Impact Head class=”td_pull_quote td_pull_center”>Once my students have the motion and timing down for hand and arm strikes they never see a focus glove again. Instead they move up to the Reality-Based Impact Head.

Whether you are a MMA fighter in the ring going for a title or defending yourself on the streets for survival the majority of your strikes are going to be directed to the opponent’s head. After all, if you can shut down the nervous system, sloshing the brain against the cranial wall to impair the electrical signals that control the entire body, then your victory is more likely. Fail to shut down the “control center” and you could face certain defeat. Therefore the key to success is striking the head hard, accurately, and without damaging your hands. Unfortunately, most fighters use the wrong equipment for training head strikes and are not really prepared for a real opponent.

Most martial artists, professional fighters, police academies and even amateur practitioners in the garage use a focus glove or punching bag to learn how to strike a human head. Most likely, you do the same thing. The problem with using a focus glove to learn head strikes is that it is not a good target simulation. They’re just not realistic. Nobody has a flat cushy face. A real human head is rounded and hard due to the skull underneath the thin layer of skin surrounding it. A round target means that there is a greater likelihood of a hand strike glancing off the target, and because a human skull is hard there is a greater risk of breaking bones in the hand if the punch does not land correctly. A typical martial arts focus glove gives the practitioner a false sense of security simply because it does not accurately replicate what you will be actually hitting in a real situation.

The only time I ever use a leather or nylon martial arts or boxing style focus gloves is only to teach my beginners the basic striking principles and techniques. A punching bag is even worse in reinforcing bad striking habits because the huge cylinder shaped target stays in one spot and cannot move around like a hand-held focus glove target simulating bobbing and weaving. Once my students have the motion and timing down for hand and arm strikes they never see a focus glove again. Instead they move up to the Reality-Based Impact Head. This revolutionary striking glove is actually the shape of a human head, and it feels like one when you strike it.

Here’s how the Reality-Based Impact Head works; inside the back of the head there is a handle. A training partner firmly grips the vertical handle, and most men can get both hands around the handle, and then holds up the target in front of the trainee at head level. The handle is securely fastened to a plastic “skull,” and a durable flesh color rubber, the “skin” surrounds the frame. There’s a little give to the rubber, but not much, just like real skin. Once you start punching this human-like target you find out quickly that your punches were not as strong and as well placed as you thought. If you don’t hit the rounded surface just right your hand will be slightly angled and you’ll feel a sharp pain in the wrist. Pain is a great teacher, and with the Reality-Based Impact Head you start learning real quit how to properly angle your fist, wrist, and arm as well as when to tighten the wrist muscles when striking full-contact. WARNING: Like any contact training you should start with less power and gradually increase the amount of power as you develop more control and skill.

If you who don’t train on the Reality-Based Impact Head to improve your strikes to the head you are more likely to injure your hands in a real fight, which can be tremendously demoralizing and reduce your effectiveness. You will also find out real quick which techniques really work and which ones don’t at the moment of contact. For example, the popular “karate chop” that everyone learns in a traditional-based dojo works nicely if strike a standard focus glove or you hit someone’s neck at just the right angle, but miss the mark ever so slightly and your pinky finger catches the side of a jaw bone or the crown of the head and you break a bone or two in your own hand. Training on the Reality-Based Impact teaches you real fast to avoid such chancy techniques; something you would never discover on a focus glove or punching bag.

You may be saying, “I don’t ever train on a focus glove, so your advice does not apply to me,” because your current training goes one step further by putting on some boxing gloves and exchanging blows with your training partner, or possibly using head gear for some added protection.” However, hitting your partner’s head with padding on your hands or padding on his head in the form of a soft helmet is still not like hitting a real human head in a title fight or in a life and death conflict. “Here’s why. It’s unlikely that you’re going to strike your training partner with full force. Sure, its great training to go at it with each other with protective gear, but we always hold back because we don’t want to hurt our training partner even with the training on. With a Reality-Based Impact Head you don’t have to hold back at all once you have the basics down. You can hit it will full force perfecting devastating punches.

In my Women’s Survival course I use the Reality Based Impact Head to train my female students on eye gouging, popping the ears with a palm strike, and clawing. By having a realistic target that is anatomically correct it gets them into the survival mindset much quicker than when I used to use focus gloves. Plus, it is only a small step to go from the Reality Based Impact Head training to a helmeted instructor playing the role of an attacker.

Reality-Based Impact Head

The Reality-Based Impact Head is a relatively new, and original, product on the market. The inventor of this product is Ray Long. His idea for a realistic striking glove came around 2002 after ten years of Kenpo Karate training under Master Tom Saviano. Ray knew what it felt like to hit someone in the face for real, and he knew that the equipment that everyone was training on was just not a true comparison. With the loving support of his wife he decided to design a realistic striking glove in the hopes of manufacturing a product one day.

The first prototype was fabricated, with the help of his friend Conrad Alfaro, in 2004. He named the human head-like striking glove The Hammerhead. After several changes were made for safety and product integrity it finally went into production in late 2005; the same year Ray filed for a U.S. patent which was finally granted in 2007, and then a European patent was granted in 2010.

Once Ray had several units completed he was ready to implement his marketing strategy and sent them to many martial arts schools to test them out with hopes that they would start ordering them once they had a chance to train on them for free. To Ray’s surprise the traditional-based schools did not want the Hammerhead. The consistent criticism he was getting across the board was, It’s too hard on the hands, and our students want something softer. To his dismay they sent them back. Ray didn’t know what to do because the whole point of the product was to simulate a real head and not make it into just another unrealistic foam hitting pad.

A year later in 2006, just as Ray was about to give up on his dream, he saw one of my advertisements in Black Belt magazine for my Reality-Based Personal Protection courses. He pulled up my website and saw that the training was like no other he had ever seen before. The Reality-Based system blends in police, corrections, and military techniques and training methods right in with the hand-to-hand combat stuff. Ray said to himself, “This is it! The Reality-Based people are going to want this product.”

Reality-Based Impact Head

Ray Long contacted me and sent me a Hammerhead to test. The moment I opened up the box and saw it there I thought to myself, “Oh yea, this is going to change the way I teach people. This is exactly what we need.”

I confess, I was a bit envious of Ray having developed the Hammerhead, because I had actually been toying with a similar striking glove in my head for months. I was thinking of cutting off the head of a Century B.O.B. (Body Opponent Bag) striking mannequin and fixing a handle up inside of it somehow. I was thinking of holding it for a training partner by coming up through the neck and holding it vertically, but Ray’s idea of having a cavity in the back of the head was a superior idea. When I examined the high quality of the Hammerhead I knew that he had “beat me to the punch.” His product was what the self-defense training community needed.

I took the product to Europe and tested it in a Swedish class first, and then did the same in Germany. My students love it, and wanted to buy their own. I tested the Hammerhead a third time in a Los Angeles seminar I was teaching, and the acceptance was overwhelming. I called Ray, told him the results of the evaluation, and assured him that I would endorse the product without any reservations.

Ray had a new lease on life and started marketing to the Reality-Based crowd. The Hammerhead started to sell at $99.95 (US Dollars) a unit. It wasn’t long until Ray started getting interest from law enforcement agencies and military units, and as such decided to quit having the Hammerhead manufactured in Asia and have it made in the USA. It turned out to be a good call because the recession hit and having it made in America meant American jobs and a better product. But, before any changes were made I told Ray I had a couple of design change suggestions myself; namely a more durable anti-rip material, because on the old versions some of the noses would start tearing a little after extended use, a better flesh color, a lower price closer to that of a focus glove, and most of all a change of the product name. I told ray, “The current name of Hammerhead does not accurately describe this product. Since it is the Reality-Based practitioners embracing this product how about naming it the Reality-Based Impact Head?” Ray did not hesitate, “I like it. I think we now have a new name.”

Reality-Based Impact Head

I told Ray that I had an idea for a new logo, and he gave me permission to produce it. What I came up with was the reticles, also known as crosshairs one sees in a scope of a sniper rifle, over the silhouette of an Impact Head. This lead me to another idea, and that was the possibility of using the Impact Head as a ballistics target as well.

I took one of my old Hammerheads out to the gun range where I teach in Los Angeles and shot that thing up with a variety of calibers (.45 caliber, 5.56mm and 7.62mm) at various distances; even point blank shots. What I discovered was that the integrity of the target held up even after putting many rounds through it. As a firearms instructor I had never seen such a 3D target hold up so well, and so I knew that the Impact Head could also be sold as a ballistics target. So, I asked Ray if he could make the same product without the handle, and they could. With the handle missing there was now a large cavity in the center of the head where a balloon filled with water and stage blood could be placed. Such a visual of “blood splatter” made police and military firearms training more realistic, especially for sniper training.

With the new design and material changes, all for the better of course, the suggested retail price of each unit dropped down to $69.95 (US Dollars); the price is the same for the striking glove version and the ballistics version. Now the product was within the price range of a good quality leather focus glove for the self-defense crowd and a reusable target for firearms usage. By 2009 production was up and running.

The “skull,” properly called a core insert, is a clam shell design that holds the handle securely to the left and right inserts. It is made out of a polypropylene plastic, which is a high impact plastic. The material of the “skin” is foam that is injected around the core insert, which is polyurethane type foam. The same foam is used for various products such as motorcycle seats, boat seats, and baseball bases.

Reality-Based Impact Head

I predict that one day every martial arts school, police academy, military combatives program, security guard school, MMA and boxing school, will have at least one Reality-Based Impact Head to train with. Some schools, like my main school in Solingen, Germany, have no less than 12 on hand to accommodate 24 students at a time to learn hand and arm strikes.

The great thing about Ray Long, and his company LSTK, Inc. that manufactures the Reality-Based Impact Head, is that there is a good deal for everyone. The retail price of $69.95 is already generously low, but the company gives a 10% law enforcement and military discount to anyone with verifiable official identification. Legitimate self-defense schools and can buy the Reality-Based Impact Head for wholesale, and martial arts supply stores and police and military equipment stores can buy units at distributor cost.

As a self-defense instructor I am proud that I have contributed to the success of the Reality-Based Impact Head worldwide. It has improved my striking skills, my students skills, and I know it will do the same for you. Those who have never experienced a real fight before sent their Hammerheads back to Ray Long during the testing phase of the product. I guarantee that you will never want to give up your Reality-Based Impact Head after you’ve trained with it. The next thing up from the Reality-Based Impact Head is an actual person.

Be A Hard Target

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Jim Wagner
Jim Wagner, one of the first self-defense instructor to introduce techniques, tactics, and training methods to survive terrorist attacks and modern crime (active shooters, criminal chemical attacks, drive-by shootings, etc.). His teaching is based on his tactical career as a U.S. Army combat soldier, corrections officer, police officer, S.W.A.T. officer, team leader of a Dignitary Protection Unit for America’s fifth largest Sheriff’s department, a U.S. federal agent counterterrorist during the Global War on Terrorism, Reserve Military Police soldier, military bodyguard, Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO), Security Forces sergeant, and a team leader of a military Special Reaction Team. He worked in the private security and bodyguarding sectors, most notably protecting Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and working for the Walt Disney Company. Since 2003 Jim has been teaching his Reality-Based Personal Protection system around the world and in martial arts schools, where he offers self-defense instructors a way to increase their business by teaching Terrorism Survival, Crime Survival, and other courses. If you want to become certified to teach at your school, you can purchase the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection Instructor Package at a discount through by using the code USARBPP1706.