Knock-Out Game: Simple Tip to Survive a Sucker Punch

It’s a crazy and violent world we live in. For years we’ve heard about the gang-initiation activity and hooligan pastime of the “Knockout Game,” where violent young me attempt to knock out pedestrians with one hard hit. Or perhaps you have a neighbor, relative, or friend that has a tendency to get a bit angry when drinking. Whatever situation you find yourself in, being able to survive a sucker punch is a skill we’d all love to have. In this clip from Trigger Time TV, Shivworks founder Craig Douglas shows us the technique to roll with the punches.

About Craig Douglas

Craig Douglas (a/k/a “SouthNarc”) is the founder of ShivWorks, a consortium of like-minded professionals devoted to training and product development in the emerging field of interdisciplinary problem-solving for self-defense. Craig retired from law enforcement after 21 years of service with the bulk of his career spent in narcotics and SWAT. Since 2003, Craig has been teaching globally under the ShivWorks brand and has conducted coursework on entangled shooting skills in nearly 40 states and nine foreign countries.

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Do you think this tip will help you in the event you were targeted with a sucker punch? Have something else to add? Let us know in the comment section!

20 Comments On This Article

  1. That’s a good technique… In a fight, it you’re squaring off with someone.

    Most sucker punches are thrown from behind or when you are no longer facing an adversary. That’s what makes it a sucker punch.

    What you’ve shown may more appropriately be considered a technique for when someone throws a first punch rather than a sucker punch…

  2. That was no sucker punch. A sucker punch is one that you do not see coming, and there is no defense for it. It usually happens blindsided.

  3. It’s an arrow in the quiver, but limited usefulness: must know it’s coming to the head, and doesn’t lend to a variety of quick countermeasures.

  4. I’ve been sucker punched before, as a teenager. Two guys walked up, one asked me if I was James and then nailed me in the face when I said yes.

    It’s over before you know it’s even happening! There’s some good advice in this video for if you get into a fight, but your arms would never make it to your head before the other guy’s fist does. Likely what was happening wouldn’t register until that first blow has already landed!

    So the most important thing about a sucker punch is what comes afterwards.

    In my case I was on the ground, both dazed and shocked, but still had enough wherewithal to evaluate that these guys were bigger and older than me, I didn’t know them and had no idea what their intentions were.

    I immediately plotted the best egress that kept me out of their reach and that provided the best cover if I could make it to it. As they were strangers in the neighborhood, it would also be easy to loose them if they gave chase.

    I don’t know if I was chased, but I don’t think I was. I think they were shocked at my reaction, and then mildly amused and took the story back to whoever put them up to it in the first place and had a few laughs.

    Since that time I mentally wargame scenarios like that and drill in the response so if I’m dazed it becomes automatic (which BTW, also works for answering questions when dazed or drunk).

    And this has worked well for me, as several years later in my mid-20’s I was heading to a bus stop at 3AM in the morning on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, CA and some guy drove up in a car as I was walking along the sidewalk, rolled down the window, put the barrel of a revolver on the window panel and told me to come over there.

    Living in Hollywood that close to Hollywood BLVD and the 101 freeway I had seen a LOT of crap and had expected this to happen at some point in time, and had mentally prepared myself. So without having to think about it (which would have slowed me down), I immediately went low and scrambled in the direction the car had come from (putting the car between me and the barrel) and took the first bit of cover that I could find, and then moved at an angle from there. No it couldn’t stop a bullet, but it’s much harder to hit what you can’t see.

    As my bus stop was still a block or two over I weaved between buildings to get there and only saw the car once shortly after I had left the scene, luckily going away from the area with the bus stop.

    There is little difference, mentally speaking, to being sucker punched and having a gun pulled on you. Your brain has to take a moment to process the information and it’s further inhibited by the shock of finding yourself in a situation that’s potentially life threatening.

    When training for armed self defense you overcome this somewhat, but the key is always going to be in what the reflexive response is to the situation.

    You have some control over that, and mentally wargaming it is going to do you a lot more good that the techniques in this video. And by wargaming you place yourself mentally in that situation and them walk thru your response, once it’s refined (remember correct the mistakes BEFORE they put your life in danger), then drill it mentally as often as your able to, and in the areas most likely for to need it!

  5. The best defense is to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to people around you. The easiest targets are the ones not paying attention and preoccupied with other things in life than personal safety.

    • Yup, keep your head on a swivel and never assume you’re safe. If you see a group of punks coming your way, cross the street or find some other way to be out of their reach. And be ready for anything, anytime, anywhere.

  6. A move like that would not work very well for people wearing glasses, besides a sucker punch is usually done when one turns his head or looks away. Your video is basically knowing it’s coming.

  7. In the knockout “game” as it exists on the street, the punch usually comes from behind, with the target area the side of the head slightly forward of the ear. As Rodger correctly notes, this is a classic sucker punch and better than 90% of the time the victim doesn’t see it coming. Even someone in Code Yellow is likely to end up blind-sided (literally) by this. I have no idea how to adequately defend against it.

  8. I have to agree with Rodger. I was working night club security with the pretty girl up front distraction and sneak in from around her back and the guy round house cold clocked me I think because of his reach from behind it lacked full power and I was luckily able to respond though my ear and jaw hurt later. I will say I do like that move from an anticipated frontal assault it’s a good protective move. Just rename title.

  9. I call BS. If you can see the punch coming it’s not a “sucker punch”. Condition yellow- be aware of your surroundings. If you see the person coming towards you – move ! As stated above it’s the ones that come from behind or the side that you don’t see. This video “may” be helpful to someone who has no training, so I won’t “dis” it further, but the fact that he gets hit in the first place means he loses.

  10. My wife and I were in a Wal-Mart checkout line a couple of years ago. We had always felt relatively safe inside of a store. We heard a loud ping and looked toward the direction it came from. A man had went to the sporting goods section and picked up an aluminum baseball bat. He walked up to another guy that was in the store and clocked him behind the head with the bat. It knocked the other guy completely off his feet. He threw the bat down and hit the door running. That was a sucker punch that would kill a lot of folks. I never am surprised about what you might encounter in a public setting. There are a lot of crazy people walking the streets of our country. In a few more years it will be so bad that folks will be scared to leave home. I try not to go anywhere that is a bad area. Nowadays you don’t know where those areas may be though. I thought after 14 years working as a correctional officer that I had seen everything but that situation caught me completely off guard.

  11. Totally agree with you guys. And while I think that he demonstrated a good defense against a punch (that you see coming) I find it difficult to do because i wear glasses and i can’t cover up as well as he does in the video. I think I’m going to have to stick to staying aware and trying to dodge or block.