How does one exploit an opponents inertia, momentum, and body physiology? I thought that was their speed, weight, and power?

Yes, but thinking the other way tends to result in students putting too much stock in size, height, and weight. Most of the common misconceptions about martial combat involve erroneous assumptions about how techniques work and what kind of people have the advantage. For example: the common reasoning behind why women can’t fight is that they’re often shorter on average than most men, their build is naturally more compact than their male counterparts, and they often weigh less. The assumption is that because they weigh less and have a more difficult time developing upper body strength, they generate less force.

Not so.

Strength comes from the way the joints work together, because most women have wider hips than men do they can generate more momentum. The rotation of the hips and shoulders together is what creates the force for a punch. Their naturally lower center of gravity means that they can create a stronger base when dropping their weight into their feet, this means they can easily unbalance a taller fighter.

Terminology changes the way we see the world. Words influence perception, by changing our perceptions we change our approach to a problem. You don’t switch to different techniques to face a bigger fighter, you can use what you know against an opponent of equal to greater size. When I was studying martial arts, our techniques weren’t broken down to: here’s a special set for facing a big guy, here’s the normal set for everyone else. What matters is what you know versus what they know.

If you want to exploit someone’s technique, you have to figure out how the body functions and how the pieces work together. For example: someone swings at me, I lean back, they miss, but their momentum will continue to carry them forward and because of that momentum it will take slightly longer for them to come back around. In the meantime, they’re vulnerable. I hit them in the ribcage they’ve provided for me, or depending on what’s open to me I might go for the shoulder. The shoulder is a joint, stun lock the joint and they can’t use that arm for another swing. Now, they’re in pain and they only have one arm they can use. Pain and fear are distracting, they lock up the mind. I have more openings, depending on what I have I could go to the stomach or since I’m already high, I could go to the throat with an elbow. When they have reached the point where they can no longer fight back, I leave.

This is how you exploit: one technique to the next, to the next, when you have your opening don’t let up until they’re done. Debilitate, incapacitate, and finish them off. So the question is: how does the body work together and what points on the body can I exploit to keep them from attacking me?

Let’s do another: a shin is exposed bone that’s unprotected by the muscles of the body, when hit it hurts. Now, pain has distracted my opponent. He’s facing me, his feet are on an even line between each other. Because I’ve kicked him, I have to put my foot somewhere, I step down between his feet. I’ve now changed the balance equation, I put my hand on his chest and push, he stumbles backwards. Now, he’s far away from me and outside of hand range: front kick to the stomach. Now, his shin is hurting and the wind is knocked out of him, the fight may end here or if he’s not done yet, I may step forwards and since he’s already doubled over wrap my arm around the back of his head putting my forearm against his throat and arc my back into a guillotine choke and hold him there until he either passes out or dies.

Reaction depends on the opponent, the techniques your opponent uses will provide your reaction. Create opportunities from the options they give, know how the body works and what it needs to function, then don’t let up until it’s over. When martial artists talk about combat like it’s a dance, this is what they’re discussing: the give and take in the combat between fighters that begins to look very intricate to an untrained outside observer. It has absolutely nothing to do with actual dancing, but you know artistic license.

The problem is that writers and untrained practitioners only consider the technique and that’s all they see. They’re thinking: how do I exploit the technique? Or how do I exploit their speed? Their weight? Their power? That’s the end result.

How do I exploit their arm? There are lots of options: shoulder, elbow, wrist, the gap between the ulna and radius bone, the place on the upper arm where the biceps and triceps meet, the pressure point midway up the forearm. How do I exploit their leg? There are lots of options: hip, knee, ankle, shin, foot, heel, toes. How do I take their speed from them? Exploit their legs. How do I nullify their weight? Change their balance by moving your feet. How do I negate their power? Take it from them by using all of the above.

There are vulnerable points everywhere on the body. All you need is to know that they’re there and what they lead to.


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