I was once told by a self-defence instructor that combinations don’t work in real fights.
I was interested in what he said because he was someone I looked up to.
I recall him saying “If you throw combinations you will hit with less power….better to aim for one solid punch”.
At the time I did a mental check of all the incidents I had seen, and sure enough, there were no combinations.
Most fights ended with a single shot, and the others were wild swings.
So, is there any truth in what he was saying?
Are combinations worth training?
In this article, we find out.
The Art Of The Sucker Punch
One of the reasons most people get knocked out by a single punch and not a combination is two-fold.
Firstly, most attackers lack the skill even to throw a combination of punches.
And secondly, it all has to do with what we call ‘the sucker punch’.
The sucker punch is the classic street thugs go-to technique.
They wait for the moment the victim is off guard and throw a punch or kick that has a devastating effect because the victim never saw it coming.
And the sucker punch is indeed effective; however, that is not self-defence, and as such, it rules out you from using it.
Now, for those of you with experience, you may have heard of things such as the ‘line up’.
The line up was a technique taught over the years whereby you position yourself as in a good position to strike and then land the equivalent of a sucker punch, often proceeded by a question to the aggressor.
The whole aim of this method was to disarm the attacker verbally before launching a pre-emptive strike.
And the defence of its use was along the lines of ‘he was being aggressive to me, and I thought he was about to hit me, so I hit him first’.
And yes…..you might get away with this approach, but also you might go to prison.
No one is saying preemption isn’t allowed; it is just how this is set up and what comes before that matters. And as someone who has chared many with assault over the years, arguing preemption is not as easy as you think…especially in the world of CCTV.
Ok, so that is fine, but it still doesn’t answer the question around the use and training of combinations.
Why You Rarely See Skilled People Fight
There are a lot of skilled fighters in the world….but when you consider the population of the planet is around 7 billion, those skilled people probably make up less than 0.1%.
This means that it is highly unlikely that you will ever see anyone with skills fight in the street.
And yes…it is that rare.
But also, you need to understand that one of the reasons that a skilled person is rarely seen in a street fight is that they often never show their skills.
This is because when they are attacked, they finish the attacker with just one strike.
Because very often, when you know how to strike hard, a real fight ends with a single blow.
Why Combinations Matter
Self-defence isn’t sport fighting, that much we know, but it is an activity.
Each week thousands of people go to their local self-defence, Krav Maga, Defence Lab Swindon or other self-defence clubs to learn to protect themselves, get fit and have fun.
And a self-defence club that focused on delivering single shots would soon become quite boring.
But that really isn’t the reason you should work on your combinations.
The reason is that combinations are there for when you face better opposition.
They provide structure to your fighting that otherwise would result in wild swinging, and this is important because combinations are designed to increase the likely hood of success of your strikes.
Take the simple 1-2 combination.
The left jab acts as a range finder so that your right-hand lands.
And combinations in any Martial Art are designed this way, they were created to maximise the potential of success and reduce the risk to you.
Do Combinations Land With Less Power?
Our final part of this analysis is a simple one, do the strikes you land in a combination land with less power?
There is no easy answer to this because on the surface, yes, a combination will have less power than a huge swing.
But that doesn’t mean the swing will land, and in any case, most combinations are very efficient from a biomechanics perspective.
You chamber the energy in your legs and generate torque in your body as you move through the strikes.
Think about boxers that use a left right left hook combination. The first 2 punches are hard, but the final one is extremely powerful.
Combinations matter and you should train them because you never know how skilled your attacker/ how strong/ punch resistant they might be.
But much more than this, they are fun to learn, and that makes training in self-defence more fun, and if this happens, you are more likely to stick to your training.
So…combinations are actually essential to self-defence.
You probably will never use one, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them.