Tag Archives: the “Diminished Fighter Theory

Diminished Fighter Theory.

     Messing around with Judo, working out with friends, watching judo practice and tournaments, studying the stepping and positioning of opponents and the time it took, I once made a remark years ago in this class, that –

“all judo throws work quickly after you break the guy’s nose.”

And many friends looked at me like I was crazy or something. But I wasn’t. I meant it. You’ve seen grapplers step and step and torso-twist and circle arms for a position for a take down. You’ve seen wrestlers, wrestle and wrestle to get that submission. But, once you severely stun the opponent, opportunities suddenly, can quickly occur in all forms of fighting, standing and on the ground.

Put boxing into judo. Put ground n’ pound into wrestling. Unarmed or with weapons, close and afar, once stunned, they are diminished to some degree.

Weapon worlds? Yes. Of course. Through the years in policing and training with Simunitions, and other sims ammo that goes “boom,” I have learned that he who gets that first gunshot off, sends not just a bullet but a very shocking explosion at the opponent, so often disrupting their return fire plans, especially when close. Most range shooters are never on the wrong end of a barrel and don’t grasp this tremendous “first shot” advantage. Why do you think the police and military use stun grenades? It’s a form of “bullet shock.” In short, the first guy does a desperate, sloppy draw and shoots, missing his opponent. The second guy squints, his cheeks flap, draws, shoots under this pressure-blast and he misses. And so goes the common formula. You wear hearing protection when you stand BESIDE a shooter. Try to imagine being right in front of one, with no “ears” on.

Many knife victims are more shocked at seeing a knife, than feeling it as many do not even know they were stabbed or slashed at first, reporting instead that they were lightly hammer-fisted or punched. Yeah. Look it up.

     What exactly is the Diminished Fighter Theory? It’s just a helpful phrase I coined decades ago about how you need to diminish an opponent in a fight. This is far from a new idea, its common sense and most folks get it, but still the idea doesn’t often float down and melt into many systems and routine practice. It is not “written-up” in the mission-statement or outlined in doctrine. Many martial arts like to advertise that “this art is self defense too!” Well, not really. Abstract yes. Helpful? Probably. But what is your real mission? Hobby? Tradition? Exercise? Sport? All four? The “What” question. Are you all over-over-the-board and don’t know it?  (I confess that I spent many a decade all-OVER-the-martial-arts-board, minus proper definitions and direction. It was NOT a waste of time, just abstract.)

I report this here after over 40 years in the martial arts and 26 years in line operations in law enforcement, bodyguarding and investigations, whereupon I have arrested some 900 people. Some of these people were very “cranky” on up to a rare few that tried to kill me. So, I hope what I suggest here gets your attention. This is not just about simple martial arts “punching.” This theory is about hand, stick, knife, gun, crime and war, inside and outside structures on rural, suburban and urban areas.

We fight enemy soldiers, criminals and “drunk uncles” (family and friends). Sometimes they come to you already diminished. They are drunk, drugged, out-of-shape, untrained, etc. Sometimes, not. Once in front of you and things get physical, then, when we have to fight their…

  • pain tolerance
  • adrenaline (which also helps their pain tolerance)
  • athleticism
  • Any fight training they might have

We fight an opponent’s athleticism, their pain tolerance and their adrenaline, and with these elements even the lesser performer might still rise beyond our expectations.

So, we have to diminish them. I’ve used the sarcastic analogy also for years about how we would hate to fight “Bruce Lee on 3 cups of coffee.” Bruce, fresh. Alert. But throw chair at his head, and he’s Bruce on two cups. A lamp at his head? One cup. And so on until he becomes…”manageable.” Diminished. You get the picture. The idea. When we stand before a giant that we have to fight into handcuffs, it seems to be an impossible task. But if you diminish him enough, not only can you cuff him, you can tie his shoelaces together. Your first serious diminishment may knock the opponent cold. Which would be great, but you certainly can’t count on it. For me, in all these years working I have only knocked out one person with a first punch. I have seen a few of my co-workers do so. It certainly happens, but…in a mixed weapons world, you probably might have to settle for, and make plans for, the initial stun-diminishment. Fortune favors the prepared. But diminishment is NOT just about hand striking.


“Punch a black belt in the face once, he becomes a brown belt. Punch him again, purple….” – Carlson Gracie Sr.



Levels of Stun: Levels and forms of stunning doesn’t just happen from a “punch,” a slap, a flash of a knife, or a close gunshot, and-or explosion. Stunning and subsequent diminishment is in any good ambush, wall slam or a takedown-throw when then the opponent first crashed to ground zero. And, I might quickly add here that you or your opponent may quickly “run out of gas,” another form of common diminishment, something that “emotional control and pacing” can help you with. There are indeed methods to enhance these things. Also, with this acknowledgement, you must include methods that “prepare for, and recovery from… stunning” in your lesson plans. It is tough recovering from a total ambush, but there are otherwise, “steeling yourself” methods. That’s another topic. It’s all part of  my oldest motto, “Expect chaos. Train for chaos. Thrive in chaos.”

Officially recognize and place this diminished fighter concept )big and up front) in your martial training, and your martial arts training. There are many connected subjects to this topic I write about and teach through the Stop 6 course and the vital blueprint of the Who, What Where, When, How and Why (Ws &H) questions. This is just a quick slice.


Hock’s email HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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