Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Style: For “Fighting” (i.e. Competition) or For Close Combat/Self-Defense?: Two Different Things!


MUCH has been written about personal style in the martial arts. Style being how one personally utilizes and applies the techniques of the art that he studies in practical application. It is important to understand that “practical application” means two completely different things, depending upon whether one is discussing competitive fighting (or “mutual combat”), or actual individual combat (anything goes, all-in hand-to-hand battle).

This distinction is rarely if ever understood — even by those who fancy themselves martial arts “teachers” — and sometimes the distinction is, for commercial purposes, deliberately blurred or outright denied. The present fad of “MMA” and “BJJ” probably boasts the largest numbers of people who are, wittingly or unwittingly, guilty of this. And the result has created a generation of ignorant “martial artists” who have convinced themselves (and who strive mightily to convince others) that developing a powerful winning style of fighting in the competitive arena automatically produces a powerful personal style of individual combat and self-defense for actual combat.

The competitor is concerned about winning; winning in a fair, prearranged contest against another competitor. He meets this competitor at an appointed time, in an arena that is well lit, matted, and overseen by a referee, and regulated by very strict rules. He is assured that no weapons or “foul methods” will be allowed, and that there will be only one single opponent to contend with. He is also assured, in nearly every competitive fight, that the repertoire of techniques utilized by himself and his adversary will be very similar; and he usually knows not only exactly who his opponent will be, but also a lot about his opponent’s past fighting history, and the personal style his opponent depends upon when fighting, in order o defeat the opposition. This is such an important issue, in fact, that often a fighter will study his opponent’s style, and train so that he can utilize his own style most effectively against his opponent when they meet.

In a situation of mutual combat, we can say that the “fight” is for real. Two people for whatever reason actually agree to do battle, and “square off” before they engage. Mutual combat and fighting, we uncompromisingly contend, can always be avoided. Since it takes two willing participants, it only requires one of them (i.e. the one possessing brains) to refuse to participate. This either eliminates all conflict or it obliges the less mentally well-endowed to attack the one who does not wish to fight. This places the unwilling participant in the role of DEFENDER, and his need now is for either preemptive or counterattacking self-defense skills and mindset —— a “style” that is inconsistent with the requirements or spirit of “fighting” in competition or (as morons will see it) to “settle something”.

The combat (or “combatives”) student needs to develop a personal style of using combat (not competition) skills, in order to defeat, and sometimes to destroy, an attacking enemy. Whether in war or in peacetime, the need is the same, and the need for a personal combat style is what the trainee should be aware of, and guided by in his  studies and practice. If the person seeking to prepare for either self-defense or military close combat takes a turnoff into “fighting”, then that which he develops will be a sport or competition oriented personal style. It will certainly prepare him to enter matches (because he will not be focusing exclusively upon relatively safe techniques, and upon using them against a similarly prepared and oriented opponent, or against another fool who, like himself, is resorting to a “fight” —— mutual combat —— in order to satisfy his ego, or “prove” or “settle” some idiotic difference between them).

The personal style of a combat student will be one into which are woven the following characteristics, tailored to his unique capabilities and genetic propensities:

• The ability to deceive and then attack by total surprise, either in preempting, or in counterattacking mode, when an assailant manages to bypass his readiness (which the student needs to train incessantly in order to minimize his ever having his situational awareness and readiness “bypassed”.

• The capacity for extreme and perpetual barrage-like attacking. Going after his attacking enemy with the ferocity of a wild animal.

• A mindset of utter, extreme, mercilessly brutal ruthlessness.

• Expert mastery of very dangerous blows. Blows that maim, cripple, knock out, or kill —— executed singly and in combinations, and using surprise and the “kill or get killed”, “now or never”, drive to the wall mindset.

Attack mindedness on steroids!

• The ability to employ interactive tactics in which facial expressions, body language, and words diffuse, deceive, distract, confuse, con, or otherwise enable the student to either avoid trouble or set up his adversary so that, if that adversary actually initiates violence, he can be dispatched with efficiency, speed, and by freezing his mental faculty as a withering attack is undertaken to neutralize him.

• The ability to react to sudden, unanticipated violence —— for example, an attack from behind —— like a full grown lion or tiger in its prime would react if someone were able to approach it from behind and begin striking him with a stick.

• The commitment to using good, sound avoidance tactics 24/7. Being mindful that violence may come at any time from any quarter, and that —— exactly opposite to the fighter —— it will never be a “scheduled” or agreed-upon or planned event. (You can not make an appointment for an emergency!)

• The powerful desire to embrace and to cultivate with great enthusiasm all foul, “dirty”, underhanded, unsporting, gutter methods —— techniques, tactics, strategies, and attitudes —— than enable practically anyone, when properly employed, to destroy just about any individual in the world, regardless of that individual’s experience, skill, size, reputation, and strength.

• The knowledge and enthusiastic willingness to use all modern individual weapons — improvised included — in an engagement with an attacking foe, whether or not that foe is himself armed. “Fairness ethics” is stupid, self-destructive, and wholly inappropriate when defending oneself against unprovoked physical violence.

• A planned and regular commitment to strength and fitness-building exercises that build power, agility, internal and external fitness; and a commitment to seriously training the natural weapons so that they are as destructively formidable as the individual’s personal capacity permits.

• The understanding that personal injury is all but a guaranteed outcome for him, even if he defeats his enemy, and that there is always risk in any combative engagement regardless of skill and knowledge.

• A highly developed understanding of the fear reaction, and of how to employ fear energy in close combat, so that fear becomes the individual’s great ally and energizer in any situation.

• A strict adherence to combat skills and only to combat skills. The understanding that “one resorts in action to that which one has practiced and drilled into himself”.

The competitive sporting “fighter” and the imbecilic fool who “fights” require a personal style that is geared to agreed-upon contest. The combatives or combat student requires a personal style that enables him to make optimum use, according to his individuals strengths and weaknesses —— his natural and acquired propensities —— of the proven close combat techniques, tactics, and mindset… for W A R.

Every individual in the martial arts should be clear on this. It is a perfectly wonderful goal to aspire to become a fighting champion. It is an equally wonderful goal to aspire to be an expert in actual close combat and self-defense. But understand that a choice is involved here. It’s one or the other. In addition to requiring a different syllabus of skills, each goal requires that a participant develop a different personal style in using his acquired skills.

You can and should select the path that will lead to you cultivating the skills and personal style that will serve in the attainment of that which you are after. You can pick either path; but you can’t follow two distinctly different and opposite paths at the same time. And you will be making a very serious mistake if you elect to follow a path that claims to provide for the attainment of both goals, or that suggests that the personal style you develop in following either path will lead to a personal style suitable for each.

Common sense and real world, people! Common sense, and real world.


Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

                      Here Is Self-Defense Wisdom!


The following essay was NOT written by us or by anyone we know. It was forwarded to us in an email and, according to the correspondent who sent it, appeared on a “reality based self-defense” web site.

Our HEARTIEST congratulations to the author! We wish that we knew him. He makes nothing but good sense, and provides accurate, intelligent, realistic counsel to anyone with brains enough to appreciate that which he is saying.

We reproduce this written piece as it was forwarded to us, and we would love to have the pleasure and privilege of knowing its author. Whoever he is, BRAVO! You are a purveyor of a much ignored and maligned TRUTH (as are we), and we regard you as a staunch ally in our own effort to provide the TRUTH to those who are interested in learning the truth!

 Dear Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Masters, Experts and Practitioners:

What I am writing here is not to insult, downplay, or question the validity of BJJ as a Sport Fighting Art. It is great for the ring, and refereed matches. 

What I am  writing is in disagreement with one aspect of what you do, telling everyone that your art is the ultimate “On the street” (way over used by your instructors and practitioners) self defense.

It will, if it hasn’t already, will get someone seriously injured or killed. It is time the Bullshit flag was raised on the unknowing public’s behalf. 

And that is that your art has nothing to do with real self defense, but is a marketing campaign to suck money out of pockets that you would otherwise have to let pass by.

I would probably respect you more if you were truthful about it, but then the flow of cash would run dry, and you wouldn’t be considered the Brazilian version of the Trump family.

I have been told many times that 80% of all fights go to the ground. I have never seen the hard data on this though. If this is true, it’s  probably the result of the two combatants not knowing what they are doing. Or not realizing that it is so very dangerous. Does it count if I hit you and you go to the ground because of it?

Your Instructors continually pound this, and other lies about how superior your art is to all other instruction, even the Gracie family has to know this is an out and out untruth.

Can you win a street fight by going to the ground? YES!, you can get lucky, however you will pay dearly for it in the absolute best of circumstances. A BJJ player is not a street fighter.

What we are really talking about is odds. With what I and others have seen in classes and students of BJJ, you are decreasing their odds of survival significantly! You are doing a serious disservice to anyone that takes your class if you tell them that BJJ is a street worthy self defense. But hey, all that badass BJJ gear sure looks good on them, heck, maybe the family will like it so much that the people you are teaching can be buried in it!

We are not saying that what we teach is better, but it is geared toward reality, awareness, inflicting serious damage quickly, in a street fight or survival situation

What many of us have learned in many years of studying various Martial Arts, and Reality Based Self Defense (RBSD) systems, is that going to the ground in a street fight of any type is the last thing you want to do. Be prepared for it, learn to fight from there, but don’t willingly go, or take your opponent there.

My Instructor (whose name I will not state because this has nothing to do with him), is a Golden Gloves Boxer, and has Black Belts in Aiki Juijitsu, Kempo, Filipino stick and knife arts, Aikdo, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Taijutsu, Koryu, and was awarded a purple belt from Saulo. He could get a black belt, he just didn’t want to pay the $3000 cover charge. He has been learning and teaching fighting for over 40 years, with the pioneers of the afore mentioned arts in America. He will tell you “Don’t take a man to the ground, beat him into it”

In reality, BJJ is a derivative of Judo, anyone that tries to tell you different is a liar. BJJ’s history is well documented. Helio Gracie adapted it and then modified it to his use and abilities, and he was an excellent fighter. But when it all comes down to it, BJJ is only used to subdue someone until the opponent yells “Uncle”. A choke is a choke, and an armbar is an armbar, no matter how you get there.

Once that has happened, everyone is allowed to get up and walk away. Or they can go at it again until someone taps out, but make no mistake, you will usually walk away. BJJ is a subduing art, like Judo, and Aikido, not a killing art. And again, there is nothing wrong with that, until you use it “On the street”

Fighting for points or submission in the arena is fine. In the real world, fighting for your life is a different story, if you win, you live; that’s it, no trophies, no one screaming your name, no interviews to be shown on the Jumbotron, no pretty girls hanging on you. No one calling you a badass, all you get is your life. Puts MMA and BJJ in a different light when you look at it like that, don’t it? 

“Randori” or “Kumite” is practiced in Japan, and Okinawa. It means “Chaos Taking” or “Multiple Attackers” and is a free form style of practicing grappling, striking or using weapons, usually against multiple attackers and is used in Jiu-jitsu, Judo, Aikido, Iaido, Kempo, and many others. It is called “Matsogi” in Korea and it is also used in Chinese arts like San Shou, or Tai Chi, but is simply known as “Sparring” The Gracie clan did not invent this, as it has been written, it has been going on for hundreds of years all over the world. Oh yeah, the Greeks did it in the Olympics a few thousand years ago, it was and is called “Pankration”, which is also the name of their martial art.

Now, let’s look at what a street fight is, and what really happens.

Street fights start in a standing position, period.  Either you weren’t smart enough de-escalate, avoid or escape the situation, or because you weren’t aware of what was happening. You allowed the interview to escalate(That’s right, I said to avoid the confrontation)

Add to that, that usually it will be one against multiple attackers (people are pack animals), any of which could have a weapon; that you will not see until it is used on you; anybody, even untrained people see that shooting for a single leg or even contemplating going to the ground would be foolish at best, deadly in any other case.

One other thing to add: If anybody has a knife in their hand, trained or untrained, in my eyes they become a 10th degree master and I treat them that way!

 Street fights tend to be over in seconds, not minutes, and they are all out brawls, that which tend to be won by the person who got the best, most damaging shot in first. It is not a chess match to be thought out and then applied to what you think your opponent’s weakness’s are. MMA and BJJ fighters have weeks if not months to study their opponent.

You may never even see your attacker’s face until court proceedings, if you survived the attack.

(By the way, I am not lumping MMA fighters in with BJJ players. MMA people have figured out over time that you have to be very good at hand to hand fighting. They work hard learning to hit, and take hits, and will probably tear you up “on the street”. Boxing, Kempo, and Muay Thai are generally the favored striking arts in their profession.)

Now, add to that what BJJ players are taught: BJJ is the ultimate self defense; taking someone to the ground in any situation will win the fight, any fight. No other art can come close. On top of all the macho posturing and bullshit BJJ players tend to spout that is exactly opposite what you are taught to do in self defense.  

I saw the news and video that you are teaching this to children now. It is at great peril and it’s irresponsible to them and their parents, who are getting ripped off and brainwashed into believing that BJJ is teaching them how to be safe and responsible when in reality, you teach your older students to be narrow minded bullies, who will fight at the drop of a hat. Those two things do not match up.

As I write this essay, I realize that you may wonder what my qualifications are to make these statements. Street fighting in Detroit as a dumb kid, Aiki-Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, knife and stick fighting, weapons and H2H training in the military, Boxing and studying fighting arts for the last 32 years. I have taught self defense for 16 years, and developed curriculums for females and children. And while I have done all of this, I am by no means an “expert”, I am still learning, training and making what I do better, I am still a student.

Now while I am not an expert at BJJ, but I am pretty good at countering it, as are the other contributors to this essay. Let me give you an idea of what I know about real world fighting and using a sport against it.

First, I practice awareness, and pay attention to detail. Plus, I will not allow myself to lower my standards or character to be goaded into a fight over name calling. So, I would have to be ambushed. But for this instance I am going to be stupid. Let’s put this is into perspective:

We are outside, we we’re in a bar and we had words, I left but you followed me into the parking lot, continuing to verbally challenge me by calling me a pussy, or whatever you want to insert there to insult me. The parking lot is typical, dimly lit with an asphalt type base.

I turn to face you, and let you know I am as stupid as you are, because I have chosen to stand and fight instead of leave. “I am a Brazilian Black Belt” you yell “And I’ll kick your pussy ass” you add. The aggressiveness you have had drilled into you, has given me an advantage, I now know what you know. I know that because of your training, you will want to take me to the ground, where you will try to choke me out, or armbar me or something.

My only response to you is “bring it bitch” and I assume a fighting stance. What I don’t let you know is, I am also well trained, and I have a Gerber multi-tool clipped to my belt that I use like a Kubota, and I am very good at it. You don’t see it, the parking lot is dimly lit. I know fighting and fighters, we all “run to momma” when we are fighting, in other words, we do what we have been trained to do the longest, and we are most comfortable with, and in BJJ, it is shooting for a leg takedown.

You take a typical crouched stance and slowly advance on me. I will move in circular motions around you, waiting for you to make your move. I will watch to see if you are as aggressive as you are loud. I may even bait you by leaving a leg just a little more forward. As you lower your head to find your target, I move my hand to my side. You’re so locked on you don’t even hear the click of the pliers moving forward from the handle.

You make your move, and so do I, driving my metal multi-tool into your head as I sprawl, driving you into the ground. I place a hand on your head, and drive three good knee shots to your head, you’re done. On top of the damage I have inflicted, the ground has messed up your hands, knees, and face. I stand up look around and split, leaving you there to be found.

You brought hands to a knife fight, and didn’t even know it. It actually didn’t have to be a knife, It could have easily been a knee to the face (I practice that a lot), a strike to the head, a total body sprawl, using all 220 pounds of me, to slam you into the concrete or asphalt. Or maybe a head rip, twisting your neck as hard as I can as we go down.

Or, you could have gotten the drop on me, maybe you were faster than I anticipated and we rolled back onto the ground. As you try to mount me, I drive my fingers into your eyes, I give you a palm strike to the nose, and then roll with you, yes, I know those tricks too, go with the motions, whichever way you are trying to go, I will help you. Maybe I drive my knee into your crotch, not once, because if I have a way to do it, I will hit you six, maybe seven times, crushing your testicles. I will slap, punch, kick, bite, scratch, break, or otherwise damage anything I can to win. I do not follow any rules; this is a street fight, there are none and I don’t care about you.

Pray nothing is within reach, because I will use it to win, a rock, a straw, a pebble, I will hurt you with it, I practice it.

Do you practice taking hits? I do. I also practice getting out of the way of them. You really don’t want to go toe to toe with me, I know how to hit you very hard from angles you can’t even imagine. I know how to use the “one inch punch”, I know where all your soft targets are in your whole body. I know how to use my forearms like a bladed weapon, and you would rather take a punch, than an elbow strike from me. I am very good with my knees, and I can destroy your lower body and legs with kicks.

You better pray I don’t have a stick in my hand, even a small one, because it is as deadly in my hands as a knife. I grew up street fighting, I have a high threshold for pain, and I can really pour on the damage if I have to.

As I write this, I am sitting because of doctors orders. I took a fall on ice, a chance in winter and I tore my rotator cuff and quadraceips on my right side, I taught Self Defense and put in a full work day afterward, before I saw the doctor. I also once walked on a broken ankle for 6 weeks before I could see a doctor, but that’s a different story.

Let’s pick a different scenario: I walked out of the bar and you followed me out, as I left I sent a text to a buddy, who lives not far from here. And as we were busy squaring off, he pulled into the parking lot. He brought a baseball bat. You took me down and were doing pretty good, then the lights went out, he took a full swing at your head and connected with it. I saw it and even held you up for a second. It cost you your life. We may get caught by the police, but what does it matter, your dead.

I know these are in my favor, I could have written a dozen more, easily, but it all comes out the same. I am not sure that someone could write an honest counter to these.

 I have a buddy, who has never taken a MA lesson in his life. I would never want to take him on, all he has ever done is street fight. He has never lost to anyone, ever. He has commitment, and he likes to fight. How do you think a BJJ player would do against him? I also have a friend who is a Salo Black Belt. He is a beast, but he also has boxing and Aiki- Jiu-Jitsu in his bag.

I guess the biggest difference between BJJ and RBSD is; BJJ teaches you how to compete against your opponent. RBSD teaches you how to survive. It is a huge difference, and it is time that everyone knows it.

Again, if you are a BJJ player, good for you, keep going, get your Black Belt. But don’t expect it to save your ass on the real world. You’re not Alice, this isn’t Wonderland, and you will get your ass handed to you, if you are lucky enough to survive.

I and the other contributors to this essay know this is going to piss a lot of people off. Oh well, it is the truth and I am tired of all the crap that BJJ players are taught and expected to pass on to others. BJJ is a awesome competition art, as is Judo,  Tae Kwon Do, Japanese JJ, Wrestling and many others. The only time it could be considered self defense I guess is if you are going against a total idiot. But then you may be considered the aggresor when the cops show up. Also if you let anyone know you were trained in BJJ (which you will), the cops will automatically think you were looking for a fight, you have that rep.

This is something that had to be said. We tried very hard to not insult anyone, just state facts, and obvious deficiencies in BJJ as a Self Defense System.

If you have anything to add, please feel free to contact us, we love well thought out, logical, intelligent discussions on the subject. Seriously, we do.

If you are just going to be another one of the thousands who are brainwashed into defending BJJ as a Self Defense, and you’re going to just call us assholes or something of that ilk, don’t bother, we know what we are, and you probably won’t change our minds with your witty repartee.

Please don’t be stupid enough to challenge us to a fight, the guy that wrote this is the lightweight of the group. Besides, we really aren’t interested in giving you our house, car, and other things we worked hard for, because you cannot accept facts.

One more thing, stop looking at You Tube and other video sites to reinforce your image as a BJJ player. Getting a “Kung Fu” Master to come to my dojo, then ringing the mat with my people, and then telling him he cannot do what he does, so that I can “Toy” with him before I take him down is a blatant setup.

If we are to get together, I am doing what I do best, at a neutral site, and you’re going to have to deal with it. What I like best is Knife Fighting.  Any Takers?



Saturday, May 30th, 2015


SOMETHING that we have always found amusing (in most cases) or pathetic (in other cases) is the attitude that many “martial artists” have in regard to modern weapons. They disdain them. They view them as being somehow “tainted”. And these are people who will practice for hours with a samurai sword, nine foot pole, or nunchucks. Or they will drill religiously in throwing shaken and shuriken at a target. What the hell gives?

We suppose that our visitors would be surprised if they learned how many students of the various traditional martial arts are against firearms, and do not believe in guns for personal protection. In fact, one of the few disagreements we have with the late, brilliant self-defense teacher Bruce Tegnér, is that, despite his prevailing (and largely) practical and sensible views regarding modern self-defense, Tegnér argued against firearms for self-defense (and would not consider fighting knives, either). Three aikido teachers to our knowledge became actually incensed at the mere thought of shooting down a murderous felon, or of ending a would-be killer’s life  through the use of deft knifework. And —— astonishingly —— we have heard more than one karate and ju-jutsu zealot assure us that he “didn’t need weapons”; his hands and his feet were sufficient!!! For most dyed-in-the-wool classicists however, cracking a man’s skull with a bo or with a jo (long stick or short stick, respectively) and killing him that way is cool. Cooler still would be cutting him neatly in half with a sword, and killing him. But shooting him with a gun? Or killing him with a well-balanced modern fighting knife?  Heaven forbid.

Frankly, this is bullshit. At least it is certainly bullshit for anyone who wishes to learn practical self-defense. (The antiquated and traditional weapons are fine for classicists who understand that they are learning outdated weapons, and if their concern ever shifts to realistic close combat, they would be well-advised to emulate William Fairbairn’s choice of weapons [or ours!], and not Miyamoto Musashi’s).

The knife —— especially the fighting knife —— is a superb weapon. It is second only to a firearm as a close combat/defensive weapon, and has advantages even over the excellent and justifiably popular La Gana American Tomahawk. Unfortunately, in the anglo-saxon culture the knife never really gained the great popularity that it deserves. Western society in general sees the knife as the “bad guy’s weapon”. This is unfortunate.

No weapon or implement is, by itself, good or evil. Weapons do not have a will of their own, and may be used to effect justifiable killings, no less than they may be used to injure and to kill unjustifiably. And since eliminating weapons is simply impossible, it behooves all decent human beings who aspire to a mastery of close combat and self-defense, to learn how to use whatever weapons one might encounter, common to the time in which they live. There was a time when maces, clubs, chains, swords, and battle axes were the weapons of the day. Then, when one trained with such weapons, one was being realistic and practical. But the fellow who keeps ninja dust in his jacket pocket when he goes to work in a modern office —— instead of a .38 Special revolver or a razor sharp knife —— is not being sensible.

Back to the knife.

Gun laws being as unjust and wrong as they are in many states (not to mention as they normally are everywhere in other countries throughout the world) we strongly recommend that knives be reconsidered for daily carry, perhaps home defense, and certainly for use in any comprehensive modern combat system.

Doubtless in most locations a fighting knife will bring legal repercussions if spotted by a law enforcement officer; but a good, stout lockblade folder is acceptable, and in most places it is a matter of indifference to the law if you own and keep in your home all the fighting knives that you legally purchase.

Sometimes, if you hunt, camp, fish, hike, or climb, you can carry a full-sized combat-survival knife, even if you cannot carry such a weapon inside city limits where you live.

In any case if you are a student of modern combat arts and practical self-defense the knife is one of the foremost manufactured weapons (along with the handgun, carbine, shotgun, tomahawk, walking stick, baton/baton-length stick, 5-6” hand stick) that you should study seriously. Put away the nunchucks and swords and nine foot poles if  you train for the real and modern world.

There is no such thing as a “bad guy’s weapon” —— be it a knife, firearm, or even a garrotte! Any weapon that may be employed in today’s world that can save your life and possibly the lives of those you love is potentially a GOOD GUY’S weapon!

Weapons themselves are neither “good” nor “evil”; they are merely tools. Those who purport to be teachers and students of combat arts should know this very well, and should embrace all weapons that are currently used and that are available to them in order to defend themselves and their loved ones.

Let us now argue FOR the knife as a desirable weapon of personal defense:

• Knives are very convenient to carry. They may, in their various configurations, be kept in a pocket (folders), or in either an open-carry or concealable sheath (full length fighters, “boot” knives, or “survival” type knives that double easily for combat use).

• Fixed-blade knives are, with a bit of practice, very quick into action and “ready to rock!”

• Knives are silent (obviously a sometimes great virtue for military or intelligence applications)

• Sharpening and cleaning (necessary only after use) is the only maintenance that a knife requires to be always ready and reliable

• Knives are deadly —— in close combat second only to a firearm

• Knives have a psychological effect on the attacker that is enormous

• Knives of completely adequate construction and quality are relatively inexpensive and —— save only under the most unusually extreme conditions —— do not wear out or break

• It is easy to learn how to use a knife for personal protection. A few hours is all that is needed

• A knife is readily combinable with a person’s unarmed skills

• While fighting knives may not be legal to carry, they are legal to own and to keep in one’s home or apartment —— so several may be concealed about the dwelling for emergency access. And a lockblade folding knife with a blade 3 or 4 inches long is legal to carry just about everywhere in the world

• Once you learn how to use a knife for personal protection you can grab a kitchen knife, utility knife, or object — like a screwdriver or punch — and employ it as a weapon, in an emergency

• Training in proper knifework will assist you to a degree in preparing you to defend against knife attack. At the very least it will ground you realistically in appreciating how a knife may be used against you, and what a knife’s capabilities are. (These last items normally being completely disregarded and not understood by the majority of “martial arts” and “self-defense” instructors).

If we have succeeded in establishing that ——— a) A knife is a legitimate and acceptable (as well as rather excellent) weapon of hand-to-hand self-defense,  b) A knife is a completely “decent”  and desirable weapon for private citizen self-defense, and its being regarded as a bad guy’s weapon is mere cultural bullshit,  and   c) The knife is one of the best modern weapons of close combat and thus should be on the “high priority” list of weapons to master for the 21st century student of combat arts, then we’re satisfied!


Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Weight Training: The Essential Supplementary Exercise For The Student Of Close Combat And Self-Defense

THE most often seen supplementary physical training for combat arts is stretching and flexibility conditioning, with a few calisthenic strength-builders thrown in; all conducted at the start of a class. Certainly this type of training — unless done to extremes, as it often is in taekwondo and some “kung fu” schools — safely limbers the trainee up for the immediate class. However, it does not provide the type of physical training most relevant for hand-to-hand combat. Despite the mythology, you need strength. But you also need more than strength, and weight training that is properly done provides what you need. The only thing that weight training does not provide is natural weapon conditioning; and that is the second most crucial (yet often completely neglected) supplementary physical training for combatives devotees.

But right now we wish to focus on weight training. If you were not aware of its benefits, and why we insist that its practice is essential. please consider the following:

1. First and foremost weight training develops strength. Strength can be built to a degree with calisthenics, but there is no comparison to not only the greater effiiciency with which systematic weight training will accomplish the goal, but also how much more strength can be developed with weights.

While there remain a hardcore minority of instructors who insist that “strength isn’t necessary” in order to defeat an adversary in combat, most understand that whil not necessarily being the deciding factor in a violent emergency, strength is undeniably a factor . . . and most especially students of self-defense and close combat studies need all of the strength that they can acquire —— in addition to their skill.

Possessing both a high level of strength and a high level of skill is a most desirable combination when you find yourself in any serious confrontation.

2. Weight training greatly contributes to the development of self-confidence.

As you can clearly see and objectively measure your growing strength through regular training, your self-confidence will inevitably receive a boost. “I am twice as strong now than I was last year!” is a revelation that is sure to bolster any combat trainee’s confidence . . . and such is commonplace for those who take up weight training and proceed to workout regularly and correctly.

3. Weight training improves and increases your ability to withstand punishment. A strong person with well-developed muscles is harder to injure than someone of average physical development.

Naturally weight training will not assist in resisting blows to the neck or throat, kicks to the knees or shins or testicles, or attacks to the eyes. However, weight training with certainly make a person indifferent to wrist, arm, and shoulder grabs, to clumsily thrown punches or kicks that land, and to all of the common, unskilled inflictions of injury that are attempted by most troublemakers in most amateurishly mounted attacks.

4. Sensible weight training keeps you healthy —— inside and out.

5. Weight training keeps you flexible and agile.

Some people might be surprised to hear this, but is absolutely true. And whereas flexibility training per se can often prove downright harmful, weight training exercises are never harmful when correctly performed.

Working the basic exercises from full extension to full contraction achieves healthfully correct flexibility development. You will not strain or sprain joints, ligaments, or tendons —— ever —— when doing the basic exercises through full range, strict motion with weight resistance that you can correctly handle.

6. While weight training cannot prevent aging it can certainly delay the agin process and keep you in “combat condition” throughout life.

7. The greatly improved posture, bearing, walk, and poise that you will enjoy after getting fully underway in a regular weight training routine will decrease the likelihood of you ever being targetted for a physical attack in the first place.

Tips For Getting The Best Results From Weight Training

• Work your enire body at every session. So-called “split” training is not as beneficial as total body workouts.

• Never, ever touch steroid drugs or fall for outrageous dietary supplements or meal plans.

• Forget about becoming “super strong” or achieving a “magazine cover build”. People in those categories of development had the hereditary advantages  necessary to get there. Not everyne can be a lifting or physique “champion” —— and you don’t need to be in order to benefit to the limit from weight training.

• Strength, fitness, and condition do not substitute for technical mastery. You need to practice your skills relentlessly. Such development as you enjoy fom your training will bolster your capability  with combat skills, but never replace the need for such skills.

• There are no “martial arts weight training programs”. Develop your self-defense and combat abilities; supplement them with good, basic, all round weight training.

• Train three times weekly on alternate days if you train in combat skills three times a week. If you train four times a week in combat skills do weight training twice weekly —— on spaced days.

The competitor, the classicist and the combat trainee will all derive enormous benefits from a properly planned, systematic routine of progressive resistance exercise using simple, proven weight training equipment. However, for the self-defense/hand-to-hand combat devotee the advantages that he derives may well be a matter of living or dying in an emergency.

We hope that we have adequately emphasized the intended message of this article:  i.e. TRAIN WITH WEIGHTS!


Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

                    But Can It Be Done For Real?

              (Use The Applegate Test To Find Out)

THERE are numerous schools and theories of unarmed and close combat. With the exception of those that teach obvious nonsense (i.e. no contact self-defense, etc.) most schools are worthwhile and quite authentic. None may reasonably be criticized outside the context in which they are intended. That is, it is absurd to criticize a competitive sport because it does not properly treat the requirements of self-defense and hand-to-hand fighting; and it is equally absurd to criticize a system of self-defense and close combat because it does not advocate competition methods and winning in sport. If a system is a classical/traditional one, then it makes no sense to criticize its adherence to archaic weapons, modes of dress, or skills and practice methods. Thus, anyone insisting that devotees omit the classical kata that is a part of their classical training are out of line —— as are those who suggest that classical kata has a place in any school of modern combatives.

Our only and exclusive focus is on modern combatives —— i.e. practical self-defense and effective methods of armed and unarmed close combat for the military and for others who require this training.

Speaking only about skills, tactics, weapons, and techniques of self-defense and close combat, we urge all who train —— whether in our System or in another —— to use as one aspect of validating anything that they are either now practicing or are considering practicing, the brilliant acid test presented in his first edition of his classic, KILL OR GET KILLED. The late Col. Rex Applegate wrote:

“Will this work so that I can use it instinctively in vital combat against an opponent who is determined to prevent me from doing so, and who is striving to eliminate me by fair means or foul?”

Think about that. Let its implications sink in. Use it when

analyzing techniques of individual combat. Esthetically satisfying, beautiful and challenging, awesome to observe, a feat of athletic accomplishment, a technique that is “traditional”, a winning technique in contests, “the technique” that enabled this or that champion to defeat so-and-so in an important match, etc. NONE of these things has even the slightest bearing on the question posed by Applegate’s irrefutably valid standard.

In developing our System of American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) we applied Applegate’s standard to everything and to all that we included in our curriculum. To the WWII methods and systems that we studied and scrutinized and to the systems of taekwon-do, ju-jutsu, kenpo-karate, varmannie, boxing, and so on, from which we culled those classical skills that are of value and are practical for our purpose.

Both Mark Bryans (our top Black Belt and teacher of American Combato) and ourself have had numerous students utilize that which we teach, over the last few decades. IT WORKS. It work because it has met the Applegate Test Standard, and we do not for a second hesitate to say so.

We know that anyone who understands and utilizes the realism to be found in Applegate’s Standard will benefit enormously and immediately if his objective is self-defense and/or close combat.

For real world success and valid training you need:—

• Techniques that can be learned quickly, retained easily, and applied regardless of whether you’re in hard training and top shape or not

• Techniques that inflict serious injury

• Techniques that can be relied upon to stop a physically superior adversary who is determined to maim or to kill you

• Techniques that give you a good chance of surviving an armed attack, multiple attackers, and attacks from behind

• Techniques that are adaptable and doable under unfavorable terrain conditions, and in numerous contexts. (I.e. you do not want a method that has many hundreds of self-defense techniques. You want a system that has ADAPTABLE and MULTI-APPLICATION self-defense techniques. We call them “counterattacks”, and for every one that you acquire you should be able to multiply your practical readiness many times).

• Techniques that do not require fine motor articulations —— but that depend upon gross body movements (i.e. the only ones you can use reliably in a high stress, dangerous emergency)

Look at what is taught. Look at a technique and ask yourself:

“Can I do this in a business suit and tie?” / “Can I do this in a cramped office, parking garage, restaurant, hallway or elevator?” / “Can I do this in formal battle dress?” if you are a soldier or marine. / “Can I use this against more than one attacker?” / “Is this compatible with the use of my personal weapons?” / “Will this work on a debris-strewn sidewalk, or anywhere else that may have obstacles, glass, rocks, parked vehicles, etc. present?” / “Will this work against an attacker who is under the influence of drugs, who is drunk, who is insane —— or who possibly is operating on two or all of these influences?”

Possibly you will come up with some more contexts —— environmental or otherwise —— that can be used to good effect in assessing a techniques merit.

Always ask: “Will this work under the worst conditions, and work reliably in real combat?”

Remember that nothing, no matter how excellent, is perfect. And there can be no “guarantees” when it comes to anything so unpredictable, chaotic, and dangerously risky as individual combat. Nevertheless, there are war-proven skills whose track record sets them apart and makes them the way to go when determining what to train in and to use if your life or the lives of those you love is ever at stake. And discovering what those techniques and skills are by using a very simple, understandable test.

Be real.


Monday, December 29th, 2014

                       There’s No Defense Against



THE reason why many people come to the study of self-defense is because they are afraid of being attacked; perhaps they’ve already been attacked —— bullied, pushed around, mugged, beaten in a fight, or whatever. They feel angry, humiliated, determined not to let it ever happen again. The simple truth is: They want to be tough, strong, confident, and able to handle whatever violence may come their way.

Good teachers of close combat and defense understand this. They help new students to appreciate the undesirability of violence, while preparing them — realistically — to deal with any violent crisis that cannot be avoided.  Poor teachers of close combat and defense cash in on the opportunity that it provides. They assure new students that what they will be taught will make them invincible; that after training in their methods they will be fearless. Exactly what almost all prospective students of martial arts want to hear.

But hearing what you “want” to hear is not important. Hearing that which you need to hear is.

There is no school, system, or teacher who is selling invincibility. Regardless of the ads he posts, flashy demonstrations he presents, or “guarantees” that he offers. Combat is risky and dangerous for anyone —— novice, expert, or random individual who has no idea of individual battle skills. The expert certainly has the odds stacked in his favor. But luck cannot be discounted, and even in the case of the expert, there is no defense against everything

In the course of training in quality skills, acquiring the proper combat mindset, and developing good tactical habits, a serious student of combat reduces the chances that a physical assailant will be able to successfully victimize him. But he can never eliminate the chance, entirely. This, we insist, is something that it behooves every honest teacher to pound into the heads of his students. By doing so, the students develop two things that go a long way toward securing their safety and well being, and their ability to defend themselves in the real world:

1. A serious, healthy fear of violence. This encourages them to

be ready to go all-out and give 100% in any situation,

without foolishly assuming that with their training, they need

not fear anything;

2. A continual cautionary alertness and wariness, coupled with a

determination to avoid trouble whenever possible.

False confidence can get a person killed in a dangerous situation no less readily than can freezing up in a state of paralytic panic. Realistic confidence is what the self-defense student should be encouraged to achieve, as his abilities grow in direct proportion to his determined commitment to hard training in reliable skills. “Realistic confidence” means: Self-confidence based upon one’s knowledge that one possesses reliable and proven abilities to handle himself if he must, and that, while not having any certainty of victory, his attitude and physical ability will likely seem him through to survival and victory in an unavoidable emergency.

The properly trained student of combat arts neither under- nor over- estimates himself or his adversary. He appreciates that no matter how long or hard he trains —— and no matter what methods he trains in —— he will never be a superman; just a well-trained combatant who stands a better than good chance of defeating anyone who attacks him.

It gets no better than that. And if you fall for the idea that there is some “perfect” method of defending yourself that makes any attacker helpless, you are simply being duped into believing nonsense.

Three categories of physical attack present a deadly challenge to anyone; “even an expert”:

• Attacks by multiple assailants

• Armed attacks

• Attacks from behind

Not that defending yourself against these types of attack is impossible. It is very possible, and with good technical training and the right attitude you stand a great chance of successfully doing so in most instances. But there is always that possibility that your attacker(s) will catch you with an effective action, that you will be caught so unawares that you simply won’t react in time, or that your situation and circumstance at the time of the attack will rob you of your ability to do what you learned to do (i.e. you could be very ill at the time of the attack, or suffering from a debilitating injury, etc.).

We say all of this not to discourage you but to orient you to the facts of reality regarding personal defense. There are no superhuman or magical possibilities in martial arts training.

We remember one seminar we gave a very long time ago. At its conclusion during the question and answer session one participant asked: “What can you do if someone comes up behind you and stabs you with a knife?” “Die, I suppose,” was our answer. The woman who asked that question was not joking; she actually had some absurd notion that training in martial skills would provide answers to how to cope with anything and everything that could conceivably occur in any possible attack situation! No so.(Incidentally, the seminar was a couple of hours in length, and constituted the only training that the woman was to receive. She did not enroll for ongoing instruction!).

Quality self-defense training is effective. But it is not magic. You need to train hard and seriously; and you must acquire a realistic appreciation of what real violence entails.

Violent offenders, bullies, troublemakers, and self-styled “toughguys” are usually not skilled or prepared to deal with determined defenders who are. But violent types must never be underestimated. The mere fact that they are violent and willing to injure others for no just reason makes them dangerous. Unskilled, unsophisticated violent punks and related trash cause awful harm to innocent people all of the time. Many victims are killed by these “unskilled” scum. So by no means should you be tempted to dismiss their potential formidability. Once you accept the potential threat that they pose you automatically become more situationally aware, and more prepared to draw upon your full resources should you ever need to defend yourself. And that will give your a further edge, and go a long way toward increasing the likelihood of your success in taking action.

Be a realist. All good, genuinely qualified close combat and self-defense experts are.

The realization that there are no defenses against everything will increase the chances that you won’t be caught off-guard by an assailant. And that alone decreases your odds of being attacked in a manner that offers no possibility of defense.

Think about these things, please.


Eyes, Ears, Nose, And Throat

Saturday, November 1st, 2014


NO, we are not referring to a medical specialty. We are zeroing in on a very important selection of targets from amongst the fifteen or so that you ought to be seriously concerned with attacking in any dangerous emergency. A vicious, powerful attack using the element of surprise, your best natural weapons, and immediate followup will almost certainly assure your victory in an encounter.

We emphasize followup as we do because the circumstance of an actual situation might prevent you from launching a “perfect” —— full power, absolutely accurate —— attack to what theoretically should be a one-hit stop (under ideal conditions), but which will often fall short of its potential capability.

You can count upon attacks to any of those four targets, even if delivered with less than full power, being disorienting to the recipient. And this opens up the opportunity for followup using optimum force in continued attack with whatever weapons and targets suggest themselves.


Attack the eyes with the extended four fingers of either hand. Thrust, using as much force as possible. Do not telegraph! Just shoot your hand forward into the adversary’s eyes, striving when you do so to drive your fingers through the back of his head. Or, you may employ the Fairbairn method of fingertips jabbing in which the fingers are braced,  forming the hand into a kind of “cobra’s head” position, and whipped in an arc into the opponent’s eyes and nose bridge.

The tiger’s claw thrust is also a good way to attack the eyes. A modified version of the tiger’s claw may be used by raising the elbow of your chin-jabbing hand after contact, and planting your fingers in a claw-like action in his eyes.

We do not recommend attempting to thrust one finger into an eye as this requires what may be under combat conditions too fine a motor move. If gouging the eyes with the thumbs —— very close in —— then each thumb may individually rip into each eye; but this is only when you are very close in.

Thumb gouging is an excellent technique.

Additionally, it is extremely effective to jab with any item-in-hand (umbrella, end of walking stick, tree branch, mini flashlight, pen, etc.) into an enemy’s eyes. Throwing sunglasses, sand, dirt, coins, handkerchief, cup of coffee, hat, etc. into the opponent’s eyes and then following up with a side kick to his knee or a front kick to his testicles is a great tactic.

Go after your attacker’s eyes!


The ears are incredibly vulnerable. They may be boxed with cupped hands from the front or from behind the adversary. One hand may be used effectively to box an ear —— and with follow through the boxing hand is then cocked for a return-action handaxe chop to the temple or neck.

By using a “bow and arrow” type action after seizing both of an adversary’s ears, at least one ear may be ripped off his head. Seizing both ears you can butt the opponent’s face, knee his testicles, or yank his head to waist level and knee him in the face.

The ear can be an entry point for a knife stab.

Grabbing one ear and then powerfully chin-jabbing an adversary will likely rip the ear off.

Bite! You may simply bite off a large part or the whole of an ear.

The ear is is vulnerable to a hard smack using the open hand, or to a blow with a stick.


A handaxe chop across the bridge of the nose or directly up and under the nose (into the philtrum) is perhaps the most destructive way to attack the nose.

Any straight on blow to an opponent’s nose (elbow, fist, heel of hand, head butt, hammerfist) will invariably disorient him, and may stop him. It will always result in sufficient disorientation so that followup of a much more devastating kind can be administered.

An upward heel-of-the-hand blow (i.e. chinjab) into the base of the nose is very effective. (This blow cannot “drive the nose bones into the brain”. That myth is still spread in some backward quarters).

Ripping and clawing the nostrils or driving a finger (or something sharp) deep into a nostril can be effective in close-in combat.

A hammerfist smash down on the bridge of the nose is a terrific blow.


Not only the throat per se, but the entire neck area —— both sides, throat area (from base to underside of jaw), and nape of neck —— is a very vulnerable section of the body. In a serious, life-threatening emergency attack the windpipe and attack it with all of the force you can muster.

Handaxe chops to the throat, sides of neck, or nape of neck are effective. Hammerfist blows to the nape of neck are also effective, as are forearm smashes, and in some instances downward elbow blows.

But the throat per se is —— for vital combat —— the real key target to go for.

Using the fingers in a tong-like manner to encircle and lock the  windpipe (as high up under the jaw as possible, avoiding the powerful neck muscles) is a great technique.

If you extend your fingers and press them together you can use a fingertips thrust to the throat with good effect. Even better is a half-fist thrust driving the second knuckles into the windpipe or larynx.

Like the eyes the throat is very vulnerable to a sharp thrust with any object, and/or to a blow with a club or stick. Stabbing into or slashing the throat with a knife is always effective.

Eyes, ears, nose, and throat. Four outstanding targets to zero in on and destroy in any deadly emergency when you must fight to save your or another’s life.


But if or when an unavoidable situation arises when you must take desperate action or be maimed or killed, use these skills with every measure of strength, rage, speed, determination, fury, and resolve that you possess. And keep on attacking!

With any luck at all, you should prevail.


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Saturday, September 27th, 2014

 Some Thoughts (For Those Who Think)           About  Practical Self-Defense


MUCH is continually being said regarding which approach to self-defense is really the most effective and practical. Is the grappler’s method the most effective, or is the hitter’s? Or is a more eclectic approach, like MMA, the way to go for optimum practicality and effectiveness?

It will likely come as a surprise to those in their teens and 20’s to learn that this “debate” is really a very old one. It did not begin with the advent of the UFC, or with MMA. In the 1950’s and 60’s there was endless squabbling amongst those who were beginning to learn about judo, ju-jutsu, and karate. First, the howling amongst enthusiasts was in regard to whether the grappling art of wrestling was superior to the art of judo/ju-jutsu, and if the hitting art of karate was superior to Western boxing. Actual contests —— and even fights —— between exponents of the different disciplines proved nothing. Some wrestlers beat some judo/ju-jutsu men, and vice versa. Some boxers defeated karate exponents (we actually saw this happen in each of the scheduled matches between boxers and karate men, in NY’s Madison Square Garden, back in the 1960’s). Then again, on another occasion judo master Gene LeBell beat a boxer. And so on it went.

Then the question arose: “Well, what would happen if you matched wrestlers with boxers?” We recall that one university in the U.S. conducted just such match events (we believe that there was a total of ten). Only one boxer won; all of the remaining victories went to the wrestlers (and the boxer who won was also a wrestler).

Today we have so-called “anything goes” events —— or mixed martial arts (MMA). The “anything goes” is inundated with plenty of rules, restrictions, and regulations, and really amounts more to contests where “anything that is allowed goes”, which doesn’t seem in any way to bother enthusiasts or to detract from MMA’s and UFC’s popularity.

The overwhelming tendency has recently been to insist that the MMA and the UFC have demonstrated, by actual fighting between exponents of different “martial arts” that the MMA/UFC approach is The Most Practical and Effective for self-defense and hand-to-hand close combat.

It must be constantly kept in mind, when thinking about this subject that the assumption of “proven superiority for actual individual combat” in regard to the MMA/UFC approach has been made on the basis of sporting contests; sporting contests that abide by very strict rules and regulations, occur in a specified, sanitized environment, at an agreed upon time, and that involve young, strong, tough men who are generally in hard training and in peak condition for the matches which they compete in.

Does this mean that MMA/UFC people can’t defend themselves? Of course it doesn’t mean that! Like boxers, wrestlers, competitive karate people, judo men, football players, kick boxers, etc. —— in-condition, young, actively training and participating MMA/UFC men can defend themselves quite impressively and well in many instances. But this is no proof that their activity is the best way for private citizens, soldiers, and others who are not competitors, but who must prepare to deal with enemies in critical emergencies in the street or in their homes, or in their places of business, and/or in war, are well advised to take up training of the MMA/UFC kind —— i.e.  training that uses a SPORTING venue for both learning and practice of the art, as well as for application of the skills —— in order to be prepared to defend themselves or to engage in close combat.

Self-defense is not a “match” or a sporting “contest” between two persons who are mutually agreed to exchange their skills in a fair test of competence, on a mat or in a cleared area; and to do so at an appointed time, with a referee present to see that both entrants obey the rules. No surprise attacks from behind may occur, no launching a sudden attack before the opponent is ready may be permitted, no weapons allowed, no assistance from second, third, or forth cohorts to one of the entrants in order to secure his victory over the other fellow.

In a self-defense situation one may be drastically “outgunned” so to speak. That is, one may be attacked by a larger, stronger, more vicious, and more experienced individual than oneself. One may be out of training at the time of an attack, just recovering (or presently suffering from) an illness or injury. One may be with a loved one whom one must protect, one may be in a most hazardous environment, etc. And one may be considerably older than the attacker(s) —— in fact at an age where virtually no one “competes” any more, or wishes to do so, or would be allowed to do so. Yet, despite all of this, one must undertake to the best of one’s ability to defend oneself. One now will be in a desperate do or die emergency predicament, and that which one will require —— tactically, technically, and physically —— will be a lot different from that which one might employ in a sport.

Dishonest persons have suggested, and we suspect will continue to suggest, that we are “against” competition, sport, ground fighting, sparring, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have akways made our position clear. If that is what one enjoys we agree that that is what one should participate in. However, we are adamant regarding the fact that combat and sport are different, and that one cannot prepare for one by training in that which is intended for use in the other.

That which wins in contests —— any contests —— is irrelevant when considering that which should be relied upon in serious combat. And that leads to the question: “What should be taught, practiced, and relied upon for serious defense and close combat?”

The answer is: “That which does the most serious damage quickly and simply, may be done by anyone of any age, that is useful against actual, known types of attack, and that which enables a targeted victim in imminent danger to preempt his would-be assailant decisively.”

None of the true martial arts, prior to whatever “sporting forms” of them may have later been created or adopted, were intended for use against other practitioners of those same arts. The arts were intended to secure victory on the battlefield or to enable their users to defend themselves against attack. Aims such as these are as different from the aims of contest and sport as genuine rapiers and sabers differ from the versions of them that are manufactured for modern fencing.

When you train hard and long in any physical skill you all but guarantee that, under stress, the actions that you have drilled into yourself will either be executed immediately or that you will try to execute those actions. So, for example, a judo/ju-jutsu man may actually attempt to close with and turn his back on a real attacker —— perhaps one armed with a knife —— in order to throw him. The odds of this working in real combat are very slim —— and then, only for an expert.

A participant in a form of ground-grappling ju-jutsu or wrestling who is in hard training and competition will actually try to “go to the ground, and to take his adversary there”, in a serious situation. And, whether anyone likes to hear this or not, believes it or not, accepts it or not, one of the primary rules of close combat is “Always Strive To Stay On Your Feet!”. To actually try to go to the ground with an opponent is, in real combat or self-defense not recommended! (Some ask: “Well, what do you do if you somehow end up on the ground with an attacker? Don’t you need to know what to do?” The answer is: “A-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y! but such skills as you should acquire for such a rare and unlikely event are not the ones you employ in contests!”).

Remember that in self-defense you will be concerned with protecting yourself and/or another person, reacting to another’s attack —— not “squaring off” —— and you must have no blocks, reservations, restraining impulses or inclinations against doing whatever you are able to do in order to stop your attacker! You will need to act very quickly and you will need to inflict serious injury right away so that, no matter what the attacker’s intention (which you must assume is deadly) you have destroyed his ability to carry it out and you have successfully defended innocent life and limb.

Self-defense training, as opposed to all combat sports, is a lifetime pursuit and the skills and mental set that you acquire may be needed in your 70’s or 80’s. Self-defense is no “young man’s game” . . . nor in fact is it a “game” at all. It is a lifetime survival skill.

Competitive activities are great fun for many people, and provide mental and physical benefits not to be under rated. If that’s your cup of tea, go for it. But do recognize the facts.

It is perfectly fine and interesting for two sportsmen to test whatever their particular competitive sport may be, against another participant in another sport. However, to paraphrase how one of the most under-appreciated teachers of self-defense of all time, the late Bruce Tegnér, so beautifully put it: The only thing that would be proven if two experts in two different combat arts fought in order to prove that “his” art was superior for real combat than the other guy’s is that the two men were FOOLS. The acid test of the effectiveness of combat skills is how well they work against an attacker or an enemy in combat; not how they work when modified for contest, and one contestant “defeats” the other.

Unpopular concepts in this little essay, we suppose. But obviously true and most definitely to be taken with 100% seriousness for all who aspire to be able to defend themselves.


Monday, September 8th, 2014

The So-Called “Weaver” Stance Predates The “New”    Technique

 ANYONE wanting to learn combat handgun shooting need only acquire a copy of Rex Applegate’s WWII Classic Kill or Get Killed. It contains the most complete, fully illustrated description of all aspects of the mechanics of the method. Fairbairn’s Shooting to Live is the seminal work on combat handgun shooting, but as a complete learning text there is nothing that compares with Applegate’s treatment of the subject.

Rex Applegate was Fairbairn’s student. Fairbairn was British, and the father of practical handgun shooting. During WWII he was seconded to the American OSS as a close combat instructor. Fairbairn trained the British Commandos, the agents of the SOE, and secret intelligence operatives of MI6, as well as FBI agents. He had also trained U.S. marines who were stationed in China. After learning Fairbairn’s unarmed and armed doctrine (which had its beginnings in Shanghai during the early 1900’s, where it proved itself incredibly effective by the Shanghai Municipal Police), Applegate expanded upon the subject and became Fairbairn’s opposite number in the United States. Fairbairn’s wartime hand-to-hand system was radically different from his formerly-taught Defendu, but his handgun method —— already proven hands down to be supremely practical and effective —— was imparted to the allied forces when WWII broke out.

While the core and key to combat handgun shooting is point shooting, this does not exhaust the teachings of those prominent advocates of point shooting during the second world war. Despite the erroneous nonsense so often advocated and widely believed by the True Believers in the “new technique”, Fairbairn, Applegate —— and all of us, today who continue to teach the method, ALSO teach and advocate the use of deliberate, use-of-the-sights firing and, if it suits the shooter when time, distance, and light permit this option, the employment of two-handed gripping and sighted aiming of the weapon. Not only is this true, it is verifiable that the type of grip espoused latterly by Jeff Cooper and his friends as being the one “invented” by Jack Weaver when he appears to have replicated that two-hand grip and stance first described, pictured, and advocated by Fitzgerald in his Classic, Shooting, was known, taught, and provided as an option when two-hand shooting was feasible, by the WWII combat masters.

You need only obtain a copy of Fitzgerald’s book Shooting and in it you will see a big photograph of what many today refer to as the “Weaver stance”.

But specifically —— to prove that the two-hand shooting grip integral to the so-called “Weaver”(Fitzgerald?) stance” was obviously taught by Rex Applegate during the second world war —— look at the illustration on Page 145 in the 1976 Paladin Press reprint of this Classic.  Look carefully at the two-hand grip examples. There are three of them. Check the one on the bottom. That is identical with the two-hand grip which (we believe) Sheriff Jack Weaver rediscovered during the shooting contests at Big Bear Lake in the 1950’s. (Note: We certainly do not mean to imply that Jack Weaver “copied” this shooting position, and knowingly allowed Cooper to recast it as some sort of “new” thing. No, he probably just hit upon it in trying to find ways to win contests in which distances permitted or necessitated use of the handgun’s sights. Nor, to be as fair as possible, do we wish to suggest that Cooper was aware of the fact that this “new” shooting position had already been long established in the preceding decade, by then Capt. Rex Applegate, who actually taught it as an option for the shooters that he trained (and he trained 10,000) when those rare instances occurred during which the handgun’s sights and deliberate two-hand gripping-and-aiming were feasible.

Ninety-seven to ninety-eight percent of deadly encounters where a handgun is used occur at distances between combatants not exceeding about 20 feet! At least 50% occur within a range of FIVE feet. But the fathers of point shooting (and their “offspring”, like ourself,  who are carrying it into the 21st century) have not neglected to prepare individuals for distance work, where time and light allow for using the handgun’s sights. This is clearly unusual, uncommon, rare, and —— frankly —— unlikely. Still, that two to three percent of the time the shooter needs to have a method available to him that will not fail. That method was fully developed, wrung out, proven in war, and taught long before any competition technique-masquerading-as-a-combat technique, came along.

Don’t spend close to or more than $2,000. to learn how to use a handgun in combat. We teach it inside of four or five lessons. And if you can read you can have the whole system for the price of a copy of Kill or Get Killed.

Note: During WWII the material now available as an open source in Kill or Get Killed was presented in a then classified Document by Applegate, titled Handgun Offense. What Kill or Get Killed presents is an expanded version of that Document —— along with solid gold regarding knife fighting, use of the stick, and unarmed combat, as well as half a dozen other subjects!


Monday, September 1st, 2014


                     That’s What Guns Are For!

While not every grandmother can tote around a shooting iron quite so large as the one this wonderful lady is holding, she's surely an inspiration to seniors everywhere to obtain and carry what is most suitable to themselves!

While not every grandmother can tote around a shooting iron quite so large as the one this wonderful lady is holding, she’s surely an inspiration to seniors everywhere to obtain and carry what is most suitable to themselves!


WE note with rage and disgust that violent “knock out” and robbery attacks against the elderly have increased in frequency throughout urban America. We really could not imagine any punishment (including dismemberment or drawing and quartering) that would be sufficiently adequate for these scum who dare to lay hands upon more fragile, less powerful, and normally terrified persons who are their seniors . . . but alas, this breed of unconscionable living garbage exists and seems to flourish today. Would that they would all be exterminated.

Unarmed self-defense can be, and sometimes is, a great means of self-defense for seniors. There are numerous instances when, happily, crawling garbage that attempted to target a senior got its filthy head smashed in, or —— better yet —— was shot.

And that’s a critical point.

Every able-bodied senior should certainly avail him or herself of basic training in effective unarmed self-defense. However, two points need to be emphasized:

1. Unarmed self-defense may not always be adequate for a person who is on in years and who must contend with some overgrown lump of sewer excrement in its late teens or early 20’s (or older) who is in essence an agile, strong, conditioned gutter animal —— used to running from police, jumping fences, and getting into fights with its foul, stinking contemporaries.

2. Many seniors simply can’t acquire adequate capability with weaponless combat because of poor physical health or disability.

That’s what guns are for!

Aside from the fact that any scumbag who undertakes to brutalize an elderly person deserves to be shot, shooting such filth down is easier, safer, and much more intimidating to that class of muck and scum that considers seniors fair game than striking out with hands and feet. One blow or countering action might send a piece of street s—t running. The appearance of a gun in the hand of its intended victim almost surely will send the sewer rat scurrying (making shooting unnecessary). And in the case where sewer ratS confront the victim, shooting one of them is likely to be quite sufficient to convince the remaining bipedal manure that it has made a poor target selection that day, and send them running back to their hovels.

Some seniors might think that being able to handle a sidearm well is a complicated procedure and is dangerous. Well, it is dangerous —— to the living pestilence they may need to shoot. But learning real (not competition) handgun shooting is easy and simple; and the skill is readily retainable. Every elderly citizen should consider learning firearm handling and safety (very easy to learn), and then purchasing a quality firearm and making that weapon a constant companion. (Laws vary, and in some locations it is all but impossible to obtain a handgun and concealed weapon permit. Frankly, we’d recommend moving to a safer place. You can be certain that where firearms are readily available to private citizens, attacks against them are very few and far between. Always obey the law, and if you do happen to live in some benighted place where you have to go through numerous hoops and pay outrageous fees in order to exercise your right to keep and bear arms, go through the hassle, if necessary with the help of a good attorney. It is that important).

One would not choose to live where there is a much higher risk to his life, and to the lives of his loved ones, from much rarer forms of deadly danger than brutal physical attacks. So, our personal advice if push comes to shove is: Get thee and thine to a saner, safer, more reasonable city where owning and keeping that which could easily mean the difference between living and dying for you is easy and allowable. Live out your full measure of years in safety, with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that, even when you are 80, you possess the means of dropping a 20 year old, 230 pound predator who practices MMA in his damn tracks, should he attempt to endanger your life.

Our philosophy of self-defense —— just like our System, American Combato —— is comprehensive, complete, and realistic. We espouse armed and unarmed defense, just as we espouse security practices and personal protection principles that involve good tactics and strategies and technology, often making the use of any force unnecessary (which we always hope, strive, pray, and train for). However, when there is no option but to act decisively and violently —— or be maimed or killed —— we advocate the finest means possible to do just that, with NO APOLOGIES.

Our students are trained to use and to do what works most effectively to save innocent life. And often, in the case of those who are on in years, what ought to be used, and what works best, is a weapon. There are many that we teach, but the powerful, well-made, well-mastered semiautomatic pistol or revolver is the ultimate tool of personal defense. All decent persons who can do so legally should avail themselves of this self-defense option. After all, that’s what guns are for.