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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.


Thursday, August 21st, 2014

                     Luck: It Is A Factor

SOME years ago when we had a monthly column in a mainstream gun magazine we devoted one month’s article to the matter of luck. We were concerned to emphasize that, unfortunately, plain luck —— good or bad —— sometimes determines who wins and who loses in combat. We were frankly shocked at the reception our article received. Numerous law enforcement and military men (not “gun enthusiasts” or “avid gun magazine readers”, or other Walter Mittys) wrote us and thanked us for stressing something that they told us they knew from their experience was 100% true, and that, according to what they told us, had never once been mentioned to them in training.

Well, we are now mentioning it to you. And we sincerely hope that in so doing we achieve two main objectives:

1. To make you accept and feel the reality that combat (armed or unarmed) is pretty much a dangerous risk for anyone —— noncombatant or expert —— and although good training (GOOD training; not acrobatic, classical, or competition stuff) will certainly reduce the risk somewhat, there is no way that any training can eliminate it. When you enter into a physical battle with or without weapons there is always the possibility that you will be maimed or killed. A-l-w-a-y-s. And do not let the commercial bullshit that you hear or read (or want to believe) get you to forget or to deny this.

2. To jolt you into a “reality consciousness” regarding close combat and self-defense so that, regardless of what you are training in and no matter what your level of skill and ability, you retain a sense of desperation and fearful reluctance to become involved in any violence. This will automatically cause you —— if you have been properly trained in techniques and mindset —— to explode and attack like a wounded tiger in any unavoidable emergency.

Overconfidence and false confidence are related, but they are not synonymous. Anyone who trains seriously in American Combato may be fully confident that he is learning and developing legitimate, proven, reliable close combat and self-defense skills. However . . . this justifiable confidence in the quality and authenticity of our System must never be allowed to spiral out of control into some idiotic sense of “invincibility” or “unbeatability”. That is overconfidence; because no one in history or on earth — ever —— is or has been unbeatable. (Those who have never been beaten were lucky. They were fortunate never to have been involved in an encounter with anyone who had been able to defeat them. But how many encounters could one possibly have in a single lifetime? Ten? Twenty? A hundred? A thousand? So what? The world is full of many millions of tough, strong, dangerous, vicious, experience, merciless, conscienceless psychopathic killers, tough guys, troublemakers, street brawlers, bar fighters, outlaw biker gang members, etc. etc. Additionally, it is quite possible that if in any given situation in which someone who had “never been beaten in his lifetime” had been unlucky, he might have lost to the person whom he had defeated.) False confidence occurs when an individual has confidence in something that will almost certainly not work, or not be anywhere near as effective as it ought to be. People who rely upon pepper spray, control holds, “non-injurious self-defense”, believing that “not fighting back” is a good strategy”, etc. Having confidence in these and other mythological ways in which to defend yourself insures that you will have false confidence.

Luck is not only unpredictable, it is also a double-edged phenomenon. This rabbit's foot may be lucky for you; but it wasn't very lucky ofr the rabbit!

Luck is not only unpredictable, it is also a double-edged phenomenon. This rabbit’s foot may be lucky for you; but it wasn’t very lucky for the rabbit!

Sensible people rightly admire members of such outstanding organizations as the U.S., British, French, German, Italian, Special Forces. They also appreciate the high level of skill that is possessed by members of the clandestine (or “field service” in England) branches of the West’s intelligence services. Yet, members of these elite and highly trained, genuinely tough and competent organizations do get killed, on occasion. Their training was the best. They were the best; but lady luck did not permit them to prevail, and —— sadly —— their lives were taken.

It is sometimes possible to predict with some degree of accuracy who will win in a contest or sporting match. These events involve such things as rules, referees, time keepers, and a clearly understood, well-established set of actions which each contestant will employ in a test of his ability with those actions against another who agrees to employ similar actions. That is S-P-O-R-T. It is unrelated to combat, and it is carefully controlled. Then how much more difficult can you imagine it is to be able to predict who will prevail in a completely chaotic, anything-goes, desperate encounter? The truth is you can never be sure. Luck plays some part in any contest. But in combat it just may well be the determining factor!

Someone once said: “I’d rather be lucky than skilled” when speaking of hand-to-hand combat and participation in it for real. Smart fellow!

Of course what we would hope and pray for is that we possess more than sufficient skill in any emergency, and that luck is smiling upon us when we use it!

This is true: When you cultivate the right mindset and when you train hard in quality combat techniques, while keeping yourself in good physical condition, you tend to improve your chance of being lucky. Yet . . . the question always remains: “Will you in fact be lucky —— i.e. luck out —— when the critical moment comes and you must destroy an enemy?”

Since you can never be certain of how luck will affect you in any emergency, work incessantly on what you have control over: your mental set and your physical capability. By doing that, and by maintaining a healthy, respectful disdain for physical violence of any kind, you very well may find that luck will favor you —— either in a crisis, or by helping to keep you out of any!


Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

            House Clearing —— Don’t Do It

PEOPLE are amazing. Tell them a truth that they don’t like to hear and they look at you as though you don’t know what you’re talking about. Tell them a bunch of bullshit that vibrates affirmatively within their skulls and they smile and follow what you say while throwing money at you.

A number of “shooting schools” teach something that ought never be taught to private citizens who are training to use a handgun in self and family defense. It’s called “house clearing”.

House clearing is a dangerous procedure that takes place when one or more  felons (presumably armed felons) is inside a private dwelling that they have invaded. The residents are not at home and the police arrive at the location because of an alarm system, a neighbor’s urgent phone call, or a call from the resident himself —— after he escapes his own house and is able to get to a phone.

The scenario —— as the shooting schools teach it —— is that the homeowner pulls up in his driveway, alone or with his family, and as he approaches his front door he notices that it is ajar. Someone has broken into the house and may still be inside! The homeowner produces his race-tuned sidearm and proceeds to enter and “clear” his home . . . cautiously employing all of the “professional skills” that whoever taught him at the shooting school imparted to the entire enthralled class of dupes.

Yes, dupes.

On no account should you attempt to “clear your home” if you believe that one or more intruders may be ensconced within.—— and we don’t care if you are a world champion competition shooter, and every idiot who thinks that competition shooting translates into combat shooting has patted you on the back for all of those “dangerous events” that you’ve medaled out in. Don’t attempt to clear your house!

Your first reaction if you return home and see that your door is ajar (or perhaps a wndow has been broken out) and criminals may be inside is to get the hell out of there and call the police!  Do not enter the house. This is a job for a professionally trained and competent SWAT team; not for some recreational shooter who has a Rambo complex.

Note that SWAT teams clear houses wearing full suits of body armor, and carrying fully automatic weapons. Note again that they carry out this sort of operation in teams. If you ran up to a patrol officer who just happened to be passing by and told him that your house had been broken into and you suspected that whoever broke in is still inside, he would not draw his sidearm and attempt to enter the dwelling to clear it. He would call immediately for SWAT; as he should.

Basic military tactics teach that a defending or ensconced force (which is what whoever may still be inside your house is) requires three to one numeric superiority to oppose it in order to be a formidable threat. And that’s only what’s needed numerically. Consider:

—— You have no idea what weapons the one or more invaders have with them. Nor do you know their capability with those weapons.

—— You cannot even guess where in the house they might be hiding.

—— You have no idea of the animal guts or desperation driving the invader(s), and if he/they would rather die fighting than perhaps be returned to prison. He/they may have killed before.

—— You very well may be taken hostage by the invader(s). Now the situation has been intensified and quadrupled in magnitude, danger, and difficulty. What the hell do you do now? Using you as a shield the invaders may now somehow manage an escape; or their attempted escape may cost you your life. Or, they may escape successfully and then simply kill you. And to top it off they now have another loaded gun —— i.e. yours. Or worse: he/they may not have been armed in the first place, but now you’ve unwittingly armed them!

Forget about those shooting matches and your medals for “killing” cardboard cutouts. Do not attempt a house clearing!

We bring this up because of a recent email from a visitor to our sites. He wondered why we do not advocate the “new technique of the pistol” which “dominates competition”. Besides, he went on, “. . . the school I attended did not teach only competition shooting,” he assured us, “it covered all kinds of situations, like how to clear your home if bad guys have broken in while you were away.” (Our emphasis). “That,” he assured us, “has nothing to do with competition shooting!”  Damn right it doesn’t. Nor does it have anything to do with the use of a handgun for perssonal protection!

Please, be sensible. If you don’t believe us, then check with any experienced police officer in any major city. If even one cop urges that a homeowner ought to draw his handgun and enter a violated home and attempt to clear it by himself instead of or before calling the police, we promise you we will print a retraction!

Note:—— Lest anyone confuse house clearing with “home defense” use of a sidearm, please note that the latter is completely unrelated to the former. In a home defense situation where a firearm is brought into play by the homeowner, the homeowner is inside his home, quite likely with his family, and one or more violent offenders has forcibly entered the dwelling posing a deadly threat to the homeowner and his family. Now there is no option save to either allow oneself and one’s family to be victimized, or to stop the invader(s). Nothing related to “house clearing” in any way.


Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Rope Skipping — A Great   Supplementary Exercise


WE have for years now been blessed with the opportunity to meet —— via email —— many of the visitors to our web sites. In some instances a regular correspondence has developed, and we appreciate it immensely.

Gerry Lonar, one of our e-pals in Canada for years now, recently suggested that we post an article about rope skipping and its benefits for the combat arts trainee and self-defense enthusiast. A great idea . . . and with thanks to Gerry, here goes . . .

Rope skipping is, in our opinion a better, safer, more efficient, and beneficial exercise than running. Running in moderation is probably a reasonably good exercise, and we wouldn’t want to discourage anyone who does a moderate amount of running. However, recent medical opinion has it (as we have suspected for decades now, following the heart attack death of Jim Fixx, and others as well, who were fanatical distance runners) that running can actually weaken and wear down the heart. Moderate running —— or “jogging” —— is not likely to cause any serious problems, just possible foot, ankle, or knee strains; but unless you possess peculiar genetic propensities that enable your body to weather the imposition of the grinding breakdown that it can result in, running a lot – especially often and for great distances – is contraindicated.

Question: “How can that be true, when every single police academy and military training program includes lots of running —— often for many miles every week?”

Answer: “Such trainees are very young and in good health, and the period of training during which this takes place is relatively brief —— perhaps eight to twelve weeks. No seventeen to twenty-two year old in good shape is going to cave in from that. And as for such outfits as Army Rangers and Special Forces, and Navy SEALs, these are, to begin with, physically superior specimens and fanatically motivated, as well as being relatively young (i.e. 20’s and 30’s). And again . . . the running does not go on at such great intensity during either their military careers or the entirety of their military training. And then one must not forget: A percentage of these people very definitely do suffer injuries due to excessive running, and they sometimes fail to survive the training. Remember also that in such military and law enforcement training programs it is in part the objective of all the physical training to weed people out; people who are underpar physically, and people who lack sufficient motivation.”

Rope skipping provides a convenient and extremely healthful way to gain the cardiovascular and limbering up benefits of running, without the harm that running may cause.

Anyone in normal health can benefit by rope skipping moderately and regularly!

Anyone in normal health can benefit by rope skipping moderately and regularly!

With winter coming up and the prospect of exercising outdoors becoming, for many, a bleak prospect, we suggest giving rope skipping a try. It is never necessary to spend more than ten minutes at it, and if you jump for one minute, rest, and do another minute, that is often all you need in an otherwise complete personal program that includes weight training and vigorous combatives practice.

You do not need to do elaborate stunts or anything fancy. Simply skip — easily and rhythmically, and maintain a steady pace for the desired length of time. Instead of jumping according to a timer, you can count the jumps. 200 to 300 is way more than enough, and will provide great benefit if done three or more times weekly, on alternate days.

You should skip on a flat, even surface. Wear sneakers or do your skipping on a stiff mat if you do it barefoot.

Remember that the idea is NOT to exhaust yourself. Rather, work up a little breathlessness, then stop. All quality exercise and conditioning methods are lifetime pursuits . . . so don’t worry about driving yourself into the ground when rope skipping or anything else. Train for the long haul —— i.e. the rest of your life —— and do it sensibly.

We are fond of wearing light ankle weights. We do our skipping on a mat, and barefoot. We do not use ankle weights exceeding 2-1/2 pounds each.

Rope skipping can be done in very limited spaces. It can be done indoors, and thus is an exercise that is unaffected by weather conditions. A skip rope can be packed in a briefcase easily and taken on vacations or business trips. (For traveling, by the way, a great combination is a skip rope and a good set of expander cables).

As for what kind of rope is best for skipping, we’d recommend the professional leather ropes with ball bearing in the handles. But don’t worry so much about the rope itself. If you have to wait before you can get your hands on a professional jump rope then use any kind you can get your hands on. It’s the skipping more than the rope with which you do it, that matters most.

Rope skipping is good for you and easy to do. Give it a try.


Saturday, May 10th, 2014

                          A FAST KICK!

THE advantage of using a lightning fast low front kick (to the testicles) or a side kick (to the knee) is not fully appreciated.

Violent encounters where a defender reacts to an attacker whom he is facing or in which both parties “square off”” and assume fighting stances, generally commence with punching as the first —— or opening ——  move. Rarely is the first move that is generated by either party a kick. And in cases of pure self-defense (where one party is defending against the other’s attack,and the other is doing the attacking, the defender —— even when schooled in some form of karate —— will almost invariably begin his defense by using his hands). [Note: Only in those cases where a trained defender has time and distance to assume some formal “fighting stance” might he begin to deal with the attacker using an initial kicking action. A sudden, truly close-in attack almost never permits a surprised defender to execute his customary karate-type kicking at the outset, even when he is an expert.]

This is one reason why we insist that self-defense not be taught with the usual “fighting stances”: First, because there is most often no time or opportunity to assume such a stance. Second, because in such a stance virtually nothing a defender does can be done with complete surprise. By assuming the Relaxed-Ready Stance that we teach, there is ZERO indication to any presumed opposition that you are in fact prepared to attack and to neutralize him. And third, in the relaxed-ready position a defender can easily lash out with a decisive leg-breaking or testicles kick as readily as he can lash out with a handaxe chop, chinjab smash, thrusting technique, etc.

One of the categories of attacking combinations that we teach is “attacks commencing with a kicking lead”, precisely because, once in a relaxed-ready stance, the defender can kick enjoying total surprise just as readily as he can do anything else. And the troublemaker will not see it coming or otherwise gain even the slightest indication that a kick per se is being launched against him.

Most especially for the smaller and relatively weaker defender, and for females, the use of a powerful side or front kick is a highly desirable opening move. Just be certain that the kick is directed at low targets: i.e. the knee or below, or the testicles. And of course be sure that your “going to relaxed-ready at the approach os anyone you don’t know personally” is ingrained in you as basic tactic.

The legs are considerably more powerful than the arms. And while this doe not mean that high or elaborate kicks to targets that are easily accessed and devastated by hand and arm blows should ever be used in combat, it does make a strong case for using the low kicks whenever possible. The testicles, knees, and shin bones are extremely vulnerable to forceful impact, and the forceful impack of the properly-delivered front kick or side kick cannot be beaten! So, to attack very vulnerable targets with your most powerful natural weapons makes perfect sense, and should be done every time in dangerous emergencies. By going to relaxed-ready and being warily observant of the potential assailant’s positioning and moves, you can cripple him instantly by crushing his testicles or breaking his knee. Obviously, for the front kick to work the adversary needs to be facing you head-on. The side kick will work no matter how he is facing you.

Once again, please note:

1. Do not get into any “fighting stance”. It is a warning to your opponent, and unless he is a complete fool, he will not be surprised by your fighting back.

2. Always go to the off-angled, balanced and ready relaxed-ready position, and remain there —— at outside arm’s length distance —— whenever facing anyone you do not know, who approaches you.

3. Drill, and drill, and drill until you can whip a leg-breaking side kick into someone’s knee from your relaxed-ready position, or send a crushing front kick into his testicles with not so much as the slighted telegraphing (warning) move.

4. Give a great deal of practice to those devastating side kick (and, at an advanced level, front kick) lead attack combinations, if you train in American Combato. If you train in another form of close combat/self-defense, then work to get habituated to an off-angled relaxed but prepared-to-take-action position when outside the training hall and facing a real threat, and work hard to cultivate those two simple, reliable kicks as “openers”, or preemptive initial actions, in a crisis.

5. The side kick should always be generated using your LEAD LEG in the off-angled relaxed-ready position. A front kick may be launched with either leg — front or rear —— in relaxed-ready.

Although, thanks to the intriduction of the Asian martial arts into our culture, kicking has long since been widely “accepted” for man to man battles, there are still some (inappropriately) “noble souls” who disdain kicking as “dirty fghting”. To them we have this to say: “Whether kicking is ‘dirty fighting’ or simply regarded as another weapon in the toolbox of skills, the fact is that low, basic kicks are devastatingly effective. So just MASTER them, ad USE them! In self-defense ANYTHING GOES!


Saturday, March 29th, 2014

It Takes A LOT More Than Mere Potential!


ALL dogs possess the ability to bite and to attack people with murderous intent. However, only a few specific breeds of dog are ideally suited to be protection dogs —— or guard dogs.

It’s not merely a question of size, either. Saint Bernards, Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, and Newfoundlands are all very large, heavy, strong dogs. But they are more likely to lick and snuggle someone to death than they are ever likely to ferociously attack someone. Frankly, they are “love slobs”. Beautiful, gentle, strong, and loving . . . not aggressive. And not good choices for protection, military, or police service.

And it’s the same with human beings. There are people who are large and strong yet who are nonaggressive and quite passive. Merely being large or having muscles — or a gun or a knowledge of close combat skills — means very, very little in regard to any degree of readiness a person may have to physically oppose and defeat a dangerous, violent attacker. What one must possess is the combat mindset and attack mindedness. Given those mental attributes (along with good techniques, weapons, and physical strength) the individual will be prepared; and he will be very formidable, indeed!. But it really does require that constellation of attributes and capabilities. Mere size, mere strength, and the mere possession of a gun, or of the potential ability to perform techniques that have been “learned” is not enough. One must possess the right level of mental conditioning —— the “made up mind” as it were —— along with whatever weapon(s) he has at hand —— be they natural or man-made. Without the willingness to “Go!” when the danger appears, such assets as physical strength, arms, and knowledge of techniques mean almost nothing.

Returning to the analogy with dogs: The finest guard, attack, and protection dogs are not the “largest” or the “strongest” breeds. They are mostly medium-sized dogs . . . German Shepards, Doberman Pinschers, Airedales, Rottweilers, Boerboels, Cane Corsos, etc. These dogs possess an in-bred ferocity when challenged by intruders on their turf, and /or by threats to their human family. They’ve been bred to be aggressive. All dogs “can” bite. These dogs will bite if the situation warrants, and they are not at all hesitant to attack and bring down a large, aggressive man!

The person who aspires to genuine combat ability can learn a lot by considering what makes man’s best friend potentially one of predatory man’s worst enemies. It takes attitude. Strength and physical condition help —— but they won’t help much if that all-important combat attitude is lacking.

Dog trainers know how this applies to canines and will usually not even bother to train a dog for protection or guard work unless the dog is one of the known aggressive (suitable) breeds for the job.

With humans it is little more hopeful. Humans, being what they are, may be trained and conditioned so that they acquire the mindset they require (and which perhaps they were lacking, when they began training in self-defense). Our view is, and always has been, that mental conditioning AND quality technical instruction needs to be taught together. That is why, in addition to the technical aspects of close combat and defense (which we cover in our 11-DVD Self-Training Course) we produced a series of 20 Self-Hypnosis Programs covering all aspects of mental conditioning for violent combat and personal defense. By utilizing both these training mediums, the mental and the technical can be acquired working on one’s own. To this we would encourage including a good, regular program of all-round weight training to attain one’s genetic potential in physical development — and no matter where you live, regardless of whether there is or isn’t any qualified instructor in your area, you can build the skills and mindset needed to cope with extreme physical danger coming from any assailant.

Do not deceive yourself that “a big guy can’t be beaten by a little guy”, or that you’re “outgunned” so-to-speak if you do not possess the physical strength or if you do not have some specific “gun magazine-approved” weapon, etc. If you’ve got the mental conditioning to shift to the necessary war footing and the merciless, aggressive attitude that you need; and if you possess a repetoire of truly war-proven physical techniques with which to do battle, you’re prepared! No one can promise you victory. Luck always has a hand in who wins and who loses an actual engagement, and there is always great risk in any form of physical battle —— with or without weapons. However, if you’ll stop allowing yourself to be drawn to the wild, absurd promises, and to the flashy, “movie scene type fighting” or the acrobatic artsy “martial arts”, and come down to earth and stick with real, honest-to-goodness training of your mind and body, then the odds will be with you when the moment of truth arrives.

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred the fool who attempts to torment a Shepard or Doberman pays a terrible price for his folly —— extracted by his intended victim! Ninety-nine times out of a hundred the troubemaker who attempts to torment a mentally and technically conditioned combatives student also pays a terrible price. Make sure that you’re that mentally and technically conditioned student who is able to extract that “terrible price”! DEVELOP YOUR POTENTIAL; BE ABLE AND WILLING TO “DO IT” —— DON’T SETTLE FOR MERELY HAVING THE POTENTIAL.


Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Liquor, Drugs, Hatred, Psychopathy, And Insanity

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles”

                       ——— Sun Tzu

WHEN preparing for self-defense there are numerous factors in addition to and aside from learning the technical mechanics of hitting, kicking, reacting to being hit or kicked, grabbed, or choked, etc. that must be addressed —— or the preparation is inadequate. Knowing which skills suit you best, understanding and taking into account your strengths and weaknesses, acquiring proper mindset, following a sensible strength and fitness routine, and so on. All of that too, is important. And there’s something else:

                                 K N O W I N G     Y O U R     E N E M Y.

You will get no orientation in violent, psychopathic, drug and alcohol enhanced, criminally intended behavior from your training partners. They are people like you. They are not muggers, home invaders, louts who knock people out randomly for “fun”, rapists, kidnappers, or street fighters. Yet the more you know and understand about antisocial, predatory misfits such as those who may one day target you (and, presumably, against whom you are striving to acquire a reliable bulwark of protective skills), the better.

You will likely find it interesting that what so often characterizes violent scum also represents that which poses the greatest danger to you: Not any impressive degree of combatives acumen (they are normally not very skilled or adept in technique) but their attitude; their altered or diminished state of morality and human decency, and their unbridled, insane viciousness and mindless abandon with which they proceed to carryout their activities; that is what accounts primarily for the danger they pose to decent, civilized, reasonable humanity.

Consider: ——


The influence of liquor, which is often present in a person who initiates physical violence, removes whatever vestige of inhibition and self-control the individual may have had before imbibing. Liquor also raises one’s threshold of pain greatly. Control and comealong and restraining holds are stupid, useless, and dangerous to attempt against an attacker who is under the influence of liquor. And do not believe the nonsense about being drunk making the attacker unbalanced physically, slow, and clumsy. Yes, the average person who rarely drinks but has one too many might falter and stumble; but the lout who drinks heavily and is violent can be as rock-steady as an Olympic athlete waiting for the starting gun to go off.


Drugs can have the same effect as liquor. Some drugs — like PCP — can turn an offender into a seeming superman. It can take three, four, or five or more to “pile on” such a drug-influenced monster, because he will be in a state of unequaled violent madness, and will literally ignore injuries that would send a normal person reeling to the ground in agony.


It is, we think, appropriate to refer to any violent crime as a “hate crime”. Who stabs, clubs, shoots, maims, or kills someone he doesn’t know personally, out of love?

Violent offenders of all ages, either gender, and any social class are festering inside with hate. Psychiatrists will confirm this; but we really do not think that anyone over the age of fifteen really needs medical confirmation of this fact. It would seem to be obvious.


Although not all psychopaths are physically violent, some are. And they are very dangerous. They enjoy tormenting and injuring and killing; and they require no “reason” to unleash actually gruesome tortures and violations upon someone they neither have anything against, nor even know, personally! These monsters are quite often intelligent, extremely good at fooling and manipulating people (I.e. Ted Bundy, Kevin Coe, Kenneth Bianchi, etc.) and they have NO sympathy, empathy, compassion, or conscience. While psychotics (those who are often labeled simply “crazy people”) are more self-injurious than they are any danger to others, psychopaths are self-centered, calculating, often brilliant, conscienceless monsters.


Some very few truly insane, out-of-their-mind unfortunates are a deadly threat, and sometimes they do attack people. Mostly, the “insanity” of the violent offender is merely an ingredient in his overall syndrome (a “syndrome” is a series of symptoms). Indeed, we have always been of the opinion that some degree of insanity must be present for anyone to gratuitously or unjustifiably even wish to harm another —— let alone to actually do so. But the true “nut” who thinks that he is Napoleon is so insane and out of touch with reality that he won’t likely be your attacker. But he might be.

In general violent types will evidence two or more of the above-listed phenomenon.

Question: “How can you accurately tell which if any of these factors are operating when someone initiates violence against you, so that you do not make the mistake of overreacting to, say, a simple smartass, or someone who merely initiating some kind of practical joke?”

Answer: “You can’t. Violence and threatening gestures that suggest the onset of violence must never be played with. Your survival, well-being, and defense are crucial. If aggression is launched against you and you feel endangered, you must act and act fast! There is no way to tell your attacker’s intention, background, personal mental and physical state, or his capabilities. YOUR DEFENSE, AND/OR THE DEFENSE OF THOSE YOU LOVE, MUST BECOME YOUR ONLY PRIORITY!

Because it is usually the case that a violent offender is in fact bolstered by at least one of the influences we have described, you are advised to assume that he is, whenever you are confronted by violence.

If you do make this assumption, and if you train and condition yourself with that assumption in mind, and if you train in war-proven skills, then when the moment of truth arrives —— if, may God forbid, it ever does —— the odds will be on your side, and you will be ready.

Remember: Your attitude, tactics, conditioning, and techniques must not be selected from amongst those that win sparring bouts in the dojo, or that enable you to defeat an opponent in a sporting match or contest on a mat. Your mental and technical preparation must be rooted in that which wins against dangerous, deadly, often mindlessly savage adversaries. And part of that preparation is coming to KNOW exactly what those adversaries are like.


Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Training Quarters

(How “beautiful” is that “dojo” you’re considering enrolling in for instruction? —— And does it really matter?)

YOU’D think that only a bona fide fool or a moronic incompetent could believe that the quality of instruction that a student receives is dependent upon how elaborate the surroundings are in which his teacher conveys the instruction. Sadly, this is not the case.

Charlie Nelson, Kiyose Nakae, and Bruce Lee, all taught, for significant periods of time, in their apartments (or in their garage). Ed Parker taught many of his students in their homes or apartments. The Journalist Joe Hyams and the late actor Nick Adams were only two of Parker’s private students who received instruction in this manner. Elaborate training facilities mean nothing when teaching martial arts for close combat and self-defense. One of our own teachers, Maury Geier, was taught in a cramped office space that had been cleared away in a hurry, during wartime, to permit W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes to train him and fellow FBI agents, during WWII.

Throughout Asia it is quite common —— especially in Taiwan —— for the top ch’uan fa masters of both the external and internal arts to train their students in their living rooms or in their back yards. Okinawan and Korean masters similarly often instruct in taekwon-do and hapkido in similar settings.

The primary thing when it comes to learning effective combat and self-defense skills is that your teacher be a highly experienced, recognized, fully competent, and knowledgeable professional. You don’t want someone who is an accountant, garage mechanic, fireman, pilot, or subway train conductor by day (and by work experience), and who is “also” (or who thinks that he is “also”) a professional close combat and defense teacher. (How would you like to go a physician in the evening who —— during the day —— sells real estate or runs an art gallery?).

Rarely if ever will someone with many serious years of teaching experience have an impressively large and bountifully equipped training facility. Why not? Because the overwhelming majority of those who take up martial arts drop out when the training is serious and is properly undertaken. To the true professional who teaches, this is a way of life, not a mere “business”. The typical individual who “wants to learn self-defense” rarely if ever wants to learn it badly enough to stick with a course of training long enough to attain proficiency. And teachers, unlike well-heeled entrepreneurs who are out simply to make a buck, cannot afford providing posh facilities for dilettantes. Those who do truly want to learn —— i.e. those who are the exception —— are few and far between, and every professional knows this. The commercial and “commercialized” schools (often unethically) capitalize upon this fact. They “sell the sizzle”, taking the prospective new student on a show-through of the impressivley laid out school, its heavy bags, dummies, striking posts, mats, mirrors, etc. when that prospective student’s interest is at its peak. In his psyched up (but, alas, temporary) state, it is easy to get the individual to sign on the dotted line. Then —— just as is the case with so many “health clubs”  —— the school is legally due the tuition which the student agreed to pay, and the student must pay . . . even long after the first few weeks or month when he has given up, dropped out, and is now on to some other fleeting interest.

Professionals depend upon the authenticity of that which they teach, and on the authenticity of their own background and accomplishments to “sell” students. (Unfortunately, most people, being the way they are, are not sold by this; but instead are taken in by the glitz or by the false claims). Some let hearsay determine their course of action and do not base their evaluations on their own firsthand judgement. They form their beliefs about a teacher or about a school by paying attention to online gossip!

Some of the poorest “schools” are among the most elaborate. Naturally, there are a lot of teacher wannabe’s who set up their partime shop in their basement or garage and, in-between holding down their normal job and tending to family matters convince some unfortunates to enroll with them. Now of course modest facilities do not necessarily signify or guarantee good instruction; that is absurd. We certainly do not assert such nonsense. But we do feel that people should understand just what is and what is not critical when considering a teacher for a subject as important as personal protection and —— let’s be frank —— survival.

“But what about the importance of training equipment, such as dummies or striking aids?” These things are fine, and having a few of them can be peripherally helpful in a school; but you can purchase these devices or make them, yourself — and work with them on your own, at home! Serious students generally do this.  It is good instruction in viable skills and tactical knowledge and information that you want from a teacher. These things you cannot purchase and set up in your home. This is the priceless gold that a good teacher can give you —— if you have the sense to stay the course with him, pay attention, and work hard on mastering that which he teaches you.

“Well, what about DVD training? Can’t I get all of that ‘gold’ from a good course on DVDs?” To an extent, yes you can. You can get a lot of it from a good DVD course. However, you will of necessity be receiving generalized tactical orientation and information. A good teacher will get to know you personally, and will tailor your combatives education to suit you. In order to do this, of course, the teacher must possess the competence that is required for providing this level of quality individual instruction. THAT’S what you want to secure, and that’s what you should be looking for in a teacher.

Never mind if the teacher’s facility consists of a modest room or if it is a 3,000 square foot layout with mirrors covering one wall. It’s what is being taught, and how it is being taught that matters; not “where” the instruction takes place.