How to use a preemptive strike for self-defense

Last week I asked on my Facebook Page if there were any topics you wanted me to cover on my blog. To put it mildly, I received a ton of great ideas. So in the following weeks I will work on writing those posts, starting with this first one on “How to use a preemptive strike for self-defense.

This is a controversial topic. Over the years, I’ve seen people claiming all sorts of things about preemptive strikes and a lot of it is accurate in some way or another. But that doesn’t make it self-defense. Much of their advice goes along the lines of the old cobra Kai creed of “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy” which is all fine and dandy but this attitude, if used in isolation, eventually gets you sent to prison for assault or worse. For those who don’t remember where that comes from, here’s a reminder:

Using a preemptive strike for self-defense is what I talk about in this article. Not using it in a “fight”. Not using it to sucker punch somebody. Not for anything like that. It’s not about how effectively you can hit somebody first, it’s about doing so while defending yourself.

Let me phrase that a bit differently:

Just because you can make a preemptive strike work, doesn’t mean you know how to use it in self-defense.

For that strike to be self-defense, certain criteria need to be present, which I’ll discuss in a bit. Yes, that strike needs to be effective, but just because you can knock a guy out in one move that doesn’t mean you automatically did so in self-defense. If you don’t regard the legal issue, the justice system might view you as the aggressor. So before you start practicing, look up your national laws, state laws, case law and talk to police officers and lawyers in your area. Don’t just read some blog or forum post and accept that information as fact. Go talk to professionals who handle self-defense cases for a living.  They’ll have more accurate and more up to date information and also tell you how things happen in the real world as opposed to text books.

I’d like to add another caveat:

Just because you are legally allowed to use a preemptive strike , doesn’t mean you are legally justified to do so.

Let’s say you do your due diligence and are happy to find your legal system allows you to strike first in self-defense. Woot! Awesome! You can start kicking some ass, right?

Wrong. [Read more…]

How to Increase Your Punching Power in Five Minutes

I wrote this “How to Increase Your Punching Power in Five Minutes” article as a guest post over at the Paladin-Press blog.

In that post, I explain the reasoning behind this type of training and how exactly to go about it. This video is meant as a visual aid to help you put into practice the guidelines I described there. I’ll go into a little bit more detail here below but please read that blog post first and then watch the video:

Here are some more thoughts about this type of training:

  • It only takes five minutes. You don’t have to spend hours on end on this, five minutes is plenty. However, you need to focus intently on the task during those five minutes. You’re looking for micro-movements and that’s more difficult than it seems at first. So spend a little bit of time on this and then file all the corrections you find away for future training.
  • However, you need to ingrain the corrections for them to work. If you only do the slow, searching for those parasite movements without ingraining the corrections, you can forget about making any progress with your punching power. As with anything, the real work is in the repetitions. Not mindless repetitions but targeted ones, repetitions that have a specific purpose every single time.  [Read more…]

How to Train the Double Jab on the Focus Mitts

One of my favorite techniques is the double jab so I decided to make a “How to” guide on how to train it on the focus mitts. The mitts are great for this as they give you many different ways to practice that particular technique. So you can practice all the variations you can think of and make the double jab a useful tool for you.

There are lots of reasons to use the double jab but these are the main ones why I use it:

  • Against taller opponents to fight my way in.
  • To break the rhythm of combinations.
  • As suppressive fire while retreating and especially when circling away.
  • To provoke a reaction without overcommiting to a technique and therefor having the opportunity to capitalize on that reaction.

In this guide, I’ll only cover three basic methods. These are the ones I think you should practice before trying other variations. I’ll explain why here below but first, take a look at the video:

It’s usually best to start this type of training with the pad man stationary and you moving in and out with the punches. Once you’re comfortable with that, the pad man should start moving around so you have to use footwork that is closer to what you use in a real fight. but to at first, have him stand still while you practice getting the technical details right, make sure you have good distancing and timing, hit the target well and so on.

The final part is putting together combinations using the double jab either as a starting point or as an exit strategy. Here are some examples: [Read more…]

11 ways to become a better martial artist

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me a bunch of questions, but one category of questions always comes back: how do I become a better martial artist? I always try to give them an answer but most often, I’m not terribly satisfied with whatever I come up with. Simply because they want something short and precise and I don’t think there’s such a thing.

During our podcast interview, Kris Wilder asked me to give one piece of advice I thought would be important.  As always, I was left with that feeling of not having done a really good job. That’s what triggered me to write this “11 ways to become a better martial artist” post.

So what can you expect? A bunch of things:

  • I’ll touch on various subjects I feel are important but I don’t place one above the other. I think they’re all relevant so don’t assume the numbering is meant to convey a sense of hierarchy.
  • This list is by no means complete. But I had to limit it one way or another so I chose 11 as the cut off number or it would turn into an epic length post. I’ll add more later in a follow-up post.
  • The topic is “becoming a better martial artist”. That means something very specific to me but might mean something else for you. So we’re bound to have a difference of opinion on some things. That’s fine. Discard what you think doesn’t apply to you and I hope you still find a couple of useful ideas.
  • These are things that have worked for me, my students and clients. In other words, I know they work because experience taught me so. That said, they still might not work for you, no matter how hard you try. So I propose you view this list as a bunch of ideas to try out or as an inspiration to make your own list. But it sure ain’t no gospel, as a buddy of mine likes to say.

That said, let’s get to it. [Read more…]

How to train Joint Locks and Limb Destructions on the Heavy Bag

Here’s this month’s video: How to train Joint Locks and Limb Destructions on the Heavy Bag. I made this video a few weeks ago but only now got to finish the editing part. Anyway, take a look first and then I’ll give you some more details.

I took a couple random techniques, not specifically from a particular art. But you can find similar joint locks and limb destructions in ju-jitsu, silat, arnis, kali and many other martial arts. Before you go out to train this stuff, here’s some additional information:

  • They’re just examples. Don’t get hung up on the details of how I do the joint locks and limb destructions or which ones I’m showing (there are tons more). That’s not important because I have my own preferences and they might or might not be the same as yours.  So if you prefer to do these techniques differently, by all means, go for it. The purpose of this video is not to teach these techniques but to show you a way to practice them full-power and full-speed, which you can never do with a training partner (unless you’re a really, really naughty person…) [Read more…]