Thursday, 26 April 2012

Self Defense - Learning To Use Combinations

n my first few posts on self defense, I suggested several key points –

1.  The main targets is self defense are – the head, throat, groin and knees

2.  Use basic strikes and kicks only – the claw, the elbow, the knee, etc…strikes that are easy to use and don’t require much practise.

3.  Use these strikes repeatedly, in combination with other strikes. For example, several claw strikes to the face and throat followed by a knee to the groin followed by a hair grab followed by a claw to the groin followed by a double palm heel strike to the temples…at an intense level of speed and determination

It’s the practise of combining techniques that I want to concentrate on today. There isn’t a martial art in the world that doesn’t involve training in combinations. The reason is the same throughout…at least one of the strikes (if not more) will reach its target. One strike alone may not be enough.

Roundhouse kick to a bag


Allow me to concentrate today on learning to build combinations from a stand up position with an attacker directly in front of you. That’s where most martial arts begin the study of combining techniques.

There are 3 main distances to consider – long range (the distance a kick has to cross in order to reach an attacker’s groin…plus a little extra space for safety); middle range (the distance your palm heel strike has to cross  in order to reach his nose…plus a little extra space for manoeuvrability); and short range (the distance your knee or elbow has to cross in order to hit him in the groin or face respectively).

Training in combinations involves constantly shifting between these 3 distances.

Now, let’s choose some weapons – a front kick, a side kick, a knee kick, the eagle claw presented in an early post, the basic claw, the heel of the palm and the elbow strike. Of course if you’re a martial artist, you may want to substitute any other strike or kick that you’ve already learned.


The following are some drills that you can practise. You can practise them by yourself or with a partner. You can also practise them in front of a mirror or against a punching bag. (Please note: if you’re going to invest in a heavy bag, never purchase one that is too heavy, too bulky or too hard when starting out. Purchase a bag that has some substance to it but can also be moved by you. A bag that’s too heavy may injure your joints).

1.  Right front kick to the groin followed by a left claw to the face. Then switch to a left front kick to the groin followed by a right claw to the face. Keep switching back and forth. A very basic drill in which you travel across the 3 distances.

2.  Kick combinations – front kick to his knee, front kick to his groin, side kick to his knee, front kick to his groin…

3.   Short range combinations – pretend that you’re grabbing the attacker with both hands…right knee kick, right knee kick, right knee kick, right elbow to the temple, left elbow to the temple…followed by left knee kick, left knee kick, left knee kick, left elbow to the temple, right elbow to the temple….switch back and forth!


4.  Shifting across the 4 targets with combinations – attack the face with elbows, claws, palm heel strikes, then switch to the throat, then to the groin followed by kicks to the knees. Speed up the attacks. Flow from the face to the groin to the throat to the knees back and forth between the 4 main target areas.

5.   Group similar techniques together across the 3 distances and the 4 main targets this time using an everyday weapon…car keys, a pen, a kitchen knife.

Lastly, please notice the 9 squares at the very top of this blog. They represent the 9 main angles of attack a defender can use to practise techniques in combination. #1 represents high left (coming in against the right side of attacker’s head or throat), #2 high middle (attacking his head or throat from the front) and #3 high right (coming in against the left side of his head or throat).

Following the same format, squares #4-#6 represent the main part of his torso; squares #7 - #9 represent anything from the groin down to the knees.

Please continue to refer to this chart as we study more techniques in future posts.

For example, a left backfist attacking #3 can be followed by a right uppercut traveling up from #5 through #2, a favourite of Choy Li Fut Kung Fu.

Or, you can perform a right front kick to #8 (the groin) followed by a left roundhouse kick to #1 (the side of the head), a Kickboxing, Taekwondo and Karate favourite.

The types and number of combinations can be endless!

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