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Marc
Marc's picture
Finishing blow after takedown

Hi everybody,

in sports kumite a takedown only scores points if it is finished with a punch. Here are some nice examples:

 

Now, I've seen several examples of similar finishing punches after a takedown in videos on practical bunkai (on this forum and elsewhere).

I would like to know how you feel about this? - From a self-defence perspective, is it a good idea to finish a takedown with a punch to the head or chest onto the downed enemy? - Or is it simply a habit from sports kumite that found its way into practical karate?

I expect the answer to be "it depends" and "it has its place". :-)

Personally, if I don't get pulled down by the other guy, I would rather not sink down to punch, because of the danger of getting kicked in the head or being grabbed. Instead I would instantly run, or first kneel into the enemy, dropping my full body weight into their ribs and/or head, and then run.

All the best

Marc

Anf
Anf's picture

If you've just put someone to the ground, assuming you're not the aggressor then the person you've put down had shown a string desire to hurt you. That desire is not going away just because you've put him on the floor. He'll be wanting to get up, and now he knows what you might do and how to prevent you doing it again. Personally I'd want to strongly discourage them from continuing the attack. If their mates are watching, I'd want to reduce their friend's enthusiasm for action. Ergo, I'd want to do something fairly rapid and decisive.

Quick2Kick
Quick2Kick's picture

When I train take downs that land my partner close to me I train to strike. Gain the advantage press the advantage and or hit them till they stop moving. I also try to have a jerk version of most techniques. For example osto gari would be hand under the chin or in the Eye's while throwing. So YES I hit after I throw during personal practice when teaching not so much. 

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Marc wrote:
I would like to know how you feel about this? - From a self-defence perspective, is it a good idea to finish a takedown with a punch to the head or chest onto the downed enemy? - Or is it simply a habit from sports kumite that found its way into practical karate?

Some little asides before I get to the punch: The way it is done in competitive karate is perfect for competitive karate. It’s not good for self-protection though. Remember that there may be witnesses, and the criminal will lie about who was the cause. You standing above a downed person screaming as you repeatedly punch can make you look like a lunatic to independent viewers and that can help support the narrative of the criminal.

A kiai, etc can be appropriate if it causes hesitation in potential third parties, but it should always be done prior to immediate escape … not standing there and “admiring our handy work” and wanting others to “admire” it too.

Back to the punch …

People can get up quickly, so there should ideally be something that delays that and helps us to escape. My personal favourite (for me) is a stamp to the legs. It delays or prevents standing and will limit their ability to give chase. As I joke at the seminars, “It will be like being chased by one of the zombies from The Walking Dead”.

A leg stamp is also very unlikely to result in the kind of severe injury that a kick to the head or stamp to the body could; and that will make the legal aftermath easier to navigate. That’s for me as a guy with above average strength and a powerful stamp. I’d advise differently for smaller people and those who could not hit as hard. I’d personally not kick the head or stamp the body, but that does not mean it’s inappropriate for everyone.

However, a lot depends upon the position. In my first book (out in 2000) I advocated always using the feet and never bending down to punch with the hands, because it was possible that you could get grabbed when doing so, and you’re lowering your head which could result in more powerful strikes from third parties … and while I generally stand by that, I would add in the nuance if writing the book today. I would now clarify the generality and advise hitting with that hands if they are the most immediate tool.

If the takedown was resulted in you being tilted forward – and many do because your connected to the enemy as they fall – then it can make sense to immediately strike with the hands and then rise (and help discourage any grip because the enemy covers up instead of grabbing you) … as opposed to rising and then kicking (or dropping a knee), because that gives the enemy a “free moment” to improve their position and prevent you from most effectively exploiting the advantage.

Tactically and legally, I would advise only hitting once before escaping. More than once means you are missing the best chance to escape, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to third parties, the you are likely to be outside the law if it continues because the force is no longer “necessary”, and witnesses may incorrectly see you as the aggressor / instigator. Like it or not, whoever is “winning” is likely to be seen as the “bad guy” in the absence of the full picture i.e. “I did not see it start, but Person A was kicking person B as they were covered up on the floor. It was horrific. Poor Person B”.

Marc wrote:
I expect the answer to be "it depends" and "it has its place". :-)

You’d be right :-) It’s a good idea to hit with the most appropriate weapon – could be the hands or the feet, but don’t bend down unnecessarily – to facilitate escape if the enemy lands in a position where they are close enough to be immediately struck without it delaying escape.  We should only strike once, and we should be mindful of the legalities in training so that the right action legally and tactically with be instinctively forthcoming in reality.

For some, I’m sure that it is “simply a habit from sports kumite”, but that does not mean striking with the hands to facilitate escape is not a valid part of self-protection. We just do it for different objectives:

Sport Karate: “Look at how awesome that was! See how dominant I am! Now gimme maximum points!”

Self-Protection: “I’ve got you down now I need you to stay down for a few seconds so I can get out of here! I can punch you here without changing position so that’s what I’m doing. I also don’t want anyone inappropriately thinking I’m dominant or “winning”; I want them to see the truth of this situation.”

All the best,

Iain

Ian H
Ian H's picture

The sport kumite techniques have and continue to evolve to help competitors maximise their chance of being awarded a "score" by the officials.  They do what "works" ... and by "works" I mean making at least two seated gents in suits waive a flag.

If they handed out sport kumite medals based on self defence principles, they'd give bronze to the guy who ran out of the ring as soon as the ref yelled "hajime", silver to the guy who decided to go home when they marshalled his division, and gold to the guy who stayed home in the first place.  Tournament grand winner is the guy who didn't even register to compete.  

(That said, certain aspects and techniques from tournament kumite can be very useful in self defence, provided the user has the right mindset and appreciates the different modes of application in the different scenarios.)

Marc
Marc's picture

Ian H wrote:

If they handed out sport kumite medals based on self defence principles, they'd give bronze to the guy who ran out of the ring as soon as the ref yelled "hajime", silver to the guy who decided to go home when they marshalled his division, and gold to the guy who stayed home in the first place.  Tournament grand winner is the guy who didn't even register to compete.

Brilliant. LOL :)

Marc
Marc's picture

Thanks everyone for your replies. Let me try and summarize:

So the punch after takedown has its place. It depends on whether, after the takedown, I'm still standing upright or did have to go down with my opponent (because they pulled me with them or I bent over or similar). If I'm down at punching distance already, I'll punch and stand back up as quickly as possible. If I'm still upright, I'll stay upright and maybe strike with knee or foot. Then I'll run.

The finishing strike (whether punch or knee or kick or whatever) has the purpose of making sure the enemy won't follow me as I attempt to escape. A strike to the head might look very bad on video while a strike to the ribs or the legs might look less bad or even seem accidental. To prevent the enemy from following me, a strike to the head would have to cause a knock-out. That however is not guaranteed and might require repeated strikes, which looks really bad to witnesses. One heavy knee to the ribs on the other hand might hamper their breathing. A decisive strike to the thigh might cause a dead leg and a stomp on the ankle might render them unable to run altogether.

Again, thanks for sharing all your thoughts.

Take care,

Marc  

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Marc wrote:
Thanks everyone for your replies. Let me try and summarize:

I think that’s a pretty good summary. I’d personally tweak one or two bits though …

Marc wrote:
A strike to the head might look very bad on video while a strike to the ribs or the legs might look less bad …

How witnesses perceive things is a definitely an issue, but so is the level of damage done. A stamp to the legs is far less likely to result in fatality than a stamp to the head is. A stamp to the rib cage can also be fatal. Things obviously get more legally complex if someone is badly injuried or dies.

As per the previous post, that does not mean I’d rule such things out for others; especially students not as large or not presently able to stamp that hard.

Marc wrote:
… or even seem accidental.

I’d advise against trying to misrepresent the situation. It’s important to remain honest. The law allows us to legitimately protect ourselves from violence based on our “honestly held belief”. Any signs of being dishonest can be used against us. If we dropped a knee to prevent immediate standing, then we should say so. Such action would be on the right side of the law. Saying, “and then I fell forward” would be dishonest (and totally unnecessary) and could be used to demonstrate your belief was not honestly held and your version of events can’t be trusted. Our actions may end up being closely examined and a deliberate knee is unlikely to look accidental. There’s nothing to be gained and a lot to be lost. I’d advise being 100% honest.

Marc wrote:
To prevent the enemy from following me, a strike to the head would have to cause a knock-out.

We don’t need a knockout. A strike that caused as little as a 3 second delay in rising would be enough to put a meaningful distance between us and the criminal (especially if they rise and are still disorientated or in pain).  We should run towards a position that make an attempted continuation of the crime less likely (where people are, a well-lit area, a secure place i.e. get back in our car, enter a store, etc). We scream and shout to draw attention to ourselves, and the criminal’s actions. There are many reason why the criminal abort their plan.  

We can take away either the means, the motive, or the opportunity.

Taking away the means would mean he was disabled (unconscious, unable to stand, etc). Taking away the motive would means the “reward” is not worth the risk (may get discovered, others can help you, etc). Taking away the opportunity means the distance is too great to close, or we have security or support. Take away any one of those and we are likely to be safe.

All the best,

Iain

Ian H
Ian H's picture

Marc wrote:
A strike to the head might look very bad on video while a strike to the ribs or the legs might look less bad

In sport kumite training, I have often received the advice that, when delivering the blow to the grounded opponent, one ought to punch to the body rather than the head.  The purpose of this (in this context) is to avoid striking the head too hard and getting an excessive contact penalty. 

Of course, in kumite, kicking the knee would be an illegal strike.  

Marc
Marc's picture

Thanks Iain, for your very valid reply.

Iain Abernethy wrote:

How witnesses perceive things is a definitely an issue, but so is the level of damage done. A stamp to the legs is far less likely to result in fatality than a stamp to the head is. A stamp to the rib cage can also be fatal. Things obviously get more legally complex if someone is badly injuried or dies.

That's very true. Any injuries we cause must be justifiable. And we must be able to articulate why we felt they were necessary.

Iain Abernethy wrote:

The law allows us to legitimately protect ourselves from violence based on our “honestly held belief”. Any signs of being dishonest can be used against us. [...] Our actions may end up being closely examined and a deliberate knee is unlikely to look accidental. There’s nothing to be gained and a lot to be lost. I’d advise being 100% honest.

You're right of course. The "seemingly accidental" part was inappropriate. (But I will not update my previous post, so that this discussion makes sense to people who read this later.)

Iain Abernethy wrote:

We can take away either the means, the motive, or the opportunity.

Taking away the means would mean he was disabled (unconscious, unable to stand, etc). Taking away the motive would means the “reward” is not worth the risk (may get discovered, others can help you, etc). Taking away the opportunity means the distance is too great to close, or we have security or support. Take away any one of those and we are likely to be safe.

That is a great way of explaining what "to escape" actually means, practically and legally!

Kind regards,

Marc

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Marc wrote:
Thanks Iain, for your very valid reply.

I’m pleased the clarification was of some use. I appreciate you drawing together what had been said so far I can clarify my position.

Marc wrote:
That is a great way of explaining what "to escape" actually means, practically and legally!

I’m pleased you found that useful. I think that may be a good theme for a podcast episode? There’s a lot more to escaping than “run away” and it could be interesting to look at some of the methods, drills and tactics associated with escaping.

Thanks for the inspiration and input.

All the best,

Iain

Anf
Anf's picture

Just to pick up on a couple of comments I've read.

Running away is an option that often gets recommended. And with good reason. Firstly if your not longer there, you are not longer getting beaten up. Secondly if you are seen legging it away and being chased, it makes it a bit easier to argue that you really didn't want to fight and when caught, you then had no option but to use defensive force.

But, running is not always the best option. It assumes a number of things. It assumes you are able to out run the assailant. If you're 20 and athletic, maybe you are. It also assumes that you won't be leaving anyone behind. As somebody's husband and somebody's dad, for me, running away is not an option I'd consider as default. For me, legging it could mean abandoning my wife and/or kids to deal with a threat.

The other thing I picked up on was the strike to the ribs. If that's all you can easily get to, then fair enough, but if I had a choice of targets, the ribs would be very low on my list of priorities. The lower ribs support the diaphragm. Breaking them can well and truly wind somebody. They also protect the vagus nerve, disturbance to which can seriously mess with blood pressure and heart rhythm. But the flip side is they are also very tough (except the floating ribs) and lots of people can take one heck of a wallop to the ribs and merely be annoyed about it.

In defence, my goal, if possible, would be to end the fight without significant risk of annoying dying. I'd want to make it impossible for the assailant to strike. To that end, I'd be looking to injure their limbs. A shoulder or elbow sprain will temporarily disable that arm. Lateral force to a knee is going to temporarily making standing up and walking very difficult for a while.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Anf wrote:
But, running is not always the best option. It assumes a number of things. It assumes you are able to out run the assailant. If you're 20 and athletic, maybe you are.

I agree that we can’t always run and that running is not always immediately the best option. The need to protect others being a key example.

Worth remembering that Itosu’s first precept states:

“Karate is not merely practiced for your own benefit; it can be used to protect one's family or master.”

We need to drill that though. We need to practise defending others during live drills. It’s something we do regularly, and it is a grading requirement. Protecting others will include facilitating their escape too. Helping to protect others as you all run is still running away. But it’s totally right to point out that sometimes you can’t run as you need to stay put. I’m always a little wary when this sentiment is expressed though:

Anf wrote:
But, running is not always the best option. It assumes a number of things. It assumes you are able to out run the assailant. If you're 20 and athletic, maybe you are.

The reason I’m wary is that statements like that are often used by martial artists to misrepresent self-defence as fighting (I don’t think you are doing that, but you do see it a lot).

Because many martial artists don’t have the skill set associated with escape, they try to divert it back to fighting (which they do know) by saying things like, “what if he is a better runner than you”? Or “what if you are not fit enough run away”? There’s a huge gap in the logic of that though.

As regards the fitness argument, I think we all know that combat is more physically demanding than running. If you are not fit enough to run, then you probably don’t process the physical attributes to physically subdue them either.  

The “What if he’s a better runner” argument also falls down if we ask, “What if he’s a better fighter? And which would you rather find out?”

A strike that disorientates (i.e. a blow to the head) will make the recipient less able to give chase. A strike to the legs can do the same. We can make the criminal “a bad runner” and therefore we don’t need to be Usain Bolt to make running away work. As an aside, I am 100% sure I could run 100M faster than Usain Bolt himself if was allowed to kick him in the legs first. I’m sure I can run faster than he can hop and limp.

If there is more than one (quite likely) then, even if they catch up with you, running away “thins the herd” so you are not having to physically address them all at once. It is easier (not easy, but easier) to “hit and move” when there is a little more space to do so.

The key thing is that we are not engaging in a long-distance race when we seek to escape. As mentioned in the previous post:

“A strike that caused as little as a 3 second delay in rising would be enough to put a meaningful distance between us and the criminal (especially if they rise and are still disorientated or in pain).  We should run towards a position that make an attempted continuation of the crime less likely (where people are, a well-lit area, a secure place i.e. get back in our car, enter a store, etc). We scream and shout to draw attention to ourselves, and the criminal’s actions. There are many reason why the criminal abort their plan. 

We can take away either the means, the motive, or the opportunity.

Taking away the means would mean he was disabled (unconscious, unable to stand, etc). Taking away the motive would means the “reward” is not worth the risk (may get discovered, others can help you, etc). Taking away the opportunity means the distance is too great to close, or we have security or support. Take away any one of those and we are likely to be safe.”

So, we don’t need to outrun them indefinitely.

As Rory Miller states, “Better to avoid than to run away, better to run away than to de-escalate, better to de-escalate than to fight, better to fight than to die.”

Pre-emptions role is to facilitate running away too of course. Better to do that if you can’t de-escalate than to the fight. It affords us a great opportunity to escape.

Situations vary, but when it comes to avoiding harm, running is generally a much better option than trying to subdue. We therefore need to scrutinise all arguments against running. There are some good reasons why running may not be the best option, but “what if he’s a better runner?” as a genetic point does not bear up to scrutiny.

All the best,

Iain