Fist Archie's Fighting Tools (Part 2)
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During our last visit with
Master Archibeque, he emphasized the essence of martial
arts lies in natural movement under challenging
circumstances. I struggled with the concept, and
he knew it. By way of explanation, he argued that his
execution was so natural, he could defend himself
completely, using any object I might put into his
hands. The point he was trying to make was that a
complete martial artist should be able to adapt
spontaneously to any situation, without weakening his or
her defense. Cementing the lesson, "Archie" proved
his point with a series of convincing defenses, using
such diverse objects as a film canister, a hammer, and a
dust pan. Our lesson ended at that point. As we
parted, Master Archibeque insisted I return only when I
had a "challenge that truly tested" his concept.
Fortunately, I had several weeks to conjure up an
appropriate response. This meant finding something from
our everyday environment that Archie would have to use
as a convincing defensive weapon. It would have to be
something which bore no resemblance to any ordinary
martial arts weapon.
Archibeque, ever the comedian, accepts the
challenge but not until confirming the hat
met his personal fashion standards
At our next meeting, his
first words were, "Did you remember to bring the
On that day, several
students were in attendance. I did not want to present
the challenge in a setting that might embarrass Archie.
Before I could raise an objection, he had already turned
to his students and announced, "Bill is going to see if
I can defend myself with some off-the-wall piece of
junk. I told him that if I failed, he could have my Red
He turned toward me,
I reached into my
bag, then pulled out a baseball cap. Walking up to
Archie, I placed the cap on his head. I gave the
ground rule as, "You have to use the cap to set up
your defense, and it's got to be on top of your head
when you begin."
author applies a collar choke, Archie
removes the hat, using the leading edge to
attack the author's septum. Note the unique
hand position employed in removing the hat.
Archie was silent, and
before he could respond, I pulled him into a lapel choke
hold. In what seemed to be a single motion, he removed
the hat, rolled it over, and pressed it forcibly to my
septum pressure point. The intense pain caused me to
release the choke instantly.
"Now...Throw a punch!,"
an incoming punch, Archie "creases" the bill
of his cap, then drives it like a spike into
his opponent's carotid artery/reflex.
I obliged, and as my fist
approached his head, his left hand checked the incoming
punch, while the hat jumped into his right hand. Without
flipping it over, he sliced with the bill of the cap
into my carotid artery/reflex.
He was beginning to
convince me that the challenge was won.
I tried to up the
ante, "O.K. old man...it's one thing to do a pressure
point release, but quite another to use the hat itself
to incapacitate the attacker. I raise the stakes,
anything short of incapacitation means the challenge
Master Archibeque turned
to his students, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "What
can you do, some people just need convincing?"
efforts to distract him, Archie removes the
hat, then snares the attacker's head (see
closeup), consummating the technique by
snapping the opponent's head backwards.
This time, I attacked
forcefully, digging my thumbs into his throat, expecting
to break his concentration.
He reached for the hat,
as he did in the first sequence, but this time, I pulled
my head back to guard my pressure points.
Archie was way ahead of
me as he hooked the cap under my chin, and snapped my
head rearward. I will say it again, he "snapped" my head
backward, nearly separating it from my shoulders.
The students stood up
and applauded. Once again, the moment was Archie's.
As always, we parted like
the good friends we are. He told me to think carefully
about what he had said and done, and added that he would
discuss it further with me when we next met.
He was true to his word.
When I next visited, he turned to the class and announced,
"Now it's Bill's turn to answer my challenge."
"You gave me a hat...I will give you my headband."
He pulled the handkerchief that held his hair, and
tossed it my way. Turning, he put an attack knife into
the hands of one of his students. My mind was blank, as
the student stood before me, then moved quickly forward
with the tip of the knife headed for my midsection.
Pouring forth from some
unseen well, was a reaction I had never before known. I
reached the headband high above the knife, then snapped
it hard, downward into the attacker's grip.
Re-enacting his response to Archie's challenge, the
author uses a headband to "snap" the knife out of an
attacker's hand. Following up, he finishes the
attacker by "snapping" the headband a second time,
into the attacker's face.
I and the attacker both
stood, momentarily stunned, staring at the knife,
sticking into the ground inches from his foot. During
the moment of hesitation, I stepped into him, using the
same headband to snap his head back, just as Archie had
done with the hat.
The attack was defeated.
Helping the student off
the ground, I turned to face Master Archibeque. His
knowing smile and nod of approval signaled for all
present that the lesson had been learned.
For once, the day was