Hydrostatic Shock

Posted on Jan 18, 2016

Hi Everyone, here’s the latest blog from writer Haydn Ellis.  Enjoy…

Hydrostatic Shock

By Haydn Ellis

In a interview alongside Urijah Faber, Conner McGregor made reference to his style of kicking being more akin to a whip rather than powering through. This, he determined, allowed fighters to now kick wrestlers rather than avoid this due to threat of being taken down.

According to Master Raoul, powering through is to be reserved for specific parts of the body. It is also used to create different effects on the opponent. A kick powered into the body can be used to move the opponent as well as delivering damage. It’s primary application however, is to break bones and shatter joints such as knees, jaw bones and collar bones.

Most of the body’s main target areas, particularly in sport fighting are full of fluid. According to Raoul, powering through is not the most effective way to strike these areas. From ‘A Life of Mastery’,

“You don’t power through. What you have to use is hydrostatic shock in the body. You want every cell that’s in there that’s filled with fluid to go (shake) like jelly. And those cells rupture. So when you strike, it’s in and out fast. You want your strike to go in. To every action there’s an opposite and equal reaction. The body tries to react. But you’re not there when it reacts. The cells vibrate violently. Then they turn to mush. When you hit someone in the front it should feel like it’s come out the back because of the ripple of shock going through the body.”


At Kentokan, front and round kicks were delivered with the ball of the foot. Powering through with the instep or shin was only for head kicks in sparring since hydrostatic shock when delivered with the ball of the foot could kill a sparring partner. Kicking to the legs and body was all performed with the ball of the foot and with the use of hydrostatic shock. Whether punching or kicking, the use of hydrostatic shock not only did much more damage it also resulted in your opponent falling directly to the floor. For Raoul, having to chase opponents that he struck was inefficient. He wanted them to fall where they were hit. This would allow him to fight multiple opponents in the most efficient manner possible.

“Raoul was proud of the fact that by using hydrostatic shock he could put an opponent down with a strike and there would be no sign of any impact. No bruising at all in most cases. ‘That way’, he said with a smile, ‘You can kill someone and there’s no evidence of you having touched them.’


The key to master hydrostatic shock is in the speed of the retraction. When striking a heavy bag the bag should not swing when practicing. The sound should be of a loud crack with a visible indentation in the bag but no movement. Raoul didn’t like us practising on a heavy bag anyway. To build the skill a piece of string was hung from the ceiling, weighted at the end. The objective was to hit the string and retract quickly enough to have it vibrate but not move. Tape was placed on the string to mark targets and for a repetition to count toward the total, often 100 or more, the string had to be struck, the target hit and the string left humming but not moving. Other drills such as putting out a candle with the retraction speed of a punch are famous amongst martial art circles and were used regularly at Kentokan.