Pop! Pop-POP! Pop, Pop-POP!

In other words, “How to Throw the One, the One-Two, and the One-Two-Three”.

If you’re a die-hard FFSL reader, you may recognize that I have written about this series of techniques a few times. This is one of those pillars in my personal fighting system that comes from my Kuntaw, which I have applied to point fighting, to my Jow Ga, my Eskrima and my boxing. If you check out the “How to Supercharge Your FMA Empty Hand” article, I explain how to come up with your personal fighting system. For those who don’t know, the “personal” fighting system is your own specialty within your chosen system(s). I have a personal fighting system that no one knows, even my own students, but they all learn it. This is a basic set of fighting techniques I teach to all my fighters, regardless of what system they are studying with me, besides the art they are paying me to teach them.

That said, I am only going to tell you about three parts of this series of techniques.


I don’t believe in striking once, and then stopping. It is, however, the most oft-seen technique in fighting. Regardless of whether you are watching a boxing match, an MMA fight, an Olympic TKD match, a point match, a Muay Thai bout, a fencing match–the single, isolated attack not immediately followed up by anything else is the one technique you will see the most. If you are not a student of fighting strategy, this is the primary form of attack you will use. Why this is true can be blamed on how teachers teach their students to practice.

Think of how you teach a typical martial arts class:  You line everyone up. Tell them to get into a fighting stance. Then you call out the technique they are preparing to execute. Finally, you call cadence; and for every count you make, or every yell, or every beat of a drum, tap of a stick, clap of the hand–they throw one repetition of that technique. Not just that, but your students will spend most of their class outside of drilling and sparring with this kind of practice.

Did I get that right?

No, I am missing something. You guys are FMA people. Okay, your abecedarios/numerados… So, the feeder throws ONE strike, you block, you counter with a hit or series of hits, then disarm. Or he strikes ONE more time, then you throw another counter, then disarm.

Now did I get that right?

Of course I did. I’ve been doing FMAs since most of you were chasing behind the girls trying to get phone numbers with your Jheri curls and mullets and “Members Only” jackets (sleeves rolled up, of course) and still practicing Karate, Kenpo or Tae Kwon Do, not yet aware that FMAs were cool. I know my stuff.

But the single, isolated attack has a useful use. You can use the monotony of the single attack (POP!) to lull your opponent’s edginess to sleep. Throw single attacks deliberately, and your opponent will relax a little and then get into that rhythm with you. Before you know it, he is looking to defend with ONE block, and if he counters it may or may not be right away. Chances are pretty good that his counter will also only consist of ONE technique. See, there is this thing called “mirroring” that opponents will do. Next time you spar, try it: you dance, he will dance. You load up on power, he will load up on power. You strike by combination, HE will strike by combination. Jedi Mind Tricks, guys–it’s some real stuff, lol.

While you do this, look out for a break from the monotony, though. Not all fighters can be influenced this way. Many experienced fighters will notice that you are throwing a single shot and will plan to make you pay for it. So stay on your toes, and when you use it don’t use it too long or you might get caught. On the other hand, if you use it and get him into the rhythm with you, he will be susceptible to the


Throw that single shot, and at the moment he reacts to the single shot–exploit his reaction. You will have to have good timing. I recommend throwing your second shot on the half-beat, which means whatever speed the first attack was launched–your second attack, the follow up–will be twice as fast. This will allow you to land the punch, kick, strike or throw/sweep while the opponent is defending himself against the first.

For example, say you are throwing a quick, downward attack with the stick. In Modern Arnis, this is called the #5 (of the 1-6) or the #1 (of the 1-12), basically an attack to the crown. How is your opponent likely to defend against it? With a high block. Well, while he is raising his stick to block that first strike, you will quickly retract the stick and then throw an out to in strike against his left elbow (if he uses both hands to support the block) or the left temple (if he is only use one hand). But the timing must be such that the second strike lands while the opponent is still blocking the first shot.

They can be two of the same hit. In boxing this is known as the “Deuce”, the double jab. Every self-respecting boxer knows how to use this technique well. If an opponent has been trained to use the “catch-return jab” response to the jab, you’ll kill ’em. Catch-return jab only works against novice boxers, as experienced coaches will slap the crap out of you for even practicing single jabs. Catch-return jab has no place in a serious fighter’s arsenal. I’m just saying… Any hoo, the Pop-POP! can be thrown with the same type of attack, or two different attacks, but preferably with the same limb. It is more about the timing than anything else.

The Pop, Pop-POP!

You will have a slight gap between the first and second attack. This is so that you can set up the third, more powerful attack. The first attack creates distance and a gap in the action. The second elongates the gap, and sets him up for the third. The third attack is a huge, fight-ending shot. Use this technique as often as you like, but just make sure that the power difference between #s 1 and 2 vary, and make sure #3 is a different technique. This way, in essence, you are throwing a different technique each time you throw it–despite the fact that you are throwing it with the same strategy.

Example:  Jab (make sure you step in with it; we don’t want to throw away punches to ineffectiveness), Jab-CROSS! >>>> Jab, JAB-HOOK (same hand) >>>> JAB-Jab, slip/feint CROSS! Notice I moved the Gap. Yeah, you can do that…

This series is very effective. Just make sure to take it with you into your sparring sessions, and use them frequently until you have them burned into your “second nature” muscles. Good luck! If anyone is in the Sacramento area and would like to try it out, I’d be glad to show you in person. Just email me.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Make sure to check out our “Offerings” page and get my book!



Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

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