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                                                      Editorial For December 2014  

13 Reasons Why Control Holds Are Not    Recommended For Self-Defense

WHETHER “police comealong” and restraining type holds, or the popularized competition “submission” type holds, these types of techniques are not recommended for self-defense or for military close combat employment.

Getting right to the chase, here are thirteen reasons why we take the position that we do take:

1. Contrasted with blows of the hands and feet, holds of all kinds take a much longer time to apply.

2. Even a relatively unskilled individual who reacts quickly and aggressively when the attempt to apply a control hold on him is made, can counter the hold and seriously injure the person who is trying to apply it.

3. Fine motor movements (and a highly developed set of them) are required by the applicant of any control hold, rendering such holds nearly impossible to apply in serious combat, when fine motor movements are all but impossible to render.

4. Nearly all holds (strangulation and choke holds being one conspicuous exception) rely upon pain compliance —— a completely subjective phenomenon. In combat one’s threshold of pain goes through the roof, and besides, some individuals (on drugs, drunk, or insane) feel practically no pain. Stopping a dangerous foe in close combat requires massively shocking his central nervous system and/or suddenly and drastically interfering with his breathing.

5. Quality ju-jutsu instruction —— and any ju-jutsu teacher worthy of the name —— advocates first disorienting the opponent with a blow, and then applying whatever hold is desired. So —— a) Why use non decisive blows and waste time on an intermediate step so that a hold can be applied, and  b) Why not just smash into your man with ongoing and decisive blows?

6. Clearly, one is placing oneself in a very vulnerable position when one attempts to apply a control hold if there is more than a single attacker. And, quality training in self-defense and close combat must condition the student to assume that he will be defending/battling against more than  a single enemy —— even if he does not see more than one opponent, initially.

7. Knives are commonly carried and used by street garbage. Attempting to close-in with and apply a hold against an opponent who has a knife (quite possibly that you are not aware of his possessing) is suicide.

8. Law enforcement officers do have a legitimate need for control holds. But that is because their job requires them, in many instances, to take the risk that goes with assuming a given individual poses no serious threat, but that he merely wishes to pull away or be stubbornly uncooperative. That is not a situation that anyone faces in a self-defense or close combat emergency —— in war or in peacetime.

9. For the private citizen: It is possible that if you do apply a control hold —— because you foolishly respond to an annoying pest (as opposed to an attacker) —— you could be arrested for kidnapping!

10. Applying a hold on a less-than-serious opponent (whom you should not bother with, but instead ignore or walk away from) could trigger escalation of the situation into a serious battle.

11. Blows will always at least disorient the recipient, paving the way for destructive followup (which is why, once again, blows are always advocated in good ju-jutsu, before applying a hold). Initiating a hold without such disorientation can actually stimulate the recipient into powerful aggressive action.

12. Psychologically, the “I’m only going to control this guy” and/or “I don’t want to hurt this guy too badly” DEFENSIVE mindset, is inappropriate to and contraindicated for successfully defending yourself or winning a hand-to-hand engagement in military combat.

13. Such real world factors as darkness, snow or rain, wearing gloves or mittens, cumbersome outerwear, etc. and so forth can often make the application of holds impossible —— even for an expert.

A question we sometimes hear:

“Isn’t your extremely aggressive and destructive method of self-defense and close combat a bit risky, considering that an attacker might not be all that dangerous?”

Our answer:

“Quite to the contrary! Not  being extremely aggressive and destructive is more than a ‘bit’ risky; it can be a lethal mistake in any real attack!

“Any attacker who is ‘not all that dangerous’, or who is only halfhearted about attacking you, will be easily stopped by your first decisive action. He will freeze, run away, or be dropped (enabling you to escape). Then, of course, no further action on your part will be necessary. You can, as it were, “ratchet down”. However . . . you may never get the opportunity to ratchet up in time, if a non injurious first action on your part is insufficient to stop a would-be killer!”

Cops need some control hold training. Combatants should avoid it.



                                                                         Bradley J. Steiner


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P.O. Box 15929

Seattle, Washington 98115


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Mission Statement

IT IS the mission and purpose of this Site to pursue and to disseminate the very best information and guidance for those who are interested in practical self-defense and close combat. We include ancillary and cognate disciplines, such as physical training, the use of hypnosis and other means of effecting proper levels of mental conditioning and all round total readiness. We also include review and discussion of published materials on all aspects of our subjects, and of related subjects — from all sources, worldwide: current and out of print.

It is also the purpose of this Site to provide authentic and reliable information about the System of close combat and martial art that we founded in 1975: American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao)™, and to inform visitors to this Site how to obtain bona fide, legitimate training in this Art. Additionally, we offer unique instructional materials and papers relevant to all general researches into and studies of self-defense and close combat.

While we certainly do have a serious commercial objective in presenting this Site, we are no less motivated by our lifetime love of and devotion to the subjects about which it deals. We therefore cordially welcome visitors who train in other schools and systems of martial art. So long as the individual has a deep interest in real world self-defense and in authentic methods of close combat, we are confident that he will enjoy and greatly benefit by visiting this Site regularly.

We respect all sincere, decent practitioners of all responsibly taught, legitimate martial arts. We do have our own ideas and convictions which we have arrived at over the last 50-plus years of dedication to what we do.   We have no interest in converting antagonists; but we have found over the preceding decades that we have invariably gotten along extremely well with anyone who is seriously devoted to the combat arts for the same reasons that we are.

We have been a student of the martial arts (including weaponry) since the 1950’s. Among our personal teachers and close associates have been Col. Rex Applegate and Sgt. Charles (“Charlie”) Nelson. We have been a devotee of sensible weight training since the early 1960’s. We have been a student of hypnosis for more than 40 years, and have been a state licensed hypnotherapist for 22 years — with our specialty being the mental conditioning of combat students and physical trainees (for which we have been recognized as a “Fellow in Clinical Hypnotherapy”). In 1975 we founded the American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) System of self-defense and close combat, which is today recognized internationally.  We have a background in intelligence and in protective services (“bodyguarding”). We have written more than two dozen books and 1,000 magazine articles during the last 40 years on our various subjects. We have been writing and publishing a limited-circulation monthly Journal (Close Quarters: The Professional Journal of Ungentlemanly Warfare) for nearly nine years. We have trained SWAT officers, patrol officers, military elites (U.S. Marines, SEALs,  and Army Special Forces), bodyguards, investigators, spies, and security personnel of all types. We have also trained the elderly, the very young, and the handicapped. We are Founder, President, and CEO of the International Combat Martial Arts Federation. We are former Washington State Director of the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, and we are President of the International Stick and Knife Fighting Association, in Berlin, Germany. We have been personally certified by the late Col. Rex Applegate to teach his and W.E. Fairbairn’s methods.

We feel that after more than half a century of all this we have something worthwhile to offer.

Welcome to our Site! Please tell others about it, and visit here often!

Prof. Bradley J. Steiner
Seattle, Washington