Wednesday, 10 December 2008

"One Punch One Kill", is it Practical?

Karate is known for its concept of “one punch one kill” or in Japanese Ikken Hissatsu. Many people interpret this to mean that conflicts should be finished with just one strike. Although this is one of the most effective ways of ending confrontations, is it at all possible?

If you have ever been involved in a situation where you have to fight in order to defend yourself, you will know that your adrenaline as well as the adrenaline of your opponent can sky rocket. With this adrenaline boost it can sometimes be, that when you get hit, you do not feel it, only to realise much later after the confrontation through a bolt of pain somewhere on your body, that you may have been hit several times.

Also in today’s modern world, a lot of street fights occur because of alcohol. At bars, night clubs etc, many fights take place each week because people drink to the point where they feel like supermen. They can get aggressive or upset easily and this can provoke hostile situations where fights break out. Being drunk can sometimes have the adrenaline effect where someone could get hit several times and not feel a thing.

For karate ka to believe that one punch or one strike of some sort is all that is needed to end a fight should read the above again and again until there minds are changed.

Yes, one strike can sometimes be enough to end a situation, but many times it will not be. You must keep in mind when training that you have to be prepared to hit again and again in order to defend yourself. There is a famous saying that “you fight like you train”. So if you train with single hard strikes against the makiwara or punch bag, or practise prearranged sparring always defending and countering with one strike, chances are, this is what you will do if you have to defend yourself on the street and it may not be enough, leaving you in a bad situation.

To defend yourself successfully, you have to do as much as is needed. This could mean simply talking to your opponent in order to get them to calm down, running away from the situation, striking once, striking many times or maybe more. Never train just one method of defence. Train as many methods as you are able in order to prepare yourself as much as possible for any encounter.


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Lori O'Connell said...

I fully agree with you on this one, having trained in Karate myself a couple of years. My Karate Sensei recognized this though and taught follow-up strikes just in case.

That being said, when you train good accuracy and form, it's nice when you don't have to follow up. Here is an example of a Karate black belt cop taking out an aggressor with one strike to the brachial plexus origin.

Colin Wee said...

For karate ka to believe that one punch or one strike of some sort is all that is needed to end a fight should read the above again and again until there minds are changed.

Yes, one strike can sometimes be enough to end a situation, but many times it will not be.

Ikken Hisatsu is not a magic bullet. Some karate styles base most of their training on delivery of one technique, and I think your post hits the nail on the head for these practitioners. It is dangerous to think that one technique is all that is needed.

But ikken hisatsu is not about one tactic. It is about strategy. It is about not needing to hit the opponent several times, lock him out, throw him down, then stomp on him ... whilst his girlfriend tries to take a ride on your back. It is about positioning and softening him up, then pulling out your one strike move. Some of these techniques generate a lot of force. Leveled on an opponent who can't move away very fast or who doesn't have defenses up will certainly mean this technique can do a lot of damage.

Check out a list of my links related to this reply (and your link too) at Get More Striking Power through Traditional Taekwondo.


MARKS said...

Lor, you are right. Good accuracy and form leading to a weell placed strike should always be aimed for but its good to have back up plans.

MARKS said...

Colin, exactly. Ikken Hissatsu is about strategy. I was cautious not to state in the opening paragraph that it ONLY means training to delivery a one blow stopping tehchnique.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry fellas but i'm seriously gonna have to disagree on that.(quite frankly I think its bull) Based on the examples you made it doesn't make sense. As you pointed out the concept is “one punch one kill” and as such; things like the enemy having adrenaline matters little if you strike the enemy and they are dead.
That old karate concept is from a time when ppl used karate for far more than simply self defense. They used it in war, fuedal battles, even for assassinations. And a majority of the time these skills where for killing.
Can an ordinary person kill someone with one strike? It's possible but very unlikely especially in most cases; however with the skills of a master definatly. A master is capable of breaking bones and smashing skulls with sharp focus in less than a sec without preparation as they are almost always prepared; certainly they could take a life with one strike if they chose.“one punch one kill” has more meaning now.
It never was meant to mean disabling, or subduing. It meant simply that. Kill with one strike.It was something to strive for in combat skills.(Among other things of course) A level of perfection in technique that only a master could accomplish. It is wrong to dilute its meaning or use it in a very wrong context if you know better.
Self defense is another matter and at times you may need to do what you must to get away from danger. At times you need to disable or subdue without lethal force just to survive or control a drunkin friend etc. Or even use lethal force when you have no choice to save a life. But use the “one punch one kill” concept where it applies not when you are discussing non lethal force.

Anonymous said...

I don’t believe in the concept: while it is technically possible to knock someone out or even kill with one blow it would be foolish to use it as a fighting-strategy. An attack by single technique is simply too easy to block and thus it is a serious liability in a real fight (that is against anything but the most inexperienced opponent) and while it is good to train to make all your blows as hard, fast and accurate as possible you should never count on the first one taking out the adversary. If it does the better but you should always be ready to follow-up when necessary (wearing him down and creating openings as you go) since even if your first blow hits it rarely has enough power to knock him out (let alone kill him if that would be the objective). That is assuming you’re hitting with the weapon the closest to the target, if you use a more committed attack your changes are higher but it’ll be easier for him to counter.

Also to knock someone out who is standing relatively stilll or who is completely surprised is fairly easy, to achieve a perfect strike (according the ‘one hit one kill’-principle) against a resisting, mobile opponent (where the distance and other parameters between the two bodies is constantly changing) is extremely difficult and requires great skill and perfect timing.

I’m quite sure there are a few people out there (even today) who are capable of such an extraordinary feat but for the great majority of people (even trained martial-artists) it’s utopia. To become that good requires years of constant training and frequent combat-experience and even then it would be far simpler (not to mention safer) to resort to a weapon to obtain a kill (especially in this day and age) than to risk unarmed combat. That being said: even if you’re a master and are capable of literally killing with one blow I seriously doubt you could do it against a skilled opponent.

Anonymous said...

Very good site, the best I have seen.

Anonymous said...

It is extremely rare for an opponent to die from a single punch, and if it ever does happen, it'll happen against someone who is either totally mismatched, or someone who's not even resisting in the first place. It doesn't matter, since even if you train all your life so that your one punch can kill, you probably wasted time since a knife, sword, gun, spear, etc. would do the job better and faster, and anyone with the intent to kill would more likely overcome someone unarmed using those weapons way more often than not.

From research, even in ancient warfare, if they can't use a weapon, they'd wrestle the opponent to the ground instead of trying to strike with them, especially given that even the hardest punches would have problems going through armor.

Stories about Okinawan peasants (Okinawa was where karate supposedly originated) rebelling against their samurai overlords using their fists to penetrate armor seems to be a dramatization, and in the end, rebellion of such manner didn't really succeed anyway, since they weren't able to retake the Ryukyu kingdoms themselves with their fists.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that it originates not from traditional Okinawan Karate but from the later Japanese cultural influence and Ikken Hissatsu is rooted in Samurai ideaology where your intent when drawing the sword is to kill with one stroke, as opposed to a prolonged sword fight.
I know that in practicing Okinawan Goju-ru there is not a large emphasis put on one strike only and many bunkai and other techniques incorporate multiple attacks and combinations of attacks.
More emphasis is put on 'Karate Ni Sente Nashi' or 'there is no advantage to the first strike'. The purpose being to not get hit at all and avoid fighting.

Anonymous said...

It is totslly possible. Me and my my friend are karateka except he has over 20 years at a elite level and I'm a 1st dan. We were sparing off and he punched me in the throat from two metres away when I was focused and ready. I blinked and I was gone. He controlled it so it just touched me. Matrix shit it was. If he followed through. Death. A drunk guy throwing a crazy hook would be a fool to attempt.

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