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


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