A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away some Systema students were given a secret strategy for incredible power.
Way back in 1977, it was revealed to us for the first time, only most of us didn’t realize it.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 1990’s a generous Russian Martial Art teachers began to share these ancient teachings with us in the West.
Recall the enduring legend of one tiny X-Wing Fighter taking down a gargantuan, apparently-indestructible Imperial Death Star, with the fate of an entire galaxy at stake.
A underdog battle generations before the events of our own David vs. Goliath.
The Attack Run
Before their last-ditch, suicidal attack run on the Imperial Battle Station the size of a small moon, the Rebel Alliance had already witnessed the destruction of the planet Alderaan by the Death Star.
A mere warm-up for the devastation to come.
With the Death Star’s massive weapon fixed on the Rebel Base hiding out on the moon Yavin 4 and time running out, the Rebel’s only hope was a direct assault at low altitude and to attack the Death Star’s sole weakness…
…A thermal exhaust port about 2 meters wide, at the end of a long trench, ray-shielded from lasers so it would have to be struck with proton torpedoes that would sneak past the shield to reach the target.
Luke Skywalker, using The Force, successfully fired 2 proton torpedoes into the exhaust port, which made their way to the reactor core, causing a chain reaction that obliterated the Death Star just as it was about to fire on and destroy the Rebel Base.
That small, “one in a million” shot, saved the galaxy, or at least the Rebellion.
I’ve watched the movie recreation of that battle countless times, as you may have, but I failed to notice the brilliant tactical strike called:
The Death Star Punch
Let’s look at the dogfight on an individual level.
First is the enemy. Massive, powerful, fully loaded with the biggest, baddest weaponry technological possible— laser cannons and a fleet of TIE fighters.
On paper, Invincible.
Except for that one, tiny exhaust port located smack dab in the middle of the thing.
Like a solar plexus.
Now the opponent(s). A band of swarming gnats that could do little but destroy a few guard towers before being systematically shot out of the sky.
Fighting force-on-force, head-to-head, they had ZERO chance for victory.
Much like all of us smaller people working against larger, stronger and resistant attackers.
But every battle station, and every opponent has a weakness, provided you can survive long enough to exploit it.
The Rebel fleet lost almost all of its fighters on its way to victory, just as you may have to take several shots before delivering the decisive blow that ends a fight.
And now for the strikes themselves.
Before Red 5’s (Luke’s) attack run, Red Leader takes a shot at the exhaust port and delivers what seems to be a direct hit.
But no, “It didn’t go in. It just impacted on the surface.”
Most strikes people deliver do just that, they impact on the surface. They don’t go inside the body.
The Death Star and the enemy’s muscles are too strong to allow a surface shot to strike deep. The fight cannot take place on the surface, it must to be taken to the core.
Red Leader used his “targeting computer” to guide his strike in. He gave his strike over to a calculating machine, the same way Systema students over-think their way into punching.
All that brain-power gets in the way of the shot and kills its power. Over-thinking creates tension which, in turn, prevents the strike from penetrating deep into the body.
You must quiet your mind to strike deep.
Just Like Womp Rats
At the battle briefing before the attack, the Rebel pilots were told that the exhaust port was only 2 meters wide.
One of the pilots, Luke’s friend Wedge Antilles says, “That’s impossible, even for a computer.”
Doubt creeps in for every pilot, except Luke, who knows better.
Why? Because he has had plenty of experiences just like this; he’s been here before. “It’s not impossible. I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.”
Luke can draw upon his own acquired expertise and has full confidence in his ability to make the same shot again, even under duress.
He has trained without the crutch of technology or over-analysis and has enough skill to allow his body to do its job without conscious interference.
In the Trench
Luke has one chance to make a shot that will either save or kill everyone; life and death are literally on the line.
His wise teacher, Obi Wan, echoes in his ear, telling him to “let go,” turn off his targeting computer and to “use the force, Luke.”
Obi-Wan knows that you choke when you try to take conscious control of something you can do automatically.
Luke hesitates, then Obi Wan says, “trust me,” finally convincing Luke to rely on his own abilities to succeed.
Luke relaxes in his cockpit, in the midst of laser fire from Darth Vader and with an injured R2D2.
He releases his proton torpedoes, which cleanly enter the exhaust port, travel into the depths of the Death Star starting the chain reaction from its reactor core ending in a massive explosion that spells victory for the Rebel Alliance.
Hubris gets them every time.
By the time Grand Moff Tarkin, Commander of the Death Star, was notified that “we have analyzed their attack, sir, and there is a danger,” he scoffed at evacuating “in our moment of triumph,” right before being blown to smithereens.
The timing, and destruction of the Death Star was perfect; just as Tarkin believed he was about to witness his victory, he died in defeat.
You can take advantage of an opponent’s belief in his own invincibility by letting him to feel like he is winning and allowing himself to get close enough to you for you to strike “past his shields.”
An over-confident attacker won’t hesitate to let you get close because he only see proximity as aiding his victory. It never occurs to him that you might want to be closer to exploit his weakness (which he doesn’t believe he has).
What good is one torpedo, or one punch?
A Death Star Punch can appear to be a tap, in comparison to the size of the opponent, but it enters the body and strikes him to his core.
The strike often grows in pain and puke factor the longer it remains inside of him — a chain reaction that can crumble the largest man.
To the uninitiated, it’s impossible, it’s unbelievable. Such a small strike could never deliver that much devastation.
To those on the receiving end of the Death Star Punch?
It’s all Systema.