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Please do not use what you learn on this site as a substitution for learning from a certified instructor in a martial arts style. This article is merely going to go over some basic self-defensive maneuvers and give you some excercises and activities to help you improve and to give you basic knowledge that you can build upon over time.

Martial Arts literally means "art of warfare." It is somewhat of a vague term when used in sentences such as "I am a martial artist." If you made such a claim, a person would then ask which martial arts style(s) you learned or use. There are many different kinds of Martial arts and some are more effective in an actual fight than others.
 
First of all, realise that fighting is not easy. You're not always going to win every fight you get into, but on the other hand, if you train hard and never give in, you'll be better than most people and be able to hold your own ground better than others that do not care about improving themselves.
 
Secondly, strength training, a good excercise and workout plan, and a good balanced and nutritional diet are just as important as knowing how to punch. Because if your body is out of shape, your body will not be able to move the way you want it to during an actual bare knuckle fight. Running and weight lifting are your best friends when it comes to conditioning your body for fighting.
 
Last but not least, it is important to realise no matter how strong you are, your body is still flesh and bone and can still be hurt. Do not ever underestimate any person, no matter how weak or frail they may seem. A punch from a person as skinny as a twig can hurt just as badly as a punch from a larger enemy, so don't play Mr. Tough Guy and take the punches head on to prove you're stronger than they are - block and move out of the way.
 
Also, remember that you're going to be scared. Adrenaline will be pumping. Sometimes you have to fight when you are scared, and this is difficult. But realise that your body is actually more powerful when you are scared. It's not good to be so scared that you are unable to move, so try to move your arms and get into the mindset of "I have to do this." Your fear can be used to give you more energy to accomplish a task. Never let your enemy know you are afraid and never admit to it. If you feel threatened, do let them know and let them know that you'll do something about it if you must.
 
Now we shall go over some basic techniques and knowledge.
 
Standing is important in a fight. First, if you are a right handed person, your left foot should be placed forward, knee bent forward just slightly, and the right leg back. Your left foot should be angled slightly to your right at about a 10 or 15 degree angle, so not by much.
Your right foot should be angled just a little less than 45 degrees to your right, so it's facing outward. Always have your knees bent slightly and never lock them or it can make you lose balance and get knocked down easier. If you're left handed, this is known as a "Southpaw"  stance. Just do the opposite; right foot forward and right hand up and left hand to the side.
If you're ambidexstrous, it's best to try both stances and see which is most comfortable. It's best to never switch stances once you decide which way you prefer fighting. The non-dominate hand is always forward and the dominant hand always to the side; this is so you can throw a power punch with the hand you are more dominant with.
 
ALWAYS have your hands up to the sides of your face or in front of them, but not blinding you, clenched in fists. This is so you can hold them up in front of you to catch hits so they hit your arms instead of your head. Hits to the head can stun and make you dizzy, and too much damage to the head can make you fall unconscious or even cause you brain damage, so protecting your head is extremely important in a fight. Remember to never drop your hands no matter what.
 
Movement should be coordinated and you should be aware of your surroundings. Fighting in closed in spaces is dangerous; if you are in a narrow hallway or small room, your best bet is to get the first hit and just keep hitting, because there's not enough room to turn the fight around in your favor in such small areas.
 
Usually bulkier and stronger fighters prefer small, closed in spaces where there is no place to run. Bigger fighters get tired chasing their dodging opponents so they prefer to keep attacking in a closed-in space where you have no room to retaliate. If someone is following you to try to attack, make sure you never corner yourself or go into a bathroom in a public place. These are the most dangerous places to fight because they have only one exit and they are closed in enough to where someone can pin you up against something and keep hitting you until you are too damaged to fight back. So try to lead your opponent to a wide-open space to fight so you can escape if you are unable to defeat him. There's no shame in retreating to get time to replan things and train for a few more months if you have to.
 
When stepping, make sure you have your hands up. Try not to run or bull rush an opponent, but keep a fast walking pace and never cross your feet one over the other to take a step. Take steps carefully and be "bouncy." Bruce Lee often bounced a bit on his toes to burn off nervous energy because your adrenaline is pumping. Never ever back up against a wall or fight near a road where oncoming traffic is approaching. Also, never hold your breath when fighting or you will tire out fast and become weaker. Breathe hard. Being scared or nervous is normal; even the former World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman was always nervous during fights until his elder years before he retired.

Jab
 
A jab is a rather weak, but quick punch to either the face or body. Remember that when throwing a punch, your top large middle finger knuckle and index finger knuckle must be the only two knuckles to ever make contact. Have your fist clenched and stiff, but not so stiff that it makes you tired or that you are straining just holding the fist shut. Curl the thumb over the index finger on the outside, or have the tip of the thumb resting against the outside of the index finger. Always jab with your non-dominant hand because this is supposed to just be a quick and
stiff punch to keep distance from your enemy. Jabs have no knockdown power, they only stun your enemy momentarily so you can throw a power punch or get in a free hit. It's also a great way to judge your distance.
 
Straight
 
A straight is a punch using the dominant hand. The most common type of straight is the overhand, because of its speed and power. Basically you raise your right hand to just a bit above shoulder height, elbow behind you and bent, then lunge forward and throw a punch to the head, shoulder, chest, stomach, or rib cage. It is powerful and it works. Whenever you punch, make sure you exhale. When rapidly punching, kiah or exhale once while punching. Make sure you pace your breathing.
 
Hook
 
A hook is the classic "swing." Don't swing so wide that you throw your body forward and take a few steps because that is sloppy. Basically you angle your fist a bit, elbow bent, cock your arm back and throw a punch from around the side in a circular motion, usually to the temple or sides of the head, or the rib cage and kidneys. A hook is probably the most powerful punch besides the uppercut.
 
Uppercut
 
An uppercut comes from underneath; basically you lower your uppercutting hand to chest level and then come from underneath the opponent's chin, hitting his chin with tremendous power. Uppercuts can also be done to the stomach and solar plexus (area near the bottom of chest.) It can knock a person backwards or even uproot them off of their feet if they weigh less than you do and you have strength trained enough.
 
Haymaker
 
A haymaker is a powerful punch in which you use all of your strength. Usually it involves leaning backwards and cocking an arm back by twisting the torso to the side and then coming forward with all of your weight and power into the fist, driving off the ground by pushing your feet. There are many kinds of haymakers and there's no specific form or way to do them. Haymakers are very effective but can leave yourself open to punches, so make sure you choose the right time to use
a haymaker; preferably on a person that cannot block or dodge well, is slow, or a person that is stunned or dizzy and about to fall over.
 
Headbutt
 
The headbutt is probably the most powerful of all the attacks thrown from the upper body. You cock your head back and then slam your forehead or the top of your head into the other person's nose, face, or their forehead for massive damage. If someone has grabbed you from behind and does not have their head on your shoulder but directly behind you, you can backwards headbutt them; if
someone is taller than you are and is trying to grab you from the front, a headbutt to the chin by ducking and then quickly standing up is effective also.
 
Elbow Strike
 
To strike with the elbow, you have to be in close. This is actually best used when someone is trying to grab you or is already close. Don't use this if you are not close because it has little range though it is powerful. Basically you swing your arm as if hooking but use the elbow; you can also throw an elbow with the non dominant arm simply by raising it up and thrusting straight when in the normal stance.
 
Knee Strike
 
The knee strike is powerful. It's more powerful to throw one with your leg that is behind you, but it is quicker if you just throw a knee strike from your front leg. The front leg knee strike is a bit harder but a lot faster; raise the leg up, duck down just an inch or two, then spring forward off the other leg, throwing the knee into the person's groin or stomach. Muay Thai often uses knee strikes and some Muay Thai fighters can even jump and knee a person in the chest or chin.
 
Front Kick
 
When kicking, kick with either the heel or front ball of the foot. Never the toes or they will break. It's best to kick with the back leg; it has more power and can push your opponent backwards or even knock them down. The front kick is best used to kick someone in the kneecap, groin, or lower stomach.
 
Roundhouse Kick
 
A roundhouse is a more powerful kick thrown from the side. It can even strike the head if you are flexible enough, but it is risky to kick the head due to the fact your opponent can grab your leg and toss you to the ground or break your leg. Lift the knee up and leg to the side, about waist level, and come around, kicking with the shin or top of the foot to the lower leg, stomach, rib cage if unprotected, or head if you can reach that high. BRING YOUR LEG BACK QUICKLY or it will be grabbed. Basically this is the Kicking version of a Hook punch.
 
Side Kick
 
There are many variations to this powerful kick. It is complex to explain without an illustration but once you know how to do one it is quite simple. This is best done when your body is angled to the side of your opponent. Lift the leg up, knee at waist level. Aim the outside ridge or heel of your foot to your opponent at what part of the body you are going to strike. Afterwards, extend the knee out straight, lock the foot and leg out, then bring it back in the same manner you extended it. This is a very difficult kick to learn and it takes practice. I recommend you stick to a front kick or knee strike because some people are unable to perform this with their body type.
 
Grapple
 
Grappling is difficult to learn by just text. A lot of the things on this page you'd need a qualified instructor to teach you, and the only real way to get better at fighting is to fight people and gain experience in this field. Basically grappling is grabbing and controlling your opponent to your will to disable them from striking you so you can get in free shots, or you can choke them til they are no longer conscious or break their limbs. Use your best judgement on how and when the fight should be taken to this level. Some people are good at striking and are not good at grappling. Some people are only good at grappling and not good at striking, and try to take the fight to the ground level. Grappling can be done standing up, but most often it ends up on the ground. We will go over some basic grappling maneuvers.
 
Headlock
 
Your opponent and you are both grabbing each other's arms or shoulders, wrestling over who shall control who in their grasp. Never turn your back to your opponent because this makes your neck vulnerable to this very useful and basic choke. When your opponent gets tired or his back or neck is unprotected, immediately wrap the inside of your elbow around his neck and squeeze it, securing the choking arm with the other arm. Do this until he or she either gives up by tapping out or verbally giving up, or until they go unconscious if you are in a real fight and defending yourself.
 
Arm Bar
 
The arm bar is difficult and unfortunately I cannot explain it well, but you basically disable your opponent's arm by locking the legs over his body and yanking on the arm in such a way that it shall either break or be permanently disabled. An opponent is pretty much at your mercy if you have them in this lock.
 
Death Lock
 
If all else fails, and you are fighting somebody that is completely superior to you in every way and you cannot defeat them, use this last-resort technique. Even a weaker fighter can do this. Get behind your opponent and latch on to their back, wrapping your legs around their waste and arms around the outside of their triceps, and lock your hands together over their chest. DO NOT LET GO UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! BREATH DEEPLY, AND NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY STRUGGLE OR THROW THEIR BACK AGAINST A WALL, DO NOT LET GO WHATSOEVER!! LATCH ON WITH YOUR VERY LIFE AND DO NOT LET GO. BREATHE SO YOU DO NOT GET TOO TIRED.
 
There is no escaping this technique if you performed it just right unless you tire out. If they have a knife or a weapon in their hand available, depending on how well you have disabled their arms, you may keep them from using it. On the other hand if they are about to slice or stab you with it, it is in your best judgement to either latch on tighter or let go and run. Eventually your opponent shall tire to the point they can no longer fight back. This is useful if you are defending your home and are trying to stall until police arrive or until a friend can come and defeat the man for you.
 

This is a very basic self-defense article that needs to be brushed up and added on to quite a bit. Soon to come will be firearms combat, martial arts weapons maneuvers, surviving brawls with multiple opponents, or fighting in tight situations.