Friday, January 6, 2012

Stuff it and the Stop-hit concept

Happy New Year!

Many years ago, I began using what I called ‘stuffing’ a technique.  It turns out that it has some similarities to Bruce Lee’s stop-hit or stop-kick concept. 

‘Stuffing’, while less technical and more crude than Bruce Lee’s concept, can provide several advantages, mainly due to its versatility and flexibility.  Where Bruce would use a carefully timed kick to stop an opponents attack or attacking limb, ‘stuffing’ uses the whole body to do so.

The idea is to stop, interrupt, or ‘stuff’ someone’s attack as it comes at you.  This is accomplished by attacking, or blocking and attacking simultaneously, using your entire body to intercept or to 'stuff' your opponents attack back into them, while protecting yourself and causing them damage all at the same time.  


      Your stop the attack

This one is pretty obvious.  Stop the attack from landing and knocking you out.

You reduce the chance of injury to yourself

By interrupting the attack with your own, you greatly reduce the chance of serious injury.  Even if the intended strike, kick or attack lands, chances are that it will be a glancing blow, or at the very least, not fully realized.  Better to get caught by an attack mid swing or mid cycle, or during the wind up when the power is still being generated in anticipation of the end of the technique.

      You startle or overload your opponent.

This is one of the main reasons for ‘stuffing’ an attack.

By startling and interrupting your opponent’s attack, you overload their ability to figure out what is going on temporarily.  This provides the opportunity to follow up your stop-hit ‘stuff’ with another technique or made good your escape.

This is your brain when it's 'stuffed'...
Your opponent’s mind is focused on causing you injury and on the desired outcome when their initiated attack lands.  By interrupting, or ‘stuffing’ the technique with a hit or attack of your own, you force their brain to ‘switch gears’ and go from aggressor to defender.  This takes time.  Couple that with pain and shock and it takes even longer for them to decipher what just happened and how to react to it.  It doesn’t take long of course, but confrontations are won or lost in these precious seconds.

Most people do not spend a lot of time practicing what to do if their attack is interrupted or intercepted.  Strikes and kicks are normally attacks that are performed with a degree of forward movement, having judged the timing based on the distance of your opponent.  If you advance on the attacker, you’ll often find that they are not prepared to, or do not know how to, adjust to your forward movement. 

You will catch them mid-attack and off balance.  This can be particularly effective against people who use deep stances.  You may find they topple over if they are too rooted in their stance

‘Stuffing’ an attack doesn’t have to be as technical and sharp as some of the examples on the internet show for stop-hitting.

In a real violent encounter, I’ve found it is just as effective, if not more, to just kind of ‘crash’ into your opponent, using your head, shoulders, elbows and the like as your attack.  The protected position created by many of these attacks serves as your block, or ‘stop’ portion.  Bring your arms up to protect your head when you crash into them.  You’ll find if their half-cocked attack lands, it’ll land on your arms and shoulders, or on you legs in the case of a kick.  It may still jar you a bit, but it won’t incapacitate you or knock you out.

Be the train, not the car...
 This crashing, or ‘stuffing’ also removes the necessity to absolutely identify what attack is being initiated by your attacker.  Often there is not enough time to identify and then react with a stop-hit.  It can be done with enough training, but for most real self defense situations, the crashing or ‘stuffing’ will work just fine for most attacks.

Bruce Lee mentions that this works best on advancing attackers, or those that are stepping in to attack you. 

I agree.  I think this adds to the value of practicing ‘stuffing’.  Most real violent attacks are thrown by attackers who are committed to the techniques, those who are trying the knock your head off your shoulders or kick right through you.  These attackers will almost always move towards you or step into their attacks.  It is during this crucial initiation phase that ‘stuffing’ is used to its greatest advantage.

Of course, you need to know what to do once you’re on the inside.  In close, you should have non-striking techniques in your arsenal to follow up with.  Also, if your attacker topples over, be prepared to get the heck out of there.  You’ve just created enough time to get a good head start.  By the time your attacker reorients them self and gets up, you can be half a football field away, or more.  That’s a lot of ground to make up if your attacker decides to chase you, assuming of course that their confidences isn’t so shaken that they decide not to pursue.

‘Stuffing’ is a valuable concept and an effective method of dealing with real world violence.  It’s effective against a variety of attacks and can readily be used by people of varying skill levels.  It can also be used in responding to a surprise attack as it reduces your chance of receiving a fight ending blow, regardless of what attack is thrown your way.  It essentially defends against a whole bunch of attacks all at the same time.  When you’re caught off guard, this is important.

In my opinion, ‘stuffing’ gives you a lot of bang for your training buck.  You do have to be careful when training though, as by its very nature, ‘stuffing’ has a high chance of injuring your opponent, which is fine in the street, but not in the dojo…

Train safely.


  1. Rory Miller describes a technique similar to 'stuffing' which he calls 'Dracula's cape'. Basically, as the forward attack comes in you point your right elbow towards them and tuck your head down into the crook of the elbow (a bit like sweeping Dracula's cape around you in a theatrical fashion)and charge straight at them, striking them in the abdomen with your left arm at the same time. Apparently it is very effective and only requires gross motor movements.

  2. Hi Sue.

    I've been reading a bit more of Rory's stuff lately, and we seem to be of the same mind on a whole bunch of ideas. I'm thinking of picking up one of his books. I like the 'Dracula's cape' reference. Easy to remember and visualize. If I'm not mistaken, Tony Blauer's 'S.P.E.A.R.' system has something in line with a similar gross motor reaction drill.

    It's important to note that this type of reaction isn't something that can be done over and over again. Any savvy attacker will pick up on what you did after the first time and adjust their next attack accordingly. It's meant as a one time reaction to a initial or surprise attack.

    Thanks for the comment.