Tiger's Claw Module
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Introduction:
The two common variations of the Tiger's claw strike are the piston like motion similar to Fairbairn's method who was quoted as saying that, as a frontal attack the TC is the most logical strike ever worked out. Fairbairn also understood that it was difficult to attack the eyes directly due to our natural flinch response. The speed that the eye will close will in most cases happen before, for example a technique such as an eye jab could reach the eye/s therefore if the aim was to attack the eyes they must be targeted indirectly as is the case with the chin-jab which hits the jaw bone first leaving the option to attack the eyes as a secondary target. The same holds true for the TC strike in as much as the target for this in say a frontal attack as suggested by Fairbairn, is the general jaw and facial area, impacting hard with a clawed palm heel leaving the eyes as an incidental secondary target and a reliable chance of impacting an eye.

With that said our goal for this piston like strike should be to simply shake the brain through maximum impact, therefore any where around the head and skull will make a suitable target area. The second method that is worth a mention here is Kelly MacCann's method of striking from a hands high kind of fence using a whipping motion as if throwing a baseball. Simply drop your body weight forward and whip the hand straight down and through the target whilst maintaining a clawed palm formation. The target here is the facial area using the face smash to plunge through. Both methods have merit but I personally like the piston style better and I like to use it as a multiple strike by first striking with my strong rear hand and following up by closing on my opponent in order to clinch with him using my off hand so that he can't get away from me. This is then followed by pumping 2-3 further strikes into my target whilst maintaining my grip and using forward pressure. My thinking here is to hit hard, harder, hardest as I move forward replacing my aggressor's foot steps with my own. As far as clinching is concerned it really doesn't matter what I grab, his shoulder, the back of his head, even his clothing all work fine so long as I can get a grip of him and prevent his retreat. This is a great method to use as a pre-emptive attack that will only cease when the man is down or as a reaction to say a straight punch where you would strive to cover, clear his arm and counter with multiple piston strikes whilst maintaining your grip on whatever's available. It also works well when grabbed on say your upper arm sleeve or lapel where you can trap his limb to keep him close and smash in with your free striking hand until the job is done.

Drill 1:
For our first drill we will practice with a partner using control, the aim here is to strike with the TC off your rear hand as a starter for ten followed by closing on your aggressor and grabbing hold of his clothing in order to prevent his retreat, and firing in 3 further strikes to whatever head target that is available. Here your follow up strikes will depend on the energy your opponent gives you; for example if the first shot hits the face driving his head straight back your next target would be multiple chin-jabs straight up and under his jaw. Or as another example; let's say that as your first strike goes in he turns his head away slightly so that you impact the side of his head, that's fine now as you close and grab your next target area will be the side and back of his skull as this is the energy he has given you. In this case you will notice how you will have to articulate your elbow slightly outward in order to clear his shoulder and to allow maximum impact to and through the target area. Again remember forward pressure is the key. Have your partner vary his response to the first shot and adapt your follow up strikes based on that.

Drill 2:
After controlled partner practice it is important that we train for impact, after all we want to train our muscle memory to go with the majority and for Combatives this must be maximum impact through our target. Have your partner hold a single focus pad and hit will your best shot off your rear hand, from here close on him and grab the back of his pad holding wrist, from here fire in 3 further TC strikes using the concept of hard, harder, hardest making sure that you use forward pressure and drop step for each of your strikes. Remember you should replace your partner's foot steps with your own. A good gauge is if you start at the front edge of a mat you should finish at the back of it.

Debrief:
I will finish by showing you a method that I have used on the door a couple of times in live situations both times called for a slight hold off in power due to the fact of striving for damage limitation but worked real well none the less. This method entailed using a push/pull motion on my aggressor's shoulders so that I could get behind him to control his exit leaving perfect opportunity to use the TC to the back of the head should the level of threat dictate that level of force. This method was shown to me by a JKD instructor by the name of Tim Tacket and was in turn shown to him by an ex-Marine Raider from WW2 called Bert Poe. I mention this in order to demonstrate the versatility of this most basic and functional of Combatives strikes the Tiger's Claw, indeed a worthy addition to your tool box.
Peace…