C2: Combatives Workshop
With Mick Coup/Cardiff Sunday 5th March 06
Mick Coup teaching the finer points of the high-line strike.
The theme of this workshop was primarily a skill session based around the high line impact tools. After the initial safety brief and
introduction Mick talked in great detail about every aspect of what he terms; the high line impact tools. First for any strike to make
the grade for this category it must tick all the boxes-it must be capable, simple, versatile, adaptable, repeatable and recoverable.
The most efficient strike to meet all of these requirements is a linear shot powered to the target by dynamic body mechanics.
The striking tool of choice is selected from 3 sources the palm heel, the fist and the elbow; which one that is employed, depends on both
range and preference, but the primary tool of choice favors the palm shot where possible. The same machine powers the
high-line strike regardless of the weapon formation; just think of the striking surface as a different attachment for the machine that’s
all. The core skill comes from directing the attack along a straight line; the elbow propels the forearm this is defined by
the 90-degree principle. With the high-line impact tools defined we went onto look at positioning. This included a discussion of
Primary and Secondary fighting arcs from both Active and Passive ready positions, along with Proximity and Range requirements.
Me using the bathroom scales against a wall to find the most efficient power line.
The idea is to hit in the most efficient way from whatever position we might find ourselves in. One drill that I liked employed the
use of a bathroom scale placed flat against a wall; from here you place a closed fist into the center of the scale and press. Once the scale
starts to register the pressure applied, you start to use subtle shifts of body movement in order to find the most efficient position
to apply force in a straight line. This is of course gauged by how much further you depress the scale thus offering the trainee good
feedback. Emphasis was also placed on developing both left and right sides, so that both hands are dominant in terms of ability to
hit hard. Next up we looked at the mechanics of hitting: including footwork and body dynamics, tool deployment, delivery and target
lines. In all cases with the high-line strike, the shot must fire straight into the target. To use Mick’s quote to define this;
‘’the elbow is the handle, the forearm is the blade and the hand/tool is the point that I want to stab straight through the target!’
Everything starts from the floor; the heel of the rear foot is lifted dramatically in order to stab knee then the hip forward. The thinking
is foot, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, forearm and tool. Punch the hip forward like you’re stabbing with it. Of course no amount
of written explanations will give you a full idea of the dynamics involved here. Practical is needed without doubt, but hat off to Mick
this is the first time that I have seen the actual science of the ability to transmit bodily impact, broken down in such a concise
way. To be honest the practice of such mechanics felt quite natural to me, we all practice similar themes of the drop step and hip
torque etc. Its probably one of those things that I’ve always done, but not thought to question why? So this was very interesting
for me to see an actual breakdown of the cause and effect so to speak.
We also looked at the attack lines point of origin and limit of application, from this we could see where the optimum point of
contact is to be made. Power development comes from Acceleration/Momentum and Mechanics. As soon as resistance is met i.e the
target you will start to de-accelerate, therefore you should accelerate through the target not to the target. This brought up the
relevance to strength for the improvement of impact bottom line is the stronger you are the faster your potential to accelerate.
This of course relates to speed-strength and the ability to fire up the fast twitch fibers and to keep them exploding for the
duration of your attack. Momentum is created by accelerated weight in motion. This first movement must be explosive
whilst maintaining good mechanics/form. This in turn brought Mick into a discussion of some of the resistance exercises that
he suggests for the development of such mechanics. These employ the use of a variety of cables and a weight stack for exercises
we will take a look at shortly.
Mick uses B.O.B for the Offensive Anatomy lesson to depict targeting.
Next up we talked about Kinetic Energy Transference and the difference between what’s referred to as Plastic Energy and
Elastic energy. Of course here we are relating this subject to punching/striking. In regards to plastic energy, the strike or punch
is left on the target/subject, or sticks to it, as the energy is transferred. This often results in the target reeling backwards quite
a distance. This doesn’t really do the job in terms of impact damage due to the fact that the energy has been absorbed by 100
percent of the target’s body mass. As opposed to elastic energy, where this time the punch/strike is immediately removed or
pulled back from the target, just as soon as depth of impact has been achieved. Just imagine you have touched a hot plate so
the hand comes back just as fast as it went out. Now the energy transference is much more localized to a smaller area, the body
can’t absorb it all and although the target subject will now hardly move at all, this will hurt a lot more and you will have
created a lot more damage from the impact. This is at least, what I translated the difference between the two to mean.
Next Mick talked about offensive anatomy for targeting and the difference between Hyper-displacement and Hyper-rotation.
The first is when the velocity of the strike is greater than the targets absorption time, one example might be if you hit the nose,
it will displace in structure i.e break down, before any large degree of brain shake will occur, which of course is the objective
when striking the head. Hyper-rotation on the other hand, is when the selected target specific to the head, has offered a degree
of purchase. For example anywhere along the chin and jawbone, or the ledge of bone above the eyebrows if struck, makes a
great shelf for the palm heel for instance. This will offer purchase that will cause hyper-rotation to the skull and trauma to
what’s inside i.e the brain. I liked the thinking of 3 dimensional targeting in the example of the head; being skin/surface,
bone/skull and brain, which is what we are aiming to traumatize. ‘’Hit the main switch and turn off the machine’’.
The back of the head is a potentially lethal target containing the Medulla, which is the part of the brain responsible for breathing
and heart rate etc. Another consideration for a head target was the side of the head between the ear and the jaw line; a good
strike here will create massive lateral drift. All these targets will create the hyper-rotation effect. Finally regarding
considered targets we looked at all areas of the neck. Everything vital to the body from here, both up and down travels
through the neck. Mention was made here also, of a hard striking surface such as a fist, is better for a soft tissue target
such as the neck, conversely to that softer striking areas such as the palm heel work better to hard tissue targets such as the head.
This fits in line with a lot of instructor’s thoughts about punching to the head with a closed fist. We went onto to discuss a
variety of factors in between working the practical drills; including Basic support skills such as Indexing and Controlling,
which were referred to in detail in the last review I did for one of Mick’s recent seminars. Then we talked about Kit and
various considerations for training equipment for the development of impact. The specific drills we covered were again,
similar to what we covered in the last seminar, however there was specific emphasis on the development of the high-line strike
For all of Mick’s pad drills, the feeder has a distinct purpose, his job is to program certain essential factors and principles into
the trainee and I must say that they achieve their purpose well. Among the aims are, Instinctive Response Development
the feeder dictates via various visual and tactile cues, how he wants the trainee to respond. The feeder may show a clear
target then he may drift with the pad to simulate movement. The progression will be to add an obscurement then a definite
obstruction that you will need to negotiate before being able to strike the pad effectively.
Transitions were added where after the first strike the pad will move back or drop down. This encouraged forward drive
and in some cases employed different target lines, all of which served to map in certain dynamics essential to functional
combat. Without allowing myself to get any more carried away with detail here, as this is after all Mick Coup’s excellent
material, the grand finale was for each pair of students to get together and develop a couple of scenarios with the focus pads.
The last move of the first sequence becomes the first move of the second if you can follow my meaning. This was in my opinion
an excellent way of determining that the student had grasped what he had been taught during the day. Such a method really gets
you into the realism, that you can actually achieve from simple pad work.
The cable and weight stack machine used to work the High-line, Off-line and Secondary tools under resistance.
To finish up Mick took us into the weights room area of the gym where we were introduced to the cable and weight stack machine,
mentioned earlier. Here he showed us how to employ this apparatus to duplicate High-line, Off-line and Secondary striking
tools under resistance all excellent stuff for task-specific functional strength. A debrief and Q & A brought an excellent
workshop to it’s conclusion and I highly recommend that any and all who may be interested make travel arrangements to
attend future events.