Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Thursday, September 4th, 2014
Very rare and scarce — ut a truly authentic and valuable classic describing one highly qualified instructor's version of "combat judo".

Very rare and scarce — but a truly authentic and valuable classic describing one highly qualified instructor’s version of “combat judo”.

Combat Judo, by Robert Carlin

Self-Published in 1945

Robert Carlin was a USMC “combat judo” instructor. Combat Judo is the name utilized (alternatively with ju-jitsu, judo, hand-to-hand combat, combat conditioning, and dirty fighting) by the marine corps during WWII. One of our own teachers, Charles Nelson, was recognized and certified as a “ju-jitsu”/“combat judo” instructor, and actually trained the marines whom he accompanied and fought alongside in the battle of Guadalcanal, in combat judo.

In reality, there is no formalized single system or martial art called combat judo as there is, say Japanese Kodokan Judo or Korean Yudo; however the various adaptations of that combination of ju-jitsu/boxing/dirty fighting/knife and stick fighting that different teachers developed and taught are quite excellent. Robert Carlin and Bernard Cosneck are the only two prominent teachers of what each referred to as “combat judo” who authored authentic and reliable books on the subject, in our opinion. There was a small paperback book titled Combat Judo which we’d advise anyone interested in real combatives to avoid.

There are some highly skilled martial arts teachers today who have dubbed the eclectic systems of self-defense that they offer combat judo. Their use of the term is just as legitimate and valid as was Carlin’s and Cosneck’s. (A review of Cosneck’s American Combat Judo appears elsewhere in this section of our site). What is important to understand is that the term in every instance, reflects the individual teacher’s personal collection of close-combat skills —— normally based upon a solid background in more formalized systems, but recast as combat judo to distinguish it from any of the classical/traditional approaches to self-defense.

Robert Carlin’s Combat Judo is a near impossible-to-find classic. Like Arwrology, by Gordon Perrigard, an original edition of this work would doubtless have a hefty pricetag. Unlike Perrigard’s work, Combat Judo is not available in a reprint. (We forward a PDF of this book FREE with a purchase of our Mental Conditioning book —— which is available on a quality CD).

Carlin was a knowledgeable and very sensible teacher. With few exceptions the instruction in his large format book is excellent. He wisely spends time in explaining basic principles required for success in close combat before getting into any physical techniques.

Basic skills emphasizing low, powerful kicks to the knee, open hand chops, finger jabs, heel-of-the-hand blows, and elbow and knee strikes are, properly, pushed as being the ones to rely upon in combat. The defenses illustrated and described are sound (with one or two odd exceptions —— like his advocacy of a “drop kick”, which is reminiscent of what pro-wrestlers used to frequently apply in their spectacular contests. We do not agree with this technique for actual combat.

Carlin demonstrates a good attack combination or two (and we wish that he would have given much more stress to this type of offensive technique than he devotes to “defenses”) which is excellent. He covers some very rudimentary knifework and combat handgun skill. We found it strange that he chose a six inch barreled revolver for handgun technique, considering that during WWII the Colt Government Model .45 automatic was mainly The Handgun primarily used not only in the marine corps, but in all of the U.S. armed forces. Such revolvers that were used by our servicemen were four inch barreled Smith and Wessons and Colts, as well as two inch barreled revolvers. But this is really an aside.

That which Carlin teaches is overwhelmingly excellent. It hardly matters whether he demonstrates pistol firing with a particular weapon model . . . so long as what he demonstrates is viable and authentic. And in Combat Judo it is.

Professionals and collectors like ourself will probably not rest until they manage to locate an original copy of this rare volume. We might even reprint it ourself so that affordable copies will be available on a wide scale. We’ll see.

This is one collector’s item that is also an excellent source of first class instruction; something that is true of only a percentage of the old, scarce “combat and self-defense” texts.

Again, if you order our Mental Conditioning Book on CD you’ll receive a free PDF of this book. Also a free PDF copy of Grover’s Defend Yourself!

We’d rate Combat Judo a “7” or “8” on a quality scale going up to “10”. We wish we had known Robert Carlin personally.

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Thursday, August 7th, 2014

                                    The Works Of The Late Bruce Tegnér 

The late Bruce Tegnér —— True Pioneer and Master Teacher of Self-Defense.

The late Bruce Tegnér —— True Pioneer and Master Teacher of Self-Defense.

STRICTLY speaking, this isn’t a book review. It is a personal endorsement of a selection of books that were written by Bruce Tegnér.

Tegnér, as we pointed out decades ago in our bibliographic study of books on the combat arts, was a much-maligned and by far under appreciated teacher of practical self-defense.

Critics are dime-a-dozen second-handers —— and all of us who do this professionally have them. Intelligent and honest people rely on their own firsthand personal experience and objective judgment of that which an individual has produced; not on the opinions of second-handers whose motives for criticizing that individual are invariably tied to envy, personal resentment, and a bitterness born of their own failings and their desire to elevate themselves by attacking someone else and his accomplishments. We urge all with common sense who are interested in self-defense: do not rely upon the detractors who have assailed Bruce Tegnér and his works in order to form an opinion of what this man produced! There is great value in what Bruce Tegnér wrote and taught.

Teaching the actress Joan Crawford at his studio in Hollywood, Tegnér — former California State Judo Champion — takes a hard fall.

Teaching the actress Joan Crawford at his studio in Hollywood, Tegnér — former California State Judo Champion — takes a hard fall.

Tegnér wrote many books. Our personal focus has always been on realistic close combat and self-defense, and so we will not address those books which Tegnér wrote that deal with other forms and other approaches to the martial arts.

In our personal opinion the very best work that Bruce Tegnér did, and the very best written works that he produced, dealt with practical self-defense. We strongly recommend the following Tegnér books:

1. The Bruce Tegnér Method of Self-Defense

2. Stick Fighting For Self-Defense

3. Instant Self-Defense

4. Bruce Tegnér’s Complete Book of Self-Defense

5. Jukado

6. Judo and Karate For Law Enforcement Officers

An early edition of one of our highly recommended Bruce Tegnér books on practical self-defense.

An early edition of one of our highly recommended Bruce Tegnér books on practical self-defense.

Tegnér did write other books on self-defense, but we rate the above six as his very best, and we recommend that every person who teaches or trains seriously in personal defense obtain them and study them.

It is not necessary to agree completely with either the techniques or with the philosophy of self-defense that Tegnér presents (we do not), in order to derive much of significant value.

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Friday, February 8th, 2013

Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method – Volume 1 – Self-Defense Techniques, by Bruce Lee and M. Uyehara

Published 1977 by Ohara – 128 pages. Photo illustrated.

This book is, in our opinion, the only one of Bruce Lee's works that may be regarded as va;uable for the close combat/self-defense student and teacher.

This book is, in our opinion, the only one of Bruce Lee's works that may be regarded as va;uable for the close combat/self-defense student and teacher.

WE never had the pleasure of meeting Bruce Lee, although one of our Black Belts once met him in the 1960’s. Lee was in Seattle at the time, and our Black Belt was then a student of judo, as well as a student of the late Jesse Glover (one of Bruce Lee’s first students, and a close friend of the martial arts expert). Lee visited the judo school and gave a demonstration of kung fu.

We understand that Lee was a very impressive performer. He was agile as a cat, extremely flexible, fast, and totally dedicated to training. And while we personally do not believe that Lee was entirely correct in all that he taught or did (nor do we believe that his personal style was any “ultimate” martial art) we have always profoundly respected him. He was dedicated and totally sincere in his pursuit of skills. And that merits enormous respect, in our view.

Unfortunately, Lee’s insights, teachings, and innovations made multiple millions for literally hundreds of exploitative, “cashers in” on his work. Lee passed away at a very young age back in the very early 1970’s, and to this day the second-handers still continue to use Lee’s name, the name of his personal style of fighting (i.e. “Jeet Kune Do”), as well as claims of association with and training under Lee to promote their own endeavors. In point of fact there were very, very few who really knew Bruce Lee well, and fewer still whose “training under Bruce Lee” amounted to more than a few hours of friendly conversation and perhaps exchanging a few technical actions. The late Jesse Glover was, in our opinion, the single most knowledgeable martial arts teacher, as far as Bruce Lee’s teachings are concerned, and in his own right a fine teacher. He drew a lot from his long association and friendship with Lee, yet never exploited either. He simply told the  truth, and — until his recent passing — taught self-defense skills which in part derived from what he had learned from Lee. Making no ridiculous claim (as so many have done, in order to serve their own interests) that he “taught Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do”, Jesse Glover titled his approach Non-Classical Kung Fu, and left it at that.

In our opinion, for the purpose of practical, realistic self-defense, the book under present review was the best that Lee wrote. We’d go further and say that virtually everything else he wrote could be tossed, as far as the close combat and self-defense devotee is concerned.

There is nothing spectacular in Vol. 1 of Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method. In this volume Lee concerns himself solely with realistic, simple, doable self-defense skills. He demonstrates defenses against common attacks that pretty much anyone who is physically healthy and who is prepared to spend some hours practicing can truly use. Unlike the techniques that were incessantly pushed in Lee’s movies and on TV, the material in this little work makes good sense for close combat.

Lee places heavy emphasis in this book on the simple low side kick to the knee, and on other similar very simple, readily learnable, retainable, and applicable combative measures.

The only reason we are reluctant to recommend this book is because the profits for its sale, as far as we know, do not go to Lee’s widow. In any case, the big profits for anything tied to Lee’s name go to persons and companies that, in many instances, Bruce Lee had never even heard of, when he was alive.

Still, we’d recommend this particular book by Bruce Lee. To keep the profiteers from scooping up bucks off the sale of the book, why not purchase a used copy?

Bruce Lee made some real sense as far as self-defense is concerned. And you can find it in this book.

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Monday, February 4th, 2013

HANDS OFF!, by W.E. Fairbairn

Published in 1942 by Appleton-Century Company, NYC. 48 Pages – Photo lllustrated

An original Fairbairn classic: HANDS OFF! Owning an original wartime edition is always a treat, but a reprint is available from Paladin Press if all you want is the information and instruction contained in the book.

An original Fairbairn classic: HANDS OFF! Owning an original wartime edition is always a treat, but a reprint is available from Paladin Press if all you want is the information and instruction contained in the book.

THIS is one of the great Fairbairn classics. A reprint is available from Paladin Press, but every serious close combat teacher and student will want to have  “Fairbairn Originals” if possible. This is an excellent little book.

All of the material in this wartime publication represents Fairbairn’s doctrine specifically for women. Obviously, techniques suitable for females can also be executed by males . . . so although written for women, men who are serious about the subject of personal combat will find much of value inside this little gem.

Fairbairn and his daughter Dorotea pose for the photographic illustrations.

This book contains the best description and illustration of the proper hand formation for the chinjab smash — a key and vital unarmed combat blow. It also describes some simple, speedily executed self-defense techniques against common attacks. Extremely valuable are Fairbairn’s terse introductory comments regarding the subject of self-defense in general, and ju-jutsu in particular. For example:

“TO TAKE THE BATTLE INTO YOUR OPPONENT’S CAMP, TO CATCH HIM OFF HIS GUARD, IS SEVENTY-FIVE PER CENT OF THE BATTLE WON.”

— from the Foreword

This little book covers 20 basic techniques . . . all adaptable to numerous predicaments. Our personal favorite technique — not mentioned in any of Fairbairn’s other works — is one that was taught to both male and female agents of the wartime Special Operations Executive and the Office of Strategic Services. It is the final (20th) technique described in Hands Off!:

“Give Me A Light” This was one of the “dirty tricks” taught during WWII to spies, saboteurs, and guerrillas of the  allied forces. It instructs the student in how to send a blazing package of matches into an enemy’s face and reder him susceptible to whatever you then wish to do — whether that be to escape or to attack him further. Some might regard this action as “dated”, but it still could be used — and to have a document in which The Master himself describes one of those special tricks he taught to secret agents during WWII is nifty.

Original copies are pricey . . . but worth it, in our opinion.

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Stick Fighting For Self-Defense, by Bruce Tegnér. Published in 1982 by the Thor Publishing Company. Very extensively illustrated with photographs.

This book is one of Tegnér's best. In fact all of Bruce Tegnér's works on PRACTICAL SELF-DEFENSE are excellent.

This book is one of Tegnér's best. In fact all of Bruce Tegnér's works on PRACTICAL SELF-DEFENSE are excellent.

THE late Bruce Tegnér, as I wrote in Manuals On Mayhem in the 1980’s, was a most unappreciated and unfortunately maligned martial arts innovator. Well ahead of his time, Tegnér sought to dispel the widely touted nonsense that so many in the martial arts were eagerly propagating. He practicalized self-defense. And although we have a few strong points of disagreement with certain aspects of Bruce Tegnér’s doctrine, he is one of the very few people in the martial arts who we never knew personally, yet wish we did have the pleasure of knowing. (You might have guessed that William Fairbairn and Pat O’Neill are two others whose contributions in the field of close combat we revere and credit with teaching us much, as well as contributing to our own System’s development, and who we wish we had met and known personally!).

Tegnér wrote some of the most sensible works on practical self-defense ever to be penned in English. This is recognized today. Sadly, it was not recognized amongst the majority of so-called “martial arts experts” during Bruce Tegnér’s lifetime.

Stick Fighting For Self-Defense is one of Tegner’s best works. It is a sensible, practical, realistic self-instruction book that is, in our view, a Classic. It is a most interesting book on stick fighting in part because it is ambitious in its scope. Tegnér describes methods of using various types of sticks: the walking stick, cane, yawara hand stick, lengthy pole, and improvised stick-like weapons. Some of the techniques are a bit questionable because they are somewhat complex. However, the majority of the skills are quite doable and learnable by physically average readers who will practice.

There is excellent instruction for blind persons in how to use a stick. We ourself have trained blind people, and one of our blind students routed two lumps of street filth by using his cane combatively.

Tegnér goes into instruction for wheelchair-bound persons, and we applaud his efforts to address the needs of persons in this situation. However, here we must take exception to his advocacy of the stick, and we insist that wheelchair-bound individuals ought almost always to rely upon firearms for their defense. A stick is not, in our opinion, likely to be effectively wielded against one or more determined predators by someone confined to a wheelchair. A reliable handgun can be reliable for the wheelchair-bound person, and he has every right to avail himself of this option. Frankly, we believe that anyone who physically attempts to violate a wheelchair-bound person deserves to be shot.

And this — the matter of firearms as practical weapons for all of us — is one of the issues about which we take strong exception to Tegnér’s position. Bruce Tegnér definitely opposed firearms (and knives) for self-defense. We strongly advocate these weapons.

Interestingly, Tegnér favors the stick because it is a “non lethal” weapon. We favor it because it offers the potential for lethality! It is handy when your firearm may not be available. The reader may agree with Tegnér or with our self. He may adjust the manner in which he employs that which is described in this book to suit either position.

A later edition of Tegnér’s stick fighting book presents the subject as being essentially a sport, with application for defense being secondary. We see no point or purpose to this “later edition”, and we strongly urge anyone with a serious interest in combatives and self-defense to obtain a copy of the first edition which is Stick Fighting For Self-Defense. You can find copies advertised for sale on eBay and elsewhere on line.

A fine book. Highly recommended.

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Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Tactical Urban Rifle, by Michael T. Rayburn

Published by Rayburn Law Enforcement Training – P.O. Box 5101  Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 – $14.95+$5 S/H ($10 to ship overseas).

VERY MUCH A COMPANION TO THE CHAPTER IN APPLEGATE'S KILL OR GET KILLED ON COMBAT USE OF THE SHOULDER WEAPON, THIS TERRIFIC NEW BOOK BY MIKE RAYBURN IS WELL WORTH STUDYING. MIKE'S DETAILED PRESENTATION EXPANDS UPON THE WARTIME TREATMENT BY APPLEGATE, AND MAKES USE OF SOUND, PROVEN PRINCIPLES THAT WORK IN REAL COMBAT. THIS IS NOT A BOOK FOR "COMPETITION SHOOTERS"; IT IS A BOOK FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, SOLDIERS, AND PRIVATE CITIZENS WHO MAY NEED THEIR SHOULDER WEAPON IN A DEADLY EMERGENCY.

VERY MUCH A COMPANION TO THE CHAPTER IN APPLEGATE'S KILL OR GET KILLED ON COMBAT USE OF THE SHOULDER WEAPON, THIS TERRIFIC NEW BOOK BY MIKE RAYBURN IS WELL WORTH STUDYING. MIKE'S DETAILED PRESENTATION EXPANDS UPON THE WARTIME TREATMENT BY APPLEGATE, AND MAKES USE OF SOUND, PROVEN PRINCIPLES THAT WORK IN REAL COMBAT. THIS IS NOT A BOOK FOR "COMPETITION SHOOTERS"; IT IS A BOOK FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, SOLDIERS, AND PRIVATE CITIZENS WHO MAY NEED THEIR SHOULDER WEAPON IN A DEADLY EMERGENCY.

ANOTHER excellent work by Mike Rayburn that we highly recommend. We see this book as serving two valuable groups: Law enforcement/military professionals who may anticipate the need to use a carbine or a battle rifle in the modern urban setting, and private citizens who are desirous of learning how to use this same weaponry for home defense.

During WWII Fairbairn, Sykes, and Applegate taught not only point firing with the semiautomatic and revolver, but also with the submachinegun and carbine. At close ranges you do not need to use the weapon’s sights.

One of the very few instructors today who understands the critical difference between distance firing and  close quarters battle firing is Mike Rayburn. While fully acknowledging the place for careful, sighted shooting, Rayburn correctly emphasizes how vital it is to master unsighted instinctive type aiming of the weapon, by those who use carbines and rifles for combat. Many situations provide no time to align the sights and “breath, relax, and squeeze slowly”. The range and the danger is close, immediate, and too desperately confronting to allow a target shooter’s, hunter’s, or sniper’s patiently careful shooting methods to be executed.

Rayburn offers more than enough straightforward, careful instruction so the reader can understand and acquire this vital skill.

If you own a carbine or rifle for “social” purposes, get this book and study it.

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Book Review:

The Modern Commando Science of Guerilla Self-Defense For The Home Front, by George F. Jowett

(Very rare, scarce Publication – No information available regarding availability, but may be obtainable through a search firm like ABE Books, etc.)

This little gem is a collector's item. It contains excellent counsel on how to handle an attacker, but will be no revelation for anyone ho has read Kill Or Get Killed or All-In Fighting. Still, if you collect publications on close combat and self-defense you will want to obtain a copy, if you can locate one.

This little gem is a collector's item. It contains excellent counsel on how to handle an attacker, but will be no revelation for anyone ho has read Kill Or Get Killed or All-In Fighting. Still, if you collect publications on close combat and self-defense you will want to obtain a copy, if you can locate one.

GEORGE F. Jowett was one of the greatest physical culturists, wrestlers, and strongmen in American history. His many works on physical training and self-improvement are available in reprint editions, and offer excellent advice and encouragement for all men who seek strength, health, a good physique, self-confidence, and interesting counsel on how to develop the ability to perform real “strongman” feats.

In today’s moronic “bodybuilding” sewer, where bloated, steroid-induced size, unhealthy living and training methods abound as mainstream, and the marvelous principles of sane, truly beneficial physical culture via progressive resistance exercise have been all but totally relegated to a kind of “underground”, Jowett’s works remain classics . . . as do the works of Rader, Hoffman, and a very few others.

The Modern Commando Science of Guerilla Self-Defense is perhaps the least kown of George F. Jowett’s works. It is a small pamphlet, but as the saying goes: “Good things come in small packages”.

A photo of the late Master Physical Culturist Jowett lifting up a 168 pound anvil with one hand — by the horn! If you think this is nothing much, try it. Better yet: Go to some "bodybuilding" gym and ask the strongest of the steroid products in the place to try it.

A photo of the late Master Physical Culturist Jowett lifting up a 168 pound anvil with one hand — by the horn! If you think this is nothing much, try it. Better yet: Go to some "bodybuilding" gym and ask the strongest of the steroid products in the place to try it.

During the war years (world war two) Jowett took up the task of presenting to his many correspondence students and  readers a small but practical little booklet on how to turn a physical assailant inside out, should the situation requiring that he act in self-defense ever arise for the reader.

We cannot categorize this booklet with Kill or Get Killed, All-In Fighting, Cold Steel, or any of the other true combatives classics that are all but required additions to the serious enthusiast’s personal library; yet we really love this sensible and forthright little Manual, and a rare copy is sequestered away amongst the endless deluge of printed materials in our private collection of publications on close combat, self-defense, weaponry, and physical training. We mention this work here in our Book Review Section to make our visitors aware of its existence (and to make them aware of the magnificent George F. Jowett, who bears the same relation to modern day “bodybuilders” as George Washington bears to the sort of creatures who infect that area of our Nation known as Washington, D.C., today).

In this pamphlet Jowett expounds succinctly upon the basic ideas and a few excellent (albeit well known amongst all serious close combat teachers) physical techniques of serious defense. The Manual isn’t illustrated and it isn’t by any means a “complete” or even near complete treatment of the subject. But there’s nothing in it that doesn’t make good sense; and it stands as a little gem of a classic by a real giant of a man in the physical training field.

If you are a collector then you will definitely want to add this title to your search list. If you’re not a collector, well, forgive us then . . . but we had to give tribute via this review to a good work by someone we have admired for decades, and we realize that — unless someone reprints it and offers it for about ten bucks — you probably won’t be missing any essential instruction by not reading it.

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

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Book Review: COMBAT GUNFIGHTING (Advanced Handgun Fighting Skills), by Officer Michael T. Rayburn. Self-Published. 347 pages, quality paperback. Illustrated. P.O. Box 5101  Saratoga Springs, New York 12866. $24.95 + $5 shipping and handling ($10 s/h for foreign orders).

WITH the sole exception of those who drank the “kool-aid” that had been generously pumped out regarding the so-called “new technique” of the pistol, and the utter balderdash presented by some of that school’s commercializing copycats, those who have studied actual gunfight situations, and related lethal encounters in which handguns have been employed against dangerous, attacking felons, all acknowledge that POINT SHOOTING is real combat handgun shooting.

We fought a lonely battle for nine and a half years, every month, in a column that we wrote for a mainstream gun periodical in which — at the time that the “new technique” was enjoying its halcyon years (i.e. 1980’s) — we endeavored, every month, to convey the truth and the reality of point shooting. We  explained why it worked. We explained how it came about as a method. We discussed how and why the method proved itself, not in “combat matches” but in COMBAT, and we explained how to acquire the skill.

We did receive some solid support from many in the law enforcement, security, investigative, intelligence, and military professions who had been and done. But the majority of the magazine’s readers, having had no real “combat experience” or exposure to close quarters battle situations, themselves, and having nothing more to go by than the interminable mouthings of gunwriters (who, in one instance, even implied that point shooting was a fraud) simply accepted the popular malarky, and assumed that point shooting had been “replaced” by the modern, so-called new technique.

How good to see the truth being more and more widely accepted (as, ironically, what many in the know might wish to regard as the real fraud of the use-of-the-sights approach to close range combat shooting, is more-and-more falling into disrepute).

Another voice of reason “out there” is Mike Rayburn. A highly experienced police officer and firearms instructor, Mike has produced  a truly fine contribution to the literature of practical, real world combat shooting with the pistol.

Mike’s book, COMBAT GUNFIGHTING is a well articulated antidote to the nonsense that has infected the law enforcement and military training programs in handgun technique since the  “new technique” mythology began, following world war two. (Note: The so-called “new technique” of the pistol certainly provides an interesting and enjoyable sporting form of handgun use, to be applied in competition — not combat — venues. And we have no quarrel with those sport shooters who enjoy and participate in the activity. What we vigorously and uncompromisingly insist — as does Mike Rayburn — is that insofar as actual close quarters use of the handgun is concerned in real combat — point shooting is the only way to go, and it is dangerously inappropriate to confuse that which wins in shooting matches with that which you need to save your life in a lethal confrontation.)

Before the eloquent obfuscation in print by those touting for their new venture began, and the excellent writer Jeff Cooper, extolled his “new” approach to what he and his followers wished to believe is “combat shooting”, the mechanics and theory of point shooting could readily be explained and described in relatively few words. Fairbairn initially did this in his classic text Shooting To Live, which was a classified document throughout world war two. Applegate’s original monograph on the subject, Handgun Offense, was also classified until, in his book Kill Or Get Killed he offered an expanded version of it. Applegate’s treatment is quite complete — and quite brief, even in its expanded version.

But the ton of absolute bullshit that has been perpetually dumped onto the self-defense handgunning field during the last 40 years by advocates of what is not combat shooting at all, but what they who believe in it (often persuasively) keep insisting is combat shooting, has made a more in-depth, greater theoretical explanation desirable. Too, there are some interesting and valuable training and tactical concepts regarding the proven point shooting doctrine that teachers of this discipline in this 21st century have to contribute. This is what makes brilliant instructors like Jim Gregg and the literature that he has contributed so important, and this certainly is what  necessitates a most enthusiastic endorsement of Mike Rayburn’s comprehensive book, as well.

If you understand that combat shooting is not remotely related to competition shooting, and if you have done sufficient research to become convinced that POINT SHOOTING is and always has been (and will remain, so long as handguns are utilized) genuine, war and street proven combat handgun shooting doctrine, then you will enjoy and benefit from studying Mike Rayburn’s outstanding treatise!

Our belief is that this outstanding text should be regarded as required reading and as a constant shelf reference for teachers in the private and government sectors, who wish to prepare their charges for, as Fairbairn put it, “shooting to live”.

Do not be misled by the subtitle of this book: “Advanced Handgun Fighting Skills”. Certainly the book contains plenty of “postgraduate” instruction for all who have mastered the fundamental point shooting method; however, it is an outstanding source of reliable instruction for the beginner, as well.  The work takes the reader from the very beginning, introducing him to the theory of combat (point) shooting, through the fundamentals of grip, body positioning (“stance” if you prefer a more substantial term), and fire control, and then on to all sorts of situational applications and adaptations of the basic skill. Reloading, firing in dim light, clearing malfunctions, dealing with multiple assailants, even handling canine attacks, and more . . . all addressed sensibly and realistically and authentically, so that the reader/student will be able to employ these skills in actual combat encounters, not in the sanitized environment of the range or competition event.

In addition to recommending Mike’s terrific book, we happily welcome him as an ally in our ongoing efforts to preserve, build upon, and teach the finest real world skills of armed and unarmed close combat and self-defense to all decent people inside and out of law enforcement, the military, the intelligence/security services and, most important, the private sector.

Cancel your subscriptions to those silly gun magazines and get hold of Mike’s book!

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Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Modern Self-Defense, by Robert H. Sigward

Published in 1958 by William C. Copp And Associates New York City

How well we remember the old Sigward Sports Academy in New York City. Not only was the Sigward System of Self-Defense taught there, but that grand old ju-jutsu master the late Professor Kiyose Nakae taught there for a while. Like the old Al Roon Health Studio the Sigward Academy was nothing like the modern, in our opinion ripoff “health clubs”, but instead offered good, basic, sensible physical training instruction, swimming facilities, and all sorts of athletic programs for fitness conscious New Yorkers. This was in the 1950’s.

The original hardcover edition of Modern Self-Defense is a collecotr's item. The book is good one for the professional to add to his library and to study — although discretion needs to be used as some of the techniques are of questionable value in hand-to-hand combat. Others, however, are quite sensible and good.

The original hardcover edition of Modern Self-Defense is a collecotr's item. The book is good one for the professional to add to his library and to study — although discretion needs to be used as some of the techniques are of questionable value in hand-to-hand combat. Others, however, are quite sensible and good.

Robert H. Sigward was an accomplished ju-jutsu expert. In fact, with all due respect to the late Prof. Nakae, Sigward’s ju-jutsu was superior for practical use. We studied both systems. Nakae was a fine and dedicated teacher of authentic Japanese ju-jutsu. Sigward leaned more toward the kind of ju-jutsu that Charlie Nelson (one of our three most significant teachers) taught. In fact, some of Sigward’s and Charlie’s techniques were identical.

Modern Self-Defense began as a series of how-to articles that were published in a law enforcement magazine. Happily, these articles were organized into a book, with new material added.

The great strength of Sigward’s book is that it emphasizes practicality and realism. No competition. No fancy stuff. He correctly introduces the edge-of-the-hand blow early on, and teaches the chin jab, poking the eyes, and the old fingertips jab to solar plexus, advocated by Fairbairn. (Personally, we do not like this blow; but for those who like it and find it physiologically compatible, it’s an excellent attack method). In the initial chapter  i.e. “Keys To Blows, Bars, And Blocks”) Sigward illustrates some genuinely practical methods to employ against a downed assailant — although we prefer more severe methods. Unfortunately, a lot of Sigward’s actions include wrist turning and arm locking. These are certainly necessary techniques for police to learn, but their employment in a serious emergency against violent attackers is pointless.

A chapter on falling techniques is useful — but it must be emphasized that these kinds of falling methods are important for conditioning and to enable throws to be practiced on a mat. They really are not applicable in hand-to-hand combat.

The chapter on “Wrist And Arresting Holds” is, as stated earlier, of use to law enforcers. The saving grace of these methods, though — and something we really appreciate — is that Sigward includes a sharp kick to bolster the effectiveness of these “holds”.

The chapter on “Choking Defenses” is okay, but we prefer simpler actions against these types of attack.

“Clinching Defenses” include a few less-than-ideally practical moves, but by and large the skills illustrated are sound, if you learn them well and apply them vigorously and quickly. A few are similar to Fairbairn’s old “Defendu” (i.e. his pre-WWII Shanghai approach).

The chapter on “Mugging And Strangling” is one we must caution the reader not to take to heart. The actions taught are risky and there are better ways to handle side and frontal headlocks than the ones that the book advocates.

The use of the over-shoulder throw against a rear mugger’s forearm strangle attempt is actually a viable technique, but it must be done before the attacker pulls you off balance to the rear. You must be able to mobilize your abdominal muscles fully, and you need a strong forward bend capability to make this action work. Sigward’s mugging defense was taught as “combat judo”, and such prestigious teachers as the late Professor Theodore Shozo Kuwashima of the Kodokan also advocated this technique.

Wisely, Sigward illustrates a sample action to be taken when held from behind (full nelson) and attacked by a second man from the front. The intelligent reader can extrapolate principles for handling two men in the illustrated defense.

“Throws And Leg Trips” includes the “Front Leg Throw”, a technique we learned (under a different name) from Charlie Nelson. Not a bad defense technique at all. The remaining throws and takedowns are all right; but clearly considerable practice is needed for them to be made reliable enough to employ in an encounter.

We dismiss the chapter “Defense For Women” as impractical. Not trying to offend anyone here, but to expect the statistically average female to be able to apply the techniques illustrated against the statistically average (let alone violent and insane!) male is absurd.

Sigward includes a chapter “Boxing” in which he demonstrates numerous defenses against a boxer. It might be possible for a young, tough, expert-level ju-jutsu man to apply some of these moves, but we must recommend against them. We worked with boxers to develop our boxing counteractions, and one thing we came away with after doing so was a profound respect for boxers and boxing. Fancy or complex moves will not work against them!

There is some good material in the chapters on “Knife Disarming” and “Revolver Disarming”, but these should be studied and scrutinized so as to extract what good points they contain. The full techniques taught would in our opinion be of questionable value.

The final chapter, “Further Steps In Modern Self-Defense” is interesting. It instructs some worthwhile techniques and — what we regard as its strongest point — it illustrates and describes the head butt followed by a knee to the testicles.

On a scale of 1 to 10 we’d rate Modern Self-Defense a “5” or maybe a “6”. Not bad. It is a book that all professionals will want to have in their library, and it is also — in its original hardcover edition — a fine collector’s item.

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Friday, February 25th, 2011

SCIENTIFIC SELF-DEFENCE —aka — DEFENDU: SCIENTIFIC SELF-DEFENCE

Published 1931 as SCIENTIFIC SELF-DEFENCE, first published in 1926 as DEFENDU: SCIENTIFIC SELF-DEFENCE. Shanghai, CHINA. Written by William E. Fairbairn.

The legendary William Ewart Fairbairn wrote Defendu: Scientific Self-Defence when he was a member of the Shanghai Municipal Police Force, holding the position of Officer in Charge of Musketry. That was in 1926. The second edition of the same book was published under the title Scientific Self-Defence. That was in 1931. For all practical purposes the two books are identical. The primary difference is that an original edition of Defendu . . . is virtually impossible to find. An original edition of Scientific . . . is only next to impossible to find. The dollar cost of an original copy of either volume in reasonable condition would almost certainly be at least $1,000. — and we doubt it would be up for sale very long before someone snapped it up.

Fortunately, the alternate publishing house Paladin Press has done us all the great service of reprinting both books, and offering each for a very reasonable price. No researcher into the craft of close combat and self-defense should overlook acquiring and studying a copy of this volume. Reprints offer the same information and teaching value that the originals do; so until you do locate an “original copy” (if you’re a collector) you can satisfy your need and desire to know what the book contains by purchasing a reprint.

Paladin Press offers this book in reprint; but it is doubtful whether any professional in the field will be satisfied until he owns an original of SCIENTIFIC SELF-DEFENCE! There is some excellent material in this work, but students of close combat should appreciate that much of Fairbairn's efforts when this book was written were intended to serve police officers and private citizens looking for "self-defense". The police then — as now — needed comealong, control, and restraining skills — all garbage for serious personal combat employment. Fairbairn's wartime books are superior, but there is still some valuable material in this volume.

Paladin Press offers this book in reprint; but it is doubtful whether any professional in the field will be satisfied until he owns an original of SCIENTIFIC SELF-DEFENCE! There is some excellent material in this work, but students of close combat should appreciate that much of Fairbairn's efforts when this book was written were intended to serve police officers and private citizens looking for "self-defense". The police then — as now — needed comealong, control, and restraining skills — all garbage for serious personal combat employment. Fairbairn's wartime books are superior, but there is still some valuable material in this volume.

As a collector’s item, this book is at the top of all collectors’ lists. There is no one who, like ourself, is a professional teacher and scholar of close combat, who does not covet this book! Like first editions of Applegate’s classic, Kill or Get Killed, those of us who live this stuff must have a copy of Scientific Self-Defence. Unlike Kill or Get Killed, however (and unlike Get Tough! and Hands Off!, both by Fairbairn) Defendu. . . /Scientific. . . is of only limited practical value to the devotee of real world self-defense and close combat. Without wishing to incur the wrath of Fairbairn aficionados — of which we are certainly one! — we must point out two things:

First, not all of the material contained in Defendu/Scientific is the most practical and realistic for serious personal defense applications, and

Second, for practical combative use All-In Fighting/Get Tough! is

Fairbairn’s superior work. (Hands Off! contains pretty much a repeat of what All-In Fighting/Get Tough! offers, but is condensed and re-written with the female’s needs uppermost in mind).

Fairbairn’s brilliance shines through in Scientific because he strives to simplify and to practicalize the classical/traditional ju-jutsu that he himself had studied, in order to meet the tough demands of practical application by those who were not willing or able to spend years at learning formal ju-jutsu. This is no mean accomplishment. Prior to Fairbairn no one was doing this, and, from “traditional” perspectives it was then (as it still is today amongst fanticizing, ridiculous, dojo fanatics and staunch classical-traditionalists) almost sacrilege to deviate from “tradition”. Also, it must be remembered that Fairbairn wrote this text primarily for police officers, secondarily for private citizens who were interested in self-protection. Police requirements were then, as they always have been and always will be, very different than the requirements of wartime combat by military and intelligence people. Fairbairn’s later works reflect his wartime approach — and All-In/Get Tough! is clearly the superior way for handling life or death situations, as opposed to police arrest and control demands.

The comealong type holds, most of the throws, and the armlocks demonstrated in Defendu/Scientific may, in our view, be dispensed with for combat purposes. Much of the stick material is good, but when Fairbairn demonstrates the use of a walking stick for applying a hold he looks no less ridiculous to us than does any traditional “martial artist”.

One should not get up from the ground by doing a backward somersault (and this is a flaw that is found in All-In/Get Tough!, too). Nor should one attempt to “close the gap” between himself and a gunman by doing an acrobatic forward roll on the ground (happily, not found in Fairbairn’s wartime treatments).

Our point really is that Defendu/Scientific should not be regarded as “scripture”. It is a fine work by one of history’s greatest close combat masters — but one does Fairbairn’s memory no service by overlooking weaknesses in the material that appears in his book. And there are weaknesses. Fairbairn’s counter to a rear forearm strangle (“mugger’s grip”) is a poor one. And, frankly, his advocacy of using a front kick against a knife attacker, while neglecting to advocate simple side-stepping, which makes a hell of a lot more sense as a general defensive action, is not the greatest piece of advice (although we love his forthrightness and honesty in emphasizing the real danger inherent in facing a knife-wielder).

Readers should mark well that Fairbairn broke with his own “Defendu” approach to personal combat when he and Sykes were called into service with British intelligence and the commandos during WWII. According to The Secret War Report of the OSS, by Kermit Roosevelt, in which Fairbairn and the training of OSS personnel is referenced, Fairbairn did not use the designation Defendu for his wartime method. Instead, it was referred to simply as The Fairbairn System. (One of this writer’s own teachers, a former FBI instructor, had been a personal student of Fairbairn and Sykes during the second world war. This individual never once referred to Fairbairn’s — or to anyone’s — use of the word “Defendu”. He did say, however, that he and others had been taught The Fairbairn System).

Whether Fairbairn himself ever specifically divided his own thinking about curriculum content according to a process of sorting “this into Defendu” and “that into The Fairbairn System” is a moot point. The fact remains: When Fairbairn was tasked with developing a method of training men for war he approached the matter differently than when, previously in Shanghai, his mission was training police for the challenges of urban law enforcement.

For practical close combat study All-In/Get Tough! and Kill or Get Killed. For the delight of studying a classic text authored by a combatives genius who left an indelible mark on the development of western close combat doctrine, and who influenced all of us who work today to perfect practical armed and unarmed close quarters battle methods, obtain, read, study, and enjoy Defendu/Scientific Self-Defence.

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