Posted by on September 13, 2018


Striking is an essential part of self defense . Striking can surprise, stun, or disable an assailant and get you home safe. There are many strikes and innumerable self-defense scenarios. Memorizing effective strikes for every situation simply isn’t possible as assaults are dynamic and you need to adapt. Accordingly, we teach “striking principles” – general guidelines to facilitate quick decision-making and effective self defense.

Here are some general striking principles. Future blogs will explore each of these in more detail.

Avoid if possible: I know we sound like a broken record* but if you can get safely avoid striking (talking, running) then please do so. *(a record for you young ones is what preceded Spotify, Cd’s, and Cassettes)

Strike as Soon and as Fast as Possible: Strike as soon to possible to distract, disable and escape. This involves using the closest limb according to direction, distance, and height.

Direction: Strike in the most direct way possible. If a threat is beside you, it too slow to turn, face them, then strike. Depending on distance, a sideways elbow, hammer strike, or sidekick is more effective. Don’t forget, assaults happen from any direction and you have to act quickly and effectively.

Distance/Range: People love elbow strikes but taking a step to elbow someone, is relatively ineffective. A punch or palm strike can travel the same distance much faster. Remember, your limbs travel much faster than the rest of your body. Sugar Ray Leonard’s* jab can cover a distance of two feet (and back again) faster than Usain Bolt can run. Elbows are excellent close distance striking tools. (Boxer Sugar Ray is known for having especially fast hands, particularly during his prime years in the late 70 early 80s).

Indirect/Direct: You can strike directly (e.g. straight punch, regular kick, side kick…) or indirectly (e.g. hook punch, or roundhouse kick). This is important as you might have to go around, beside, under, or over an obstacle (e.g. a blocking or deflecting limb) to reach a vulnerable part of the assailant. Our joints allow our bodies to perform an array of direct and indirect strikes.

Strike Through the Target and Recoil: When you train with pads you understand the difference in striking the surface vs going through the target. Recoiling is vital as you need to protect, be in balance, and if necessary, strike again.

Strike a vulnerable part… There is little use in punching an attacker in the shoulders or chest. Strikes are most effective when they reach a vulnerable target. There are many –e.g. face, knee, groin – to choose from. Again, strike the closest vulnerable part with the closest striking tool as soon as possible.

Strike as Often as Necessary: “As necessary” can be once (one kick or punch and run), to numerous elbows and knees as you are fighting to escape a bearhug. Whatever it takes!

There are more factors such as rhythm etc… that we will explore in future blogs.

Stay safe!

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