The first priority in any violent encounter is stopping power. And one of the most reliable ways to stop an aggressor without making use of a weapon is through incapacitation. In other words, knock him out. Unconscious people can’t attack anyone. Though this may seem a big challenge—particularly in the confined space of a subway car—with three simple principles and a little practice anyone can learn to hit with the best of them.

1. Learn to generate power from the hips and glutes.

Bruce Lee made famous the “1-inch punch,” a signature technique where he held a clenched fist only 1 inch away from the chest of a partner and struck him hard enough to send him flying through the air. While this technique has limited combat application, it does demonstrate the possibilities for creating tremendous power in short distances.

The key is to use your glutes and quadriceps to push against the floor to create an explosive rotation of your core. This dynamic generates the power for strikes and works exceptionally well with elbows and knees. It produces devastating results when you…

2. Strike at upward angles.

While horizontal space may be limited by seats, walls and people, vertical space is not. Knees that rise into the groin, upward elbow strikes and the infamous “chin jab” from World War II combatives work extremely well in confined quarters, especially when fueled by good body mechanics. All these strikes can have a measurable, fight-stopping effect on your would-be attacker if correctly executed.

Upward strikes are also useful because they allow you to hit effectively from a seated position. If possible, fight your way up to your feet, standing up aggressively by pushing against the floor with your legs and rising into a chin jab. Harness the kinetic energy of bolting to your feet and you’ll have your unlucky aggressor spitting Chiclets for sure.

3. Use the environment as a weapon.

Subway trains and buses are filled with all kinds of hard surfaces and sharp corners. These make excellent opportunities to put the finishing touches on a dazed opponent. Grab him by the clothes, hair, limbs or scruff of his neck and slam him into whatever is available. Repeat these steps much as necessary, but remember that this tactic represents a higher level of force than unarmed strikes alone. Use it judiciously and carefully.

The key to surviving any situation is understanding your environment and adapting your skills to it. If you ride public transportation, master the concepts outlined in this article and use them to shape your training and your fighting skill set.

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Summer 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

From Our Partners