Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

“. . .You Don’t Always Want To Kill Somebody!”

IN a recent conversation with a student of self-defense whose orientation is heavily saturated with the “non-injurious” or “non lethal” philosophy of personal protection, we had the following objection to the American Combato philosophy and curriculum raised:

“I don’t agree with how vicious and how damaging your techniques are. Your reaction to an attack is always severe, and after all Brad, you don’t always want to kill somebody!”

Florence Nightingale was a wonderful woman and her philosophy remains exemplary for all in the field of medicine. However, when applied to self-defense "Florence Nightingalism" falls short of providing what is needed to save innocent lives.

Florence Nightingale was a wonderful woman and her philosophy remains exemplary for all in the field of medicine. However, when applied to self-defense "Florence Nightingalism" falls short of providing what is needed to save innocent lives.

The response we gave is well worth repeating here, as it is instructive for anyone who is realistically concerned about the subject of real world personal protection:

“Actually, we certainly don’t want to ‘kill’ anybody. However, when and if we believe that our life or the life of someone dependent upon us for protection is endangered we care only about stopping the assailant. Whether that assailant is effectively stopped without being permanently injured, or whether he is maimed or killed is irrelevant as far as we are concerned. He (the attacker) is the one responsible for whatever injuries he suffers as a result of our acting in lawful self-defense.

“We possess no gift for mind reading, and we are not a mystic. We cannot accurately determine the intentions or the abilities of an attacker, and we are compelled to assume the worst whenever an illegal, violent attack upon us or anyone else is initiated. According to the way that we think and the way that we conduct ourself, the only justification for ever using force against another human being is unavoidable self-defense. Period. We believe this to be a reasonable, civilized standard, and we will not risk injury or death at the hands of anyone who obviously believes otherwise, and who undertakes to initiate a violent attack.”

We disagree 100% with the “non injurious” school of thought(?) now popular in some so-called martial arts circles. The idea of learning and acquiring proficiency in restraint and control measures makes perfect sense for law enforcers, security professionals, and other peace keepers (and we do teach such techniques to them). But for anyone simply wishing to be safe and secure in a dangerous world, and seeking reliable methods of self-defense against violent attack should such an unfortunate thing ever come to him, taking the risk that police officers, etc. must take — due to the responsibility inherent in their profession — is absurd. Anyone can and should assume that a sudden physical attack is potentially lethal, and his only concern should be protection against the immediate danger.

The self-defense student must, if he is to be realistically and practically prepared for the real world of criminal violence, permeate his technical, tactical, and mental training with four key assumptions:

1. Anyone who attacks him is his physical superior

2. Anyone who attacks him intends to inflict grievous harm upon him — up to and including lethal injury

3. Anyone who attacks him is armed — whether or not a weapon is immediately apparent in the assailant’s hand

4. Anyone who attacks him has help and is not alone.

Training with those four “absolutes” in mind will certainly not guarantee victory should the need to defend himself arise (there ARE NO “guarantees”), but it will insure that the defender is prepared for the worst. Obviously, if any given situation is not very severe (something that is impossible to determine ahead of time, or at the outset of the onslaught) then the defender need not continue to go after his attacker. Two indicators that one may desist in one’s self-defensive use of force are: 1. The attacker turns to flee.  2. The attacker is rendered unable to offer any further danger to the defender, and it is safe for the defender himself to flee the scene of the attack.

We advise always allowing an attacker to flee if he tries to do so. Pursuing him is a job for the police. No private citizen has any responsibility to apprehend a violent felon. The citizen’s only responsibility extends to his not being a party to mutual combat (i.e. agreeing to a fight, and being as responsible as the other guy for the situation), not being the attacker, and not continuing to use force once the situation is no longer dangerous to him (or to whoever he is protecting).

Self-defense is no sporting event. Nor is it a situation in which any defender, regardless of his knowledge, skill, experience, or apparent size and strength advantage can be certain of victory. Intelligent and civilized human beings avoid violence whenever possible, and we regard AVOIDANCE as “self-defense technique #1”. However, when avoidance is not possible it is a matter of you or the attacker. You must assume this! Otherwise you are dependent upon a combination of an attacker’s benevolence and/or ineptitude, and your own ability to predict the attacker’s capabilities and intentions. Not smart at all. In fact, not possible.

This is an example of the result of violent criminal attack. An actual police photo of Ron Goldman. Many victims of violent attack have been found in similar positions.

This is an example of the result of violent criminal attack. An actual police photo of Ron Goldman. Many victims of violent attack have been found in similar positions.

This ridiculous idea that we who train in serious measures for personal defense “always want to kill” anyone who attacks us should be laughed at. It is blatantly untrue. In point of fact we have only one specific objective, and that is to simply stop the attacker and defend ourselves. We are not concerned about how badly the attacker fares; we just do not want to be injured or killed. And that is reasonable and lawful.

We who train in American Combato wish deliberately to injure or to kill NO ONE. In point of fact we just wish to be left alone.

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Thursday, October 25th, 2012

The Enemy’s Weaknesses

(All Violent Offenders Are Dangerous, But They Have Weaknesses That You Should Understand And Exploit)

INTELLIGENT people avoid violence. Life offers enough unavoidable difficulties without becoming involved in physical combat with members of your own species. However, if you are the victim of an attack you have no choice but to submit to injury or death — or fight back and defend yourself.

Decent human beings who are properly civilized find the thought of injuring or killing others to be abnormal, abhorrent, and unnatural. Assuming a decent human being has been properly raised and educated however, he will, despite such an antipathy toward savaging another person, be quite willing and able to do it, should the need arise. Healthy self-respect and an understanding of right and wrong, and a proper morality that acknowledges the absolute righteousness of self-defense (and, incidentally, the immorality of permitting evil to succeed) will provide the decent person with the psychological foundation upon which to build a solid ability with armed and unarmed combat skills.

There is something that should be understood about violent offenders that will provide a psychological and morale edge for you if the unfortunate situation ever does arise in which you will need to put your combat training into use. It pertains to their weaknesses. And with the rarest of rare exceptions, virtually all criminal offenders who undertake to physically violate others share these weaknesses:

— Violent offenders (whether bullies, “tough guys”, robbers, muggers, rapists, home invaders, thrill killers, or  what-have-you) expect to be successful in their attack upon you. If they did not expect this, then only the most psychotic and bizarre among them would initiate an attack against you in the first place.

— Violent offenders do not want to be injured or killed, themselves. They don’t mind injuring or killing you, but they do not (again, with the possible rare exception of the out-of-their-mind-completely psychotic nutjobs, or the politically motivated terrorist fanatics) want to risk being hurt, crippled, or killed.

— Violent offenders want to escape capture and prosecution for their actions. They are in fact desperate to avoid the consequences of their actions.

Violent filth desperately wants to avoid incarceration. This is something that the decent citizen acting in self-defense need not fear. This is also a tremendous weakness for the offender, and you want to exploit it if you ever need to defend yourself.

Violent filth desperately wants to avoid incarceration. This is something that the decent citizen acting in self-defense need not fear. This is also a tremendous weakness for the offender, and you want to exploit it if you ever need to defend yourself.

Violent offenders have everything to lose if they are unsuccessful; and they do not believe that they will be unsuccessful. Their victims have nothing to lose by fighting back, even if they are unsuccessful; and proper training in quality self-defense techniques drastically shifts the odds of being successful to the intended victim’s side. Here’s why:

— The element of surprise is one of the most important principles for success in any combat situation — from a war between nations, to a hand-to-hand battle between individuals. Since the violent offender expects to be successful you possess an automatic surprise advantage when you fight back. Even if you are not skilled in any particular martial methods the mere fact of encountering sudden resistance surprises the violent offender, since he calculated an “easy mark” when he targetted you. If you are skilled in the kinds of techniques that, for example, we teach in American Combato, your capitalizing on the element of surprise will enable you to effectively implement destructive, damaging actions that speedily neutralize and render harmless your would-be victimizer. The odds are heavily in your favor!

— Quality self-defense techniques — authentic close combat skills — enable anyone to almost instantly injure, maim, or kill any enemy who does not expect that the possessor of those skills can in fact execute devastating techniques. Even if your attacker is not knocked unconscious straight away, the fear of realizing immediately that he is under attack and subject to injury or death, himself, will almost always cause him to freeze or to attempt to flee. In any case, he will not be able to adjust fast enough and shift his focus from attacking you, to dealing with your attack against him. (Remember, as we first wrote decades ago, and have been teaching even before putting it in writing: When you are attacked, attack your attacker!) Once again, the odds are heavily in your favor!

— Integrel to the plan of virtually any violent assailant is that, after achieving his objective of violating you in whatever manner and to whatever extent he intends, he will get away. Because he wants to get away, and not be apprehended by the authorities for his actions, he finds himself desperate immediately when he encounters fierce resistance! He knows — if only in the back of his mind — that time works against not for himself. If he is tied up in battle, or — worse! — if he is injured to the extent that he cannot escape (putting aside for the moment his desire simply not to be hurt or killed) he knows that he is in big trouble. You have all the time you require. Go get him! Smash him to pieces! Beat him senseless! Keep on attacking him without mercy or forebearance until you are absolutely certain that you are safe and that he is harmless. You have that perfect right, and you have nothing to fear from the authorities; in fact their arrival on the scene will be a help and a relief for you!

In American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) we teach that AVOIDANCE is self-defense technique #1. But technique #2 (i.e. preemptive attack) or #3 (i.e. ferocious counterattack) may be necessary when avoidance is not feasible. So develop your skills, condition and build your body, and train your mindset. If you do, and if you understand just how your enemy’s weaknesses will inevitably help your effective defense actions, you should rest fairly easily assured that if, God forbid, dangerous violence ever intrudes into your life from some atrocious felon’s onslaught, you will be equal to the task of handling it.

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Sunday, October 14th, 2012

The Violent Offender’s Advantages

(and how to overcome them)

Garbage like this has certain advantages — advantages stemming from the fact that it is indeed garbage — but with the right mental conditioning, tactical readiness, and war-proven combat skills (with and without weapons) YOU CAN OVERCOME HIS ADVANTAGES AND DEFEAT HIM IF YOU EVER FIND THAT YOU MUST DO SO!

Garbage like this has certain advantages — advantages stemming from the fact that it is indeed garbage — but with the right mental conditioning, tactical readiness, and war-proven combat skills (with and without weapons) YOU CAN OVERCOME HIS ADVANTAGES AND DEFEAT HIM IF YOU EVER FIND THAT YOU MUST DO SO!

WHETHER the particular variant of scum who starts trouble with you is a bully, a mugger, a gangster, a holdup man, a car jacker, a rapist, a home invader, a kidnapper, a terrorist, or just some random sewer-rat troublemaker, it behooves us all who are concerned to prepare to eradicate this virulent bacteria when he threatens to infect us, to recognize that the violent bastard moves on us with certain undeniable advantages. These are:

1. He does not mind in the least seriously injuring — even killing — you. He requires no “reason” beyond the impulse or desire he may feel at the moment, however irrational or downright insane that impulse or desire may be. (Violent offenders are closer to wild animals than they are to truly human beings; and one of the reasons why civilized societies have continuing problems with violent predators is because they refuse to accept this fact.)

2. He, in his own mind, is the only one who knows his true intentions and objectives, and the degree to which he desires to harm you. (It is virtually impossible for anyone to tell with certainty either the capabilities or the intentions of any attacker. Miscalculate and you easily could end up dead.)

3. You are, even when you are well aware of his approach, to some degree startled by his attack. It is, after all, surprising, to be set upon without that which is understandable to you as a valid reason. (And if you are a decent human being you don’t give anyone, ever, a reason to physically attack you).

4. Even when, ideally, you are able to preempt his attack, he (the attacker) gets to initially decide that there will be violence, and thus he is inevitably the one who is fully “psyched” and ready-to-go, as it were. (One huge difference between any sort of  “contest” or sporting match and real combat. The victim of an attack is an unwilling participant in the encounter.)

5. Usually if not always the attacker is an experienced savage — a violent predator who has done this before — successfully — to others, and has garnered a confidence in himself  that has convinced him that he will succeed in doing whatever he wishes to do to you. (Confidence is an asset, and confidence inevitably grows out of successful past experience).

The foregoing five points are, we remain convinced, the tactical advantages that just about any physical assailant has when moving on an intended victim. Parenthetically we remind our students and visitors that they must always assume the following physical advantages — either when preparing in training, or when reacting to an emergency:

• The attacker is physically superior in every way to yourself

• The attacker possesses at least one weapon, even if he is not holding one in his hand at the outset of the attack

• The attacker is deadly serious — meaning, of course, that he is fully prepared to maim or to kill you

• The attacker is not alone — even if you are not immediately cognizant of a second or third assailant at the moment; you act on the assumption that he is not alone

You train incessantly with the above in mind. Your techniques must reflect an assumption of those factors, and you relent only if and when you terminate hostilities and realize that you and anyone dependent upon you for protection is now safe.

We can ready ourselves for the real world only by acknowledging what it offers us, and by recognizing that which it obliges us to contend with. This means becoming mentally conditioned insofar as self-defense is concerned. Only by this setting of the mind will it be certain that the techniques which you train hard on will be there reflexively and will be rendered without a moment ‘s hesitation or a tremor of delay.

While hard training in serious, proven techniques like those which comprise the American Combato curriculum is extremely important in training to overcome an attacker, mental conditioning — i.e. readying your mind — for that awful moment when you have no choice but to "bash or be bashed" — is at least as important. You can overcome the inevitable advantages that street scum and other assorted violent filth has if you will follow the guidelines we present i this article.

While hard training in serious, proven techniques like those which comprise the American Combato curriculum is extremely important in training to overcome an attacker, mental conditioning — i.e. readying your mind — for that awful moment when you have no choice but to "bash or be bashed" — is at least as important. You can overcome the inevitable advantages that street scum and other assorted violent filth has if you will follow the guidelines we present i this article.

So . . . overcome each of the advantages that any predatory garbage could have, who might harm you and yours, by cultivating a proper mindset that destroys each of the bastard’s five advantages:

1. Overcome his ruthless indifference toward injuring or killing you by becoming more ruthless, vicious, merciless, and ferocious than he might be, and determining to go after him like an insane, wild beast, yourself – who is intent upon ripping him limb from limb, the very second you are aware that you are in danger.

2. Overcome his unpredictability by assuming the worst. It is your attacker’s choice to injure or to kill you. You are an unwilling participant in this encounter. Your enemy has unilaterally decided to savage you, so REACT TO HIM LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON WHAT YOU DO . . . it probably does. Then you’ll be ready for the unpredictable — i.e. for anything.

3. Overcome being startled into any excessive delay or hesitation by cultivating anticipation. This does not mean that you are always anticipating an attack; it means that you are ever mindful that, no matter where you are and no matter what you are doing, an attack is possible; and you are not going to be frozen in astonishment if it comes. YOU WILL BE READY!

4. Overcome your attacker’s preliminary advantage in being psyched up and “pumped” by convincing yourself — deep down — in your heart of hearts, that it REALLY CAN HAPPEN TO YOU, so that if and when it does happen to you, you SHIFT INSTANTLY into a war footing, and explode with the most savage and ruthlessly brutal actions you are capable of — relentlessly attacking your assailant until he is helpless.

5. Overcome the confidence and morale advantage that any violent lout might possess by being solidly confident in your own right! Train only on good, war-proven skills; cultivate your strength and fitness and attack mindedness, and know that you are not only ready, but that YOUR WOULD-BE ATTACKER CANNOT KNOW HOW READY YOU ARE; and when you explode like a murderous maniac and go after him, he will never be able to adjust to your reaction in time, and his confidence will be destroyed no less than his physical body!

Fighting spirit is important. And it has been said that “When you sincerely believe that you are right, you have the strength of ten!” The victim of any physical attack is always “in the right”, and a violent offender is always wrong. KNOW this. FEEL this. CULTIVATE this certainty. Never, ever allow yourself to relinquish it. React with righteous rage and fury.

If you will train hard and train on good, proven combat techniques, and in addition cultivate the philosophy and doctrine we espouse you will not necessarily eliminate the initial advantages that your assailant may possess; but you WILL be able to overcome them!

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Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Don’t Get Into A “Fighting Stance”!

WE have cautioned many people over the years about the hazards of utilizing formalistic fighting stances and squaring off with an enemy in close combat or self-defense. Combat is not sport! The last thing in the world you want to do is combine wasting time with warning your opponent when you must handle an aggressor.

Fighting stances are fine – even necessary – in competitive matches. This is because opponents are not engaged in combat, but are sportsmen; and sportsmen strive to equalize matters so that a clear victory can be ascertained based upon whatever body of skills has been agreed upon as the competitive medium. Not so in combat.

COMPETITIVE MATCHES, NO MATTER WHAT CLAIMS ARE MADE FOR THEM AND REGARDLESS OF WHICH TYPE OF METHODS ARE USED TO COMPETE, ARE UNLIKE ACTUAL ENGAGEMENTS WITH REAL ENEMIES IN COMBAT. SQUARING OFF IN A STANCE MAKES PERFECT SENSE IN A SPORT IT WASTES TIME AND TELEGRAPHS YOUR INTENTIONS IN THE REAL WORLD.

COMPETITIVE MATCHES, NO MATTER WHAT CLAIMS ARE MADE FOR THEM AND REGARDLESS OF WHICH TYPE OF METHODS ARE USED TO COMPETE, ARE UNLIKE ACTUAL ENGAGEMENTS WITH REAL ENEMIES IN COMBAT. SQUARING OFF IN A STANCE MAKES PERFECT SENSE IN A SPORT IT WASTES TIME AND TELEGRAPHS YOUR INTENTIONS IN THE REAL WORLD.

A self-defense emergency is a fight for survival. No rules. No fair play. No effort to be sporting or even decent. Just win! The cost of losing is too high.

Since an attacker can be, literally, anyone, it behooves the student of practical combatives to master the habit of always assuming what we call a “Relaxed-Ready Stance” upon the approach of any unknown person — or any person known to be a troublemaker. While maintaining a distance outside arm’s reach, off-angle yourself so that you are not facing the other person head on. Have hands relaxed, held comfortably and non-menacingly at your sternum level. You should never be below mental condition yellow, and you must always be in orange if you so much as have a suspicion of impending trouble.

Now you are ready to attack. You need no other stance or position. You are on the launching pad, and all systems are “Go!”; but whoever is facing you does not know that. Thus you enjoy the element of surprise. (No one is “surprised” when his intended victim assumes a fighting stance. Instead, he is warned).

Should your opponent now initiate violence you are fully prepared to beat him to the draw and slam home your own preemptive attack. Ditto if your opponent assumes a fighting stance! Remember: taking a fighting stance is tantamount to starting an attack, so . . . attack the very second you observe your man getting into a stance! Attack him AS he is assuming his stance.

All who hail from a background of any of the karate systems (Chinese, Korean, Thai, Okinawan, Japanese, etc.) have been conditioned to learn, develop, work incessantly on, and always strive to utilize, quite elaborate stances. A complete waste for practical self-defense.

FORMALIZED KARATE STANCES LOOK DRAMATIC AND IMPRESSIVE. WHILE OKAY FOR ART'S SAKE, THEY ARE NOT ADVISABLE IN HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT.

FORMALIZED KARATE STANCES LOOK DRAMATIC AND IMPRESSIVE. WHILE OKAY FOR ART'S SAKE, THEY ARE NOT ADVISABLE IN HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT.

Get a stop watch. Ask a friend who is a longtime student of any martial art (classical/traditional or sporting/competitive) to get into his favorite or pet fighting stance. Time him. How long did it take? One second? Two? Something between? Longer? Then have him time your full force untelegraphed front kick, side kick, handaxe chop, or chinjab smash, delivered from your relaxed but ready off-angled preliminary position. It will be obvious to you that you can easily launch a powerful and destructive blow in less time than it takes to merely assume (let alone attack from) a formalized “fighting stance”.

With serious, hard practice of several months duration you should be able to blast through your opponent with an attack combination in which two or more devastating blows are delivered, in less time than it takes for him to assume a formal “fighting stance”.

Anyone training for sport or classical/traditional art’s sake need pay no attention to our admonitions here. We are not trying to stop classicists from being classical or sportsmen from being sporting; we are simply trying to describe how a dangerous adversary in an actual combat situation may best be dealt with.

IN CLASSICAL TRAINING, WHERE THE OPPONENT ALSO AGREES TO USE RIGID STANCE POSITIONS, AND "ATTACK" IN A FORMALIZED (BUT UTTERLY UNREALISTIC) MANNER, TRADITIONAL STANCES ARE FINE. JUST DON'T TRY THEM IN COMBAT!

IN CLASSICAL TRAINING, WHERE THE OPPONENT ALSO AGREES TO USE RIGID STANCE POSITIONS, AND "ATTACK" IN A FORMALIZED (BUT UTTERLY UNREALISTIC) MANNER, TRADITIONAL STANCES ARE FINE. JUST DON'T TRY THEM IN COMBAT!

Consider what we say here, we speak from more than half a century’s experience, training, research, and studies.

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Thursday, May 31st, 2012

You Need More Than The Police

“CALL the police.” Whenever a situation gets out of hand to the extent that it appears violence is about to erupt, or whenever a situation arises in which violence already has erupted, and calling 911 is feasible, then calling the police is certainly the correct and wise thing to do.

Let’s be realistic, however. There are times when the eruption of violence occurs so dangerously fast, and when the threat to human life and limb is so immediate, that calling the police is only feasible after the catastrophic event has concluded. It is not that the police are indifferent, it is just that they can often only get there — because you are only able to contact them — after the fact. The police often do a splendid job of apprehending dangerous felons; but sadly they rarely if ever manage to interdict the felony. Thus even when the police do their job perfectly it does not mean that the victims of egregious violence will be saved from their initial victimization.

Only the victim is right there when violence strikes. And if violence is to be defeated, then it is the intended victim who will defeat it.. One can be knocked senseless, stabbed to death, shot, or snatched off the street into a vehicle in far less time than it takes to press 9-1-1 on a cell phone pad. Only when violent offenders collide unexpectedly with furious counterforce are they thwarted.

We need the police. But we also need something more than the police. We need the knowledge, skills, and tools with which to defend ourselves. We need to be able to meet and defeat unlawful aggression decisively, in order to avoid death or other serious injury when an attack comes.

No one who has ever been the victim of a physical attack or who has had the even worse experience of having had a loved one suffer such an attack will deny that the experience is horrific. It is never forgotten. It leaves scars which remain for life, and which blemish all areas of one’s life — permanently. Trusting others, relating benevolently to others, respecting others, believing in one’s own general security and safety when amongst one’s fellows, and so on, are almost never the same for anyone following an encounter with serious violent crime.

With these facts understood it is downright amazing that learning self-defense and acquiring weapons with which to protect oneself is not a key concern of every decent citizen on earth. But it isn’t. For every individual who does something to make himself ready to handle a dangerous emeregency there are thousands who behave as though it couldn’t possibly happen to them. These people might respond to the individual who undertakes to ready himself and who perhaps suggests that they do the same, by saying simply that if trouble ever comes they’ll call the police.

Right. Good luck.

Today, being able to effectively defend yourself has become — for those who are realists — a virtually indispensable ability. Violent crime is increasing everywhere, and the possibility that at some time in your life you and yours will be confronted directly by dangerous aggression is hardly remote. It is wise to prepare.

Certainly it is essential that you be able to use your hands and feet effectively, and that if you are confronted by a troublemaker, mugger, or physical bully, you be able to handle the situation. It is also highly desirable that you become proficient with a stick, with a knife, and with miscellaneous objects-at-hand as weapons with which to insure your survival in a dangerous situation. Firearms are of course the ultimate means of personal, family, and home defense, and no one can be fully prepared to defend against armed assault, intrusion, or home invasion unless he has recourse to a handgun or shotgun, and unless he possesses the requisite skill with which to use his firearm effectively. Gun laws vary from state to state, and for some it may be more difficult to acquire the necessary permits and arms; but we urge all decent people to go to whatever trouble is necessary to legally obtain, keep, and learn to employ effectively, quality firearms. Criminals will always be armed, regardless of any gun laws or prohibitions — and this is true even in countries that attempt to literally ban firearms completely from ownership and use by citizens.

If absurd popaganda has made you doubt the wisdom of being lawfully armed and trained to use firearms, because, as one fool said recently in a news broadcast when commenting on recent murders that had occurred in a major city, “the problem is guns, and you have come to accept such bullshit, consider this: Blaming guns for the violence that criminals commit with firearms is like blaming automobiles for those who commit the crime of hit-and-run. What utter illogical nonsense.

Be a lawful, responsible, well-trained and totally prepared armed citizen.

In addition to taking steps to insure that you have physical defense skills and weapons with which to defend yourself and your family, you must also acquire the all-important mindset; the attitude of decision and readiness, so that you not only “know how” to employ necessary violence in legitmate defense, but are in fact able to employ it, with and without weapons. Without proper mindset — i.e. mental conditioning — mere physical skill and knowledge will not be enough to save you.

How is proper mindset acquired?

There are some few people who come to the study of close combat and self-defense who already possess the right mindset. Some of these people are military or law enforcement veterans of combat. Some are people whose early lives were lived in an exceedingly violent and dangerous environment. Still others are actual victims of violent crime who, after surviving the ordeal which they went through, have vowed to themselves “Never again!” Once people in these categories acquire the right methods and tools they are a violent offender’s worst nightmare!

But most people who come to train in self-defense must be taught correct mindset, and they need to be guided and conditioned, over time, so that their psyches develop along with their skills. Our book on CD, Mental Conditioning For Close Combat And Self-Defense has enabled many to self-teach this critical aspect of combat readiness. In our classes and lessons we hammer this phase of combat conditioning so thoroughly home that many students have reported after only a few months that they are, while not desirous of ever having to deal with violence, 100% ready to “give hell” to any extralegal scumbag(s) who invades the sanctity of their lives! You can achieve this, too. And you must!

Read news reports of violent crime. Speak to law enforcement officers. Speak to victims. Read about criminal violence and the lifestyles and mindsets of the scum who look at the citizenry of their city as providing them an abundance of “game”. Do not be ashamed to hate these swine. Detest their existence. Resent the fact that they breath. Saturate your mind with this when and while you prepare physically and technically, and the result will soon be impressive. Eradicate forever from your mind the notion that violent human predators are “human, too”. They are not. By their own choice and action they have resigned from the human race.

Get enraged. And get ready.

Our Nation’s law enforcement professionals deserve our respect and our support. But they must not be regarded as our only — or even as our primary — bulwark against violent crime. We must be our own protectors. You must realize this responsibility and accept it enthusiastically. Then you will be one of those who is not helpless when violence comes to him. You will be prepared. You will be ready. And while no one can guarantee that you will always prevail, you certainly will have shifted the odds tremendously in your favor. Remember: The living garbage want victims, not enraged, tough, trained and aggressive enemies who fight back mercilessly and at once.

A prepared, angry, armed, trained, and indignantly outraged citizenry is the most powerful antidote to the scourge of violent crime. Yes, we need the police. But we also need more than the police.

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Sunday, January 1st, 2012

The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife

(WITH SOME OBSERVATIONS AND COMMENTARY ON KNIFEWORK)

THE FAIRBAIRN-SYKES COMMANDO KNIFE is well known to anyone who is professionally involved in the field of close combat. It has been around since world war two, and despite the plethora of other fighting knives — all excellent — like the Randalls, the Eks, and others that were contemporary with the “F&S”, and/or that have been manufactured and become popular subsequent to the F&S, the Fairbairn-Sykes still manages to hold its own. It is an in-demand, highly valued, and deservedly respected individual close combat weapon. Military and intelligence services still issue this knife, today.

An original Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Knife. Note the rounded and checkered drip, which the author prefers. However, the later version ribbed grip is no less serviceable.

An original Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Knife. Note the rounded and checkered drip, which the author prefers. However, the later version ribbed grip is no less serviceable.

Many cheap and, in our opinion, unworthy versions of the F&S have made their appearance on the market in an attempt to cash in on this infamous blade’s reputation. However, in our opinion anyone wanting the genuine article should spend the few extra dollars that it costs (the knife is not expensive) and purchase an F&S made by Sheffield (England), Linder (Germany), or MacDonald (Scotland). So-called “F & S Commando Daggers” that sell for a quarter or even a fifth of what those manufactured by these three outstanding outfits are not in our opinion worth a fiftieth of the real McCoy, which may be obtained from those three sources.

The marvelous Ek Commando Knife Company produces its own unique variation of the original F&S design. Their terrific knife is certainly combat worthy, and is perhaps even a bit more rugged and durable than the original weapon; but we need to clarify that if you are after an original design then the Ek version might not be what you’re after. (If you want a first-rate combat knife to take into battle with you, however, you can never go wrong with an Ek! Their products are, as they always have been in the past, superb.)

The latest design F&S is with the ribbed handgrip. While this is serviceable, we frankly prefer the older rounded and checkered grip. MacDonald makes their version this way, and we are grateful for that.

A modern "ribbed grip" Fairbairn-Sykes. These knives are still available and are as excellent for close combat today as they were in the 1940's. This version was issued to Special Forces during the Vietnam War.

A modern "ribbed grip" Fairbairn-Sykes. These knives are still available and are as excellent for close combat today as they were in the 1940's. This version was issued to Special Forces during the Vietnam War.

Unlike many other military or combat knives, the F&S is a fighting knife and only a fighting knife. Original versions will not serve double duty as camp or hunting knives, since their thin stiletto design precludes their use for the usual utilitarian purposes to which such other knives may be routinely put. The F&S is a knife intended for hand-to-hand combat and silent killing. It is most emphatically not an “all purpose” knife, like Randall’s beautiful Model #1, for example.

Cost of a good Fairbairn-Sykes is negligable. This of course makes it very attractive. But it is the fact that the weapon continues to serve its intended purpose well that makes it a “good deal” at the cost of a quality, modern version. (Note: Collector F&S knives — i.e. WWII era originals — can go for $1,000. or more; but for practical use as a battlefield or self-defense weapon today, a recently manufactured one one can be purchased for under $100. in most cases.)

For those who appreciate the good sense that it makes to keep one’s home prepared just in case, the idea of obtaining half a dozen or more F&S knives and concealing them about the house for instant access in an emergency will definitely be an attractive idea. Most people cannot afford to conceal quality handguns around the house, but the one or two handguns that one does have can be supplemented nicely in a home defense plan by having these excellent commando knives readily available. Half a dozen will likely cost less than one additional quality handgun. It takes but a fraction of a second to grab a knife from its place of concealment and drive it into a home invader, rapist, or other intruder. Knowing that that capability is in your and your loved ones’ hands can be comforting in these troubled times.

Unfortunately, the law generally forbids private citizens carrying knives of a fixed blade configuration or of anything but the most limited blade length. (For carry we recommend a utility knife!). However, keeping even professionally configured fighting knives in the home is legal almost everywhere in the United States. We of course suggest that you check with local law enforcement before going ahead with any plan to arm yourself or your family in any way; but our understanding at present is that having fighting knives in the home is legal in most places in the USA.

The “Fairbarin Technique”

THE F&S fighting knife was presented to the British Commandos and to the secret servants of both England and the United States with an excellent technique for using it. Developed by one of the knife’s originators, the celebrated William E. Fairbairn, the method was, appropriately, called The Fairbairn Technique of Knife Fighting. Then Captain Rex Applegate, American protégé of Fairbairn and Sykes, did some minor modifying of the pure Fairbairn technique, but essentially emphasized the same core method. It was simple, deadly, and reliable. You can read a description of it in Applegate’s Classic Kill Or Get Killed.

Rex Applegate demonstrates how to hold the F&S on the attack. This photo taken during WWII when then Captain Applegate was assigned to the OSS. Note lead hand used to parry — perhaps strike a blow or throw dirt, while the knife is held back in the rear hand ready for a lethal thrust.

Rex Applegate demonstrates how to hold the F&S on the attack. This photo taken during WWII when then Captain Applegate was assigned to the OSS. Note lead hand used to parry — perhaps strike a blow or throw dirt, while the knife is held back in the rear hand ready for a lethal thrust.

It must be noted that the Fairbairn Technique was ideally suited in its (and in Applegate’s) pure form to the F&S knife, per se. This constituted no shortcoming for those issued the F&S knife. However, this technique does not lend itself completely and perfectly to the employment of, say the Ka-Bar or other Bowie-type (as opposed to stiletto type) combat knives. For this reason, our own approach to knifework, while including the Fairbairn technique, goes a bit further. We employ methods that enable the user to manage any knife — F&S, Randall, Ek, Ka-Bar, etc., even a folding or kitchen knife, in an emergency — in combat. Our own (American Combato) method, the basics of which are presented in our DVD #11 – Knifework, synthesizes the Fairbairn method with the Biddle-Styers Method, and adds a couple of innovative touches found in neither approach. In briefest essence our fundamental idea is that:

• For offensive combat, and/or when confronting an enemy armed with anything but a knife, himself, the Fairbairn/Sykes/Applegate technique is perfect.

• For self-defense use of the knife — perhaps against multiple adversaries — the Biddle Styers approach (i.e. knife in the lead hand) makes the most sense. And it should be noted that this method can easily be utilized with the F&S.

• When confronting an enemy who is armed with a knife (just about never likely) the Biddle-Styers approach is best.

Knife vs. knife encounters occur in martial arts classes and in seminars, and on DVDs produced by people who know little or nothing at all about close combat. Who the hell is going to give an enemy time to draw his knife in a real situation? If you ever do that you are a fool. And do not expect any enemy who comes after you with a knife to give you sufficient opportunity to draw yours! Such a thing as knife vs. knife could happen; and so you should, in a comprehensive course, be taught how to handle such an encounter. But the likelihood of it happening perhaps approximates your chances of being hit by lightning — twice.

A photo taken at the Commando Training Center, Achnacarry, Scotland. In war this is a much more likely use of the fighting knife than "knife vs. knife fighting" per se. In fact, Rex Applegate told us that he NEVER HEARD OF ONE INSTANCE of knife vs. knife combat occurring in all of WWII! Sentry elimination skills are not needed for self-defense with the knife, but it is well to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of a fighting knife, on any account!

A photo taken at the Commando Training Center, Achnacarry, Scotland. In war this is a much more likely use of the fighting knife than "knife vs. knife fighting" per se. In fact, Rex Applegate told us that he NEVER HEARD OF ONE INSTANCE of knife vs. knife combat occurring in all of WWII! Sentry elimination skills are not needed for self-defense with the knife, but it is well to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of a fighting knife, on any account!

THE stiletto design is unquestionably the best for a knife which has as its sole purpose killing. And, however unpleasant or “politically incorrect” it may be to say it, efficient killing capability is the measure of a fighting knife’s worth. The venerable Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Knife proved itself in this venue during a world war. Those who are wise do not quarrel with success!

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Friday, September 23rd, 2011

The Element Of Surprise

ONE of the most critical principles in defeating an enemy in combat is to employ the element of surprise. And while this is hardly any kind of secret or mystery — just about everyone knows about it — the truth is that in the majority of martial arts or self-defense training programs the principle is neither utilized nor fully appreciated.

For example, no assailant in the street is taken by surprise when his intended victim assumes a fighting stance. Assuming such a stance is tantamount to announcing that you  a) Know how to fight, and  b) Fully intend to fight back when you are attacked. Congratulations. You just blew one of the finest opportunities to take that attacker 100% by surprise; and you did it by utilizing your “training”!

People who enroll for self-defense instruction feel themselves, correctly, to be in serious danger when they are attacked. Many have already been attacked, and the trauma of that experience has led them, wisely, to learn what to do so as to make sure such an event never befalls them again. But something crucial — and it is potentially an enormous confidence-builder when explained — that few if any “instructors” consider, explain, and then emphasize to their students is this:

“The low lives who prey upon others are, when they take action, virtually certain that they will be successful. This is obvious, since they have made the decision to attack. They would not attack if they believed that they were to encounter fierce opposition and serious danger to themselves when they moved on their target. Therefore, the intended victim of any attack enjoys the tremendous advantage of having the element of surprise working for him SIMPLY BY OFFERING FIERCE RESISTANCE AND BY ATTACKING HIS WOULD-BE TORMENTOR!

The above is true and easily understood, once explained. It is logical, obvious, and tends, when a student grasps it, to empower him immediately with a realization that YES, he really can defend himself, and YES, proper mindset and training will give him a huge advantage over any assailant.

This photo, from Fairbairn's SCIENTIFIC SELF-DEFENCE illustrates a classic Fairbairn strategy — taking full advantage of the critical element of surprise. When you realize that two troublemakers are following you and closing in behind you, TURN SUDDENLY and preempt their attack by smashing each one simultaneously with a powerful chinjab! Followup. The two will be in no condition to prevent you!

This photo, from Fairbairn's SCIENTIFIC SELF-DEFENCE illustrates a classic Fairbairn strategy — taking full advantage of the critical element of surprise. When you realize that two troublemakers are following you and closing in behind you, TURN SUDDENLY and preempt their attack by smashing each one simultaneously with a powerful chinjab! Followup. The two will be in no condition to prevent you!

One of the first and foremost rules that any neophyte must be indoctrinated with when he begins his training in self-defense is that there is only one rule he need bother with when defending himself. That rule is: win. No technique is too savage, no attitude too ruthless, no action is too destructive, and no measure, tactic, deception, or ploy “too unethical” or “too extreme” so long as the outcome is victory and the attacker (or attackers) is defeated.

Anyone who does not understand this simple principle does not understand the gravity of such situations as do occur with sickening regularity in otherwise semi-civilized societies when violent offenders decide to brutalize some hapless victim. Such creatures are the bacteria of our species and deserve no more consideration than a physician would give infectious bacilli. THAT is the proper attitude that a decent, worthwhile member of the human community should cultivate in regard to violent  troublemakers.

Seizing the element of surprise so as to properly defend himself is what the intended victim of any attack must learn to do. How he ought to do it is another matter.

First off, whenever possible, misleading signals should be given to any troublemaker. Feign great fear, feign illness, pretend complete submission and passivity, claim to be sick or to have just been released from the hospital, assure — by words and gestures — that you will do whatever he/they wants you to do “Just please don’t hurt me!”, etc. When interaction between yourself and your victimizer(s) enables you the time and opportunity to do so, use deceit and deception to lull the scum into a false sense of security, and convince him/them that mugging, robbing, beating, stomping, killing, or kidnapping you will be a piece of cake. No problem. They hardly will need to exert themselves. They’ve got a perfect victim!

Realize that the fear you feel during this interactive stage is LIFESAVING. Don’t be worried that you won’t be able to do anything. The more scared you feel the GREATER WILL BE THE EFFECTIVENESS AND POWER OF YOUR OWN AGGRESSION! Just hold back a moment. Let the fear reaction assist you in rendering a convincing performance of submission, inadequacy, and terror. Then . . .

When you see that your performance has “taken” (usually, the attacker will laugh at you, shout or say some offensive garbage, and then proceed with his intended action) ATTACK LIKE A MURDEROUS, WILD, INSANE ANIMAL WHO IS BENT UPON KILLING ANYTHING IN ITS PATH!

Ram your fingers into the eyes! Kick the testicles! Chop at the neck or throat! Break the knee with a vicious kick! Go! Go! GO! And keep on attacking like a madman, ignoring any injuries you sustain, and remaining fanatically driven in your determination to DESTROY YOUR ATTACKER.

There  are some excellent ways to increase the effectiveness of your surprise attack. GROWL, YELL, GRIMACE, AND EMIT FIERCE ANIMAL NOISES AS YOU GO AFTER YOUR ATTACKER! The louder and the wilder, and the more contorted your face, the better!

Throw something (anything that cannot be employed destructively as an improvised weapon, but that is in your hand at the time) into your attacker’s face. USE anything that can be employed against your attacker, to inflict injury upon him.

Always project yourself forward and advance into your enemy when you attack! The momentum you generate increases the power of your action and facilitates followup. The act of advancing provides a morale edge — increasing the psychological shock that your attacker will feel as he realizes that it is now himself that is under attack.

In any dangerous emergency you will have ONE AND ONLY ONE chance to utilize the element of surprise to defend yourself or to protect loved ones. Make the most of it. Waste no mercy, sympathy, compassion, or humanity on any predator. Do whatever it takes, do it right away, and do it with every ounce of savagery, strength, skill, and intensity of HATRED and DETERMINATION that you can muster.

No one can guarantee you success in defending yourself, and only a charlatan “guarantees” that the techniques which he teaches are 100% certain to drop an enemy every time, right away. However, those principles that have won for fighting men in actual war and in dangerous combat are known. One of them is, certainly, the use of the element of surprise. So, if serious physical danger ever comes to you and yours, make full use of this crucial principle to destroy the garbage that has chosen to attack you. Combined with ferocity, merciless brutality, solid war-proven physical combat skills, and relentless, determined followup, use of the element of surprise will indeed make you hard to beat and will stack the odds heavily in your favor.

********               ********            *********           **********

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Self-Defense For The Older Man

“Mind must be the stronger, heart the bolder, courage must be the greater, as our might lessens”

— Otho (Marcus Salvius Otho Caesar Augustus) Roman Emperor – 15 January to 16 April 69 (three months)

BUST OF OTHO

BUST OF OTHO

SO . . . what’s “older”?

Knowing the phenomenon of close combat as we do, and being familiar with physical training, muscular strength, conditioning, and the human body’s process of development and decline, I’d say that older, speaking of personal capacity for optimum performance in hand-to-hand and close-in personal defensive combat, can reasonably be said to begin to apply to individuals  roughly between the ages of 40 and 60. Perhaps younger. It certainly appears to me obvious that anyone 70 or older qualifies as an “older” man, speaking strictly of his physical capacity to engage in violent personal combat, with or without weapons.

“Forty?” some may be saying (or thinking) with raised eyebrows. “Who the hell is ‘old’ at forty?”

I am not saying that any individual is necessarily “old” at any particular chronological age, in all respects. One’s mind may be sharper than the statistically average teenager’s when one is 90 (not all that much to say today, when you think about what teenagers are like), and one may indeed be healthier, fitter, and muscularly stronger at 80 than most others half or one third his age. But middle age, believe it or not, begins in one’s mid-to-late 20’s, and there is no question that one’s physical resilience, energy, capacity to recover from injuries and trauma, and agility/athleticism definitely are at their peak between the ages of about 18 and 29 or 30. (Yes, I know that one may be actually able to lift more weight in one’s late 30’s to late 40’s than one had been able to lift in one’s 20’s — assuming he is a regular weight trainee — but that indicates only one of the many attributes that contribute to what may be regarded as the indicators of a person’s being in his, let us call it, physical combative prime.

Like to hear it or not, you are not going to retain or remain in your “peak” condition physically for battle, forever. Age creeps up on us all, and when the halcyon years for your physical capacity to engage in single combat decline, you will (unless you are that sad sort of character known as a dilettante) want to be able to defend yourself just as well as you did when, as a teenager or fellow in his early 20’s, you first took up martial skills.

Can you do it? And if so, how do you go about insuring that you actually do do it?

The first  question is easily answered in the affirmative. Men like Charles Nelson, Gene Le Bell, Jim Harrison, and Jack Dempsey, as well as many others, have proven that. In Sword & Pen, our Newsletter, we referred to the “elderly” retired British SAS trooper who dispatched a few young scumbags when they attempted to mug him. The ex-SAS man was nearing 80. So there is no question or doubt that it is easily possible for any serious student of practical close combat to retain a most viable and superior capacity for hand-to-hand combat. And this capacity will be formidable against considerably younger, stronger men. But this must be clear: Just as is the case with any other attribute or capacity, if or when all other things are equal, the younger combatant will win. Derive cosiderable encouragement from, and take great heart in knowing that rarely if ever in any form of combat are “all other things equal”. If you’re solidly schooled in authentic close combat and self-defense skills, you can be ready at any age to handle a dangerous opponent. And I quite honestly have no knowledge of any person of any age who had been well-trained in close combat, ever starting trouble with anyone. The “younger assailant” will either be a bully, street punk, impulse-dominated troublemaker, or other disgraceful criminal life form.

Well then, since it is quite possible for even a considerably senior individual to defend himself well, and to retain that ability for his entire lifetime, the next question is: “How can you now, whether you are in your teens or in your fifth, sixth, or seventh decade, insure that you are cultivating that ability?”

First and foremost you must, must, must, be ever mindful to cultivate proper mindset. Mental conditioning is vital . . . and you can verify through your own research if you wish, that whenever a senior gent made quick work of some young lout who attacked him, that senior was really ready mentally — he was set, prepared, and conditioned, and no nonsense about it! The transition to a war footing took place in a flash, and the younger punk or punks who thought they’d have an easy time rolling the “old man”, realized that they had stumbled upon an old tiger, instead. And they realized it too late.

Second, train in viable skills. These are not classical/traditional “art” forms. Nor are they competition methods. People retire from competition. There is no “retirement” from self-defense, or from being vulnerable to attack. You can be mugged when you’re 95. The techniques you spend time learning and practicing should be simple, direct, extremely damaging, retainable, adaptable, and war-proven. By “war proven” I simply mean techniques that have been employed in actual combat; not merely skills that look beautiful, are a challenge to practice and master, and that win contests. We teach these skills in American Combato, and a select few other teachers also offer similar methods. But such techniques do not constitute the fare imparted to students of karate, ju-jutsu, hapkido, kenpo-karate, or other “martial arts”, per se. And they certainly are irrelevant in any sporting approach to close combat (i.e. wrestling, boxing, judo, or what we regard as the less-desirable sports of UFC, MMA, and cage fighting). Worthy as any of these activities may be, they do not address real combat and survival. What you want to learn, study, practice, and internalize is the real kill or get killed stuff; the skills that know no rules and that you can rely upon to cripple or do worse in a dangerous confrontation.

Third, practice regularly. This need not be excessive. Devoting 20 to 30 minutes a day to training is plenty. You certainly can do more if you are interested in and enjoy the subject, but approximately a half hour a day (every day) will do. It also provides some healthful exercise, however exercise must be placed on a back burner when you train. Imagine your life is at stake. Make your sessions of practice really count. Obtain a heavy bag, post, or dummy, and get used to smashing full force blows into a target.

Fourth, follow an exercise program. Keeping in as good shape as you are able makes good sense for a multitude of reasons — and of course one of them is that it keeps you ever-ready to do your best work in applying the self-defense skills you’ve acquired. It also enables you to maintain strength. Workout with weights. There is no better physical training method in existence.

Fifth, cultivate your natural advantages. With age comes wisdom, guile, and a somewhat sophisticated understanding of human nature. Develop your ability to be sneaky, underhanded, and above-all willing to use the foulest, most ruthlessly brutal and savage gutter tactics imaginable if you are attacked. Cultivate hatred for human predators. Realize and appreciate that the more senior you become the more legally justifiable savagery becomes when you defend yourself! Capitalize upon that knowledge and make up your mind that anyone who attacks you is going to pay a terrible price, because you will exercise no restraint, apply no mercy, and feel no reluctance to destroy your tormentor.

Sixth, use common sense and weapons. Obviously, you want to avoid violence and trouble if at all possible. However, you want no disadvantage save the unavoidable fact of your age, to hinder your capacity to deal with whatever you must. If you can do so legally, learn how to use firearms properly in close combat, and avail yourself of a powerful, reliable handgun as close to 24 hours a day as possible and permissable under the law. Learn how to use a knife in combat. Master the stick (a weapon that, in some form, is nearly always available). Learn how to use improvised objects-at-hand in self-defense. Approach personal defense comprehensively.

If you follow the six-point approach that we have suggested, then, God willing, you should remain well able to deal with any human garbage that attacks you or that endangers those you love, regardless of your age.

Self-defense is for everybody of any age.

***** ***** ***** *****

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Self-Defense And Close-Combat Is A Specialty In The Martial Arts Field

PRACTICAL self-defense cannot depend upon such things as the individual practitioner’s being young, strong, in top shape, and in hard training. Nor can the body of technical doctrine encompassing the curriculum of skills that are studied assume such things as —

• The defender having to contend with but a single opponent.

• The defender being inevitably confronted by that lone adversary in a face-off type of “squaring off” — as opposed to being attacked without warning, from behind.

• The attacker (or attackers) being unarmed.

• The attack occurring in any particular type of  environment, or on any special kind of favorable terrain.

• The attack occurring in a context where the defender will not be accompanied by a loved one whom he will need to protect — as well as defend himself.

• The attack occurring when the defender is feeling well, as opposed to having some minor illness, or having just gotten over some sickness or recovered from some — perhaps serious — injury.

The matter of self-defense is a serious one, and the discipline of preparing for any contingency requires full-time study, research, training, and professional commitment. You cannot have “a sport, a classical system, a fitness program, and a practical method of self-protection” in one and the same art. All you end up with if you attempt it, is a watered down, so-so approach to close combat that might be effective in some cases, but that certainly cannot be relied upon across the board to manage physical combat under any conditions, anywhere.

Over the years some people have chosen to misrepresent that which has been my adamant stand for many decades: Namely, that combat and competition or classicism are not the same, and that one cannot properly prepare for one by training in another. Misconstruing my position  as being “against” sport or “against” classical/traditional arts, some critics have insisted that I am opposed to schools and teachers that advocate these most popular forms of martial arts studies. That is most assuredly not true.

I am no more against sporting/competitive martial arts than is an electrical engineer against aeronautical engineering. I am merely insistent upon the fact that a difference exists between the two disciplines. And, I further insist, that anyone whose goal is to excel in one of those areas of martial practice should find a school and teacher whose total focus is upon that specific area.

I respect sporting/competitive and classical/traditional studies. They offer immense benefits to those who participate in them, and they are both deservedly popular. However, the art of self-defense and close combat is a separate and specific study, and anyone wishing to become fully confident and physically adept in real world combative skills needs to find a teacher whose total emphasis is on that subject.

“But were not all of the classical/traditional arts — in their origins — intended 100% for actual combat?” one might wish to ask.

The answer is “Yes. In their origins all of the martial arts were, in fact, martial in their design, organization, spirit, and intention. However, the classical/traditional arts were formulated many hundreds, even thousands, of years ago. Cultural idiosyncrasies, manners of dress, levels of sophistication regarding combat techniques amongst the general populace, weapons commonly used and carried, and traditions governing how individuals fought when they met in battle, all influenced and greatly affected what the arts contained and how they were taught. Many of those things that made sense 1,000 years ago, or several hundred years ago, make no sense today, and are absolutely inapplicable to the modern fighting man, or to the private citizen who requires an effective means of self-defense. Because of this, the classical/traditional arts, worthwhile as they are as arts, offer at best only a partial adaptability of that which they teach for practical close combat and personal protection in the modern world. And this is true only of those who have applied themselves to a serious study of these arts for many years. These arts do not offer the person who wants and who needs a fully functional, no-nonsense readily learnable and retainable method of individual combat that which he seeks.”

IT BEGINS WITH MINDSET

THE mental conditioning required for personal combat bears no relation to the mental conditioning required for sport or for classical training. Frankly and bluntly, what a person who wishes to be fully prepared to defend himself requires is the ability to shift to a war footing, and to do so instantly and without a fraction of a second’s hesitation. He must be able to turn vicious, destructive, aggressive, violent, offensive, and relentlessly determined to destroy his enemy. People may not like to hear it put that way, but that is the way it is. Speak to any military man who has been in a close combat situation. Or speak to a police officer who has had to fight for his life against a violent felon. Or — speak to anyone who has been victimized by violent criminals.

The art of training and conditioning the mind is one that a professional close combat and self-defense teacher must possess. He must know exactly what a properly combat-conditioned mind requires, and he must be able to impart that to his students. I am not at all shy about proclaiming that I have pioneered this field, and as a professional teacher and hypnotherapist have developed definite and very effective ways to bring any serious and willing student to the right frame of mind for dealing with deadly violence. American Combato is the premier art to recognize this need, and the first to have established doctrine by which the need can be reliably satisfied through training.

AND DEPENDS UPON DANGEROUS

OFFENSIVE SKILLS

THE purpose of a quality self-defense system is to enable the user to save his life, protect anyone dear to him, and to do so with the most reliable and efficient techniques and tactics possible.

The history of combat throughout man’s existence on earth has demonstrated without question what works in real hand-to-hand and close quarters battle: The most ruthlessly foul, vicious, underhanded, and dangerously destructive techniques. When the battle is a sporting contest grappling often tends to prevail over methods of hitting. However, when the fight is for real, the opposite is true; and while some very few grappling methods are a part of serious hand-to-hand combat, fully 90-95% of the curriculum consists of blows, gouges, jabs, smashes, butts, stomps, biting, kicking, kneeing, clawing, grasping and tearing. These actions are fastest in a real affray, and they cause instant disorientation when applied . . . permitting the user to followup and to follow through with savage fury.

Attacking is critical in self-defense. This does not mean starting fights or initiating trouble. It does mean carrying the war into the enemy’s camp and becoming the aggressor once you have been attacked. So long as you are “defending” you are losing; so long as you are attacking, you are winning!

The close combat and self-defense specialist emphasizes supreme aggressiveness — “attack mindedness” as it was referred to during WWII — and if he is a real pro he will train you to seize the initiative, surprise your attacker, and wreck him completely before he even realizes what is happening.

Quality self-defense training instills the ability to attack by surprise, giving nothing away by assuming any “fighting stance” or posture. Severe injury, speedily inflicted . . . that’s the watchword when dealing with an unavoidable, violent offender. Great followup and continuous attack is emphasized in a quality program, and the trainee is taught to expect to get hurt, to anticipate weapons, multiple attackers, murderous intent on the part of his assailant, and his assailant’s superior physical ability. No mention of  “secrets”, “hidden techniques”, “mystical powers”, or the possibility of acquiring “guaranteed methods”. Just heavy, heavy doses of reality, and techniques that has been proven in war to really work, comprise the last of learning, when studying with a true self-defense specialist.

BACKED UP WITH GOOD COUNTERATTACKING

METHODS

A quality program of close combat and self-defense will include methods of handling attacks that have caught the defender off guard. In many systems of classical/traditional training these are referred to as “self-defense techniques”. Almost without exception they are complex, impractical (though visually impressive) and impossible to rely upon in a real emergency. However, in a quality combat system these techniques are exceedingly simple, practical, and very destructive. What characterizes the counterattacks in American Combato, for example, is that there are relatively few of them, they enable the student to apply them in a myriad of situations and varying circumstances, and once they have been acquired, they offeR the speediest and most destructive way to deal with an infinite variety of situations. The traditional “one technique for each specific position/situation” is not what we teach. We teach a hardcore curriculum of widely adaptable skills.

AND INCLUDING WEAPONS

WEAPONS are tools. The use of modern weaponry is not only a mandatory part of any practical, realistic system of close combat and self-defense, it is also critical that, in addition to being able to use these weapons, a student acquires the ability to understand and defend against them. Antiquated weapons are fascinating, and those who enjoy training with them are perfectly entitled to do so. But for modern, practical, real world use, modern weapons are the required subject.

Because techniques designed for actual combat are, necessarily, dangerous, they cannot be practiced in any “contest” or “freestyle sparring” mode. Nor is it ever desirable to modify combat techniques so that such competitive training is possible. The watering down that takes place when arranging skills for competitive application makes their practice hazardous for emergency use. The student who, for instance, attempts to train on the one hand by working on serious techniques for combat and doing so without sparring, while on the other hand training in sparring and moderating that which he does, only succeeds in short-circuiting his capacity to react quickly and instinctively in a crisis. He has required of himself two different sets of commands: One for sport, one for combat. NO GOOD!

Close combat and defense requires a simple, clear, specific, one-pointed method of conditioning: A mindset geared for war, and a repertoire of skills intended to win the war. Period.

I make no claim that combatives oriented martial arts are “better than” the other forms or versions of martial study. However, make no mistake about it: Preparation for actual combat is a unique, specific, demanding, and very, very critical matter. If it is your desire to receive such preparation the go to a real professional whose life’s work, specialty, and entire focus in teaching is on that, and nothing else.

************* ************* **************

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

For The Law Enforcement Officer:

Reconsidering “Defensive Tactics

MOST encounters with the citizenry are, for most law enforcement officers, most of the time, not violent, aggressive, or threatening. That is one of the things that makes law enforcement work, as opposed to military operations, always very dangerous. The simple fact of the matter is: Anyone whom a police officer encounters for even the most minor of reasons could be a vicious killer. There is simply no way to reliably tell beforehand who is the one-in-five -thousand dangerous and fanatical nutjob murderers amongst the sea of people that a police officer on daily patrol circulates amongst, routinely. The dangerous bad guy could be anyone. The outlaw biker who is stopped might be very passive and cooperative. The fellow who is pulled over for going through a stop sign might pull a gun and try to kill the officer. There’s no way to know beforehand.

Good cops don't want to hurt people. But the need to get suspects under control when they are noncooperative is often difficult and physically demanding. Good arrest and control holds, applied when a suspect is mildly resistant but not dangerously aggressive, will enable an officer to secure that suspect. It's getting the suspect to the point where he is no longer a threat to the officer, to himself, or to the innocent public that is the challenge.

Good cops don't want to hurt people. But the need to get suspects under control when they are noncooperative is often difficult and physically demanding. Good arrest and control holds, applied when a suspect is mildly resistant but not dangerously aggressive, will enable an officer to secure that suspect. It's getting the suspect to the point where he is no longer a threat to the officer, to himself, or to the innocent public that is the challenge.

Members of the general public, generally speaking, have little understanding of just how potentially dangerous police work is. Most especially in cases where a situation is deadly, lay persons often expect the impossible of our uniformed protectors. “Why didn’t you shoot the gun out of his hand?” is an actual question that officers have heard, after an officer — properly — shoots down an armed individual who had already been given a command to put down the weapon. “Well, he only had a knife! The cop could have taken it away from him; after all the cop was bigger and stronger than that guy!” is close enough to the kind of nonsense that is often heard after a good cop shoots an individual who fails to open his hand and let the knife that he is holding in it, drop to the ground.

But the corker is when an unarmed felon — or an officer using only his hands and feet against a felon — draws out the Florence Nightingale in members of the public: “Why didn’t that officer just put him in a hold and control him? The guy didn’t have a weapon. He only started to punch at the officer.” Or: “I don’t see why three cops were needed to get the guy under control. One of them could have just put him in a hold and made him surrender.”

Arrest, control, compliance, and restraint skills do have a place in the preparation of police officers for the carrying out of their mission. No doubt about it: There are times when a suspect is more nervous than dangerous, and there are instances

when a suspect is throwing his effort solely into pulling away or backing off from an officer who must make an arrest, than he is endeavoring to attack or to directly threaten the officer, per se.

No one is a more vigorous opponent of the abuse of police powers or the unjustifiable application of force than our self; however, we are also 100% behind the good cop, and we don’t want to see any law enforcer injured or killed because he failed to use appropriate and necessary force, or because he hesitated to do so, out of fear that his career would be jeopardized and he might even face criminal charges.

So how do we prepare officers properly for their job? How can we be reasonably sure that a graduate of basic academy is fully equipped to manage that rare — but not unlikely, eventual — instance of serious hand-to-hand violence, as well as those situations where only controlling but non-injurious force is required? While realizing that I am going to antagonize a lot of those who train police and who are responsible for training police today when I say this, I am going to say it, nevertheless: Police academies do not graduate adequately prepared officers insofar as hand-to-hand combat and arrest-and-control skills using bare hands is concerned. All too often an officer is quickly shown a few unworkable holds or grips, and given scant instruction in the appropriate context for the application of such techniques. These techniques — even the few relatively good ones — must never be attempted to control a violent, attacking individual; nor should they ever be attempted to restrain a strong, aggressive and violent resisting individual who has been told that he is under arrest and who clearly makes his intention to get away known to the officer.

Realistic training for law enforcement officers should, first and foremost, cover serious unarmed combat. There are times in the carrying out of law enforcement duties when an enforcement officer is wholly justified in using every dirty, deadly, vicious trick and technique of close combat that he knows — and this should frankly be stated, acknowledged, and taught in basic academy.

Sometimes — only sometimes — when numeric superiority permits, a violently resisting suspect can be subdued without seriously injuring him. In the photo we see two cops restraining a young, tough, resistant suspect. Were a lone officer have to contend with such an individual's use of force against him, we would NOT advocate the officer's use of control holds.

Sometimes — only sometimes — when numeric superiority permits, a violently resisting suspect can be subdued without seriously injuring him. In the photo we see two cops restraining a young, tough, resistant suspect. Should a lone officer have to contend with such an individual's use of force against him, we would NOT advocate that officer's use of control holds.

When subjected to a fierce unarmed attack, or possibly when attacked by an adversary armed with a knife, bottle, club, etc. and unable to access his sidearm, the properly trained law enforcement officer should be trained to meet and defeat this attacker with decisive, no-nonsense combat skills — exactly as the soldier or marine is (or ought to be) trained to do.

There is no good reason, save political nonsense, why a police recruit should not be given at least 75 to 100 solid hours of unarmed combat training during his basic academy program. My recommendation would be to devote perhaps 20 to 25 hours to arrest and control skills (not of the kind that are generally taught, however), and the rest to war-proven, lifesaving unarmed close combat.

Officers who have been adequately trained and who possess the inevitable poise and confidence that this training imparts will be less likely to ever abuse their authority or exercise greater force than necessary when on the job. It is inevitably the officer who lacks ability and confidence, and who is unsure of himself and of his ability to handle a situation, who lashes out unnecessarily and/or who sadistically abuses a suspect or overreacts to a situation. That law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to train their people to the highest levels of practical proficiency possible during the limited time available during basic academy, should be self-evident.

Since I have elsewhere on this site, as well as on our other site (www.americancombato.com) gone into the matter of serious, anything-goes combatives, I want to address what I believe is the best curriculum for preparing officers for arrest-and-control skills.

In my System, American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao), I teach the following basic control techniques to police:

• The Japanese double arm lock

• The bar hammerlock

• The twisting hammerlock

• The straight arm bar

• The straight arm lock

These five techniques permit an officer to subdue a suspect from any position and to take speedy control regardless of the movement of the suspect. These are techniques to be employed exclusively when a suspect is deemed non-dangerous and only mildly resisting but not attacking the officer. They must never be attempted under conditions when a violently aggressive suspect must be dealt with.

We do NOT recommend such holds as Fairbairn’s “Thumb Hold” (or its modern derivative counterpart, the “gooseneck”). Nor do we recommend or endorse intricate aikido-type wrist manipulations. These cannot be applied against anyone who merely pulls away when the attempt is made to apply them, unless the user is a powerful, highly experienced black belt expert with large, strong hands. Most of the popular ju-jutsu type wrist, arm, and finger-locking skills are too dependent upon fine motor articulations to be effective.

Nor do we recommend the “sleeper” hold. This renamed judo naked choke hold can kill a man who has cardiovascular problems and who is in poor physical shape. What is more important, it takes an expert to apply the naked choke hold correctly under actual “street” conditions. Tough, young black belt judo players can employ the naked choke safely in judo contests; but the hold is too risky for non-expert application against persons who are not dangerous, and whose state of health and physical condition is unknown. All choke holds and strangulation techniques should be reserved for use in dangerous emergencies; they should not be used for restraint and control of mildly resistant suspects.

Guidelines For The Use Of Restraint And Control Techniques:

This is what I teach police officers when I instruct them formally in the five techniques that I employ . . .

• Be certain that your suspect is more nervous than aggressive. If he’s pulling away, attempting to leave, etc. then the application of a control hold may be advisable.

• The odds are on your side when you are bigger and stronger than the suspect. Be really careful about deciding to try such techniques on someone whose size and apparent strength clearly surpass your own.

ALWAYS precede the application of any of the five actions by disorienting (but not injuring) the suspect with a fast blow — to his ear, to his nose, to his shinbone, etc. — which maximizes your opportunity to get the hold in place.

• Every hold that works depends upon two things:

1) Pain

2) Off-balancing the suspect

• Know exactly how to followup immediately should the suspect begin to violently oppose your application of the hold, indicating that he intends to fight with you.

• Never, ever attempt to “force” the hold to work. Learn it well. Apply it after suitably disorienting the suspect, and employ appropriate force to secure the situation. But, if you encounter resistance that foils your attempt to hold the suspect, shift to more serious measures. (Remember: He may attempt to seize your sidearm while you engage in a struggle with him! Or, he may viciously attack you using much more serious actions than the one you are now fumbling with.)

There are many, many other aspects to officer survival and to the management of the dangerous and violent components of police work. I am not a police training “specialist”, but if there is sufficient interest amongst those officers who visit our sites, then I may offer more articles on related matters in the future.

We are 100% behind those who serve in the law enforcement profession honorably and well. We hope that we have provided some measure of assistance to them in this article.

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