Martial Musings

My little box of thoughts, musings, blogs and ideas. 

Blog 1: Ikken Hissatsu

In the world of Japanese Martial Arts, there is a principle called 'Ikken Hissatsu'. 

This roughly translates as 'to annihilate with one hit.'

The principle is both physical and psychological. Arts that use it, for example, Karate, would encourage the practitioners to strike fully and with purpose, in the aim to end the encounter as fast as possible. 

The sooner you end the fight, the less risk you face. It can even be safer for your assailant too. The longer the fight goes on, the more damage you'd accrue (in theory).


Which is great, but...

Where many fighters have fallen down in the past from a Japanese MA perspective, is that they assume that their 'one hit' is going to work. 

Much of this approach comes from the Japanese school of swordsmanship and the focus on single strike kills. 

However, this only became a focus during peace time. War time arts are much more cumulative. 

Real fights (in the ring and street) often require several blows, throws or attacks to resolve. 

Thus when traditional karate-ka enter situations where multiple hits are required, they often struggle to 'chain' their blows. 

Chain / flow theory...

Bartitsu and FS Box are the arts I teach. Both make great use of flowing from one technique or 'phase' to another. 

Being able to transition from kicking to punching, to trapping to grappling is hugely important. This replicates the ebb and flow of a fight. 

However, we must be careful to learn to expand as well as redact. 

Many fighters develop skills closing in (kick, punch, trap, throw). But often, especially with multiple attackers or self defence, we need to work backwards:


  • Escape the grapple 

  • Close off the limb

  • Punch for pain

  • Kick for distance 

  • Escape

Knowing how to open up, and close down is pivotal, and prepares us for a world where Ikken Hissatsu is not your friend. 

What can we learn from Ikken Hissatsu?

I believe that combatively, one should always primarily prepare for multiple blows. From you, and your opponents.

But, a great thing to take from the Ikken Hissatsu approach is the philosophy

When you're attacked you must:

  • Commit your body and mind to the assault 

  • Drive 'through' the opponent 

  • Do not countenance the idea of stopping 

  • Confidently smash through what you face 

So, in a world where the one hit kill is unlikely, train instead for a 'one hit switch' mentality'.

When that switch is tripped, you need to go at it hard, fast and with conviction.


Try going all out on the bag for 20 seconds. Absolute conviction. Drains your body. Drains your mind. But it's absolutely what you need to develop to survive a violent encounter. 


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