• Mike McNulty

Real Striking Skill and How to Develop It “Find Your Way” In this newsletter I’m going to provide


Real Striking Skill and How to Develop It

“Find Your Way”

In this newsletter I’m going to provide you with an understanding and a methodology of how to strike that is probably different from anything you’ve heard or learned about striking for combat. As stated previously most of what we know or have learned about body movement dynamics is probably wrong and nowhere is that more prevalent than when it comes to striking. This will be the first in a number of newsletters and other information on striking.

First I want to say that striking for humans is not magic and while there is some degree of skill you have to develop to do it well it does not take years of training or even months to develop it. The main problem is people have a difficulty understanding the difference between real fighting and sport fighting which by the way requires a higher degree of skill and physical talent to make it effective.

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition…”

-Steve Jobs

I love this Steve Jobs quote because this is not just good advice for life in general but for life and death combat specifically. My point is when it comes to life and death do you really want to limit yourself to someone else’s thinking?

Even as you read this newsletter while an open mind is useful you need to always question, is it scientific? Is it based on how the body move’s? You get the point don’t be afraid to question conventional wisdom or preconceived assumptions. Even in our own system we are constantly evaluating the effectiveness of what we teach. It’s sort of like a conversation I had with my wife once where she stated when looking for information she likes to hear all views to form her opinions. And I stated,

“There’s an old Taoist saying that in order to learn something new one must first be willing to empty their cup for only then can new tea be poured in. I then told her but there’s a caveat to this and that is it does you no good to empty your cup if you can’t tell the difference between tea and horse piss!”

Sounds great but if you can’t tell the difference between tea and horse piss…

I once watch a video of a former Navy SEAL offer advice on the best martial arts to train for self defense. He basically stated the following,

“First of all get a gun and learn how to use it, a step down from that for you stand up game you want to learn Muay Thai Kickboxing or Western Boxing and for your ground game either Western Wrestling or Brazilian Ju Jitstu…”


While I agree with the part about getting a gun, in a real fight there is no “stand up game”, “ground game” or anything game, you’re either in the fight or you’re not, it’s your sword against his sword and nothing else.

Of course there are things you can learn to do on your feet versus being on the ground. But what happens on the street, on concrete, in your home, in a stairwell, an elevator, in or around your car. Is a far cry from what happens in the octagon or on a mat, I’m sorry but we aren’t talking about the same thing!

Sport fighting is based around “rules” of engagement usually involving equipment and a referee for safety so as a result many of the techniques that have develop over time such as the wearing of gloves in Western Boxing are a result of the limitations based on the rules and the equipment used. They fight the way they do because the limitations of their sport, forces them into that box. Like “The Matrix” there is “no spoon”, in a real fight there is “no box” just physics and human physiology.

The striking combinations and methods of striking are particular to that sport where as in a real fight no such limitations exist. This is important to understand because as we build your repertoire of fighting skill you need to have a broader understanding of striking based on how the human body moves and not on some dogmatic understanding of how a thing is done based on someone else’s limited understanding of fighting.

Your Sphere of Influence

Most people teach striking as if combat is a duel or that all attacks are always going to come from the front and that the attacker may not swarm or attack from another angle. Often in such training there is an emphasis of “squaring up on an attacker” as if in a sparing match even in many, reality based systems. The truth is the fight can come from possibly any direction so doesn’t it make sense to train in this fashion? Like Patrick Swayze said as “Dalton” in the movie “Roadhouse”, “Always expect the unexpected…”

No discussion about striking would be complete without discussing your “Sphere of Influence”. In a nutshell Your Sphere of Influence extends as far as you can strike in any direction with your hands and feet with power (Fig-1a). However it is not as linear as people think (Fig -1b). It is a multi directional concept not limited to just striking along a linear plane (Fig-1c). So as you develop your skill you must keep in mind the concept of developing the ability to strike in every possible direction with power.

You control all that happens within your Sphere and as long as you move within the natural unitized way your body can move and you are able to maintain your balance you can strike with power in ever direction.

Now I’m going to show you how to begin first with a basic warm up to ensure your muscles are supple and loose especially your arms as well as begin the process of training your arms to move correctly. First you are going to perform the following strikes and movements in the air as described below they are pretty self explanatory.

· Forward roll with the open hands

· Backward roll with the open hands

· Palm heel strikes

· Side chops with thumb fully extended

· Vertical chops up and down thumb fully extended

· Forward rolls with the clenched fist

· Backward rolls with the clenched fist

· Hammer fists side to side

· Vertical Hammer fists up and down

With each of these movements you want to start off “slowly”, then building up to half speed, then full speed for a few brief moments then ease out of the movement. The total time for each movement should be between 10 - 15 seconds and no more. Ensure that you keep you “elbows bent” throughout the entire movement to avoid hyperextensions in the elbow joint.

Anywhere Striking

Anywhere striking is an exercise to train you to be able to strike, well “anywhere”. You want to practice all of the strikes you just performed, striking in every direction. Start slowly and build up to full speed. This will develop the skill to strike with power in any direction.

Striking Against the Pads

One thing I want to point out before you begin striking against the pads and that is the understanding that “hitting is a part of your sensitivity”. Meaning you must “strike for feel” and “hit for effect”. Like hitting a baseball on the sweet spot where you can actually “feel” the effect you have on the ball as soon as you hit it. Well hitting people while a little different in concept is the same and is something you want to strive for.

The following sequence of exercises and striking drills are designed to develop your ability to strike on a very fundamental level and works exceptionally well even for those who have “never trained” how to throw a strike for combat. It has been my experience that even with people who have trained in a martial discipline in the past that these drills can be very difficult at first since most of their training was geared toward sport fighting. Remember that “Real fighting” is to “sport fighting” what “Baseball” is to “T-ball” they are not the same thing. Period!

Palm Heel Strikes

We start off with the palm heel strike because it is the easiest weapon to use for real self defense. Which the punch has bee popularized though sport and entertainment and even many traditional systems of fighting overall is is one of the weakest weapons to fight with which is why it is used in sport fighting.

This exercise can be accomplished using wither a heavy bag or any type of striking man dummy. If you have a training partner I recommend they used focus mitts. Begin by striking with your hands using the heels of your palms starting off with an open hand in a relatively relaxed state. Focus on the importance of aiming with the heel of the palm and avoiding striking with the fingers this will be covered in more detail in a subsequent newsletter when discussing eye gouges.

Start off standing with one leg back and one forward, knees slightly bent and just “touch” the bag / focus pads in the center to get a feel for striking with the heels of your hands. Ensure your feet are spread apart no more than shoulder width and your knees are bent at all times for all of the striking. This will help you control your equilibrium while striking.

Once you get the feel of striking begin by striking in rapid succession starting with two strikes striking the pads, without crossing your hands this will come later.

If you are training with a partner have them give the command "Hit"! Ensure when practicing it is said in a forceful voice or you will not strike with authority.

Ensure that as you strike throughout this training that you do not “lean” in or push on the strikes but that you hit the pads focusing on penetrating no more that 3”- 4” inches. Ensure you retract the hand after the strike as quickly as possible. Also you ensue as you strike whether against a pad or a bag that you always are penetrating the center of the bag along its vertical axis. This will prevent you from skimming off the target allowing or greater penetration.

Next strike the bag / focus mitts “two times” as fast as you can, then “three times” as fast as you can then, “four to five times” as fast as you can etc…

From there proceed to striking the pads with seven and nine strikes doing this at least three to four times for each group of strikes. Again if using focus mitts ensure you strike aiming toward the center of the pad in the following sequence using both hands for example:

2x (i.e., two times)






(Note: I like using odd numbers for the striking because it forces people to focus since it is not like most patterned movement.)

When doing this ensure that, you adequately "rest" between striking sequences, they're going to need it.

Next if using the focus mitts have your training partner hold the pads in an inward fashion and strike the pads alternating striking across from each other. Finally, finish up striking the focus mitts until you can strike no more with both hands in rapid succession.

Side Chops

Repeat this for the side chops by striking the side of the bag / focus mitt with the side of the hand and the thumb extended to add structural integrity to the hand a couple of times to get your timing down along with your aim ensuring that they are striking in the center of the pad, then strike until you can strike no more from each side.

Ensure that your elbows remain bent upon impact at all times. If using a pad or padded stick you can have your training partner vary the angles you strike by stepping slightly off line at a 45°- degree angle. This will teach you to turn as you side chop and open your mind to alternative methods of striking.

Again if you have a training partner and if available you can use a padded stick and begin to perform a side chop striking as before with the side of the hand thumb extended to add structural integrity to the hand. Ensure that while using the side chop they keep their elbow and chopping arm at eye level to protect their head and throat.

You’re probably wondering why we have not discussed the use the of fist for striking that’s because the fist is believe it or not the least effective weapon when it comes to real fighting (there is a reason boxers wrap and tape their wrists before a fight). It doesn’t mean you cannot develop it for fighting it just requires more time to develop and we’re only concerned here with weapons you can develop right now. We will cover the use of the fist in a later newsletter.

Elbow and Knee Strikes

When performing elbow and knee strikes you can either perform them against a heavy bag or if you have a training partner against a pad preferably a Muay Thai pad or hitting shield.

Elbow Strikes - when throwing the elbow the most important this is to keep the hand and arm relaxed. This will give you the ability to strike freely with it without creating unnecessary tension in the arm. You want to strike in every direction possible, horizontal, vertically and diagonally in every direction with the arm. Resist the temptation to lean in on the strikes since the elbow is already an effective weapon.

Next have them strike either the Muay Thai pads or shield for the knee strikes.

Knee Strikes - when using the knee either vertically or from the side you want to knee to come straight off the ground keeping your hands up to protection your head. Ensure you do not “lean” in with the knee strike rather concentrate on striking and driving the knee straight from the floor penetrating the pad. Learn to control your balance as you strike and do not, do not, do not grab the pad, bag or opponent since this gives your hands up which you could be using for striking.

Well that’s it for this newsletter later on I’m going to get into some advanced striking methodologies to continue your “Warrior Skill Development”.

Thank you.

Michael McNulty

CEO & Founder

Warriors Way Combatives LLC

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