Quote from Mick Coup

Mick Coup is one of the finest instructors of H2H “combatives in the world. Along with that, he is one of the smartest people I know in regards to physically training in order to help our expression of self-defense techniques and methods. He is also an amazingly insightful writer with a gift for succinctly cutting right to the crux of an issue in a way that everyone can understand. I truly wish I could express myself as well as he does. There was a Facebook post on his training group page about the hierarchy of low percentage techniques versus high percentage ones. There was a bit of controversy by one or two commentators, and Mick then offered his insight. I am copying it here because he once again sums things up far better than I ever could.

“I’ve been using the notion of a ‘linear scale’ for several years, and I do reckon that the all-important comparison of effectiveness it highlights is hugely overlooked by many.

The model presented, however, isn’t what I have in mind regarding this.

Simplify it perhaps, to just a scale of effect ranging from total incapacitation at the top end, down to being stunned, then distracted, mildly annoyed, amused…etc…

This then can be used to visually place various methods, obviously each has a ‘bracket’ of effectiveness particular to itself, and it should be noted that the measure is a fairly clinical affair, and more objective than simply wheeling out fluke examples, etc.

Compare, for instance, the absolute most powerful low line blow you could deliver with an ASP baton or similar…with a moderate power Thai kick. The former, often touted as being super-effective by those with a vested interest, falls well short of what can be achieved with just the shin. Not even counting ‘tactical’ access and application…

How about something like the ‘Shredder’ compared to a right cross? The top-end effect of the former certainly won’t match the upper-end effect of the latter…and will really only be comparative to a fairly weak example, when all is said and done.

Same as an inward traveling palm-up ‘axe hand’ compared to an overhand right…the most you could hope to achieve with the former is still going to be well short of what do possible with the latter.

This may seem like a little too much ‘fuss’ I accept, but I’ll submit it’s kept me ‘honest’ with what I teach, and train, and provides a litmus test of sorts that I use constantly.

It really does put a lot of the gimmick party tricks, that are passed off as being uber-combative, in perspective…

This stuff has generally been my main response to those attempting to ‘sell’ their ‘cool’ options.
Tell me how deadly and useful a pen is in a fight for instance, recount as many examples…even find some actually truthful ones, for a change…and I’ll simply place it on this scale and compare it to something MORE effective that is so much simpler to apply.

I do believe Neal’s scale is too ‘specific’ in some respects, but it’s a stab in the right direction.

Get a sheet of paper, draw a vertical line and write ‘total incapacitation’ at the top, and ‘mildly annoyed’ at the bottom.

Now consider for the purpose of this exercise that we are comparing ‘fully applied’ techniques, executed by someone not possessing superhuman physical attributes. It’s not a comparison of access, or ease of application, that can be another exercise perhaps.

Where do you place a particular technique or tool?

A right cross, or left hook, for example, fully applied earns a place right at the very top…they can both immediately incapacitate an adversary.

How about an eye jab? As nasty as it may be, this scale is to measure and compare ‘stopping power’ and physically it just isn’t up there, neither is the ‘Shredder’ for all the claims of leaving people incapacitated and ‘convulsing on the floor’ is it really going to earn a place near the top end of this scale?
Chokes and strangles…sure, right to the top…body shots and kicks to the shin or knee…not so much.

Regarding weapons…claw hammers, bar stools, foot-long screwdrivers…very potent, capable of rendering someone incapacitated. Keys and pens, mobile phones, small flashlights…do me a favour, you must be joking…

What’s the purpose of all this ‘comparison’ then?

Simple, in the great scheme of things – and by this I mean for those that actually live in the real world and not some Jason Bourne sequel, not all things are created equal and it might be an idea to prioritize exactly what you intend to bring to a fight…and the training that supports it.

For those involved in regular ‘live’ contact, sporting or otherwise, it’s a fairly moot point…ever wondered why an MMA fighter doesn’t bother with standing hammerfists to his opponent’s head, even though it’s well within the rules and apparently devasting judging by all the RBSD/Combatives ‘badasses’ that seem obsessed with doing it as a default?

Simple…in actual application it fucking sucks, for a ton of reasons – one being that compared to a punch from the same hand, to the same target, any ‘devastating’ power it was thought to possess now looks kind of lame… (bold added by Cecil)

Comparison…prioritizing…Occam’s Razor…etc…

Obviously the suggested comparison so far has been fairly one-dimensional and wholly concerned with ‘stopping power’ only. This isn’t the be all and end all for sure – if it were, there would be no infantry, just tanks!

It’s a big deal however, and obviously overlooked by some judging by the cliched nonsense they present as being effective.

Access and application are hugely important factors – there’s no point in having the most potent technique in the world if you cannot apply it, and often…usually…this is highly situational and circumstantial.

Care must be taken to consider the situation and circumstances when comparing – it has to be like for like.

For instance, someone once commented that the offline elbow strike I include in my foundation material is weak…and compared it to a rear handed straight or hook punch to prove his point.

Fair enough, from a power perspective it’s never going to compare favorably…but…when situational factors are introduced, and you consider that it is used to engage a target that is close behind you, or downwards to spike the base of the neck of someone tackling on the high line…well, try a right cross there instead…

It’s not a great shot, not at all, until it becomes the only shot you have…”

And an extra bit:

“To reiterate what has been said a few times already – it’s often wise to do this, as people often read or hear one thing, but ‘understand’ something completely different, in my unfortunate experience – this ‘scale’ is simply to try and keep the fantastic, the impossible, the ultra-low percentile in perspective, to highlight what is actually useful and worth training, and what is more of a gimmick, a movie-inspired party trick to all intents and purposes. If you are going to push the notion of a car key or a hat pin being an effective weapon, well OK, but compared to what? A potato?

In order to prove effectiveness there has to be more evidence than a combination of some fluke anecdote and ‘I want to believe’ doesn’t there?

Amongst all this talk of effectiveness what I’m really concerned with is ‘stopping power’ to be more accurate, and this is an elusive notion, that’s impossible to quantify reliably. Commonsense, reason, logic even, should get a look in here…not to mention some understanding of basic human physiology. How much ‘input’ regarding causing a human to be incapacitated by some tangible means does a car key really have? On that ‘crazy’ linear scale, just to map out a rough idea, where would you place a slash across the face? Compare like for like, movement-wise – forget any notion of superficially cutting the skin…this counts for far less than many would believe in a fight against a committed individual – and stack it up against a simple blow with the hand…

Immediately there will be those that will leap into action crying “but a smaller and weaker person can’t hit hard enough, so they need to use a weapon” as a fairly standard response…but again, compare both done by the same person, and it may become apparent that slashing someone with a key takes a little effort too, applying force with any weapon takes ‘grip’ for example, and…any blood notwithstanding…it still places further down the scale in terms of ‘stopping power’ unfortunately.

As stated above, what is the very most you are likely to achieve with such a slash? Opening the skin of the face to the bone beneath? No small feat with a car key, but even if achieved…so what? How about all the ear-biting stuff? Fish-hooking the mouth? All sold as being ‘effective’ by some…again, however, compared to what exactly?

Most of the exotic stuff is theory in my opinion, when you start hearing about how effective it is…or has been…where’s the data? Even the individuals that firmly attest to having used such means…really? More than one fluke result…if any at all? Why don’t the guys that really need it, use it? Why don’t those aforementioned MMA fighters bother with standing hammerfists or backhanded axehands, even though they are well within the rules and, apparently, hugely effective – judging by the rather insistent opinions of ‘combative experts’ everywhere?

Easy, because compared to a simple punch in the same circumstances, there’s simply no comparison at all…those that reckon otherwise, selling or buying, are the ones that such a linear scale has been created for…to set the record straight somewhat.”

Again, Mick puts things simply and in clear language, and never resorts to faux-puffery to make himself seem more superhuman.

Yes, I am a fan of what Mick does, and how he does it.

Do yourself a favor and take a look more closely at what he offers.

His website:

And his forum: