I was reading an old Combat Hard Blog post that referenced an article by the Combatives Legend Bob Kasper, entitled “Swamp: How to Make The First Strike Your Last.” In the article, Bob talked about power in combatives, and the idea that when you strike, you sure as heck better make it count in order to lessen a perpetrator’s commitment to the attack. Being an average size person, I have always been extremely interested in generating as much force as possible with the my God given body. SWAMP is a simple acronym for Bob’s five principles of power. Apply these principles to make all your strikes count and effective break in your opponent’s OODA loop and force him to go on the defense. Remember you should be driving the bus.
S: Stay relaxed. You slow yourself down if your muscles are tense. Try throwing a punch with all the muscles of your arm contracted. Not very efficient, is it? Now throw a punch with your arm more relaxed. Think about how you clench the fist right before impact, but stay loose at every micro-step before that moment. Explode on impact. Not easy, and it takes practice.
W: Weapon first. Kasper says, “Let him feel the technique before he sees it.” In other words, avoid telegraphing your movement. This is also takes practice.
A: Acceleration. Speed is critical. Slow and steady, like the tortoise, is not going to win this particular race. Be the hare, and beat him to the punch.
M: Move in the direction of the strike. For instance, sometimes students will shuffle forward and leave a foot planted instead of bringing it along with them and moving the whole body into a strike. The body is essentially divided in the effort. Moving all the mass together as a cohesive unit is a beautiful thing, and makes all the difference in the efficacy of your effort!
P: Plunge. We talk a lot in class about putting your a** into your strikes. Not only do you have to move in the direction of the strike, but you have to utilize your bodyweight correctly behind the strike. I’ve seen 220 pound guys punch with just their arms. A lot of them are still powerful, but again, they are using just their arms. Now, what if a 165 pound guy can put every ounce of his weight into his strikes, and strike as fast and decisively as a cobra, who do you think has the advantage? How powerful do you think the 220 pounders could be with efficient body mechanics?
Use these principles with any technique. As soon as you perceive the threat, explode. Force him to change his mind, or diminish him to the point when he is no longer a threat. As I often say, “This guy brought you to this dance. Okay, buddy. Now, we’re going to dance.” Just make sure you are leading!