Tim Larkin: How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker Using Target Focus Training

by Raymond Horwitz Photo by Robert Reiff

Tim Larkin: How to Defend Yourself Against an Attacker Using Target Focus TrainingTim Larkin, Black Belt’s 2011 Self-Defense Instructor of the Year, knows how to get people’s attention.

One of his favorite ways is to rattle off a statement that just happens to form the nucleus of Target Focus Training, the fighting system he founded: “Violence is rarely the answer — but when it is, it’s the only answer.”

Intrigued? We were, too. That’s why Tim Larkin and his Target Focus Training system were featured on the cover of our February 2012 issue.

In fact, response to Tim Larkin’s cover article was such that we decided to feature him in our upcoming June 2012 issue (which ships to the printer this week with another Black Belt Hall of Fame member — Julius Melegrito, the 2011 Weapons Instructor of the Year — on the cover) to teach readers how to master deadly self-defense techniques without killing their partners.

For Tim Larkin, the name of the game in Target Focus Training is recognizing opportunity and turning it into an injury. “An injury, as we define it,” Larkin says, “is breaking something on the human body — either a sensory system or a structure — so that part of the body no longer functions during the time you’re involved with that person.”

In other words, Tim Larkin wants you to learn how to hurt “them” so they can’t hurt you anymore. He wants you to “put [them] into a nonfunctional state.”

“[‘Nonfunctional’ means an attacker] is injured to the point where you can turn your back on him and he’s no longer a threat, or he’s unconscious or dead,” Tim Larkin explains. “Only then can you disengage. If he’s not in one of those states and you turn to get away and he pulls a gun — maybe you thought he just had a knife — you’re dead. Making sure he’s in a nonfunctional state is the only way to guarantee your safety.”

In the video above, Tim Larkin talks about the methodology he developed for target selection through opportunity. Each strike you unleash against an attacker has the potential to cause damage.

When deployed correctly and effectively, a strike elicits an immediate reaction — a cringe, a collapse … some sort of alteration in trajectory and/or stance that opens up vital targets for a follow-up strike.

That strike then causes a reaction, which opens the body to another strike.

“We’ll do like eight to 10 strikes,” Tim Larkin explains. “Often times, people will ask, ‘What the hell are you doing? The second strike would’ve taken care of the guy.’ We assume you’re going to miss under stress.”

When asked about technique sequences in martial arts magazines like Black Belt, Tim Larkin says, “We assume that [the photos shown] are the success points. There may have been eight, 10 strikes back and forth. But you recognized that one [vital] are of the human body, you got right in and you blasted it. And now everything’s changed in your favor [because now your opponent’s] in trauma. He can’t respond anymore at this point.”

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