You are here:

Self Defense/What components have been removed from "Kneeing" thats supposed to make it effective?


I'm a fan of MMA and I practise Muay Thai techniques the punching bag daily. Easily my favorite clinch range technique is the knee and indeed its been incredibly effective in some unfortunate incidents where a jackass wanted to fight me and even threw the first blow even though I tried to leave the store (but they followed me outside). I cannot tell you how in a couple of surprise attacks  where I was pinned to the wall kneeing has saved my ass a lot.

However the technique, as you rightfully pointed out with many modern martial arts attacks, relies predominantly on physical strength. I use the kettlebells a lot and I will be the first one to tell you that if it wasn't for leg exercises I do with the ones I own (especially those actually simulating kneeing movement), I probably would not have developed the power to use knees-at least in the way Muay Thai and other modern martial arts teach them- effectively.

So  at the risk of going into a general question, I am curious what are the mechanics often thrown out from karate and most traditional martial arts that makes the knee such a devastating attack? In particular what has been removed from the MT variation of the movement? I mean all the kneeing techniques being taught and used now (including MT) all assume you developed powerful legs from running and weightlifting. I even seen some variation of kneeing in martial arts that are DEADLY AS SHIT such as jumping 5 feet and hitting an enemy in the face as you  fly to brutally fracture their jaw in one hit (and I seen live MT fights where this happen). But even this devastating moves rely so much on superb acrobatic and agility combine with well-developed legs.

What are the typical missing engines of a kneeing attack? Or was kneeing always a sports-based move that required top athleticism from the start? Even some of the moves that rely on "effective" mechanics I seen in MT and Kung Fu  (such s dragging an enemy to the ground and making him and on your knee as your spring it upwards) assume you have the necessary strength to grapple with the person.

That's a good question, but it's kind of asked in the wrong way.


Those are the different types of attacks
Compression - Putting an individual against a base and then driving into/through him
Drive - A force that goes into and THROUGH a target (to move it)
Pull- Grabbing on and pulling
Impact - a blow that goes into the body, reaches a certain point and then retracts (in doing so leaving the force of the strike inside the body)
Twist - twisting something to take out the slack or to break it
Throw/takedown - Throw is a levering action over a fulcrum point. Takedown collapses/offbalances the structure so gravity takes over and the person falls.

Impact vs. Drive is important distinction. Yes drives have impact aspects, but the goal is different. Impacts are to shock the nervous system (hit). Drives are to move the body(push).

This is important because while an impact can cause structural disruption, they mostly work through creating a 'brown out' of the nervous system. Yeah they hurt, but it's the power loss to the system that is either going to make the guy fall down OR be more malleable.) So you can hit the guy and make things shut down OR make him wobbly enough to move him (through a secondary action that is a drive). For example you ring his bells and throw him while he's wobbly. Basically you shut the power off to his system for a split second, so he can't resist.

Drives however, can be used to physically destroy structure and resistance by crashing through.

A good way to understand the difference is think of a whip crack motion (impact) and swinging an ax to chop down a tree (drive).  The resistance of what is being 'driven' against may be enough to stop the drive (like the first ax chop) or to 'cut through' (the last ax swing)

Here's the thing. The reason I told you about CoD PITT is you need to offer a buffet -- not the same dish over and over again. When you do the same move over and over again, you lose effectiveness -- especially because guy can likely figure out a counter before he is overwhelmed (

and BTW, there is a very simple and effective counter to Muay Thai knees that wrecks the guy's structure by twisting him -- it's not allowed in the ring because it's the first step in a nasty twisting takedown/throw that when he hits the earth he's likely to break).

It's not that knees (drives to chop the guy down) aren't effective. It's not changing to another method of attack from CoD PITT. You nail a guy with a knee to destroy his structure, step back with that leg, pull and twist him as you pivot/turn and you can shoot his ass across the room (or into a wall, or over a chair, or into his friend so he goes down ass over tea kettle).  

Self Defense

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

See CV

Too numerous to list here. My CV (for my expert witness work in court) is at

Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

Awards and Honors
See CV

Past/Present Clients
See CV

©2016 All rights reserved.