There Is Nothing New Without The Old – Kevin O’Hagan

Between the ages of 16 and 22 years old I was fortunate in my Martial Arts journey to spend a great deal of time training under the direct tutelage of Japanese Sensei.

I learnt many lessons from these Masters. Some of these lessons were immediately apparent, others took years to suddenly make sense.

Here I am going to discuss one particularly valuable lesson I learnt as I progressed to my black belt and beyond.

I hope it will help and clarify some prominent issues for those on their own journeys.

The Japanese have a term in Martial Arts named SHU-HA-RI.

This term isn’t just exclusive to Martial Arts but generally how they learn any traditional art.


HA- Means to BREAK


Let’s look at these 3 points individually.

In Martial arts terms SHU (preserve) means when you first learn a technique you practice it exactly how your Instructor showed you. You don’t deviate from it in anyway.

The way it is initially shown might not be the only way, but it is a starting point that you adhere to until a time were another piece of the puzzle will be revealed to you.

As a ‘Gung Ho’ young man full of testosterone and a burning desire to prove myself I used to get frustrated when I was told to perform a technique repeatedly.

I wanted more. I was eager to run before I could walk. I didn’t want to wait.

I see now that physically I may have got the technique down well but mentally I wasn’t ready to move on.

Training back in those days under Japanese Sensei was 2- hour classes of repetitive training of maybe tops 3 or 4 techniques. That was it. Fuck telling them ‘I’ve got that, what’s next?’

No, you kept your mouth shut and kept on drilling unless you wanted a broken arm or leg.

SHU is the foundation of your art. It is the deep roots of the tree going way under the soil.

The tree and its various decorative branches is only as strong as its roots.

Many of us as Westerner’s cannot grasp these principles. We live in a society now that can’t wait for anything and need instant gratification.

I now firmly believe in the saying. ‘All good things come to those who wait.’

Ask any high ranking black belt of their art that trained under Japanese supervision how many front kicks, wristlocks, hip throws, sword cuts they have done over and over.

The widely touted theory, highlighted in a 1993 psychology paper and popularised by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, says that anyone can master a skill with 10,000 hours of practice.

Scientists, however, remain sceptical. They also say you can add intelligence, age, personality or maybe something else into the mix.

But let’s say it takes you 10,000 hours to learn a Martial Art.

How long would you need to train a day? Well to put it in perspective if you trained 90  minutes a day (which is the usual length of a training session) it would rough take 20 years to be on the ‘tipping point’ of greatness.

Train 8 hours a day that time will drop.

The question is how good to you want to get?

Also, what is the quality of the training you are doing?

We have the old example of the guy who says he trained for 3 hours in the gym today.

Reality says he trained an hour, scratched his balls and looked in the mirror for another hour and the final hour was taking up chatting to his mate and eyeing up the woman.

When you see an athletic at their peak winning gold, a football team winning the world cup a tennis player winning Wimbledon or a fighter winning a world title then you are beginning to understand what it takes to master your chosen art.

Dabbling isn’t going to cut it. A once a week 90-minute class isn’t even going to get you to average.

Japanese Sensei didn’t want average. They demanded greatest. Most students didn’t cut it. Many fell by the wayside when the going got tough.

Now don’t get me wrong after 40 years of training I am still looking for greatness, but the difference is I am still on the mats trying.

The lesson to be learnt here is a good instructor at the top of his game and his intentions honourable and not for self-gain will know when it is time for you to grade, move on or learn something new. Not you.


This means at this level the student can now start to take apart technique and examine the material. Now with solid roots in place they are ready to play around with things and determine the principles and reasoning behind them.

Their technique now is not just a bunch of ‘tricks’ they are delving deeper into their origin, inner core and meaning.

You may have learnt a technique in a certain manner up to this point, but it doesn’t mean that is the only way to do it. Also, you will begin to understand why that technique has been taught that way up to now and why you are going to see it in a different light.

Again, many don’t stay around for this level and have given up with a half assed idea of what that Martial Art is all about.

My base art of Japanese Combat Jujutsu originates from the Katana (sword). How many people out there training or teaching jujutsu know this let alone be-able to show the links between sword and unarmed?

I know this because this is what my Japanese Sensei showed me at HA level. Why? Because I stuck around and came through the SHU level.

Ri means to separate.

At this point in your training you are now expected to take those core principles and techniques and add your own expressions to them. To have the knowledge and ability to come up with new or different interpretations.

You should have gone through the rough, scrappy training phase and now developed a smoothness and flow to your technique. You will have been through your ‘proving stage’ and you will be now working towards a higher level of mastery.

This really outlines your journey from white to black belt.

Higher mastery goes with you through further Dan grades and how far you wish to go in your chosen art.

I recall as a young man hell bent on achieving my black belt and Japanese Sensei telling me that you will have only then learnt the basics. Once you have reached your goal of black belt that is when you really start learning.

Now I know they were right.

In this rapidly evolving world of Martial arts we must always be working to move forward after all we are only as good as the last time we stepped on the mats, but we must never forget the lessons learned from those who went before us. Those lessons are surprisingly still relevant today.

But as Winston Churchill once said, ‘Wise men stumble upon the truth and get up and walk away.’

Poem of the Month – Kevin O’Hagan

I was feeling in a poetic state of mind today, so I wrote this Ode to the Facebook Warrior.

‘I am a Martial Artist and my system is the best. It is fucking shit hot and better than all the rest.

No other Martial art is a patch on what I do. I am a super ninja killer coming after.

My art works on the street, of that make no mistake. One killer look from me can make a grown man quake.

Mine is the only opinion that matters, and everybody else’s is worth shit. I think I am a legend even though most people view me as a tit.

A bat, knife or gun I can handle with ease, just as long as you don’t resist me,then to take it off you is a breeze.

My inflated ego and opinion of myself clouds my judgement to anybody else’s art. I am so fucking deadly I could kill you with a fart.

My system is so lethal that is why I don’t compete. One touch of my finger will have you collapsing at my feet.

I can punch, kick, throw and grapple. I know I’m fucking great, I can destroy all my opponents that’s if they are under 8.

I can show how to choke out an old age pensioner for daring to take your parking space. I can teach how to stomp and kick the old bastard all over the fucking place.

If you follow my methods, you know they just can’t fail, although you will probably end up practising in jail.

You will always find me on the seminars that matter for a photo and a chat, but God forgive you’ll never actually see me on the mat.

So, I live in my little fantasy world where I never will be tested or found out. My deluded students will lick my ass and jump to my every shout.

I am a self -confessed Grandmaster with a 1Oth dan belt around my belly, the truth is most of my fighting techniques I have learnt from watching the telly.

I am Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Van Damme all rolled into one. Mc Gregor, Rickson Gracie and Mike Tyson I could beat just for fun.

So, don’t fuck with me Face-bookers, because I am a deadly man. I suggest you view my video’s and comments as often as you can.

Anything to do with fighting then I am your man. If you want to come and challenge me then please send down your Nan.

I will hide behind my keyboard and prey I won’t be found.
If I don’t live in the real world then I’ll be safe and sound.’

When We Were Warriors, Discovering the Samurai Spirit – Kevin O’Hagan

This new book from contributor Kevin O’Hagan is available via the CRGI Bookstore now.

‘Give me your money or I ll cut you’. I stared helplessly at the knife pressed to my belly. I was powerless to do anything and I hated myself for that. How I longed to have the courage and skills to fight this bully. This is the true story of Kevin O’Hagan told in his own words. A 7th Dan black belt in Combat Ju Jutsu. A man who has relentlessly dedicated 40 years of his life to the Martial Arts. He has trained, taught and fought to the top in his chosen field. He transformed himself from a small and insecure 14-year-old schoolboy born with a walking disability. A young man that lacked confidence and belief in himself, who feared and hated violence to one of today’s most respected Martial artists. A fanatical Martial Artist. An obsessive fitness junkie. A man who constantly challenged and punished himself through the tough Budo regimes of the fighting arts in his quest to become a true warrior and fight his fears. His story is bound to excite, inform, shock and inspire you. Share his highs and lows, his struggles and successes. Read about his battles to face and conquer his fears and his handicap. Find out about the immense struggles he faced in pursuing his dreams. Learn about his training, the old school regimes, the fights on the mats, in the cage and on the streets. Get a true insight into the characters and the tales from the mad, bad and crazy world of Martial Arts and its ever changing scene through 4 decades. This an insight into what makes a real warrior tick and how the lifestyle stretches well beyond the dojo or gym and becomes a code and blueprint for life in general. No punches are pulled in this candid and honest autiobiography. ‘The iron ore feels itself needlessly tortured as it goes through the furnace. The tempered blade looks back and knows better’.

Fighting Godzilla – Kevin O’Hagan

‘I am going to play devil’s advocate in this following article and hopefully give you some food for thought.’

I watch with mild amusement but also a fair amount of worry at many of the clips on social media of today’s so called ‘reality combat systems.’

When it comes to self defence techniques the majority of these systems have only one answer to an attack and that is to respond by totally annihilating their attacker and leaving them in a ‘gooey’ pile on the ground.

No matter what form of attack they face. Whether it is a wrist grab, shirt tug, headlock, punch or knife it will all end with the same response…beat the fucking living daylights out of the bastard. Gouge their eyes out, rupture their spleen, splatter their balls into mush and then collapse their windpipe and finish by battering their cerebellum until they drop to the floor a twitching, dribbling wreck!

Now many of these systems were developed as close quarter combat for the military to use in times of war. When they didn’t have a weapon available the last resort was to go hand to hand. It was literally kill or be killed! Extreme circumstances call of extreme responses.

The question is should these techniques be taught to the general public? Should they also be taught as self defence?

Every country has its laws and many vary but when it comes to self defence most are near enough the same.

Marc McYoung in his excellent book, In the name of self defence makes the important observation that self defence is a crime. Yes read that again. If you are pleading self defence you have got to justify your actions and prove it wasn’t a crime.

Everybody is answerable to the law of the land unless you are a criminal.

Military, Police, security and the general public are all answerable for their actions and the amount of force they use. There are no exceptions. Different circumstances certainly, but no exceptions.

Professionals that deal with violence understand about force continuum. This is a scale of force they work to depending on the threat level they are faced with.

Police for instant do not C.S gas and baton every person they encounter breaking a law. They will decide whether to use a verbal command or a physical action from control and restraint, cuffing, gassing or baton depending on the circumstances.

It has all go to be justified and answerable to a higher order.

But what about then the general public that might never have engaged in physical conflict?

Surely they would know nothing of force continuum?

They are not professionals?

True. But we are not just talking about an average member of the general public. We are talking about trained Martial artists in this instance.

These people are presumably trained to fight. If you spend a great deal of your time learning how to inflict pain and hurt on another human being then surely you should also know about the law and self defence and also the force continuum model? It is your duty as an Instructor or student alike.

If you don’t know then you will have plenty of time to practice your ‘killer techniques’ in the showers in D block in one of the many prisons around the world.

So should we be teaching these nefarious techniques to others?

Well let’s remember self defence is scenario based. No two situations are the same. Depending on what is actually unfolding around you will determine the level of your response. Remember the appropriate response may or may not be a physical one.

Maybe the situation requires you to disengage, run, hide, escape, de-escalate, and negotiate?

Physically you may have to, use a breakaway technique, control and restraint, immobilise, subdue, submit, and incapacitate, knockout or even kill?

Your job is to know which of these responses are appropriate at the time. Not easy. But this is what we should be training for. Not everything is code black  and seek and destroy.

The law doesn’t expect you to get everything right down to the letter under the pressure of a real attack but if you are walking around boasting what a deadly fighter you are, black belt, cage fighter, Rambo or Ninja turtle, the law will presume that you have the necessary skills to make the right call more so than Joe Public would.

So can you take another’s live in the eyes of the law? Yes but you are going to have to prove it and justify it. If you can’t you are in big trouble. Remember it is a crime until proven otherwise. There is no free license to kill another even if you are being raped at gunpoint or some psychopath is trying to take your head off with a machete.

I n these extreme circumstances you may be prepared to do what is needed in that moment and answer to the law later.

There are no exceptions and you are accountable for your actions. Just as every man is. You will still have to prove you were justified in what you did.

The simplest way to view if you are justified is imagine you are sat on a jury and listening to yourself explain your actions. Would you agree with them or would you view it differently? Would all the jury members agree that yes it was justified?

You have always got to consider your actions and the consequences. Real life is not a film were people can go around breaking arms, necks and laws without being answerable.

When using physical technique for self defence you should ask yourself these questions.

Are my actions needed?

Are they necessary?

Did I have any other choice or option open to me?

Are my actions justified?

There are two sides to self defence training.

Learning how to defend yourself and with what and knowing when to defend yourself and with what.

In the dojo you can play out any technique without consequence but outside of the protected gym environment it is a different story.

You would do well to remember you will not always be fighting Godzilla.


Simple Skills versus Complex skills. Is there a winner? – Kevin O’Hagan

In this article I am going to play devil’s advocate on a particular topic in the world of Martial arts that is regularly mentioned. I hope it will be thought provoking and spark interest and thoughts on the matter.

In the myriad of ‘reality based’ systems these days we hear many instructors preaching that in a real situation we should only use gross motor skills to defend ourselves as anything more complex will fail under pressure. Rising heart rate is blamed for this happening and when it reaches anywhere between 120 to 145 beats per minute fine motor skills begin to deteriorate and anything above that complex skills start to go. So the word is keep it simple and you will have more chance of success. Sound advice?Maybe?

But who is that advice for? Is this gospel? Does all the evidence available point to this fact?

Many studies have been done on this topic, particularly in military circles. In 1950 S.L.A Marshall’s, ‘the soldier load and mobility of a nation’, were the first to document performance deterioration under stress. Later Bruce.K.Siddle’s landmark research at PPCT took this further.

But now there is much evidence out there to argue the research. So is it true or not?

I want to give my humble opinion on this subject from my own findings. It is not set in stone but I can only speak from my own experiences and many of my colleagues and Martial arts brothers and sisters.

Well I have certainly preached the gross motor skills theory on more than one occasion and there is a lot of truth in this statement. I will tell you later to whom and why I preached it. But if this statement is totally true where that does put the Martial artist that trains day in day, month in month out, year in year?

This person has been working relentlessly on collecting and training a vast repertoire of techniques. They have worked their way up the belt ranks. They are instructor certified. Each day they train religiously working on a particular topic or technique. But if we took the previous statement about gross motor skills as read then what are they training so hard for?

If their ‘reality based’ cousins tell them that only simple, basis, gross motor skills will work in combat why are they bothering doing all the other stuff ? Maybe we should knock it on the head and just practise hammer fist and knee strikes. Job done!

Surely what we train in we believe we can make work in a real situation? All those years of learning kicks, strikes, locks, throws, groundwork and most of it won’t stand up in a ‘fight’.

Shit what a waste of time and effort. All that money invested. All that blood, sweat and tears.  You should have been practicing half a dozen basic moves, because that is about all that is going to work in reality. Fuck I have been cheated and all these so called Masters have played me like a fiddle! I am gutted….But wait….

I know firsthand of individuals who have knocked people out in ‘real fights’ with a spinning back kick or smashed them into the dirt with a shoulder throw. I know dozens of people who have taken others out with triangle headlocks, arm bars, wristlocks and chokes. But how could they? These are not gross motor skills. Surely these are fine motor skills, maybe even complex motor skills. So what is going on? Who is right?

Well let’s examine what I believe to be a Martial Artist. Anything that has art in its title must suggest that it is reaching for the highest levels of excellence. It is striving to be an art form.

Let’s take another view of this. An individual informs you they paint for a living do you presume they paint houses or portraits? Yes they are both forms of painting but one carries a greater degree of skill than the other. Could Rembrandt paint a door? Probably. But he also had the fine skills to paint a masterpiece on canvas. He didn’t limit himself to just painting a bowl of fruit. His belief system told him he could achieve much more. Surely as Martial Artist we should be working on the same thought process.

If fighting skills didn’t progress beyond just gross motor all our martial arts systems would be still  based on hitting somebody else over the head with a big ‘fuck off’ rock. Surely we have come forward more than that?

If I believed that the only things that will work in a ‘live’ unarmed combat situation was a kick in the balls or a punch on the jaw, how often would I have to train those skills. Every day? Five years? Ten years? More?  I don’t think so.

But if I wanted to apply wristlocks and arm locks to a real live resisting opponent or take them down with a hip throw, sweep or double leg, then that would require more time and more practise but it can be done. This is what makes champions. This is what they do.

To state only gross motor skills work under extreme pressure and the adrenal rush is doing all the Martial artists a big injustice as many can prove otherwise.

But you can counter argue many Martial artists have been beaten in the ‘street’ by an average street fighter. This is true and really warrants another article of its own. But suffice to say, it was probably more to do with playing in somebody’s backyard and not realising or understanding their rules than just the techniques not working.

But if the gross motor skill statement was solely true then how can a musician come out on stage in front of 1000’s of people and play a faultless piano or violin concerto. There is a shit load of pressure and adrenalin there.

What about the chef creating a masterpiece meal in front of the television cameras or a master tennis player coming out on centre court 2 sets down in the final and being able to come back and win the next 3.Isn’t this all pressure? What about the formula one racing driver zooming around the track at 200 mph? Or the skydiver?

If only gross motor skills worked under pressure how would our fire fighters or our military operate effectively?

Maybe the answer lies in time?

I think a more accurate summary would be if an individual had limited time to learn how to defend themselves, then simple gross motor skills are the way to go, no doubt.

If you were teaching a 6, 8 or 12 week self defence course then gross motor skills would be on the top of the agenda. This is when I have used this principle the most.

Systems such as for example Krav Maga were originally designed for soldiers with limited time to learn C,Q.B skills before going into war. They didn’t have the luxury of years of training so they had to learn something relatively simple that could be picked up in a short space of time. Gross motor skills will always be the easiest to learn.

The same can be said for our Police force. They get limited time to practise complex unarmed combat skills, so under pressure they are more likely to go for their baton or C.S gas than a wristlock or armbar.

But if you were going to open a club to teach week in week out based only on this theory how long would it be before people got bored with just practicing that knee to the balls or poke in the eye? Pretty soon you will start adding the intricacies of combination strikes, grappling or weapon work.

Do all these instructors that promote gross motor skills not train in any other aspects of the combat arts?

If you didn’t most people would eventually give up training or want to learn some more advanced skills.

So maybe we are padding out the skills and syllabus for money not fighting techniques? Oh dear what a thought.

If you are a Martial artist and prepared to devote a massive part of your life to training then you will be able to apply more advanced techniques and fine motor skills. As long as you have pressure tested them correctly and you have the right mental attitude then you can make anything work. Also you will require the patience and passion to stick around long enough to get to train them.

Back in the early days of the UFC you wouldn’t have thought you would have seen jumping spinning back kicks and backfists or flying armbars used with any success but these days we do. Why? Because somebody has decided to practise them and pressure test them to death to make them work. They have the vision and belief. They did not set limitations on themselves.

What does it take to achieve these things?  Time,effort,skill and belief. It depends on what sort of person you are. Do you want to read the book or wait for the film?

If we want to accelerate our martial arts training for example but can’t devote day in day out training how can we make the most of it and feel we are progressing towards our goals?

Experts reckon it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill or subject.

There are 8,760 hours available to us in a year. Take all the things we need to do outside of our training and we roughly have 3,500 hours left.

So how can we achieve?

Firstly 10,000hours is working to perfection. Don’t mistake this with excellent, very good; good, decent, not bad or OK…They are not the same thing by any means.

View 10,000 hours as a goal to work towards, an incentive. A journey begins with the first step or 10,000hours begins with the first minute. Time to start now.

If you don’t want to devote the time to be a Martial artist but would like to learn the rudiments of effective physical self defence techniques, gross motor skills are the way to go. If you want to stick around for the bigger picture you can certainly add more to your fighting skills.

Whatever skills you wish to learn the keys are to drill,drill,drill. Then pressure test in the type of environment you want them to work in (street, cage, contest mat, on the doors, etc etc).Understand and feel adrenalin and learn to work with it. Time is the key.

Proper training, time and effort can achieve great things. History proves that. Yes maybe not everybody will achieve these high levels of skill but I believe that’s what every Martial artist is trying to do when they step out on the mats every day, year after year. That is the goal and that’s what keeps them coming back for more, learning new stuff and pushing for higher levels of skill just like the musician, the painter, the sculpture, the poet, the writer etc.

To achieve a high level of competence in anything you have got to be prepared to work your ass off and sacrifice all. Most won’t. It is a big ask to be truly a champion, a winner and a success.

There are different levels of skill and depending on how much work you want to put in to your chosen field will determine what you will get out of it.

When I have a beginner come to my class I will teach to them simple, gross motor skills to start with but as time progresses and they improve I will gradually give them more technique to work on the same as you would do in any hobby, job or past time. Isn’t this were a syllabus comes into play?

Learning to knockout somebody doesn’t take a lot of physical training. Most people would be able to develop the power and technique to do so within an hour. Having the mental capacity and knowing when and how to deliver with proper timing will take much longer. That having said it wouldn’t take years. If this was your sole aim then there are martial arts systems certainly out there better equipped than others to do this and in a shorter space of time.

It will depend really on whether you just want fighting techniques to blast somebody off the planet if they get in your face or whether you wish to become a student and eventually master of a martial art.

Yes there are some Martial artists out there living in ‘cloud cuckoo land’ and practising the biggest load of bollocks on the planet but there are also many out there that are truly great and can make the most complex of techniques work for them under pressure. I have been fortunate to train with a great many.

This is why I am proud to call myself a Martial artist and continue after 40 years to keep honing my skills. I can also call myself a fighter because I have been there and done a bit.

I have immense respect for all the arts and for the people that have spent a life time in them. I may not agree with everything they say or do but I still respect them.

Much over the last 20 years has been written about how to train Martial arts technique more effectively and the explosion of MMA and its like has dispelled many myths that were carried around in those circles.

Simplistic skills are always going to be the easiest to learn and use but I believe with dedicated practise more complex skills can work and can start beginning that person’s simple skills. This is the foundation of all the Martial arts and their syllabus. For example a judoka’s Osoto gari to a layman is a complex skill but to the judoka it is a ‘bread and butter’ move. Can they make it work? Sure they can. They have done it dozens of time in contest. Could they make it work on the street? You bet. I have seen it.

In conclusion I sum up once again by saying that yes there are other important elements to add to the mix but essentially the length of time training a technique is one of the major keys to making it work under pressure regardless what that technique is.




Vital points – Kevin O’Hagan

When I was a child at school one day I got into a bit of a playground scrap with a boy who was bigger than me and a bit of a bully. During this struggle he was attempting to apply some sort of crude strangle or headlock upon me when I managed to pull free and swing around and quite by chance I ‘clocked’ him one with the back of my fist on the side of the neck.

I saw the shock register on his face (he must have also seen the bigger shock on mine!) I then saw pain register and that closely followed by fear. He held his neck and mumbled something about ‘next time’ and wandered off. I never really had much more trouble out of him after that episode. I didn’t realize then that I had used an attribute so often taught in Martial Arts systems.

When I hit him it wasn’t because I had suddenly become bigger, stronger or harder, that wasn’t the reason that made him back off. It was because I had hit (totally by accident) a vital point on his body that hurt and confused him and he didn’t fancy getting another! What a stroke of bloody luck for me!

Years on in my Martial Arts journey I began to learn about weak spots, vital points, pressure points and began to understand that no matter how big or muscular a person can be, these areas are vulnerable on everybody.

I was curious and enthusiastic to learn as much as I could on this topic, as most of the people I began to encounter in my life were larger than me.

The more this area of skill was tried and tested the more things I learnt and the more myths I dispelled about the subject of vital points/Atemi, waza etc. Some areas of the body as soon as they are struck give an immediate profound and instant reaction to an attacker, i.e. eyes, groin, throat. By attacking these areas it also opens up other vital points, i.e. finger claw to the eyes, knee to the groin. Other areas are highly sensitive but very difficult to hit accurately. Accurate targeting is a big factor, knowing exactly where and how to strike and knowing what potential effect and affects the strikes will have is also essential.

Here is a short test, do you know where these following points on the body are if you had to strike or attack them? Clavicle, spleen, patella, cervical vertebrae, mastoid, coccyx, femoral artery, sciatic nerve, liver, sub-clavical artery?

How well did you do? It is important not only for your own self-protection but also for your ability as an Instructor.

‘Play a mind game’

I used to play a little mind game with people that I came into contact with. I would play the ‘what if’ game. What if this person wanted to attack me then how would I go about striking them? What are their obvious strengths or weaknesses? How big are they? How tall? How heavy? Etc. I still use it now and it’s a great way of running through planned pressure point strikes and routines. Learn to study people’s body shapes and think where best would it be to attack them.

There are basically three body types: Mesomorphs, Endomorphs and Ectomorphs.

  1. Mesomorphs are naturally athletic build with wide shoulders and narrow hips. They tend to have thick bones and muscled readily.
  2. Ectomorphs have naturally slim build with long, lean limbs, little muscle and narrow shoulders and hips.
  3. Endomorphs have a stocky rounded build with wide shoulders and hips. They tend to have an even distribution of fat and muscles.

Body types and physical characteristics can affect how you may attack the various vital points. Confronted by a tall opponent, who is slim, you may decide to attack their legs with kicks and sweeps to bring them down to your size. A smaller person you may decide to grab and grapple and hold them in place while you pick your strike.

Attempting to attack the neck area of someone like Mike Tyson for example may not be the best of strategies. His bull-like neck and heavily muscled shoulders protect his windpipe and carotid arteries. These things can be considered when studying potential opponents.

You can have a situation when there are two people who have strikingly different body structures and characteristics, by looking at this you can see how a strike can be instantly effective or not.

Again for example the chin/jaw can be a great KO target but if you are 5 foot 2 and your opponent is 6ft 6, how the hell are you going to reach the target without help of a stepladder (more details of this in my book ‘I thought you’d be bigger’). So you will have to go for something else first. Punch the opponent in the groin and bring him down and forward and you can then execute a perfect blow to the jaw.

If you are faced by a 17 stone body builder, whaling punches at his chest or abdomen isn’t a smart tactic but if you strike the sternum (breastbone) with the point of the elbow it would have an effect. Just by targeting and being accurate you get a result. Again faced by the same opponent and you ‘kicked off’ with a hard stomping kick to his shinbone, no amount of pumping iron can protect this vital spot, then followed up with a thumb gouge to the eye you could be on a winner! There are no muscles in the eyeballs.

But these things have to be practiced on a daily basis to work. The difference between gouging an eye and a cheekbone can be a matter of whether you win or lose.

In my training and teaching I have noticed how people, even senior black belts, have an idea where vital points are but not the exact spot and that makes a big difference to what works and what doesn’t. Time spent studying and practicing Atemi to vital points is time well spent. Don’t just throw something in the general direction, but try and hit the right spot. Remember my little story at the start?

As a training drill you could for example use a knife hand strike to the carotid artery (the exact point for striking the carotid sinus is underneath the angle of the jaw line an inch or so back from the windpipe and not the side of the neck where a lot of people hit.) Now start off slowly and ‘touch’ strike the spot and then build up gradually your speed. If you perform a dozen touch strikes try and accurately hit the carotid sinus a dozen times without fail. If you manage 9 or 10 at speed that’s good, 6 out of 12 you’re halfway there but must improve, any less and you need to get to work on your targeting. You can do this with any strike and improve the targeting immensely.

Another drill is for your partner to call out a vital spot on the body and you must instantly and accurately hit that spot. This not only improves the targeting and your reaction time but also gets you familiar with the names and placement of the vital points. These are just two ideas to work on to improve your skills.

When you also study a person’s characteristics other things can be taken into consideration in relation to what may motivate you to go for certain targets.

Trends can also have their disadvantages. Long hair can be pulled; twisted and painfully manipulated, earrings can be tugged and wrenched free. Long facial hair can be grabbed and twisted for control or ripped out. Glasses can be shattered into the eyes etc.

Also certain dress can go against you. A motor cyclist’s full-face crash helmet can inhibit most face strikes; heavy leather jackets can nullify a good body shot etc. These are all useful things to consider in the reality world of combat.

If you are studying a potential assailant then become attentive. If his hands are covered in heavy rings, know they can be lethal knuckle-dusters. If he has heavy boots on he may favour kicking and stomping. If he’s wearing a muscle vest he may want to maul and grapple you. If he’s wearing a dress run like hell! No, but seriously these things all go hand in hand with your vital point’s knowledge. They can give you the edge you need.

Much rubbish has been pedalled about pressure points. Striking a compliant person where you have also planted the suggestion in their mind that the strike will hurt or drop them is a world apart from some ‘crackhead’ coming at you in fighting mode.

Some of the pressure points being mentioned are so small you just wouldn’t have the accuracy to strike them. Remember one of the first things to deteriorate in real combat is fine motor skills. Any technique that replies on fine motor skills is going to fail.

We have even got demonstrated on face book now ‘no touch knockouts’ were so called experts will point at an opponent and they will hit the floor as if they have been shot. What the f..k? If these things work why haven’t we seen them in the Octagon.

A human being in full fight mode is a formidable creature. The body can take untold punishment. Most pressure points will fail or come up short. You will need the ‘big guns’. These are what I refer to as ‘Manstoppers’ using my ABC system. They are based on empirical knowledge not bullshit.

Now close your eyes and imagine your worst nightmare. He’s in front of you now. Huge, strong, ugly (par for the course) face like a road traffic accident. He’s foaming at the mouth; he wants a piece of you, he says he is going to tear you limb from limb, then start on your family. What are you going to do? Are you really confident you can hit those recommended spots that the Guru’s online tell you will magically work or haven’t you done your homework and your training to really be sure? Don’t wait until this nightmare materializes get to it now so if your nightmare becomes a reality you know what to do!

If you enjoyed this then maybe you would like to download my MANSTOPPERS FREE REPORT now at the link on my homepage of