Ah, who didn’t enjoy the original 1984 movie The Karate kid? I was six years old at the time, and starting get into the martial arts groove. The movie described a scenario where the underdog was able to train and develop himself to become a champion, a scenario that pretty much described me to a T (minus the champion part, but I still trained and developed myself).
A new series came out last year called Cobra Kai. It takes place thirty-four years after the events of The Karate Kid. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, especially if you grew up in that decade. It airs on YouTube. The Cobra Kai had a slogan in their dojo: Strike First. Strike Hard. No Mercy.
Depending on what side of the argument you fall on, some people believe that the protagonist in the movie was the ACTUAL villain for winning a tournament against the antagonist with an illegal kick to the face (I won’t apologize for providing a spoiler to a movie that came out thirty-five years ago!) No matter what way you chose to view their story, the Cobra Kai’s slogan holds a reasonable level of merit.
First and foremost, I don’t agree with the “no mercy” part. I believe that being merciful shows us our humanity and sets us apart from the evil we like to pretend doesn’t exist. But the concept of striking first and striking hard is an important one in the martial arts.
I often like to compare most martial arts aspects to real-life scenarios because, well… the real world is where you would have the most practical and violent application of whatever fighting art you may be studying. We want to avoid these types of confrontations as much as possible, but should they happen we need to be prepared to respond. After all, why do we train so intensely if not to protect others and ourselves?
A lot of fighting styles teach students certain techniques that are intended to stun and/or surprise the opponent in order to allow the student to deliver the power strike that will end the confrontation. A good example of such a technique is the jab. Throwing a jab at someone allows you to set yourself up for the second power punch. That’s a cute concept on paper (or in the dojo, I guess) but what if the only strike you get against an opponent is the first one?
I wrote a post some time ago about the actual length of a fight in the real world, and what the realities of such a fight usual are. So here’s some enlightenment: in a real fight, you’ll have a chance to deliver one, maybe two strikes before you either get struck yourself or need to get the hell out of the way! That’s it! The concept of a long, drawn out battle where both participants are blocking and exchanging blows for long periods of time simply doesn’t happen.
First of all, unless you’re a professional fighter who trains to fight for long periods, such as a boxer, you’ll become exhausted within minutes. Fighting tires you out, and doing it in the streets when it isn’t planned or expected can be even worse. And since the idea is to simply end the threat so you can get out of there, more than a few strikes will usually decide whether or not you’re going to be the victor or if you need to run.
That’s why it’s important to make every strike count. If you intend on doing a “one-two” combination, both strikes should have equal force and power. If you only have time to deliver one strike, you want it to be as powerful as the second one was intended. It only makes sense.
Although you want to try and avoid physical confrontations as much as possible, if there is no other option and you get backed into a corner you want to make sure you avoid injury and be the one to get home safely. Strike first and strike hard. ☯