Moves That Don’t Work In A Fight

Moves That Don’t Work In A Fight

You may have read the story about my school fight with Tompy – in this, I tell of a move I’d learned and perfected that would pretty much end any fight in a shower of blood and snot.

In this fight, I had my first opportunity to use it.  I grabbed a handful of his hair, so I could pull back his head and deliver a hammer fist/forearm strike downwards on his face with all my body weight.  Except I couldn’t pull his head back!

That was probably my first experience that almost every martial artist will have at some point:

Most of what they teach you does not work in a real fight.

Having a fully compliant training partner is a lot different from facing down some adrenaline jacked psychopath.

Most martial arts will teach you to throw a punch, then as you for some weird reason leave your arm out there, fully extended, your partner will smoothly dodge around your extended arm and trip you to the mat.

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What actually happens in your average pub brawl, is this:

You either turn around just as a punch connects with your face, or your opponent talks some shit to scare you, and smacks you in the face while you’re suffering from adrenaline dump.

That’s a real opening.  You’re stood there with a silly look on your face as they hoof you into unconsciousness.

In the extremely unlikely even that you’re switched on enough to actually dodge their first haymaker, you’ll notice that they pull their arm back in almost instantly.  

As a slight aside, this is even more true of someone with a knife – so don’t even start to think about being the hero with that one!

The ONLY chance you have to use that arm is to dodge in such a way that you can hook your arm around theirs as they throw the strike, intercept their strike, or move inside it with a block.

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The first one I have tested successfully.  Basically, as they punch you move to their outside, sliding your hand over the top of their arm and the up under their armpit.  From there, and all in one fluid move, you can push the side of your hand into their shoulder-blade before they recover their balance, and take them face first into the floor or a wall, or apply a suppression hold as needed.  Even with this, I found I had to wait for them to throw a straightish punch – and most untrained people simply won’t do this.  And also remember to think ‘Trap And Snap’, rather then wrestling on the floor where their 4 mates can stamp on your head.

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Intercepting their strike I’ve already covered as being the best move you can ever learn, which will enable you to beat any opponent.  That is simply to get your elbow up exactly how your body wants to react.  They punch the point of your elbow, they shatter their hand, and the fight goes right out of them.  Job jobbed, and so easy I can train a 5 year old to do it.

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Moving inside with a block is one we all like to think we can do, but in reality I doubt it.  You can combine it with the elbow interception, but the idea of actually stepping TOWARDS someone who is punching you isn’t natural, and you can ony overcome your instincts with A LOT of pressure training or real fight experience.

People will tell you to “never kick above the waist in a streetfight”.  I would disagree with that.  Booting someone in the head is something they won’t be expecting, and even if they do grab your leg you can close in and reign elbows down on them before they can do much of use with it.  The main reason I think this would fail is because most people can’t kick to head hight from cold.  If you can’t – don’t.

And do you know what other moves aren’t a good idea to try in a fight?

Anything that doesn’t assume the opponents first strike will be a punch to your head or a headbutt.  Or anything that assumes an attacker will throw one attack at a time, rather than launch an assault like a frenzied windmill, or an Ameri-Do-Te Hurticane.

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If you survive their first assault, THEN you might get a chance to take control and show off your martial arts moves for your mates.

Just don’t expect them to let you do it to them!

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MARTIAL ARTS: Only ’Girls’ Get Strangled Or Bear-Hugged!

MARTIAL ARTS: Only ’Girls’ Get Strangled Or Bear-Hugged!

Over my 26 years of study, I’ve been told a fair few times that I should teach women’s self defence or something.  Not because I fight like a girl.  I hope.

I’ve taught many friends (and some enemies, I guess) a few techniques to get them out of nasty situations.  In fact if anyone ever thinks they’ve found the ultimate hold or anything, I’m happy to let them do it on me so that I can show them how to get out of it.  I love doing this, because it brings out the core values of Ninjitsu – i.e. being able to adapt to any situation and win.

It’s always confused me when I see ’real self defence’ classes (especially ones aimed at women) who always and without fail will teach their students how to deal with two types of attack:

’Bear Hugs’ and ’Being Strangled From The Front’.

Now, maybe this is just me, but not a single one of the people I’ve taught has requested defences for these things.

Do you even know anyone who’s ever been attacked on the street by a bear hug or a front strangle???  Who the hell is going to attack anyone like that???

Yet these moves are always the core of their self defence systems.  Go figure.

Bear Hugs

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For those who don’t know what it is (and this is nothing to do with Plushies, you perves!!!), it’s where your attacker will wrap his arms around your upper body, most often pinning your arms to your sides, and is then able to crush you or carry you away.

Oooh!  Scary!

If they do this from a face-to-face position, the chances are that on pure instinct you will drop your head forwards and smash their teeth out.  Not to mention your legs are free to give short, sharp hoofers to their shins or knee them in the bollocks.  In the unlikely event that this natural flailing won’t make them let you go, have a good old chomp on their neck and face.

If they haven’t pinned your arms to your sides, no doubt before you have time to think you’ll be beating away at the sides of their head.  I’d recommend clawing their eyes out and shoving your thumbs as deep into their sockets as you can.  If you have some strength it’s even possible to snap their neck by lifting slightly below their jaw both sides and then twisting their head.

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If they’re bear-hugging you from behind it could make you panic more – but you’re far from helpless!

If your arms are pinned, it’s always worth a go at throwing your head back into their face.  If they’re a lot bigger or they’re a zombie whose head has fallen off backwards, you may not be able to make contact this way.  Or they may have tucked their head in tight to yours so you can’t get a good smack in.

Don’t panic!  It’s not over yet!  You should also bear in mind that whenever you’re using your head as a weapon there’s always a chance that you’ll knock yourself out.  You don’t want to do this, so if possible only nut someone as a last resort!

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Anyway, so in this case you can’t use your head.  What you want to be doing is simply smacking your heels backwards into their legs.  All these shin-kicking type moves I’m advising here are assuming you’re wearing shoes – and the harder they are the better.  It will work barefoot, but not half as well!  It should still be enough to get you out of the hold either way.

Also, if your arms are pinned you’ll usually be able to work your hands between you and the attacker and crush the fuck out of a big handful of testicle.  Do it.

If they’ve grabbed you from behind but left your arms free, they’ve made a big boo-boo!

Lift both of your arms up to shoulder height, bent at the elbows like a chicken getting ready to fly, and then twist your whole upper body left and right in turn rapidly.

After a few tries you’re bound to find your elbows will smack into your attackers head, and when this happens it will bounce their head to the other side, so that when you twist the other way you make even harder contact with their noggin.  This will knock them right the fuck out VERY quickly.  It might hurt your elbows or the backs of your arms a bit, but the rapid twisting will also be great for slimming fat from your sides and hips – so it’s worth a bit of pain!

Strangles

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If anyone has ever successfully strangled someone whilst stood up, it would have relied almost totally on the victim freezing up.  “Oh God!  He’s got my neck and I can’t breath!  What can I do???”

Well, I’ll tell you what you can do:

If they’re stood facing you, and have simply reached their arms out and wrapped their big sweaty palms around your throat, you’d have to be a bit simple to get choked unconscious.

There are loads of techniques taught to get you out of this, and sadly, a lot of them will fail against a stronger attacker, causing you to panic even more and quit.  QUITTER!!!!

First off, when trying to break any hold, one technique might fail.  It’s no biggy – just try something else!  Just don’t keep on trying something that doesn’t work – for the main reason that they’ll know what you’re trying to do and will just make damn sure it won’t work!

Of all the escapes that I know, there are two which will work 99.9% of the time for everyone.

The first is to simply put your hands together, and then raise them hard and fast inbetween the arms of your Strangler.  This should bring your shoulders up between his hands, twisting his grip off your neck.  Easy-peasy lemon-squeazy!  Run free, slightly-red-necked unstrangled person!

The other is to twist your whole body sideways.  This may work alone, but I’d also recommend that as you turn to the side, raise one of your arms and put it over the top of both of their arms (go on, give their face a quick hook on your way!).  This creates a huge amount of leverage as your armpit forces their hands off your neck.  You’re also in a great position to leg it as soon as you’re free.

Of course, if you’re pressed with your back against a wall or something, yo may not be able to do this one, but the first should still work as long as you can get your arms up between theirs.

If they both fail, or you just want to make sure they won’t be strangling anyone again for a while, use both hands to grab hold of the fleshy part of their thumb (or their thumb itself, or even their little finger) and rotate their hand away from your neck, whilst twisting your body, until you hear their wrist snap.  It will put them right off.

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This is also the best technique for someone strangling you from behind, although the second ’twisting away’ technique should work too, obviously with you throwing your arm backwards over theirs as you twist.

There, now!  You’ve got no excuses for getting yourself twatted, have you?

Now go and try it out with someone – but go easy and do it half speed at first so you can feel how it’s all working.  This is stuff that WORKS and doesn’t need you to train for 60 years daily.

Damaging The Small Bones

Damaging The Small Bones

Whilst pounding an attacker through the wall with some hoofing great oki-wakka-smakka is satisfying and looks impressive, the reality is that most conflicts can be ended just as swiftly by damaging the tiniest of bones.

You’ll know by now how I’m an advocate of letting your opponent break his own hands when he tries to hit you (by simply raising your elbow up to protect your face), but sometimes you need to be a bit more proactive.

I once read that it takes 3600lbs of pressure to crush a bone down its length, but only 8lbs of sideways pressure to snap it.  This of course depends on the bone, and muscle/fat/tendon coverings naturally strengthen things up, but you get the impression – hit a bone the right way and it’s pretty easy to break it.

Punching or kicking someones hands gets good results – especially if they haven’t made a fist.  Fingers are easy to snap or dislocate, as are the bones running down the back of the hand (which are also rich with pressure points and nerves), and even the wrist itself.  Even if they have made a fist you can do serious damage, and if you damage someones hand they go right off trying to punch you, at least!

Most self-defence instructors will teach you to stomp on the tops of their feet.  It’s good, but if you miss you might jar your own leg.

The nose is an obvious small bone to go for and most will break very easily.  Take it from me that breaking your nose is not nice.  First it blinds you, and then most of the time just as the pain is kicking in you’ll go into uncontrolable fits of sneezes.  This is EXACTLY what you want when blood and bones are already hanging out of your snout, and if there is a Creator then rest assured I will bitchslap them if I ever meet them just for having put me through this several times.

Anyone who’s watched Mixed Martial Arts like UFC will think it’s easy to snap peoples arms and stuff when they’re grappling, and that’s a myth we need to bust right now!  When you’re grappling with someone – especially if it’s a streetfight where their life may depend on it – all the adrenalin kicks in and gives you both near superhuman strength.

You can’t just grab someones arm or leg and twist it until it snaps.  This is where you DO need lots of proper training to make things work.  If you don’t have a properly trained background then you’re going to look silly and waste all your energy.  Watch any live Police-type show and you’ll see just how tough it is to get a proper lock on your average Joe Pisshead.

What WILL work in grapples is the stuff that’s banned from UFC and almost all MMA sports fighting – and that’s small joint manipulations.

Grab hold of just one of their fingers or toes with all your strength and wrench that bastard until it pops off in your hands!  If you manage to get hold of two of their fingers rip them apart and split their hand in half all the way up to their wrist.  Repeat until they let you go or you run out of bits to pull off them.

So this isn’t ‘easy’ stuff to win a fight for you, but if you’re already in the heat of combat and need things to sway the odds in your favour this is the kind of stuff that they ban in sports fighting for good reason – it works.

How To Tear Out A Mans Throat

How To Tear Out A Mans Throat

Back when I was a young whipper-snapper at the early stages of my journey into the Martial Arts, one of the first ‘essential’ moves I felt I needed in my arsenal was to be able to rip the throat out of my victim.

This probably had as much to do with watching Patrick Swayze in the film ‘Road House’ than it did with the teachings and philosophies of Shotokan Karate.

It did switch me on to the fact that there are certain moves you can do which will end a fight very quickly.  Luckily I never had the opportunity to tear anyone’s throat out – which may have been hard to explain away as ‘reasonable force’.

The next move I practiced lots, as I got into what I call Destruction Techniques, was to grab the opponents hair, yanking their head back, and then slamming your fist down like a hammer onto their upturned face.  A proper power technique – which unfortunately means it will fail most of the time unless you’re fighting a smaller and weaker opponent.  I had one opportunity to try it in a real fight, and it failed as I couldn’t pull their head back enough ready for the smash.

I think it was probably this ‘real world’ experience that took me to the next level.  I wanted stuff that worked.

Not only that, I wanted stuff that worked against stronger people.  Stuff that worked when I was injured or losing, or just had one chance and one single shot.

Unsurprisingly, here started the time when I drifted into Muay Thai kickboxing and Ninjitsu (and later still, Russian Systema).  Both arts have techniques tried and tested to work, and don’t shroud it all in useless bullshit that you need to spend sixteen years in a horse-riding stance to learn.

Muay Thai taught me how utterly devastating a strike from an elbow can be.  I learnt how to use my knees to full power to cripple someone in a single and often invisible strike.

Ninjutsu opened my mind to body mechanics and how you can use the movements of an opponents own body against him.

My go-to move became the now well-known strike with the heel of your palm to the nose of your opponent.  Except I knew that you don’t do that – you strike the pressure point just below the nose upwards at 45 degrees.  Either that or the Tiger Claw strike using your foreknuckles to the throat, knee, nose etc…

Then I learnt the joys of incapacitating someone by using strikes that were unexpected and not to the obvious places – the sword kick (sweeping motion utilising the edge of modern footwear to their inner shin), stupidly easy joint manipulations to escape any hold, using misdirection so they don’t even know how they got hit or what by.  Kino Mutai – the art of biting.  How to make someone injure themselves when they try to strike you.  The list is endless and I’m still learning.

The really surprising thing is how easy all this stuff is.  To do and to learn.  And that’s what also makes it so scary – to think someone half your size may also know this stuff does a great job of persuading you not to go around starting fights!

In short, I know a lot of nasty ways to take someone out or even kill them, and whilst I’ll still always prefer to lose face and walk away from a fight (unless I genuinely can’t avoid it), there will always be a little part of me wondering… what if…

That’s the part of me that will end up in jail forever, though.

Lickey Woods? Lick My FiveFingers!

Lickey Woods?  Lick My FiveFingers!

I was a bit disappointed to see it had rained overnight, but bravely slipped on my Vibram FiveFinger KSO’s and headed off to the Lickey Woods (near Lickey End *sniggers*) to give them a proper first try out.

One thing I noticed about them straight away is that having a much thinner sole than normal shoes and trainers, my jeans were too long for them!  They drag on the floor, and you can feel when you’re treading on them through the soles, too!  I could have worn shorts, but decided against it as it’s still only March here and in single-degrees-celsius, and more importantly you may have noticed from other pics my legs are so white it’s often been suggesting that it was the glare from them that sent Stevie Wonder blind.  Before I was born.

After having to nip into a local supermarket against my will I was surprised not to have people pointing at me and laughing.  I bought the black pair not because I want to look like a Ninja, nor did I buy them because I like the idea of wearing chopped-off gorillas feet over my own – but in the hope that they were a bit less noticeable.  It seems to have worked.

Which brings me to something else I was looking forward to trying:  Driving.

If you’ve ever tried driving a car in socks or barefoot, you’ll know that it -ing hurts.  I knew I was taking this chance with the FiveFingers, but to balance that was the knowledge that proper racing car footwear features very thin soles for extra feel.  Luckily, it seems the Vibrams have far more in common with the latter, and there was no sign of any discomfort at all on a short journey.  In fact I was amazed at the feel through them!  They’ve got to be the ultimate shoes for a racing driver – and it would make the whole skill of ‘Heel-and-toe’ much more literal!  Do they make a fireproof version?  If not, they’re missing a market!

It’s a shame they don’t also make a motorcycle boot version, because they’d feel brilliant, too.  I suppose from a crash protection point of view the toes wouldn’t be a great idea, though, and the strain on your left toe from the gear shift could become extremely uncomfortable…

I only walked around the Lickey Woods rather than running, but that was enough to tell me a lot of what to expect.

As I suspected before, big stones HURT.  If you get one in the arch of your foot in the middle next to the ball of your foot you know about it, and it would be a crippler if you were slamming your feet down at a run.  They’re not as bad as I thought they would be, though.

Loose gravel is like getting a foot massage, grass just feels sublime, and mud like walking on a waterbed!

Certainly, the softer ground is better, but I’m sure I’ll soon learn to watch more carefully where I put my feet to avoid the painful bits, and I’m sure my feet will also adapt and harden to it.

The extra stability really comes through on uneven ground, and where trainers would have thrown my balance off, my feet were able to fluidly mould to the ground just the way our feet evolved to do.  If you ever want a practical demonstration of the principles of Ninjitsu – you won’t find a much better example of it than here.  I wonder if Masaaki Hatsumi wears these?  I wonder if he endorses their use in Ninjutsu practise?

Vibram say in their literature that you should only wear FiveFingers for an hour or two at a time until your body adjusts to them.  On this outing I found my calves were starting to ache quite a lot, so I’m assuming this is related?

I have a problem when I run in trainers where I get muscle pump on the front of my lower legs, meaning although the rest of my body is still willing, I can hardly lift my foot anymore to take a step.  I’m hoping the FiveFingers will help relieve this.

I plan on wearing them to the gym tomorrow, where I should find out…


Vibram FiveFingers – New Feet For My Feet!

Vibram FiveFingers – New Feet For My Feet!

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I laughed when I first saw these freaky things!

I was looking for new trainers to inspire me back into some form of fitness training, and after the ‘posture-shaping’ trainers stumbled onto the Vibram FiveFingers website.

But as curiosity got the better of me, and as I read on, they started to make more and more sense.

Think about it:  Everybody loves the barefoot experience.  A few years back I even went barefoot in the snow, just to see what it was like.  Many times as a kid I’d take to the streets barefoot, only to be hobbled by a stray stone.

I mean, barefoot is natural, and we’ve evolved to have amazing feet which can deal with all kinds of terrain, boost our balance…. and then some idiot goes and designs shoes with a big flat sole that totally boxes our toes in and ruins all that evolution.  Even the Ninja recognised this and have a split so that your toes are split into two sections.

Go and wear mittens on your hands and see how your day goes without the use of your fingers.

Then factor in all the highly developed muscles and tendons which are made redundant by ‘normal’ shoes, and ask yourself what REALLY makes sense?

A few years back, Mister Smalls (a fellow MySpace blogger) bought a pair for himself, and that was really the final straw for me – I neeeeeded some!

Today I (finally) opened the box to find what looks like the unfortunate remains of a gorilla.

‘Slipping’ them on doesn’t really happen – it’s more a case of making sure all your toes go in their separate spaces (a toe-spreader would help here!) but then a very effective and simple tug on the velcro fastener adjusts the fit around the heel and over the bridge of your foot.

I’d heard that the FiveFingers seem very big, so getting them fitted properly is by far the best plan, although there are fitting videos available online to watch before you buy.  Unfortunately, of the few rare places with these on their shelves, nobody had anywhere near my size (UK 9/EU 43’s are like gold dust!) so I just had to buy and hope they fitted when they arrive.

They still seem a bit long in the toes, but then unless your toes are the exact length the shoes are moulded for there will always be a few too loose or tight.  And with full toe movement and socks, these seem just about right for me.  Oh, and having sat here wearing them indoors for a few hours, those socks may be a good investment – after my toes being snuggled next to each other in a big clump all my life, now they’re separated they are COLD!

Unsurprisingly, considering your feet have evolved to shape and re-form for maximum adhesion, they seem to have awesome levels of grip over trainers simply from the extra movement keeping a bigger contact patch with the ground.

The soles are sturdy but do seem thin.  Small chunks of gravel should be no problem – a big sharp rock at the peak of the Malvern Hills could hurt.  I’ll just have to test them, and even if it does hurt I’m sure it’s possible to get used to it once your feet harden up.  I never wear slippers and am barefoot or just in socks whenever possible, so I’m hoping I fare better than most people with this…

Because of the grip and extra movement, they seem excellent for martial arts!  It really is a lot like wearing nothing, and that especially comes over when performing kicks.

I’m looking forward to seeing what driving is like in these – I will update this after that experience, and also my next time at the gym…