Scott Be Positive

Defending Against the Sucker Punch
This article originally appeared in the May 1999 issue of Kick Magazine (Germany).

By Scott Shaw
A sucker punch is commonly defined as finding yourself being unexpectedly struck in the back of your head by an attacker who has accosted you without your anticipation. The reason the sucker punch can be such a devastating blow is that you do not see it coming and, because of this fact, it can leave you injured and ill prepared to counterattack. As you have been hit first to a vulnerable portion of your body, (the back of your head), you may, in fact, even be knocked out. 

From a martial arts perspective, no well-trained or honorable person would ever attack an individual in this manner. This being stated, the streets are never kind and are rarely honorable. It is for this reason that as a martial artist you must be prepared to deal with this type of assault if it is ever encountered. 

In all systems of martial arts it is understood that the first powerful, well-connected, strike can set the stage for the entire confrontation. This is because of the fact that the first person that is impacted with a powerful strike may be left dazed and vulnerable to further attacks. This is, in fact, the primary reason that an attacker employees a sucker punch. They wish to injure their opponent and hopefully set a pattern for confrontational victory without the need to actually go toe-to-toe with their target. 

Sucker Punch: Step One
As detailed, a sucker punch is never an honorable method of physical confrontation. Due to this fact, the moment you have been struck from behind you must counterattack without the thought of why your opponent has unleashed their attack. As such, to achieve any hope of confrontational dominance and to limit the injuries you will receive, you must immediately counterattack. 

As your opponent is behind you, your most rapid method of counterattack is to immediately spin on your rear based leg and deliver either a powerful spinning back fist or elbow strike to the head of your attacker or, if you are trained in effective kicking techniques, deliver a powerful back kick to the knee or mid-section of your opponent. These techniques are all rapid and powerful deterrent mechanisms. In addition, each of these counterstrikes possesses the ability to halt your attacker from unleashing further strikes to your body.

Sucker Punch: Step Two
Each physical altercation is defined by its own set of parameters. Whenever you find yourself in a physical altercation these factors set the stage for the type of techniques you will most appropriately utilize for your self-defense. For example, each physical confrontation is defined by your environment, the height and weight of your opponent, and by the level of combat training your opponent has been exposed to. 

Each system of fighting arts trains its practitioners how to encounter an opponent in a specific manner. Boxing generally trains its practitioners to face off with an opponent. Jujitsu practitioners commonly attempt to tackle an opponent and take the fight to the ground. Hard style practitioners will move back and forth, side-to-side, while delivering hand and kicking techniques. Soft style practitioners will oftentimes attempt to deflect an opponent’s attack and perhaps counterstrike or send them to the ground with a throw. 

These are the techniques used by trained martial artists. More commonly in the streets, however, is that you will encounter at attacker who is not schooled in the finer aspects of physical combat. As such, they will do things such as sucker punch you and then simply unleash a barrage of wild, misdirected punches in your direction. To effectively end the confrontation in the most rapid manner possible you must immediately counter attack with the best techniques at your disposal. 

Sucker Punch: Step Three
As each martial artist is exactly trained in self-defense techniques that are unique to their style, it is those techniques that you will employee when you find yourself defending against a sucker punch attack.   

To most effectively defend against the sucker punch type of assault, you must rapidly deploy the best defensive tools at your disposal. In other words, defend yourself with the least amount of effort and then continue to counterattack with your best available options until your opponent is defeated.  

If you practice a hard style of self-defense use the best punching and kicking tools at your disposal. If you practice a soft style that employs joint locks to debilitate an opponent take hold of the most easily accessible joint of your opponent’s body and drive him to the ground. 

The main thing to understand when deciding to unleash any type of defensive attack against the sucker punch is that it must be a defensive maneuver that you are well versed in, can easily unleash, and will have the most devastating effect upon your attacking opponent.

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Sucker Punch: Step Four
As is commonly understood in all styles of martial arts, one technique is rarely enough to defeat an adrenalin filled opponent.  For this reason, once you have unleashed a powerful counter measure, you must continue forward with further counterattacks to cement your victory in the confrontation. Therefore, once you have redirected the path of the confrontation, strike your opponent until he is fully debilitated.

Sucker Punch: Step Five
No confrontation is ever won by lingering. If you do encounter a sucker punch confrontation, your best alternative is to leave the arena before it escalates. But, in many cases this is not possible. 

If your exit is not an option, then you must counterattack by using your best available tools of self-defense and then immediate leave the sight of the altercation. Do not allow your opponent to recover from whatever self-defense techniques you have unleashed and come at you again.

As explained, a sucker punch is the type of attack that no honorable combatant would ever employ. Though this is the case, as a martial artist you must train to defend yourself against whatever type of attack you may encounter. From this, you emerge as a more proficient self-defense technician as well as being a more whole and competent human being.

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