Behold the Face Smash

The Face Smash (also sometimes called the Face Mash), is a great open-hand strike that we use in our Gutterfighting.  I love the name—it just sounds all “down and dirty.”  As Kelly McCann points out, it is similar in execution to the Hammer Fist, only you hold your hand open, like you are palming a grapefruit.  The tricky part about this technique, though it is a beautiful gross motor movement, is telegraphing.  One thing to do is throw your hands up—you appear to be submissive to the attacker.  Take a step back with your strong side and slightly cock the striking arm.  When you do strike, drop your weight into it, just like with the Hammer Fist, and plunge into his face.  Follow the SWAMP principle (Stay Relaxed, Weapon First, Accelerate, Move in the direction of the strike, Plunge).  In my mind’s eye, it looks like I am pitching a baseball into his face, with the added bonus of fingers jabbing in the eyes.  Keep in mind that with enough force, you could take him to the ground from here as you continue to plunge. 

You can also get to the ending position of the Face Smash from the Chin Jab.  Once you clip the chin and snap the head backward, tilt the hand forward and dig the fingers into the eye sockets.  While maintaining contact with the face, lift the elbow and PUSH.  Obviously, you are going to have to take advantage of the position quickly—you can’t dawdle too much before attempting the takedown.  Remember that the body goes where the head goes.  But in the event that he just steps backwards and does not buckle, move onto another technique.  Play with it.  If you practice it on BOBs, it does hurt at first.  BOB’s face is rather unforgiving. 

Lee Morrison demonstrates delivery of the Face Smash similar to the Palm Strike/Tiger Claw, in addition to the baseball pitch method.  You may like it better this way.  Try both! 


Grover, Jim.  (1999).  Jim Grover’s Combatives Series: Power Strikes & Kicks, Vol. 1.  [Videotape].  Paladin Press. 

McCann, Kelly.  (2009).  Combatives for Street Survival: Hard-core Countermeasures for High-risk Situations.  South Korea: Black Belt Communications, LLC.


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