Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What is it with these head butts?

Man of War

First it was Zildane what's his name or is it what's his name Zildane? You can tell I'm an American because prior to his head-butt episode which was televised about a million times, I'd never heard of him. Now we have an English jockey who, last week when his horse gave him a bit of a toss, headbutted said horse in the nose. Of course that video won't get as much viewing because rarely do we hear about hundreds of horse-racing fans being trampled when thousands in the crowd don't win the trifecta or when an Irish horse named "A Boatload of Blarney" wins in England.

But I started to wonder. What is this head butt thing and how did this come about? Oh, I know, it's a guy thing, but is it strictly European? I figured that there must be some definitive history of the head butt on the web. I was wrong. I did, however, find a very interesting and lengthy document by a Gerald Moffatt, a martial arts person, written in 1998 that goes on as long as a Phoenix summer about the various tactical maneuvers that should be used in proper head-butting technique. (And this is just stand-up headbutts; he said he could go on for days about ground-initiated head butts.) He categorized head butts into four main types: forward, rising, sideways and backwards.

Skull rules, he said, are simple. "Thick bone and/or high local curvature make good weapon areas, while thin bone and/or flat areas make good targets. A prime example of a weapon area would be the forehead near the hairline (unless yours has receded), while the temple is a good target area." So all you guys with receding hairlines or hair plugs, well, watch it. In a nutshell, he recommends certain areas of the face as more fragile and more likely to break or chip bones upon impact. Watch out for the mouth, he says, because you can suffer mutual cuts, but if you draw blood, that can be good because it will sometimes freaks out your opponent. He also reminds you to "recock" your head after each butt if inflicting repeated head butts. Head butts are stunners, after all, so he recommends you take advantage of your opponent's disorientation and take time to recock. I'd rather reload, but I digress.

He moves on to the rising head butt. I will cabbage his wording here because it's just too good. "Your knees are bent, you are inclined forward slightly with your stomach contracted and your back rounded, and your chin is (nearly) touching your chest. It’s better if you start even lower -- with your hairline touching the opponent’s chest. Now straighten up and unwind explosively. . . . exaggerate the lift of your head until you can just see the ceiling above you through your eyebrows. You don’t just stand up -- you thrust up." He does caution, however, to "wipe the sweat off your forehead" on the opponent's shirt (hopefully he has one on or your opponent isn't a female, whereby you might butt . . . well, I digress again) as you go up so you don't slip. An especially good idea in Phoenix where the temperature for four solid months never dips below 95.

We move on to sideways head butts. There are two "variants," the long and the short. With the long butt, move your ear toward your shoulder and let it rip sideways. He prefers this tactic and the short butt is more of a snap, but the short butt allows for repeated side butts, so it too, has its tactical advantages, he recounts. You can always add more force, he advises, by swinging your face forward as you go. Now just imagine that poor English horse had been trained in the sideways head butt. Now that would have been justice for the jockey. He'd think twice before he head butted another horse.

Then there's the rear head butt. No, not that rear! He recommends first moving your chin forward toward your chest but warns that this might "telegraph" your move. As the striking surface, use the occipital bone below the crown of your head. If you want to add more power, he recommends arching forward and springing back as if attempting a backward somersault. That always works for me and most of the Russian acrobats I know.

Now that we have covered the four gold standard head butts, he goes on at great length to discuss the diagonal and linked headbutts; holds; the famous "lapel grab" we've seen performed so well in cop and gangster movies; the neck hook; the double-elbow grab; and the types of isometic exercises one should use to strengthen the neck to better damage your opponent.

The article goes on, as he so eloquently says, "like Mao's long march." If you want to read more, go to or google "Moffatt head butt." I know that some of you [guys] will.

To view the article on the jockey's sincere apology, click here. Nowhere does he apologize to the horse. What's up with that?
Now seriously, this has been the biggest waste of my time since I wrote a letter to the Bush administration, and I am beginning to worry about myself. As I laid awake at 3 a.m. this morning after watching two subtitled films, reading several chapters of a murder mystery and watching a mom and four baby raccoons eat all my bird seed then knock the garbage can down the back steps, I asked myself "Why is it I have the energy to do this blog (I was all geared up to write about this enlightening topic today) but absolutely no energy to paint the rest of the house or even walk my dog?" This is one of the great mysteries of my life. I think it's called "depression" but I'm not clear on that. Or maybe I'm just really a slacker and it took for 21 years to figure it out.

This morning after sleeping until 11:30 I cheered myself up a bit with a justification for this colossal waste of time. With two serial killers on the loose in Phoenix, maybe some of my women friends can better arm (or head) themselves for self protection. These days, we all need it. Better yet, if you want a great protection dog, call my pal at Alpine Safety, 623 388-5000. But better not let me catch you head butting a dog, even if they do repeatedly clean out your refrigerator then lie on the floor huffing like a beached whale. That would send me over the edge, in case I'm not already there.

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