A discussion came up the other night at Guro Dr. Bob’s class regarding angles of attack and targeting specific points.  While utilizing angles of attack is definitely a valid means to introduce students to striking, in the Sayoc and Atienza Kali systems we install vital targets first.  Using Vital Templates and Targeting Chains, these methods of body mapping not only allow us to identify and recognize targets, but more specifically execute the most effective ways to acquire them.As an example, one of the first targets we introduce is the femoral artery.  If for instance, we simply pursue a “low slash” to the leg with no emphasis on internal structure, there are many variables that can potentially come into play.  The leg is our largest appendage, containing our largest muscles and longest bones.  When we introduce generalities, we open ourselves up to generalizable results.  Will a low strike to the legs have an effect?  Absolutely.  A blunt force trauma to certain areas could break bones, destroy joints, affect the skeletal integrity and impair mobility.  A penetrating injury could result in loss of muscle function (if severed), uncontrolled muscle contraction (spasms), or hemorrhage if arteries or veins are punctured.  With an unspecific attack, it is nearly impossible to elicit and control for a specific outcome.  It may also be hard to determine the most efficient technique or strategy to get the most effective result.  Will a leg kick work?  Do we slash palm down or thrust palm up?  What is our goal?


If we target the femoral artery we should know that it is a large vessel underneath both skin and muscle.  It is deeply contained in the lower thigh by the quadricep muscle group, but becomes more superficial and anterior as it approaches the pelvis.  At the hips, the femoral artery can even be felt (via pulse) before both sides joint together at the common iliacs and then abdominal aorta.  So we know that we would need to target high on the leg, near or at the pelvic crease.  Since it is below the surface we also would need a penetrating instrument rather than an impact one, so in this case a knife might work better than a bat.  The direction of our cut should be toward the femur instead of along the surface of the leg.  So in this example, simply identifying the target greatly influences our strategy and can more accurately predict the outcome of that attack.

So why the discussion on femoral arteries?  Because for many of us, martial arts are more than a hobby or exercise (although it is those too).  This idea of intent is more than just about targeting the femoral artery, and more than just about being specific in your strikes.  It is about being intentional in your practice, whatever the practice may be.  In my own times of confusion Guro Travis Downing once encouraged me to reframe and re-examine my own life goals and objectives.  He told me to find my template. And he explained that once I did that, “everything else is just an obstruction.”  So I reframe this post now as a point for you the reader to consider.  Why do you train?

Be specific with your reasons.  Is it to protect yourself or your loved ones?  From whom?  When and where?  By what methods?  Are you protecting yourself from movie villains, criminals on the news, your neighborhood bully?  Is it against fist fighting, is it when your honor is defamed, is it in dark alleys or in open parking lots?  Or is it multiple armed home invaders, in the middle of the night with your spouse and children beside you?  Find your template, whatever it may be.  Once your identify your target, your template, your goals; once you know your specific reasons, be intentional and thoughtful in the ways you would address them.  Everything else is just an obstruction.

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