Knockout with elbow to the head

I just stumbled on a video I’ve seen before but I can’t remember when. I know there’s some backstory to it but for this post, it isn’t relevant.

Just take a quick look at this video first:


What you see is a guy walking out of a bar and knocking another guy out with an elbow to the head.There are a lot of things I can say about it but I want to focus on something I mentioned in my How Not To Block A Punch post: in a fight, time equals distance.

The only reason the guy can land the elbow (which is a close range move to begin with) is that his victim steps into his range. He walks up to him and is actually still stepping forward when the elbow shot lands on his face. There’s no way he could have blocked that or gotten out of the way. There just isn’t enough time to react at that distance.

Of course, the fact that he had his hands in his pockets wasn’t a smart move either but even if he hadn’t, he’d still have eaten the elbow.

I’m not going to belabor the point because I did so already in that previous post but I wanted to show this clip because it illustrates the concept so well: time = distance.

If you can control the distance, you control how much time you have to do something and also to react to whatever your opponent is doing. The problem is that it goes against the monkey-brain’s impulse to get into somebody’s face when you are angry enough to hit him. As a result, you come too close and risk getting knocked out like this guy.

So if there’s anything you need to focus on in your self-defense training, even more than hitting hard or being fast, it’s controlling the distance. If you don’t, how hard you can punch becomes irrelevant if you don’t survive that first shot you have no way of avoiding.



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  1. That goes both ways of course.

  2. Great article Wim.

    Spot on for both this one and “How not to block a punch”.

    While not a hard and fast rule, generally those posturing are not the ones that land the first blow. The very act of posturing often indicates that the commitment to making an attack has not been fully made. Ties into your comments on mindset in “how not to…”

    In fact, one of the cues to watch for is a potential opponent dropping their hands or looking away right before throwing a punch. Almost a deliberate ‘not posturing’ to lure the posturer into relaxing their senses.

    Anyway, great couple of articles on a very important topic. I didn’t know you’d written a book on it. Perhaps I’ll check it out.


    • Sorry my site is .blogspot, not @blogspot. Kicks up a warning for the wrong one.

    • Thanks, glad you liked the post. Though I’d be very wary of stating this as a rule. The posturing can indeed mean the person isn’t ready. But it can also mean he has already decided to attack and is using it to get close to you, as some of the videos in my posts demonstrate. I don’t think it’s cut and dried.

  3. Damn. That was fast!

  4. It’s funny that one little tip (time=distance) taught in this post really helped my sparring recently.

    I train with one guy who, while small, is incredibly fast. It was getting a bit frustrating. But after applying the concept of time=distance it really turned the tables on him.

    Thanks Wim!

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