So how do you knock someone out? This is a very misunderstood subject especially in the fight world. If you ask a number of fighters how you knock someone out you will get a bevy of answers ranging from speed, brute strength, accuracy, timing, explosiveness, kinetic linking, penetration and follow through – and the list goes on.
And yet I’ve dropped someone to their knees with a couple of taps on their head. This doesn’t seem to fit in with the above list, doesn’t it?
In order to understand how to knock someone out I believe you must understand the knockout process – what is going on inside that person. Only then can you apply yourself effectively and achieve that knockout you desire.
There are two ways of knocking someone out – concussion, or by inducing the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS, commonly and in my opinion incorrectly termed the fight or flight response.)
For concussion you need to literally rattle the brain around inside the skull, causing damage to the cell structure, resulting in shut down to protect itself. This is trauma within a fight at its most brutal. To effect this trauma on the brain you need to create movement in the head, allowing the brain therefore to crash and rub against the skull and the deviations in the internal surface of the brain, damaging cells, breaking neurology, creating bruising – not very nice!
This movement can be achieved two ways. The first would be sheer force of violent impact, displacing shocking and moving the head through pure force of impact. Here power development and the application of this behind a shot is paramount.
The next way would be through identifying the mechanical weaknesses in your opponent, in particular how the head sits on the neck. A hook to the side of the point of the chin could create a much greater twisting movement in an opponent’s head. Compare this to just hitting the side of the opponent’s head with a hook where his strong neck may absorb and prevent the required violent movement.
Concussive blows are accumulative – the more times you hit someone with power and create the violent movement in the head the more damage and the closer to a concussive knockout. Of course, this is the one element of our fight sports that no fighter should forget. If any of us get hit concussively in training or competition we must monitor ourselves and take precautions, including no alcohol or returning to impact too soon. If in doubt, any doubt, seek appropriate medical attention. Actually, if you take a concussive blow seek appropriate medical attention anyway – let’s play safe hey?
The next way to effect a knock out is by inducing the GAS. This response prepares for the freeze-flight-fight (fear-faint) response, which happens in that order. When we suffer a shock we freeze. If this doesn’t release the stress we know this response is not working, and we quickly move to flight directly away from the source of the stress. Again, if this doesn’t remove the stress we increase our response yet again, now to the fight response. If this doesn’t resolve the stress then we enter a state of fear, similar but different to the freeze. And when we come to the last of the body’s defences there’s nothing left to do but to shut down everything apart from our life support systems – we faint.
And it is possibly for the shock to be so great that we can almost instantaneously shoot through the responses to the faint response. This is what happens with a ‘flash knockdown’.
To induce the flash knockdown stress has to be induced, and rapidly increased. This is why the ‘shot we didn’t see’ can create the stress and therefore the reaction.
Stress is much easier to induce in a novice or intermediate fighter than at the higher echelons of our sports. With the novice and intermediate fighters in training I often set up what I term the ‘limbic loop’ (the limbic system creates the GAS), inducing stress gradually, hitting once to increase stress and the freeze, then again to get them to move away with flight, once more for fight and reading their physiology to instantly hit them as they respond again inducing fear, then tapping them on their head to induce the knockdown, usually a drop to the knee.
Sometimes, as its training, the stress doesn’t quite reach the fear as I keep the contact light, instead sometimes trapping my partners in a never ending limbic loop of rotation through freeze-flight-fight.
So that’s how you induce a knockout. Either by concussion or by inducing the GAS. Hopefully now you’ll be better placed to get the knockouts you desire – and I’ll have to watch out for you in sparring and competition! I'll better blog on evasion and defence pretty soon...