Be Your Own Bodyguard ... and Walk Away Alive



The backfist is a weapon that can explode from nowhere and have an impressive impact on your foe. This happens when the fighter is properly trained in its use and when opportunity is present.  



Unfortunately it is an uncommon move that usually lacks power and substance. Most fighters spend unnecessary time in forcing the backfist which can backfire because an opponent will sense or see it coming and prepare to avoid or block it. Worse yet, the impact is easily diminished so that it doesn’t hit with enough power to do any real damage. In real street fighting you need to have power and speed to make the impact a real lasting impression. You need to win by overpowering and devastating your opponent. And you need to do it quickly, too! 


Many times the backfist is used during a spin so that the fighter delivering it will have speed to increase the power of the hit. This is called the spinning backfist.The spin momentarily catches the opponent off guard and increases the possibility of a hit. This does work fairly well. There is a problem with this scenario is that the opponent receiving the hit can either shift weight or step backwards and the spinning fighter will miss the target completely. This leaves the fighter still in a spinning momentum that needs to be handled. Another problem is that many fighters lose their sense of location during the spin and the spinning backfist misses the target or just nips it. Either way the result is that the backfist was ineffective. This is seen when fighters spin their head with the body and lose sight of the target. An experienced fighter will turn the head first and the spinning body with backfist follow. Here the target remains in sight and greatly increases the probability of hitting the target. 


The most common backfist used by martial artists is the version where the backfist is chambered first and then it explodes like a cannon ball towards the opponent. The chambering is when the clenched fist is moved backwards toward the bicep or to the chest. In the cannon ball example, this is like the cannon ball being loaded into the cannon’s tube. This is very common with karatekas (karate fighters). The benefit is that the chambering does indeed develop much more power in the hit. The drawback is that the other fighter on the receiving end of the hit can prepare for it. However, the fighter delivering the backfist usually is fast and that is an advantage. Nonetheless, the opponent can prepare somewhat and that ultimately diminishes the impact even if it is only a little.  


The very best way to execute the backfist is when the fist is out in front in the ready position. By being out in front the attack is at least halfway to the target which provides for more speed on the delivery and less opportunity for the opponent to prepare for any defensive action. The hand clenches into the backfist as it shoots forward to the target. The side of the head, ideally the mandible for a knock out, is the target to strike and the backfist speedily moves like a bullet for it. There is power in speed and this is where the speed is greatly appreciated however, the speed is not the entire source of power here. To develop much more power the upper body leans forward and torques slightly into the strike. Now significant power is created but that is still not the entirety of the power. To complete the power, the legs and hips also pivot into the attack, creating an immense delivery onto the unprepared opponent. 


Once the backfist completes its journey, the fist, legs and hips return to start and preparation for the next move begins. 


The backfist is a surprise attack that can have devastating power when used. Any fighter can use it and be somewhat effective but the best use of this weapon is when it is used directly forward and into the head of an unsuspecting and unprepared opponent. 



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...Sifu Mike