Saturday, 2 June 2012


As in, the CORRECT tool for the available target.

I was speaking to my good friend Jason J-Bone Simpson yesterday and as ever we got on to the subject of MMA/Combatives/self protection etc. And a topic/question came up along the lines of, "why use an open hand instead of a punch?"

Fair question and the palm heel strikes Jason was referring to often get referred to as slaps which they could not be further from if fully understood and the user can deploy them correctly with correct impact transference. Before I go any further I’m going to quote Mick Coup here with regards the shape of the human head and correct impact tool. Obvious stuff but remember the head is constructed of thick protective bone and the most likely target we are presented with in a 1st to 5th gear street attack scenario or similar is approximately two thirds of the front upper part of the head/face. That is: facing you, from the nose upwards to the frontal part of the skull.

"So imagine you have a sack filled with maize hanging from the roof as a punch bag; you can hit that all day long with a fist, elbow, knee etc more or less. Now remove the maize and fill it with something shaped more like a human head and of more appropriate structure, like a bowling ball. I f**king guarantee you will not be using a fist on that anytime soon!"

Not word for word but along those lines as I recall from memory; surely using a palm heel would make sense here? I stress not a slap, but a palm heel. Using a fist is great and comes much more naturally to most I’m sure, not to mention what they have always used so as ever it's hard to get most to see past that.

All manner of reasoning starts to come forward as to why they would use a fist, they want to hit the end of the jaw line with their two index and middle finger knuckles to cause that instant knockout...... That's a target area of maybe 2 inches I a full blown, no rules, extremely messy violent altercation and hopefully just one on one? Not exactly high percentage stuff in my humble opinion. "A fist will hurt more," might do...might what if it does if it can't be consistently deployed, bit of a sliding scale approach that? "I'll do more damage," you might do with regards localised trauma to him as much as that fist that you’re absolutely set on using regardless of target presented; again - big deal!

Just briefly, it puzzles me why people tend to get so fixated on how much local trauma they can inflict rather than actually ending the problem as soon as possible. It's all very macho and makes for great chest beating to tell and have tales told of that time such and such knocked whoever’s teeth out or broke that guy’s nose etc but it's not that efficient or effective in reality and surely we should be striving for these two adjectives for many more valid reasons than pub stories? More on this later.

By using a closed bare fist on the general target area presented in such scenarios outlined earlier you’re greatly increasing your chances of having that weapon out of action fairly quickly; fist meets head/cheekbone/side of cranium constantly....not much padding in the way of tissue around the fist or head is there? Consider the pinky and adjacent scaphoids just might connect instead of or before those super conditioned index and middle finger knuckles and subsequent scaphoids.........still reckon you could hit that bowling ball in a sack? Really? How about I give it the odd push in different directions, you know, like people tend to move their bodies and in turn their head you’re so desperately trying to target and impact full contact with that now decidedly more delicate looking structure your determined to stick with?

"But I’ll not feel it as I will be full of adrenalin!" Go for your life mate. Thing is, if the situation starts to pan out in the other guys favour or slightly longer than anticipated I reckon you just might want a fully functioning right or left hand. And that's before we get into the grief of a broken paw and all the subsequent weeks of hassle associated with it. Or is that also a small price to pay for being able to use that deadly macho bare fist you paired for life with the first time you put on a pair of gloves?

Now, getting back to what's important on the subject which surely has to be dealing with the attacker/aggressor as quickly and effectively as possible. I don't think anyone can argue that the knockout is by far the best option when we are ta...lking about empty hands here?

This brings us back to the issue, the confusion almost, some have of getting localised trauma confused with more effective and specific results. Yes a fist will most likely cause more actual damage to the area it impacts but that does not in turn guarantee a more effective outcome!

We have all seen the character with the torn t-shirt, battered and bloodied face heading home with his mates after that scrap outside the chippy and it's instinctive to remark at what a hiding he took etc. How do we know? That old saying, "you should see the other guy," could actually be applicable surely?

What if that other guy was lying sparked out snoring on the floor with little or nothing in the way of visible injury; is he still the winner as he would place in front of Mr torn t-shirt at tomorrow’s beauty pageant?

Ideally in such a situation as would also be ideal in the cage or ring the knockout can't really be argued with as far as deciding who walks away and who doesn't. But then in the street I haven’t seen many referees suddenly step in and stop it as the guy with the broken nose and cut eye cannot intelligently defend himself. So I suppose actually, if circumstances allowed, aiming for more visible injury is one way to win a refereed sport fight...obviously.

As many will no doubt be aware the knockout is achieved by rapid acceleration and then the subsequent deceleration of the brain within the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and protects the brain itself. So it would make sense to try and go for the highest percentage chance of impacting that bony type bowling ball thing that protects that sack of fluid. Yes if you were to impact just so with a bare fist causing that bone on bone flash of impact that knockout might come more easily but the chances of actually getting things "just so" are far less than using that rather large solid palm heel on that solid unpredictably moving bowling ball. Very erratic fast moving bowling ball, remember I’m not talking about that sport fight were you have the massive luxury of getting a feel for your opponent as you both look for an "in". I'm talking about the instant locking of horns full on scrap here, and in no way am I taking anything away from those that fight in the ring or cage in any shape or form!

With no gloves, rules, time limits, referee and countless other factors that are not in your favour then making sure your choosing the highest percentage option and CORRECT TOOL FOR TARGET PRESENTED must be a top priority?

With the palm heel you can transfer massive impact again and again to this particular target with greatly reduced risk of injury to the hand, fingers and wrist. Obviously this transfers into a far more reliable weapon for the given target, should things not be "just so".

The correct open hand strike is definitely not the loose floppy hand slap advocated by some or the even more ridiculous cupped hand to cause some pocket of air to the ear that ruptures the eardrum or such bollocks that is often touted as if it were fact. Don't believe me? Stand in front of the kitchen work surface and use that cupped or loose floppy wet fish style hand to strike the surface full force, real full force......if you’re lucky it might sting like fuck and have you dancing about the kitchen taking the lords name in vain for a while. If you really did strike it full force you can be pretty sure you won’t bother watching any adult films for a while, so if you do give it a go choose hands carefully..........

Use the palm heel itself, fingers retracted, thumb out the way and imagine your actually striking with the stump of the forearm. Driving the heel of the hand like a jackhammer into that fecking bowling ball, the one with the cheekbones, eye socket, thick forehead and nose. You can train it on pads by allowing your fingers and thumb to go over and round the side of the pad respectivley, you might be surprised how much impact can actually be transferred here ;)

I'm certainly no palm heel Nazi by the way; it wasn't until I was shown and explained the concept but more importantly went away and drilled it for myself I saw and felt the benefits; take note. And that's not to say that I wouldn’t advocate the use of a fist if the correct target was presented, for example any number of body shots or if the head was still enough to take that risk. Sliding scale here again......

Hope some of that made sense and ultimately it's just my take.

Find out more about Chris's self defence system at or E-mail chris at

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Reasons and Excuses

There is an interesting but more importantly very valid thread on the Core Concepts forum right now entitled “Reasons vs Excuses”.

When I first saw the title I mistakenly jumped to the conclusion that it would be a thread about finding motivation to train and such. Turns out it isn't at all, it covers the common problem of people wanting to train the things they want, or how they want rather than what's actually important or the far higher percentage necessity for what's required when all's said and done, addressed objectively without all the “cool” reasons that mean very little in reality.

Before I continue, here's a link to the thread as its well worth a read entirely independently of this article. Perhaps boil the kettle and read it after the following with a coffee...

Now, finding the motivation to train or the reason(s) to train has never been something I have ever really struggled with. The bottom line is I'm one of these people that just generally enjoys my training and so I don't need to constantly remind myself to get to the gym for whatever it is I need to be doing, bag work, C.V., weights etc. The thing is I purposefully do remind myself why I need to be doing so, if I don't mentally kick my own arse to train hard and improve/refine what I'm doing then I'll be joining the ranks of the water bottle clutching, logo stamped free gym towel sporting Jacuzzi dwellers. That on it's on scares me sh**less.......

This brings me on to one of the main points, I have to ensure that mentally I try and improve and at the very least, train hard. How do I instil this? For me personally the bulk of what I try and utilise is fear, the fear of being beaten, looking bad, letting myself down, letting others down, not making the grade etc. And why not? We are always hearing in the combative scene how we should be prepared and such, and I suppose you can't argue with that although some do tend to take things a bit far.

However, the chances of me actually being in a truly life threatening situation are thankfully extremely slim, chances of me being attacked by a gang or robbed at knifepoint are somewhat remote as well. The possibility of me getting injured in a violent altercation is not something I'm overly concerned about as it's not very likely at all; especially since I moved to a somewhat quieter part of the country.

But I still train hard; I still try and learn more and I still push myself every session every time. I'm pretty blessed really as I don't really have to put myself through all this hassle for the reasons I stated previously and countless more if the truth be told. Unlike guys out there that have no choice - the sort that the “Tactical” sections of the industry like to imitate with their “Daily Carry” webbing pouch, combats, torches and emergency escape route in case it goes code red during Eastenders or whatever.

The guys that have no choice, they are, and can be deployed on operational duties around the world or tasked with stuff as a direct result of a politicians/governments decision. They have to be fit, capable, knowledgeable and “good to go” daily or the result of them not being so, could create or leave some fairly serious consequences. Way worse than most of us will ever have the burden to bear if we start slacking off on our training, in whatever shape or form it takes.

Here's the part where I was going to outline some of the stuff I do mentally to “kick my arse” and dig deep when need be during training. I was even going to outline some NLP techniques I use, most of which I have been using for years but I now have a sort of streamlined formula for them - how to use visualisation, reframing, anchoring and such like, but I'm not going to. “Thank F**k for that” I hear you all sigh.....

What I think is better is that I'm going to tell you about a very good friend of mine. I have known the guy for about 12 years now, we met through biking and have been mates ever since. To be brutally honest if it wasn't for bad luck this guy would have no luck, perhaps we all know somebody similar I don't know.

Very long story short: he was hit by some myopic clown in a van years ago and had his back broken in three places. This has basically snowballed and he is now on crutches and enough painkillers and sedatives every two hours to floor a rhino. The only thing that keeps him conscious is the constant flow of coffee and his undying love for a full fat Marlboro...

The last two things are for humorous purposes but I'm sure he would agree they play a part, what really keeps this guy going is his absolute refusal to give in and is still determined to do as much as possible when he should really be bed ridden. Getting dressed, shaving, making tea etc are obviously very painful to say the least but as he always says, “I'm doing it because next time someone might not be there to do it for me.” F**k me, being awake is painful for the guy but still not once have I heard him moan or make an excuse not to do something for himself.

His condition is unlikely to get better, he knows this, by the way he is also partially paralysed down one side and he suffers seizures on occasion leaving him unable to speak and in pain for periods of time afterwards. Imagine having to deal with that sh*t every day and still refusing to give in and put yourself through more pain just to continue to be as self sufficient as possible? He doesn't have a choice; he gets on with it and faces a harder training session by midday than most of us would have in a week’s training combined. Mentally and physically.
I'm quite sure Stuart would love to be able to make the conscious decision that he doesn't really have to train today, he will train twice as hard next week, he has a bit of a cold, he has the latest strike bezel torch or whatever. But he does, because he has to, what's the alternative? Faced with the alternative, how committed do you think you might be to not making excuses to go to the gym, research stuff a bit more, develop something new and so on?

It's easy to find an excuse not to work hard to get better at something and personally I couldn't care less about that attitude....unless you happen to be the sort of person that's always talking about the latest system, technique, DVD, instructor and what you’re going to do and/or become. Or constantly asking me about how to get big or lean after telling me you used to go to the gym and you’re currently in front of me on your 8th Stella. And let's be honest, this whole combative/self protection/RBSD subject should be treated seriously should it not or there is little or no point in pretending to address what you see as the threat however it may manifest itself.

Despite the physical barriers and constant pain Stuart is doing a bit of research and training himself ( this summer he is hoping to beat a world record) to such an extent he has created an outfit called “Raspberry Racing” (raspberry ripple = cripple); speaks volumes doesn't it?

The record he hopes to break involves him on a high powered superbike riding at approximately 180mph; the previous record was 162mph I believe. No big deal really until I tell you that as a result of his seizures the he is 100% blind!

Anyone still finding excuses to not get up and go to the gym; eat correctly for that physique you have always wanted; perfect that right cross or even turn up consistently to that class every week? Or is it still too much hassle, too sore, you’re tired......Next time you’re making that excuse have a think about my mate having to get up and make another coffee to keep himself awake as he organises and plans the next stage of this little Sunday ride on his bike.

Alternatively you may be one of the people that have no choice; you have to be “good to go” and that's an approach I don't think anyone wouldn't benefit from in their training. Perhaps try and adopt that very approach through whatever means you find works; witnessing my mates drive and resolve certainly shames me into pushing that bit harder. I'm fortunate enough that I have the luxury of being able to do just that.

Never forget that all of a sudden you might just find yourself in a situation when you suddenly need to be fit for purpose. All the YouTube videos, DVD’s and pontificating suddenly won't be worth a stuff, obviously. A situation I kind of found myself in a few days ago when the bastard announced that I was going to be one of two riders either side of him linked by intercom to guide the lunatic down the runway.........

Find out more about Chris's self defence system at or

E-mail chris at