Kun Tao Silat – Flip Kicks & Head Butting

Two other basic techniques in Kun Tao Silat that are included in the Clear’s Kun Tao Silat curriculum are Flip Kicks & Head Butting. There are many other techniques and methods. These are simply some of the basics that we specifically teach along with the Clear’s Kun Tao Silat Basic 8 Set in our system of Kun Tao Silat.

Flip Kicks

Flip Kicks are intended to be thrown close enough to the opponent so that you can hit the opponents front thigh. The intended target is normally just behind the knee and is intended to rake or cut downwards through their leg.

Flip Kicks are thrown by first stepping out with the front leg an inch to a foot or so and lifting the back leg up and bringing it over in an arc so that the shin and knee are facing downwards hence the name because the leg is flipped over.

This technique is very similar to a Thai Boxing Shin Kick except that the shin in this case is intended to rake and cut through the opponent most likely ending in a leg break to them.

After the Flip kick is launched the descent occurs by sinking on the support leg so that the practitioner’s entire body drops. The toes (which are pulled back) land on the floor and the practitioner is back in the Clear’s Kun Tao Silat Basic 8 position but now facing 180 degrees the other way.

When the first step happens the practitioner should throw their front hand out to strike followed immediately by the other hand. Ideally this overwhelms the intended recipient and keeps them busy so that they do not see the Flip Kick which lands an instant after the 2nd hand. As soon as the 2nd forward hand strike is thrown but before the 2nd hand lands the Flip Kick gets thrown.

Used properly this kick can have devastating results.

Head Butting

Clear’s Kun Tao Dragon set the headbutts are always present in every move.

The key thing to ingrain and practice is that the headbutts are not thrown by moving your head or neck but that instead you move your entire upper torso as one piece so that the entire upper body weight makes contact each time you headbutt. This is simply devastating to the recipient of such a blow. Another key element is to look through your eyebrows at whatever you are headbutting.

When you add the Flip Kick and the head butt into your Clear’s Kun Tao Dragon set arsenal you begin to get a fairly simple and quite powerful method of in close fighting that can be used quite effectively by anyone who takes the time to practice properly and build the leg strength, power and speed necessary to properly perform the set moves.

Kun Tao Dragon 8 Move Set

The Clear’s Kun Tao Silat Basic 8 Move Set utilizes a loaded position that capitalizes on compression and forward body motion to over run and go into and through the opponent.

To begin the Kun Tao Dragon Set stand with your feet parallel at shoulder width while facing forward.

Then, turn 90 degrees and face to the left. Lean slightly forward as if looking over the side of a steep cliff. Then, drop low enough that you can place your left forearm on top of your left thigh.

The toes of your right foot stay on the ground but pick up your right heel as high as you can so that you are ready to run or jump forwards due to the pressure on your toes.

All of your weight should be on your left leg and you want as much pressure as possible on the “loaded” right leg. If you pick up your left leg the right leg should pop you forward due to the pressure on it. This position resembles a runner poised and ready at the starting line.

All of the moves start and end in this loaded position with the exception of the Lift kick causing the practitioner to switch leg positions (the right leg has all the weight and the left becomes spring loaded) so that you can repeat the sequence on the other side of your body.

  • The 1st move is a spring loaded punch up with the whole body behind the punch.
  • The 2nd move is a punch down with a heavy forearm type of strike.
  • The 3rd move is an upward elbow with your forward elbow.
  • The 4th move is an elbow across with the back arm.
  • The 5th move is an upward (can be jumping) knee with the forward leg.
  • The 6th move is a cross knee with the back leg.
  • The 7th move is a shock kick where the front foot is kicking forward while the back foot moves up to replace the position the front foot was in. When the front foot sets down you are back in the Kun Tao Basic 8 stance one full move ahead of where you were before the kick.
  • The 8th move is a Lift Kick where your back foot is brought forward with your toes pulled back in order to spear or spike the opponent in the knee, groin, belly, (or throat if you are an advanced practitioner) with your foot. This kick is similar to a Push Kick in Thai Boxing.

In the Clear’s Kun Tao Dragon 8 Move Set you can also change sides / positions by stepping forward with the back foot so that your right leg now has your body weight and the left leg is loaded. You can also simply turn around 180 degrees by spinning on your toes or you can throw a Flip kick to turn 180 degrees.

We will be covering the Flip Kick in an upcoming Post

Kun Tao Silat Intro

Many hundreds of books could be written and filled regarding Silat styles, Kun Tao styles and the interaction of these two extensive arts commonly referred to as Kun Tao Silat. Silat styles generally are indigenous to the islands although they have flavors in them from all over the far east including from India. Kun Tao styles are of Chinese origin and the literal translation of Kun Tao from Cantonese to English is Fist Way.

In the Indonesian archipelago you can find art forms that are purely Silat and there are art forms that are purely Kun Tao. More often than not there is some degree of mixture between the two arts. Sometimes this is acknowledged by the practitioners and sometimes it is not. When the mixture is evident (usually when the mix has more than 25% from each art) then the mixture is generally acknowledged because it is somewhat obvious to other martial artists of either style. As a result these styles are more and more often becoming known as a Kun Tao Silat style. Clear’s Silat is a Kun Tao Silat style and is officially recognized as such by other senior practitioners of the arts.

Many years ago, in order to help new students gain an understanding of the Kun Tao expression of compression and explosiveness along with the overwhelming attacking movement of the art I chose to place 8 basic movements that are found in most Kun Tao styles in Phase I of our program. These movements are also found and used very effectively in Silat and particularly in our Silat but in Silat the energetic expression of these movements is noticeably different than in most other arts. Please understand. An elbow is an elbow but there are many different ways and timings of when and how to use an elbow. My teacher and mentor Uncle Bill (Willem de Thouars) tends to say “different flavors”. Part of the idea being that they are all still flavors even though different.

The movements in our Basic 8 move set include body compression and release with extreme forward machine gun type attacking with whole body weight to over run into and through the opponents position. Included are 2 primary punches, 2 elbows, 2 knees and 2 kicks. I will detail these in the next post.

keep up the Good Training.

Staccato Rhythm

Staccato Rhythm is a rhythm that acts like a broken rhythm.

Staccato Rhythm is a very rapid and continuous stream of motion and tone like machine gun fire or a rapid drum beat. In class I like to use the example of 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1……… to make the point.

This pattern applied to fighting movement is a fighting rhythm because there is a pattern and all parties know when the next strike and the one after it will occur and the person using this pattern can mostly rest their mind because it is a pattern.

This pattern acts like a Broken rhythm because it is overwhelming and after a very brief period of time the person using the Staccato rhythm will get tired out. Staccato movement will tend to overwhelm the opponent which is something that a Broken Rhythm tends to do as well. A simple way to see this is to have your partner perform a reasonably complex (not simple abc, abc, abc type) pattern in the air and then the partner practicing the Staccato rhythm rapidly runs letting their feet make sound and hits their chest with their open hands making sound and moves very close to the partner performing the rhythm. As long as the partner performing the rhythmic motion is performing a complex enough rhythm then the tendency will be for their movement to get interrupted which may show as a speed up or slowing down or simply interrupted movement on the part of the person trying to maintain a rhythm.

Kun Tao tends to use Staccato Rhythm in its movement and there are quite a few fighting patterns that are trained in our style of Clear’s Kun Tao Silat using Staccato Rhythm.

Broken Rhythm

For fighting purposes Broken Rhythm refers to the idea of constantly changing your pace, your timing, your speed and what techniques you are throwing.

Examples of pace include walking, crawling (slow motion type speed), skipping, jogging, light running and sprinting etc.. Your timing can change based on what kind/speed of motion you are doing and when you are doing it. For example if you start running then stop then break into a jog and then just start walking while in motion to fight. Your technique speed can be faster or slower to mess with the timing and / or movement of the other person.

The idea in broken rhythm is for the opponent to never know what you are going to do next. If they can figure your movement out in advance then you are not truly moving with a broken rhythm and are probably moving with a pattern or rhythm of some kind.

The primary benefit of broken rhythm is that the opponent can not figure out what you are going to do next. The downside is that to truly move with broken rhythm you must constantly change and not repeat a pattern which is mentally and physically very demanding and tiring so that most people can not keep up the demanding pace for very long.

A good drill to work on Broken Rhythm is to have your training partner point their finger at you pretending they have a gun and if they can figure out where and when you are going to be before you get there then they yell bang and drop their thumb to indicate shooting. If they get you quite a bit then you should ask them what they are seeing or picking up on that is repeating and / or giving you away so that you can fix the problem.

Kun Tao Silat

Clear’s Silat & Street Kung Fu is Kun Tao Silat. Kun Tao Silat is a mixture of Silat and Kun Tao. This mixture goes back quite a few generations and is a blend that came has come about starting with the Chinese trade with the spice islands of Indonesia and Malaysia in the 1200’s.

Although pure Pentjak Silat and pure Kun Tao styles can be found in the islands the majority of martial art styles that can be found in Indonesia and Malaysia today are a combination of Kun Tao and Silat. Part of the reason for this is that the primary purpose for martial arts study in the islands is survival. This tends to mean that if something works then use it and if it works particularly well then claim it as your own.

The mixture of Kun Tao and Silat in styles range from close to 50/50 % to as much as 95/5 %. It just depends on which region or area you are in and what styles are available and what kind of techniques and skills you will need against nearby enemies. Techniques can also depend on who married who and what family arts are / were available.

The mixture of Kun Tao and Silat allows for a wide range of techniques and awfully sudden changes in expression that can be very explosive while being very deceptive. Kun Tao Silat is directed towards the practitioner being able to defend themselves against multiple attackers, armed with weapons, attacking by surprise. The art is a mixture of powerful, explosive and fluid bone breaking and pressure point striking designed to help one extricate themselves from a situation as rapidly as possible. In the art every part of the body that can possibly be used is considered and used as a weapon.

Implements including bladed weapons and improvised weapons are also studied along with tactics and awareness techniques.

Kun Tao

Kun Tao is an extremely deadly form of  the old hand Kung Fu from the temples and family systems of China.

Today it is primarily found in Indonesia and Malaysia.  The Chinese began migrating to the spice islands in the 1200’s and quickly became the largest immigrant population in Indonesia and Malaysia. As a result the islands became a melting pot of Southeast Asian martial arts including Kun Tao.

Kun Tao is 2 words in Cantonese. The word Kun means fist and the word Tao means way. Together they mean Fist Way or Way of the Fist. In Mandarin the words for Fist Way are Chuan Fa. There are approximately 350 known Kun Tao Styles.

Kun Tao is an art form that due to its deadliness was outlawed in the islands and until the last 85 years or so was very rarely taught to non-Chinese and even only rarely taught to non-family members who were Chinese.

Fortunately by the time World War I ended there was a very large mixing of cultures in Indonesia and Malaysia. The Dutch were the primary European colonists in the area establishing plantations and growing such things as tobacco and coffee.

The main source of trade and money in Malaysia were the Chinese and with the large amount of trade both East and West came people from many different cultures and back grounds and multi-generations of people who intermarried and over the centuries had become part of the culture. As this occurred Kun Tao and Silat began to grow beyond its roots and spread outside of the cultures from which they came.

In 1954 when Sukarno came to full power in Indonesia he forced all people of mixed blood and non-Indos to leave or be beheaded. As a result a number of serious Kun Tao and Silat practitioners who were of mixed Indonesian, Dutch and Chinese descent fled the country and went to Holland, other European countries and eventually the United States. As a result Kun Tao and Silat came to the USA and was taught to Americans starting in the early 1960’s.

Kun Tao can now be found in most major cities in the United States.

Kun Tao techniques tend to be devastating close range explosive techniques utilizing rapid fire blasting strikes and rapid grappling breaks. The old hand street Kung Fu training includes specialty palms and jing expressions as well as animal form training and the internal arts of Hsing-I, Pa Kua / Ba Gua and Tai Chi. The primary commonality of most Kun Tao styles and methods is the lethal nature and unique and unmistakable expressive explosiveness of the Kun Tao arts.

Iron Palm Q&A With Sigung Richard Clear:

Q. Please give me the history of your iron palm training?

My Original instructor was Tyrone Jackson who was the senior disciple of Dr Fred Wu.

Dr Wu was a senior disciple under Lee Ying-Arng.

Lee Ying-Arng was an amazing and great Kung Fu Master from the last generation who eventually lived in Hong Kong. There he was the President of the Inner System Martial Arts Association, President of the Hong Kong Acupuncture Research Centre, and Vice President of the Hong Kong Chinese Martial Arts Association. He was a Doctor of Chiropractic and Acupuncture and studied Wu Tang Kung Fu, Internal Arts and Dim Mak including Dian-hsuhe (Delayed death touch) from many famous Masters.

He was a senior disciple under Yang Chen Fu and studied Mind Fist (Yee Chuan/I-Chuan) from Professor Wang Shian-Jie the Founder of I-Chuan. He studied Dim Mak and Dian-hsuhe for over 10 years.

In 1968 Lee wrote the book “Iron Palm in 100 Days” that was reprinted about half a dozen times.

In that book Lee refers to numerous variations and schools of Iron Palm training and other specialty internal palm methods that he taught and Lee explains how to train several methods of Iron Palm. In his book Lee shows a section of the “Yi Chin Ching or Sinew Changing” classic temple manuscript and he explains that the classic has a section which explains an Iron Palm training method similar to the “straight forward” or Direct method.

I began training in Kung Fu in 1979 and I began training with Tyrone Jackson in 1984.

One of the first things that Tyrone did was to help me modify the Kung Fu forms I already had and make them much more applicable for Dim Mak striking methods and placement.

This included learning the points and meridians and Iron Palm.

Tyrone also began teaching me the Iron Palm methods that Lee referred to as the Indirect Method and the All round method and more advanced instruction and other Internal methods not taught in the book but most of which obviously came from Lee because it was a natural extension of what Lee offered in his book.

I also found out that parts of the book are intentionally misleading or only taught in part to stop people from fraudulently capitalizing on Lee’s work.

We were also taught simple ways to make our own training equipment from readily available items such as Phone books and duct tape.

I trained external methods at first.

But my preferred methods are the internal ones…

,,,in part because the more advanced Dim Mak, Dian-hsuhe and Chi Manipulation including healing methods can only be gained and mastered with the internal methods.

Tyrone demonstrated these skills from the first day I began studying with him. I was particularly impressed with his ability to affect people from a distance and healing without touching methods.

Q. What are the similarities with other iron palm styles?

The main types of Iron Palm that the general martial arts public seems to be familiar with involve training with materials and liniments.

From the practitioners I have spoken with and articles I have read the external methods we were taught are very similar to what I understand most other practitioners are doing with minor differences.

As for the internal methods without materials I have not met many people in North America who are familiar with this method at all let alone training in it.

Q. How long have you been training in it and what attracted you to it?

I met Tyrone in a park in 1981.

At the time I was training in some other martial arts and although I already had some limited training in Tibetan energy methods I was really intrigued.

About this time my dad recommended that I look for a Kung Fu teacher to continue my training and I would have gone back to Tyrone but I did not know how to find him and he only taught small groups, privately and at his home.

I started studying Dr Wu’s system of Kung Fu in 1982 from one of Dr Wu’s other senior students and then I began studying from Tyrone in 1984.

As a result I began training Iron Palm in 1984.

I was not really seeking out Iron Palm. I had not heard enough about it to actively seek it.

Iron Palm and Dim Mak were simply a part of the Kung Fu training we received.

Once I began training I was hooked on it for awhile and then when I saw the other skills that could be acquired I began to get more interested in Internal energy training and development and I have not looked back since.

Q. From whom did you learn?

Over the years I have been fortunate and blessed to learn from quite a few teachers. However, my original and primary teacher for Iron Palm was Tyrone.

Q. What kinds of advice did your iron palm sifu give you?

One of the interesting things about training with Tyrone was that he almost never had us break materials.

About 1986 I decided on my own to break a concrete block.

So, I put this patio block on top of two other strong and sturdy cinder blocks and proceeded to try to break it.

I hit it multiple times and got nowhere.

It felt like my hits were penetrating all of the way through but no break. Finally, after a few days of this I became very frustrated.

One of my class mates comes over to my house and looks at the 2 support bricks and moves the top brick off of them. Both of the support blocks had fractures lines running through them and when picked up they fell apart with a very light slap while we were holding them.

I immediately went and asked Tyrone about this.

He simply smiled in a telling way and said…

“Don’t break, Just Keep Practicing”.

I then realized that he was teaching me vibrating palm and how to transmit the energy through objects without damaging the surface.

I got really excited and we were in the process of tearing down an old little 3 room guest house that was sitting in our back yard. I began striking the tiles on the house to see how far I could project. At one point I hit the front of the house and broke a window on the back. I then began using the house to see if I could make the energy travel in the direction I intended and I was able to gain some skill at it.

When I told Tyrone he frowned (a little annoyed) and said,

“Don’t break, Just Keep Practicing”.

I still broke on occasion but I did get the idea that he wanted to train our hands to be able to project so well that one blow would have devastating consequences if we ever had to use our art.

Today I only break to test things out or when I am giving a demonstration or if I am teaching a very specific skill where the student needs to see what is expected.

I believe as Tyrone did that this is much better for long term health.

As for using our Kung Fu in a fight Tyrone subscribed to the idea that we should never try to hurt people if it could be avoided but he was very aware that we lived in a very violent and crime ridden industrial city where the chances were high we would have to use our skills for survival.

Over the years I lived there, I was attacked on the street more than a dozen times including knife and gun assaults.

Most of the time I did not have to hit people but when I did hit them they went down within the first second or two of contact.

Q. Describe the curriculum for beginning, intermediate and advanced students.

This interview was conducted before our Tai Chi Internal Iron Palm video was made. The curriculum that Sigung Clear describes below is contained within our Kun Tao Silat program. It is a bit different from the training progression found on the Internal Iron Palm in 100 Days: Secrets of Tai Chi Iron Palm video.

Today I teach primarily internal methods so the curriculum is based on what the students need to attain high quality internal methods and there are quite a few levels from beginner to very advanced.

Clear’s Silat Phase 1


  • body relaxing
  • loosening
  • stretching
  • conditioning and Body Connection Ba Gua and Tai Chi exercises
  • and a very specific method of Push Hands
…are all taught to beginners.

These are practiced and refined all the way through the program by even the most advanced students.

Internal sensitivity training begins with the Push Hands but by the time the students are at an intermediate level it is expected that they can feel the internal energy movement within the Ba Gua exercises and Shaolin or Tai Chi sets also.

Clear’s Silat Phase 2

At the next level students are taught Whole Body Power, Heavy Hands and Body, Compression Hitting, a very powerful but basic series of 1 Hit/Touch Knockouts and Iron Body which includes Iron hand and forearm.

Then students learn a fighting method for delivering multiple Iron Palm/Kilap Slaps very rapidly.

Generally speaking they can throw 3 – 5 of these hits per second and train to sustain it for a minimum of several minutes at a time. It makes for an amazing offense and defense all in one.

There is a little breaking of wood to make sure that development and ability are appropriately developing and students have to demonstrate a basic proficiency level before progressing.

Clear’s Silat Phase 3

At the next level students begin Lao Gung development.

Also, students learn how to focus and condense Chi and energy flow.

They train Internal Iron Palm and Poison Hand specifically as well as the Whip hand and fighting methods that generate strikes from the legs and spine out to the hands.

Students also learn how to evade Iron Palm strikes while still landing their own hit(s) and how to internally and externally redirect the energy of energetic hits they receive so that if they are hit they can mentally redirect the energy back out of their body and not be vitally damaged.

At this level there is more wood breaking.

Students must break boards with whip strikes using their finger tips.

Also, students must be able to hold a board in one hand…

and break it with their other hand.

Clear’s Silat Phase 4 and above:

Intermediate Methods include (but are not limited to) penetrating palm, crushing palm, vibrating palm, short distance hitting, introductory no-distance hitting, the transference of shock power hitting and utilizing the lao gong to energetically hit.

Skill tests include being able to hold two boards in one hand and break them both or only break one of the two boards, as chosen by the instructor, with their other hand. So, in reality they have to be able to break either one or all of them by choice.

Also, by now brick breaking is tested and the student has to break at least one brick.

The average student has the power/ability to break a brick prior to testing for it at this level but I do not rush brick breaking in accordance with what Tyrone taught me.

Advanced methods include (but are not limited to) cotton palm, springy palm, fire hands (burning palm), Advanced No-distance hitting and universal energy palm. Also included are learning how to use a Yin palm to take energy out and the Yang palm to put negative energy in to someone.

Also the delayed death touch and other advanced striking methods are in the advanced curriculum as well as more advanced methods of energy transference including being able to strike a person almost anywhere and have the strike travel through the opponent’s body to an intended destination somewhere else inside them.

Healing methods for many of the energetic strikes are included.

Skill tests include being able to hold three boards and break them all or only break any one or two together of the boards as chosen by the instructor and being able to break bricks and get different effects with the brick breaks.

There are other skill tests as well such as being able to lightly hit through a very thick force shield pad and have the person who is holding the pad feel the hit as if the pad is not there. I have some police officers for students and have demonstrated this hit through a bullet proof vest.

Tai Chi Iron Palm Methods

I also have a method that is taught as part of our advanced Tai Chi curriculum that includes Internal Iron Body, Cotton Palm and high level Dim Mak including being able to hit anywhere on their body and have your blow go where you want it to as well as how to touch the opponent very lightly (or so it seems) and transmit a tremendous amount of damage to their spine and central nervous system.

One of the tests for this involves the use of a thick phone book. The receiving student holds the phone book over their belly and the striking student hits the phone book and their palm print has to appear on the receiving student’s belly. Healing methods for many of the energetic strikes are included.

Once you learn how you actually practice the strikes and healing energy and methods for these by practicing the Tai Chi set and Push Hands which makes it sound simpler than it is because it is quite a bit to learn and it takes a lot of work, patience and diligent practice while you are being guided/advised by a competent teacher to get it right.

Q. Do you do anything differently than other systems who teach an iron palm method?

I have not met anyone else in the United States who trains their Iron Palm in the manner and progression I have described to you above.

Q. How do you keep young or beginning students from doing permanent damage to their hands?

Our training method described above is designed specifically to avoid this from ever being a problem while giving the practitioner Internal Iron Palm and energy skills that they can use for the rest of their life.

Q. How long does it take to master your system?

Specific aspects and methods of training in isolation can be mastered quite quickly. However, the full curriculum requires many dedicated years of training to complete.

Q. What kind of jow do you use and what is the history behind it?

Lee sold a personal family recipe liniment appropriately called Lee’s Liniment that was advertised in many of his original books during the 1960’s and included in subsequent printings all the way up until at least the 1980’s.

We used this liniment for any bruises we got and also for Iron Palm training.

When we practiced the Indirect method and Internal Iron Palm Tyrone would have us put a few drops on our hands and massage it in to cause the energy to flow to our hands.

In years since I have used a number of products including Oriental Herb Company products.

For a lot of the specialty palms no jow or special herbal treatment is required and what is lot more important is Chi Kung training and practice which includes taking care of yourself, getting proper rest, eating nutritious foods and taking vitamins etc. to take care of your body and mind.

Q. What is the need for iron palm training today?

An aspect of Iron Body, Internal Iron Palm and some of the specialty palms that is often overlooked or not understood is that they are a byproduct of Chi Kung that is designed to make your body super healthy.

As for self defense these methods are phenomenal.

There are many places in our society today where you can not carry a weapon such as a knife or gun.

Iron Palm is a great equalizer against an attacker who is much larger and stronger than you. Also, if you are attacked by multiple attackers it is a really nice benefit to only have to hit any attacker only once so that you have a real chance of escaping and living through the situation.

I practiced Iron Body and Iron Palm for over an hour every day for over 6 months before I opened my first school in 1990.

I did it with the idea that if I got seriously challenged by someone who just came in the door and attacked me that I could take a very serious hit from them and give them a hit that most people could not withstand. Amongst other things it gave me a confidence that helped alleviate some very serious situations in my early years of running my own schools.

I teach a 2 day course on the 1 Hit Knockouts combined with scenario training to executives and business owners including their wives and family members.

About a dozen graduates of the course have had to use the training in a real confrontation where it became physical. In every case the attacker was either knocked out or incapacitated in some form and in the case of one attack the attacker got their arm broke on first contact.

I teach students to first get away if they can and then to put up a deterrent that most attackers respond to in exactly the manner we want which is for them to back off.

We have had over 60 graduates of the course report that they were able to stop a violent encounter before it became physical by utilizing this aspect of the training. When the attacker physically attacks anyway and vastly out muscles and towers over the defender or when the attacker is one of several or more then the kind of force imparted through a 1 Hit Knockout/Iron Palm type strike is very justified.

Once the attacker has been dropped or nullified then the student immediately discontinues and gets away as fast as possible in order to call the police from a position of safety.

There is no being overly easy on an attack from a hardened criminal who is under the influence of drugs.

It is a pipe dream to think someone can use a limited and rationed amount of force and come out okay. Use as much avoidance and deterrence as possible and when this fails due to an attacker’s determination to get you then drop them as soon as possible.

As a side note for the socially and legally conscious readers out there I have taught the program to a number of attorneys who tell me this is the smartest judicial use of force they have seen while still physically fully protecting the law abiding person who is forced to defend themselves in a bad situation.

The Iron Palm training described in this article is contained within the Clear’s Kun Tao Silat Curricululm. We also have a video that was produced after this interview that focuses only on the Internal Iron Palm methods found in Tai Chi Chuan.


Warning: Do Not Practice on Living People
Do not practice these techniques on other people.  These techniques can cause serious injury and have a high potential to be lethal.  Do not use these techniques unless it is to defend yourself in a serious life or death situation.  Also, do not practice these techniques at full speed or power or with real intention on another human being or on any other living thing.

For example, a serious knock out hit to the jaw can shatter the jaw and if the intent of the force or the physical force is driven upward with enough power then the strike can break the small bones of the cheek or and the connecting eye ridge causing such massive trauma that the injured person will die from the shock let alone the trauma.  One of the dangers of learning a true method of 1 Hit Knockouts is that quite often, at first, the practitioner can’t tell how much power they are generating and assume that since they don’t feel much power that they don’t have the hit yet or that they are not generating a knock out hit.  However, once true knock out power is learned it is generally easier to do a knock out quality hit than it is not to do one.

So, students have to be seriously warned to be careful not to really hit their training partner(s) when practicing.  There is, of course, the liability issue but even more than that is the real possibility that someone can get seriously injured because the practitioner doesn’t realize their own power.  So, we never hit another person with even a medium hit and certainly not with a fast speed or penetrating strike.  We limit our hits to air strikes or striking on boards, bricks, bags and pads and will only demonstrate very limited hits to a person on rare occasions.   When one of my senior students first learned “No Distance” hitting he did not understand how serious these hits really are and consequently he broke 2 different training partners ribs by mistake before he realized he could not even moderately practice on people.  Fortunately, he was not hitting any major pressure points or he may have done much more than just crack a rib or two.  He honestly didn’t think he was hitting with any power.  I have always warned my students about the dangers of these hits but ever since his experience I have always EXTRA stressed the importance of not practicing these hits on people and that is why I am sharing his experience with you.

What is a 1 Hit Knockout:

Finger jab to the eye

Finger to the eye

There are different kinds of knockout hits including but not limited to pressure point hits that require a series or combination of hits to achieve a knockout.  This kind of knockout hitting is very popular today in Okinawan and Kenpo Karate.  The series combination pressure point method is also the way that I was originally taught to apply the moves in my Kung Fu forms.  Kilap Silat is an art that usually hits multiple pressure points all at once with the same strike causing a system overload that causes a knockout.

A Punch to the Throat

A Punch to the Throat

Fa Jing or explosive energy hits emanate from the entire body and tend to be whip like.  Most real Tai Chi and Internal Arts instructors know or have a version of Fa Jing in their art.  Whole body power striking is typical of the hitting method in Poekilan and Tji-Mande Silat.  Some advanced hits include Poison Hands, Shock Power Hitting and Vibrating Palm Hitting.  These skills can be found in most Internal Arts but are much less commonly known.  Other advanced strikes include 1 Touch Knockouts and short distance knockouts including heavy hand techniques.

a slap to the testicles

a slap to the testicles

A 1 Hit Knockout can be as simple as a finger jab to an eye, a punch to the throat or a light slap to the testicles.

A 1 Hit Knockout can be as sophisticated as a light tap underneath the jaw at the correct angle and direction such that the person just drops, a whole body power hit, to snap the arm, that is done in such a way so that the person who receives it goes into shock from the trauma and passes out, or a specialized frontal or side strike that causes the heart to fibrillate and then the blood circulation stops temporarily or permanently causing death.

A light tap underneath the jaw.

A light tap underneath the jaw.

In Kun Tao and Pentjak Silat there is a study of striking the joints to disable an attackers ability to physically move in case the attacker is crazed (or in today’s world on drugs or heavily under the influence of alcohol) so that the attacker is unable to continue.  I place this body of information as a priority along with my study, practice and teaching of knockout hitting because I believe that the average attacker on the street is not in their right mind to begin with.

Snap the arm.

Snap the arm.

Description of 1 Hit Knockouts:

A properly executed 1 Hit Knockout looks like the person throwing the hit barely did anything.  One of the simpler and more advanced 1 Hit methods has been described by one author (Gilbey) as a just a dinky little poke.  From watching the film footage I believe that this is the kind of hit that Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) used to hit Sonny Liston.  Also, when a 1 Hit Knockout is done correctly the opponent typically falls like a sack of potatoes.  Once a good 1 Hit Technique has been trained in it is common to feel like you aren’t doing anything to make such an enormous impact when delivering the strike.  To the person who is executing the strike the hit feels like nothing.  To the person receiving the hit it is game over!  Several people that I have trained have had to use this technique in a real situation.  The vast majority of the time, the result of the strike was that the attacker was instantly knocked out.  In one case the student hit the attacker on the arm and the hit was so powerful that it instantly snapped the attackers arm.

Properly trained 1 Touch Knockouts (Tai Chi, Shaolin & Petjut Silat) have an even much less feeling of impact to them than 1 Hit Knockouts and are usually done very quickly.  In fact, typically they are done fast enough that the point of impact can not be seen by the average person.  When someone really has the 1 Touch technique perfected they usually will not feel any impact at all from delivering the hit.   However, when done to a 1 inch thick pine board the effect to the board is shattering.

The first board has a clean break pattern along the grain.

The first board has a clean break pattern along the grain.

the second board has a jagged break that does not go with the grain

the second board has a jagged break that does not go with the grain

One inch hitting is similar to that of a highly refined 1 inch punch and tends to have a shattering effect on boards although different kinds of energy can be applied for different effects.  I have included a photo of a board hit with a basic palm heel iron palm quality hit and one with a 1 Hit Knockout explosive hit.

A good shock hit can be practiced by holding two boards in your hand and breaking only the second board.  On a person the effect can be manifested in different ways including but not limited to the recipient moves or flies 8-12 feet or more or the recipient feels a deeply penetrating hit but is hardly moved at all.  A large heavy bag (over 120 lbs.) with someone who knows what they are doing and what they are feeling for holding the other side is a good and safe way to work on manifesting the different kinds of power.  Another good way to train one inch hitting power is to break patio blocks with it.   I only recommend trying this under the guidance and or supervision of an instructor and I highly recommend easier breaks before advancing to the kinds of breaking I have been describing in this article.

1 - Ready

1 – Ready

No distance hitting at an intermediate level tends to look like the person doing it shrugged or let go of something very quickly or sneezed.  At an advanced level the person doing the hit looks like they barely moved.  The recipient feels a jolt go through their body.  At a really advanced level the energy of the hit can be directed through the recipients body and sent out through anywhere on the recipients body or it can be made to stop so that serious trauma is caused. Our students mostly practice no distance hitting on boards or on a heavy bag.

2 - Entry slap to arm

2 – Entry slap to arm

The first level of this hit can be done on a heavy bag such that when the bag is struck it does not move and the person who is holding the bag gets knocked away from the bag.  In the past I have had friends and students in the construction business and was granted access to a few houses, to practice on, prior to them being torn down.   In my practice of no distance hits I have broken doors that were slightly ajar including taking one off of the hinges and by directing my energy I was able to hit a wall and caused a window to break that was over 8 feet away.

3 - Palm heal to proper place

3 – Palm heal to proper place

I am not trying to brag here.  One of my primary instructors is Willem de Thouars (Uncle Bill) and his striking ability is much greater than mine.  Several other teachers I have studied with are also very impressive pressure point and energy power hitters.  In this article I am simply stating what I have personally experienced with this kind of hitting.

Using it in a real fight:

Many pressure point systems focus a lot of attention on where and even when to hit.  Where to hit is important but it should not be the first priority.  It doesn’t do you any good to know where to hit if you can not manage to hit there in a real situation when you need to save the life of yourself or a loved one.

Strike to attacker who is throwing a hook punch from behind

Strike to attacker who is throwing a hook punch from behind

One of the basic problems shared by many people who study pressure point hitting is that they are unable to use their knowledge in a real fight.  My personal belief is that if you can not use your self-defense art in a real situation then you are wasting your time.  One of the basic problems is that in a real fight the action is to fast for the average person to hit a specific point or area on an attacker even if the thought crosses their mind to do so and because the targets are constantly moving the situation is quite different than the way most people practice pressure point hitting in the kwoon or dojo.  Also, when adrenaline kicks in fine motor movement tends to diminish to less than 40% of what it is normally which means that it is very difficult to hit any one half dollar sized spot on another human being with any accuracy and most pressure points are smaller than a half dollar.

Another problem is that many people are what are called non-responders or partial non-responders (I have personally seen indications that this is more than 1 out of 10 American people) to pressure point attacks and if a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and they are out of their mind they won’t be affected by a hit or they won’t feel it until much later.  So, although where to hit is a very important body of study, where to hit  should not be your primary body of study unless you are seriously interested in acupuncture or the medical side of pressure points.

2-Strike the head while deflecting their punch

2-Strike the head while deflecting their punch

I believe that it is good to get exposed to as much as possible while focusing on really learning essential techniques that can be used in a wide variety of situations and circumstances.  Learning (by which I mean practiced to the point of excellent proficiency) about 12 to 36 good places to hit along with 6 – 10 good entries (places and ways to first engage an attacker) is plenty for a beginning (first 3 years) practitioner.

The 6 – 10 good entries should be versatile enough to handle hundreds if not thousands of different scenarios and the places to hit should be readily available on the average person most of the time. 

3 - Second strike the the attackers head w/other hand.

3 – Second strike the the attackers head w/other hand.

By engage I am not recommending that you strike first in a situation because if you seriously injure or kill the attacker then you may have serious legal problems and if and when it is found out that you hit them first you may have actually broken the law (according to my attorneys), so, I always recommend to students and I recommend to the readers here that you should exhaust every possible option to escape and deter an attacker before engaging them. 


It doesn’t do you any good to win the fight and then spend the next ten years in jail.  I consider my freedom to be a part of my reason for studying self-defense.  Unfortunately, I have been attacked on the street over a dozen times.  Because of my training method I have only had to hit a few (less than one out of three) of those attackers.  All of the fights where I or a student has actually had to hit another person have been over in less than 30 seconds and most of them only lasted 1 to 3 seconds.  I have found it to be common that when to much attention is placed on where to hit that not enough attention is placed on how to hit.  By how to hit, I am referring to things that are really essential to having a good ability to deliver a fast and powerful knockout hit in a real self defense situation.

Essential to achieve 1 Hit KO’s:

Some of the essentials to throwing a good 1 Hit Knockout are Proper Body Mechanics, relaxation, positioning, whole body movement and power, Knowledge about breathing and safely generating Explosive Force and using physical principles such as gravity and compression.  This includes moving in a way that protects your own joints, wrists, elbows, shoulders, back, and neck.  Our system also trains Iron Body and Golden Bell techniques to help protect the student and so that our more advanced students can not be affected by the majority of pressure point techniques.  To achieve a good 1 Hit Knockout it is also necessary to have some understanding of the body.  This can be in the form of pressure points, internal body organs and structure or ways to strike the eyes, throat and groin or/and knowledge of vulnerable areas such as the knees and other joints of the body.  In our system of Kilap Kilat Kun Tao Silat knockout hitting is one of the main areas of study with the emphasis always being on practical self-defense.  Dim Mak and more advanced palms such as various levels of Poison hand, the Iron Palm, Vibrating Palm, Cotton Palm, Burning Palm and the Delayed Death Touch are taught later in the system.  I hope this article has given some insight into 1 Hit Knockout Strikes and hitting methods.

In this article, I have briefly touched on the subject of 1 Hit Knockouts.  It would take volumes to be able to explain all of the possible techniques in full detail.  In addition, I would like to thank my teachers Masters Tyrone Jackson and Uncle Bill from whom I have obtained some of my information on this subject.  I would also like to thank all of my teachers for the wonderful knowledge they have bestowed upon me.  Any errors made in the writing of this article are strictly mine and should not be taken as a reflection of any opinions other than my own.  This article was written with the greatest respect and admiration for all of my teachers.