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For my wonderful wife Judy and son Jacques, and my family, whose support
over many years has enabled me to live my dream. Also many thanks to all the
Academy members and instructors, past and present, for their support and for
Bob Breen
A path to understanding
7 snowbooks
The advice and techniques in this book should only be undertaken by martial arts
hold specialist martial artist insurance. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure
that the content of this book is technically accurate and as sound as possible, neither
the author nor the publishers can accept responsibility for any damage, injury or loss
sustained as a result of the use of this material.
© Bob Breen 2006
Photography by Pete Drinkell
Edited by Emma Barnes
Designed by Emma Barnes and Stephanie de Howes
First edition
Proudly published in 2006 by
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by him in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Acts 1998.
Part 1: Preparation
01: Stance
02: Range and Measure
03: Footwork
04: Guards
Part Two: Attack
05: Punches
06: Kicks and knees
07: Simple Combinations
08: Head control / plumm
09: Arm breaks & Wrenches
Part 3: Defence
10: Punch defences
11: Kick defences
12: Throws
Part 4: Putting it all together
13: Advanced combinations
14: Rhythm
15: Timing
16: Scenarios
Drills and work-outs
learn the principles that underlie combat, both physical and mental. In my forty years of martial arts training
all the martial arts that I’ve studied. Jeet Kune Do is a principles-based system that has enabled me to see all
my other, more traditional, training in context and to have a deeper and clearer comprehension of it. It has
shortened the time I’ve needed to become functional in whichever type of combat I’ve chosen. The crossWUDLQLQJDSSURDFKRI-.'DQGLWVHPSKDVLVRQÁRZDQGDGDSWDELOLW\PHDQVWKDWLQDVWUHHWVHOIGHIHQFHVLWXDWLRQ
it’s easy to come up with instant responses to immediate dangers. In this book I’ve used a principles-based
The aim of this book
around the world has shown me people’s training
needs, and thus where the focus of this book should
I have written this book to give beginners and
intermediate students a guide to learning and
in a modern and functional fashion. It hasn’t been
training martial arts that isn’t limited to the
my intention to cover the techniques developed by
techniques being taught; it also gives an idea of how
Bruce Lee and his friend and training partner Dan
the whole thing works. When I sat down to write it, I
Inosanto during the Sixties and Seventies. A book
set out to help students along the way by providing
showing this could, to an extent, be tethered to the
an understanding of how principles and other tenets
past and that wasn’t what I wanted. Like Lee, I have
could inform and improve the learning and training
used a conceptual approach and I have taken
process. I wanted to show not only what techniques
many of Lee’s thoughts on the nature of combat to
to use but, more importantly, why, when and how
to use them. This was the book that I needed when
very little esoteric terminology in the book. The aim
is to make it clear and simple and help you on your
write a book that the advanced student could dip
way to being an effective martial artist. Lee’s focus
into occasionally.
was on the functionality of the technique or training
At the early stage of my martial arts study I bought
books by Oyama and Nakayama on Karate. These
that I had. However, the completeness of these
books has never left me and I have sought to
method and that is my focus within this book. It is a
techniques as a base and adds what is functional
and desirable from modern methods and my own
experience to show a way that is relevant to modern
martial artists.
emulate that here, as well as to provide a sourcebook to satisfy students’ questions.
It would have been easy to write a book that
impressed my peers or that showed lots of fancy
Teaching on a nightly basis and doing seminars
Scope of the book
n this book I cover primarily empty hands (as
and grappling are outside the scope of this book
Modesty Blaise were around and popular before I
but crucial nevertheless to developing a rounded
heard of Bruce Lee. O’Donnell’s characters showed
great use of strategy and techniques and their
training kit, or warming up and down, stretches or
conditioning training, but the importance of these
been invented. To a young man practising Karate
cannot be overstated. My aim is to walk the line
they were yet another source of inspiration to gain
between function and technique, execution and
more knowledge and understand the game more
thoroughly. In my Karate practice I had been
fortunate to come under the tutelage of Tatsuo
Suzuki 7th Dan. This took me off the street corner.
My background
Now I was a Karate practitioner, a stoic monk-like
y own interest in strategy and principles
began before I had heard of Bruce Lee
belts as, back then, the Karate scene here was very
what I wanted to do yet had no interest in teaching:
training was my life. However, a reluctant one-time
grew up, something that I thought was normal, yet
job, taking the place of a Japanese instructor who
for lots of modern youngsters is alien. Over time I got
for the rest of my life.
Teaching others and training were my new
existence. Karate was great but at that time
a boxer and lost not on heart, as I had plenty, but
the world was changing. In the late 1960s doors
on lack of technique. I had no method to apply.
previously closed were opening everywhere. I
trained with top Judo players and boxers and loved
group threat to single unarmed combat, then knife
to grapple even though my Karate friends thought
against my empty hands, and then a bottle attack,
it unseemly. Meetings and exchanges with Kung
all the time surrounded by a group. Maybe that’s
Fu practitioners also happened around this time
why I have had a life-long interest in weaponry and
whilst I was working as a stuntman and I gained
how to defend against it. Another found me at a
During this time we were all adapting, when into
this matrix came Bruce Lee. Much of what we read
great inspirations to learn more. I was no great
about Bruce in the magazines we already knew. My
hero, as I wanted a quiet life like everyone else, but
training partners and I used a boxing stance and
circumstances dictated that I fought fairly frequently
did hand immobilizations and many of the other
things that were talked about in these articles on
a lot of the time. Just being in this down-to-earth
Bruce. However, my visits to Chinatown’s Chinese
environment meant I got to see and experience a
movie theatres to see him in action made me
aware that he was on another level entirely. I was
a convert overnight and devoured anything about
Japan. I saw in him how to behave as a true martial
him or anything he wrote. Much of it resonated
artist, constantly enquiring but self-controlled and
with my own experiences. I loved his use of training
equipment and was intrigued by the wooden
dummy. We took what we could and fought full
contact and gained a rough and ready experience.
I was also studying Okinawan weaponry from my
friend John Sullivan who I’d been in Japan with. It all
Boxing has also been instrumental in my
development. I was forbidden to box at school
when I was young because of an ear operation
which meant I couldn’t pass the medical. As a result
of this ban I have boxed or fought continually ever
since. Additionally, my love affair with good boxing
My own development has been helped incredibly
had been fostered as a youth when I worked at
the London Hilton for my father. He organised the
Tatsuo Suzuki in action I knew that I wanted to do
catering for all the top boxing matches. Through this
what he was doing. Through him I learnt to be stoical
I met and talked to boxing greats like Jack Dempsey
and to adapt my game to my body. He had a bad
back injury so found it hard to kick high with ease,
and some great men. They all left an impression.
All Japan Karate Champion, I learnt not only about
timing and counter-punching but also about being
a gentleman and having empathy with those who
trained with me and under me. I owe him a great
debt. My continuing enthusiasm was fed by Tadayuki
Foremost among all I have trained with is Dan
Inosanto, Bruce Lee’s training partner. My initial
meeting with him in 1979 was amazing and blew me,
and my friends, away. It showed me that there was
much more to learn and that I had better get going.
Maeda, another All Japan champion, and, on
I have been privileged to train with Dan for nearly
thirty years and I am one of his longest-serving
I never met in person. Further, multi-faceted
students, though probably not his best. We have
inspiration came from meeting Don Draeger in
moved from a master-student relationship to one
where he is friend, mentor, and master but above
To go through all these stages in every aspect of the
all a constant inspiration. Dan has encouraged
arts is a lifetime’s study. Many of us are at different
my study of various martial ways and I have had
stages of development in various areas of the art.
great success in many of these. Meeting Dan has
Only once you truly understand can you feel free to
changed my life, as he has changed the lives of
abandon the method and go with what the situation
countless others.
dictates. Any art that allows you at an early stage
The training partners I have had along the way have
been an invaluable aid to my development and
my understanding of martial arts. Foremost amongst
these during the Seventies and Eighties must be
Ralph Jones and Geoff Britton. We were the band of
brothers who travelled and fought together. Ralph
became my soul brother when we moved into JKD.
encourages improvisation around a theme or simple
concept, whilst also emphasizing quality basics will, I
believe, allow you to achieve some mastery of your
art. Of course, mastery is always a relative term;
as you get better the level of expectancy just gets
He was the ying to my yang and we spent days
talking about concepts and strategies. Like me he
Build a base
shared a love of Modesty Blaise books. In recent
years my training has been enlivened by an amazing
group of training partners and friends. I owe a
great debt to all of them: Terry Barnett, who started
training with me over thirty years ago, Neil McLeod,
David Onuma, Wayne Rowlands, Owen Ogbourne,
Dave Birkett, Steve Wright, another long time student
and friend Alex Turnbull and my inspirational old
friends Alex Livingstone and Ian Oliver. Finally I should
mention my close friend and student Lou Manzi
who I get to work out all my theories on and who
serves as my training dummy. In recent times, arthritis
limited my game until I had two hip replacements,
from which I recovered with the help of some great
training with James Evans Nichol in Submission
Wrestling and in Silat with Steve Benitez and his team.
In all arts the highest levels of achievement are
built upon mastery of the fundamentals. Sound
knowledge of the basics is essential both in selfdefence and for sparring. At this level it’s about
repetition and building body knowledge. It’s my
belief that good boxing and kickboxing skills will give
position to use more advanced trapping (reacting
to your opponent’s energy to manipulate and pin,
grappling, but they work better when supplanted by
a boxing or kickboxing base. Good boxing skills also
at ease in a chaotic situation. This is a core part of
developing your game.
The progression for anyone learning any art tends to
follow the same pattern. This is how we describe it in
my instructor training program and for our phased
training program:
> Build a base
Seek the method
Once you have an understanding of a basic game,
you can start to learn more about the method and
the techniques involved, plus you start to pick up on
the subtleties of the art and build basic technique
in depth. You start to gain the understanding and
positional knowledge to be able to use the more
> Seek the method
esoteric techniques within the art. Along with
> Become the method
technique this is a time to place great emphasis on
> Abandon the method
learning timing and distance – something you should
> Return to simplicity
work hard to develop. This is a time of research and
Become the method
attack or defence looks like. This is when you are
At this level you are in the art. You know the
techniques and now are in a practising mode,
the many reference points, as Lee called them; the
From these reference points you have numerous
techniques available, and you have a base or
common entry point for improvising or relating to
your opponent’s energy. By using reference points
your improvisation skills are based around common
themes and start points, and chaos doesn’t seem
so chaotic. You don’t choose beforehand what you
to your opponent and what they choose to do,
responding with the appropriate technique.
building a base. Next, you start to use your growing
recognition of shape and movement, often without
try this’ type of approach if you’re attacking, and a
reactive approach if you’re defending. This is where
you build your experience. There is no short cut
here. To research your experience you have to have
some, so this means sparring, drilling and learning
as you go. Eventually you get to the point, when
you’ve done lots of repetition in drilling and sparring,
where you can see the shape of the coming attack.
Alternatively, you construct a situation where
the person is likely to do the thing you want. The
highest point of the art is where you can force your
opponent to do what you want whether he is aware
of it or not. Of course the ultimate aim of martial
arts is to forestall any belligerence on a potential
Abandon the method
opponent’s part, before it even gets started, by your
spiritual and physical presence.
to abandon the method – you are on the road to
all of my training and teaching it has been the
gaining a deep knowledge of the fundamentals,
dichotomy between being functional whilst also
then adapting them to your body and to your
experience. You create your way, based on the past
in a knowing way. I had tried a naïve, yet chaotic,
this level you have no expectation of how things will
approach in my youth and found that I just got more
be; you just go with what is, taking it as it comes.
bruises that way. To paraphrase the poet Oliver
Wendell Holmes, I don’t want the simplicity on this
side of complexity, I want the simplicity on the other
Return to simplicity
This book is mainly concerned with giving you a
toolkit of techniques and an understanding of where
mastered and internalised the techniques you can
start to interrogate them, selecting and developing
those which work best for you, throwing away
eventually come full circle, back to where, as Bruce
This can only be done with a good knowledge of
the fundamentals; that doesn’t mean only knowing
what the fundamentals look like and being able to
perform them parrot-fashion. This is the trap that a
minority of Karate practitioners fell into (though to
my mind that isn’t the real .DUDWH¶,ILWORRNVJRRG
it must be good,’ is the ethos of this type of training.
This is OK at a base level and we all have to go
through this. Then it’s on to really understanding your
Looking at this process from the beginning you
This process, I think, can be accelerated if you know
what you are doing and where you are going. Bruce
only approach where generally simple works best,
way and we should respect his genius in this. He was
approach. Choose whichever approach best suits
an innovator and has changed the face of modern
martial arts worldwide.
How to use this book
moves on to more advanced technique and
Throughout the book, for convenience I use the
each time. Apologies to anyone who thinks I’m
being sexist – if you knew some of the female black
belts at my Academy you’ll know I’m under no
fundamentals. I have given training routines which
You should also use this book in conjunction with
will help your progress. If you are more experienced
professionally-instructed classes. There is no substitute
or seek to understand the timing aspects mentioned
for a good teacher and you should go out of your
way to seek one out.
time line in chapter 15 and keep that in mind
whilst reading the rest of the book. Think about
and after’ to good effect. Look at ways you can
advance your techniques up the time line so they
Finally, make sure at all times that you respect and
take care of your training partners. Ensure you
approach your training with focus and passion, but
be thoughtful and considerate too.
are more pro-active rather than reactive. Realise
too that sometimes appearing to be slow and
behind the beat is often just as effective as being
ahead of the beat as long as you are not being
hit. An understanding of opening and closing lines
is essential if you are to make the most of your
opportunities. Research your own experience,
look at where on the line you do most of your
work and adapt it so you have more depth and
I’m also going to assume a left lead – apologies to
the southpaws out there. If you’re just starting out
I normally recommend that you put your left side
forwards if you are right-handed. However, both
sides work and both have advantages. As you
advance, you should be training all techniques
on both sides. If you’ve got the time it’s immaterial
which side you start out on. However, I’ve seen a
Part 1: Preparation
you need to be well balanced, rooted at the point of impact so that you can deliver blows with force, whilst at
Stances are not techniques themselves; they help
you to execute a particular technique and so they
effectively whilst remaining mobile.
poses; rather, a stance is like a still from a movie,
a snapshot of part of a movement that isn’t stiff or
attacks from.
Simple stance changes can have a profound
impact on your opponent’s ability to strike
effectively. The most suitable thing to do is often
dictated by your opponent, so you must remain
directions with ease. With all stances and footwork,
keep your striking and kicking tools directed towards
stances as a handy reference point and you have
your opponent.
to learn them well. As you progress, you learn
to improvise around them and they become
transitional. Ultimately, you forget them. It’s about
learning where your balance is, and learning how to
Front stance
move between stances or to move using the same
stance. Using stances at this early stage helps you to
The front stance is the basic stance used in boxing.
The weight is forward on the lead foot and the rear
heel is raised. The body is slightly turned so that
you offer a smaller target, and the hands are held
high and tight to cover against blows. Note also
that they are in an offensive position directed at
the opponent, not pointed upwards, which would
show your opponent that you are defensive and no
danger to them. This is really important: it’s essential
that you are the hunter and not the hunted. Your
body inclination and direction should show this in
no uncertain terms: offence is the best defence.
The raised rear heel is crucial as this will allow
you to move backwards easily. This can be done
WHPSRUDULO\ZLWK¶snapback’ (see page 78) where
you move and then come back to your attack, or it
can be a more permanent type of footwork move.
Front stance
Pros and cons
It’s an easy stance to learn and use. It provides
the heel of your lead foot lines up with the toes of
a great platform for delivering hand blows in
your back foot. You can make this stance slightly
particular, and leg strikes at longer distances. In the
longer at times, but it is normally kept quite short.
front stance, lead kicks are normally done with a
Make sure that the hips are raised and both heels
step or slide. Even though this might telegraph your
intentions, if the step and slide are disguised with a
of defence is your legs; protecting your centre line
hand strike or a feint they work well. The extended
isn’t so important. If your opponent attacks, you
front leg is vulnerable to attack either from round
can keep him at bay using kicks and long knees,
then integrate hands into this mix. Hands can often
out of it using a shorter Thai stance (see below) as
be out in a long guard; these extended hands
your neutral stance. Be aware of tackle attempts
serve a multitude of purposes. They can keep your
and keep light and mobile so that you can respond
opponent at a kicking or kneeing range; they can
easily. This front stance is the best one from which to
be used very effectively to parry your opponent’s
use hand strikes, rather than kicks.
blows at their origin; they can be used to grab your
opponent and bring him into a clinch position, thus
killing his boxing range; and you can use your hands
Thai stance
This is a shorter, more neutral stance used commonly
to mask your opponent’s face so that he can’t see
whilst you attack.
Pros and cons
in Thai boxing. Place your feet so that the back of
The Thai stance is great for kicking. You are
compact, with good balance, so that you can
use the legs easily for low-line defence, either by
crushing, or by striking. The squarer position means
that you can kick easily to wide angles, though it is
not so good at long range. The hands can still be
effective but because of the raised heel stance,
punches tend to be weaker unless you drive from
the ankles, which are kept hard and strong. The long
guard can be vulnerable to your opponent coming
underneath it with hand attacks, though this isn’t a
problem if your knee techniques are good.
Thai stance
Lateral stance / Yee kim ma
Pros and cons
The lateral stance is used at close range. It differs
Elusive and very functional, the lateral stance
from the boxing and Thai approach in that the head
can be used to stay out of the way, passively, of
is further back. Though this isn’t the best stance for
opponents’ blows, or can be made much more
delivering very powerful blows, it is highly effective
aggressive with the use of blows like the straight blast
in a self-defence mode or when you don’t want to
or chain punching which is hard to counter at close
escalate what may just be a tussle into an all-out
this to boxing or clinching and standing grappling
formally in Wing Chun styles, this stance, in a looser
is essential. It requires good hand skills to be most
format, is also used by Filipino Kali and Indonesian
effective and only works well at close range.
Silat systems. Open your legs as shown by rotating
out further. This will give you the standard stance.
These are some of the basic stances which we
However, it can be looser than this, just as long as
will work with in this book. They are just the basic
you understand the principle. One leg has seventy
building blocks and should be well practised. Add
percent of the weight and the other thirty. When
these to the footwork drills in chapter 3 and develop
attacked on one angle you adjust your weight and
an awareness of your own body’s balance and
move to the other angle; it means you have an
attacking angle on your opponent.
Lateral stance
Range and technique
out of the range of his kicks and punches, or at what range you can most effectively use your various kicks and
punches – your body tools. Phrases like ‘I’ve got the measure of him’ have their origins in the combative notions
Understanding ranges
There are four basic ranges: long range, medium
Long range
inform the stances that you move through and the
techniques you select. Sometimes techniques work
in all three standing ranges. Don’t see ranges as
the space around you into ranges is a useful way to
lay the foundation of your understanding and make
it easier for you to learn techniques and concepts.
range without thought as you respond and react.
Find your measure with a jab
When you and your opponent are just out of each
other’s reach, you would need to step in to use any
of your attacks effectively. You either want to draw
him in or use methods to bridge the gap. You use
your longest spear-like tools – including lead side
kicks, front kicks and jabs – to both measure your
distance and to get closer to him where you can use
your more effective, destructive tools.
Medium range
for you to know your opponent’s, so that with a
minimum of movement you can be just out of range.
Medium range is where much martial arts
training takes place and as a result it’s where the
First, you have to know your measure with the jab
and the lead leg side kick, your longest tools. Then
close, not too far away. However, at this range your
you can go on to understand how to increase your
opponent can deliver all of his tools most effectively
workable distance by adding different types of step
and may be feeling his most comfortable. It’s a
or lunge. It’s very easy to understand both your own
dangerous range and has to be well trained. Here
and your opponent’s range and measure once
to go closer and restrict your opponent’s chance to
using a ruler.
unload by tying him up, locking him, or alternatively
In the picture (left) you can see my hand measure
taking him down. The other alternative is to be able
with a MDELILW·VDÀQJHUjab I just add four inches). I
to move easily into the long range with the minimum
make sure that I stretch even to the point of being
of effort, then be ready to come in again when the
nearly off balance so that I know the furthest extent
opportunity presents itself.
of my reach. If my opponent is at a longer range I do
the same jab but with an initial step, and over time
Close range
I get to know the length of my step. I then mentally
know that I will be able to hit my opponent if he’s
At close range there is a lot of potential for things to
within my measure or my measure plus a step. If he’s
happen. Both you and your opponent have most
of your tools available and you can manipulate,
leg and then the lead leg. I get to know the furthest
grapple and tie your opponent up, in addition
range from which my tools still hit and then just add
to striking. This range thus has many games and
the different steps, depending on how much ground
approaches which include boxing; clinch, knee and
I have to cover.
elbow; trapping; standing grappling and throwing;
and locking.
It seems complicated, but the place to start is by
learning the range of your tools without stepping,
or with lead leg kicks, stepping within the length of
Although outside the scope of this book, the ground
measure to which you can then add steps if you
aren’t close enough.
Similarly, once you know your measure you’ll be
better able to gauge your opponent’s distance and
use range defensively. You can snapback so that
Finding your measure
he misses by fractions of an inch. This makes it much
easier for you to counter-attack. An alternative
Your measure is the furthest distance at which your
to making his strikes miss is drawing him in deeper.
tools work well against your opponent. First you have
Because he’s missing every time, he over-extends,
to learn your measure. Once that’s done, it’s easier
then you can slip in and be so close that either he
can’t generate enough power or the angle is wrong
for his blow to work effectively. Then you can clinch
or manipulate his balance. In these ways you destroy
you are in the right place to knock him down or out.
I spar with many students who have no knowledge
of their own distance, so they take unnecessary
steps to get close enough. This uses too much time,
and announces their intention. Don’t let that be you.
Core principle: Centre line
The centre line is a crucial aspect of your understanding of the combative relationship between
you and your opponent. Many of the prime targets like the groin, solar plexus, throat and chin
differently. Some styles like to defend the centre line by having the arms there, so you have to
your eyes are the best defensive tools to use. Your arms are better deployed to guard against
looping, hooking blows to the head, where your eyes don’t work at their best. Also, in this way,
you draw your opponent to attack you down the centre line – you lure him in. Bruce Lee called
this ‘attack by drawing.’ You seem open but in reality you’re ready to respond. From a defensive
standpoint you’ve got to realise that you can’t defend everywhere. If you cover the centre you’re
open at the edges; if you cover the edges you are open in the centre, either for chain punching or
attacks up and down your centre line. Similarly, you can’t effectively defend both high and low
lines. What you should do is close no door too tightly; if you close one door you’ve only opened
another on the other side. Rather, use a combination of body or head movements with a minimal
blocking or parrying method to defend against any blows. Leave your centre line open but close
opponent’s centre line without being directly in front of him, therefore he’s not able to attack
your centre as effectively as you are his.
03: Footwork
Footwork training features an essential contradiction. Combatively, you need to move with the minimum of
effort and only just enough for your opponent to miss and waste his energy. However, to be really competent
at footwork you have to do more than is necessary in the training stage so that you get to the point where your
body loves to move. Most people in class would like to stand where they are, thus it’s essential that you overdo
Therefore make sure that you exaggerate your use of footwork in training. Get to the point where you love to
you should make sure that you don’t do too much, as sometimes closing one door just opens another. See this
Boxing series footwork
Slide and step
Step and slide
The slide and step can be used to maintain your
7KHÀUVWW\SHRIfootwork to learn is the step and
range in relation to your opponent when the gap
slide. This is the standard way of adjusting your
is slightly larger or you have to make up distance.
position in relation to an opponent so that you can
Alternatively it’s great when accompanied by strikes
stay at a consistent distance. This is normally the
which hide the footwork. Slide your back foot up
point at which you are at the end of his range and
towards your front foot then take a step with your
the beginning of yours and where both of you can
leading foot. When going backwards, slide the front
hit with your hands if you take a step forward. You
foot back, and then take a step backwards with
move the leg nearest to the direction you are going
your rear foot. Don’t bob up and down: keep your
head at a constant level. A variation on this theme
back in your standard stance. This can be done
is to raise the closest leg like a crush or jamming
forwards and back and left and right. Moving right is
technique. When going forwards it can be used to
jam your opponent’s attack attempt, and when
– there are a number of other options for moving
going back it can be used to crush your opponent’s
right that are more functional (see L step, p.26).
attack or counter-attack.
Step and slide
Slide and step
Curve left and right
Stance changes
Curving left and right takes you out of harm’s way
against an opponent trying to trap you in a corner
or against side attacks like the round kick. It can
Around the pad drill
also keep you out of the centre line focus that your
7KLVLVWKHÀUVWW\SHRIfootwork drill we teach at my
opponent wants because that’s where he can
Academy. It’s easy, and connects foot and brain
charge or lunge in most effectively. Being just off his
quickly and instinctively. You can see this as a stance
centre line all the time means that you are stealing
change done at distance so that you change
time from him yet keeping your own attacking
from an orthodox to a southpaw lead, either when
options open. Practise curving either in shadow-
attacked or when you decide that it is a good thing
boxing or when doing pad work (the feeder can
to do. Once again it makes you light and elusive.
give you slow round kicks or wide hooks to get you to
move off-line at the end of your combinations). You
don’t need to move too far, just far enough that you
Step through
are off the centre. Watch good Cuban boxers and
you’ll see this used to great effect. Don’t be there,
waiting to get hit.
This is a different stance change but this time it is
performed at medium to close range. Often used in
Filipino boxing, it immediately puts pressure on your
opponent’s balance. Often we do this either with a
L-step (Switch)
Withdraw your lead leg and step to the right with
your rear leg. It has a sort of skipping feel to it. Once
you’ve switched you can either replace your lead
foot on a parallel line to the initial one or you can
crushing or trapping technique as shown, or when
your hit falls short and you just follow it in, because
if you try to pull it out you will get what Bruce Lee
FDOOHG¶hang time’ where you’re lingering at the end
of a blow.
walk in an arc and reinstate your stance anywhere
Therefore you can see that it is possible to change
on the arc. This footwork gets you out of the range
stance at long range, as in going round the pad, or
of his big right hand punch and is an easier way to
at close range where you are making the most of a
move to the right than the step and slide or curve.
bad position and crashing inwards. Both work well
and can mess up your opponent.
It’s important to note that you can either move
to do both at the same time. So when working
evasion, use footwork as one method, and body
that most people won’t see that it’s two different
approaches. We’ll look at body evasion later on in
Part 3.
Going around the pad
Step through
04: Guards
of your body as possible, and to do this it’s helpful to visualise the body divided into quadrants as shown below.
There are four types of guards that you need to know which we’ll look at in this chapter.
Standard guard
Standard guard
position to lead hook and can also be used as a bar
across your opponent’s body used to push him off
This is where your forearms are held vertical, like two
pillars. Point your hands towards your opponent,
elbows in, body turned to offer less of a target. The
rear hand covers the rear quadrant, the lead hand
balance or jam him so he can’t use his hands, which
is particularly effective if he is using the standard
guard. Use the shoulder roll (p. 82) and bob and
weave (p.78-79) to cover against right hand blows.
covers the lead upper quadrant and the elbows
cover the side rear and lead quadrants.
Cross guard
Half guard
The cross guard is versatile and can be used in a
Use the half guard when you are at medium or
variety of ways. Firstly, use it to crush your opponent’s
close range. It is often easier to bob and weave with
blows (p. 75). Secondly, it’s a great way to cover
the lead arm dropped. Here, the lead arm is in a
whilst actively bobbing and weaving. Make sure
Half guard
Cross guard
both hands are fully cocked to enable a left or
check him to reduce his kicking power and use
right hook; you can easily trap his limbs as your
the extended lead to head grab and eliminate his
boxing range. You can also manipulate his head to
into the cross guard from the half guard; often the
offset his balance or use your thumb to gouge his
guard and the half guard don’t work particularly
well at long distances and can leave you open to
simple trapping. Body movement and closing your
opponent down are essential parts of both these
Long guard
The long guard is used in Thai boxing and Filipino
Kali. Either, or both, hands can be extended. This
exposes the ribs but the added risk can be worth
it as it’s much easier to manipulate your opponent
at the origin of his blows and kicks. You can body-
Long guard
Checking the doors
trapping attempt when not threatening his line with
like that in the photos. Take the standard guard as
a cross or other blow.
an example. The lead hand should pulse towards
your opponent so that when you do MDEWKHÀUVW
part of it is hidden from him, disguised in a sea of
constant motion. Similarly, move the rear hand as
if you’re cleaning a window. Touch your forehead
Above all, threaten your opponent: don’t think
defensively but always threaten to take the game to
him so that he is more hesitant and is stopped before
he builds up momentum.
occasionally to make sure that your hands are up
Also, change guards and game occasionally as he
(it’s so easy to drop them, so make this a habit)
will be planning his response to your standard game
position. This means your opponent has to watch for
your opponent mentally unbalanced and not in
your jab; he can get the cross in only occasionally
because you’re monitoring your cover with a head
touch and he can’t reliably predict that your hand
time of your choice go back in with intent. Vary the
will be there to be trapped. Add level change to
this, using your knees whilst keeping your head up,
footwork, changing distance and changing power
and head movement as well as evasion. This means
– light and evasive then hunting down with power
your head is moving up and down in addition
blows. It makes it very hard for your opponent
to evading left and right, instantly reducing your
to deal with and puts you in charge of what’s
hitability. Keep the elbows tight, though they can
sometimes go forwards to cut his angles off for any
potential body strikes. The rear hand can make little
circles and occasionally go forwards in a vague
Remember all of this is built on simple basics. Learn
integrate them into your game. Be the hunter.
In Part One I’ve covered stances, footwork and guards and introduced the concepts of range,
distance and the centre line. In Part Two we’ll look at strikes and kicks to use from the mobile base
we’ve created.
Part Two: Attack
Principles of striking
I see many students at my Academy who are very muscular yet can’t hit hard. It shows that good striking ability
isn’t based solely on muscular strength but rather on good body mechanics: hitting using all of your body, using
as many levers acting together as possible. It’s even more important that you hit using your skeleton, not just
your muscles. Make contact with your opponent with the bones of your body lined up behind the strike, so that
there are a minimum number of joints having to be held in place by gross muscular force. As one of my old
friends used to say, ‘where there’s a joint, there’s a weakness.’ Throughout Part Two I will show you how to line
your body up for maximum effectiveness. It means you will punch above your weight and it will put you in the
‘big hitters’ league.
Starting position
Whilst your lead hand should generally start from a
The jab
Circle the hand both clockwise and anti-clockwise
The jab was accurately described by Bruce Lee and
and pulse it towards your opponent – it means your
jab has various starting points and makes the timing
The jab is inherently simple, yet its use can be very
of the attack harder for your opponent to forecast.
varied and very destructive. To think of the jab as just
an opening or ranging shot is to only understand one
Ways to practise the jab
aspect of it.
First practise the jab on the spot, without moving
your feet, as we saw in Chapter 2: by leaning your
The basic jab
body in you can learn how far away you can be
Stand in the basic front stance with both hands up.
whilst still able to hit. Add a lead step, if you need
The rear hand is near the corner of the jaw and
the extra depth to hit the target. The hand should
the lead hand is on or near the centre line with the
elbow tucked in. Push with the back leg, in particular
from the raised-heel rear foot. Turn the hand so it
Double jab
is palm downward en route to making contact.
position so you use the correct body mechanics.
contact your body should form a straight line going
Let the power for the second punch come from
a bounce in the legs. Once you can do this well,
foot. Move your head slightly forwards and off-line
practise with a step. The double jab is for penetrating
to the right so that even though you deliver the jab
deep into your opponent’s defence, for putting him
quickly you are still hitting with all of your body’s
on the back foot and possibly to set up the cross.
weight. As you’re stacking your body up in a straight
Take a step forward on the second jab, making
sure that you move the hand before the foot. Once
likely to crumble if you hit a heavy opponent.
again, don’t get the power for the second jab from
the arm; rather, almost spring from the legs so that
Next there is the ÁLFNHUjab. This is the opposite of the
the arm needs to do the minimum of work. Work on
making the second jab as hard, if not harder, than
sure your body is lined up properly if you can, but
this jab can still be thrown when you’re unprepared.
from the legs and correct body alignment. Bring the
Use the ÁLFNHUjab to gain intelligence about your
hand back quickly to its starting position after the
opponent’s intention – it gives you instant feedback
second strike. Don’t drop your hand or let it curve
about his thinking. Also use it as a fake to draw his
inwards as your opponent will then have an open
guard high so that you can come in underneath.
line along which to strike. Keep your rear hand open
The surprise nature of this jab makes your opponent
and near the corner of your jaw; keep your elbows in
and your head down.
The VWDQGLQJÀVWjab is used when your opponent
has a very tight guard. Keep the elbow in and the
Other jabs
It’s a good idea to work a number of variations
to the jab. First let’s look at the stiff jab, best done
when you are retreating. Line the body up and, as
legs. This is a great way to interrogate the centre line
and often sets up the left hook really well as your
opponent tends to close the centre tightly.
you punch, allow less snap in the muscles and joints
The best method is to mix all the jabs together. Flick
than with the regular jab. Instead, lock your arm for
for distance and presence then change the power
so that suddenly it’s a really heavy strike. Mix in
pole. You should feel the shock of the punch go
doubles and the stiff jab as your opponent starts to
down into your rear foot. The stiffness of this blow
respond. Change tempo and power characteristics
prevents your opponent from coming forwards.
too, and you have a potent strategy.
The cross and straight right
Rear-hand punches are amongst the most powerful
Whereas the straight right is intended to spear
tools you have. As shorthand when teaching, we
straight through the opponent’s guard, the cross is
often refer to both the cross and the straight right
meant to go across and around his guard, as the
SXQFKHVDVWKH¶cross.’ However, the cross is a
name implies. The cross, like the right hook, can be
punch which loops around the opponent’s guard,
very hard to deal with as it penetrates your guard
whereas the straight right goes directly through a
at an unusual angle. However, if defending against
hole in the centre of the guard. Here we are going
it, a change of distance can often make it miss and
to deal with them as separate punches, but they
go across the front of you. Let the rear knee follow
share similar body mechanics.
the direction of the punch but remember to have all
your levers lined up so that they add power to the
Straight right
To deliver this punch, turn your body as if the left
hand side of your body is a hinge. Rotate on the
toes of the rear foot and turn the shoulders. Move
your head off-line, forward and to the left. Make
the hand travel in a straight line; don’t let the elbow
come out too much or it’s easy for your opponent to
It’s important to hit with the whole body so be sure
Have the rear knee pointing in the direction that you
are hitting and don’t let it twist too much to the left.
Make sure all your levers are lined up and throwing
the punch forwards.
As with the jab, there are different types of cross
and straight right. Your degree of commitment
to the punch can change depending on the
circumstances. Concentrate, so that there is no
telegraphing of the punch: no wind-up or clenching
Some boxers, like Mohammed Ali, use this almost
like a jab; others, like Mike Tyson, use their straight
right and cross like missiles. Use both methods
to understand the tool: practise with minimal
commitment where the cross is fast and snappy
and then with greater commitment by throwing
your body weight behind the punch. Also, practise
punching with the arm leading and the body
following and supporting the blow, then do the
the arm. You’ll make the timing of your blow much
harder to read.
It is worth remembering that the rear hand punch
can be thrown at a variety of angles. It can help
to think of this as hitting at various numbers on a
clock face. If seen from your perspective, punch
straight and hit towards the six o’clock. Then hit at
It makes you practise putting your hand into the
holes in your opponent’s guard. This method can be
extended until you are hitting directly overhead in a
looping hit that descends, bang on twelve o’clock,
onto your opponent’s head.
Jab and cross
likely to get hit. Use the momentum of the turn to
rotate the left hook into the target; turn your hips
When moving from the jab to the cross in a
combination, you will need to move the lead foot
out to the left side. If you move the foot to the side
as you make the jab, then you are set up for the
cross and you haven’t telegraphed your intention to
your opponent.
number of ways of holding the hand and each has
vertical with the palm towards you; it makes it easier
WRKLWZLWK\RXUÀUVWWZRknuckles. If you hit with the
palm down there’s a greater chance you will break
your hand if it isn’t taped up, which it won’t be in
The hook
the street. Some people advocate the palm down
method as it has more bite. Try both and see which
The hook is one of the best punches in boxing
suits you. Most important is to rotate the lead foot so
because it comes from outside of your opponent’s
that by the end of the punch it has moved through
eye line and allows him little time to prepare himself.
should move to the back. Try to move the feet,
knocks you out.’
rotate the body and do the punch at the same time.
The standard lead hook is often thrown in a
As your training advances, you can let the punch
retreating manner, drawing your opponent deeper
come with a bit of a delay which will give the hook
into your defensive ring. Bruce Lee used the term
extra whip as it tries to catch up with the rest of the
¶attack by drawing’ to describe this form of attack.
innovative set of principles to help students to
execute the left hook, for example, minimise your
exposure by doing a shoulder roll, allowing the right
shoulder to drop back: this makes you much less
Forward hook
The second type of hook is the forward hook, socalled because your body weight is forward. You
still rotate your body, but because the weight is on
the lead foot you can’t rotate it as much. However,
because it’s a smaller movement than the retreating
hook, at close-quarter it works very well. On this hook
works best. Don’t rotate towards the rear; instead,
bring the weight forwards, as it adds more bite to
the punch. Feel it through your two main knuckles.
Remember, the idea is to drop your opponent in one
punch, so your punches have to have weight, power
and bite. Make sure the elbow is in a line behind the
hand on contact with your opponent. Be careful
to let everything line up at the moment you make
contact, without telegraphing your intention by
raising the elbow too early.
A good way to practise the mechanics of the hook
is by training it in conjunction with the cross. Make
sure that you penetrate deeply on the cross and
Hook and forward hook
then rotate your lead foot, close your body as you
retreat with a shoulder roll, and complete the hook.
What is important in this drill is to make the difference
Shovel hook
between the end position of the cross and that of
the hook as great as possible. Do this drill hundreds
of times in a constant motion without pausing at
each end until you get the hook to really work well.
Let the body mechanics of the cross build up the
body tension to pay for the hook. It will mean that
you get two for the price of one. Once you have
it, you can just adapt that feel to whatever type of
hook you are using.
Made famous by boxers like Jack Dempsey, the
shovel hook can be used to the body or to the face.
It is strong and effective and it’s easy to sneak it
inside the guard. This isn’t the same punch as the
uppercut, though they do look similar. You can
almost look at the shovel hook as an inverted cross,
though at shorter range: the punch comes from the
body’s core with the arm doing minimal work. Slip
right or left and align the body, with your elbow near
your hip. Twist the body; the punch goes inwards
Used at close range, the uppercut can be hard to
stop. Slip in either direction and line your body up
as shown. For the ultimate in power it’s important
to stack your body parts one on top of the other so
as possible. Alternatively, lean back (whilst keeping
balanced), bring your hips forward and swing
upwards. Use the uppercut as part of a combination
where you search for the opponent’s head from a
variety of angles and, as he attempts to slip, you hit
Shovel hook
Backhand blows
together as they have a similar motion. At closer
range there is little difference between the blows
except for the hand shape, or hand tool, involved.
Whatever hand tool is ultimately used, begin all of
shape of the hand only as the arm extends. I’ve
The strength of the knifehand is that it will go into
the throat, this is one of my favourite strikes but it
holes in your opponent’s guard, to areas like the
requires really good timing and lots of repetition
throat, that other blows can’t reach. Also, its power-
to make your own. There are a number of general
to-effort ratio is high, as the power is focused upon
methods for training this and the other blows, but I
a small area. It’s great as a half-beat strike which
for me every day. This should help you to focus on
the spearhand, which is also usually applied to
what’s functionally useful for your training.
Pak sau, half-beat throat chop
Pictured below are four knifehand sequences.
Split entry
The spearhand is your longest hand tool so it makes
Let’s look at using the spearhand inside your
sense to use it to good effect from a distance. Here
opponent’s attack, a technique often called
we show it used to open up the high line which
the split entry. If your opponent attacks with jab
would make it easier to deliver a following kick.
and cross, scoop his jab away and then insert the
spearhand can be used both inside and outside of
your opponent’s attack. The techniques can also be
done with a punch.
spearhand to the throat. This works a treat and is
used instead of the spearhand, though my own
preference is for the spearhand as it stops your
opponent dead.
Split entry against cross
Split entry against jab
Spearhand over cross
Below (right, previous page), we show the
spearhand executed in a cutting motion over the
top of both the cross and the MDE,WGHÁHFWV\RXU
opponent’s blow and you can slide your spearhand
into the eye area. Spearhand strikes don’t need to
have a stiff hand; rather, the hand can be kept loose
The elbow is one of your most destructive weapons
Counter to head control
at close-quarter, and it can be used in a variety
of ways. Firstly, use it defensively, to crush your
opponent’s attack (p. 75). Secondly, it can be
used to attack. This is normally achieved by making
a cutting motion with the tip of the elbow. Whilst
it can be used as a club, it’s not so effective
and is relatively easy to block which leaves you
open to counters and grappling. Use the elbow
where appropriate in place of the punch in the
combinations throughout this book. This way you
develop a close-range capability whilst still working
the body mechanics for a medium and long-range
In addition, the elbow can be used with other strikes
when in close range. For instance, when your hook
Horizontal elbow
misses you can let the elbow follow through and do
the damage.
Downwards vertical elbow on pad
There are numerous ways to practise the basic
strikes. Start by doing everything on the spot. Make it
part of your daily or weekly training routine and put
the technique in your bones. Then mix the strikes up
in simple combinations, as described in Chapter 7.
Do repetitions, moving with the basic footwork drills
between the repetitions. Do it over and over again.
Hit the bag, concentrating on just a few strikes and
loop them together in singles and doubles. Make
sure that there is no telegraphing of your intention.
Don’t be tense but let the limbs feel empty: let the
strikes whip. Above all, when hitting pads or the
bag, listen to the sound and make the sound the
same or as similar as possible for all power strikes. The
subsequent strikes. Let your ear lead the way.
Mix the strikes up as part of preset training drills.
Shadow box using them or with a theme based
imagination is an incredible tool. Spar with a mental
focus on using one tool at a time. This singularity of
purpose makes you much harder to beat.
Before getting to grips with combinations it’s
important to understand the importance of single
attacks. Getting simple single attacks to work against
training. The idea is to land a single telling blow.
It’s harder than it looks and so it’s a good place to
start. This approach focuses on distance and timing,
The downside of this singular approach is that you
you get locked into the idea of your one best shot. If
your punches miss or fall short, or your opponent has
an easy answer to your best shot, then your game
starts to fall apart. Having a good knowledge of
combinations, which we’ll start to cover in Chapter
7, takes the pressure off this single game and puts
pressure on your opponent.
Kicks and knees
Kicks are not only your longest tools but some of your most powerful. Like artillery, they allow you to do damage
at a distance, yet some can also be used at very close range. The weakness in using kicks is that your balance
is compromised and you can be open to being thrown. The approach that I use here is to show kicking methods
which are harder for your opponent to catch, so there is a reduced threat from throws. Depending on your
stance, kicks may need preparation to get your hips in the correct position under your body. This movement
should be covered by fakes and high line strikes. Working from a shorter stance avoids the need for much of this
preparation at middle range. At long range, you will still need to do some sort of step. Although there are stylistic
differences between differing arts, when it comes to function it’s best to see all of it as just kicking. Don’t have a
stylistic bias but focus on what’s effective and what you can make work. Both snap kicks and swing kicks have a
Front kick
The front kick is one of the most simple yet most
to defend against. Here I’ll show the progression
that I teach in my Academy, starting with the easiest
very effective methods.
Rear leg front kick
Raise the knee and extend the leg whilst at the
same time rolling the hips forward so that you
Rear leg front kick
make contact with all the body’s weight behind
the kick. Connect with the ball of the foot. Rotate
the rear supporting foot slightly so that the hips are
simple counters and your forward momentum adds
free to move. If you want, you can come up onto
to your opponent’s power.
the ball of the supporting foot as this can give you
Lead leg front kick
important to remember to snap the kick back and
not to let it drop at the end of the attack. If you
There are a variety of ways of doing the lead front
don’t snap it back, it makes you open to a counter-
DWWDFNEHFDXVHWKHUHLV¶hang time’ where you are
hanging about at the end of your attack. Also, the
Pendulum step kick
extended leg is an excellent lever for your opponent
to move you with if he is able to grab or scoop your
kick. Get it back so that you can kick again. Don’t
fall in when doing the kick as this leaves you open to
step kick. From a front stance, and while keeping
your head in the same place throughout, slide your
rear foot up towards the lead foot, twisting it slightly
so that the heels are close together. Raise the lead
leg and execute the front kick. Then replace the
kicking leg back where it started and move the rear
leg backwards. The movement has a pendulum-style
feel to it, hence the name. If you wish to gain further
distance the method I teach is to move the lead
foot forwards and then to execute the pendulum
However, if your stance is short, as shown here, you
have to step past your lead leg to kick. If your stance
is longer, you can step within the length of your
stance as described above, which is preferable.
Static kick
In this method, derived from Thai boxing, you kick
with little or no preparation. It’s great at short to
middle distances and can be augmented by a hop
harder to do. The kick needs good balance and
lots of practise to make it a stopper. Many people
use this as a way of keeping the opponent away.
However the best thing to do is to kick him in a sharp
enough way to drop them, not push him away so
that he gets another chance. Start from a short
stance and make sure that your hips are up, so that
the kick is half-way there. Raise the knee and push
Static kick
the kick forward. Let the hips roll under so that it
adds power and you are more stable. After contact,
withdraw the foot and the hips as fast as possible
so that you can deliver further kicks with either leg.
Snapping the kick in and out gives a more traumatic
Replace step
Sometimes you aren’t in a position to get any power
from the front kick without taking a step, yet you
don’t have the forward option open to you since
your opponent is too close. Right: I’ve shown the
replace step, where you take a short bouncing step
backwards with your lead leg but without changing
Replace step
the direction that your body is facing. This builds a
out the supporting foot as far as is possible so your
tension between leg and body, added to the power
toes point in the opposite direction to where you’re
from the ground, to give you an effective and
facing. This rotation is vitally important. Bend the
powerful kick. Like all kicks that have a preparation,
knee of the supporting leg so that you are kicking in
it is easier to see and thus move away from.
a slightly downwards direction. (This kick can also be
However, used in the right place it’s very effective.
done horizontally and at a slightly upward angle.)
Rotate the hips sharply to follow the foot and be
Round kicks
When I started Karate, I remember smirking slightly
when the Japanese instructors called this the
their way of describing it. Once I’d been kicked
in the head by one of the instructors a number of
times I became much more respectful. As with the
front kick, there are a number of ways of doing the
round kick to make it functional. There isn’t one
single method that works well at all heights; different
careful not to move inwards and choke your kick up.
Keep the leg straight if kicking a bag or kick shield
but allow it to bend on contact if you are training
with a partner, unless you want to do him some
damage. Importantly, let the weight go into the kick
so it has more bite. When practising, don’t mistake
speed for power and bite; emphasise heaviness and
bite as you drop the kick in. You need to spend time
on this.
Rear round kick to body
targets require differing approaches. Also, wearing
shoes or kicking with bare feet can make a big
There are two ways of kicking to the body: one in a
difference to your choice of kick.
Thai style (similar to the kick to the leg, above) and
the other with a snap approach and with the ball
Low rear round kick to leg: Thai-style
of the foot. Both are moderately effective, although
if your opponent is in a left lead, both kicks will hurt,
The Thai-style low round kick is done to the outside
of the leg, delivered from the rear leg. The target
then the other as a variation. Find out which works
is about six inches above the knee. Kick, making
best for you.
contact with your shin, so that if your opponent
moves closer you can knee him instead – and if he
moves away you still hit with the instep. First, rotate
Low rear round kick
Rear round kick to body: Thai-style
Just as with the low-line kick, rotate the supporting
Twist the foot
foot and allow the hips to follow; bring the hands
across the body to cover and keep one hand tight
to the face when the leg whips back. As before,
keep the leg straight and hit horizontally or upwards.
Concentrate on the basic kick and as you become
like turning the hip over just as you hit so it has more
bite. Initially, concentrate on making it a heavy kick,
Lead round kick to the middle
The Thai-style kick can be used to the middle but I
ÀQGWKHsnap kick more effective and harder for your
opponent to grab. This is because the tool lands on
his solar plexus, not the ribs which are under his arm
where it’s easy to grab and you can be thrown even
if you get your kick in.
with all your body behind it. This is a strange kick in
Use a pendulum or one-step covered by a hand
that the more you interfere the less powerful the kick
strike or fake, or as part of a combination. Raise the
is. Emphasise the foot turn and the hip twist and let
the leg swing free like a baseball bat. If you can feel
the leg to full extension, hitting the solar plexus. Keep
the power in the leg then it’s still in the leg. Heavy
this kick short and it can easily be used with hands to
kicking feels effortless in the leg, though the body
make part of a constant barrage. Work on getting
can tire.
the ball of the foot to go into the holes in your
opponent’s guard.
Rear snap round kick to body: using ball of the foot
With shoes on this can be fairly effective as it goes
into your opponent’s body behind or under the
elbow. Turn the hips over and raise the rear leg knee
so that it blocks the direct line in towards you. This
stops your opponent from coming directly forwards
and prevents him from hitting you at the start of your
kick. Extend the leg, hitting with the ball of the foot.
Different levels of hip rotation will affect the reach
of your kick – the more the rotation, the greater the
extension – though too much twist makes it hard for
you to recover and follow-up with hand blows.
Lead round kick to the middle
Head kicking
Head kicking can be done using both snap and
swing kicks. Swing kicks are very destructive and if
done with good timing very hard to block – your
opponent has to evade instead. However, it’s best if
you have a varied game. Snap kicks work best from
the front leg whilst swing kicks work well from either
leg. Snap kicks also work really well when done as
part of a combo or after a low-line fake, like the one
pictured here, where the attacker touches the leg
with a fake round kick to the groin, then rotates the
hips and snaps the kick to the head.
Head kick from fake
The swing kick to the head is easier from the rear
moment, the side kick has gone slightly out of fashion
leg, but train it by doing it both right and left with
but it’s an essential part of your game. Favoured by
either a stomp beginning or replace step (where you
Bruce Lee and others like Joe Lewis, it’s also good
skip, switching leads, and use the bounce to power
in a self-defence mode. A friend of mine defended
the kick) for the most ease. In actual combat, any
himself against four knife attackers in Morocco using
method can be used.
a variety of kicks but most notably the side kick. His
Important: With snap kicks, point your knee
at the target that you want to hit or a little bit
companion had his liver showing by the end of the
further beyond so that you hit through the target.
The side kick can be done from both the rear
Remember to add your hips in as well. All kicks
and lead leg, the latter probably being the most
can change target half way through, though this is
easiest with swing kicks.
from the lead leg with a faked high-line strike and a
Practise kicking high and then letting the kick drop
pendulum step.
like a swallow to hit the leg. Alternatively, start low
To practise from the rear, it’s important to load the
and then raise yourself on your supporting leg to
kick properly. Bring the foot up in either of the two
hit a higher target. The method for doing this is to
ways shown below. Twist the foot so that you hit with
the edge. This isn’t so important if you’re wearing
repetition. Then you know the shape of that entry.
shoes but it still focuses the power more.
You can start with one type of shape, then vary the
height of the kick as late in the motion as possible.
Get your training partner to tell you if the fake looks
Side kick
It’s interesting that different types of kick come in
and out of fashion depending on what type of
Faked high line, one step lead leg side kick
Foot position
Back kick
The back kick is one of those strong kicks which can
be used when your opponent is very close or when
you are spun off-line. It’s hard to counter, whichever
method you use. One method is to rotate and do a
Training methods
It’s necessary to build up the strength in the hips
and make the muscles that support your balance
stronger to make you a more formidable kicker.
There are a number of training methods for this.
kick directly behind you without looking; it’s sort of
a reverse front kick. You ensure your accuracy by
making sure the turn is right. Either step across and
Slow kicking
rotate or make your stance narrow like a side stance
You can just concentrate on slowing your kicks down
so that you can rotate and kick without preparation.
The other method is where you rotate and look as
fast. If doing snap kicks, don’t extend to your full
you kick. This ensures that you are less surprised if
reach at speed as you are likely to injure your knee.
he counters. It’s sometimes called the spinning side
Instead, take it to ninety percent and don’t lock
kick as it shares a similar shape. I know from personal
out. The essence of the kick is the knee raise and hip
experience that this is hard to counter as it often
move and the snapback.
curves inwards and can catch you on the liver
even if you move quickly inwards to throw or hand
counter. Try both ways as they both work: it’s about
having intent and belief.
Obstacle practice
Kick, throwing your leg over a chair or other
obstacle, or get a third person to kneel on all fours
on the ground, whilst you and a partner kick slowly
keeping close. When done slowly the hips have to
be in the right place for you to hold your position.
Back kick
Hold outs
Tree exercise
Firstly, extend your kick and hold it out as long as
possible. Secondly, with snap kicks, you can hold
your balance and builds strength and core stability.
your leg cocked and extend it at slow speed and
Do this daily after a brief warm up and some simple
bring it back, or hop down the dojo doing repeat
single kicks. Do front, back and side kicks slowly but
kicks from the same leg without dropping it from the
without putting the foot down. Once you can do this
cocked position.
For advanced students, try going from outside crush
to front kick and then inside crush to kick.
Swinging your round kick
Thai-style round kicks can be done in the air. Go
with the swing and turn your body normally, coming
round and crushing with the opposite leg. Either
repeat on one leg until you feel slightly dizzy, or
alternate. Both types of kicks can be done over
chairs or obstacles to build strength and the ability to
put them where you want them to go.
Hold out
The knees are some of the best leg tools available
to you. In a self-defence situation, no matter how
closed down you are on the high level with little
room to strike, there is always room to attack at low
Long knee
This is a great technique to use against boxers. You
keep your head at a less dangerous distance and
attack your opponent’s ribs as he attacks. Raise the
knee and drive forwards in as horizontal direction as
Long knee to the body
possible: think of driving a spear forwards. Failing to
knee horizontally, instead lifting the knee upwards,
makes you vulnerable to being spiked by your
opponent’s elbows and it’s easier for him to block.
At close range, you may have to tuck your body
and raise and then roll your pelvis so that the knee
still goes in a forward direction.
Short knee
This is the opposite of the long knee. Often used to
counter tackles, the knee is raised quickly to hit the
opponent in the head if he’s dropped his guard.
Grab and knee
In conjunction with the head control, you can use
a variety of knees. Use a simple direct knee driven
forwards into the opponent’s body – you can also
go for the legs.
Training methods
Put your hands on your opponent’s shoulders and
Just as with footwork, if you want to be a good kicker
trade long knees. Don’t grab; just use the hand
you have to love to kick and make it a central part
position to let you keep the same distance.
of your game. Work your close range boxing or
clinch work as much as your kicks so that you don’t
Lightly hand-wrestle at long guard then put in the
long knee. Counter with a check to the chest or hip
how good your other tools are.
Simple Combinations
In this chapter we’ll deal with learning and training simple combinations. Later, in Part 4, we’ll move on to show
more advanced combinations.
Combinations can be used both for proactive attack and reactively as a follow-up after a defensive move.
Combinations also let you have an overlap in your distance. For instance, your front kick may fall short but the
punch that follows it may go eighteen inches deeper toward your opponent. The following kick may then go a
further metre. This overlap is important and keeps your opponent under constant pressure if he retreats.
Often when I am teaching I use the analogy of
How to hold the pads
boxes. If your opponent was in the closest box to
you (the punching box for instance) but now he’s
no longer there you know he’s probably in the next
kicking but it should give you a better, more visual
idea of distances. Sometimes your opponent’s body
The standard V position is good for most alternate
blows. Notice that the angle isn’t too sharp so that
the puncher doesn’t injure his wrist. For the jab and
to check the guard whilst he does the jab, you can
hold the pads in the L shape.
may have moved into another box but his legs are
left in place to be tackled or kicked, or the feet to
be trapped.
There are three main ways to practise: on focus
pads, solo training in the form of shadow-boxing,
and training with your partner.
Focus pads
V position
Good pad holding is essential. The holder can’t
be passive, but must direct the training, and
should have a good knowledge of positioning and
footwork himself. He can have themes which he
works through when training you. There are simple
ones, like checking your guard, and making you
work your footwork. Then you can move on to
defending against his mock attack and then doing
your combination. Training can become even more
interesting when he tries games, like trying to keep
you in the corner, or moving you back and forwards
or side to side to cut you off so you are trapped.
Another way, as we will see, is when he attempts to
tackle you and tries to take you to the ground.
L position
Holding the pads for a shovel hook
Holding the pads for right and left hooks
Holding the pads single for high kick
Holding the pads, single for low inside leg
Holding the pads for uppercut
Holding the pads for light kicks
When holding the pads, remember that you need to
give the striker some resistance. Push the pad slightly
snap it back so that you can throw more blows.
towards him on contact. It reduces the chances of
receiving damage to your arm and shoulder from
a heavy-hitter. Take the strain through the whole
of your body so that you don’t end up with injured
Jab as described on page 34.
shoulder and elbow joints like many professional
instructors. Keep an eye on the angle of your pads
Double jab
and most importantly observe your opponent.
This is a great time to watch his attack at close-
Make sure that you get your energy for the second
quarter without being hit. Notice everything: how
punch from your ankles and legs and not from your
he prepares, how he moves afterwards and before,
arm. Punching from the top of your body or arm will
and log it into your computer. Work on strategies
mean that you telegraph the blow.
that will take advantage of his mistakes. Pretty soon
Jab – cross / straight right
with all your training partners, not only on focus pads
but in your sparring as well.
Remember to hit by rotating the body. The head
should move so it’s not in the same place for both
Initially, do the combinations on the spot, just
learning the moves. Then do them while moving
can feel the power in them then that’s where it is – it
your position between combos. This can be either as
needs to be in your target. Keep blows snappy and
directed by your pad-holder or from one of the lists
relaxed with the hands clenched hard on contact.
given in this book. This is where most students need
Line your body up so that you hit with the support of
to spend time: learning the mechanics and getting
your bones.
the combinations down with good form and power,
then working on moving the feet between each
After a while you can work in a more random way
as directed by your pad holder. Interact with them;
work on your measure, your power and on always
having your feet in the right position so that you are
Jab – cross – hook
Make sure that you rotate from the ankles and that
you keep the elbow behind the hand for all blows.
On the hook, the elbow should be at the same
height as the punching hand on contact.
waiting for your opponent, not the other way round.
Cross – hook – cross
Don’t prepare or wind-up for the cross; let your
Core essentials
body follow your hand. Then use your ankles and
legs to rotate between the blows. Performed in
These are the bedrock of your boxing technique.
a continuous fashion, this is a good way to train
First, do these on the spot so that you get the hand
the mechanics of your hook and turn it into a
and leg skills down. Concentrate here so that you
devastating close-quarter weapon.
can hear the right sound when you strike. Once
you’ve got a resounding noise on the focus pad
then you can start working through all the varieties
Hook – cross – hook
of training that I have illustrated. It’s really important
Keep your wind-up to a minimum. If you have to
to keep that tone throughout because it means that
do one, do it very tight and make sure you close
you’re able to maintain your energy throughout a
your body in the process. You can sometimes lunge
LQZDUGVRQWKHÀUVWhook. Finish with the cross and
One-step front kick – jab – cross
Initially you should do this lead kick with a step, but
you should train to be able to do it without. Don’t
fall inward as you front kick – keep your balance
Basic hand-leg combinations
centred after the kick, then move forward with the
jab and cross. The kick brings your opponent’s guard
Let’s look at ways of joining simple strikes and kicks
you’ve got to be able to execute simple links
down and you attack over the top. Remember
to make the kick forceful and snappy, not a push,
which only pushes your opponent out of distance of
your punches.
to the distance and the opening. Most of the really
good combative moves are the simple ones. Do lots
of repetition so that it’s coded into your muscles.
Jab – cross – one-step front kick
Think about the box analogy when practising this
Jab – rear front kick
combination. You try to hit the opponent with your
Open with the jab to get your opponent’s attention
directed to the upper quarters, or blind him to your
moves into the next box and into the range of your
one-step or lead front kick.
real intention by aiming at his eye-line, then deliver
the front kick.
Jab – cross – rear round kick
Jab (off-line) – rear round kick
If your opponent is slightly closer when you drive him
back, then follow with the rear round kick to the leg
Jab at an angle, killing your opponent’s jab
he’s left behind.
response. Next, round kick his lead leg; that’s where
his weight is if he is jabbing.
Front kick – round kick
Thai hook – rear round kick
A simple way of joining these two kicks together.
Use a wide hook whilst keeping your body fairly
square, to force the opponent to shift his weight to
intent, not just as a preamble to the second kick. Pay
attention to this in your training.
his lead leg. Then round kick it.
One-step front kick – round kick
Tip: Timing
A simple combo for longer range. You can always
cover the one-step with a high line fake to lower
Once you’ve got used to striking on the beat
the chances of being stop-hit. If you are in a shorter
then practise playing with the timing of the
Thai stance and slightly closer then you can just kick
strikes by sometimes delaying one of the blows,
without moving the rear leg.
context, even though your opponent knows you
Lead round kick – rear round kick
are going to attack one of two targets, he has to
choose. Once he gives away his choice you can
Here you can either use minimal footwork, Thai-style,
hit the other target.
if striking the lead leg, or do a pendulum step to
snap kick the groin.
Lead round kick – cross – hook – cross
Use either the pendulum movement or Thai-style
twist depending on the target. The pendulum brings
the hands into play faster.
Solo training
You should practise these combinations on the spot
before integrating them into your shadow-boxing.
Don’t do too many; just choose from the list and
make them yours one at a time. On other days do
Jab – cross – hook – rear round kick
Here you overlap with the kick when the hand blows
haven’t connected with your opponent.
them all, one after the other. Once you’ve done
them on the spot it’s time to move. Choose a variety
of footwork techniques and do them methodically,
or alternatively just dance and jive around, feeling
where your body wants to move. End your sessions
Five count: series one
without a plan; just playing, doing what comes
naturally. Don’t attempt to force anything. Put it in
and let your body sort it out. Above all you have to
They work on the simple body rotation that we’ll
go with your instincts. Play and joke around at times.
practise later in rhythm drills. Not only are they great
Pretend to be hit and come back strong. Above all,
for building balance and integration but they also
even though you have to work hard at it, if it’s not
work every day when you have an opponent who
fun you won’t do it. Relax and let your body do the
retreats and you need to chase. Be careful about
over-extending or putting your head in front of the
attack. You can use either a lead front or round kick
in these combinations and can also change the
Training with a partner
height of the initial kick. This makes it much harder for
your opponent. In truth, combinations of more than
All of the above simple combos can be done with
two or three moves don’t happen in sparring – or if
a partner, in pair-work glove drills. These drills help
they do it’s with a break, pause or manipulation in
you to learn to cover and move to the best position;
the middle. What you end up doing is stringing lots of
when doing them, practise moving slightly off-line
short ones together. However, at this level you need
where appropriate. Don’t lurch with big steps as this
to build a base and extend your possibilities and the
leaves your legs grounded and vulnerable to kicks;
rather, keep on your toes. Later on I’ll show the drills
of all of these is a simple body rotation starting with
with a partner so that you get a clearer idea of how
the cross-hook-cross and then just varying height,
to use them. Though drilling in the air or on focus
target and angle on subsequent variations. Later on
pads is good, there’s nothing like working with a
you can preface the combos with different starting
partner at a realistic range: you learn on the job.
That’s all for the simple combos. Remember:
combinations are important but don’t overlook
working the basics too. These are the ones that work
all the time in combat.
Lead kick
Five count drills
Lead kick
Lead round kick
Lead kick
Body hook
Lead round kick
Lead kick
Lead round kick
Lead kick
Round kick
Lead kick
Horizonatal elbow
Knee – Lead round kick
Head control
/ plumm
of the body to grab so it’s essential that you have some knowledge of head control and defence against head
grabs. All of the head control and choke positions form a framework of positions that you can change between
as the opponent’s energy directs.
By working on the head and neck, you are attacking
in conjunction with elbows and knees. Play both
a vulnerable part of your opponent which affords
choke and the head and arm control with ease.
Similarly, from the full clinch, half-clinch and side
not to depend too much on the knee and elbow
knowledge; however, later they should be used
these positions, or do gentle sparring using clinches
Neck wrestling
This is basic neck wrestling as used in Thai boxing,
a great place to start your standing grappling
because of its integration of knee and elbow strikes.
The neck wrestling puts you in a position to either
use these strikes or defend more effectively against
Let’s look at the head control clinch. There are a
Side clinch
number of methods you can apply here but the one
I prefer is to put both of your hands on the back of
Side clinch and knee
your opponent’s head. Overlap the hands at the
needs the room to do it. In this way you neutralise his
top of the head so you get good leverage and the
knee and can try to reverse the position.
your back convex – bent outwards – so that it’s hard
for your opponent to body-hold and back-bend you
and take you down. Keep your elbows pointed into
his upper chest and shoulders so you can use these
two points to steer him. For both sides in this position,
block a knee strike to the groin or higher by bringing
your knee over to touch or cover his lead knee. The
To reverse the position, keep one hand on his back
and insert your other arm between his arms till it’s
on his neck. Lever your elbow out whilst pulling in his
waist: this lets you change his balance, open his grip,
insert your hand between his arms and put it on the
back of his head. Bring the other hand to join it and
the positions have been reversed.
defender here attempts to bring his shoulders up to
This just covers the basics of this position but it’s a
add support to the neck and makes sure that he
good place to start. It’s important to keep the knee
has his body parts stacked directly under the head.
close to his leg and it’s also crucial to keep your
If your hips aren’t under you then you get pulled
back in a convex shape so that he can’t easily
down to an easy kneeing position very easily. As a
break your structure. Keep your head up and the
defender, you need to grab his back and pull him in,
head over the hips so that your back and hips
and do it quickly, as he will want to knee you and he
support your head.
Head control, steering using the elbows
Block right hand blow to plumm
Ways into head control
Block left hook to plumm
and on the third beat pull or scoop him and he’s
working for you.
There are a number of ways into the plumm or head
control. Let’s look at the simple ones which work well
dangerous to grab the head. Again, it’s important
from guards and defences.
to plan to control the head so that when he’s just
Use your long guard or shield block (p.82) to
outwardly block a right hand blow from him. Lean
Put your head down between your arms so it’s less of
slightly forwards and attach with the left arm and
a target, lean or lunge in, then attach and knee. This
bring him into double head control. Start kneeing.
approach is very hard to defend against, except by
The rear is very similar. Block a left hook or slap from
creating distance very quickly.
him and use the same blocking hand or your lead
When you do the rear parry against the jab, you can
hand to attach to the head. It’s a bit further from
kill his rear hand with your extended lead and pull
the backhand but still easy to do. If you plan to
him in before he can re-apply the rear hand on a
gain head control whatever happens then you’re
different line.
halfway there, because any mistake on his part
means you’ve got his head.
Head control doesn’t only have to be applied
defensively: it can be achieved when you do
From outside you can go directly for the head but
a left or right hook which goes too far or which
sometimes the arm gets in the way. If this is the
your opponent bobs and weaves against. If your
case, scoop the arm out of the way and gain head
hand ends up behind his head then pull him in (to
control. Sometimes he resists or his arm is stiff; when
into other standing grappling. If the arm ends up on
and you’ll be using his energy against him. Normally
this is done in threes: you push or nudge him twice
and-arm, or half, clinch or side clinch.
From outside to plumm
In head control you often come up against a
From unattached to plumm
> If you are being pulled about, try to keep your
stronger opponent so it’s important to have ways to
structure strong and attach to his back by
deal with this. Make sure you are using your weight
clasping your hands behind him. If you can’t
and not your arms to pull his head downwards. As
attach, then use your arms to block easy knees
he’s stronger, attack his base with knees or body
and wait for one to come that you can deal with.
manipulation and keep him unbalanced so he can’t
(If the opponent is really good at kneeing the
bring his strength to bear. From the basic clinch,
twist your foot round to the side. Keep your elbow
to block or catch.) Scoop the attacking knee
in your opponent’s shoulder. Twist his head slightly
inwards with one arm and under-hook with the
sideways to reduce his strength and then rotate
other. Drive your head forwards and up and
body and head using the elbow as a pivot point.
push his head backwards whilst you lift the held
leg. Step inwards a little and either sweep the
rotated your right leg then follow the twist with a
ankle of the supporting leg or knee-bump his
knee with the left leg and vice versa.
hips upwards (see picture below). Drop him to
Countering the plumm
hold of your head, with a grappling follow-up.
There are a number of ways to counter the head
control in a standing position.
Knee bump
Pin your opponent’s arms
Move to nullify knee attack
> If he’s not dragging your head around, you
your thumb. There’s a point near the elbow
can nullify some knees just by moving in the
which seems to work well for this. Then, once the
same direction that the knee is coming.
elbow structure has collapsed, go forwards to
This often puts him off balance and you
jam his elbow against his body with your arm.
get a chance to reverse the position.
Use this same arm to reach round and grab
> Put both of your arms on his face with the palms
overlapped and tighten your elbows so in effect
it locks his arms up. Push, and his grip will normally
break. Leave one hand covering his eyes
whilst you start your counter-attack with a rear
punch, and then kicks as he goes backwards.
> Whilst keeping one hand on his back, to keep
you tied to him, push his elbow inwards with
Face push to attack
nerve points underneath his ear and swing him
around. In essence his head should describe a
semi-circle. Imagine that you have his head at
nine o’clock. His head has to go through twelve
o’clock and then around to three o’clock.
> A simple plan is to go with the energy and tackle
his legs. You have to be careful as you are very
vulnerable to knee attacks so it’s important to
have some sort of attachment to one leg as you
drop and tackle. The single leg tackle often works
best in this instance, though you have to go with
from foot pins to double leg attacks, which
you can add to your skillset as you progress.
> Sometimes you just raise your shoulders to
pin your opponent’s arms, and use this pin to
swing him round. Generally, he either loses his
grip, or loses his position and balance, so you
can counter the grab or just counter-attack.
Elbow push in to head neck throw
Arm breaks technique
& wrenches
your opponent has to use his arms. Therefore you have easy targets that he brings to you and that you don’t
part of the limb moves and the easier it is to lock. Let’s look at building a repertoire of standing locks that work.
Outside / under
Use the shoulder or upper arm to wrench or break
upwards (in a circular pattern if he is strong) and
the arm. You can adapt this, if your opponent tries
then pull down; it’s very hard for him to be strong in
to escape, by moving his arm upwards to break it
a circle. Once you’ve broken his balance and he’s
across your shoulder. This is one of the fastest ways to
wrench or break and requires very little time or effort.
and drag your opponent, spreading him out across
It’s important to roll inwards, bringing your shoulder
behind his elbow. This is the best way to do the lock.
The other way is to draw him in with your other hand,
which works because often you’ll have shoulderrolled his cross. Other times he pushes: let him do the
work. If he feels you pulling him then he’ll pull out.
Rather, guide him inwards.
Outside / middle
Outside / armpit armbar over / waki gatame
This is a very powerful arm break and hard to
counter once it’s begun, as all of your body weight
is on his elbow joint. The best way to do this is to
grab the wrist and strike at the head. The opponent
always takes his head away to protect it but leaves
the arm behind for you to break. Use the same
This is more of a drag-down or a pull-down. You
punching hand to envelop the upper arm under
can do it when his arm is straight but it often works
your arm pit, pinching it with your arm so it’s hard
better when the arm is a little bent. Rotate the arm
to get out. Put the hand of the same arm that’s
pinching on the opponent’s thumb. Basically there
are two ways of doing this: one where you walk
through and give him a less severe landing, and the
other where you pivot on the spot and stretch his
arm out, whilst dropping the fulcrum (where your
quick as turning on a light. Remember to not think
of elongating his arm and pulling or pointing it away
from the body centre, whilst putting your ribs as a
fulcrum down on the elbow. There are two types;
circling, and walking through across his front.
Assisted arm bar with lapel grab
Here’s a slightly harder variation to pull off, unless
he’s more compliant as a result of you hitting him. Do
under-arm wrench but change it to a pull-down.
this if your opponent resists. Elbow him to the head
Then as he changes the hinge axis of his arm and
then wrap his arm and grab your lapel or shoulder.
tries to bring the arm back closer to his body, I go
four lock. For best effect make sure that you have
your grasp at the wrist where it meets the hand, or
Overleaf I show a way of linking arm bars together
slightly on the hand. This denies him any chance of
in a very combative way. Often your opponent
feels you trying to lock his arm and realizes it’s going
to get broken, so changes the axis on which you
are breaking or moves his body. Here I start with an
Inside wrap to wrench
The inside wrap is done when you use any of the
internal blocks like the shield or biceps stop. This
works against both the cross and the hook. It’s
sometimes a good idea to wrap the arm with
his attack and can go into standing grappling.
An even better idea is to wrench the arm so it’s
unusable. Then you’ve still got both arms free and
Head and arm control to break
Overleaf I show a way of breaking or wrenching
the arm from the outside, when you follow-up to
an outside parry, or sometimes as you under-hook
his arms as he goes to tackle you. If he tackles, his
arms are often out in front of him like the blades on
a fork-lift truck. Insert your arm as you elbow his head
and pivot out of his way. You then have a head and
arm position where you can redirect him into hard
objects or walls, or wrench his elbow. Normally if
his thumb is pointing downwards this is done with a
downwards double slap but if he turns his arm so the
thumb is horizontal then link the hands and twist the
body as if you were swinging a baseball bat and the
arm will break or be severely wrenched.
Inside wrap to wrench
Arm wrap to break
In Part Two we’ve looked at attacks using hand and leg tools, and we’ve seen how head control
and arm breaks and wrenches can enhance your game. In Part Three we’ll look at how to defend
from these attacks.
Part 3: Defence
Punch defences
you only have an attacking style, but if you want to be able to talk about your successes in later years without
sounding punch-drunk or showing lots of scars, defence is the place to start. Defence is your home, your fortress
we’re talking about defence, let me restate that the best defence is still offensive in nature. Simply blocking
blows might work in theory, but in reality what happens is that your opponent just tries harder, particularly if you
block hard, which gives him energy to come back at you with. Each time you do a big blocking move, the
opponent seems to get larger, whereas each time you hit him, he seems to decrease in size and power in quite
wait and take advantage of weaknesses in his defence or probe with attacks of your own to stop them, either
Your defensive game comes down to only six
options. These six can be mixed and matched and
too many possible combinations to learn one by
beginners. To cover, concentrate on keeping the
one. Rather, learn the core skills, then have a small
hands up and the arms close to your body. It’s all
about learning how to ride a punch or kick and to
Improvise the rest based on sensitivity, intent and
your experience.
dictated by your arms. Thus, instead of moving the
The six basic defences are:
> Cover
arm up and down to cover high and low blows and
opening up other lines of attack, you just hunker
down within your arm cover and learn to ride the
> Crush
blow using both body and legs to absorb some of
> Parry / scoop
the power. Covering needs very little timing skill, so
> Stop-hit
it’s the place to start if you’ve never been hit before.
> Grab or catch, and
Start slowly and not too hard, if you are new to this.
> Evade
Aim to build up your toughness and durability over
Initially, you will probably train these as they are
taught either in this book or by your instructor.
However, it’s important to realise that you can
radically change the basic technique by putting it
4). Sometimes it changes the whole character of the
move. But that’s what you want; simple skills that you
own, that have so many uses that, were you to try to
write them all down, it would be too complex.
Let’s quickly look at the six forms of defence in the
Covering from a body hook
during, or towards the end of, the attack. If you are
just starting out, make the SDUU\RUEORFNÀUVWDQG
The crush is one of the easiest forms of defence to
learn and you don’t have to have great timing to
use of your time, but it is a good way for beginners to
pull it off. Crushing is where you use your elbows,
learn basic skills. Simultaneous blocking and hitting
knees or shins as a defence against your opponent’s
then following up with a counter-punch. By blocking
snake’ and that’s what it’s like. You take the venom
and hitting simultaneously, you gain a beat of time
out of his blows by letting him strike these hard bits of
and it’s harder for him to re-counter. It’s important
your body. The resultant pain or breaking of bones
to have a good position with forward intent so that
deters them. Learning to crush is crucial if you are
you are ready to counter-attack. A simple plan and
aggressive intentions will make this an integral part
to work quickly. However, if you are dependent on
of your game. In some cases you can use a block or
crushing, it leads to bad footwork and evasion, so
parry after the blow or kick to cover the line so that
remember to practise your footwork.
he can’t repeat his attack. It’s actually very much
like trapping. We’ll go into more detail on the theme
Parries & blocks
of parries later in this chapter when we look at jab
and cross defences.
Now let’s move on to parrying or blocking blows.
It’s important to understand here that if you aren’t
going to counter-punch either during or after the
parry then you are better off just moving out of
distance or evading left or right.
takes the attacker out as he prepares or builds up
Parries and blocks can be done at the start of the
power to attack you. This can be done with either
attack to jam or trap, but are used more often
Parrying a cross
Crushing a cross
attack before he gets going and is thus a great
opponent. You strike before he starts and then, if he
recovers, you can evade until another opportunity
Grab / catch / immobilise
Then we have grabbing. This can mean catching a
kick, or capturing or trapping the opponent’s hand
so that you restrict his body movement whilst you
attack. Whether grabbing at the end of his blow’s
duration so that he is unable to retreat from your
counter-attack, or keeping him off balance, there
are lots of variations here, from simple grabs at the
wrist, which are the most common, to close-quarter
grappling where you close his options down. Grabs
and traps work well in that they eliminate many of his
evasive options and increase the number of hits you
get on-target.
Outside bob
Use your body’s big muscle groups and move your
head towards your opponent (see picture overleaf).
You can accompany the bob with a punch to the
body or head. Combatively, this is one of the best
places to be, as it’s hard for him to get you back.
Sometimes, however, you can be vulnerable to
chokes, so take precautions.
learn and put into action. It needs a lot of work,
therefore train it hard and often. Good evasion is the
mark of the expert, so let that be you. Evasion can
mean everything from running away, to foiling the
opponent’s attack with footwork, to simply moving
your head so that the blow goes by you. What
makes evasion so powerful is that missed strikes use
up your opponent’s energy. You can also strike whilst
evading which uses your opponent’s power against
him. Most importantly, missing makes your opponent
feel vulnerable and psychologically weaker. Evasion
is quite possibly the most important and skilful form
of defence, so let’s cover its principles, and how to
train them, in more detail.
Body evasion
we’ll cover the standard ways of moving your body.
Body evasion works better the closer you are to your
Inside bob
Bob or slip his cross and reply with your own cross.
If done against the jab, however, you can be
vulnerable to his cross so you need to get close
where you cancel out the mechanics of any blow.
Sometimes you can even use your head to trap his
rear hand whilst you move in.
overlap; they are often used to describe the same
thing. Don’t worry about how you spell it; just make
Bobbing to the outside
sure you know how to do it.
Slipping can be done with just a brief sideways
bend, much like you may have seen boxers such
as Mike Tyson do. If done incorrectly this uses small
muscles and therefore it’s tiring on your body, but
it is very quick if you just want to get your head
out of the way. A better way is to use the hips as
a counter-weight. Throw the hips to one side and
the head moves to the other. You can do this at a
very low level of competence and as it uses the big
muscles in the legs and hips it’s not particularly tiring.
Slipping doesn’t close the distance but it does make
your opponent miss, usually when he is closing the
distance anyway.
Slip to the outside
Bob and weave
On the opposite page is a simple bob and weave
against a left hook. You should repeat this against
to do quickly; the basic bounce simply needs to be
the right hook. When teaching this in classes we
often start out with a fairly large movement: the
student is urged to use his legs and think of his
head disappearing down one hole and coming up
another. As you get more skilled, the head leads the
legs, but most students need to work all their body
Change your level to make your opponent miss.
Often best used as part of an attack where you fake
high, to draw his counter, and then drop and come
weaving can be done reactively, when you have
experience it’s even better when done pro-actively,
say at the end of an attack or combination. As
Make sure your stance is long. Bounce backwards
with ducking and slipping, if you have a constant
on the rear foot; this enables you to return instantly
bounce in your knees these moves are always easy
to your start position – often with a counter-attack.
Bob and weave
It’s important to use the rear foot to do all the work;
jab-catch drill featured below focus on this element
only bend your back in an emergency. Think of
and produce good fundamental skill.
hit. Don’t move your lead foot backwards as this
will permanently change your distance: instead,
the ankle without letting the heel touch the ground.
Snapback can also be done without moving the
back leg; moving the back foot gives you about a
metre in distance but you can still instantly bounce
back to your original distance. If you don’t move the
back foot it’s about half a metre. Simple drills like the
snapback is an essential part of your defensive
DUPRXU\,IXVHGLQDQ¶attack by drawing’ format
you can make your opponent think he’s falling
short so that he over-extends. Then you can slip and
counter easily, as he’s done most of the distance
change for you. This makes your strikes stronger as
your opponent charges onto them. Alternatively, if
him open to counter-attack.
Snapback – jab catch drill
Training body evasion
jab. Use any method to get to his back as this will
make you less orthodox. It’s about body feel, and
Body evasion can be trained in numerous ways:
body knowledge. Both partners gain from this drill.
First, train statically against a partner’s extended
arm. Start with bobbing, then move on to slipping,
this rhythmically as a way of retaining it as muscle
memory. Secondly, train against simple slow
against wide single and double blows. Then hit the
pads with simple hits, after which your opponent
gives you large easy swings; bob and weave under
these swings which get progressively tighter.
punches with a beat between them. Start with
bobbing; add slipping and bobbing and weaving.
Then, to train at the next level, do single and double
Make sure you go at a slow pace to maximise the
bob and weaves in both directions after you’ve hit
chances of success.
the pads with single strikes and simple combos.
Lastly, you can pro-actively evade, where you
Moving in: Pulsing jab & extended jab entering
Use evasion to enter or get near to an opponent.
These are two very similar drills I learned from my
friend, Lance Lewis, who used to box out of the
Kronk Gym in Chicago. Your partner walks towards
whether there’s a strike coming or not. You’re taking
the initiative and being a moving target. Come up
to deliver more blows, or move to his back or to a
safe distance using footwork.
you slowly, sending out a pulsing jab. You evade
with whatever technique you like and try to move to
behind his back. He adjusts and keeps slowly pulsing
the jabs, moving to make it hard for you to achieve
control over his back.
In conjunction with parries you can do chair training,
where the focus is on your upper body. Remember
7KH¶H[WHQGHGjab entering’ drill is the same but you
change of distance and height. Moving long and
keep your jab extended and in your partner’s face
as he attempts to slip, move and get your back. You
Remember to go at a pace where you succeed and
adjust your footwork to keep him on the end of the
then build on that.
letting the rear heel come up. Start with the left
shoulder forwards and come up after the weave
replacement and beating the hell out of my training
with the right shoulder forwards. You can minimise
partners who never moved their upper bodies.
this later but for now do a big body rotation.
They were so used to moving their feet, they were
only using half of their potential. The secret with all
evasion is to isolate the area you are working on and
Let’s take a look at the six counters in use against
become good at that, then put it back into the mix.
the main punches: jab, cross and hook. Train these
Find out the potential of every type of movement
defence techniques on the pads with a partner and
and make it part of your game.
in drills; you can then start to incorporate them into
your arsenal to defend against actual punches.
Slipping drill
Here your training partner gives you a jab and then
a cross, with a beat in between the two blows. Think
of it as a rhythm of jab BEAT cross BEAT like that. If
it’s too fast initially you won’t get the skill down. Slip
the jab and jab to the body; return to your normal
position; slip the cross and cross to the body.
Jab counters
Having a good jab defence is one of the key points
of your defensive structure. There are three basic
methods that I teach: the parry, the scoop and the
If you hold your elbows slightly out from your body
go by, diverting it just enough so it doesn’t hit you.
so that your arm has a dog-leg shape you will hit the
In this way you can use your opponent’s energy
solar plexus more often.
against him.
Let’s look at these in detail.
Bob and weave drill
Here you’re learning simple bob and weave skills
against slightly wider blows. Again, it’s just a drill to
learn the basics which you will adapt later to a more
combative format. Your partner throws a wide slow
cross, and you bob and weave under it, doing the
minimum drop. Rotate your body from the feet,
send the blow over your left shoulder. Make sure that
you don’t use a big movement from the arm, or take
it to where you want it to go: this will leave you open
to the hook. Just do enough to make it miss and
then see if you can do even less. The parry can be
accompanied by moving your head or slipping.
The scoop takes the blow to the other side of
your body. It’s a great move for changing your
opponent’s balance and for opening him up.
Sometimes it has the effect of asking him for the
cross, so it’s easier to time your cross counter this way
than with the parry. Important: to make this effective
you have to use snapback to create the room for his
blow to deviate off-line.
Often used in boxing, the catch is easy to do. Just
make sure to use snapback with it to cushion the
force of your opponent’s blow, as the punch will
break through just a simple catch with the hand
alone. Think of it as a brake on a vehicle that needs
some distance to work. Used aggressively before his
attack it can be seen as trapping. Alternatively, cling
after the blow as he returns his hand, and trap to
stymie any follow-up moves or to start your attack.
Training drill: isolation
In a sideways stance put your lead hand down or
behind you. Now your training partner attacks with
jabs at random intervals. Start fairly slowly and as you
Keep your chin tucked in and use the hand to catch
get better he can increase the tempo. By the end of
the blow. Let the shoulder deviate the blow off-line.
a round of three minutes he should be throwing jabs
Important: Don’t turn too much and make sure that
fairly rapidly. You use only parry, scoop and catch
at your maximum rearwards movement your body
to keep from being hit. Snapback is essential to take
shape forms an equal triangle with the ground, not a
the pressure off. Use slipping to help you. Sometimes
rearwards triangle. This way you can still move your
because of where your hand is you may have to do
rear foot and retreat if need be.
a salute-type parry. Keep movements small. Keep
the lead shoulder raised and close to the parrying
Inside stop / shield
hand; this way you’ll have less work to do.
Against a wide blow, the stop or shield works well.
The bicep stop and shoulder stop really work best
if used pro-actively before he gets up a head
of steam, whereas the shield can be used even
Cross counters
The cross and straight right are two of the most
powerful blows you’re likely to get hit with, so it’s
important to have a good defence. If using the
standard guard, keep it high and choose if you want
to go into half guard. Don’t just drift: be mindful.
Shoulder roll
Using the castle analogy, let’s start with the keep.
The shoulder roll can be used from either guard, and
covers both wide and direct shots. Use the shoulder
roll even when you use other leading hand parries,
just in case the blow gets through. That way you’ve
got a back-up, should your parry fail.
Shoulder roll from cross
Shield stop and bicep stop
when he’s at full power. Make sure that they are all
supported with a raised shoulder, as you would with
a shoulder roll, and by a good base from the feet.
Variations from the shield are numerous and it’s one
of the best positions from which to gain control of his
head or upset his balance, as shown.
Outside parry
Simultaneous parry, riposte
Simultaneous parry, riposte
Alternatively, parry and at the same time reply or
riposte with your counter. Remember that doing this
while he is attacking is the best method. Another
method is to use the closest tool, your parrying
KDQGWRGRD¶half-beat strike’ which either chops
between your parry and your big follow-up. Done
The outside parry can be done in three basic ways:
this way he often doesn’t see the big hit coming.
Long guard
Short parry
Keeping the parry long is one of its most effective
Initially it’s used short, just to support an outside slip
to make sure that the cross isn’t going to come into
your line of evasion. Follow with a strike.
uses; using it from a long open guard invites him
in, thus allowing you to attack by drawing. In this
method you close him down and thumb him in the
eye if need be. Keep the elbow down and hand
open. The long guard should have a forward energy
whilst also closing down the opponent. Make sure to
You can play with the shoulder roll so that
He is coming towards you on the same side, but
hand to catch, then secondly using only the
you are making him move over to the other side of
shoulder with no hand to support. See how little
the road whilst you stay on this side. Rotate the hips
movement you can make and how the shoulder
slightly and push with the back leg.
close at your centre, rather than only out where the
attack. Practise coming back with your counter
The scoop is used to drag the opponent in a little,
to put him off balance before scooping the hand
in a clockwise direction, using your body and back
foot as the power source for this. Sometimes you can
attempt to close your opponent down with your long
guard and then when he reacts you use his energy
to make it easier to scoop. If done properly his
head pops out like a tortoise’s and he is easy to hit.
Once you’ve scooped, you can use your scooping
hand to either control the head or to do a bicep or
shoulder stop, to stop a follow-up blow. Alternatively,
mask his face with your hand so that he can’t see
your follow-up blow.
Elbow crush
Here I’ve shown four possible ways of using the
elbow crush.
Keep the hands high. From a long or high guard, fold
your face into the crook of your elbow. Sometimes
you can lean back slightly, to make sure that the
attack lands on the point of your elbow. If blows are
landing on your arms then you either have to fold
further inwards or use snapback to make it land on
the important part. It’s important to remember, with
the elbow crush, that if you can see your opponent
really well, he can hit you. Learn to do the crush so
that only one of your eyes can see your opponent.
Alternatively, for the instant that he connects,
cover your eyes with the elbow so that you can’t
see. However, don’t let fear hold you there; it’s just
for an instant. The best method, as I say, is to hold
the elbow with one eye only able to see his body.
half-guard and long guard and you have a great
If you’re using vertical elbows against hard blows
defensive structure.
make sure that your hand is anchored on your head.
Move forward and use the elbow crush much like
a carapace or shell that allows you to go forwards
Active cross counters
your opponent’s position or balance.
Split entry
The elbow crushes can be used together in
In the split entry you cover with an outside parry
combination, sometimes doubling them up. In
whilst thrusting a strike into the gap between his
particular, from the diagonal and horizontal crush
two arms. This can be a spearhand to the throat,
you can move to a grab or control with ease. Once
as shown here, or it can be a punch to either the
you’ve got both elbows up, it’s for all purposes the
head or body. Often if you scoop the preceding jab
same position as the cross guard. Mix this in with your
WKHQ\RXLQÁXHQFHWKHtiming of the cross and know
when it’s coming. In addition to striking high, you can
strike to the solar plexus. The opponent’s turning and
forward energy only adds to your punch; you use his
energy against him. As with the slipping drill, make
sure you have your arm a bit bent in a dogleg shape
so that you connect with the plexus easier.
Hook counters
The hook comes from outside your range of vision so
it’s important to have a good guard from the start.
If jabbing, remember to cover with your rear hand
on the diagonal so that you can cover both the jab
Split entry
and the hook easily. The rear hand is normally open
so that it’s able to catch defensively whilst remaining
live and able to hit. Don’t just keep it clenched,
passively covering your jaw, as you won’t use it to
lots of clues as to your mindset.
It’s important to know how to twist the body so
that your cover works more effectively. Just a slight
rotation makes it much safer and means that your
cover defends more of your body.
Stop to the hook
The stop is applied to the hook the same way as
the cross, and similarly can be used to stop a blow
at its inception. This works best after scooping the
hand out. Then you cling, keeping in touch with
your opponent’s hand, and stop him at the bicep or
shoulder, then follow-up with either a cross (if you’re
twisted a little) or a hook (if you’re twisted a lot).
You can also do the stop to defend from the jab,
but this needs more skill than a parry as it’s harder to
maintain close contact as he changes to the hook.
Just like the shield against the cross, the shield
Shield from the hook
against the hook needs a low level of timing skill and
is great for either attacking the arm by wrapping, or
as a lead-in to throwing or head control. It’s good for
moving into the plumm or head control, and also for
moving into the arm wrench.
Simultaneous cover and hit
This is a more active way of defending against the
hook. Cover with the hand held palm-forwards in a
shield position, which is the strongest defence, and
strike with a vertical punch which needs less room
than a palm-down punch. Then continue with followXSFRPELQDWLRQVWRÀQLVK\RXURSSRQHQW
Bob and weave
Simultaneous cover and hit
Bobbing and weaving is a great way to evade the
hook. To make the bob and weave more workable
make sure that it’s happening in a controlled way
all the time, meaning that the knees are always
bending and the head is moving slightly all the
time. This way you just have to amplify what you
are already doing on a micro level to have a fully
functional bob and weave. Bobbing and weaving
should be pro-active, not reactive in nature. Bob
and weave even if you don’t need to. This is like
moving your castle just as your opponent is planning
his attack. The only way you are going to ensure that
you will have it when you need it will be if you are
doing it all the time. Learn to love to move.
Crush on hand
The elbow crush can be used in three ways against
the hook: to the hand, to the biceps and to the
chest. This normally depends on how deep your
opponent attacks but you can also choose where
you want to crush.
Crush on bicep
Crush to chest to silat take down
Kick defences
Kicks are powerful, long-range attacks. If used by your opponent in conjunction with hand attacks, kicks can
draw your hands or legs to one area or line, whilst you are being attacked at another point where you are less
prepared. It’s important to recognise that sometimes good kickers are good at kicks because they are weak
at closer ranges and have developed their kicks to keep people away. It’s your job to challenge this. As I said
in Chapter 6, if your opponent knows his basics well and is really good at kicking, he is going to be harder to
FRXQWHUDQG\RXPD\ÀQGLWYHU\KDUGWRJHWFORVHHQRXJKWRcheck out his close range skills or to counter-kick.
A good knowledge of defence will give you a much better chance to do this.
A sound knowledge of the basic skills and ways
Of all the major kicks the front kick is the hardest to
to train them is important, as is the importance of
defend skilfully against. It’s easy and direct, and fast
having a simple plan. First you should understand
for your opponent to do. It doesn’t place him in too
your guard and stance. Next you should focus
much danger and there is little preparation if he has
on blocking methods. This means not doing any
his hips raised.
movement too large, keeping things close and tight
and with good alignment, so that, in closing one
area, you don’t open another and expose your
centre line or major targets.
As we saw with punch defences, there are only six
basic defensive things that you can do against any
terms of courage, timing and position against all the
other kicks.
attack. Once again they are:
Evasion techniques against the front kick largely
> Evade
> Crush
is moving to make his blow miss, and instantly or
> Parry or scoop
simultaneously counter-attacking. The second is
> Stop-hit or stop-kick
when you move to simply get out of the way and
> Grab or catch, and
> Cover
You can do these singly or in combination.
Let’s take each type of kicking attack in turn and
look at a range of suitable defences to them.
then choose whether to leave it at that or to reply
more active and more offensive in nature and uses
fewer beats of time. The second gives the kicker
more time or more beats to recover and to possibly
counter your counter. If your footwork is good
then the second type of evasion happens without
should concentrate on.
Front kick
An effective defence is one where the same
You can use four of the six ways of defending
techniques work against as many blows or strikes as
against the front kick. Passive covering doesn’t work
possible. Have a small number of skills that you know
because the kick penetrates your centre line so
well, and then adapt them with distance, timing and
through this chapter how many of the counters are
very similar and just have to be adapted slightly for
differing attacks.
Body evasion and rear punch
This is an advanced technique which takes quite
a bit of courage and intent. You use attack by
drawing and lure your opponent in by offering a
juicy target. Simply twist your hips and side step a
little as you twist. Don’t do too much, as the intention
is to be close enough so you can deliver your punch
rapidly. Most people worry too much about the
incoming kick, evade too much and it doesn’t work.
Let it scrape by you. Do the math and see that the
only part of his kick that’s dangerous is the point,
where the foot is. Evade this and you’re hitting him
with his own power and yours. Warning: be careful
of follow-up punches or fake kicks as this technique
will leave your head open. Be prepared to slip
Body evasion, rear punch
and counter-punch. This can be done without a
supporting outside scooping parry or with it. Practise
Body evasion; enter and lead punch
This is most effective against a lead kick, but if it’s
used early enough it works against a front kick from
either leg. Step in and twist so that you evade the
kick. Foot placement and timing are important
here. If you hedge your bets and side step too
much then you will be too far away and the kick
will get you. Step directly in. The preparatory part of
his kick, when he lifts his knee, is the time to move.
Step directly and then twist to evade the kick whilst
punching. Support your counter-attack if needed
with a low block which just deviates the kick. Don’t
try to block it, but move it marginally off-line. This
counter can be done against both kicks but is
harder and requires better timing and more courage
against the rear. However, timing and courage are
good attributes to acquire!
Body evasion, lead punch
Evade and groin-kick
This is so simple that many people don’t ever use it.
going to kick with your lead leg, regardless of which
leg your opponent kicks with. Simply step with the
rear leg either way, depending on the kick, then
rotate your body out of the way and kick to the
groin with your instep. In the second method, move
your leg to the side and kick with the other leg. Both
methods work with amazing ease. If you really want
to drop him then this has to be in your armoury.
Retreat and counter-attack
Evade and groin kick
but if your opponent attacks deeply then you can
more aggressive counters. If your opponent thinks
you’re going to punch him in the face, he attacks
with less vigour. A mix of drawing him by retreating
and counter-punching works great. In this example
you retreat by moving your stance as a whole to
the rear, then counter-kick with a rear front kick. His
For all the other passive evasion use the footwork
patterns that we covered in chapter 3. Don’t be
Retreat and counter-attack
heavy on your feet and have a bounce in your
knees. Move early so that you don’t have to react
at the last moment. Use footwork to draw the
opponent in, to stretch his blow just that little bit
further, in the hope of getting you. Then use one of
the aggressive counters.
The crush is very simple and can be used passively
by just raising your leg and closing your guard so
there are no holes. Alternatively, you can just raise
your leg and skip inwards towards your opponent,
and legs. It’s important in both of these to have
forward momentum.
There are a number of parries that you can use
against the front kick. Let’s go through the safest
and easiest to do, then onto the ones that require a
better sense of timing or which carry greater risks.
Scoop parry
Use this against a kick from either leg of your
Scoop and retain
opponent, though it’s best if you use the one on
the opposite side to his kick: if he kicks with the left
you use your left hand to scoop. It means his body
is closed and it’s less easy for him to follow with
another kick or hand attack. If you do it the other
way, it still works but you enhance your opponent’s
ability to follow with a round kick. Make sure that you
move the arm in a circular fashion so that you don’t
kick. Important: In pair training and shadow boxing
make sure that you instantly bring the hand back up
to the high line. Your opponent could be faking you
low, to draw your hand down. There are two scoop
Scoop and throw
Scoop the ankle of the kicking leg and throw your
opponent’s leg as you move your own body. Kick
the leg as it lands on the ground because at this
point the weight is transferred to it. You can also
throw the leg in the air and attack his supporting leg,
which has the weight on it.
Scoop and retain
Tuck your body and scoop the leg upwards, and
initially towards you, to overstretch him. Then, move it
back towards the opponent, attacking his balance.
When his balance Is broken, attack his standing leg.
effective. Just push your elbow forwards into his kick,
whilst slightly curving or tucking the body, so that
the kick goes by. It can be done using both elbows,
Scoop and throw
chance of success. Like the scoop, this is best if you
follow-up is a back kick or spinning hand attack,
which has to come a longer route. Follow-up with
hand, leg, or grappling attacks. Important: use the
minimum of movement. Don’t go too far off-line but
try to keep your hand tools pointing at him. Keep
hands high to protect against spinning hand attacks
if you close in.
Outside parry
The outside parry is great as it really turns your
opponent. Use it with the earlier evasion to
guarantee you don’t get hit. The weakness of this is
that you leave yourself open to a hand follow-up as
your lead hand is low. Only do this when you see the
opponent is fully committed or when your intuition
tells you it’s the right thing to do. Move your head
out of the way as soon as the parry has changed
the path of the kick and hit with your rear hand.
Don’t linger too long with the block or you’ll get hit.
Alternatively, you can scoop the ankle at longer
range and just lift the leg to once again threaten
his balance or throw the leg to open up his body for
your counter. Follow up with a rear stomping throw.
Low block
Combatively, the low block is not the best block to
do: your hands are low, dealing with the kick, and
the top of your body is open to attack. However, like
all things it’s about how, when and where you do it.
Everything works in the right place. Whilst it can be
used in a basic parry and counter-attack format, this
will only get you a short way before you are being
faked low and hit high repeatedly. Psychologically a
hard block gives your opponent positive feedback
Low block
and he tries harder. If used to support jamming
counter-punches, it works great. Use it as a way in to
grab and throw, as shown in the next chapter.
Bump takedown
Grabbing / catching
Because the front kick is a direct kick, the catches
that work well are the ones where you are going
to go on and throw. Use a low block, supporting a
high level attack to keep your opponent distracted.
In reality this is a stop-hit, a parry and a grab
combined. From here if you are close enough you
can do the bump takedown against the knee.
Lead punch counter to inside reap takedown
Folded leg
Side kick
Mid and high level side kicks
The low-line sidekick is highly effective for your
The counters to the front kick can be used against
opponent to do both in attack and defence, and
the mid-line sidekick because they share the same
covers all eventualities. The sidekick occasionally
angles in under your lead elbow so you have to be
Fold your leg back either a small amount if your
accurate in your counters. Also the sidekick is the
opponent’s kick is aimed low at the shin or swing it
opponent’s longest kick so his body is further away.
more from the hip if it’s aimed at the knee.
Any entry that you do has to make allowances for
Meanwhile continue with an attack or entering
strategy on the high line. This way he only gets one
chance to kick.
this. Some of the counters shown now are the same
as those for the front kick.
Just as you did before, tuck your body and push the
Fold and re-kick
If your body is more side-on, you can retreat your leg
elbow won’t do the job, instantly switch to the scoop
until his leg drops at the end of the kick. Sidekick to
his knee.
Elbow drop
Raise and re-counter
Here you tempt the opponent to kick, by keeping
your arm slightly raised, then drop the elbow.
Alternatively withdraw, raise your leg and front
kick. Use this as the beginning of an attacking
Change your body axis by leaning slightly forwards
and drop your body weight so that your opponent’s
kick is spiked on your elbow. Don’t use the arm; use
the body drop instead. You don’t do much, but
what you do is highly effective.
The oblique to the groin works against all lead side
kicks at low and middle height.
Elbow drop
Drop palm
Snap your body back a bit and, as in the picture
(right), change the body angle for a moment so that
you use your body weight to parry the kick. Drop the
palm or the forearm on his sidekick. Think of drawing
it slightly backwards towards you. Don’t look down
but keep your eye contact on his chest or eyes. The
best follow-up here is one where you use the same
DUPWRÀQJHUjab high, either to hit or to fake, so you
can groin kick low. Then you’re off and moving.
Double pillar
Drop palm
If it’s thrown at the right distance, your defences
against the lead high side kick are very limited. This is
one of the few times a cover will work.
You’ll either have to move backwards using this or
alternatively use it in a jamming motion. Standing
where you are often just gives you whiplash as the
kick hits your arms and upper body.
The sidekick is weak at its start so it’s a great kick
to jam. Just raise your leg and hop inwards, with
your hand weapons poised for action (see picture
Double pillar
Evade and scoop to rear groin kick
Evade and parry combination
Evade and side kick
Here you evade to the left and kick to his supporting
leg with your side kick. If it’s done to your right then
evade and rear groin kick. Though these are good
defences, you need to be athletic if you attempt
this without a supporting block or parry. Use it in
conjunction with a low block or parry like the scoop
and you have more time and are on to a winning
formula. Just use the scooping block to throw the
leg to the side and then, depending on how much
you’ve turned your opponent, move in with hands,
legs or grappling.
If you want to keep your skill set to a minimum for
maximum combat effectiveness just evade and
groin kick as before.
Evade and scoop to spearhand groin kick combo
Sometimes you can see the preparation for a lead
side kick quite early so it’s a great opportunity to just
stop-hit your opponent.
Stop-hitting strategies
determined by where you balance is, how much time you have available and what feels the easiest
to do.
so that you don’t jam your toes. Alternatively, raise your leg to begin a kick but turn this shape into
a leg crush. It’s all based on how much time you have available.
and side stomp kick to the knee, if you have the time. If that doesn’t work, adapt it to a raised leg
jamming technique and hop in and close with your opponent.
Finally, there’s the oblique kick. The oblique can be used to the shin, knee, groin and stomach as it
arcs upwards. Where you strike again depends on how much time and space you have.
Round kick
The round kick is a very common attack. It’s easy
to throw and easy to block. Let’s go through
Cover and scoop variation
Here you throw the leg in the air and attack the rear
supporting leg where the weight is.
the progression of defences that we use at my
Academy. This really works and gives you a safe and
effective means of learning. Once you’ve got some
of the basics down you can start using variations
which require a better sense of timing and are faster.
Cover and near hand scoop
You can still retain the foot against your arm if you
need to. This is useful for students who don’t yet have
the timing perfected. Then use the nearest hand the
hand of the arm you’re covering with to scoop and
throw the leg to the side.
Move away from the kick. Important: keep your
Cover and under-hook
balance neutral. Don’t fold over towards the kick, or
turn your back, offering him the three target jackpot
Do the same as with the cover and near hand
of two kidneys and a spine. Rather, curve your body
scoop. If you’ve got good timing then under-hook
into the size of your arm. Think of curving the ribs
the kick as soon as it hits your protective cover. If you
closer together by lifting the hips and curving the
need more time or reassurance then use the furthest
back so that the ribs are more like one, and less easy
hand to retain it for a moment till you can do the
to break.
Let him have the problem, not you.
Cover and scoop: basic
Here, you move and cover but use the furthest hand
to pin the opponent’s foot against your arm. Then
Double block to under-hook throw
use this furthest hand to scoop and throw the leg.
Use the double block as another way into the under-
You angle and attack the leg just as the leg lands on
hook. By following this method, you’ll make it hard
for him to kick you in the head. Keep the low arm
is better you can just do the scoop on its own.
slightly bent so it acts as a brake or speed bump to
Cover and scoop
Cover and near hand scoop
a high line kick. Check the thigh with your lead arm
Over-hook to reaping throw to Boston crab
and under-hook. Twist your body so that you are the
maximum distance from his punch, then step in and
inside reap his supporting leg. Make sure that you
turn in the direction he is kicking – it’s much harder
for him to counter and the throw is much harder.
attack the knee using either a lying knee bar or a
standing knee wrench. For best effect, step in and
twist so that you are throwing in the same direction
as the kick and be sure to reap the standing leg into
In this example, as soon as you’ve over-hooked,
punch him in the head with your rear hand and
stop his forwards motion. Then step through and
reap his leg. Keep your back straight so that you
aren’t pulled down and your opponent doesn’t
end up half-twisted. Just continue by stepping in
the direction he is twisted. Keep your back straight
and apply the leg lock, or use in combination with a
hip/back stretching lock.
the air. See p.100 for pictures.
Boston crab
Over- and under-hook strategy
This means that if your opponent kicks you as you are punching him, close the ribs and absorb as
the blade of the forearm to pressure the shin as this makes it harder for him to do a number of
kneeing or closing to plumm head control.
This is a stronger position and you successfully block your opponent’s attack. You are, however,
vulnerable to a jumping knee, triangle choke or arm bar. Make sure to check his nearest shoulder
and twist your body so that you are the furthest distance possible from his punching hand. This
stretch also sets up any following throw you might execute, so it’s essential to do.
other, don’t worry: just continue doing what comes naturally. Theory is smooth, whereas reality is
rough. There is no absolute way of doing things that guarantees success. If something’s working,
you can analyse and maybe train the other method more so it’s a more instinctive part of your
technique toolbox. Above all, it’s about instinct and intention; using what happens and going with
Double block to under-hook
When you’re learning the crush, it’s important that
you don’t build bad habits which can lead to simple
counters. There are two primary ways to crush. Firstly,
block with the portion of bone just below the knee,
where the head of the shin bone is. This is the least
painful method. However, to get that part to hit
every time needs lots of practise.
The other method is where you turn your leg out
so that it’s at a sharp angle to your body. Any kick
landing on it meets your shin with your thigh bone
pointing outwards, which means the force of the
Crush to same leg kick
kick is met head on. If possible, block with the part of
the leg below the knee, but it’s not essential. If you
don’t turn the leg out enough, your crush will often
fold against a strong kick.
will disrupt your opponent’s balance. Follow up with
a right round kick.
The crush can be used for all kicks up to the mid
level. Tie it in with the arms and a curve of your body
Cross crush to rear round kick
and you have a good defence. If you constantly lift
your crush high, the opponent can fake the kick high
The cross crush can be used if your weight
and then drop it to attack your supporting leg. If you
distribution is wrong and you can’t easily crush with
lift it, keep it quick and only go as high as needed.
the nearest leg. You can use it with follow-up round
kicks or on its own as a destructive defence as
Note: the crush is painful to do. You can condition
your shins by hitting Thai pads and hard bags. For
training, wear shin pads to protect. In real situations
it’s probably a one-off pain. Never show him that it
shown below. Ensure you keep strong eye contact
with the opponent so that you show him that it didn’t
hurt you – even if it did! It’s all about breaking his
hurts you. Keep your eyes strong.
Crush to same leg kick
Crush the attack and then step to the right and kick
with the same leg.
Crush and standing leg kick
Here you crush and then re-kick with your standing
leg. Use the force of stomping the crushing leg down
to add power to the kick.
Crush to lead leg kick
Use a lead leg crush. Don’t drop the leg but engage
the hips strongly and front kick with the same leg. This
Cross crush
Evade and cut kick
Evade with a triangle step and round kick to the
supporting leg of the kicker. Sometimes called a
cut kick, this is best if it angles slightly downwards
so it breaks the stability of the supporting leg. Bend
your supporting leg to make it its most effective. It
can also be used in a slightly upwards direction if
you are short of time. Enter strongly. In training, be
careful to not overdo this with your training partner
as repeated blows to the back of the knee can
Evade and side kick
aggravate this sensitive area.
Evade and side kick
the cut kick but even more effective as it goes
accurate contact as you have a smaller target
area than the round kick. This needs to be practised
diligently to have the greatest effect. Be careful
of your training partner’s knee by kicking with
Cut kick
Time line
On this page is a time line of sorts, showing your
opponent’s attack at various stages and some
counters that could be used at each stage. This isn’t
a rigid time line: you can both attack and defend at
any point along it in a variety of ways. However, it is
a useful idea to hold in your head whilst training.
Early stages of attack
The only trouble with these kicks is that they don’t
opponent is more fearful and under your control.
Alternatively, mix with high line kicks to stretch your
opponent’s defence. As you can see I’ve only
outlined a few kicks, but because they are easy to
remember and to use they are more likely to work,
Lead leg low and high line kick
Lead hand stop-hit
Later stage of attack
Very late stage of attack
Catch over and under
Double block
Crush and attack
Training methods
you don’t become dependent on any one way.
This is the place to do lots of reps and put them
with all your tools pointing at the opponent and
combinations so that though it starts differently you
keep strong eye contact. The only way he knows
learn to see the shape of the attack you’re working
what is going on in your mind is by what you show
on, even when mixed up with other attacks. Then
on your face. Don’t show him anything. Alternatively
practise either in an alternate kick-for-kick pattern
play with him by appearing agitated when you
where you each take turns, or with one person
aren’t and calm when you’re not. Be the puppet
feeding alternate legs. Start by having a basic
dependent on psychological aspects. Become the
other options in. Occasionally scoop, then change
drills. Strong eyes!
with crushing. If you haven’t got the time or the skill
down then go slower or cover to give you time to
think. Once you’ve got that down, work the stop-hits
in. Crushing is the easiest to learn and to do, so if you
way to go. However, if you only focus on this quick
and evasion and parrying will suffer and when you
haven’t got pads you may be at a disadvantage.
Ring the changes in your training program so that
Time management: If you have lots of time, work
have a balanced body structure. If you have time
work the weak side even more. Most people don’t,
but if you do, you’re coming at your opponent from
a side he isn’t used to. It’s all about how much time
you have. If you haven’t got much time, keep it
simple and just concentrate on mastering one side.
Throws are a great way to defeat an opponent. An opponent may feel defeated just by being put on the ground.
Throws differ from style to style and system to system depending on what they are designed to achieve and the
culture from which they come. Some are big, dynamic throws where often you land on top of your opponent
DQGFRQWLQXHWKHÀJKW²LIKH·VQRWDOUHDG\GLVDEOHGIURPWKHpower of the throw – by grappling and ground
to which you can put each throw.
Counters to the jab
In this chapter we are going to start looking at throws
he gasps. Don’t be too nice: your aim is to fold him
from the standpoint of the techniques and basic
in the middle. You can do this in two ways. Firstly,
positions that we have already covered. Let’s start
dynamically use your forward momentum. Push your
from the slip against the jab. This is one of the most
head to the left and take him down whilst bending
common defences and also one of the least risky.
his body in half. The other way takes longer but is
surer. Grasp the waist, keeping stable with your hips
low and near his, and push your hips forward so that
Body tackle series
Slip the jab and go deep so your head is near his
For both methods, if the throw doesn’t seem to be
armpit. Alternatively, your opponent’s attack is
working, trip with your right leg. If this isn’t enough,
such that you are already quite deep. Grip your
often you can step over and land on your opponent
opponent’s waist as shown and pull in tightly so that
in a mounted position.
Punch and body grasp
Leg tackle series
You can dynamically attach to the lead leg whilst
threading your other hand behind the rear leg and
Slip and parry the jab, then drop down (with your
guard up) and tackle your opponent at the waist.
If the body tackle isn’t working, or the position isn’t
strong enough to throw him, go lower – and use your
sensitivity skills to recognise early on if it isn’t working.
Remember that attacking the opponent at one of
driving forwards. Alternatively, drop from the body
tackle position and pull both your opponent’s knees
together, with your hands clasped behind him. Step
forwards and lift his legs as you twist to the left and
be controlled and slow for training purposes.
the three key points – the top, the bottom and at the
hips where the body hinges – is the main concept.
Thirdly, do a foot pin and throw. You can either
continue as shown for the other two or perform a
You can drop and attack the legs in a variety of
rolling leg break which brings you on top of your
opponent, ready to strike.
you can hold it just above and behind the knee and
near the ankle. Keep his leg as straight as possible.
Learning the basic concepts will make your leg
Step forwards with your right leg and then, using
tackling much easier. On the street, the leg tackles
your head as an extra lever, twist towards the left.
This stops your opponent using a sprawling defence.
concrete can injure you as much as your opponent.
Good conditioning will make all tackles easier to
do, and in particular will make you less averse to
Secondly, use a double leg tackle (pictured
overleaf). There are two ways to do the double.
changing levels so that in turn you become harder
to tackle yourself.
Single leg tackle
Double leg tackle
Variation: foot pin
Leg lock
Counters to the round kick
If you kick, your balance is compromised as you
weakness of the head and the leverage of the
arm to throw the opponent to the ground. When
counter the swing round kick. This is the easiest kick
you have achieved head and arm control in some
to catch and throw from, particularly if the attacking
way, and have moved to the side to avoid a tackle
leg lingers.
attempt, knee him, elbow him then use the throw
to dispose of his body in a way which is strategically
sound for you. The alternative method is to use your
Inner reaping against a kick
elbow to slow your opponent’s forward motion.
Attach and throw, moving back so that he can’t
Catch under
attach in turn.
To start this drill, either cover and under-hook, or use
There are two ways to throw your opponent with
the double block to check his kick and then under-
the greatest ease. From the side control, line your
hook as you did against the round kick (p.105).
Secondly, if you attach properly you can use the
Catch over
momentum from this attempted strike, redirecting
your opponent’s forward energy to throw him.
When you catch over, it is important to lift his leg by
Concentrate on the striking if you are on the side
rising up on your toes. Once you’re up on your toes,
and have the head and arm position. Concentrate
push back towards him. Take control of his body.
on redirecting if you are directly in front of him and
Make sure that the hard edge of your arm is biting
he is coming towards you, as you have less time to
into his leg so that he is unable to bend his leg to
play with.
knee you, or come closer so that he can strike you.
You are the striker: take control.
Unskilled tackles
Head and arm windmill throw
need on your opponent’s part to get closer and
to stop you hitting him. He will often turn his head
This throw, also known as puta kapala, uses the
Head and arm windmill throw
away whilst reaching out with his hands. Many times
his eyes will be closed or averted. Take advantage
of this to introduce him to a hard object if you are
towards the wall so that you get to practise thinking
in this manner. Don’t slam him into the wall but
simulate this; it goes without saying that it’s important
at all times to take care of your training partners.
Once you’ve thrown your opponent you can
I’ve also shown how to counter if he manages to
Unskilled tackle…
grab your leg using an octopus head wrench. Go to
the right if he grasps your left leg and to the left if he
grasps the right. Be careful when doing this that you
are applying all of your body’s force against one of
the most sensitive parts of his body: his neck. For this
reason, when training go very slowly, and take lots of
care of your partner. and introduce to hard object
Head lock throws
The basic front headlock works well. It tends to
cause pain but doesn’t affect your opponent’s
consciousness, like a rear choke, so as a result it’s
a place to be prepared to move from. Because
it’s painful, you get a range of reactions from your
opponent which you can use to help to throw him to
the ground.
Guillotine to stocks
Rolling head lock
Head and arm
Rear throws
When moving to the rear, raise your head (as shown
Attacking the rear is safer for you as your opponent’s
limbs don’t work particularly well there. Therefore,
attacking the back gives you a huge strategic
advantage. Watch out for rear head butts, low groin
strikes and spinning elbows plus rolling leg locks.
Although these require vigilance, they are about
guillotine choked. You can slip and attack the rear
you vulnerable to the knee if he’s facing you. Use
this only when he is off-line and you can see the
all you have to watch for by way of easy and fast
counters to the rear position.
Kick scoops
We saw the two methods to scoop kicks - one using
the nearest hand, one the furthest - on page 98.
Ways to the back
When using the nearest hand, step to the rear as you
will have only moved him off-line. Then stomp and
There are a number of ways of gaining control of
your opponent’s back. Here I’ve just tagged them
choke using one arm to encircle the neck and the
other to facilitate the choke and to add power.
onto some of the basic skills that we’ve already
covered, so you don’t have to learn new skills but
In the second method, drag your opponent down,
just go a step further with the ones that you know
then pin him against your leg and push your thumb
into the neck notch. Attack the nerve there whilst
Slipping the jab
When using the furthest hand, enter and if the head
isn’t available, as it often isn’t, grab the waist and
Slip the jab and either punch or body tackle. Pivot
on your leading leg and rotate the rear leg behind
can use the bump takedown, where you pitch him
your opponent. To keep him from rotating the same
up in the air on your hips and then, when his feet are
way as you, check his rear or furthest hip. Working
on the nerve there disrupts his balance. It doesn’t
to one knee and use your forearm against his hip
work for everyone but is usually highly effective and
bone to drag that hip to the rear, and to the ground.
Slip and hip check to get the back
The best thing about scooping kicks is that it instantly
gives you your opponent’s back. Be careful in
moving in as it’s very common to get knocked out
by a spinning blow. Keep your hands high until your
head is on his back. Keep your head down to avoid
getting hit by rear head butts.
pattern and you step under his arm with the leg
Arm drags
on that side, dropping as you go under and then
looking upwards towards the ceiling. Make sure that
You can move to the back easily by arm-dragging
your hips are underneath your head so that your
your opponent. Your opponent throws a wide blow;
body shape is strong. Then repeat on the other side.
you stop it and, with the furthest hand, under-hook
with your arm and drag him, so that you are at his
rear, or at least part way. Then repeat on the other
side. You can also do this from wrist wrestling or other
clinch positions.
Arm drag
Arm drag
Clavicle drag
Part 4: Putting it all
In chapter 7 we looked at some of the fundamental combinations of strikes. In this chapter I’ll introduce more
ways to make the most of these in defence, and also introduce combinations for use at closer range.
Long range
You can increase the usefulness of the simple
> Crush – horizontal hammer which acts as
combinations we looked at earlier by putting one of
have to add another strike or kick, or conversely
subtract one, to get to your starting position.
> Outside parry before his punch from a long
> Outside parry during his punch – right cross to
types of defence that you can do are: cover, stop-
hit; crush; evade; parry; grab (or clinch). Some of the
ÀYHFRXQWZLWKhook – cross – lead round kick
combination elements are given as a refresher on
the following page, but refer back to the relevant
earlier sections of the book for full details.
> Evade with bob and weave
– hook – cross – round kick
Opponent attacks with a cross or feigns a cross
You defend with:
> Bong sau parry – arm wrench. Finish
> Stop-hit with lead front kick to body.
or cross – hook – cross
Inside shield
Lead front kick stop kick
Lead round kick
Evade, cut kick
Evade and grab
Cover and scoop
Shovel hook
Stop to bicep
Opponent attacks with a round kick
Tip: Focus on one thing
> Stop kick with oblique kick to groin – round kick
If training any combination, spend a long time on
just one attack and get that down, then put it back
into your list. Work out where the preparation is
> Crush – round kick to his standing leg
on your attack and learn to hide it.
> Evade and grab – cut kick – knee and
leg throw away – combination
Medium and close range
> Cover and scoop – throw away
– simple combination
At medium and close range you get more chance
to use the uppercut and shovel hook. Many students
attempt to use these too early and don’t develop a
Opponent attacks with a lead round kick
when your opponents are consistently getting past
them, it’s time to work on shorter-range tools.
Here I’ve shown the use of combinations which
integrate the use of the uppercut, moving from long
> Evade by retracting your lead leg (toy
range into medium range.
gerk) and reply using a lead kick from the
count or other combinations into your training. Focus
on one initial defence and get that response down
> Jab – lead hook – rear uppercut – hook
> Jab – lead hook – step with rear
body hook and high hook
> Lead shovel hook – rear shovel hook – tight
by doing lots of repetitions. Then, if possible, do it for
or wide hook (Use when you are head to
as many attacks as possible. For instance, the stop
head with your opponent and he has a tight
kick and stop-hit can be done in the same way for
guard. Slip to the inside and shovel hook, then
almost every attack. Similarly, the crush (using both
the arm and the leg) is very easy and doesn’t require
expert timing. However, because the crush is so easy
> Lead uppercut – cross – high hook (slip to
(though sometimes painful) make sure that you work
the inside and uppercut up the middle.
Finish with a cross and high hook.)
> Rear uppercut – lead uppercut
– right cross low – high hook
Though here I’ve only shown how to use the four or
> Rear uppercut – lead uppercut – overhand
> Rear uppercut – lead hook – cross
other combinations shown in chapter 7.
> Lead uppercut – rear uppercut
– tight or wide hook
> Lead uppercut – rear body hook – rear high hook
Close-quarter combinations
Just as with the trapping entries into combinations
near your armpit, then cross – body or
(p. 125), you can start your counter-attack or
head hook and cross or rear elbow – lead
combination from close-quarter positions. Start
elbow – rear elbow and knee
once you have slipped or bobbed to a position
close to your opponent’s armpit. Alternatively, use
this approach when your jab has missed and your
opponent has slipped to that position. What often
happens is that in this loose, untied, clinch position
you both re-group and have a rest of sorts.
Keep your back leg strong, as often it makes him
think that you are backed up against ropes or the
wall and have no backwards options. Then, when
you choose, you can just snap-back to a slightly
longer range, giving room for your tools to work.
From the half guard:
> Kidney slap: Pivot on your lead foot so
you’re no longer directly in front of him,
and slap to the kidney area to bring his
head up. Go into cross – body hook – cross
or any other applicable combination
> Bump, using your horizontal arm to bar his
options, and hook to the head (make sure
to keep the hook very tight so it just goes
around his guard). Follow with appropriate
uppercut or cross-led combinations
> Lead elbow pick up: Using the hand from either
on top or underneath, open his body up and right
hook to the body, with the hand down and the
> Bump him to make the minimum of space,
lead knuckles biting. Repeat the right hook to the
just enough to get your punch through.
head and continue as targets present themselves
Rear uppercut to lead hook. Follow with
cross – body hook – cross, or go back
to clinching where you can’t be hit
> Snap-back instead of bumping and
> Rear pick up: Pick his elbow up with your rear
hand whilst stepping in and pivoting to the left.
Follow-up with lead body or head hooks and
repeat the combination above
> Elbow lift: Snap your elbow upwards quickly
to bring his head up from its hiding place
Elbow lift
Kidney slap with follow-ups
Lead elbow pick-up
Training combinations: partner
opponent with the agreed combination and he
parries, covers, or evades as defence. Regardless
Combination work is intended to build your ability to
of your level, there is work of this type for you to do
this in mind when working with an opponent. Both of
explore new combinations, new ways of attacking.
you should wear bag gloves, as these small gloves
In sparring, the training partners with whom you spar
make you work your technical skills better than a
will eventually get to know your game, so your game
larger 12 or 14oz glove. There are three main ways
has to develop. The way to do this is through repping
new combinations or approaches.
and pro-actively.
Fixed combinations
After practising the above, do the same
blow which your training partner throws at you,
much as we did on the focus pads. He attacks
you with a cross, for example, and you block or
Tip: Don’t telegraph
parry and then go into your combination counter-
Get your body position right so that you don’t
have to do a ZLQGXSRUDpreparation, because
the necessary tension is already there within your
blows. It means you are just tagging the combo onto
stance or position. This is much like an athlete on
the end of a parry or block.
his marks at a race: good position will cut down
Important: Cut down the time between the defence
any dead time at the beginning of your attack.
and the counter-attack when doing this sort of
training. Almost see the parry (or slip or block) as the
and moving forwards or at least having a forwards
intent when doing this sort of work. This makes you
what happens to you in sparring so that you can be
ahead of the game.
pro-active even in your defence.
Trapping to combinations
Simple traps, where you trap your opponent’s attack
Finally you should do combinations pro-actively,
which works really well in sparring. This is where you
ask a question: for instance, you throw a jab – which
often elicits the same or similar response from your
opponent – then you parry or evade and do your
idea of what his response will be, as opponents often
respond with the same thing you’ve thrown and this
against him, work well as a route to combinations,
whereas more complex traps depend on sensitivity
There are three ways of doing this. As I have said
before you can do these on your own, with a
partner, or on the pads. Here we’ll show them with a
partner as this is where it works best.
puts you ahead on the timing. This is complicated
if you want to do a back-and-forward training drill
with your partner. Here are a few of my favourites
Stop the jab (overleaf)
which work really well in sparring. Train them with
This is just a light touch on his lead hand. It stops the
your partner, giving the response you want and then
countdown and he has to go back to his mental
start line, or hook you, or hit you with his rear hand.
By doing things pro-actively you steal time from your
It’s simple and effective.
> Jab – cross – hook. Bounce the hand from
> Cross – salute
> Jab – catch
> Jab – cross – failed hook – bong sau – follow-up
in front of his jab to stop his countdown
then go directly into your combination
> Bong sau / rolling arm defence (against the
cross) – cross – hook – cross. He strikes with the
Take note: you can’t do these in a backward and
cross as soon as you trap his jab. You defend
forward style as easily as the simpler combinations.
with your lead arm and then strike back
Decide how many you are going to do and get him
to attack you in the way you want. Learn the shape
and you can make up your own combos. Research
> Stop on jab, then slap and follow with
cross – hook and round kick
Stop the jab, then jab cross hook, alternatively bong sau
Single slap trap / pak sao, to:
> Cross – wide hook or slap – rear low round kick
> Cross – hook – cross – lead round kick
> Cross – round kick – round kick
Grab / lop sao, to:
Pak sao
> Cross – body hook – head hook
> Cross – round kick – rear round kick
One of my favourite exercises to do with a partner
is three-for-three or four-for-four. This is very simple:
you throw any three-count combination at your
opponent and he responds with any three-count
that comes to his mind. This makes you mentally
sharp and also teaches you how to cover. You have
have that then you are off and moving.
Start with the standard combos. You should work at
making them penetrate the holes in your opponent’s
guard. Once you’ve got three or so of these down,
you can change between them at random, so that
even though your opponent knows broadly what
you are going to do he still has to be able to read
Lop sao
don’t) then you can go on to being more random
in your attacks, as long as they are within certain
boundaries. The aim, after all, is to build on success,
not only for you but for your training partner who is
practising defence. Aim at holes in his guard and
interrogate his defences. You don’t have to repeat
In this drill the pad holder tests your defence with a
hook or slap. You then respond with the following:
> Against high left hook: cover with tight cover
just the standard combos. These are useful for
and respond with hook – cross – hook, or, if closer
teaching you the basic patterns, but you can break
lead uppercut – rear uppercut – hook – cross
the patterns by changing target, repeating blows
and hitting where he’s open. Probe his defence and
think out of the ordinary.
If you have problems and are getting hit a lot when
you’re attacked, then go back a step. Go slower
Four corners
This is a way of integrating the combinations that you
know with a simple defensive cover. Depending on
> Against high right hook: cover with tight
cover or shield and then respond with
cross – hook – cross, or, if closer, rear
uppercut – lead uppercut and cross
> Against left body punch, body hook or
slap: cover with elbow then respond with
left uppercut – right uppercut – hook
> From right body punch: cover with elbow
and then respond with left or right uppercut
(depending on where you are) – cross – hook
High right hook
High left hook
Left body punch
Right body punch
Start slow but ask your training partner to increase
the speed of his attack so that it happens at the
end of your combination and there’s less of a
pause between moves. If the skill level gets worse or
disintegrates, then go back to a slower pace. Any
> Charges with hands behind back, or
> Charges with head down and both hands
extended (also known as a bear hug attempt)
combination can be used using hands, hands and
legs, knees or elbows. Use your imagination but drill
the basics.
When you are defending, keep your feet pointing
at your opponent as much as possible. Don’t overreact to his attacks. Point your body towards your
opponent to ensure your energy is focused in the
right direction.
making a tackle attempt. You sprawl, which should
put you on top of his body with the ability to choke
or reposition so that you control his back. Make sure
you keep your head up. Get back up quickly and
Tackle attempt combinations
When your opponent attempts a leg tackle you can
use these four simple ways to counter, to be used
alongside your striking. If you do this on your own
in shadow-boxing, use your imagination but make
sure you move enough, and correctly. If done with
focus pads.
The attacker can come in for a tackle attempt in
one of two ways: with his arms out, which allows
you to wrench, or with his pads held behind him
and his head exposed. Pivot out of the way, either
on your lead foot or by withdrawing your lead foot,
and perform the redirect on the other side. This is
very similar to what a matador does with a bull. Just
To simulate a tackle, the pad holder does one of the
move out of the way and perform the follow-up
Tip: mix ranges
range strikes and then move out, making sure you
don’t retreat in a straight line. Go back to using
your jab or straight kicks to ‘stick and move’ again.
Head and arm
Use the same footwork as the pivot, but pick up
With the side head control, make sure that the
the opponent’s head and arm, with the arm in a
elbow is down inside your opponent’s shoulder, if he
potential arm lock, and redirect the head – in a real
is close enough. The hands should be overlapped
again, with slight spiral energy towards the top of
his head which makes it harder for him to oppose
your energy and counter the position. For the sake
Short knee to combination or cross and round kick
of space we will just focus on the attachment and
ending. You can add any of the previous combos
Use a short knee to stall your opponent’s tackle
that will take you to this reference point.
or to bring his head up, followed by a standard
combination or one sided combination.
Lead front kick – jab – cross – side clinch
Arm wrench or throw to combo
Jab and cross and, as your opponent slips to the
outside, pivot and control his head. Double knee
When applying the arm wrench, use the same body
and then either deliver a straight shin to the head or
mechanics as if you were doing a right or left hook
push away and round kick to his legs.
As you can see, just adding these simple tackle
Lead round kick – cross – hook – KHDGFRQWUROplumm
defences to the combinations that you already
have gives you a formidable defence.
If the hook goes wide and your opponent’s head is
within the circle created by your arm, pull him in and
give three knees to the stomach, then push away
Combinations with a head control or clinch ending
and kick. Alternatively, switch to half-head control to
In these combinations we will focus on either doing
counter his tackle or grapple attempt. Finish with a
a full head control (sometimes called the plumm)
combo as above, or a hand combination.
with knee attacks, or a side head control (often
called the side clinch) again with knee attacks. With
the full head control, remember that, rather than
bringing the knees straight up, you should drive them
in so that they are hard to block. Once you can
do standard knees you can vary the type of knee
attack and also change heights, much like we did in
the three-for-three and four-for-four training earlier in
this chapter.
Tip: hand position
When putting your hands on top of your opponent’s
head, remember to overlap the hands (don’t
the head tightly. It allows you to direct his head
easily to the left or right, or hold it in one place.
Side clinch
Jab – cross – hook – side clinch
Key points
Sometimes your hook misses and your opponent
has the opportunity to come in behind it. As on
the emphasis on good body mechanics. Get your
the tackle attempt series, pull back the side under
shoulders and your head moving. If you’re practising
attack, pivot as you retreat and pull him into side
with an opponent, don’t rush in. This is a common
mistake: keep your body behind the punches or
kicks so that you don’t telegraph. This is one of the
one of your favourite combinations.
hardest things to practise: when your training partner
backs up too much, as they often do in a drill, you
Kick grab counter – plumm
and raised. Be careful, cautious and aware when
Here your opponent grabs your round kick. You
doing partner work. Remember that lots of quality
crash in and push the leg downwards whilst
work can be done on your own; you don’t need to
controlling the head strongly. Follow this up with
coordinate with a partner so it can be done any
knees then with a combination, low round kick or
time, anywhere. Instead of wasting those spare
tackle / single leg pick-up.
moments, do your combination training and see the
results after just a short while. Let’s look at ways of
Kick grab counter – plumm with knees – leg pick up – knee
doing all this on your own, which is a great training
Grab his kick and punch to the face or focus pad,
then gain the plumm position by whatever means
you like. Drive in the knees if your opponent’s energy
Training combinations: solo
is backwards and upwards (he’s trying to lift his
head), then let go and perform the single leg pick
In solo training, as in all training, you get to build
up. Take him down and throw the leg to one side.
muscle memory through repetition.
Knee ride and strike the face area or focus pads if
he has them.
On the spot
First, start by just going through the combinations
that you’ve outlined, on the spot. Don’t do too
Tip: making music
many different types at one workout; to build muscle
Your body learns best when all of its senses are
memory you have to repeat things over and over.
working for you. It’s important to learn with
Five different combinations in a workout should do
rhythm and sound as some of your key helpers. If
for most students; you can add more depending on
how much time you have.
the emphasis on good body mechanics. Get your
shoulders moving and your head. Once you’ve
got the beat then break the beat or play with it. If
working on focus pads or Thai pads concentrate
Next, do the same combinations but with simple
on the noise that the strike or kick makes. In the
footwork drills. For instance, curve left, do the
start, work on making this a resounding and sharp
combination, curve right, repeat the combination.
bang on all blows of the combination. Don’t go
This can be done with almost all the footwork drills
further till you’ve got this.
we’ve previously shown. Slide and step doesn’t
work so well with this format as it primarily works on
you should go back to your shadow-boxing and
forward intent at all times, even when moving back.
make noises, pretend to be hit and then come
Don’t stand still; be a constantly moving target. See
back stronger. Pretend to totally dominate your
yourself as a winner at all times.
add what you have learned to the format. Have
opponent. Your mind and body can’t tell the
difference between reality and an imagined
experience if done with ‘emotional intensity.’ Have
Breaking the mould
Finally, break the combinations by only doing them
in a partial format. For instance, only strike two and
three of a four-count combination and add this
to your shadow-boxing, or any two numbers that
a forward to backwards axis, but practise using this
great footwork to break in and out, use it during the
combination to break ground, and try putting the
combination at either end of it. This sort of training
can be seen as footwork training, but if you link
footwork and solid combinations you are onto a
at the end of your combination and die on your
feet. Keep your feet active and use a jab to get you
concentrating on body mechanics, balance and
body feel. Change the rhythm of the combinations,
sometimes on the beat, sometimes missing a beat.
Keep a bounce in the knees and change your body
height to mix the height of your blows. Similarly,
work both long distance and close work. Make your
combinations and your footwork like a dance; enjoy
moving through your body.
out of distance so that you can start once more on
training your routine.
Free shadow-boxing
Thirdly, train the combinations by putting them
into free shadow-boxing using slipping and other
body evasion and evading footwork. Mix the
combinations that you’re drilling with single direct
attacks. Shadow-boxing is an excellent way to build
skill. You need imagination, but good shadow-boxing
will internalise all your techniques and give you
warrior skills without being hit. If you don’t know what
to do, just concentrate on one or two combinations
and intersperse them with a jab or double jab, and
use one or two simple ways of moving. To work at
different ranges, use elbows and knees in the same
format as the punches that you’ve learnt already.
Relax and play with the timing and footwork. Once
you have some sparring experience then you can
bring this experience to bear to update your game.
Rhythmkicks: technique
To be combatively effective you have to have a simple plan which is also profound in its implications. When
routines and patterns, and improvise around intuition, sensitivity, body feel and intent. If you see all the various
techniques as separate then this is a lot for your mind to work on and won’t lead to functionality. Simplifying
everything down to its core essence is the way to go.
Strikes can be performed in a variety of ways
Rhythm drills
and from a variety of angles but when reduced
down to their essence they tend to follow simple
body patterns. Most multiple combinations are
based around simple body rotation. Your choice
of combinations of blows, such as uppercut and
overhead or jab and cross, is guided by the angle
that your body is at.
Rhythm drills are carried out using the all of the
punching methods we’ve covered plus the body
evasion skills. This means that not only is your body
learning how to move but you are learning timing.
If you work through this chapter and seek to
blows then you’re well on your way to looking and,
This means that the body’s core is the essential
more importantly, hitting like a pro.
region if you are changing punches, and the arms
are just an addition, a way of taking the power
generated at the core to the target. Hitting from the
The beat pulse
core of your body, you can change very quickly if
In pop music, the beat pulse is the big beat on the
you keep your blows tight. It also gives you the ability
drum that you tap your foot to. On a metronome (a
to change your intended blow late, so it’s much
timing pulse machine available from music shops)
harder for your opponent to counter.
you’d set it to about 40-60 beats per minute, or one
The body rotation that you need to develop to
per second. Go slower if you need to, or choose
effectively punch can be likened to a wheel
a tune which you like and work out to this. It’s
being turned. A standard jab and cross would be
important to see it as a dance and let it get into your
like holding the wheel horizontally. Uppercut and
body. Play with the pulse. If you miss it, just move until
overhand blows would be like holding the wheel at
your sense of rhythm so don’t get stressed about it.
Enjoy moving.
Multiple blows with the same hand, often done
on the angle, still have to use the same body
mechanics, except one beat of the double isn’t
delivered and instead is used to build the power to
the air. Next it’s three or four punches to each pulse.
deliver the second blow.
Then do the three or four punches on the angle,
then on the other side. Then, bob and weave once
Whether you are using punches or elbow strikes, the
per pulse, then twice per pulse, then slip each way
essential movement is the same. A good way to train
two to a pulse. Next, snapback twice to a pulse.
your ability to put these together and to work your
Then mix any two. Uppercut very short, four or eight
core is through practising rhythm drills.
to the pulse, up and down in the middle. Now play
all of these together. Once you own the beat you
Two punches to a pulse
Three or four punches to a pulse
Three or four punches on the angle
Bob and weave once per pulse
Slip two to a pulse
Snapback twice to a pulse
Mix any two
Uppercut very short
can play at losing the beat or striking just before or
just after. It’s like jazz: be discordant and then be in
the beat. Both are valuable.
When I originally studied boxing, I initially learned
to punch on the beat at an angle across my body
Once I had this then I would do it for two or three to
the beat. Do this on the spot. Obviously, if you are
going faster the blows have to be abbreviated, but
your body is still working. Get your shoulders to be
loose and moving. There should be a loose bouncy
evasion skills like slipping and bobbing and weaving,
ducking and snapback. Do all of these on the beat
or in relation to the beat. Then you have a sort of
improvised dance which can focus on just one
aspect, like the punching or the evasion, or mix it up
into a type of shadow-boxing – but concentrating
on rhythm.
Once you can do the rhythm drills on the spot then
you can start to move around and use footwork,
dropping in and out of the rhythm. Every now and
again go back and go over the basics like slipping or
bobbing and weaving. Because this type of training
goes into your body through the route of music, it
goes much deeper. Relax, let the rhythm take you
I remember seeing dancer Gene Kelly and boxer
Sugar Ray Robinson tap dancing together and
Robinson was by far the better mover. It showed
when he fought.
Timing kicks: technique
To help you to understand one aspect of timing and to emphasise the importance of being pro-active I’m going
to explain the combat time line. This gives you a way to understand how you can change the nature of a move
depending upon its position along the time line. Then you have a simple plan but lots of built-in variation.
can be hard to explain legally, as a gleam in the
pro-actively; at the other, reactively. When you’re
eye can’t be picked up on CCTV, or by witnesses
LILW·VDVWUHHWÀJKW,ILW·VDsparring session then this
during his attack or after his attack. Stopping your
opponent before he gets started is the best tactic as
being guided by your intuition. Not getting in the
you limit his choices and take control of the situation.
way is something that should be cherished when it
However, in the reality of combat you don’t always
get to choose the ground or time where you will
have to attack or defend. Therefore you have to
adapt. Understanding the time line gives you a
2. Stop-hit
better understanding of how things work, which
Secondly, you could attack on his preparation, the
should make you more adaptable. It should also
moment he starts to attack you. This is the aptly-
make you realise that any technique works only
named stop-hit or stop-kick we covered in Part 3.
so long as it’s functional. The time line is just a tool
This is highly effective and is an essential part of your
which you can use to improve your training, so don’t
game. You hit him when he’s just getting started.
get too obsessed with it. If you’re being successful
Most opponents telegraph their blows in some way
then keep on doing what you are doing; if not then
or other. This is some sort of movement on his part
the time line may help, alongside further work to
that lets you know the attack is coming, if you know
what to look for. Often it’s just a matter of observing
and noting the small routine things that he does
when he attacks.
Fighting time line
which tend to happen all the time. These constants
Telegraphing is something that you should
are what I will try to explain in this chapter. Once
concentrate on eliminating from your own attacks.
you’ve understood the time line you can see a
Often this isn’t simply a raising of an elbow or
like this, but sometimes it is just that your opponent
1. Pre-empt
has a certain rhythm that he falls into when he is
going to launch an attack, and he’ll repeat this
before he gets started on attacking you, when he’s
just started to plan his attack. You see the intention,
the gleam in his eye and attack before he does. This
that he does and on his dance that leads to an
attack. It’s important to keep observing in all your
If you don’t take this pre-emptive approach then
closer you are, the harder it is for your opponent
you are into the interactive, trading type of combat
to hit you and the more skilful your attacker needs
to be. He has done all the work of covering the
distance between you. This is now a job that you
3. Evasion
don’t have to do; all you have to do is make sure
that you are off the line of attack. Once you are
Evasion and counter-punching are the next things to
here at close range you can strike, throw, or strike
do in your hierarchy of tactics. What makes this most
and then throw, or move to your opponent’s back
effective is good footwork and body movement.
where he is in an inferior position.
4. Block & parry
You can use footwork to stay at a suitable distance
Blocking or parrying is your fourth recourse. Normally,
from your attackers’ limbs, either just out of range or
in training, these blocks and parries are practised so
off his line of attack. You should try to be constantly
that you do them during or at the end of his attack.
moving so that his big guns can’t get a good line on
Often, however, this isn’t the most effective way to
you whilst all of your own big attacks are there, at a
use them. Like the striking, blocks and parries can be
distance, and pointing at your opponent.
moved in both directions along the time line.
It’s at middle range that the hand defence
techniques that I’ve shown in this book are at their
Secondly, you can stay at a medium-to-close
most useful and this is what much of your training is
distance and either snap in and out of range
about. These can be done in three ways: before,
using snapback, or evade using slipping and body
during or after your opponent’s action. One is to use
the block or parry before his attack gets started. This
is a very effective way of closing him down and is
much like a stop-hit, but is a stop-parry or block. You
Close-quarter counter-punch
use the block to trap him. Many trapping techniques
If you are attacked with moves that penetrate
can be used like this, before your opponent gets
deeper into your circle then you have a third option.
started. Often I will tell students that the two things
Slip, or evade, and move into close range with
your opponent doing most of the work to close the
to strike him and second to imbalance him. Use the
distance. By evading and counter-punching like this,
parry or block to do this. Play with his balance.
your structure is good. You don’t have to be fast,
though you do often have to show some courage
to do the minimal amount of movement and stand
your ground. Counter-punching like this is the most
effective way of hitting hard. The way to train this is
Doing blocks and parries during your opponent’s
attack is effective mainly if you are going to
counter-punch. It’s important not to stop his forward
momentum but to redirect it. Make sure in your
practice that you don’t over-block as this can leave
you vulnerable to trapping.
by doing lots of repetition and understanding the
science and effectiveness of this approach. The
If you are not going to counter-attack then move,
don’t block. The reason that you block or parry is
Let me explain. Have one or two stop-hits like
to keep you at a range or position where you can
the jab or front kick that you focus on doing all
deliver attacks. Even blocking can be dangerous, so
the time. Then if you are successful and get your
why take chances if you aren’t going to strike?
chosen attack in as your opponent attacks, it’s a
Lastly, you can sometimes block at the end of the
attack and follow your opponent back. This can be
done just to keep the line closed as you counter-
stop-hit. On the other hand, if it’s a bit late then it’s
a simultaneous block or evade and hit. Bruce Lee
attack, or to trap or jam him so that he can’t defend
If you attack after, then you’ve either blocked and
as well.
counter-attacked with a kick or punch, or you’ve
counter-attacked after the attack has missed. Blows
normally miss because the distance is too great or
Application of the time line
because the blow or strike is slightly curved; it then
has what we call a closing line and an opening line.
So how do you go about learning where and when
The closing line is the diminishing gap in front of his
to apply your time line tactics? The best way to build
blow; the opening line is the increasing gap behind
the stop-hit, or any other action, into your game is to
the blow. If possible, hit into the opening line.
use it all along the time line. That is, jab all the time
The crush can be used almost anywhere on the time
or front kick all the time, whether it’s as a stop-hit
line. Use it early to jam, or as a shield which enables
or after your opponent’s attack. This will make you
you to strike and enter behind, or just as a way to
better at applying that technique, and you’ll also
spike his attack.
that you are stop-hitting much more often, but are
not under time pressure and you’ll realise that it can
after’ to your training and sparring practice will
be used all along the time line.
but hugely powerful.
kicks: technique
What happens when you hit them?
Fighting is complicated and there are no simple rules that guarantee success. However, understanding the basic
In this chapter I’ll show some common scenarios that happen in combat and ways to use the techniques
covered in this book to deal with them.
If your opponent has been hit, either before he got
to make sure he doesn’t bounce back up whilst you
started or by some defensive gambit on your part,
deal with the next opponent.
he tends to do a number of things which you can
prepare for and deal with more effectively when
they happen. Even if you, or he, has missed, he may
still do some or all of them.
Use your sparring in the dojo to get into good habits,
shadow-boxing style in the air. Don’t leave an active
ZKDWWKH-DSDQHVHFDOO¶Zanshin’ (awareness) where
Scenario 1: He retreats, you follow
If your opponent has been struck, he may retreat,
and you can follow him back with kicks or the
combinations which we have covered earlier. Don’t
over-reach, or chase a retreating opponent too
hard. Work only where you are evenly balanced and
you keep alert to the dropped opponent and treat
him as a threat at all times. It’s important to do this
when doing training drills. Often people turn their
back or don’t pay attention at the end of drills and
build in bad habits that will get them hurt in real
don’t get too greedy; people are often knocked
out as a result of being too persistent in their counterattacks. Think of your opponent as a spring. If you
Scenario 2: He is stopped but re-groups and comes
compress him too much, he will spring back at
Sometimes an opponent is stopped by your blow but
you. Judge the point at which you’ve got some
re-groups and then comes again. Here you get the
advantage and then decide either to continue your
chance to do all the former stuff again, or you can
attack until your opponent drops, or, if your intuition
jabbing him hard as he attempts to advance and
then using footwork to keep out of trouble. Keep
attack and then hit him again at the end of this. In
him on the end of this stiff jab until he loses heart.
Sometimes you can let your opponent expend some
experience. Act like a pro and keep a cool head.
You’ll get further this way.
again when he runs out of steam. As you can see in
If you’ve hit your opponent effectively he may fall
these examples, good footwork is essential.
Above all, don’t panic. You are ahead and just
careful to make sure that he is totally down. In street
need to keep your cool and repeat what you’ve
already been successful doing.
like a knee drop or round kick to a seated opponent
Scenario 3: He advances
If an opponent crashes in towards you this normally
occurs in one of two ways. One is more passive in
the four directions that you can move in, and train
nature. This is where you’ve hit him hard and his
so that you have some sort of technical skill in all four
instinct is to get closer and smother your blows.
directions. Above all, be active, not passive. When
Sometimes this is done with his head up but most
clinching, as in most things, it’s essential to keep a
often your opponent comes in with his head down
good base so you are harder to move or throw. If
or turned slightly from your attack, with his arms
possible, strike, as this denies many of the grapplers’
outstretched to make contact. The second is a more
advantages. Grappling is a much bigger area and
active style where your opponent wants to close
beyond the scope of this book but you should make
and tackle or throw you. Nevertheless, you can
treat both these ways as one, though you have to
as a fundamental part of your art.
perform to a higher standard against a more active
and aggressive opponent or a trained wrestler.
In the simplest example you can short knee your
opponent to deny him the tackle, then chase
him back or drop him with combinations of strikes.
Alternatively, you can achieve some control over
your opponent’s body, for example with a head
to him. Even if you are moving backwards, ensure
that you have forwards intent. This will give you
Above all, be the hunter, not the hunted.
and arm control, and slam him into hard objects,
divert your opponent’s clinch or attack attempt
much like a matador does to a bull.
Scenario 4: Clinch
Another scenario is when you fall into a clinch or tie
up position after your blows. This is a huge area that
warrants its own book. However, we have covered
a number of the simple options here and this should
give you a good place to start. From the clinch the
are better off having a small number of throwing
techniques that you can master. In this book we
have concentrated on some high percentage
throws that are easy to do and that happen often.
The head and arm throw is often a good place to
start and can be adapted to be a pure hip throw if
needed. The head is a huge target and you should
have escapes from basic head controls as part of
Round kicks: technique
Fighting is complex but you can enhance your study of it by learning the fundamentals well and welding
esoteric techniques to the mix. I see many students with lots of knowledge yet with no framework within which
to work. The aim of this book has been to give you some of the keys to integrating your knowledge and to see
where all the diverse approaches can be used as part of your game. I have, of course, focused on basic skills.
reason I haven’t focused on the complexities of close-quarter work, trapping and locking. Within this book there
are many techniques and concepts that, if you take the trouble and time to master, will make you into a truly
There are a number of things you need to guarantee
To be successful, you need to be consistent in your
success. Most important is a good teacher or
practice. This doesn’t mean training every day; this
instructor. Be prepared to travel for the right input,
will lead to over-training and injury. Three or four
though if you have an open and inquiring mind
good sessions per week with a bit of other study from
and a friendly disposition it’s amazing how many
books or DVDs, plus conditioning training, is easily
incredible people live near you and from whom
enough. You learn more when you rest; your body
you can learn. A good instructor may not be of the
grows after the stimulus of training and your brain
has the time to sort things out which it can’t do when
you are constantly training.
system they teach. Realise that some of the best
teachers may not be the most well-known. Judge a
teacher by his students. Are they respectful, friendly
and skilful? Tough, swaggering people are often
found on the outside of the ring, telling those inside
what they should be doing, whereas the ones inside
tend to be a bit humbler and more in the real world.
You’ll be spending lots of time with these people,
so choose well. You in turn have to be a good
student. What does this mean? To me, it means
If you are going to be serious in your study it’s
important to have a support structure. This could
include physical therapists who can help if you get
injured and most importantly good training partners
who share some of your goals. If you want a good
support structure you have to be one to others. Give
advice when needed, be supportive and keep them
real. Martial arts is full of wild dreams and theories,
lots of them based on hope. Keep a base in reality
but be prepared to think the unorthodox.
a person who turns up and does his work, whose
focus is on quality. As comedian Woody Allen said,
Use this book as it’s intended: as a base from which
to work. Realise that you’re more important than any
student doesn’t complain, but shows his interest
style or system. Learn the rules and then break them;
by his actions, not his words. Over the years I’ve
met numerous students who like to talk about how
own experience. Where do you end up all the time?
Then research that position or area, become expert,
or masters they’ve learnt from. Then they move, and
and take it from there.
you can see instantly exactly what they’ve been
doing and at what level they are. Don’t waste your
time talking when you could be training.
Martial arts is vast and will lead you on a voyage
of discovery, not only on your own inwards
journey learning about fear, trust, determination,
diligence and self-discipline but also by awakening
your senses. Through that it will lead you to an
appreciation of different cultures, different rhythms
and music, and hopefully a feeling of increasing
Drills and work-outs
Triangle footwork
Triangle footwork is used a lot in Filipino and Indonesian martial arts where each point of the triangle could be the
start of another triangle so that you have a huge range of ways of moving. This is mainly for dealing with multiple
opponents. Here I’ve just done simple triangle steps to build leg strength and a double-sided approach to body
development. Use these attributes for tackling or evading or as a challenging warm-up. Do rounds of two or three
minutes or until your legs get tired.
> Forwards triangle. You can do this with a length
of chain or a long stick like a Japanese Bo,
dropping under the strike to make sure you drop
low enough. Builds courage and entering skills
> Forwards triangle and punch. Punch to
the stomach. Aim for the same target
regardless of which leg is forward
> Forwards triangle and long knee
> Forwards triangle and jab and cross
(different leads each side). Hit the same
targets whichever leg is forward
> Forwards triangle and side kick
to the knee or stomach
> Triangle away from round kick and
cut kick to the standing leg
> Triangle away from the round kick
and side kick to the knee
> Reverse triangle and spinning side
kick to static opponent
Crush drills with a partner
Do the following in sets of ten or until you’ve got them down. Then slowly mix together, working on keeping
a central balance, raised hips and strong eyes focused on the opponent. Don’t look at the kick, look at the
opponent’s chest.
1. Tree drill
Outside crush slowly, then inside crush for one to
two minutes without putting the foot down. Think
body structure; hips up, back strong. Builds balance,
strength and proprioception.
2. Partner drills
Jab – rear round kick
Parry – lead outside crush
Cross – lead round kick
Parry – lead cross crush
Jab – cross – lead round kick
Parry – parry – rear leg crush
Jab – rear round kick – lead round kick
Parry – lead leg outside crush – same leg cross crush
Jab – cross – lead round kick – rear round kick
Parry – parry – rear outside crush – same leg cross crush
Jab – cross – hook – rear round kick
Parry – parry – cover – crush
Then add counter kicks
Jab – rear round kick
Parry – outside crush to same leg front kick
Jab – cross – lead round kick
Parry – parry – cross crush – lead front kick
Jab – cross – lead and rear round kick
Parry – parry – rear outside crush – cross crush – same
leg front kick
Cross – lead round kick
Parry – crush either leg – rear round kick
This is just a sample way to work. Start by just
on one leg or the other. Once you’ve got that
isolating the crush and getting that right. Have it at
idea, follow up with a front kick without putting your
the right angle and don’t let it fold. Then go on to
foot down, to build core strength and ability. Then
combination crushing with the same leg. Then use
change the follow-up kick to a round kick as in the
one leg after the other for combination kicks. It’s not
last couple of examples, or knee, hands or even
as simple combatively but your balance improves
as you have to be central and not have the weight
Knee workout
Do this with a partner. Put your hands on each other’s shoulders, to keep the range only, not for support.
Long knee
Remember to turn the hip a little so the back doesn’t
take all the strain. It should go inwards, not upwards.
Do one three-minute round using both legs equally.
Do this on the Thai pads or, if you’re with a partner,
use the defences shown below.
Jab – long knee
Parry – chest check
Jab – long knee
Parry – opposite hip check
Jab – cross – long knee
Parry – parry – chest check
Jab – cross – lead long knee
Parry – parry – opposite hip check
Jab – cross – lead long knee
Parry – parry – same side hip check
Jab – cross
Parry – double parry – long knee
Jab – cross
Parry – rear elbow crush / high cover – long knee
Rear parry – lead low round kick – middle rear round kick – lead knee
Power workout: Thai pads
In this very simple four-minute workout the emphasis isn’t on doing the relevant techniques quickly, but, more
importantly, making them heavy. Go at the pace that will allow you to put your body weight behind the blow or
can feel it in the arms then it’s in the arms. Let it go, feel empty and let the weight drop through.
Do each of the following for 30 seconds:
> Jab and cross
> Grab and knee
> Left round kick
> Right round kick
> Left and right horizontal elbows
> Front kick – round kick
> Lead front kick – round kick
> Finish with push-ups or plank or burpees
Punching workout
Static straight-blast punching
Slowly, one arm sliding over the other.
Moving side horse stance
Slowly, in a continuous manner.
Focus pads
Round one:
3 mins; Jab, double jab, jab – cross, and jab – cross
Double-bob and weave against double-left and
– hook. Use your footwork. You can do them in any
right (or right and left) blows. Come up with either
order, but a good place to start is by doing 20 of
cross – hook – cross or hook – cross – hook-based
each or until you get a constant sound off the pads.
Eventually, mix against a standard V hold or get your
pad-holder to call the shots. Finish in the last halfminute with straight blast punches against pads.
Let the opponent’s arm scrape the top of your head.
Keep movement to a minimum. Use a combination
of head movement and feet movement to bob and
weave. Finish with half a minute straight blast on
Round two:
drills. Basically, do cross – hook – cross variations.
Round four:
Don’t charge in too much; imagine you’re with an
opponent who refuses to back off and you’re having
a bit of a war. Move left and right or snapback
Slip opponent’s jab and rear uppercut – hook. Push
opponent if he’s too close and move right.
between each combo. Last half a minute: straight
Slip opponent’s quick jab with rear uppercut – lead
uppercut – cross. Left hook – jab away and move
Slip opponent’s straight right. Uppercut – cross – left
Round three:
hook and move away.
This round is focused on the bob and weave and the
Slip opponent’s straight right. Lead uppercut – rear
uppercut – hook – cross – jab away – move right.
Single bob and weave against a hook. Come up
Slip opponent’s straight right – lead uppercut – rear
and cross – hook – cross or variant.
uppercut – cross (same hand) – left hook – move
away to the right.
Single bob and weave against a wide cross. Come
up with hook – cross – hook or variant (double body
or body – head hook – cross – hook – cross.
Finish with push-ups for 30 seconds.
Simple footwork and punching drills
Use these simple footwork patterns with basic punches so that you know that, under pressure, you’ll have the
right body position. It will mean that there’s no dead time before you launch either an attack or counter-attack.
so that it gets into your bones, then use the footwork and associated strikes in sparring. ‘If you use it it’s yours, if
you don’t it’s still mine!’ Do each group or just one from each group for a three minute round.
Forwards and backwards
Sideways and curving
> Attack, stepping forwards, with jab – jab
> Jab – cross. Move left (step and slide
> Step back (step and slide) two steps and jab – jab
> Attack, stepping forwards, with jab – jab
> Step back (step and slide) two steps – jab – cross
> Repeat to the right
> Jab – move with L step to the
right or around in a curve
> Attack with jab – cross
> Jab – cross – move with L step and
> Step back (step and slide) two steps – jab – cross
> Attack with jab – cross
> Step back (step and slide) two steps and jab – jab
walk to the right or around in a curve.
Re-insert lead leg – jab – cross
> Double jab – move with L step and walk to
the right. Re-insert lead leg – jab – cross
to the other end of your training space
Combatively, moving straight back isn’t that
desirable. Two legs going forwards is faster than two
going backwards. Once you’ve got the forwards
and backwards idea, work on being less rigid in your
> Jab – curve left – double jab – curve right
– jab and cross – curve left – jab – cross – hook
– curve right. And so on; you get the idea.
lines and once you’ve gained distance ,move off his
line of attack.
Never going back? I’ve coached lots of people
who always concentrated on going forwards and
who weren’t interested in the idea of rearwards
competition and spent most of the time going
backwards they worked the rearwards and curving
About the author
Probably one of the most unique individuals in the martial arts
world, Bob Breen is renowned for his teaching abilities and
his knowledge. He has captained his country in international
competition in two differing martial arts and has been at the
forefront of martial arts development throughout his career.
To many, Bob is an inspiration; a period of health problems led
him to have a double hip replacement and he continues to
suffer from severe food allergies. However, he is still in training,
teaches a synthesis of empty hand, stick and knife work, using integrated principles for all
three areas. He is regarded by many, including Dan Inosanto, as being superb at closequarter and one of the world’s knife defence experts.
Bob began martial arts training in 1966 and from early 1967 began studying Wado Ryu
under Tatsuo Suzuki. He continued in Wado Karate for a number of years and passed
his black belt in 1970, passing his second degree in 1972. He continued to study Karate
and associated arts, moving to Japan in 1974 where he trained under a variety of Senior
Bob competed internationally in Karate on a number of occasions. He was captain of the
Amateur Martial Arts Association (AMA) team which beat the Japanese in 1974 – a new
thing then. Bob then moved into boxing and groundwork and was one of the pioneers of
in the UK. Since this inspirational look at Jeet Kune Do and Filipino martial arts, he has been
a disciple of Guru Dan Inosanto, a student of JKD and Kali concepts, and their use in
Bob is regarded as the father of JKD and the Filipino martial arts in Europe. He was the
founder member of the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation in 1987 and founder of the
the Philippines in 1989, as well as being team coach. He continued as coach in 1992 with a
very successful team.
What sets Bob apart is his reputation as a teacher, producing many of the top instructors
in the UK today. In 2000 Bob founded Jeet Kune Do-Kali International, an organisation
dedicated to expanding the high quality teaching of Jeet Kune Do and Kali throughout
Sincere thanks to the excellent models featured throughout this book:
Joe Kerr
Stephanie de Howes
Peter Newton
Austin Plunkett
Owen Ogbourne
Carl Greenbridge
Judy Breen
Julian Gilmour
Stephanie, Peter, Carl, Joe and Owen are available
as private tutors and can be contacted via
Bob Breen Academy
16 Hoxton Square
N1 6NT
0207 729 5789
close range 21
arm breaks 66
convex shape 61
attack by drawing 22, 37, 79, 83, 89
courage 88, 89
cover 74, 85, 86, 88, 98
cross guard 28, 29
back-bend 61
balance 16-18, 21-22, 26, 61, 46-47, 51-52, 57-58, 64-
crush 24, 52, 74, 77, 84, 97, 90, 96, 101, 105, 120, 122,
66, 76-77, 81, 83-84, 91, 92, 98, 101-111, 115, 131, 137,
138, 147, 148
cut kick 102
ball of the foot 46, 48-49
biceps stop 69
block 62, 93, 137
bob and weave 28, 78, 80, 134
body-check 29
distance 75, 78, 79-80, 82, 88, 95, 99, 100
dog-leg shape 85
drag-down 66
body-hold 61
body alignment 35
body axis 94
elbow crush 39, 84, 86, 148
body mechanics 34, 36, 38, 43, 129, 130-132
elbow crushes 84
Bong sau 120, 125
evasion 27, 30, 75, 76, 77, 80, 81, 83, 88, 89, 90, 92,
boxes analogy 54
106, 122, 131, 132, 134, 137
castle analogy 82
catch 74, 76, 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, 88, 111
centre line 17, 22, 26, 31, 34-35, 49, 88
checks 29, 53, 54, 88, 100, 111, 115, 148
clinch 17, 21, 53, 60, 62-63 120, 129, 130, 140
close-quarter 9, 37, 42-43, 56, 76
fake 35, 49, 50, 57, 78, 89, 95, 101
Filipino martial arts 18, 26, 29, 75
foot placement 89
footwork 18, 24, 54, 58, 53, 30, 75, 76, 77, 80, 88, 90,
106, 129, 130, 131, 137, 131, 134, 140, 146, 150, 151
Karate 8, 9, 10, 12, 48
forward energy 83, 85, 111
forward momentum 90, 108
> back kick 51
full clinch 60
> front kick 46, 52, 47-48, 51, 54, 57, 88, 91,
93-94, 97, 101, 120, 129, 138, 147, 149
gloves, boxing 124
> front kick vs. round kick 46
> round kick 46, 48, 49, 52, 57, 26, 58, 91, 111, 102,
98, 120, 122, 126, 129, 130, 140, 146, 147, 148, 149
grab 74, 76, 88
grappling 18, 21, 43, 69, 60, 62, 63, 69, 76, 92, 96, 108,
116, 141
guillotine 115
> snap 35, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 56, 57, 111, 137
> spinning side kick 51, 146
> swing 38, 46, 49, 50, 52, 64, 65, 94
kick shield 48
knee-bump 63
half-beat strike 83
knifehand 40
half-clinch 60
knuckles 34, 37, 39
half guard 28, 29
Kronk Gym 80
hand-wrestle 53
hand tool 38, 42
¶KDQJWLPH·26, 46, 79, 90
head control 60, 53, 62, 60, 63, 86, 100, 129
heavy kicking 49
heel position 16, 34
hip twist 49
Lance Lewis 80
lapel grab 66
lateral stance 18
level change 30
leverage 46, 60, 61, 109, 111
liver 50-51
locks 22, 64, 66, 115
inside wrap 69
long guard 17, 53, 29, 62, 77, 83, 84, 83, 120
long range 20, 39, 120
lop sao 126
> EDFNÀVW38, 39
> cross 8, 25, 28, 29, 30, 34, 36, 57, 56, 57, 58, 69,
75, 78, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 101, 115, 120, 122, 125,
mask 84
126, 127, 129, 130, 132, 146, 147, 148, 150, 151
matador 128
> double jab 34, 131
measure 20, 21, 56
medium range 21
> hook 28, 29, 35, 38, 57, 58, 62, 69, 74, 78,
81, 85, 86, 125, 122, 126, 147, 150, 151,
> forward hook 37
neck wrestling 60
> shovel hook 38
nerve points 64
> jab 21, 30, 34, 35, 42, 62, 75, 78, 80, 81,
84, 76, 85, 95, 108, 131, 132, 150, 151
octopus wrench 112
> stiff jab 35, 140
pad holding 54
pak sao 126
parry 17, 40, 69, 75, 75, 81, 82, 83, 82, 84, 96, 109, 120,
> palm heel strike 39
> slap 62, 39, 69, 125, 126, 127
puta kapala 111
125, 137, 138, 147, 148
pendulum step 47, 50, 57
pivot 25, 63, 66, 69, 129, 130
plumm 62, 147, 63, 86, 100, 129, 130
power 22, 29, 30, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 47, 44, 49, 50, 56,
range 20
reap 93, 99
74, 75, 76, 83, 84, 89, 100, 101, 108, 115, 132,
ribs 29, 49, 53, 66, 98, 100
preparation 122, 125, 136
rotation 48, 49, 58, 81, 85, 132
pull-down 66
Thai boxing 17, 29, 47, 60
salute-type parry 82
Thai stance 17, 57
scoop 74, 81, 83, 84, 91, 92, 94, 96, 98, 106
thumb gouge 29
shape 12, 50, 38, 54, 51, 61, 81, 82, 85, 106, 116, 125
timing 20, 10, 34, 49, 44, 57, 74, 75, 84, 85, 88, 89, 91,
98, 122, 125, 131, 132, 136
shield 48, 62, 82, 83, 85, 86, 120, 127, 138
tortoise 84
shin pads 101
toughness 74
shoulder roll 28, 37, 77, 82, 83
Toy Gerk 25
shoulder stop 82, 84
trapping 75, 76, 82
side clinch 60, 62, 130
tree exercise 52
slip 38, 78, 81, 109, 122, 150
snapback 16, 21, 51, 81, 82, 84, 132, 134, 137, 150
solar plexus 22, 49, 81, 85
underhook 63, 69, 98, 99, 100, 116
solo training 58
southpaw 13, 26
sparring 11, 12, 60, 77, 100, 124, 125, 131, 136, 140,
weight distribution 16, 36, 37, 39, 66, 94, 95, 149
wind-up 36, 56, 125
spear 20, 36, 42, 53
Wing Chun 18
split entry 42, 84
wrenches 66
stances 16, 18, 20, 31
wrenching 69
standard guard 28
stomp 97, 112, 115
Stop-hit 74, 75, 76, 88
yoga 52
Zanshin 140
telegraph 17, 36, 37, 44, 56, 125, 130, 136
Thai Boxing 29
Visit for up to date information
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23 Roundkicks: technique
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