Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Do Your Techniques

Have An “Expiration

Date” ?

VERY seriously, a large number of so-called “self-defense” techniques have what can only be described as an “expiration date” or a “shelf life”. These are not necessarily all “bad” or “useless” or “completely impractical” techniques (although many are, for real world self-defense). Rather, they are techniques that depend upon you being . . .

• Reasonably young (say, no older

than perhaps 40 or 45, at the


• In good condition because you are

in regular training and competition

The techniques that we are referring to are, for example, high, spinning, or jump type kicks; clenched fist punching; fancy footwork; advanced throwing techniques; complex holds. Some who are enthusiastic competition fighters are quite good at the application of these skills ––– for the time being. So long as they are in daily, hard training, competing regularly, and being scrupulously attentive to fitness conditioning in addition to their technical practice and competition, they just may be able to apply their fairly elaborate fighting skills outside the arena of competition and in the street, against a real violent attacker.

But the accumulation of injuries from a competitive fighting career, and the onset of middle and then senior age will inevitably make the combat application of these skills (even if they can still do them in training, in the gym) useless to the sport fighter for practical use. The agility, viciousness, strength, speed of movement, street combat experience, and psychopathic meanness that typify the really dangerous violent types that infest our cities will trump competition actions, once the competitor is in his 40’s. (Are there exceptions to this? Probably. But it is foolish, if you are concerned about self-defense, to hope that you will be one of the exceptions. There’s too much riding on such a gamble. And besides . . . there is a body of war-proven close combat and defense doctrine that can be relied upon for a lifetime. So why not go with that, in the first place!)

Real self-defense and close combat art is a weapon. It has nothing to do with sport or with competition of any kind. And to even spend some time on questionable skills (i.e. competition stuff) when you are in your prime ––– if real combat ability is what you’re after ––– is a foolish waste. Would you purchase a handgun when in your 20’s that would lose its effectiveness and reliability when you reach the age of 45 or 50? Of course not! A firearm is a lifetime weapon; and if it came with a shelf life, it would be a worthless piece of junk! Hell  . . .  good firearms are passed on generationally, and if you purchase a quality sidearm your grandson will be able to use it for defense of himself and his family literally 100 years from now.

Combat and self-defense skills must of course be acquired individually by each person who wishes to possess them, so the analogy with firearms is not perfect. But anyone with something higher than a room temperature I.Q. should see the irrefutable logic here. If self-defense and close combat is your purpose when you undertake the study of martial arts, then go with that which is intended for that purpose, right from day one.



Sunday, May 13th, 2018



WE are a great believer in the fighting knife.If it were up to us every soldier, sailor, marine, and airman who deployed to a combat zone would be armed there at all times with a handgun and a razor sharp fighting knife. And, we would add, he would have had very adequate training in their proper combat employment prior to being sent in harm’s way.

Individual close combat is not a primary or even a moderately serious secondary concern for war planners and military leaders. Hand-to-hand combat and close range interpersonal confrontations with handguns do not decide the outcome of a war, and hence don’t matter much to those who run the armed services’ war fghting activities. But these activities matter a great deal to the individual fighting man who finds himself in a predicament that demands he kill or be killed in a close quarters affray!

Personal hand-held weapons that may be worn on the person 24/7 and that give the individual marked superiority in a close range encounter impart a boost to the fighting man’s morale that can prove invaluable in any war effort –––– great, small, or “limited” (as those who see nothing wrong with playing with the lives of the finest young men our Country has been blessed with, refer to them).  The well-trained soldier who is never without a reliable, loaded handgun and a fighting knife automatically possesses great confidence and an enhanced fighting spirit. This last alone justifies the fighting man being so armed whenever he is sent to any hot zone on earth. But we know what gives; we won’t hold our breath.

While our British cousins have apparently made fighting knives and lockblade folders that are suitable for self-defense just about impossible for the law abiding private citizen to own and to carry, we here in the U.S. have no such problem (yet, anyway). And while Mr. and Mrs. Private Citizen in the U.S. cannot carry a full-sized combat knife on his person, purchasing and owning such knives is legal (to the best of our knowledge, everywhere in America), and having such weapons available in one’s home or apartment can prove to be life-saving . . . especially in places like New York City, where the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms is shamelessly infringed, and only dangerous criminals and the police are armed with guns. (It is of course “possible” to obtain a permit to carry a handgun in New York City; but unless you have the financial means to afford the legal counsel and political red tape, forget it.) Unfortunately, this atrociousstate of affairs exists throughout the Stateof New York today!

So learn knifework and unarmed combat. We’d recommend strongly that you master the stick, too. With a quality folding knife that does not exceed the legal size allowance for wherever your live on your person, and the skill to use it well, you’re better off i the street than being unarmed. And having a few fighting knives placed throughout your dwelling is certainly better than having nothing but your bare hands to repel a home invading intruder. Even if you do carry a handgun legally, there’s nothing wrong with also carrying a good knife.

The knife has certain advantages over the stick. Consider . . . 

  • A knife has tremendous psychological effect on an attacker. Many individuals are not intimidated by a stick, but will draw back instantly when confronting a sharp blade.

  • A knife is readily concealable, very light and easy to carry, and is infinitely combinable with unarmed combat skills (the learning of which should always preceed learning knifework).

  • The sheer shock of having an intended “victim” turn warrior and not merely draw a knife but attack with it fiercly, stabbing and slashing like lightning, can turn the toughest troublemaking predator to jelly!

  • With proper training you can learn to inflict a terrifying (fatal, if your life is at stake) wound to anyone. Nobody wants to bleed profusely and feel his flesh ripped apart! It spoils the attacker’s whole game.

  • Proper knifework can be taught to almost anyone who has a firm grasp and working knowledge of the basics of unarmed combat within a few hours.

  • The fact that there is a Wstern prejudice against knives (i.e. they are thought of widely as “the bad guy’s weapon”) actually helps if you use a knife for self-defense! The scumbag may easily and quickly conclude that he has picked a far “badder dude” than himself to mess with. 

Recommended Knives

THERE are today literally dozens of different, high quality folding knives that are speedy to open and that are well-designed for anti-personnel use. Just check online or go to any well-stocked knife shop. You want a lockblade folder with a facility for one-hand opening.

We love the Applegate Folder, and if we were going to carry a folding knife that would be our choice. But you will find many other top-quality lockblade folders that constitute a fine choice.

As for fixed-blade fighting knives, we recommend:

  • The Randall-Made Model #1, #2, #14, and #15.

  • The Ek combat knives (made prior to the close of the Ek Commando Knife Company. They are available and well worth the cost.

  • The Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Fighting Knife. The old Sheffield models are around, and there are other well-made versions of this proven knife available. Don’t opt for a “cheapie imitation”. Spend the asking price for a quality model.

  • The USMC Ka-Bar knife

  • The original design Gerber Mark II Combat Knife

There are other excellent choices, and we urge you to remember that, finally, it is the man behind the knife, and not the knife per se that matters most. The legendary Jim Bowie made his reputation as a fierce and unbeatable knife fighter long before the “Bowie Knife” was forged! It was at the Vidalia Sandbar . . . and Bowie used a kitchen knife!

One final thing. We would be less than honest if we did not recognize and point out that your mindset and attitude matter a great deal whenever weapons training is considered. Are you, in your heart of hearts, ready and willing to use a knife against a human adversary? Not everyone is, and no one who isn’t, or who suspects that he isn’t or may not be, should carry or equip himself at home with a knife for self-defense.

Forget the stupid knife “seminars” and martial arts fanticisers who have their charges use rubber or wooden knives in simulated dojo combat. In reality you must expect to get blood and perhaps pieces of flesh on your hands, clothing and face. Using a knife on an enemy is a close-in, personal, hands-on, bloody affair. It is one thing to simulate slashing someone’s throat. It is quite another to actually slash someone’s throat. Some people who would shoot someone in a crisis, or strike him repeatedly with a walking stick across the neck, head, and face just could not get face-to-face with another individual and stab and slash him to death. And, like how it sounds or not, that is exactly what you must be prepared to do ––– and to do without a tremor of hesitation ––– when you employ a knife in self-defense. While some street garbage may turn tail and run after they sustain a slight wound or just see the knife, some will not. And when training in any aspect of self-defense it is the worst not the best that must be assumed and prepared for.

So think about it. If the knife is for you, then you definitely want to learn knifework. As the late master knifemaker John Ek would put it: The knife is “your silent partner”; and if you become adept with its combat use it will not let you down!


Monday, March 26th, 2018

             Spycraft, Tradecraft, And Questionable “Training”

BECAUSE some of it is definitely related to and relevant for practical self-defense, and because we are conversant with the real methods, we will from time to time go into techniques of clandestine tradecraft that are taught to those involved in secret intelligence and special operations. We are aware, however, that a certain number of highly questionable “courses” administered and taught by persons of highly questionable backgrounds have become popular, and that these may be ripping off an awful lot of people.

Let this be clear: We have no quarrel with programs or instructors who actually are teaching viable and authentic skills for what is popularly referred to now as “urban escape and evasion”. More power to them! However, those programs that are disseminating lukewarm stuff that is not only not taught in either special forces units or in secret intelligence training schools, and that are nowhere near as reliable and dependable as the claims that are made for it would have you believe, are doing a disservice. False confidence in the minds of those who take these courses leaves these people in a fool’s paradise. Should the god-awful need to handle a real situation ever arise, and should the adversaries encountered be even partially sophisticated in the terror trade that they ply, graduates of the less-than-authentic “spycraft” courses are in for a huge disappointment!

Those E&E programs that are popular and that teach enrollees to break free of duct tape, handcuff, or ziplock binds, etc. are not thereby offering “little known special forces or CIA skills”. They are teaching very well and widely known tricks ––– tricks that the bad guys are often very familiar with, also ––– and this builds false confidence. Yes, the skills that are taught have some value, but if anyone thinks that they will enable them to defeat the efforts of professionals, they are sadly misinformed. The weekend course that might go into such escape methods may introduce you for the first time in how to get out of a locked car trunk, etc., but the monsters against whom you are struggling to learn how to defend yourself already know about these tricks. And by themselves ––– as they are taught ––– these skills may be utterly worthless. For example: You’re locked in the truck of a vehicle and you know how to get free. But your captors are driving speedily and with no pauses anywhere for you to get out and get help, to the location where they will be holding you captive ––– or kiling you. What will you do? Open the car trunk (assuming that you have not been bound by wire or rope with your hands behind your back, and gagged) and jump out while the vehicle is going 50 to 60 or more miles per hour through an area with which you have no familiarity? The occupants of the vehicle will know when the trunk has been opened. They will then attack you and probably kill you. Or will you wait until the vehicle arrives at its destination? No worries . . . the occupants will then remove you from the trunk of the car themselves; you won’t need “escape skills”.

What can you do . . . really and seriously . . . in such a situation? There’s only one tactic that works: Feign compliance when ordered into the trunk, and at the last moment resist with lethal force and prevent the abduction! People do not want to hear this in many cases; and in very few instances will a person in the private sector train long and hard enough to actually be able to fool the abductor and kill him.

So, is the car trunk escape trick useless? No. It has some possible use, on some occasions. But it isn’t authentic spycraft (children learn it in child safety courses!) and it is not one-tenth as effective as being able to thwart the abduction attempt in the first place.

Do not believe that the “secrets” you are introduced to during a weekend course will sustain you. Whatever value these skills may have, they must be developed. Merely having been shown them and perhaps applied them a few times in a supportive, relatively stress-free environment is not enough. Like all self-defense measures, these skills must become second nature. And be extra-extra cautious about what courses you pay out your hard-earned money for. Some (read: most) merely instruct in so-so skills that do not address the extreme dangers and the extreme formidability that desperate, violent offenders pose. Your normal, daily life, sprinkled with a smattering of nifty tricks that work with similarly naive practice partners will not, we’re sorry to have to say, prepare you for that which, in real life genuine, active-duty clandestine intelligence operatives and hardened special forces soldiers sometimes cannot handle, themselves!

Finally, please remember this: What accounts for the success of the field service operative (in secret intelligence or in special warfare) is his personal makeup and character. His ability to think and to improvise quickly, under extraordinary pressure and in life-or-death situations. Not everyone is built this way. This is why there is an in-depth examination process that precedes a candidate’s entry into CIA’s Clandestine Services. Fully 90% (and probably closer to 96-8%) of CIA’s employees work in analysis and other strictly cerebral, academic occupations. To a large extent people come to intelligence work or to military special operations units already possessing the right character. Yes, characteristics may be developed ––– or altered. But not in a weekend or after a mere 20 or 30 hours of “training” in a smorgasbord of Walter-Mittyish skills. (We train people all of the time to new attitudes and philosophies . . . over a period of months or years; and we employ hypnosis as an adjunct to such training, for those who need it ––– and many do). And we push lots and lots of physical practice and training. No one learns by brief exposure.

Here are some things to consider before you enroll in some of these “spy schools”:

1. You can break free of amateurish tape and other ties but only if –––
a) The ties really are amateurish (i.e. your hands are bound in front
of you, and are not additionally tied strongly to your feet so as
to immobilize you), b) You are left unguarded (sure, it’s possible
––– but why assume you’ll be up against a moron?), c) You are
in full possession of your mental and physical faculties (don’t you
realize that you may have been knocked unconscious or beaten
severely before being bound?)
P.S. We guarantee that no one could escape our method of tying and binding them! Hint: It goes way beyond the method of “hog
typing” described by Fairbairn and Applegate (i.e. Our teachers, by the way, who, incidentally, really did train spies and counterintelligence operatives!)
2. Escape from a completed act of confinement by rope, tape, wire, etc.
is ––– a) Only one step in the escape process, b) Actually getting the hell away from your captors is the vital step #2, and c) Professionals (i.e. SF and CIA, etc.) are trained to counter any attempt at their captivity right then and there when and where it happens.
Correctly, they are instructed to escape as soon as posssible, not allowing their captor(s) to remove them to any secondary area.
3. “C” above is properly to be concluded by at the very least maiming (and, preferably, killing) your captor. This takes mindset, and
really serious and intense skills training. Frankly, although anyone
who is truly determined to acquire this ability can do so, most
people lack the intestinal fortitude and the fitness and condition to
reconcile this and be ready to do it.
4. For heaven’s sake do not count on an “E&E kit” that you purchase at
a school or anywhere to help you. Sure, if you are taken prisoner or
hostage by someone with an I.Q. of 15 he will likely not search you thoroughly and scrupulously search whatever clothing and gear you may have on you. (We teach that the concealment of a handcuff key, button compass, and small hacksaw blade is some-
times possible. When it is, great! But you must be prepared with
nothing but your wits and your body if you really wish to be pre-



Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

                   Is Ju-Jutsu The “Mother Art”?

EVERY once in a while we get annoyed at popularly touted nonsense that is presented by “experts” as historical fact. Just because an individual is a martial arts instructor does not mean that he is well acquainted with the history and background of the combat disciplines ––– Eastern or Western. (In fact there is as much or more nonsense being mouthed today by black-belted ignoramuses about the popular “WWII Methods as there is about the Asian systems!).

One commonly heard bit of untruth is that “Ju-jutsu is the ‘mother art’ ––– the art from which all of the other martial arts have been derived”.

First of all this is most commonly said of the Japanese arts by speakers who overlook the plethora of arts that were developed and that are practiced throughout the Asian countries; but there are many hundreds of Okinawan, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, and of course Chinese arts, and none of them “come from ju-jutsu”, virtually all having predated Japanese ju-jutsu (often by thousands of years!).

Second (and this is the corker!) Japanese ju-jutsu comes from the much older Chinese ch’i ch’i su systems. These were self-defense styles in which all of the “ju-jutsu” moves may be seen. One of these arts, “Chi-Na”, recently popularized in the West, is a good example. Ch’i ch’i su incorporates all ––– and more! ––– of the holds, locks, grappling, throws, blows, and escapes of ju-jutsu. The Japanese in point of fact, copied ch’i ch’i su, gave it the name of ju-jutsu, and claimed the art’s origin to have been in Japan’s mythological age, when the gods Kashima and Kadori used ju-jutsu to fight evil demons. (People will believe anything).

It is said that the art of karate (and remember there are perhaps 200 different schools and styles of karate throughout Asia ––– ALL predating Japanese ju-jutsu) is an expansion upon atemi; atemi being the section of ju-jutsu in which blows of the hands and feet to vital points is taught. Not so. The arts of karate derived from the external boxing systems of China (ch’uan fa or “kung fu”). The development of karate systems entailed much, much more than merely hitting the opponent in a vital spot. We dare say that any serious student of any of the various “karate systems” knows this well.

Some karate systems include an emphasize upon methods of throwing and joint-locking (the Wado-Ryu school of Japan, in fact, is a good example), but karate per se began as a percussionary art. And what is most likely to be true is that the grappling aspect of close combat grew out of the failed attempts that occasionally occurred to STRIKE. That would seem to be logical.

To observe that ju-jutsu systems almost invariably include throwing, holding, grappling, locking, striking, kicking, and miscellaneous actions and self-defense “tricks”, and to conclude therefore that arts in which one or more of those particulars is stressed came out of ju-jutsu is ––– to put it politely ––– muddled thinking. Every karate system that we have ever observed or participated in also includes throwing and so forth, but plays it down considerably as it emphasizes blows of the hands and feet, a blocking system, and breathing methods. Why? Because throughout the centuries it has always been discovered and then acknowledged in their training by actual warriors that BLOWS CONSTITUTE THE HEART, CORE, AND ESSENCE OF SERIOUS CLOSE COMBAT. Karate systems and self-defense methods of a more modern kind, as well as the best military close combat methods, also recognize and teach this. And those ju-jutsu systems that remain rooted in combat intent and methodology (like the Shin-Kage-Ryu) also lay great emphasis upon BLOWS.

That ch’i ch’i su and ch’uan fa (i.e. “ju-jutsu” and “karate”) systems have always and forever been the original “mixed martial arts” is conveniently ignored or glossed over by those commercializers who would have all and sundry believe that the current MMA (which we suggest should be correctly termed MMS, for Mixed Martial Sport) is unique. In fact we’d call it brawling, and make the observation that its many rules and restrictions make the flailing and grabbing that is done a mere hazardous game, and not a close combat or self-defense method at all. But that’s just our opinion.

The modern Art of American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) incorporates anything and everything that is effective in serious hand-to-hand close combat and self-defense, and relegates control grips and holds to the instruction of law enforcement and security people, to whom we teach these skills AFTER these professionals have learned how to save their lives! But neither private citizens seeking self-defense ability nor combat soldiers and marines need ANY “arrest”, “control”, “submission”, “restraint”, or “comealong” methods.

Let us return to our main point.

Please do not make the mistake of carrying on the myth that “ju-jutsu is the mother art from which all of the different arts derive”. To REAL experts you will sound like a fool if you repeat this, and for your own education know that it just isn’t so. Some of the schools presently teaching their brand of ju-jutsu are excellent, and do offer students some very valuabke defensive skills training. (One outstanding teacher whose work we admired was Phillip Scrima in the Bronx, New York. He flourished in the 1960’s and 1970’s and never failed to give his pupils an excellent grounding in practical self-protective measures, using ju-jutsu). We did not produce this article to slam or to denigrate good ju-jutsu or those who teach and practice it; please note and mark that well.

Engaging in physical violence, unfortunately, is as old as man. And from the looks of things it would seem that this insanity will never end. So, mastering quality self-defense in order to protect yourself and those you love against violent types makes sense. We’d opine that it is an absolute necessity and should be a part of every decent human being’s education.

You can learn self-defense, close combat, weaponry, and personal battle tactics without scrutinizing the exact origin of every move you are taught, or in fact the origins of anything that you are taught. But for those who love the martial disciplines it is a matter of serious interest to set the record straight on certain matters pertaining to the theoretical basis and roots of the arts that one studies. Doing this in regard to the ju-jutsu myth has been our intention in this piece.




Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

                        Common Sense And Concealed Carry

IT seems that everything involved with the subject of combat shooting and going armed is now regarded as complex doctrine that must be validated and presented by “experts” only; the individual who wishes to master combat shooting and be ready for emergencies can figure nothing out for himself.

Here are the simple facts regarding the matter of concealed carry. You can use them as a guide and save yourself tons of money, or you can line the pockets of “instructors” who will be happy to initiate you into what they enjoy presenting as the “little known lore” normally restricted to the elite professionals.

You should familiarize yourself with a variety of revolvers and semiautomatics and select the one (or possibly two or more) that you can handle and feel most confident with, personally. Your selection of a handgun or handguns for your personal carry and use should be based upon the following criteria:
a) The weapon should be of the highest possible quality manufacture. If you live in the United States you are very fortunate here, because you can select from amongst the finest quality firearms available from every manufacturer on earth ––– or damn near every single one. Quality must be first class. You don’t look to save money when purchasing a firearm by compromising quality. Buy the best; because if you ever need that handgun you will need it very badly indeed, and the last thing that will matter to you is how much you “saved” on a bargain-basement firearm.
b) Unless you have the knowledge and experience, purchase a brand new weapon. Used weapons can be every bit as good as used ––– sometimes, depending upon who owned and used them, they can be superior to new weapons ––– but you need to have the ability to examine and to evaluate them. If you lack that expertise, buy brand new.
c) We personally urge that you select nothing less than a .38 Special or 9mm handgun. Carrying a .357, .40, or .45ACP is best if you can carry it comfortably concealed on your person. (We love the old Colt Commander Model .45 auto pistol. We carried one 24/7 years ago, and it was ––– in our personal experience ––– an absolutely fabulous constant-carry piece. When carrying that was not feasible, we carried a Smith and Wesson Model 60 Chiefs revolver in .38 Special in an ankle holster. Today, we would choose a Centennial revolver, which we feel is a better pointer.)

2. You must determine how the variety of available holsters fit you. Your physical structure (height, weight, hip width, etc.) will greatly affect which holsters feel comfortable and enable you to carry concealed, and which do not. Each of the following can be perfect under certain conditions for certain people. Check into it and utilize what you discover about your physique, mode of dress, etc. and how these factors affect any given concealed carry mode for you.

––– Small of the back holster (Excellent in certain situations. Obviously no good if you are sitting down)

––– Crossdraw holster (One of our favorites. Excellent sitting or standing)

––– Appendix carry holster (Comfortable for some)

––– High hip holster* (Probably the all-round fastest. Not at all good when seated in a vehicle)

––– Shoulder holster (Another of or favorites. Excellent sitting or standing. Permits either hand access. All but makes a weapon snatch impossible.)

––– Ankle holster (Not the best, but will do when no other option for concealed carry presents itself)

––– Inside the pocket holster (Very practical for many)

*Inside-the-pants carry mode is extremely popular, and rightly so. However, do not automatically assume that this will prove functional for yourself. It may not. Excellent outside the pants holsters will permit outstanding concealment, and if an inside-the-pants causes you discomfort, you will not want to wear it for ten or more hours steadily, and discomfort ––– with any holster ––– could easily give away the fact that you’re “carrying”.

Your selection of concealed carry modes MUST FIT YOU.
3. PRACTICE, practice, practice, practice, and practice more! Speedy access (“quick draw”) should be drilled into you so that, in a crisis, your weapon can be produced ––– accident free! ––– in the shortest possible time ––– ready to fire!

Most often quick draw is not required. But if you can accomplish quick draw then smooth and efficient access (which is always required when a firearm must be withdrawn from its holster) is easy and natural. Note that quick draw from an ankle holster (the late excellent holster-maker Chic Gaylord to the contrary notwithstanding) is not practically possible under combat conditions. Please do not point to some odd exception who practices for hours every day and who is a natural perfectly coordinated athlete and shooter. This type of individual cannot realistically serve as a model for the statistically average person (private citizen, law enforcement officer, soldier, etc.) who must accommodate less favorable hereditary and daily practice realities.

It is very doubtful that one handgun and one carry mode will suffice for anyone who must go armed constantly. The principles given apply to each and every firearm and carry mode, and to all who employ any!

We have not referenced firearms safety, proper handling, maintenance, basic combat (i.e. point) shooting, and how to use the handgun when distance, time, and light permit use-of-the-sights aimed firing. We merely wished to mention the salient facts about concealed carry so that those decent citizens who wish to go armed and can legally do so, but who cannot afford to pay through the nose for instruction in this simple subject, will get the scoop.


We understand that carrying a knife concealed is normally not covered by any permits that are issued for concealed firearms carry. Therefore we present the following for academic/informational purposes only. We do not recommend or endorse the carrying of a knife or of any weapon in any manner, illegally.

Fairbairn had a great idea in regard to knife carry. He had a holster sewn into his left hand pocket. He was right-handed. Thus his right hand was free to strike, and no one noticed him draw the razor sharp commando knife that was his own ––– and Eric Sykes’ ––– invention, with his left hand.

Whichever pocket you choose, we think that having the pocket modified so that a fighting knife can be held in a conveniently placed holster inside that pocket is a great idea.

Soldiers in battle dress often carry a knife on their web gear, but not concealed. There are shoulder holsters for knives, but we cannot recommend any personally. We have never carried any fighting knife concealed. We did carry a Buck Folding Hunter that was slightly modified with a nub welded on the blade for one hand opening. This was years before some excellent commercially available “flick type” folding knives became available.

As we have written elsewhere, we like the box cutter (“utility knife”) as a self-defense weapon. These, and lock blade folders ––– the only kind to carry for defense purposes ––– are very easy to conceal in normal pockets. We train students to employ folders that have not been already opened as yawara sticks to strike blows before taking the moment to open them.
The important thing with a knife that you carry concealed is that it be convenient, readily accessible, and comfortable for you. There really is no “official” or universally recommended carry mode for knives. In fact, where lawful, the carrying of a knife in a conventional belt scabbard can be fine. Again, you must determined what suits you best and what accommodates your unique requirements ––– dress wise, physique-wise, technique application wise.

Weaponry is an important aspect of modern, practical self-defense, as it has always been an important aspect of real world close combat.




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?