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The 40 Principles

Greg Koval


The 40 Principles of Striking

I’m going to refer to these a lot, so you are going to want to be familiar with these because they are really crucial concepts


  1. The Hierarchy Principle - The Hierarchy principle states there are one or more critical battles that take place during the fight that need to be identified and overcome.

  2. The Funneling Principle - The funneling principle is the ability to limit your opponent’s moves to a few predictable moves making them easier to overcome.

  3. The Percentile Principle - The Percentile principle is the focus on using the most high percentile effective techniques against the most high percentile common threats.

  4. Threat and Variable Principle - Using one technique as a threat to force your opponent to react and open themselves for a variation. Combination groupings are built on the threat and variable principle.

  5. The Top Position Principle - The principle of top position states the person who can maintain a top position gains an advantage in offensive and defensive control of space.

  6. The Conservation of Movement and Energy Principle - The conservation of motion principle states the less you move, the less you risk exposure, and the more quickly you can move into your next attack or defense. Extension is often punished in martial arts. Conservation of energy and relaxation, with energy saved for short explosive bursts helps prevent fatigue.

  7. The Patterns Principle - The key to deception is the ability to set and break patterns. There are several variations of the patterns principle that include but are not limited to offensive Threat & Variable, offensive disassociated patterns, and defensive funneling patterns. They can attack timing and rhythm, direction and angle, elevation, and distance.

  8. The Prequels Principle - The prequel principle states that set ups that precede a strike are what make it possible to land.

  9. The Luring Principle - Luring is the use of drawing out an opponent so that you can counter them.

  10. The Psy Ops principle - The Psyops principle states that the opponent's will can be overwhelmed and deceived by mental warfare. This includes but is not limited to several sub principles:

    1. Projected intention - Looking or using body language to imply you want to attack one area then attacking another (ie: selling them on the leg kick, then throwing a cross)

    2. Distorted triggers - Mistiming a cue with an attack. Kihaps are a good example where you can kihap just before you attack, kihap without an attack, or attack without kihap after setting a pattern for kihaps.

    3. False fatigue or injury - Pretending to be exhausted or injured then throwing an explosive technique on an overconfident opponent

    4. Distracting statements - A good example of this is when I roll with a white belt and they get ready to do something smart, I would tell them “Whoa whoa, you don’t want to do that buddy” and after they abandon it, sweep, submit them, then after the roll tell them they were doing the right thing, but don’t trust me during the roll. I have also been known to engage in mindless conversation to distract them about movies, TV, upcoming fights, etc to get them talking.

    5. Alarming statements beforehand- This is only for real fighting. Look, if you convince a guy that after you take him down you plan to scrape your keys across his eyes, it’s gonna get in his head. If you tell him you have AIDS, it’s gonna give him a moment of pause. Same goes for telling him you’re a cop or such.

    6. Stoicism - Protecting your own psychology behind a wall of apathetic focus.

  11. The Environment Principle - The environment principle states the use of the space can allow dominance in a fight. This is not just for self defense, being aware of chairs and curbs, but also ring dominance, where you control the center of the space, know how much room you have to work, and being able to kick off the side of the cage.

  12. The Angles Principle - The further from your opponent you are, the smaller your angle changes need to be and the more you need to hide them (behind a jab, or a stance switch). Closer, you need bigger moves like the pendulum step to angle out.

  13. The Opportunism Principle - The opportunism principle states that an attack that can be done without risk of exposure to a counter attack is ideal. This is usually from outside range, catching a leg kick or a quick jab then disengaging immediately.

  14. The Built in Defenses Principle - The most important time to block/guard is on the offense. When you are striking, you need to close up as many gaps as possible as possible. In self defense and MMA you are most likely to get struck when you are attacking, as it’s harder to catch someone on the outside range. From the outside, use more head movement and footwork, and when attacking, you should have strong built in defenses to protect yourself (off hand on chin, high shoulder, low chin, etc)

  15. The Feinting Overload Principle - Whenever you are not actively engaged with an opponent, you should be actively feinting. This means in a fight you should spend more time feinting than punching or kicking. The purpose of feinting is to wear them down with false positives so they cannot read when you will pull the trigger. If the reflex is like a muscle, you want to wear it out.

  16. The Dilemma Principle - The Forcing of your opponent to choose between one bad choice and another.

  17. The Background Process Principle - There are some techniques that must be rehearsed until they become thoughtless, and just work automatically under duress. These are like background systems on a computer that just run without any attention being paid to them.

  18. The Volume Principle - Sometimes the easiest way to beat someone is just to send a lot downrange. It leaves you exposed but it forces them to play so much defense you can ovewhelm them. Along the same line you can’t be too timid. You have to have an active offense or there is nothing to stop them from. Often you can attack with lots of light touch on your opponent to set up one powerful finishing strike.

  19. The Between Moments Principle - The moments in off timing when a strike catches them by surprise

    1. After they are spent.

    2. Recovering and resetting.

    3. When they haven’t quite committed to attack yet

  20. The Centerline Principle - The centerline principle is the application of your core to all of your technique and also implies the ability to use linear techniques to cover the shortest distance to your opponent while controlling the space.

  21. The Trapping Principle - The trapping principle is the momentary immobilization of an opponent's limb designed to give you a brief opportunity to strike while he cannot

  22. The Upright Principle - The upright, or the man can't stand, principle states that it is not possible to use your striking effectively if you can't keep the fight from going to the ground by defense and balance.

  23. The Um/Yang Principle - The Um Yang principle states that opposites work in oppositional harmony, including expansion/contraction, motion/rest, and passive/aggressive techniques, and meet in the pivot point also representing the difference in RPM between the inside and outside of the circle.

  24. The Framing Principle - The framing principle is the use of the body's architecture to create space or inhibit your opponent's movement.

  25. The Monkey See Monkey Do Principle - The Monkey See Monkey Do Principle applies the psychology of man's tendency to copy subconsciously to work by creating an action or behavior that the opponent will repeat

  26. The Exchange Principle - The Exchange principle is the acceptance of a lesser strike to simultaneously land a more devastating strike

  27. The Lanes Principle - The Lanes Principle is the understanding that nature abhors a vacuum and any gaps in space are best filled to clog the lane and to deter incoming attacks in a specific region, to limit your opponent.

  28. The Right Stuff Principle - It is better to use a poorly applied technique at the right time then a perfectly applied technique at the wrong time.

  29. The Trifecta Principle - This principle states that all fighting is the combination of natural Attributes, aggression, and technique. If your opponent is superior in one area, you must be far more superior in the other two areas to overcome that discrepancy.

  30. The Trunk and Branches Principle - This principle states that if you cannot impact the core of a person due to a superior guard, length, or movement; to attack their limbs in order to break them down enough to return to their core. Sometimes you must start at the extremities and work to th core.

  31. The Levels Principle - The levels principle is the threat and application of constantly attacking on multiple avenues simultaneously between different height, or more commonly, striking and takedowns. These should be blended together into continuously fluid combinations and counters.

  32. The Common Response Principle - When Striking, you should know the common response to your attack, and be able to adapt easily to the common responses into follow up techniques that will overcome these responses.

  33. The Punctuation Principle - For any attack you throw, you should have a technique that you can use to finish consistently that puts a punctuation on your attack. Common examples are the roundhouse kick and a single leg takedown.

  34. The First and Third Principle - The principle of first and third is a strategy by which you strike, then avoid the incoming counter of your opponent to throw a counter of your own, so you attack first, evade the second, and attack on the third move in each exchange.\

  35. The Entry Strategy Principle - Every attack must have an entry planned before engaging, including but not limited to:

    1. Feints

    2. Luring

    3. Pace Change

    4. Angle

  36. The Exit Strategy Principle - Every attack must have en exit planned before engaging. Including but not limited to

    1. Angle off

    2. Moving them back (teep or body check)

    3. Luring

    4. Clinching

    5. Takedown

    6. Tie to a second combination

    7. Defensive Gesture (head movement, block, footwork)

  37. Principle of Proprioception - Proprioception is the ability to inherently know where your limbs are located at without having to look for them. This means that sometimes it is better to use proprioception to find your target using your own limb as a reference.

  38. Attributes Principle - The more natural attribute advantages (size, strength, athleticism, genetics, weapons) your opponent has, the more technique that is required to overcome them.

  39. Doubled Force Principle - By retreating into a counter then suddenly changing direction back into your opponent with a lateral technique, as they are driving forward you can double up on the force, like two cars in a head on collision. With this you don’t need to even throw a heavy punch, and even a jab can knock your opponent out.

  40. The Setting Terms Principle - It is up to you to set the terms of a fight, and not allow your opponent to dictate the type of fight it will be. The Setting Terms Principle means that you must always put the fight on your terms to be strong where your opponent is weak, and deny places where your opponent is strong and you are weak.

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