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.

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