Archives for July 2008

Silat’s Superior Positioning

Action Beats Reaction Regarding Position:

“When two opponents are in a fight, the one who gets superior position and attacks first will likely win.  If person 1 is seeking position to attack and person 2 already has an excellent position to attack and attacks then person 2 will defeat person 1 while person 1 is moving into position.”

Regarding positioning between two opponents I will use battleships to make the point.  If battleship X can fire and hit battleship Y and battleship Y can not fire and hit battleship X because it has to turn the ship and aim its guns at battleship X before it can fire a shot that actually stands a chance of hitting battleship X then battleship Y will be full of holes before it can fully turn to fire at battleship X.

Having the superior position to attack is 3/4 of the key to winning in a dangerous situation.  Criminals practice walking up to people and getting close to them while the intended victim is in a in vulnerable or/& bad position and criminals also practice tricking people into getting themselves into bad positions such as looking at a watch for the time or reaching into their pocket for a quarter or turning their back to point out directions.  Criminals seek to get position on people and then they attack because they know that the risk (for the criminal) is very low and that they are very likely to be successful in their criminal activity.  Obviously for self defense purposes work on awareness skills so that you can not easily be caught in such a bad position or tricked into getting into a bad position.

Also, learn to begin your self defense from the position you are in instead of where you would like to be.  Train to attack from as many possible positions as you can.  Also, figure out how to turn bad starting positions into good attack positions.  Learn to be aware of vulnerable areas and adjust quickly and with as little time, effort and motion as possible.  Work on making small movements that immediately change an aggressor’s position from one of strength into one of weakness.  Do it so that at the very least an opponent will have to reposition in order to attack you.

If you can gain superior position and make it so that the opponent must adjust in order to attack you then you can focus on attacking while they are forced to seek a position to attack while having to defend against you.  This is one of the essential trainings in Silat and Kun Tao.  Gain and keep superior position while continually keeping the opponent in a bad position.  Do this while you are attacking so that the opponent spends all of their time trying to get position or trying to defend from a very weak or poor position.  With good awareness skills and practicing of positioning skills this can be developed to the point that you have the advantage from the beginning, before a physical fight actually begins, and then you keep superior position for the duration of the fight which will likely be quite short.

With respect and best regards.

Sigung Clear


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.

Silat Open Hand Basics

The following article, written by Richard Clear and Alan Carregal appeared in the May 2000 issue of Inside Kung-Fu.

The teet lung pai system taught at Clear’s Silat Schools includes pentjak silat and kuntao silat, tai chi, and aspects of shaolin chuan kung-fu, hsing-I and paqua. Although these systems are diverse in both origin and substance, they share one key similarity – the open hand concept. This article will concentrate on the benefits of the open hand strike in general and five ways to strike in particular, as well as how they are utilized in specific styles.

1. Whipping Hits
Chi-petjut – South Javanese silat, monkey and some tai chi;

2. Slaps with arm weight from elbow or shoulder (The way most people slap)
Wing chun, choy li fut, praying mantis, tiger, tjimande, and tjikalung;

3. Open hand striking with waist power (all of the styles mentioned above)

4. Whole body power open hand striking

Hsing-I, paqua, tai chi, Tibetan systems and drunken style, kilap, kilat, pukolan, and tjimande.

5. Internal power Hitting

Open and Shut Case

These systems form the backbone of teet lung pai. The open hand offers many benefits over fist techniques. Compared to punches, open hand techniques are said to be faster, cover more surface area, deliver more knock-out power by transmitting greater shock and offering greater versatility.

Open hand techniques can become grabs, finger pokes, or fists faster and easier than fists can become something else. An open hand can also be used to defend against an elbow or knee while a fist would be powerless against such a strike.

The soft open hand molds itself around the hard parts, and the force of the hit is transmitted through the skin and into the hard inner core. Stylists use boards, bricks, hand-held striking pads and heavy bags to check the power, speed, and accuracy of their techniques.  They have found out that the small bones in the fist will not stand up to the power that the vast majority of open hand strikes can generate. This is not to say that the fist will always be weak and slow. It is just that all things being equal in the paper- scissors, rock game, the fist looses to the open hand most of the time.

Whip It Up!

The whip is a technique that can be found in most Silat styles. Some styles that commonly incorporate this technique are Kuntao, Chi-Petjut, Madi, and Tai Chi. In America, Kuntao Silat master Guy Savelli has developed the art of the whip hand to a high level. His ability to whip strike someone to the chest, disrupts their nervous system to such an extent, their vision often becomes blurred.  If full body power had been added, the subject might have died.

Among excellent teachers of the monkey form are si tai gung Tyrone Jackson, whose distance / reaching techniques allow him to hit a person from a distance of six to ten feet away and ba pak Willem de Thouars for rapid fire monkey strikes.

Also, the art of Kuntao is kung-fu that is practiced in Indonesia and Malaysia. There are over 250 Kuntao styles. Most of these styles have been modified over the centuries because of the exposure and mixture with Silat. We prefer to call these modified versions Kuntao Silat. The mixtures of these systems in Java and Bali occur frequently enough that Malays think of the two as interchangeable. In his book The Weapons and Fighting arts of Indonesia, Don F Draeger makes the same kind of reference to “…Pentjak Bali (sometimes even Kuntao Bali)…)

There are Chinese and Indonesian styles that use slaps with arm weight from the elbow or shoulder.  They include:

  • Wing Chun — Tan sao and press down.
  • Praying Mantis — Wu sao then punch.
  • Tiger — Sitting in a booth-arm wrapping technique and / or choy li fut
  • Tjimande — Juru 1 (first half) and passing techniques
  • Tjkalong — Cross grab and underarm elbow break.

Hit Like You Mean It

Hitting through the target is more commonly practiced in the West. The hit is much more effective when it is led by the waist and when the intent is to hit through the target. One example is to dive through with your body weight behind the strike. Pukolan and Hsing-I both strike this way. Another kind of hit is to slap through, hitting with the body weight and friction. This is how basic burning palm works.

Utilizing waist and knee power helps get the body into the strike. When done correctly, your hits will feel light and effortless, but the power exhibited on the enemy are heavy and with purpose. Master Guy Savelli insists that if a 200lb person whips with his body weight at 25 mph, the fingertips will strike with a force of 5,000 PSI. Although the front or back of the hand will hit with less force than the fingertips, the striking force remains considerable.

Utilizing knee power can be as simple as allowing them to relax and dropping your body weight. Add percussion to the hit with a simple kilap strike. These hits are typically dropped on pressure points. Each strike usually connects with more than one pressure point so that the impact causes a ripple effect throughout the area. The internal arts emphasize putting the entire body into the strike, sending the energy  up through the feet to the knees, waist, shoulders, and arms. As long as the body works as one unit, the power ill be delivered as one concentrated unit.

A Bolt of Lightning

The symbol given to sigung Richard Clear by ba pak Willem de Thouars to represent the kilap kilat part of teet lung pai is an open hand with a lightning bolt entering the back and emitting from the palm. The idea is to hit with lightning-quick explosive speed and internal/spiritual power. The hit should arrive the moment you see the target – anything taking more than an instant is not kilat. The sudden and shocking explosiveness should be so fast that is surprises both the person throwing the technique and the person receiving the hit. The technique works best when the technique explodes of flies.

High-level internal power hitting with the open hand consists of utilizing the mind and the spirit to hit with the lao gong and the open palm. There are a variety of energies associated with this technique. Vibration waves and particles are two of the most common types we recognize in the West.

Sigung Richard Clear can place a thick phonebook over someone’s abdomen, strike the phonebook with an open hand and generate a palm print on the surface of the subject’s skin. This demonstrates the ability to penetrate past the strike. A good practice method is to stack two beicks or boards and try to break only the one on the bottom.

Internal power hitting can be combines with other types of hitting, including iron palm, penetrating palm, vibrating palm, poison hand, cotton palm, springy palm, fire hands (burning palm) and universal energy palm. Also, the Yin palm takes out energy while the Yang palm puts in negative energy. Other examples include the dim mak claw taught by Erle Montague, the delayed death touch that included advanced kilat strikes, and the heavy hand kilap strike. This is but an example of the hand strikes taught in our system.

Open hand strikes offer the martial artist some of the most potent and lethal self-defense tools available. In the hands of a trained practitioner, an open hand can close the door on any enemy.

Aug 2&3 2008 – Willem (Uncle Bill) DeThouars-2 Day Silat Seminar

Topics: Aug 2 – Kuntao Silat deThouars  Aug 3 – Tai Chi, Bagua & Internal arts

Date & Time: Aug 2 & 3 – 10:00 Am – 5:30 Pm each day

Location: 113 E Broadway, Maryville Tn

Price: $100 per Day If you prepay –  $115 per Day on the day of the seminar

Contact: Richard Clear (865) 379-9997 or