The Seven Low Blows

This blog has had less posts on self-defence than I originally envisioned. One of the reasons for this is that “Attack, Avoid, Survive” and “Crash Combat” cover the subject comprehensively.
I was discussing “Miller’s law” recently. This is the idea that the average number of related “data chunks” a person can recall is seven, plus or minus two. It seems prudent to keep this in mind when creating lists of ideas or concepts to memorize.
In keeping with this vein, I present the “Seven Low Blows”:
1.    The kick to the groin. We all know that a kick to the front of the pelvis can be decisive, regardless of your gender. Your attacker knows this too and landing the blow may not be as easy as some self-defence manuals make out. The classic groin kick is probably the front snap kick. Drawing the kicking foot back or stepping forward with the other foot will telegraph your intentions and is to be avoided. My personal inclination would be to use a front thrust kick. This is a kick I can perform with speed and accuracy. Hammer the front of the pelvis rather than kick his gonads up out his ears. A roundhouse kick might connect, and may be useful if the foe has his hip turned in to protect his groin. I would be cautious about using a roundhouse in this way and you may be better off attacking another target such as the near leg.
2.  Coccyx aka “tailbone”. This can be a very decisive target, resulting in serious injuries that will be slow to heal. The primary kick to hit this is a horizontal roundhouse. Kick slightly higher and you can hit the kidneys or the vertebrae where they join the pelvis. Don’t try to kick higher than this
3.  Front of the knee. Another devastating attack than can cause life changing levels of injury. None of the attacks described in today’s blog are for playing or sparring! Primary attack is the side thrust kick. It is easy to put a lot of weight and force behind this kick so it can also be directed against the thighbone. A useful variant of the side-kick is the “Moro” or oblique kick. See my books for details.
4.  Side and back of the knee. These can also be attacked with a side-kick. Alternately, use an oblique roundhouse/ snap kick against these areas. The side of the thigh, just above the knee can be attacked with the same techniques.
5.   Shin, calf and foot. The region below the knee can be attacked with a nearly vertical side-kick. This is a kick that works well with footwear. Scrape the side of your boot sole down the front of the shin and finish by stomping down on the top of the foot. A useful technique for escaping from grabs or holds. May be applied to the calf muscles at the sides and back of the leg.
6.  Knee strike. Blows with the knee can be delivered in situations where other kicks cannot. Often your foe will be holding onto you or you onto them when you use your knee. The groin is an obvious target but do not forget that the side of the thigh and the coccyx can be struck too. If a foe is bent forwards knee them in the nose, forehead, temple, hinge of the jaw, ribs or kidneys.
7.   Half-moon step. This is a stepping technique described under “Sanchin” in “Attack, Avoid, Survive”. It utilizes balance and movements you will have honed learning the crescent kicks. This step uses a semi-circular movement to move past an opponent or slip your leg behind their lead leg. This can set up a push or strike to trip or unbalance them. The arc of the foot movement may be inward or outward. One of the first practical applications for Sanchin that I learnt was to slip past an advancing opponent and then stamp backward at their calf. The motion itself can be used as a low strike. Aim it at the ankle-bone or the Achilles tendon, but be aware these may be protected by the footwear. You may also use this movement to step on or pin the foe’s foot.