Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Attack Combinations: A Critical Part of The Unarmed Combat Curriculum


WE have been advised by more than one correspondent now that the idea is being emphasized in some “combatives” training circles that a program or course of training should not teach specific combinations of blows (i.e. what we refer to and strongly advocate as “attack combinations”). Only the individual strikes, smashes, kicks, and so forth need be taught, so their instruction goes, and the student can work out those combinations that suit him best, and that he likes. This produces “spontaneity”. And while we agree 100%-plus that the ability to react with spontaneity is a crucial aspect of the trainee’s being able to render techniques effectively in a crisis, we vigorously disagree with the notion that drilling in practical combinations of techniques is either irrelevant to the attainment of this objective or that drilling in practical combinations somehow “inhibits” the trainee’s development in that area. Nonsense!  Please . . . if you want to get the benefits of realistic close combat and self-defense training do not accept this idea as guidance for your own development in training! However well-intentioned any instructor might be in asserting the irrelevance of carefully planned, practical combat combinations being very specifically taught to trainees, he is completely incorrect.

Now we will acknowledge two things:

1. It may be the case that someone with many years of serious training in karate and ju-jutsu, having mastered so many blows (and in the case of ju-jutsu —— we hope! —— the art of atemi-waza) may find it relatively easy to formulate combatively logical and effective combinations after being instructed in the repertoire of basic combat blows taught in a combatives system. This especially if he has had some real hand-to-hand combat experience in addition to his many years of training in one or more self-defense emergencies where he needed to put his training to use for real. You can see that this applies to a very small minority of individuals; and it might not even apply to all of them!

2. Once a student of a good system of close combat and self-defense has trained and mastered a good curriculum of attack combinations he should be encouraged to go on to develop and to build his own personal repertoire of combinations. These will not replace the formally taught attack combinations that he has acquired, and that suit him, but rather will utilize the experience and knowledge and skill that hard training in the formal curriculum has given him. (Note: Naturally, every student will find over time that some of the formally taught attack combinations fit him better than others, and a few might just not be right for him, after all. In such a case, after learning the mechanics of the combinations’ proper performance, the student should retain and continue to polish his favorite combinations, and discard those which a suitable amount of experience have proven to be unsuitable for himself.)

How many attack combinations should a student learn? This depends upon his training. Is he studying a short-term course (perhaps in the military) which necessarily will teach him far fewer techniques than he would otherwise be taught if he were to study for many months or possibly years? If so then a few representative examples of attack combinations —— perhaps three or four —— may be appropriate. If a student is a long-term student, possibly one who is going for black belt level ability, then he should continue to be taught a few new attack combinations with every promotion that he achieves. But learning combinations will speed and solidify his development.

Attack combinations constitute a most important part of the American Combato curriculum. We would like to explain why they are so important, and why it behooves every student to work hard to learn and develop them.

Most of the attack combinations that we teach have been carefully worked out by ourself. Some were adopted from what was taught by other masters of close combat (i.e. Fairbairn, Applegate, Carlin, Biddle, Grover, Nelson, etc.). These combinations work in real combat. This alone more than justifies their being taught and emphasized. But there’s more.

One of the greatest errors in the majority of classical karate systems is their positing of the idea that the “one punch stop” is the training objective, and that the karate expert’s goal is always to be able to drop an attacker with a single blow. Anyone familiar with real combat understands that this is a mistake. Human adversaries are very difficult to stop (if we assume, as we always should, that they are stronger, meaner, and larger than we are, and that they are determined to maim or to kill us). Dropping such a foe with one, single strike might occur; but the trainee should neither expect it to happen, or train with the idea that if he masters the art he is studying, he will be able to get such a result.

Drilling in attack combinations emphasizes that followup and follow through is crucial in combat. Just as practical counterattacks must stress continuing to attack the attacker and not naively assume that one quick, skillful action will do the job, so preempting attacks must be comprised of relentless followup. One stops when one has rendered one’s attacker(s) harmless and when one is safe; not after delivering one terrific hand, knee, foot, or elbow blow!

Attack combination practice trains the neophyte in the essential process of combatively logical combining of moves. The inexperienced and unskilled will tend to resort to flailing about, rather than to driving into their enemy with a formidable barrage of techniques. Practice of basic blows alone is of course also essential and must never be neglected. However, their individual mastery is no guarantee that under combat conditions the trainee will somehow “spontaneously” lace those blows together in tactically sound sequences. He must have training in how those sequences are constructed and applied.

Western boxers have always recognized the importance of hard, serious drill in combinations. Their shadow boxing (regarded by the late heavyweight world champion Jack Dempsey as being the most important and valuable part of the boxer’s training, aside from getting into the ring and boxing!) is the sporting equivalent of combat attack combinations. Boxers, of course, use clenched fist punching sequences only; the combat student must use everything relevant to dispatching a deadly enemy. And the combat student should learn to treat those combinations just as a boxer treats his shadow boxing combinations: with deadly seriousness. In the ring, the boxer’s mastered sequences enable him to explode against his opponent. In the street or wherever, the combative student’s combinations enable him to devastate a potential killer before that killer can bring his own intended onslaught into full play against the student.

Attack combinations also teach the student miscellaneous blows, and other hand-to-hand skills. While, for example, American Combato teaches 16 Basic Blows, the System contains a total of more than 50 blows. These minor actions, along with throws and neck breaks, etc. are laced into the attack combinations, just as many are laced into our counterattacks (i.e. “self-defense” techniques).

Drilling in attack combinations instills aggressiveness, and does so somewhat more effectively than mere drill in repetitious practice of basic blows. Our students are trained to visualize when practicing, and the attack combinations are a perfect vehicle for perfecting the supreme attack mindedness and aggressiveness that properly implemented visualization enables a student to achieve. Bruce Lee once wrote that a martial arts trainee should train with the idea that he is facing the most dangerous attacker on earth, in fact the trainee’s worst enemy. Attack combination drill is ideal for this type of focused combat training.

With proper visualization and accumulated training experience the practice of attack combinations enables the trainee to perfect very dangerous even lethal skills with compete safety. He may work for full power, speed, and utterly ruthless abandon of the slightest concern for his attacker’s welfare (which is exactly what he must do to be fully effective against the street savage, or other dangerous foe). Remember this FACT The human nervous system does not distinguish between a vividly imagined vs. an actually lived through experience. Thus training in the kind of attack combinations we teach, and training as we teach it, becomes —— as the trainee masters his drills —— the equivalent of actually using his techniques.

Note: For anyone who doubts what is said in the last two sentences above, just consider your dreams. If you have ever had a “good” or a “bad” dream you awoke to having the experience of feeling the physical manifestations of the experience you dreamed that you were having. Maybe you were scared. Maybe angry. Maybe laughing, crying, sweating, shaking, feeling good, etc. The point is that your nervous system “believed” it was experiencing that which you were imagining in your dream. Some people can relate what we are saying to daydreams. In any case this is true, it is a fact, and it is critical in understanding much about realistic training for combat, and developing not only proper mindset, but fully reliable physical skills. When attack combinations are correctly developed you can count on real world combat actions that can save your life being developed, as well.

Attack combinations are a valuable way to train (and we teach it because it is) with hand-held weapons, too. The stick, the knife, and the tomahawk are all best taught by training in effective, reliable combination actions.

We are aware that many of our visitors train in methods and systems other than our American Combato. If it’s right for you, then by all means stick with it! But we speak, write, and teach from more than 50 years of experience in learning, teaching, and researching. We do not hesitate to say that you would be wise to factor in that which we share in this and our other web sites.

If you are training in another combatives or close combat system we respectfully suggest that you reject any suggestion you may be given that definite attack combinations which you learn and drill in are not effective in training you. They are effective, and you should be devoting regular, serious, intensive practice time to them.

If you are a student of ours, you already know this. If not, we strongly suggest you take our message to heart.


Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

                           Off The Deep End!

MARTIAL arts has not only declined immensely in quality in general in the United States, it has of late become buffoonish in some circles! It was bad enough when the fiction of competition-and-ground-fighting-as-real-combat- and-defense took hold of the room temperature IQ’s and enjoined these gullibles to take up competition and to focus on ground grappling if they wished to be “really” prepared for “real”(?) combat. Utter nonsense. We now note, however, thanks to feedback from a correspondent, that matches have been held between BJJ experts and Bodybuilders . . . apparently to discredit “mere muscle” and to show that a person versed in the fighting sport of BJJ can overcome someone not so versed, but merely well-developed strength and muscle-wise. Well, duh, the only ones who will be impressed or enlightened by that bit of BULLSHIT are those simpletons who haven’t figured out that such moronicness is commercialized showmanship of the lowest and most misleadingly dishonest kind!

What the hell does being a bodybuilder per se have to do with fighting? It is no more logical to place a bodybuilder in a contest (what “contest”?) with a BJJ black belt than it would be to place a school bus driver in a “contest” of driving skills with a protective service (bodyguard) high performance driver. Actually, that idiocy might make more sense! At least the contestants are both drivers!

Would you be impressed if a professional boxer defeated an unskilled bodybuilder? Or if a karate expert did? Or if a wrestler did? Or a judo man? Or a fencer? or an expert kick boxer? Or even a hardened street fighter?

If any of those ridiculous “contests” resulting in an obvious win by the trained fighter (regardless of what form of fighting he employed) and thus convinced you that “strength wasn’t necessary” and that “muscular development and power are not needed for personal combat” you would have established that you likely have the intelligence of a sand flea. What crap!

Ask yourself this simple question:

“If the bodybuilder in any of these ‘contests’ also had the technical fighting skill level of the black belt or expert in addition to his power and muscular development, who would win?” (Not “Who do you think would win?” because it is a certainty. All other things being equal, the stronger person wins. Fact. Absolute. Incontrovertible  —— except among fools who want ti believe horseshit.) The “contest” between the fighter and bodybuilder is STUPID, DISHONEST, MISLEADING BULLSHIT. Why not “challenge” a BJJ fellow to a weight lifting contest?  Would that prove that BJJ is useless, when the bodybuilder out-lifted the black belt?

We ask none of these questions, save rhetorically. We assume that those with basic intelligence see the truth here. So, if you disagree, and if your keeper has let you out of your cell and given you time to answer our questions, do not bother to submit your retarded commentary. Your email will be SPAMMED when it is received. We cannot relate to people who, in essence, probably require a booklet of instructions when they purchase toilet paper.

While we’re on this particular subject, here’s another thing that really should be mentioned regarding the “bodybuilder” question:

It is common knowledge that many serious bodybuilders take jobs as “doormen” or bouncers. With little besides their raw strength and a rough-and-ready attitude, these bodybuilders do fairly well in handling typical, unskilled aggressors and belligerents. This in no way provides an endorsement for developing muscles and strength as being any kind of total or complete program per se for self-defense. However, it does provide evidence that in the real world, since statistically likely opponents in nearly any encounter will not be accomplished fighters, overwhelming strength often suffices quite well for those who possess it, in order to stop their hostile conduct.

A n d . . . in the real world . . . if a well-developed bodybuilder lashed out by surprise with a full power punch to a BJJ black belt’s jaw (outside of any predetermined “contest”, “match”, or “bout”) the almost certain result would be an instant knockout and a probable broken jaw for the black belt. An actual all-out attack by a 220-pound plus bodybuilder in his 20’s or 30’s against a BJJ black belt (again, outside the context of an agreed-upon match — by surprise) might see a BJJ black belt snatched up off the ground and smashed into a brink wall or  into the ground —— head first.

“But,” you say “isn’t all of this no less true in regard to anyone or any expert or black belt in anything?

“YES! absolutely. However no one, nor any ‘expert’ in anything but BJJ/MMA/UFC has stupidly, irrelevantly, absurdly, and misleadingly ‘challenged’ or promoted any ridiculous ‘contest’  between himself or one of his colleagues and a bodybuilder under the literally insane idea that the BJJ man’s victory would somehow demonstrate the uselessness of muscles and great strength —— or of bodybuildingS T U P I D.  

D U M B.


P.S. Our caustic remarks, we hope our visitors understand, are directed only toward those who deserve them. We fully appreciate that the majority of those reading our material are not gullible, brainwashed, propagandized half-wits.


Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Setting The Record Straight About “Defendu


IT is not unlikely that many of you who visit this web site each month have a reprint (or possibly even an original) edition of William Fairbairn’s classic Scientific Self-Defence. This book describes Fairbairn’s full method of what we would today call police defensive tactics and self-defense. A study of this book makes it plain that Fairbairn’s Method, referred to by him as “Defendu”, is what his most distinguished pupil, Rex Applegate, might have called “peacetime methods of individual combat or self-defense”. Much of Defendu deals with ju-jutsu arrest and control methods, as well as practical self-defense reactions to common street attacks, and a private citizen’s use of a walking stick as a weapon of personal protection. This is/was “Defendu”.

When Fairbairn was called out of retirement at the outbreak of WWII and, along with Eric Sykes, tasked with training the famed British Commandos, as well as the Home Guard and later the Special Operations Executive as well as England’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the curriculum he devised and taught —— and that quite correctly made him a wartime legend —— differed markedly from the Defendu of his earlier Shanghai years. As a police officer Fairbairn understood what the officers serving with the Shanghai Department required; as well as the citizens of that turbulent City who sought a means of self-defense. As a top level teacher of close combat for military and intelligence personnel now fighting a war Fairbairn knew that their needs were considerably different. And while certain specific techniques of his Defendu found their way into Fairbairn’s wartime program, it is not true that Defendu per se was the method taught during the war years. The wartime system that Fairbairn taught was referred to simply as “The Fairbairn Method”. This is the method that Fairbairn also taught to the American Office of Strategic Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he was seconded to the States. This is when then Captain Rex Applegate was ordered to work with Fairbairn, learn all that he could from him, and —— literally —— become Fairbairn’s opposite number on America’s side of the Atlantic before Fairbairn and Sykes returned to England. Thus Rex Applegate became Fairbairn’s most significant and prominent student of The Fairbairn System.

In the extensive tome The War Report of the O.S.S. the origin and development of the O.S.S. is described in great detail, as is the particulars regarding the Organization’s training of its agents. In the original and in the postwar declassified reprinting of this Document, titled The Secret War Report of the O.S.S. by Anthony Cave Brown (published in the early 1970’s) reference is made to The Fairbairn System as the close combat method taught to O.S.S. operatives. Nowhere is “Defendu” mentioned.

In our 25+ year association with Col. Rex Applegate his references to Fairbairn  —— which were a great many —— always referred to his wartime doctrine as “the Fairbairn System”. Never once did Applegate use the term Defendu regarding what his wartime mentor passed on to him.

One of our own teachers who had served in counterintelligence during WWII and who had trained under Fairbairn and Sykes personally when with the FBI always spoke of The Fairbairn System; never did he use the term Defendu.

But there is further concrete evidence proving our point: Both Fairbairn’s classic books Scientific Self-Defence and All-In Fighting (original edition of what later was titled Get Tough!) are available for anyone interested to reference. Scientific Self-Defence reflects Fairbairn’s earlier Defendu Method. All-In Fighting/Get Tough! describes most of The Fairbairn (Wartime) System. The latter teaches how to kill with the short stick, knife, and smatchet, and —— perhaps most significant —— places primary emphasis on the chinjab, edge-of-the hand blow, side kick, and knee attack.  Their ruthless, offensive use is taught and stressed often in discussing the defenses against enemy attack. Breaking a man’s back, and bursting his eardrums via what Fairbairn called the “thunderclap”, is also emphasized, as well as how to kill a downed enemy in lethal battle. What is more, great emphasis is laid upon the trainee’s never going to the ground and not working on ground fighting, per se. This last being of particular importance to those who have been caught up in BJJ/MMA fighting sports. (Not that we would expect them to pay attention to this truth that every single combat and defense teacher of any merit has always and invariably stressed when teaching men for real combat and war.)

During the war Fairbairn taught and stressed weapons in his System (the peskett, the derringer, the spring cosh, the .45 automatic, the flick knife, and any available object-at-hand). That’s war! (And, parenthetically, we might add that is the American Combato way ——— and always has been, since inspired as a System in large measure by the WWII Fairbairn System!)

In point of fact the label given a method matters —— if at all —— only to the provider of the particular “label”) and to those truly dedicated, serious students who resent lack of clarity when discussing their activity. Nevertheless, when one loves a field of study, as we love close-combat, self-defense, etc. it is a little bothersome to notice inaccurate references to anything in that field of study. Hence this article. Defendu and The Fairbairn System are two different creatures. Distantly related, yes; but different, nonetheless.

Now aren’t you glad you know this?

We suggest: Both Defendu and The Fairbairn System deserve to be appreciated and studied, and wrung out for all they’re worth —— which is plenty! We would argue that for serious self-defense and military or paramilitary close combat, The Fairbairn System is the way to go, and it’s kill or be killed spirit needs to be assimilated and, if necessary to save innocent life, brought unhesitantly into play!


Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Hardening The Edge And The Heel Of The Hand


IN addition to using a striking post (in our opinion the single best way to harden the natural weapons) there are a few other ways well worth considering. This especially true for those who, for whatever reason, cannot build and use a striking post (“makiwara”) where they live.

We wish to describe a method that we personally have been using since the 1970’s in addition to an outdoor striking post. We freely admit that we have done (and sometimes do) much more than one needs to do in order to maintain formidability in the skills of close combat and personal defense. The simple truth is that we like to train. We assure you, however, that by investing only a tiny fraction of the time that we or other dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts invest in their training, you can achieve and maintain excellent capabilities.

The two most formidable, practical, versatile, powerful, and destructive open hand blows in unarmed combat are the CHINJAB SMASH and the EDGE-OF-HAND (or “handaxe”) CHOP. So if you really want to build up these two fabulous natural weapons, pay attention.

You will need a solid steel barbell bar and a chair.

Sit down on the chair and lay the steel bar across your legs.

Train the handaxe chop by striking down alternately with each hand onto the bar’s steel surface. Easy at first. Over a month’s time — practicing daily — build up to a reasonably strong chopping action; say 60-75% of the force you’d use to actually chop an attacker with the blow. After two to three months — training daily — you should easily be able to chop with full force on the bar, and feel no discomfort. An intense ten minute daily session is plenty. Start off, however, with five minutes, hitting lightly for the first week.

The same procedure works with the heel of the hand (for chinjabs, straight heelpalm thrusts, whipping heelpalms, overhead circular heelpalms, etc. Hold the bar steady with one hand and drive the heel of your hand into the steel. Easy at first, and gradually increasing until you’re slamming your heelpalm as hard as you would if you were hitting a mugger. Same plan as with the use of the handaxe chop.

This training will condition your hands and not cause calluses.

Remember that in addition to this hardening training, you must practice the actual blows full force and correctly. When you can deliver your strikes with great speed and accuracy you will then reap enormous benefits by doing do with hard, conditioned hands. By themselves well conditioned natural weapons are not enough. However, once your blows are correctly mastered, delivered with maximum speed, and reliably placed where they belong — i.e. smashing into the body’s vital targets — then your having done so with well-hardened natural weapons will be of immense value. Analogous to striking a man across the face with a steel bar, instead of with a length of wood. The wood alone is excellent; but the same blow delivered with a length of solid steel is literally awesome!

The purpose of this training is not to break boards or other objects. That type of activity belongs with classical karate demonstrations. This type of training is for the purpose of being able to beat a dangerous assailant senseless and helpless in real combat.


Never practice clenched fist punching against a steel surface! Use hard rubber pads on a striking post for that. Do not use sheaved straw or wound rope. These last produce calluses and swollen knuckles — impressive to little children; harmful to adults, and likely to damage the hands.

• Don’t overtrain. It is the constant, consistent daily training that produces the best results.

• Be patient. And never neglect your technical practice of your blows.

• One of the great benefits of this bar training is that you get to hit something without damaging a partner. Using realistic training dummies is also helpful here, but more so to practice the techniques. The hardening drills forge the natural weapons so that when they are correctly employed they do optimal damage.


Sunday, August 7th, 2016

            Learn Something!

Go to YouTube. Enter “US Army Special Forces vs. Peruvian Special Forces”. Study what is said on that video and especially what you see. A simple “tiger’s claw thrust”. No B.S. and this is not some “MMA” or “UFC” sport. This is REAL. See what works for real?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

                                 FACT or OPINION?

ONE of the problems with so much you read and hear regarding self-defense, close combat, weapons, mental conditioning, survival, realistic tactics in combat and emergency defense predicaments, is that it is really opinion for the most part, not fact. Often the opinion makes sense for some people whose situation and circumstance is almost identical to the writer’s/speaker’s. But all too often the opinion has little or nothing to do with sound thinking, experience and desirable action. Sometimes the facts are unappealing, and —— humans being human —— people turn away from the facts and toward that which they want to hear, coming from someone’s opinion.

Opinions untainted by dishonest intentions (i.e. “opinions” that are not influenced by commercial interests, and the desire to make money or to prevail over some ideological adversary by obfuscating the truth —— the facts) do not constitute moral indictments of those who espouse them, so long as the advocates of the opinions truly believe them to be true. However, motives do not alter facts, and for whatever reason, opinions that are not true cannot assist those in the combat disciplines who seek and need the truth.

                                    How To Tell Fact From Opinion

HONEST effort in the form of study, research, and experience is what produces factual knowledge. Some people are in a better position to do studies, and research; and few have any great store of experiences in lethal or at least serious armed and unarmed combat from which they can draw reliable conclusions about the phenomenon. Fewer persons still have the interest, time, and tenacity to wring out this subject and get down to the facts, reliably. With no intention of boasting, a simple fact about us is that we do (and did) have the interest, time, and tenacity to discover the facts, and we are not shy about proclaiming that the facts are exactly that which we present —— in our teachings, writings, and miscellaneous public presentations. We have been immersed in this field that we love since childhood; and as we now approach 70 years of age, we retain the purpose that prompted us to make a career in large measure of teaching and educating people about the true combat (i.e. “martial”) arts of war; both to acquire for our own benefit, and to teach others, and to clarify and describe and teach for all who are interested, all of that which really works in real close combat and self-defense emergencies. We actually gave ourself way back in our younger years, almost the same assignment that Bill Donovan gave Rex Applegate of the OSS: That is: “Learn everything there is to know about close combat …”. And, just like the good Col. Applegate said prior to his passing: “That was a weighty assignment that we are still carrying out.” we too are still carrying out our self-assignment. Happily, our period of immersion in the necessary tasks has been well over half a century. Wartime necessity limited Rex Applegate’s initial endeavors in the direction he was headed to a much, much briefer time period. World War II itself, remember, lasted about five years. The good Col. Applegate certainly continued learning and researching and developing his fount of knowledge long after the close of the war and for the entire rest of his life. He is known —— and famously and rightly so! —— for the magnificent body of doctrine he compiled, taught, and documented in the single greatest volume on close combat ever written: his Kill — Or Get Killed. Applegate’s primary mentors were William E. Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes. Another of Fairbairn’s protégés was Pat (Dermot) O’Neill, famed close combat trainer of the First Special Service Force. Applegate was a tough, rough brawler and military police officer who would not back down from a buzz saw, before he was recruited into and assigned to work with Fairbairn, in the OSS. But Applegate’s ability in close combat prior to his wartime assignment did not derive from martial arts training. He had “learned by doing” one might say. Pat O’Neill was the most highly graded Kodokan judo expert of caucasian extraction in the world, during the 1940’s. He held a fifth degree black belt —— and he had earned it at the Kodokan by defeating some of the greatest native Japanese experts there. His judo specialty was ground fighting; something those enamored of the current fad might find interesting to note he abandoned completely when developing the O’Neill System, for actual wartime combat troops. Although greatly senior to Fairbairn in sport judo (Fairbairn was a second degree black belt) O’Neill was a rank amateur in real world combat prior to meeting and learning from Fairbairn. This O’Neill did when he joined the Shanghai Municipal Police, for which Fairbairn was “Instructor In Charge of Musketry”, as well as the Department’s ju-jutsu (later in Shanghai to become Fairbairn’s own Defendu) teacher.

These REAL close combat and self-defense masters were only concerned with THAT WHICH ACTUALLY WORKS IN REAL COMBAT —— whether unarmed, or with any modern hand-held weapon. Their lives and the lives of their fellows, and of tens of thousands of allied servicemen who they were tasked with training depended upon that which these men formulated and taught as wartime doctrine. There were no commercial interests being served here. No dojos trying to get signatures on the dotted line, and no multimillion dollar sports events set up to make huge profits. The only thing that mattered during WWII to these formulators and teachers of close combat/self-defense was: “Does it work?”. If “yes” then they used it. If “no” they discarded it. Period.

Naturally there were then as there are now, many excellent techniques contained in the classical martial arts that there was no time to include in the nitty-gritty basics of the wartime methods. Culling all of those skills that met the same standards as that of the wartime methods is that which we have done, painstakingly sifting through karateju-jutsu and numerous related disciplines for those skills, and then weaving them all together with the wartime doctrine into a cohesive, modern American System of all-in close combat and personal defense. Too, there were concepts that the wartime masters advanced which enabled some new techniques to be developed, and new training methods as well. Thus came about American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) in 1975. This System is fact-based and only fact-based. Its correctness can be seen in the number of copycats of it, since its inception in 1975. It works!

Amongst seasoned detectives attached to the “burglary” unit of any major police department, it will be acknowledged that burglars (like plagiarists and copycats) normally show great contempt for those whom they burgle or steal from. Thus we have had and continue to have malicious critics scattered amongst those few other legitimate fellow postwar teachers of effective, modern close combat. who teach the facts and the truth. Sadly, self-defense-seeking people will, because of their failure to look at the facts, continue in some instances to be duped by what really can only be referred to as “the contemptibles”. Since we have always advanced the facts, and since we continue to this day to do so, we can feel only a bare minimum of sympathy for the duped. The facts and the truth is available on three web sites:   /   / and

No man in history was better qualified to know and to develop skills that worked in real world hand-to-hand and close combat situations than the late William Ewart Fairbairn. Working with his partner, Eric Anthony Sykes, the two advanced the Art of practical close combat in leaps and bounds during the second world war. While those who point to Fairbairn’s personal participation in more than 600 dangerous encounters with armed and unarmed —— often martial arts skilled! —— felons, as proof positive of the man’s bona fides, are entirely correct, they frequently miss this further avalanche of evidence: Fairbairn trained thousands of men, in Shanghai and later in the 1940’s, during WWII. He trained FBI agents, MI6 personnel, and countless British Commandos, U.S. Marines, and other instructors (the most notable of which was then Capt. Rex Applegate). His methods proved superior to anything these “real world applicants” of close combat had ever known or used before!

Sport has always been and continues to be much more popular —— especially to Westerners —— than repetitious training and drill in skills with which competition is impossible. That’s all well and good, and people should most definitely follow that which they find most enjoyable, and which suits them best. But the problem today is that many are being duped into believing that sport and combat training are synonymous. WRONG. They are totally dissimilar; though each is no less worthy or “legitimate” than the other. They are simply different. People are advised to make informed decisions before embarking on any course of training.

Look to the facts. They have long since been established as far as that which works in combat and that which is best suited for esthetic enrichment and fitness, or sporting competition.

You can train for combat and self-defense, or you can train for any of the other worthwhile objectives, found in sports and in numerous long-term strictly classical and antiquated “martial arts”. Sports, as well as the latter can, at an advanced, expert level, be adapted to self-defense in emergencies. The former remains exclusively for self-defense and war.

Those are the facts. Never mind the opinions.


Sunday, May 8th, 2016

                 STAND YOUR GROUND?

WASHINGTON State, where we live, does not have a definite, clear, specifically worded “stand your ground” law, as far as we can tell. Some states do; on the other hand some states specify clearly that if you are confronted by the prospect of violence you have a duty to retreat before exercising your right to self-defense. We are not a lawyer and we offer no legal advice here or in any other venue. What we do offer is personal advice, and we hope that you’ll consider it carefully.

In every instance —— even if your location does have a stand your ground law —— our advice, as a self-defense teacher, is that your overriding concern whenever you are not subject to immediate violence or the clear and present threat of immediate violence that necessitates your acting first, be to AVOID VIOLENCE. With this in mind we advocate not “standing your ground” if the possibility exists of avoiding violence by retreating from the scene so long as by so-doing you do not increase the risk of grievous injury or death to yourself or to another innocent person who depends upon you for protection.

Win, lose, or draw, there is never —— except in the context of carefully regulated, ethically conducted sport —— any justification for “fighting” per se. There is always justification for defending oneself, which, as we see it and teach it, is an entirely different thing than mutual combat (fighting), which is the recourse of fools, impulse-dominated savages, and the mentally disturbed.

Unfortunately, the popularity of activities like MMA and UFC have left many misguided individuals somehow accepting of the idea that fighting is OK, and that it somehow equates with manliness —— which it absolutely does not. It equates with s-t-u-p-i-d-i-t-y on steroids, outside the context of competition and sport. Civilized society — if we ever get to live in one — will treat fighting as plainly unacceptable, and punish those who get into fights so severely that they will not likely be tempted ever again to indulge their impulse to engage in any.

Properly taught martial arts — combat arts — have always emphasized that the techniques of close combat with or without weapons never be employed outside of training unless in unavoidable self-defense. We remember a ju-jutsu teacher telling our class: “God help you if I ever find out you got into a fight outside.” He was a good teacher, even if the specific skills that he taught were in some instances of questionable combat value. His warning was (back in the quality days of martial arts in this Country — i.e. 1950’s through about mid-1970’s) typical. Martial arts were taught for self-defense; not as a springboard to reach for “machismo”, or to gratify a sick, malicious ego. Teachers in the good karate and ju-jutsu schools kept close watch over those who were admitted for training, and over those who trained, as the months went by. Any signs of a lack of self-control in anyone or of a hidden desire to “test out” that which one was learning in the school meant the potential troublemaker got kicked out on his ass.

We have the same policy today, despite the fact that its presence across the board in martial arts schools per se has just about vanished. There are some teachers (actually, mostly classicists!) who still hold to this very sensible and necessary philosophy; but we can only speak for ourself and our few select ICMAF Associate teachers as far as the combat and real world defense schools go. We are not saying that none of the others demand proper discipline and the fullest measure of understanding of how necessary AVOIDANCE is, but we’ve heard atrocious reports from some people that leave us and our colleagues shaking our heads.

If any part of you is just itching to let loose with your combative skills, shame on you. Perhaps your irresponsible and immature asinine philosophy has not been discovered by your teacher yet. But if you ever unjustifiably injure another human being by agreeing to engage in a fight, by provoking violence, or by jumping at the opportunity to use your skills when you know deep down that there is no pressing need to do so, you are not merely a shameful disgrace to the art that you study; you are a louse, a punk, a scumbag, and a miserable coward. Learn to be a real man and a responsible combat student. Engage in battle only if you must —— never simply because you can. And go as far as you are reasonably able to go to avoid violence.

Having said what we have said, we certainly agree and can see that there are times when standing your ground is morally right and necessary. For example if you are any place where you need to be; where you cannot leave, because to do so would be absolutely absurd (i.e. in your own home, for example), or could result in unacceptable harm (i.e. about to enter your vehicle to drive a loved one to a hospital), etc. then Yes! Stand your ground and make as quick work as you can of whoever is a dangerous threat at the moment.

But having the maturity and self-confidence and courage to apologize (even if you have done nothing to apologize for) to some stinking low-IQ gutter monkey who imagines that some innocent look or gesture you made “offended” him, is the sign of the real combat expert — the fellow who fully appreciates the undesirability of violence and who feels not the least diminished by allowing some braindead to feel that “he won” by avoiding that which the braindead seeks to provoke.

Every teacher and student of self-defense and close combat has a solemn obligation to research the law as it pertains to self-defense with and without weapons, wherever he lives. Any specific personal questions of a legal nature must be directed to a lawyer. We cannot help with legal advice. However, we hope that by making you aware of how important this matter is, and what it can ultimately mean to you, we have caused you to treat this matter with the seriousness and respect that it deserves.

Violence does not always or necessarily “solve” the matter at hand. When that violence is not fully and clearly justified legally and morally, it could mark the beginning of your troubles.


Sunday, March 20th, 2016

           You Never “Finish Your Training”

A common question that prospective students of close combat/self-defense ask is: “How long is the course?”

Our reply always contains two parts . . .

First, we explain how many specific lessons a given course designed for the particular student in question will require. Second, we emphasize strongly that the “course” is only the beginning. Once completed, that’s when the ongoing effort begins. Unless the student practices regularly and seriously all that his course contained, he will likely never enjoy a solid proficiency in anything that he had been taught.

You may finish a course of training, but you will never finish the need for training in what the course taught you.

We provide training in two ways: 1. Regular ongoing instruction that combines group class participation with periodic private lessons. 2. Customized private lessons for people who are unable to train with us on an ongoing basis in group classes —— usually people from other cities or countries.

Regular students learn very quickly that “learning” a technique is not the same thing as becoming “able to apply” a technique. Unfortunately, on some occasions, students who take a course of private lessons return home and neglect to maintain a regular practice schedule (say, 30 minutes a day). After five or six months of no practice, virtually everything they were taught has become so distant from memory and rusty that they cannot apply it. What a loss!

This is the way motor skills work. Some techniques, we grant, are so simple and natural that after a few months of review and training they will be practicable to some extent (albeit in reduced form) for life. But the level of proficiency that is retained will not be as great as the level of proficiency that ongoing, lifetime practice will certainly be. And techniques like attack combinations and counterattacks will likely deteriorate and perish after a year or more of zero practice.

We never fail to explain all of this to anyone who trains with us, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the student himself; and we cannot force anyone to do what needs doing.

All of this is especially true if you learn from our DVD Course. The Course provides a wealth of techniques —— more than anyone could need in a lifetime, and all of them excellent —— but if the purchaser simply watches the DVDs and fails to practice regularly and seriously, then he will derive little benefit.

In any form of art, proficiency lies in DOING, not merely in “knowing”. In science you can write a formula down on the back of an envelope and keep it in your pocket for years.Years later you can take the envelope out and merely use the formula, and it will work for you even if, after placing it in your pocket, you had forgotten it. This does not work with arts, only with sciences. And when we train in and study close combat and self-defense we are training in and studying martial ART.

Our purpose in the numerous essays and articles that we provide on the web sites is to give visitors the truth about that which he needs to know, regarding that which he desires to master —— i.e. self-defense and close combat.

While nowhere near the amount of time and effort is required to master a classical/traditional “martial art”, time and effort certainly is required to obtain —— and to RETAIN —— thorough mastery of practical combatives.

We of course have not the slightest doubt —— and never have in the lifetime that we have been in it —— that the required time and effort investment is well worth it. But the question you need to answer is: Do you know that it is?


Saturday, February 20th, 2016

    What Can You Learn From DVDs?

ACTUALLY you can learn just about identically from good DVD instruction as you can from personal, live instruction. And obviously, you can learn a great deal more from quality and authentic DVD instruction than from from a live instructor of limited knowledge, ability, and experience. In fact, you can learn more from a book that has been written by a genuine expert than you can from an instructor of questionable expertise.

Here’s the rub: When you are learning from a quality teacher, showing up for lessons regularly and benefitting from his training counsel, you receive a boost in incentive; something that you need to provide yourself when you train at home from quality DVD instruction. You certainly require discipline whether you train under a good teacher or under the instruction of DVDs; but you need self-generated, unassisted discipline when your teacher is on a screen.

You also need a greater willingness to watch carefully and listen carefully —— and to do for a number of times, in many instances, when you train from DVDs. A live teacher (assuming he is a good one) will monitor your efforts and your progress. He will tell you to go back and to review this or that, and he will correct you on the spot, when or if you do something that he just taught you, incorrectly. You need to be more careful to review and to catch yourself, when you train on your own via DVDs. Although authentic close combat and self-defense techniques are very simple, there often are small details to their performance that you need to apply in order to learn them and be able to use them to maximum effect. A good DVD presentation by a real expert will see to it that techniques are demonstrated slowly enough so that you can observe exactly how to do them, AND he will explain verbally —— in clear, easy-to-understand language —— how the techniques must be performed for optimum effectiveness.

DVDs (just like their predecessor VHS tapes) are too often done as impressive demonstrations of skills rather than as careful, complete descriptions of that which you need to do. Just like a good, live teacher, a quality DVD TEACHES, it does not present demonstrations that “show off” or dazzle.

If you possess the desire, the discipline, and the commitment to regularity, consistency, effort, and understanding, rest assured you can learn extremely well through DVD instruction.

The feedback that we have received from those who have ordered AND USED ACCORDING TO INSTRUCTIONS our DVD Home Study Course, has been extremely gratifying and enthusiastically positive. We have produced the DVDs on the assumption that the purchaser has had no prior martial arts experience, will require reasonably slow demonstrations of how to do the skills required, and will need clear and complete spoken instruction in the proper performance details of all that is presented. We also continually emphasize the requirement for consistent, serious, regular practice of the techniques for practical proficiency and confidence to be developed. No “overnight” or “weekend” miracles. No secrets. No “hidden” skills. We present proven techniques, not “magical” techniques. And if the purchaser will train hard (just as though he was in a regular class environment and holding to a systematic training schedule under a good teacher) he will get all that he s after —— and MORE!

Naturally, those who have had considerable experience in training in martial arts (boxing, judo, ju-jutsu, wrestling, karate, etc. etc.) before purchasing our DVDs will almost certainly learn faster than inexperienced beginners; but that is true when live instruction is involved, as well. The important thing is that a good, quality DVD program must not REQUIRE that the user have previous experience and knowledge.

In our own case we have been teaching for 50 years plus. We have had many years of personal instruction in both practical and classical skills. The former from Rex Applegate, Charles Nelson, Robert Sigward, Caesar Bujosa, and Maurice Geier (Mr. Geier having been a student of Fairbairn and Sykes during WWII, when serving as a counterintelligence agent with the FBI). The latter as a student under Young Koo Lee in Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do, Siu Lee in Ch’uan Fa Kenpo-Karate, Kiyose Nakae in Ju-Jutsu, “Swami” Vrygiananda in Varmannie, and others. We also learned much from the classic literature of close combat. DVDs however, were before our time; and we do wish that they had been available during our teens, 20’s, and 30’s! They would have doubtless been a valuable source of learning.

You can benefit from this training medium today, and —— most especially if attendance under ourself, Prof. Bryans, or any of our ICMAF Associate Teachers is for whatever reason not feasible —— YOU OUGHT TO DO SO.

Remember: Merely watching DVDs will not equip you with practical, reliable ability in combat skills, and prepare you for the dangers of handling a self-defense emergency. But watching quality DVDs, working hard and regularly and seriously to master what they teach, most assuredly WILL equip you with practical, reliable ability.

P.S. Just be sure that you are getting combat and self-defense instruction. There are classical/traditional and sporting/competitive DVD programs that are excellent and beautifully produced. They also are of value, but for traditional martial arts students, and for competitors in the sporting martial arts venue, NOT for those seeking 100% close combat and self-defense instruction.


Friday, December 11th, 2015

Some Thoughts We Share With Those Who Can Think

Saying that a person who is not strong or in good physical condition can effectively defend himself if he employs the right kind of techniques is not the same as saying that hard physical training, strength and excellent condition is not desirable, and that strength and condition are not to be regarded as integral to a complete and balanced personal training program. Recent experience has shown us that there is obviously a tiny contingent of literarily challenged people who have a very hard time understanding the English language, and any logical expressions in that language beyond those graspable by a 3rd grader.

We thought that we would address an important point here —— the need for which has been brought to our attention by an experience with someone who simply could not seem to “get” many of the points that we have clearly hammered out over the years —— painstakingly and completely —— in our live teaching and lecturing, and in print, on our web sites; in articles, and in books. While we strongly suspect a heavy element of deliberate, disrespectful, ignorance-based nastiness-coupled-with-smartassism as the motive for what became a too-lengthy ongoing procession of communications regarding wholly unnecessary “confusions” and “doubting”, ad nauseum on the part of this contact, we will not say that that is what  the motive was. We will assume, in good will, that all of what appeared to be an astonishing inability to grasp crystal-clearly and extensively expressed facts, was simply good faith questioning. We readily admit, our patience ran out after a while, and we simply referred the inquirer to our extensive, previous materials; all readily available for free, for answers to his somewhat sarcastically-put “questions”.

Being deliberately misunderstood and misrepresented is, on the part of those who do this, a reprehensible, disgusting, shamefully unmanly and undignified, dishonest act; and is something that we, and virtually every legitimate teacher who is also an innovator and consistent advocate of his stand has experienced. So, for the benefit of those who may be in any way duped by such characters, we will continue.

We know —— from their input and feeback —— that for the greatest number of our visitors, and surely all of our personal students, the following points (apparently escaping those who either cannot grasp them, and despite having been made clearly by us before, or who choose not to grasp them — for whatever reason) are important to understand:

1.  Boxing is not a close combat system, but a combat sport (as is judo, competitive karate, wrestling, kick boxing, fencing, MMA, etc.). As a combat sport boxing does teach a great deal that is of value to the student of self-defense and close combat. Boxers train in proper movement skills for administering blows — but the combat student will use different types of blows if and when he adopts the boxer’s principles of stance and movement. Boxers use their bodies in the right way to generate fluid, fast, powerful delivery of blows — singly, and in combination. Their method is faster, and usually more powerful, than that of typical karate students. Thus, combat and self-defense students have a lot to learn from using boxing’s principles, but employing those principles with combat techniques.

2. Ju-jutsu (the older, combat ju-jutsu) was — and in many instances remains — a powerful, reliable method of self-defense. Unfortunately, it takes years and years to become really expert in ju-jutsu methodology before the art can be relied upon as an all-round method of personal combat. Nevertheless, the principles of balance, momentum, leverage, etc. that ju-jutsu teaches is indispensable in unarmed and armed combatives, and thus ju-jutsu too teaches much that is valuable for actual close combat. Ju-jutsu was, in its heyday, proven effective in combat. Studying a full and complete fuedal-age ju-jutsu system, however, entails the inclusion of a tremendous amount of irrelevant material for the modern student. Hence, both because of the time element involved in training in classical ju-jutsu before any level of serious proficiency has been achieved, and the fact that in addition to many excellent techniques as well as lots of irrelevant techniques, classical ju-jutsu cannot realistically be recommended for those seeking hardcore combat/defense training only.

3. Of the classical systems karate is the most effective for actual combat. Still, the archaic manner in which karate was/is taught suits it to exceptional students only, demands a very lengthy period of training far beyond what is needed in order to master practical, modern combatives. Thus, although much can be learned from karate, karate per se is not a realistic combat/defense method unless trained in seriously for many years. Such elements of practice as traditional kata, one, two, and three-step sparring, potentially dangerous exercises (like extreme stretching), excessive hand conditioning using unsafe mediums (like sheaved straw), ibuki breathing, and so on, simply disqualify an art that was once extraordinarily lethal and supremely effective. This is why persons seeking practical combat and self-defense skills ought study a method like American Combato, which utilizes the anatomical knowledge conveyed in karate in a manner that fully exploits its value and usefulness without including its less-than-desirable training practices and theories (like “karate begins and ends with blocking”, “in karate never make the first move”, and so on).

4. The currently popular MMA/UFC phenomenon is not combat. It is (in our personal opinion) a potentially hazardous sport, and — for those who believe in its relevance for hand-to-hand combat — a mistake. First of all these activities, although insisted by some to be “without rules” do have rules. And those rules bar participants (as we agree they must and should!) from using those “FIRST RESORT” techniques that need to be employed in real combat. You may draw your own conclusions about why —— despite this fact —— the proponents of MMA/UFC often claim that these sports “have no rules”.

We believe strongly that people should be free to make their own choices about what to participate in and practice, and we have no quarrel with MMA/UFC enthusiasts. We vigorously disagree with that which many of them believe and espouse for and about actual hand-to-hand combat, but if many enjoy that kind of competition, let them enjoy themselves. We do not believe that their choice of sport is “wrong”. We personally recommend judo, boxing, wrestling, kick boxing, fencing, or competition karate for those interested in a combat sport —— but that’s our personal opinion.

5. Anyone, anywhere believing that the incorporation of ground grappling for hand-to-hand combat (the ne-waza of judo, and the wrestling type stuff) is necessary or desirable for combat/defense work, we do disagree with. For combat other tactics are in order. Period. And this has been known and taught by every legitimate combat instructor in history; even those who excelled in this aspect of combat sport to the point of it being their forte when they played in competition —— like Dermot (Pat) O’Neill), WWII instructor of close combat to the First Special Service Force, who, as a 5th degree black belt holder from the Kodokan Judo Institute, was a master in goundwork! O’Neill threw out groundfighing (ne-waza) when he created The O’Neill System for training the wartime commandos of the FSSF.

For those honestly seeking facts about close combat and personal defense, we have supplied many, and we hope that this article serves as an antidote to the bullshitters who, lacking knowledge, experience, and a sincere history of training, distort or “misunderstand” where we are coming from.

If you wish to know what we advocate, how we teach, what our system is like, and from where we derive and validate that which we stand immovably strong in advancing as American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) doctrine, ASK US; OR REFERENCE OUR EXTENSIVE MATERIALS AND DOCTRINE.

Never mind the miscreant, alienated, dilettantish, smartass talkers, gossips, and distorters. Their agenda comes from their malicious passive aggressiveness, discontent with their own failures, and ready vulnerability to commercial propaganda —— not to mention their “desire to belong” which alone discredits them as even being able to be objective and commited only to the facts and the truth. Facts and truth do not normally go with “popularity” and fads.  Their sputterings do not derive from sophistication, objectivity, knowledge, experience, in-depth research and training efforts, and a desire to know; but from some adolescent urge to be pains-in-the ass, and to  win pointless debates, and feel “right” about what they do, believe, and choose to follow.