Push Me, Pull Me, Just Respect Me in the Morning! By Larry Bethers

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    Bob Hubbard Darth Vindicatus Supporting Member

    Push Me, Pull Me, Just Respect Me in the Morning! By Larry Bethers
    By Bob Hubbard - 01-27-2010 11:53 PM

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    Push Me, Pull Me, Just Respect Me in the Morning!
    By Larry Bethers

    A major principle in the martial arts is the concept of push/pull. There are several axes that run through the body. The central axis runs through the center of the body beginning at the crown of the head and descending through the center of the body. The body rotates around this axis. Therefore if I push with my right hand I will be pulling with my left hand, like when you are walking. By the same token if I pull my opponent with my left hand, he will rotate right, around his central axis. If I push at the same time with my right hand I can easily disrupt my opponent's balance. This concept also applies to joint locks, punching, ground techniques and is directly related to fulcrum activation.

    In our past traditional karate training we would punch with our right hand and vigorously pull our left hand to our left hip. The concept has merit to a degree but our instructors neglected to say we had better have a body part of our opponent in our left hand. This would not only disrupt our opponent's balance but it adds to the effectiveness of the punch.

    In jujitsu the concept of push/pull is applied to just about every technique. It may be on a small scale such as a finger lock or on a larger scale with a throwing technique. The push may be done with a punch or a strike to a vital point while pulling a sleeve to turn the opponent around the opponent's central axis. Changing the axis of the opponent's attack by ninety degrees best does this. At that point you would set up for the throw and the opponent has little choice but to follow the laws of nature (gravity) and fall down. The push/pull must be done with power and commitment.

    In the combat application of a foot sweep against a lunge punch push/pull is what makes the technique work. By deflecting the punch and stepping forward it is then possible to strike the opponent on the opposite side of his neck with your right radial bone. This will bend him backward, and if done correctly, render him or her unconscious. Instead of trying to sweep his foot do a knee strike to the back of his right thigh with your left knee. This will lift his foot off the ground. Once he or she becomes a monopod you can continue the motion with your right arm and dump them on the ground. But what if the opponent punches with a right cross instead of a karate lunge punch? You do essentially the same motion of deflecting the punch but instead of stepping to his/her right side you step to their left front, thus pinning his/her arm to his/her body. Instead of striking the neck strike the base of the skull (GB 20). This is where the pull comes in. The push is delivered with a kick to the opponent's right knee. The two motions will cause the opponent to lose his/her balance and face plant. If you strike GB 20 with sufficient force your opponent will be unconscious when he/she hits the ground.

    Earlier in this article I mentioned using the push/concept in grappling situations. Take the rear naked choke as an example. When entering the technique you of course hit all the proper landmarks and have your alignment precisely placed. Your right arm is around the opponent's neck, his chin is lined up with your elbow and all you have to do is squeeze, right? Well there is more. As you squeeze, pull your elbow as if you were going to drive it into the opponent's chest. This is also done while pulling rearward toward you. The push comes with your forehead on the back of the opponent's head and may be initiated with a head butt.

    An excellent example of push/pull in a joint lock is the two-finger lock. As your opponent reaches for you with his left hand slap his forearm with your right hand. You know what is at the end of his arm so slide your hand down his arm and close your hand around his last two fingers. It is easier to capture the hand this way than by trying to snatch the fingers out of the air. Turn his palm up and with your left hand grab the base of this thumb to keep him from escaping. Pull him toward you as you grasp and invert his palm. Brace his arm over your forearm. His palm should be up. Your right index knuckle should be against the knuckle of his little finger. Push with your knuckle, then with your fingers, pull his fingers toward his belly button. You can place your thumb in back of his hand to increase leverage. This causes complex torque and is quite painful.

    With all martial arts it is necessary to understand the underlying principles that govern the techniques. Then you must train until your body understands what needs to be done and you can do the techniques without thinking. Thinking comes in the dojo.

    Good martial arts, like good comedy requires good timing. If you miss your window of opportunity you will likely receive a stout reprimand and have the joyful experience of counting your missing teeth. Training to effectively employ good push/pull must be done in the dojo well before you need to use it in the street. You must explore and dissect each technique to see where the push/pull is and how it is best used.

    "Train hard, fight easy" is a saying that was popular in the infantry. Another cliché is "it is better to sweat than to bleed". No fight is easy or a pleasant thing unless you are really into self-abuse but consider the alternative to not training seriously.

    Train hard.

    Larry G. Bethers
    6th Dan Chow-Hoon Goshin Jitsu
    Introducing principle based training and teaching.
    http://www.oneartmartialconcepts.com

    42+ years experience in the martial arts
    former Green Beret Officer (Major)


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