-evaluating my career choice.</p><h2>Cinematic Inspiration</h2><p>After conceiving of the storyline, Tom Laughlin began filming Billy Jack in 1969, and the movie hit theaters in 1971. The moment I saw it, I was impressed by the fight scenes. Apparently, many others were, as well — the movie grossed an unprecedented $40 million. For me, though, Billy Jack carried a special meaning for several reasons.</p><p>First, the hero's techniques were nearly identical to the ones Suh had taught us. Until that point, few Americans even knew what hapkido was. Stunt adviser/coordinator Bong Soo Han changed all that when he brought the art to the big screen via Laughlin.</p><p>Second, Billy Jack made an impression on me for a much deeper reason, one that I suspect was the opposite of what the producers had hoped for. In the movie, we see a communal Native American school in the desert Southwest operated by what can best be described as "make love, not war" hippies left over from the '60s. Being pacifists, they're constantly besieged by bigots and racists who insult them, demean them and assault them. (Laughlin did an excellent job shining a light on the abuse and poverty that many Native Americans faced at that time and, sadly, that many still do.)</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="12ee51e3b34a06aa8a04e196c5dff899" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="6e48e" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NTEzNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDk0OTIyNX0.81gB7YJzdzqHa6K-TJmlrYu9waGh2QcKusnjvOe8ob8/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p><p><em>Photo Courtesy of International Hapkido Federation</em></p><p>Fortunately, the Native Americans have Billy Jack, a former Green Beret Vietnam vet, to watch over them. Throughout the movie, he employs his hapkido skills to deliver a series of well-deserved beatdowns to the redneck lawmen and bullies. The irony of the situation is that the movie is supposed to be a call for peace and nonviolence, yet the only way the school and the pacifists can survive is if Billy Jack uses violence to protect them.</p><p>I found myself relating more to Billy Jack and his violent solutions to the problems than to the peaceful, nonviolent folks. Given that I was majoring in religion, psychology and theology, that said a lot about the path I was laying out for my life.</p><h2>Literary Inspiration</h2><p>In their book On Combat, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Loren Christensen talk about three kinds of people in the world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Most people are sheep, they explain: "kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other except by accident or under extreme provocation."</p><p>The authors also recognize the existence of wolves, or people who behave as predators and "feed on the sheep without mercy." Pretending the wolves don't exist or failing to prepare to deal with them condemns the sheep to slaughter. Fortunately, there are sheepdogs: police officers, soldiers and others in society who protect the sheep from the wolves.</p><p>In the movie, Billy Jack is a sheepdog. His willingness to use measured violence guarantees the peace-and-love crowd the opportunity to exist.</p><p>Just as I drew a different conclusion from the movie than the producers likely intended, I also had an alternative view of the movie's theme song, One Tin Soldier. </p><p> A 1960s anti-war tune written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, it delivered a message of nonviolence that seemed to fit well with the movie's concept — or, at least, with the pacifist half of the story. In One Tin Soldier, the aggressive valley people (wolves) demand the treasure owned by the mountain people (sheep), who kindly offer to share with their brothers "all the secrets of [their] mountain and all the riches buried there." But being wolves, the valley people are not satisfied with that, so they mount up, draw their swords and butcher the peaceful mountain people. When they uncover the treasure, it simply reads, "Peace on earth."</p><p><em>There won't be any trumpets blowin<br/>'Come the judgment day<br/>On the bloody morning after<br/>One tin soldier rides away.</em></p><p>It's a beautiful song with a lovely melody and a sentimental message. Sadly, it addresses none of the realities of the world. You see, after I watched Billy Jack and listened to One Tin Soldier, it seemed that the problem in the song was not so much the valley people/wolves who were behaving according to human nature. The problem was the mountain people/sheep who, in their naiveté, failed to protect themselves. A basic distrust of their "brothers" below, along with a little preparation and training to defend themselves, would have saved lives and preserved the peace they held so dear.</p><p>Not coincidentally, that notion serves us well in the real world, too.</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4c91ebcda7fb9763e7f65023237e8bf7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="b5798" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NTEzNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMDM3OTUyNn0.wLvrDpIfgpza3u7v_Ydrp6kJfmiOC_55jtacfOuG4ws/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p><p><em><strong></strong>Photo Courtesy of Taylor-Laughlin Productions<br/></em></p><blockquote>Works CitedGrossman, Dave and Christensen, Loren. On Combat. Warrior Science Publications 2004.One Tin Soldier. Coven Lyrics. METROLYRICS. metrolyrics.com/one-tin-soldier-lyrics-coven.htmlPeople Sleep. Quote Investigators: Exploring the Origins of Quotations. quoteinvestigator.com/2011/11/07/rough-men/Scarborough, Ivy. Email exchange with the author. August 22, 2007Historical Inspiration</blockquote><p>I doubt Tom Laughlin, who passed away in 2013 at age 82, would have liked my conclusion about Billy Jack and One Tin Soldier. Yet I felt like I was in good company with my interpretation of both. Consider what author George Orwell said: "Men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them."A similar concept, most likely derived from a Rudyard Kipling poem, reads, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." (People Sleep)After contemplating Billy Jack, I decided that they could keep the tie-dye T-shirts and misplaced pacifism. I would take the hero's hapkido, indomitable spirit, and sense of duty and justice every time. In a nutshell: If a person has no capacity for violence, he or she is a healthy, productive citizen — and a sheep. If a person has a capacity for violence but no empathy for fellow citizens, he or she is a sociopath — a wolf.But what if a person has a capacity for violence and a deep love for other citizens? Then that person is a sheepdog, a warrior. Someone who's walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and emerge unscathed. (Grossman and Christensen, 181)</p><h2>Real-Life Inspiration</h2><p>By 1974 I wanted to walk into that darkness far more than I wanted to stand outside in the light and applaud others who dared to enter. So I became a soldier.</p><p>During the next 30 years, the nomadic lifestyle of a soldier made training in a single martial art impossible. So, from a cold dojo in Alaska to the steamy jungles of Central America and the gritty sand of Southwest Asia, I determined to make a virtue out of necessity.</p><p>In Colorado during the 1980s, I trained in judo and taekwondo. The 1990s found me under the tutelage of a taekwondo grandmaster in Kentucky. While living in Virginia, I was fortunate to train in the direct lineage of Ip Man's wing chun. Today, I teach self-defense in Florida and, of course, I continue to train.</p><p>A few years ago, after a rather intense "light contact" sparring session, my opponent observed the following about me: "You kick like a Korean, punch like an Okinawan, grapple like a Japanese and move to engage like a Chinese." Being a purist when it comes to style, he meant it as a veiled insult. I chose to take it as a compliment.</p><p>In his poem Ulysses, Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote, "I am a part of all I have met." How true. I owe so much to all those who have guided me on my martial arts sojourn. As I stealthily maneuver toward age 70, it's been more than 50 years since the first night I bowed in to Suh's hapkido class in that musty basement. Despite all the training I've experienced, my thoughts often harken back to him.</p><p>If I ever encounter Mr. Suh again, I will thank him for introducing me to hapkido and the warrior way that led me to the life of a sheepdog. </p><p><em>James D. Brewer is a retired U.S. Army officer, writer, lecturer, teacher and lifelong warrior. Over the past 50 years, he's trained in hapkido, shorei-goju karate, judo, taekwondo, Army combatives and wing chun. A former instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he teaches writing at Polk State College in Florida. This article is excerpted from his upcoming book Seeking an Indomitable Spirit: Lessons Learned From My 50-Year Sojourn in the Martial Arts.</em></p>
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Learn the mechanics and do the drills, then unleash the beast that is your round kick!
Because of its versatility and power, the round kick — known to some martial artists as the turning kick, the saber kick or the roundhouse kick — is one of the most common leg techniques in our world. No matter your particular interpretation, the basics are the same: You swing your leg along an arc until your foot or shin strikes the target.
<p>Unfortunately, that very simplicity can have negative consequences. When teaching students to spar, I often find myself thinking, I get it — you can throw a round kick! How about some variety? Try something else! And when I watch taekwondo in the Olympics, it often seems like I'm observing a round-kick marathon.</p><p>Despite its popularity, many martial artists don't have a deep understanding of the round kick. That can prevent them from training properly, using the technique appropriately and maximizing its potential fully. Oblivious to its intricacies, they throw it merely because it's quick and easy to execute.</p><p>This article will attempt to remedy that. In the paragraphs that follow, I will break down the round kick and offer insights into the technical details that are necessary to make progress on the path to mastery.</p><h2> Mechanics</h2><p>The round kick can be executed in many ways, and as long as it's powerful and fast, there's a good chance it will be effective. The version I prefer derives its power and speed from a precise sequence that starts with the kicking leg being propelled by the hip, then has the knee of said leg extending with a snap as the hip turns over and contact is made. </p><p>The most common error I see in the dojang involves students not practicing the kick with a full range of circular motion. Instead, they consistently execute what amounts to a 45-degree round kick. That flies in the face of the philosophy that we all should train to develop maximum power and speed in the full range of motion for a given technique. When that's your default, it's easy to adjust in real time and perhaps throw a shorter-range round kick or one that entails reduced angular travel. Doing less than you've trained to do is easy. However, if you always train for less and occasionally need to do more, you'll likely fall short.</p><p>The type of round kick I'm describing can be broken down into four parts, each of which should follow the previous one as quickly as the situation warrants:</p><ol class="ee-ol"><li> Lift your leg with your knee bent.</li><li> Pivot on the foot of your support leg so your hips can turn over.</li><li> Strike the target by extending your kicking leg while turning over your hips.</li><li> Re-chamber your foot, then return to a fighting stance.</li></ol><p>The reason you should re-chamber your foot before putting it back on the floor is twofold. One, it affords you the opportunity to throw a second kick or even a third if the first one fails to get the job done. Two, it removes your kicking leg from your opponent's reach, thus preventing a leg grab.</p><h2> Power</h2><p> In the martial arts, we often use the word "power" to refer to what scientists call kinetic energy. The relevant formula is: kinetic energy = ½ mass x velocity2</p><p>This formula from classical mechanics tells us that if we want to make our round kick more powerful, we can increase the mass of the object that makes contact or increase its velocity.</p><p>How do you up the mass factor? One way is to move forward while kicking. That puts more of your bodyweight behind the technique. Another way is to rotate your body toward the target as you kick — in essence, that does the same thing. For the rotation to happen, the foot of your support leg must pivot fully. I tell students to envision a spike holding the ball of their foot in place on the floor. Thus, they must rotate on the ball of the foot with the goal of getting the back of the heel pointing toward the target.</p><p>The two most common mistakes I've seen with respect to generating power in the round kick are as follows:</p><ul class="ee-ul"><li>Students don't rotate the support foot sufficiently. This leaves the back of the heel several degrees off the line that leads directly from their hips to the target.</li><li>Students rotate on the support heel instead of the ball of the foot. This results in the body moving away from the target, which reduces the power of the kick.</li></ul><p>For the velocity portion of the equation, it's essential to examine hip rotation. The pivot of the support foot should cause the hips to turn over so the buttock of the kicking leg points toward the ceiling. This serves to swing the kicking leg more quickly than it otherwise would move. In effect, the hips act as the fulcrum for the lever of the leg while powering its angular motion.<br/></p><p><br/></p><p>Velocity, of course, is defined as distance divided by time. (It also includes a direction component, but that's irrelevant here.) Time depends on the rotation of the body and the extension of the leg. Distance is how far the kicking foot travels during that time to reach the target. It follows that if you make a larger arc with your kicking leg in the same time it takes you to execute a normal round kick, you'll create a more powerful blow because your foot will be moving more quickly — although you'll sacrifice the element of surprise to some extent. You can mitigate this by setting up the kick so your opponent doesn't notice it until it's too late or simply by making a slightly smaller arc and thus saving time.</p><p><strong>WRONG: Don't kick past the target because it makes you more vulnerable to a counterattack, Simon Scher says.</strong></p> <p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c89fd1003edffc184ef78a722ed64035" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="bdee6" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NDk5Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5NjYwODI0MX0.hF0OFZv9GwDexSPWpyEOcQSDNlBIpCBM6qLwPd4wEZI/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p> <p><br/></p><h2> Details</h2><p>Now that your round kick is powerful and fast, you should consider several other elements in your pursuit of mastery. The first involves your upper body. Many people thrust their lead hand behind them when they throw a round kick — I'm not sure why. That hand cannot be used to defend or to strike when it's dangling there. Some believe that throwing the hand back helps with the maintenance of balance and the creation of momentum. This, too, seems like a poor reason because both can be achieved with proper core training. For these reasons, I believe that the lead hand should remain near your head — between you and your opponent — so it can be used for attack and/or defense.</p><p>The next element is the position in which your round kick ends. When executing it, your pivot pulls your hip around, your hip pulls your leg around and your knee pulls the striking tool around. If the striking tool travels more than 2 feet past the imaginary line between your hip and your target, you'll expose your back. That means your opponent can counterattack — or push the leg to spin you around, making you even more vulnerable. Consequently, I encourage students to stop the round kick when their foot is directly between the hip and the target. This forces them to focus the energy of the kick outward toward the opponent, as opposed to around and past the opponent.</p><p>A second danger in letting the kick travel too far past the line between your hip and your opponent is that you'll be tempted to stick your buttock out and sit away from the kick. Doing so not only pulls your mass away from the kick but also disturbs your balance and inhibits your ability to deal with the rebound force. This is why I frequently tell students to avoid performing a "big booty kick." Instead, thrust your pelvis forward at the moment of impact to lock your body into the kick.</p><h2> Foot Position</h2><p>Crucial in the effective execution of the round kick is foot position. If you're breaking a board with the kick, I recommend flexing your ankle and toes so the ball of your foot strikes the board. In self-defense, this foot position is useful if you want to break your opponent's bones or hook your foot around a blocking tool.</p> <p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e99a5618de20c63b916eff0f6c8d2204" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="abf31" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NTAwNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNjA2ODQzMH0.uWuzyBbHEOsczJgUB0YsAQ-lFtarJW0Rzwk1NcbubmA/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p> <p><strong>RIGHT: The two main foot positions for the round kick are the ball-of-the-foot position (top), which is frequently used for breaking boards and self-defense, and the instep position (bottom), which is commonly used for sparring and self-defense.</strong></p><p>A different foot position is used in the pointed-foot round kick. This is recommended when striking pads, bags or people you don't want to injure — although it can still cause damage. The pointed-foot round kick strikes with the instep or the shin, depending on your art, your target and the amount of hip rotation you use. Examples: For a 45-degree round kick, you likely will make contact with the instep. For a baseball-bat break, you most likely will elect to use your shin.</p> <p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c03cfe3c70c7b494b207d9ef9671399e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="f2a2c" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NTAxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTY4MDgxMX0.-MGSZPLX5PgtiRRr_Npk81gi-3728G_LpUMmiIDx0ng/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p> <p><strong>RIGHT: The best place to position your hands during the round kick, Simon Scher says, is near your head.</strong></p><p>Clearly, the round kick is a versatile tool that's relatively easy to throw. However, it requires plenty of practice, especially if your repertoire includes several of the variations described above. To that end, you should develop a training regimen that hones the attributes needed to execute the round kick through the full range of motion.</p> <p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="10b26c5a634ae07ed9b3ed841eec5611" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="c3e7a" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NTAyMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTUwNjQwNX0.itnig14dRFGtHD05mklsBPXvd_EVvbs0-ubXRfRJ2wk/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p> <p><strong>WRONG: Avoid swinging your arms into positions that don't lend themselves to immediate offensive or defensive use, the author says.</strong></p><h2> Drills</h2><p>The following are some drills that I've found useful in my students' pursuit of round-kick mastery. You are, of course, free to modify them to suit your specific needs.</p><ul class="ee-ul"><li>Hold a wall or a chair for stability. Assume a fighting stance and repeatedly perform a fast pivot toward the target and then back to the starting position. Your kicking leg should be lifted and your knee flexed. In addition to polishing your ability to pivot, this will enable you to see for yourself how a quick, snappy pivot can move the kicking leg dynamically. Caution: You may be surprised at how sore the muscles of your core and the calf of your support leg will be the day after.</li><li>Bolster your balance as described above if you so desire. Pre-pivot the foot of your support leg and lift your kicking leg to the round-kick chamber position. Set a metronome to 120 beats per minute. Set a timer for 30 seconds. Try to execute a round kick every time you hear the signal.</li><li>Set up a small target; I suggest a pingpong ball hanging from a string. Execute a predetermined number of full-power, full-speed round kicks at the target. Attempt to make contact only with your chosen striking tool — for example, the ball of your foot or the instep. If you hit with the wrong part of the foot or miss the target, start over.</li><li>Position yourself in front of a heavy bag. Throw a round kick at the bag, but don't put your kicking foot back on the floor immediately. Instead, focus on mitigating the rebound of the kick using only your core. This not only will strengthen your core but also will build your balance.</li><li>Secure a spacious area where spilled water will not be a problem. Stand at one end of the area with a cup of water in your hand. Execute a series of round kicks while traversing the area. Your goal, of course, is to not spill the water. The result will be improved balance, superior control and enhanced body awareness. </li></ul> <p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8da8b639220e285225674f66edaf06af" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="e7726" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NTAyNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTgyMDkzM30.Xc0km3nqkepybUo5l21awFxtMAqJ6fh0nqQgCqasYUQ/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p> <p><strong>RIGHT: Hold a chair or other stationary object for support while polishing the various component moves of the round kick.</strong></p><p><em>Simon Scher holds a seventh-degree black belt in taekwondo and has trained extensively in aikido, tai chi, capoeira, jiu-jitsu, karate, kali, kyudo and sado. His book The Martial Arts Manual is based on his longtime project of creating a line-by-line commentary on Sun Tzu's The Art of War.</em></p>
<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NDk4Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDAyMzkyNH0.va6BoN3JdUVkXn4mYJi4Dp7bP_7W0uNuNtFP1b18JDs/image.jpg?width=980" id="8a3f1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2aa8c6d2949e1c5bc6c54ac0e6c033b4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
<p>RIGHT: The author demonstrates his preferred method for executing the round kick. From a ready stance, he chambers his leg in a neutral manner while making sure his hands are in a defensive position.</p>
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How it stacks up agains 3 other go-to responses to an attack
In hand-to-hand combat, you face a constant and undeniable danger. Among other injuries, you can sustain broken bones, torn cartilage and ruptured organs. You also can be knocked unconscious or killed.Over the millennia, various cultures have developed their own techniques and strategies for dealing with such threats. One of the most pervasive is punching. That's the case because in most unarmed encounters, a properly thrown punch is the most efficient and effective tool a martial artist can use.
<h2>Options</h2><p>While engaged in battle, your objective is to remove the threat as quickly as possible. No responsible martial artist would suggest that killing an attacker is the optimal solution, but people do get killed in street fights, and if your life is on the line, dispatching a violent criminal may be the best option for threat elimination.</p><p>The second best option is rendering the assailant unconscious. The third best is immobilization (broken leg, shattered kneecap, etc.). The fourth best is dishing out so much hurt that the person retreats. The fifth best is temporary immobilization, which affords you sufficient time to escape.</p><p>Before you select any of these options for use in a self-defense situation, however, you must consider the three criteria of efficiency: the time it will take to administer the technique to full effect, the energy you will expend doing so and the situation you'll be left in should the technique fail.</p><p>I call that third criterion the defaulting scenario because it's the position you end up in if your technique doesn't function as intended. This is very important, but it's often overlooked because people tend to focus on how well their move will work in a fight. This fails to take into account three possible outcomes: Your opponent dodges your strike, he blocks your strike, or he weathers the technique and the two of you become entangled.</p><p>I mention all these possibilities because I'm about to argue that a punch is often the best way to effect any of the five options for threat removal. Furthermore, if your punch fails, you'll be left in better hands, pun intended, than you would if you had tried one of the other techniques discussed here. Those other techniques, which were chosen for the sake of comparison, are quite common in the martial arts: kicking, choking and eye gouging.</p><p>Before I begin, it must be acknowledged that proper punching is not as natural as some martial artists think. Developing a good fist strike requires a fair amount of technical instruction and physical training. But once you invest the time needed to ingrain the correct mechanics and condition your fists and shoulders, you'll have a punch that flies fast, hits hard and leaves you relatively safe in the event of a shortfall. Such a blow, delivered to the jaw, the temple or the occipital region of an opponent's skull, can do serious damage, including a knockout that instantly eliminates the threat.</p> <p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c767b6986fb94a1a7d526afe5c6bcd5e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="e564e" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NDYxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzgxNTkyNX0.OKe_g0fK1bcZqiIe_suwYkz6lmAi4uWLfs2cRcstHog/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p> <p><em>When a kick fails, it leaves you in a more vulnerable position. Often, you're standing on one leg momentarily while you struggle to regain your balance.</em></p><h2>Kicks</h2><p>No one, including this writer, would advise any martial artist to forgo learning kicks for use in self-defense. Leg techniques are more powerful and have greater range than hand techniques. Furthermore, the best strikers know how to blend kicks with punches to form seamless combinations. That said, when it comes to threat removal, kicks fall short according to the aforementioned three criteria of efficiency.</p><p>My observations result from the fact that, with the exception of leg kicks, a kick is fairly easy for an opponent to detect. Therefore, a kick is typically harder to land and has a higher rate of failure. And when a kick fails, it leaves you in a more vulnerable position. Often, you're standing on one leg momentarily while you struggle to regain your balance. At that moment, you're more susceptible to being knocked down by a strike or taken down with a throw. In contrast, if your punch misses, you still have both feet on the ground.</p><p>If your kick is blocked, you're also left off-balance. Making matters worse, you're at risk of injuring your foot or leg the moment it impacts the blocking tool. Of course, the same risk is present when your punch is blocked, but it's better to injure a hand than a foot in a fight. Why? Because if you hurt a hand, you still can punch and grab with the other one. But if you hurt a foot, you probably won't be able to kick with your other foot/leg because that action will entail posting on the injured limb. What's more, an injured foot/leg also makes it difficult to maneuver for a punch, move out of the way of a strike and run away if you need to.</p><p>The likelihood of a punch being caught midthrow is not very high, assuming it's executed correctly. However, a good grappler can catch even a fast kick that's aimed at a target higher than knee level. Additionally, if you find yourself being grabbed by the arm, you'll still have two feet under you, which facilitates throwing a punch with your free hand and wrestling the captured arm away. In contrast, if your kick is caught, it will leave you standing on one leg while your foe has the other leg tucked under his armpit. This is not good at all.</p><p>Final kick comment: If your opponent has your kicking leg trapped, forget about countering with a fancy technique that entails jumping and then kicking with your free leg. It will work only against an inexperienced, extremely fatigued or totally untrained opponent. Against anyone else, it will land you on your back. And despite the success Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners enjoy when they find their foe in their guard in a match, in a street fight, your back is the last place you want to be, mostly because said foe might have friends nearby.</p><h2>Chokes</h2><p>When you're seeking to render an opponent unconsciousness, chokes are a great option. They're easy to learn, and opportunities to use them while grappling are numerous and frequent. All martial artists who are interested in self-defense should master basic grappling, which includes choking techniques. However, you shouldn't let the success of chokes in MMA competition convince you that they're always the best choice in self-defense. In reality, there are multiple reasons why punching is superior on the street.</p><p>As mentioned above, despite the effectiveness of grappling in some one-on-one encounters, street fights seldom unfold with a balance of power. Although it's true that most fights end up on the ground, that doesn't mean it's where you should choose to be. When you're on the ground, you have no idea who's going to step up and stomp on your head. This is especially true when you're lying on your back, trying to effect a choke. Yes, some chokes can be executed while standing, but the majority are finished when both parties are horizontal.</p><p>Another monkey wrench is introduced when you consider that a choke requires more time and a relatively large amount of energy to complete. It's widely taught that even the best choke takes at least four seconds to render a person unconscious. Meanwhile, a perfect punch can do the same in the blink of an eye.</p><p>And if your chosen choke fails? Well, you've spent a fair amount of time and energy on something that didn't work, and your opponent is very close to you — perhaps even on top of you — raining down blows. Not good.</p><p>A popular adage holds that the best way to beat a striker is to grapple with him. The reverse is also worth remembering: The best way to beat a grappler is to strike him. And when it comes to striking, punches are faster, safer and more useful from a greater variety of positions than any other technique.</p> <p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2c35a569714c61ce87dcae781b2e3b81" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="5dcd9" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NDYxMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODczNjg3NH0.48swDzI9R9nuDrOBNvKA01OxdoMnN4wBXg3-Qk-SY-k/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p> <p><em>An eye gouge won't necessarily remove the threat. Its purpose is to create space and time for you to escape by interfering with your attacker's vision.</em></p><h2>Gouges</h2><p>An eye gouge is simple to execute and quick to take effect. Capable of blinding an opponent, the technique can be administered by anyone, regardless of age, gender or body size — which makes it a staple in most self-defense courses. But it's not perfect, especially when compared to a punch.</p><p>Yes, it takes time and effort to develop an effective punch, but the same can be said of the eye gouge. While a gouge may seem so basic that anyone can learn it in five minutes, it will require regular drilling for speed, timing and accuracy.</p><p>If an eye gouge fails to achieve the desired effect, the defaulting scenarios are less than desirable compared to the punch. With the gouge, your hand will be open, whereas with a punch, it will be in a closed fist, which is comparatively safer. That stems from the fact that if the attacker evades the gouge by ducking — the most common way to avoid a strike — you're likely to jam your fingers into his forehead. If he blocks the gouge with his hands, you run the risk of having your fingers grabbed. With your fingers in his grasp, you won't be able to escape and, even worse, you might suffer some broken digits. The latter will make it hard to throw an effective punch or apply an effective choke.</p><p>Furthermore, an eye gouge won't necessarily remove the threat. Its purpose is to create space and time for you to escape by interfering with your attacker's vision, but the technique won't put him to sleep. You may still have to close the gap to accomplish that — unless you're carrying a defensive weapon like pepper spray, which I recommend. A gouge can result in permanent blindness, but in most cases, it only blinds the person temporarily. And if you're in a clinch, an eye gouge won't guarantee your escape while a knockout will.</p><p>Additionally, the eyes present much smaller targets than do the zones that are typically punched (the jaw, temple, ribs, kidneys and solar plexus, among others). For this reason, accuracy with the eye gouge is more difficult to achieve in comparison to the punch.</p><h2>Considerations</h2><p>By no means is punching the be-all and end-all of self-defense. A good martial artist strives to master a variety of strategies, techniques and delivery methods with the goal of being able to choose the right one for any situation in a heartbeat.It is my opinion, however, that based on the achievable outcomes versus the rates of failure and taking into consideration the defaulting scenarios that are probable if failure occurs, punching is the superior self-defense tool in most situations. Clearly, it can remove a threat with greater efficiency and safety than kicks, chokes and eye gouges.Surely, this is why karate, taekwondo, Western boxing, muay Thai, savate and numerous other martial arts emphasize the punch as a primary component of self-defense. It's why your training should emphasize it, as well. <br/>Tommy Cowan has studied the martial arts for more than 20 years. He's competed in taekwondo, wrestling and MMA, and he's worked as an MMA journalist. Born in California, he recently completed his master's degree at the University of Amsterdam.The </p> <p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="671963a9514a3e79a96d3dc2cc246c69" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" id="10f21" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NDYxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMDM1ODc4OX0.jnA6zRRBpBuBmfCSkRf6ELNRfrfEeIySSEPnKfMhG7U/image.jpg?width=980"/> </p> <p><br/></p><h2>Option to Run</h2><p>In a life-threatening situation — which any street fight can morph into in a split second — there's no shame in running. While this option is often the first one that's suggested by self-defense instructors, especially if the defender is unarmed and facing a weapon, I rank its value in hand-to-hand combat low. This stems from the three criteria for efficiency outlined in this article.</p><p>There are, however, other reasons. Unless you're a good runner, it's likely that an attacker who wants to catch you will manage to do just that. Furthermore, if you don't have knowledge of the area you're in, panic might cause you to run into a dead-end alley — in which case you'd better have the skills to defend yourself.</p><p>I'm not arguing that running should always be avoided, for there are many situations in which it's the best option. However, in terms of threat removal, it ranks at the bottom of the list, in part because of the aforementioned possibility that a quick sprint can lead you in a direction that has no exit and because it likely will boost the confidence of your attacker. And, as any experienced fighter will attest, confidence is key.</p><p>If running is your preferred option, consider preceding your escape attempt with a little physical damage. A quick strike is a fine way to increase the odds that your getaway will be successful, and a punch, of course, is a great choice in such circumstances, both because of the injury it can inflict and because it will leave your attacker with doubts about whether it would be a good idea to pursue you.</p>
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