Targeting: Secret To Self Defense Success?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Most people only give lip service to them. Or pretty much ignore them altogether.

But are targets really… the magic bullet?

Before we get into what targets are and what they can do for you, let’s go over some things they’re not:

Targets are not ‘weak points’

To say that targets are ‘weak points’ is to imply that it is ‘easier’ to break them. This misunderstanding leads to unfortunate outcomes – believing that it is ‘easier’ to cause injury to a target will lead you to give less than your all when you go after one. It’s going to take everything you have, all the time, whether you’re lacerating a cornea or tearing a hip out of its socket. To do any less is deadly tomfoolery.

Another problem associated with thinking of targets as ‘weak points’ is that it implies that if only you could strengthen them, you could make yourself impervious to harm. By extension that would make a bigger, stronger man’s ‘weak points’ less weak than a smaller, weaker man. This is a load of poppycock. Take the skull, for example: resilient, flexible, and hard as all get-out. And easily obviated with a judicious application of concrete and gravity. Or a tire iron. Or something as simple-stupid (and ancient) as a stone in the fist.

Targets are not ‘pressure points’

Call me old-fashioned, but I think of ‘pressure points’ as places on the human body where, if properly squashed, one can staunch serious, life-threatening bleeding. Period.

Thinking of targets as ‘pressure points’ implies that simple ‘pressure’ (pushing, pinching, squeezing or poking) will have some kind of desired effect. Does it hurt to have any of those things happen to a target? Of course it does – we’ve all been on the bad end of that sort of treatment during mat time. But the difference between pain and injury is an insurmountable gulf. Each can each exist independent of the other. While pain can be a result of injury, injury is never a result of pain. In short, pain and injury are two very separate things. Whether or not something ‘hurts’ him is immaterial – breaking things is everything.

Pain compliance and submission are not things to bet your life on – rendering parts of him useless is.

We also end up with the same problem of thinking in terms of ‘weak points’ – a reduction in effort. If you really think you can simply pinch-poke-squeeze instead of giving it your all, you’re screwed. The magnitude of success is directly proportional to the magnitude of effort. Giving it your all gets you everything. ‘Poking a pressure point’ gets you nothing.

Targets are not ‘mystical energy nodes’

Is there overlap between the target list and an acupuncture diagram? Sure. And there’s also overlap between the target list and sports medicine. So I guess it’s up to you to pick one.

Chi is notoriously fickle when it comes to the laboratory. Somehow it always manages to defy detection – truly, it is mysterious. I think it’s safe to say that something undetectable and mysterious counts for nothing in violence.

Thinking of targets as ‘mystical energy nodes’ also gets us back to the ‘pressure/weak point’ problem – thinking that it’s ‘easy’ to cause a life-wagering change in them. Once again by tapping, squeezing or even zapping your own chi at them. This is magic. Magic is fun at nightclubs and little kids’ birthday parties – but you don’t want it in the operating room, the cockpit, or the nuclear power plant. Or in your own head and hands when your life depends on what you do next.

If you want to try and pinch off his chi when your life is on the line, go for it and best of luck to you. I’ll send flowers to your loved ones.

The only energy I’ll bet my life on is kinetic.

The difference between what targets aren’t and are is the same as the difference between a ‘strike chart’ and what we have, a target list.

A ‘strike chart’ shows places to touch. A target list is a litany of destruction.

Thinking of targets as places you touch, rather than destroy, leads directly to a lack of injury. This is due to a belief that ‘hitting the target’ is sufficient for results. But you can hit the target and not cause an injury. That’s because injury doesn’t come from touching or ‘hitting’ the target. Injury comes from blasting everything you are through the target to make it come out the other side.

So what exactly is a target?

Targets are places where injuries occur

Targets are prone to injury when people collide with people and people collide with the ground. They are the parts of the human body that turn up time and time again in sports medicine literature. This is distinct from trauma medicine in general – while a shattered femur is indeed an excellent injury, it does not tend to happen when people run into each other and then fall down.

Another way to look at this is that targets are virtual injuries. You need to visualize this in three dimensions, not as a dot on the skin. The ‘knee target’ is a potential broken knee, bend backwards or sideways all wrong and loud. It’s falling and not being able to get back up. The ‘spleen target’ is broken ribs and a bruised (or ruptured) organ. It’s the inability to breath and internal bleeding that can lead to shock. That’s what those targets mean to me, that’s what I see when I look at them, on you, standing at the lunch counter.

Targets are virtual injuries much like Schroedinger’s Cat. It’s not dead or alive until you tear open the box and check. Possibilities are a lot of nothing until you make them into certainties.

Targets are an anatomical structure that can be crushed, ruptured, broken or otherwise rendered useless

That’s not to say they are ‘weak’ – we’ve covered that idea – but that they are important to normal functioning. Contrast this idea with ‘socking someone in the pec.’ Painful? Sure. Any guy worth his antisocial salt has both given and taken this kind of abuse when amongst friends or siblings. But socking the pec doesn’t make something important stop working. Targets are the important places in the body. The eyes, the throat, the organs of generation, joints, motor nerves, etc. – these are things the body can’t do without if it’s going to run around and function at peak performance. Like kicking the legs out from under a chair: kick out one and it’s a wobbly stool, kick out two and you can’t even sit in it anymore. Snap the back rest off and it’s no longer a chair. If you start by tearing the seat cushion off, well, it’s still a chair (albeit an uncomfortable one). You want to wreck the important things. Those would be targets.

Targets are the entry point for a vector

This is really, really important. If you get nothing else from this rant, remember this:[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

A target is not a dot on the skin. It’s an entry wound. And every decent entry wound has an exit wound. With a tunnel of wreckage between the two. This is what bullets do. And so must you.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The targets on the target list are aim-points for the vector of your body weight in motion. You are going to throw yourself through them, to make whatever tool you’re using come out the other side. We don’t bother showing this on the target list – though, come to think of it, that would be the most excellent way to get this across. A rotating, translucent 3-D model of the human body with vectors blown through all the targets. Instead of ‘dots on the skin’ each target would be a cluster of arrows poking through the body. Take a moment (now, or later) to visualize this. The body should look like St. Sebastian or Toshiro Mifune at the end of Throne of Blood.

Most people look at targets and see a point, a circle or dot that could be drawn on the skin that means ‘hit here’. When you look at a target it should look like vector-infested 3-D exploded view of sundered anatomy complete with a precognitive overlay, a short-term view into the future where he’s folded and broken, the virtual injury made suddenly real. (A dot on the knee looks very different from a broken knee.)

This is what I see when I look through a target – I fold space with my mind like Stephen Hawking. I see the vectors, the way through from here to the injury just on the other side of the veil of time. (And, yes, I’m waxing hyberbolic here.)

Don’t merely open Schroedinger’s cat box and check. Stomp on the box with the kitten in it. Just to be sure. Because targets aren’t injuries until you make them so. And seeing them as dots on the skin is an awfully long way off target.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


Tim Larkin

Self-Protection Expert & Founder of Target Focus Training
Author of When Violence Is The Answer

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