The Hook under Pressure (diary entry)




Today’s self-defence lesson at Kingham Hill School introduced the hook and aspects of live training. This sandwiched in revision from lessons, where we covered the pre-emptive strike and both passive and aggressive fences.


We began with a warm-up, coordinating punching and movement. We also revised the cover and tactical escape; running in different directions and accessing the nearest exit points at a moment’s notice.


We then had a quick discussion on responses under pressure. I discussed the Bystander Effect and how to recruit help in a crisis; as well as the importance of following safety instructions and being prepared. This section was finished an overview of live training. Everything needs to be tested. This doesn’t just mean fighting; this also means escaping.


Next we drilled the fence on focus mitts along with incidental combinations. I tightened up areas such as impact development. This was moved onto the aggressive fence, using a shove to create distance. Here I encouraged more vocalisations to reinforce an action and also to help overcome personal inhibitions when facing a conflict situation. This is covered in more detail in my chapter “Kiai: The Fading Cry of the Martial Artist” in my “Mordred’s Victory and Other Martial Mutterings” eBook.


I then introduced the hook. Rather teaching the movement straight away I cross-trained into Western Boxing. Here we allowed the more famous punching version of the hook to serve as a good illustration. The class learned about torqueing the mid-section, engaging the obliques and pivoting. They threw the lead hand and rear hand version of this punch before putting them into boxing combinations. I then scaled back the technique to a slap from the fence. This was then trained as a target familiarisation exercise between partners before being put on the focus mitts to develop power. Some students, who were training in trios, also learned the offline backhand strike against a surprise attacker in conjunction with the hook.


The lesson finished with a pressure test. By holding hands two students tried to hook each other with their free hand whilst transitioning through postures. This exercise puts the hook in isolation under pressure and encourages adaption from different positions with the added obstacle of fighting around the gripping hands.


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