Thursday, February 10, 2011

Injury Science - One Punch Deaths Postscript

The photograph to the right is of another fatal one-punch victim.

I've just been going through my undeleted and unfiled emails looking for an email received by the noted forensic pathologist from the University of Dundee, Derrick Pounder. I contact him concerning his lecture notes that refer to wounds, injury, and trauma that has an injury science background. In particular, I'm researching the 'factors' involved in an injury which I then use to develop a model that can be used to understand and study any and all impact techniques, blunt or sharp, of the martial arts. Pounder states that 'whether or not injury occurs following the application of energy, in whatever form, depends on physical and biological factors'. These are expanded upon in my book concerning injury science and pain as related to the martial arts (still looking for a suitable title; do you think that's a good one?).

Anyway, I came across an email I emailed to myself. It was to keep a record of a news article concerning one punch deaths. The title of the article is '"One-punch" homicides every month, says Simon Overland.' The article reports: 'At least once a month in Victoria someone dies in a "one-punch homicide"; a drunken confrontation outside a pub where the victim hits his head on the ground and dies, the state's police chief says' (Read more:

One death from one punch every month in one state of Australia. The use of the term 'one-punch deaths' is relatively unique to Australia, thanks in part to the media. What terms are used in other parts of the world to describe this relativley common, and tragic, cause of death? In the previous blog I refered to another blog that reported such deaths in America. It'd be interesting to see some authoritative information on the extent of this problem.

This issue reflects the reality that an inherent risk in any form of interpersonal violence is death. This has multiple and far ranging implications for those involved in interpersonal violence, and the disciplines that study tactics and techniques associated with interpersonal violence.


  1. This is an excellent point.

    One thing that I find really disturbing in martial arts and self defence is the complete lack of acknowledgement of consequences. As a result, we end up with finishing techniques where defence quickly turns to offence, with a glib statement that "it is better to be tried by 12 than carried by six". We might bemoan the fact that we are the ones who need to be mindful of the law, when in our minds we are the innocents, but we also have to face the fact that we have laws with serious consequences.

    Ok, I am ranting now, but it seems that the notion of escaping from an altercation has been lost. Of course, I understand that this is not always possible.

    The other interesting thing about your post is the suggestion of the involvement of alcohol. Perhaps the true value of martial arts is attaining control over ones emotions so that the chances of arguments getting out of hand is minimised - but I might be being a bit naive there!

    Great info as always, John.


  2. One punch homicides is a pretty catchy title for the media. The manslaughter debate is tricky indeed. You can see both sides to the debate, at least to a degree.

    Ash makes an interesting point as well about 'finishing' techniques. Responsible martial artists need to strive to extricate themselves from a situation at the earliest opportunity. Learning how to do just enough to stop the threat is one of goals any serious artist should be moving towards. It also lines up with most laws regarding the protection of self and use of force.

    Alcohol plays a dangerous double role. People who've been drinking are more likely to get in fights, I think most of us can agree on this.

    The other significant danger is that the consumption of alcohol increases the severity of head injuries. Anyone who receives a blow to their head after drinking needs to be monitored or receive medical treatment.

    Interesting points.

  3. Your issue concerning alcohol and violence is very timely given the New South Wales Police Association's ramping up pressure on the major political parties to promise a crackdown on alcohol-fuelled violence. See


Your comments make my work all the more relevant as I use them to direct my research and theorising. Thank you.