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Self Defense/Is there anyway to generate power using only "limb-based" attacks such as arm punches without being in top shape?


We already know the cliché that boxers utilize the legs to generate most of their effectiveness in punching, martial artists use CoD PITT and mix in different moves in a single devastating combo to KO someone within seconds, big muscular thugs with no formal training using their brute strength and size to generate devastating power when they KO a nerd in one hit, etc.

But I am wondering. In a case of what-if monkey suppose you aren't a strongman who can pull trucks for miles with a rope and you are in a situation preventing utilizing leg movements and other bodily movement preventing power generation as well as  are unable to utilize the whole arsenal of moves such as knees while simultaneously headbutting with a quick follow up by bearhugging ala CoD PITT, etc.

Is there a way to generate power just from purely limb based attacks such as throwing the generic "soccer kicks" without pivoting your standing leg and other subtleties while not being in tip top fighting shape? Fantasy scenario example you're a 90 pound nerd who gets tackled and pinned on a couch by a 200 pounder fat guy. He is so on top you the only blow you can throw are sloppy uppercuts on his body and because you're bot lying on the couch you cant utilize your shoulder and legs to generate full power. The space on the couch is so cramped that you can't use your legs for triangle chokes or bit the fatty on the neck, etc use CoD PITT principles.

Is there anything you can do to generate enough force to hurt this guy with arm-based uppercuts so he'll get off you?

Funny scenario but that couch incident should sum up what I mean by my question. I ask because RBSD discussion and dojo forums brings up so many bizarre scenarios that people are trying to find ways to survive. For example I seen one discussion where people were criticizing boxing because it relies on the legs so much for powers that should you get chained to a chair  punches will be useless. Literally one guy said "that's why us boxers train with weights, pushups. and other hard strength exercises so that we still hit hard even if we can only rely on our arms."

I was like "wut the hell...." but it made me curious if "limb-based" attacks such as  simply bringing up knees without using gravitational force and utilizing your rear leg to spring upward for more power or throwing hooks without twisting your hips along with pivoting legs while lacking the muscles of Conan the Barbarian can still bring enough force to hurt your enemy enough so that you can escape.

Is there anyway to generate power with just arms alone in punching, a single leg alone in kicking, headbutting without grabbing the other guy's rear neck towards you, etc in otherwords just using a single limb or body part to attack in singularity without being physically strong?

Or is this one of those "Ragnarok" you're fucked up for sure scenarios? The argument about boxing being useless if you're legs are chained to a chair is just one and there are so many bizarre scenarios from five guys pinning you to a wall similar to the American History X rape scene to trying to fight with bot arms and one leg in a casket.

Mass x velocity = Force (or momentum)

We're talking weight and speed. The more or either (or both)is what gives you necessary force to get something done.

So a damaging hit basically works one of two ways. One it delivers all you moving mass at once OR it's going really, really, REALLY fast.

The key word that is missing from the MxV equation is 'potential' as in (mass x velocity = potential force ) but we'll get to that in a bit. Let's play with the either or both first. But before we do that know the following.

It's NOT your muscles that make you hit hard. Being in good physical shape helps you take impacts and fight for a long time without tiring. They add to your mass and they can reduce energy loss (that potential thing). And they can help speed your movement up. So it's got all kinds of benefits and advantages, but 'making you hit harder' is way down the list.

150 pound moving at 20 mph is still going to max out at 3000 no matter if it's muscle or fat.

Now, what I'm going to say is going to sound like I'm contracting myself, but I'm not. What muscle CAN do is keep you from losing more power. Let's use 3000 as the baseline. Hitting harder would be muscles boosting that potential 3,000 to 4000 force (which it doesn't). Muscles can contribute to only losing 800 (resulting in 2,200) vs losing 1800 (resulting in 1,200).

But even then, that's so far off base to be a lie to children.

What allows for maximum delivery of force is structure, range, timing and proper muscle sequencing (tightening and relaxing muscles to transfer power through properly aligned skeleton). These are the factors that go into delivering the maximum amount of potential force AND increasing speed (velocity). Those elements are MILES beyond just how 'strong' someone is. To throw an effective, fast, properly aligned punch that delivers maximum force is about those elements, NOT how strong someone is. It is largely about taking out shock absorbers from what you're doing (not doing things that rob you of your ability to deliver force)

Someone with muscles throwing a strike with lousy structure (alignment/ mechanics) CAN -- that is a may or may not -- us muscles to keep from losing more power. But that's loss prevention, not more power generation. Usually they actually screw it up more than they salvage. Because without proper muscle sequencing and timing, it slows you down because your muscles get in your own way. So instead of being 20, it becomes 150 x 10.

Now all of that is background to get you to understand the answer to your question. That's:

It is possible to throw strikes that deliver the most power possible just using your arm.

BUT those do not have the same potential force as a move involving your entire body. Figure your arm weighs about 20 pounds. Play with MxV formula to see how fast it would have to be going to generate the potential force of your entire body weight. We've left, humanly possible. (The fastest punch on record is by Keith Liddel at 44 mph which is more than 100 mph less than the original formula.)

You can clip someone pretty damned good using proper mechanics and lots of speed -- especially if you hit them in a tender spot. But you'll never be able to strike as hard as using your entire body weight. And it's got nothing to do with muscles or strength.

Now having said that there are all KINDS of ways to move your body in all kinds of subtle ways. it really is nearly impossible to limit someone so they can't use their body IF they know how.  I know guys who can blow you through a wall with body movement that is more subtle than your last sneeze. It looks like they just twitched, but they actually got their entire body weight into it. These are far more common in Chinese styles than the commercialized and sports crap that rely on muscle. They also take years of practice. On the other hand, unlike muscle, these skills don't go away. This subtle power generation is why you can have a 80 year old Chinese guy put a weightlifter through the wall.  

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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

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