The One-Punch Kill
This is the Japanese term for “one punch kill”. It was ridiculed and discounted by men who can’t do it (look for my story about the fox and the grapes), because if you can’t beat em–many martial artists would say–mock em!
There is a lot more to the one-punch kill than some guy training his reverse punch a thousand times a day. To be honest, that is actually a great way to train your martial arts (thousand reverse punches a day) because you would have such a great, powerful punch if you did. By contrast, the average professional boxer throws over 3,000 punches a day when he is in training, but then, that is his full-time job. For the martial artist who subscribes to this philosophy, a lot of attention is given to the application of the one punch–that is to land solidly and cleanly, regardless of what the opponent does–without any chance of counter or missing. This is why in competition karate, some formats end once the first point is landed: so that fighters do all they can to not get hit and do all they can to land that hit.
But can a single punch kill? Of course it can. In my city alone (Sacramento, California), at least four people have died in one-punch fights. Some of these fights are justified (somewhat) in that the person who did the killing was actually defending himself. I have had three students since 2002 go to jail for injuring their attackers. That’s right, someone attacked my students, and my students went to jail. Go figure. (Separate incidents) There have been some good people pay the price for defending themselves, and some not-so-good people paid the price for poor judgment in failing to walk away from a fight. Take a look at this Google search, and you will find possibly hundreds of cases where a single punch killed someone. Involuntary manslaughter. Didn’t mean to kill them, but you certainly did something that ran the risk of killing someone.
There is a saying, that it is better to be tried by 12 than to be carried by six. There’s a lot of wisdom in this, because the one time you fail to defend yourself adequately you may be the one who dies. Still, we should at least explore the importance of developing this concept into a skill in the event you need it. I am not advocating killing attackers; I am simply saying that we should develop the ability to take out an opponent (not necessarily fatally) with a single punch. The one who has this ability is one who can apply the right amount of damage for the situation he finds himself in when he needs it. Something to think about.
And develop the skill to take out your opponent with a single hit, and your survival skill in the street will be just that much better. If some untrained guy on the street can do it accidentally, a deliberate, trained fighter can do it as well.
So, the next question is, should you? This is an issue I have with the lot of knife-pukes (and in the FMAs we have plenty). These are guys who are so afraid of fighting, they only prepare for one type of fight, and that is where they find ways to plunge a knife deep into their opponent… makes them feel safer. As warriors, we do not go for the kill everytime a guy looks at us funny. And just as we need to discern whether we should fight or not, we must also determine if this fight is one where we will need to justify the level of damage we inflicted later. A real concern, because in the process of defending ourselves, there is a pervading possiblity that we will kill our opponent.
I will leave you to ponder this subject on that note, and we will revisit the one-punch kill some other day. Thank you for visiting my blog.