Ok here’s the deal, by now anyone who has trained with me or watched or read any of my material from an instructional point of view, will know that I subscribe to developing an ingrained game planned response built upon a platform of AWARENESS, that will allow you (most of the time) to exercise your priority option, that being avoidance and escape. If approached by a potential threat I will employ situational control of Proxemics (use of a fence) and hopefully verbally dissuade. If not and instincts indicate that this situation is about to become physical, then I will hit first (pre-emptively) with as much speed, power and aggression as I can muster with the objective of putting the threat down, quickly and clinically in order to facilitate my escape. The act of striking first (via my main artillery strike) with plenty of juice to a decisive target that in turn drops the threat, is of course the ideal. However within my game plan, I must take into account the what if factor. What if I slightly telegraph my intention cause I’m nervous and he turns away, employs a flinch or brings his hands up to cover?
What if I hit the f##ker square but only make him stagger? What if he crashes forward to stifle my movement? I could go but I’m sure you get the picture. Bottom line is, you must train the way you operate and you won’t operate effectively if you train to hit once then stand back to look at your handy work. Sometimes that one shot will and has done the job, without question but if it doesn’t do the job in an immediate sense, then you must continue your attack until the threat is down and truly out of the game. It’s here where we employ attachment and continuous attack, (get a hold of him and keep hitting) with forward pressure. This is the last piece of our game plan i.e. continuous attack until escape is possible. It might be that after our first strike the initial threat is down, but now someone else gets involved and we must re-direct and sustain our attack until escape is possible. Or as suggested above, any number of variables may bring forth the need to keep motoring until the jobs done. This brings me to the focus of this article; drilling and developing your main artillery striking tools. We should all be in agreement with the fact that ballistic impact to the head, is indeed the most effective unarmed means to put a potential threat down. That being the case then it makes sense to work out for yourself as an individual, exactly what tool/s work best for you in terms of delivery, manifestation of impact, ease of body mechanics, natural feel etc, etc. Any Combatives curriculum worth its salt will focus on a small tool box of gross motor hard skills that can be used both pro-actively and reactively if called upon to do so. The trainee should aim to become extremely efficient (unconsciously competent) with all of his/her natural bodily weapons and resources with both dominant and non-dominant sides. Then you should find within this mix, what tool/s works best for you. The less options you have the less choice there is to make, the faster you will act under stress so stick to no more than two strikes, that you really favor the most. These then become your main artillery tools, which are then placed into your game planned response. This artillery now sits on a controlled hair trigger that literally points at their target objective every time you employ your fence, without the potential subject even knowing it. It is your main artillery that should be prioritized. These tools should be drilled beyond unconscious competence, to a level of complete Mastery where by you absolutely own them. These tools should be the ones that allow you to deliver the most amount of decisive, fight stopping impact in a blink. They should also be workable and functional from anywhere, not just the ideal range with your most dominant side, but also from restriction in range and position, from both your right and left, dominant and non-dominant limbs.
Ok that is the crux of the information delivered, I’m sorry if I’ve had to repeat certain things said else where by me and those before me in order to get to this point. The fact is there’s commonality in what works right across the board, regardless of whose delivering the material so lots of factors kind of entwine themselves before coming to a similar conclusion. So, what tool should you choose? Well this article is not a debate about what’s best hand, head, elbow or foot. Closed fist or open hand? In short they all have their place and have all worked decisively for someone, somewhere at sometime or another. The point to take is, find one or two strikes that best suit you and master them. Aim to become extremely proficient with everything else and in turn, this will provide a contingency support plan for your said main artillery. What I will do is give you a run down of my preferred main artillery, born from my own live experience on the doors, in the street and during dynamic scenario training. Basically I have a favored first strike or starter for ten as Peter Consterdine would say; for both my left and right sides, which go right back to my early and established choices from my door days. These translate to a linear or straight line strike for my left (dominant) side and an angular or hook line strike off my right side. During the first seven years of my door term I used to punch, employing a left cross or a right hook off my fence. This would often follow up by holding on and punching continuously with the same hand and/or blasting their base out with knees strikes and ragging them down or blasting them into something environmental; a wall, edge/corner or floor for example. This worked for me just fine, in-spite of ending up on first name terms with the ice bucket at the end of frequent nights, which is where my swollen hands would end up. The problem for me at that time was often targeting under stress, sometimes I was clinical other times I would just hit everything that moved, including cheek bones, foreheads and tops of skull in addition to jaws, chins and noses. I accepted it as part and parcel of the way things were done. Then during the last four years before I left the doors I started to train with the late Peter Robins who, along with a variety of other Combative influences led me to the transition to open handed strikes. Keeping the same body mechanics, my left cross became a solid palm strike and my right hook became a slap both secured me good results and from that time onward, both have remained by current main artillery. Where possible in a proactive sense, your main artillery will be your first response from here spontaneity will take over and what comes next will depend on how you train, how the recipient responds to your first shot and what energy you are giving as a response to that.
Lined up… Palm strike fired straight up through the chin and jaw bone…
In short the subject will dictate what you do next. With that said there are a few constants that remain reliable, this is reflected in the way we train. For example after our first strike we will strive to get a handle on the subject (attachment) then keep hitting until he’s down. Sometimes we might simply continue striking with the same tool or we might employ something else. If your curriculum is compressed to such a degree where you really only have 5-6 tools to choose from, one or two main artillery strikes backed up with three or four follow up options, then these are the only things that are going to come out under stress. In Urban Combatives our most natural follow up options, from the said attachment include the hammer-fist/cycling, elbow and knee strikes and/or a fast takedown followed by a limb stomp. In the main for me, I’ll either hit with a left palm strike and follow up with cycling hammer-fists and elbows from attachment until he’s down, I might blast him into a wall with this assault in which case I will rag him from the wall to the floor to finish with my feet. Or if I initiate with a right hand slap and it’s not quite a KO then his body will at least stagger laterally, in which case I will attach, cycle and elbow off that side. To be fair it is pretty much over after 2-3 such shots, but the option to knee, takedown and stomp is still present for those worse case scenario conditions. I have experienced quality results with just part or all of such a continuous attack, from dropping the subject after the first strike, to finishing after only 2-3 after attachment has presented itself, to firing in 5-6 shots taking him down and finishing with my feet, and have done this real time in the street on the doors and via countless padded assailant scenarios, time and time again. So I can personally take from that, a plan of action that has consistently proved itself to work for me a huge majority of my live time experience. This is initiated with a game planned first response (main artillery) and supported with contingency skills that are fully adaptable to an array of conditions and restrictions.
Main artillery example/the Palm strike:
Here is an example of striking via attachment and also using a wall to maximize the effect and impact to the target.
Like all strikes in your toolbox, the palm heel is extremely adaptable, here it’s shown coming straight up under the chin from very close range and also as a counter to a grab, this time thrown with a slight angular motion…
And finally as a follow up to a fallen opponent whilst maintaining attachment.
Main artillery example/the Slap:
Here the hands are held as if talking in exclamation the strike is then thrown from outside of his peripheral vision. The strike can also be thrown in a fast arc straight from your pocket and the tool of choice can be the cupped hand, a splayed hand or the heel of the palm to specifically target the jawbone.
Here the slap is thrown from very close range from a hands high, de-escalation type of fence. Simply drop weight and whip your hips in the direction of the strike, as you turn impact the face with a heavy slap placing full bodyweight behind the blow.
Follow up tool example/Hammer-fist/cycling:
Pre-emptive palm strike into multiple Hammer-fists follow up with attachment
Here’s an example of striking with cycling hammer-fists from attachment, as the subject turns away to cover after the first strike. Just manipulate the head/arms/attire and blitz.
Follow up tool example/Elbow strike/s:
The elbow is made even more effective if you use your lead hand to clinch and pull on the back of your opponent’s head/neck or shoulder just before you strike, this will create forward momentum of the head that will slightly precede the elbow smashing the target. Below the elbow strike is employed from a counter clinch perspective, when grabbed at close quarters and also as a follow up strike to the back of the head during a counter grapple.
Follow up tool example/Knee strike/s:
This scenario depicts the knee strike to the groin from a Thai neck clinch. This is just one way to employ its use as a follow up tool. Here is another example of the knee strike from a side on clinch position.
Here an example of the snatch takedown as a follow up to the knee. As he comes forward from the knee to the groin, just snatch the upper body face down to the ground and marry the face to the pavement, real quick.
Slap to cycling Hammer-fist strikes, knee strike to face:
Here the focus is on landing a knock out shot; (in this case a power slap to the head) if you throw a knock out shot, it will put the threat down. If however, the shot only causes him to stagger then this is your cue to continue with an immediate attack via attachment, in order to finish the engagement. In this example we employ cycling HF blows to the back and side of the head and a knee into the face.
Palm strike into multiple Elbow strikes, takedown & limb stomp:
In this example we are working off the fence and our first shot is a palm strike to the jaw line, from here gain attachment and blast through with multiples elbows to the high line target. Continue the assault by ragging the subject to the ground, stomping the ankle then tactically dis-engage.
Protect space on the initial encroachment as you scan the immediate environment for a secondary threat if the situations dictates a physical response is required, then be first, be fast and f**king ferocious
If necessary you must continue your pro-active attack with maximum aggression and forward pressure
The objective is clean cut, put the threat DOWN! Then tactically disengage as you actively scan the environment. In other words maintain observation and ESCAPE!
In closing, the main factors when considering criteria for your main artillery are covered in the following points and question;
o Is it simple and gross motor in nature?
o Is it workable and repeatable under stress, fear and confusion?
o Does it offer me the best in terms of impact delivery?
o Does it suit my body type?
o You should strive to employ the said tool both left and right sides.
o You should strive to develop impact from even the smallest/tightest range.
o Will it work from any restriction? Seated/mounted or off my back? Etc.
Here are a couple of examples of the same striking sequences, initiated by my main artillery choices, from two restricted perspectives:
Here I’m working off my back with the subject in my guard (not the ideal) I start by throwing an offensive slap to his high-line as soon as my back hits the floor…
I continue as necessary beating on the head with a succession of attached cycling HF’s…
Into elbow strikes until I can either reverse to the mount position or get back to my feet ASAP…
In this scenario I have mounted a floored subject, for whatever reason…and am now in a position to blast into his high-line with the same primary tool, attachment and follow up.
Palms to cycling HF’s…
Into attached elbow strikes…escape.