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Think Hit
by Tim Motter

(Part 1)

     You may be asking yourself what does "Think Hit" mean; What does it have to do with Jeet Kune Do; And why name a newsletter that? Well, let me explain. The human mind has three definite responses to a self preservation situation. All of which are based on dealing with fear. (One) defense "assume the fetal position". (Two) flight "Run away" (Three) attack "What did you call me you *^%$#!" Now the fear in this type of situation only lasts a few seconds and then your body is too busy dealing with the confrontation to waste energy on being afraid. Which response occurs is decided nearly instantly with no conscious decision necessary.

    If you use a passive response (one) defense, in a fight situation, there is nothing stopping a follow-up attack or another or another, so on and so on. Now, even if you have a great defense you will eventually get hit and probably repeatedly. Of course, you'll lose the fight and the attacker leaves unscathed except where he may have hurt his hand on your face. That's not my idea of self defense. You can never, and I mean never win a fight by only defending yourself, you must attack to win.

    If you respond with (Two) flight, then you've taken Bruce's "The art of fighting without fighting" a little too far and shouldn't be reading a martial arts newsletter. Think Hit is the name for the response of the third type, attack. You condition your response to physical assault to remain hit him. In a more broader sense, you attack when attacked. It does not mean to block then hit, to simultaneous block and hit, but simply to hit.

    Maybe you think you'll block a few attacks and then counter attack, wrong. This is not a ring fight where you exchange blows back and forth until someone eventually wins. This is one big flurry that lasts until someone is out of the fight. If you rely on a defense-then-attack strategy, you may never get to attack. The person who lands the first punch usually wins, because the defender stays passive (defense) and never gets a chance to go on the offensive.

    Now what does "Think Hit" have to do with Jeet Kune Do? In a word...everything. The term Jeet Kune Do means the "The way of the intercepting fist", not "The way of the intercepting block". So you would intercept an attack with... you guessed it, an attack. Which we like to call "Think Hit". Since this principle is so important to JKD, I believe it's a fitting name for the school's newsletter. Next time I'll discuss this important concept in more detail, so until then...Think Hit!

(Part 2)

    Last issue we discussed a little bit about the meaning behind the Jeet Kune Do principle of "Think Hit" and interception. First, to avoid any confusion, "Interception" and "Think Hit" are almost interchangeable. "Think Hit" is the thought, "Interception" is the execution.

    So, when confronted with an attack you "Think Hit" and "Intercept" your opponent's intent with offensive aggression. You do not have to wait for the punch to come forward to attack, you can attack on preparation. It also doesn't matter what style you train in, if you follow this principle your sparring and fighting skills will increase dramatically. Your mind should be focused only on this simple principle. If he moves...hit him.


    Here are a few more details of the Think Hit/Interception principle that will help explain why this is such a powerful principle.

  1. Your attack meets his forward momentum thereby increasing your power on impact. There is nothing worse than walking into a punch.
  2. You instantly put your opponent on the defensive by catching him off guard. He was expecting you to get hit or defend yourself, not attack him. This shifts the momentum of the fight in your favor.
  3. You increase your chances for an effective attack by attacking while he is committed to his own attack. By being preoccupied with his own attack he forgoes any chance to block. He simply cannot change thought processes quick enough to compensate for the new situation.
  4. By limiting the number of stimulus options and limiting your response choices you increase your reaction speed. Reaction speed is determined by three different components; recognition of stimulus (what's coming at you), reaction choice (what you're going to do about it) and physical response (block, hit, etc.)
    Now, of these three, the physical response component is the easiest and quickest. We've all watched a punch coming right at us thinking "Here it comes, here it comes...wham!" right in the face. This happens when your mind freezes on the reaction choice. So when we limit the stimulus to one (he moves) and limit your reaction choice to one (hit him) you effectively double your reaction time.

    Now you should have a clearer picture of the inner workings of Think Hit. Next time we will discuss the proper way to train this crucial principle.

(Part 3)

    Now that we know what the principles of "Think Hit" and "Interception" are, we can begin discussing how to train them.

    The drill I like to start my students on is a simple one. You begin by placing the backs of your hands together and face each other, just like in "Enter the Dragon". Person A then initiates an attack, in this case a lead hand straight punch to the face. Person B will defend this with a passive block (one that does not have forward energy). Do this about 20 or so times until the attack and the defender start to get better at this drill. It is important not to tell your partner when you are going to attack. Also person A should try not to get into a rhythm (1, 2, 3, hit...1, 2, 3, hit) because person B only needs to time the block not actually react to the punch.

    Now add another attack, this time a backfist to the same target. Person A will choose either the straight punch or the backfist. Person B should use a different block for each type of punch. You'll find that person B will have a harder time blocking person A's attack. Follow this same pattern until person A has 4 different attacks to choose from: straight punch, backfist, hook or low jab to the body. All attacks should be with the lead hand. Person B should have a different block for each attack. You will notice that the more types of stimulus (attacks) and the more responses (blocks), the slower person B's reaction time.

    Now that person B has done the drill the "wrong" way, lets try it again. Person B should this time be in "Think Hit" mode. Which means as soon as person A moves person B hits him with a straight lead hand punch. Watch how quickly person B can react to the attack! What person B has done is taken 4 types of stimulus and changed it to 1. And he has taken 4 types of response and changed it to 1. Effectively changing his reaction time to almost nothing.

    If you want to continue this type of drill, have person A and B square off in a regular fighting stance. Now have person A attack with either hand to any target. Person B should still use only one response...hit. This is a very basic way of training, there are many more ways to develop these skills. Be creative in your training, try different stimulus: kicking, kicking/punching, kicking/punching/grappling. Try different types of interception: rear punch, front kick, side kick, takedown...etc. Keep in mind to have only one response to any stimulus.

About the Author

Tim Motter has 17 yrs experience in the martial arts and is an Associate Instructor under Richard Bustillo. He was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 1997 and is the main instructor at the Jeet Kune Do Institute.

Visit his web site at for more information.


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