Archive for the ‘Monthly Instruction’ Category

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Violent Criminal Attacks

WE perhaps ought to arrange a form letter to send to those misinformed souls who contact us regarding practical self-defense and hand-to-hand combat vs. the artificial arena of sporting martial arts (any  sporting martial arts) or the classical arts. Many seem bewildered when they hear that what wins matches is not the same as that which prevails in anything-goes combat. And when we (gently as we can) inform them that there are no “mysterious secrets” or superhuman possibilities to be derived from training in any classical discipline —— no matter what bullshit they’ve been told, sold in a sales pitch, or read, they become miffed or petulant. Kwai Chang Caine was a TV character (in the old Kung Fu series; recall?), played by an actor, not a professional combat teacher.

Combat is combat. Add rules, restrictions, timekeepers, referees, mats, appointed times for contests, etc., and you now have a S P O R T. Not a thing wrong with sports . . . but they do not, cannot, and should not be mistaken for being synonymous with “hand-to-hand combat”. Combat bears the same relation to competition that a hand grenade bears to a bunch of firecrackers that you’d light on July fourth. Firecrackers are not designed to be dangerous or to cause serious injuries —— but sometimes they do. Hand grenades are most definitely intended to maim or to kill; and if they do not, then they’ve not fulfilled their purpose.

Let’s look at real violence. Street violence. Home invasion violence; abduction, rape, terrorist, bullying, carjacking violence. Gang violence.

Here and now in this 21st century is what you can and ought to anticipate and prepare for when training in self-defense and close combat that is for keeps:

Multiple Assailants

Urban America today is a very violent and dangerous place. There is absolutely no semblance of ethics or even decency in modern fighting. In fact most violent attacks include more than one attacker. If your practice and tactical orientation does not address this, then you’d better  that — and fast!


Armed Attack

The violent offender who does not brandish a handgun or a knife when he confronts you must nevertheless be assumed to be armed. He almost certainly is! His assumption that you won’t be much trouble to handle might make him leave his weapon concealed. Anticipate weapons! Deal with any violent offender on the assumption that he is armed.


Gutter Animals Are Willing To Do Anything To You —— Including Kill You

A very unpleasant fact —— but a FACT, nonetheless. Do not mistake any violent offender for a human being. Offenders are monsters —— whether male, female, young, old, acting alone or in gangs. They are scum, pure and simple.


The “Street/Punk/Predator” Mentality Is 180-Degrees Different From The Civilized Human’s Mentality

Violent filth has never risen to the level of appreciating the dignity, sovereignty, and precious nature of human life. Like the prehistoric, brainless shark, the predator moves about incessantly, “feeding” on its presumed “prey”. Expect no humanity from these swine.


“Provocation” Will Likely Be Nonexistent

A human being reacts with violence only when reason fails and when he must take such action for defense because an attacker has given him no choice. Violent scum merely acts on the impulse to torment, victimize, and prey . . . requiring no rational provocation.


Violent Assailants Enjoy What They Do

This is something that a decent human mind cannot really grasp. “How,” a human being would feel compelled to ask “could anyone ever ‘enjoy’ unjustifiably injuring other people?” All you need to understand is that they do enjoy it, no matter what bilge you hear or read that has been authored by the offenders’ apologists.


Violent Offenders Respect, Fear, And Flee Only From Greater Force

Spend thousands of dollars on a therapist for a bully, and the end result will be . . . a bully. Break both a bully’s legs, kick his kidneys in, crack his skull on the pavement, crush his testicles, tear his ears off, and beat him for hours until he requires, for the rest of his worthless life, two nurses to help him urinate and lift a glass of water to his lips, and the result will be . . . no more bully. Draw your own conclusions about how to handle violent predators.


You Are Unlikely To Have Much If Any Forewarning Of An Attack

Violent offenders strive to stack the odds in their favor and to attack without warning, and with the least amount of risk to themselves. Consider the sewer scum who carry out their knock punch game.


Violent Troublemakers Come In All Sizes And Shapes And Appearances And Ages —— And in Both Genders

This is another of those unfortunate facts of reality. Accept it, or be aware that you may one day become a victim because you ignored it.


Although You May Be Attacked When There Are A Lot Of People Around, You Will More Likely Be Isolated

Predatory scum does try to minimize not only the chance of themselves being injured, but also of their being apprehended. They try to get at a victim who has no apparent recourse to help or to escape. And, even if there is a crowd of people nearby, never expect anyone to help you, or even to give a damn about calling the police or helping you after the attackers flee. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.


You Will, To A Greater Or Lesser Degree, Be Surprised When An Attack Comes

You may be at a picnic, going to or from work or school, taking out the garbage, sitting in a public conveyance, taking a walk after getting over the flu, speaking with a friend, etc. Your mind will be elsewhere and thinking of anything but violence and self-defense.


It Will Be Impossible To Consciously Remember Specific Techniques And “Decide” What To Do

Your conscious mind —— following a moment of clarity in which you will perceive that you are now immersed in dangerous violence and facing a dire threat, —— will give way to subconscious activity. You will, in effect, go on “automatic pilot”.


If You Are Armed You Will Most Often Have To Create The Opportunity To Access Your Weapon

Forget about quick draw, or about having your sidearm in hand. In most situations you will only know that you need your weapon after the attack hits.


The Terrain, Your Clothing, The Physical State That You Are In At The Time, Even The Weather, Often Drastically Affects What You Are Able to Do

You won’t be in a gi, warmed up, on a mat in a well-lit room that has been cleared of debris and furniture when you are attacked. It is best to assume that everything will be unfavorable.


If There Is Any Pre-Action Confrontation You Will Experience Fear

Fear is an anticipatory emotion. One never fears what IS happening; one only fears that which one believes WILL or IS LIKELY TO happen.



By keeping all of these facts about 21st century urban violence uppermost in your mind, you will be able to adjust your training and attitude so that you are fine-tuned to deal with all that we know we can expect in a clash with dangerous predators. And that’s reliable self-defense.


Friday, January 2nd, 2015

                        Smack Him!

WHEN we were a student of ju-jutsu (late 1950’s—early 1960’s) we were instructed in a self-defense technique that most ju-jutsu students are doubtless familiar with. It was a defense against a one-hand frontal clothing grab with the opponent’s arm extended.

We were taught to apply a powerful open hand slap across the attacker’s face while simultaneously seizing his grabbing hand with our opposite hand. The slap (a disorienting move that was accompanied by shouting “bati!” —— the translation of which we were not given) disoriented the attacker as the slapping hand reinforced our grip, and within a second transitioned into a straight arm lock (kansetsu-waza).

It was good ju-jutsu and we respect and appreciate the art to this day; however we subsequently learned that there are many better ways to handle an attack of that type.

That particular defense intrigued  us not because it was so effective against a clothing grab, but because it made us aware of just how effective a slap or a fast smack can be in setting up an unsuspecting opponent. Charlie Nelson also taught us to slap, preparatory to the application of a wrist hold or armlock “comealong” grip.

Today, we teach police officers to use a fast slap, among other actions, before applying a control hold to a suspect. It is very effective.

It is easy to underestimate the power and usefulness of a good, hard, open hand smack that is delivered by a well-conditioned man. Too often slapping is associated with females and consequently shrugged off as being silly. Few realize that the action can be extremely useful in unarmed combat.

In more than one of the classical ch’uan fa (“kung fu”) systems of China open hand slapping is not merely taught —— it is emphasized. For example, a typical “ancient art” training method is to have new students practice very high repetition slapping with their open hands against a steel shot-filled heavy bag; or against leather bags filled with shot. (Caution: Such training against steel shot filled bags must be accompanied by the use of special hand liniments, or serious injuries can result.) Training today for the modern close combat/self-defense student should not involve such training. Instead, the slap should be developed as a disorientation move (in a manner similar to American Combato’s “backfist-forearm smash”).

A good practice regimen to develop the smack for self-defense is to train each day against a regular heavy bag. Practice a minimum of 30 full power smacks with each hand against the bag. Within 30 days of daily practice you will readily appreciate the power that you are able to deliver.

You have two targets:

1. The entire side of the face, and

2. The ears.

Note: a backhand smack to the nose can be useful, but do not backhand smack to any other target, as the back of the hand is fragile and impact with any hard surface could easily break the bone, causing tremendous pain and disabling the hand. Smack with the open palm.

Remember when training the slap that any wide-swinging blow should be avoided. Too easy to see coming and possibly block or dodge. Instead, cut the arc of the blow in delivery, and use a shorter, faster, elliptical path for delivery.

Get power by turning your entire body into the blow. Slap with everything you’ve got, never just with your arm.

The smack lends itself to delivery from a non-apparent ready-stance, with your hands open, relaxed, and telegraphing nothing. Remember also that when delivered with full follow-through —— as it always ought to be delivered —— the smack results in the striking arm cocking, ready to deliver a returning handaxe chop or hammerfist or elbow strike. The recipient’s head will turn upon impact of the smack, and that opens up his carotid artery or temple to your followup blow.

After mastering the core 16 Blows, we recommend starting to develop the smack as a reliable, useful secondary strike.

It is well worth cultivating.


Thursday, December 11th, 2014

                      Techniques To Forget About

  (If your concern is exclusively self-defense and close combat)

SIMPLICITY, destructiveness, retainability, learnability, broad applicability. doable by almost anyone of any age or either gender, suitable for use in all environments, under all weather and terrain conditions, not greatly dependent upon physical strength or agility, or upon any particular type of clothing, or even of being in top condition or perfect health. That sums up fairly nicely the requirements of techniques that are expected to stand up to actual, real world combat and emergency self-defense situations and circumstances. And that also provides a standard by which numerous popular “martial arts techniques” may be excluded from consideration for practical use. (Note: We are in no sense now making a blanket criticism of any skills that are —— classically or competitively —— practiced enthusiastically by the many devotees of the many systems out there. Our point is only that, for actual application and reliable use in  real unarmed and close combat, there are many techniques that are way less than desirable choices.)

If you have particular interest in traditional arts or in competition then we urge that you waste no time or energy on the following:

1. Unless you are a law enforcement officer, security specialist, or similarly employed peacekeeper, all “comealong”, control, restraining, and pain compliance holds. Private citizens have absolutely no responsibility to effect arrests or to restrain violent offenders. And doing so is always risky and dangerous. Pain is subjective. Injury is what stops determined attackers. Many offenders are insane, on drugs, drunk, or psychopathically determined, and will fight to the death to escape capture or to maim or kill anyone attempting to bring them under control.

2. Any fine motor movements intended to enable you to stop punches or kicks that are thrown, to defeat sudden holds and grips, or to thwart surprise shoves, tackles, etc. Once hit with a real attack —— or obliged to preempt what you perceive to be danger —— your ability to generate fine motor articulations disappears. Yes, in a demonstration you can catch the knife thrusting wrist of the attacker and, after making him drop the weapon, toss him about and bring him under control with a beautifully executed armlock. In a real world attack you will be lucky if you can evade the lunatic’s stabbing action and retaliate with effective blows.

3. Classical karate blocks. Hell, black belt karate experts cannot even use these themselves in sparring! They are rigid, slow, not very strong, reactive (i.e. commenced only after the attacker launches his attack, making a successful choice of which block to employ all but impossible!) and inefficient.

4. Attacks that connect with non-decisive targets. The objective in a life-threatening emergency must be to knock out, cripple, or kill . . . because that is what will likely happen to you if you dawdle about with holds or blows intended to “discourage” rather than disable. For the purpose of serious unarmed combat the human body has about fifteen targets to destroy. The martial arts teachers, schools, and theories that insist that the human body has nearly 100 vital points are misleading.

5. High, turning, spinning, jumping, flying and all acrobatic kicks. Forget ‘em! The legs offer extremely valuable weapons . . . but they are limited to only simple, direct, low area kicks. In real hand-to-hand combat, whether in a military or citizen self-defense context, fancy kicking is suicidal.

6. Throw out all but the most fundamental throws and takedowns. “Sacrifice” throws should not be used. Combat throws must cause injury during the setup and delivery phase, not merely at throw’s conclusion. Besides, throwing is a secondary, not a primary technique in close combat. Blows of the hands, feet, elbows, knees, and head are key.

7. Classical karate kata. These formal exercises are extremely beneficial for the ongoing drill required to keep all classical movements sharp. They provide exercise, discipline, and they are useful to catalog individual techniques and instill the ability to render viable combinations of the basics and the stance movements of the art. But there are few things more IRRELEVANT to real world hand-to-hand combat than the classical/traditional kata.

8. Classical karate or “kung fu” or ninja, etc. stances. Absolute nonsense for real world, modern close combat. Like classical kata, they are irrelevant for practical use.

9. Judo’s preliminary grasp. We mention this because anyone training in judo becomes habituated to the frontal approach and the application of the sleeve-and-collar grip which precedes throwing drill, randori, etc. OK for judo; death in real combat. If you study judo with the expectation that you will use it for personal defense, be warned! Unlike the foolishness of assuming a formalized “fighting stance” (which is bad enough!), the foolishness of the preliminary judo grip not only wastes time and telegraphs your intention, it will surely get you knocked out by a good fistfighter, or stabbed to death by a knife-wielding felon.

10. Reliance upon clenched fist punching. Straight punches into the sternum, uppercuts to the solar plexus, and —— in certain instances —— to the testicles, as well as punches into the liver, spleen, or kidney MAY be practical for some. However, aside from the occasional use of such clenched fist blows, the OPEN HAND and the hammerfist type closed fist are the natural weapons when the outcome of an encounter means serious injury or death.

11. Any techniques for which lengthy limbering up, warming up, and elaborate preparation must be undertaken before execution is possible. This really ought to be obvious to everyone. However, we have spoken with tae kwon do black belts who need at least 30 minutes of warming up before they can execute the very kicks upon which they seriously expect to defend their lives in a split second, unanticipated emergency, when they are clad in normal attire, and when the weather may be cold (necessitating up to an hour of warming up in the dojang, under ideal conditions)! Unwise.

12. All techniques requiring the presence of unusual hereditary strength or athletic propensities. First, because you may not possess this strength or these propensities to begin with. Second, because even if you do, they will not serve you into old age as true combat and self-defense techniques must be capable of doing —— or they are of very limited, short-term value.

13. Pursuing “ch’i” development and the supposed use of “special energies” and powers to stop dangerous enemies in combat. Grow the hell up.

14. Studies of T’ai Ch’i Ch’uan, Hsing Yi Ch’uan, or Pa G’ua Ch’uan, or aikido for combat purposes.

First of all, aikido is not and never was intended to be a martial (i.e. warlike, combat) art. It is a martial WAY. Aikijutsu is the combat art.

Second, the Chinese internal martial arts can be used in personal combat and defense, but only after what would be for most people a prohibitively long period of training (i.e. perhaps fifteen to 20 years or more). A person who spent a serious, hard year boxing or learning judo would be better able by far to defend himself than someone who spent only a year training in an internal Chinese system.

We again must emphasize that we are speaking only and exclusively about discarding or avoiding techniques FOR SELF-DEFENSE and FOR  CLOSE COMBAT use. We are not deriding martial arts of any kind, per se. If you wish to excel as a competitor or if your love is classical methods, then by all means train as your objective and long-range goals require, in order to attain what you are after.

If you are training purely to be able to defeat an enemy in hand-to-hand combat or to be able to defend yourself under dangerous, real world street conditions however, pay attention to what we say.


Monday, December 1st, 2014
The epitome of fierce aggression! The Gurkha warrior, though relatively small in physical stature, if feared and respected worldwide for his absolute ferocity and attack mindedness. This is the attitude needed for self-defense.

The epitome of fierce aggression! The Gurkha warrior, though relatively small in physical stature, if feared and respected worldwide for his absolute ferocity and attack mindedness. This is the attitude needed for self-defense.

            On Attacking First


SOME have deliberately misconstrued our doctrine of  “attack your attacker”, which we formulated and introduced in the very late 1960’s, and then wrote about in subsequent publications, as condoning “excessive aggressiveness”, “a too aggressive mindset”, and as being “contrary to the teachings of the ‘true’ martial arts” (whatever the hell that idiotic statement may mean).

In fact of course the way in which we teach, and the underlying tactical premise of our System, American Combato, is anything but excessively aggressive, or condoning of a “too aggressive” mindset. We advocate avoidance whenever possible, and the use of force only in unavoidable self-defense. The nonsense reference to “true martial arts” is way too stupid to reply to. Martial arts of all kinds have been developed, taught, and are still evolving throughout the world. No one can reasonably state that some of these are “true”, as opposed to others, which are presumably “false”. This is RELIGIOUS talk; in no way does it have anything to do with the martial arts —— i.e. with the authenticity and validity of “arts of war”. Some close combat and defense systems are apparently more effective and logical than others. However, each and every one of the world’s combat arts was developed by individuals who, sincerely and honestly, believed their product to be valid. That’s all that is required to qualify any system or method as a “true” martial art. Over the centuries there have been many hundreds if not thousands of “true” martial arts. Unfortunately, it is the inclination of one-dimensional morons to assert (with zero truth, or validation to support their assertions) that their “martial art” is the “true” one, and everybody else is from hunger.

Where some valid judgment regarding value may be made occurs when we speak of specific purposes for a martial art that is in question. For example, if we wish to know which percussionary martial art is best FOR WINNING MATCHES, a great argument can be made for either Th’ai boxing or tae kwon do. Both these arts as interpreted in action by their finest respective proponents, do seem to prevail over others in “karate-type” matches. For grappling contests the so-called “Brazilian jiu-jitsu” and Kodokan Judo would likely take the lead; in some instances, perhaps catch-as-catch-can wrestling would prevail.

As far as classical/traditional arts are concerned, the only question that may sanely and realistically be asked is: “Which one do you most enjoy training in?” That one, as far as any individual participant is concerned, is the proper one to select. It’s the “true” one for you.

When it comes to combat and defense arts, history has taught us again and again what works and what doesn’t work in hand-to-hand combat. All who have made legitimate studies and researches into the subject know the kind of techniques, tactics, and mindset that prevails in war —— and, specifically for defense and combat —— systems that adhere most closely to that which is known to work in real combat may be said — in that context — to be the “best”.

Our System, American Combato, is the one we know best. It is the result not of attempting to either emulate or carry on classical/traditional or sporting/competitive martial arts, but of striving to develop a system that abandons tradition and sport, and that looks only at that which works, and that which has been proven in war to be effective in all aspects of individual combat.

Over the decades of our training and study and research we have found that certain things are responsible for a man’s victory in hand-to-hand combat, and certain things tend not to be effective, even though classical systems and sporting arts of “combat” teach them. In their (i.e. the classicist’s and competitor’s respective camps) that which they do is valid, and needs no correction. However, for combat —— in the context of private citizens’ self-defense or military battle —— the following has proven to be The Right Way To Go:

1. A fierce, aggressive, often murderous and merciless mindset is needed. Decency, ethics, fair play, sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, mercy, compassion, and restraint are anathema, and must never hinder the mind of a person who finds himself battling someone who is bent upon maiming or killing him.

2. Extreme and unmerciful aggression —— concentrating on attack —— is the only likely path to stopping a dangerous foe from defeating you.

3. Blows —— to include gouges, clawing, ripping, crushing, biting, spitting, butting, poking, and the use of anything at hand to assist in defeating the enemy —— is the backbone of optimally effective hand-to-hand combat,whether for self-defense or for wartime application by members of the armed forces.

4. Relentless followup should always be one’s tactic when engaged in vital combat. Human beings are very difficult to stop when under combat stress and/or when they are determined to maim or to kill.

5. Four assumptions need guide one’s tactical preparation:  i) The enemy is physically and technically superior to you,  ii) The enemy is armed (even if no weapon is apparent at the time of attack),  iii) The enemy is deadly serious, and his intention is to severely injure or to kill you,  and  iv) The enemy has cohorts who will also attack you (even if none are apparent at the time of initial contact).

6. Develop strength, stay in shape, and develop your natural weapons to the greatest degree possible.

All of that which is stated above is for the purpose of making the student an aggressive, deadly combat machine; a machine that, when necessary, will go into unhesitant aggressive, offensive action and neutralize whatever threat presents itself. This is because, in real combat, offense wins. And, in real combat, losing is not an option to be considered.

This is why we advocate attacking first. Not attacking in order to start a fight. Attacking in order to preempt an attack that you perceive being unavoidable and that is imminent from a confronting aggressor.

Even when you are taken by surprise (which can and should be prevented insofar as it is humanly possible to prevent — by planning, situational awareness, wariness, and constant alertness) and find yourself obliged to react to a hold from behind, attacking is your best hope for effective defense. Attack the attacker with whatever has not been immobilized, or by using the best available natural weapon to devastate the adversary’s closest vulnerable target. Then followup! Keep on attacking!

“Defense” is the decent human being’s motive for using the techniques of close combat. “Offense” is his best means of successfully protecting himself.

Bear this in mind whenever you train and in your preparations mentally for dealing with any dangerous, violent crisis.


Tuesday, August 5th, 2014



                            A Great Tip For Knifework — Courtesy

                     of Fairbairn and Sykes

Warning!: This article, and all articles, instruction, and commentary on this web site, is presented for academic and informational purposes only.


FAIRBAIRN’S great Classic All-In Fighting/Get Tough! references his and Sykes’ superb commando knife, and does describe some very rudimentary knifework, but it does not go into the full Fairbairn System’s knifework repertoire. Neither does Applegate’s fabulous Kill Or Get Killed —— which certainly does go into a great deal of the excellent WWII knife fighting doctrine of Fairbairn and Sykes, and of Applegate. But there was more.

Whenever a teacher teaches (assuming he really does teach, professionally), he includes and incorporates into the program a lot more than may be recorded in print, or demonstrated in films. The spontaneity of good teaching enables the teacher to draw upon little details of his subject —— born of study, research, and experience —— and while personally interfacing with students over time he is able to provide somewhat more than just the core essentials and mechanics of his subject —— which of course can be presented in books or on DVDs, etc. In teaching close combat, which is of course in many ways a chaotic and unpredictable matter, experiences drawn from which are numerous, and “tricks” and “tips” that accrue to the professional over his decades of experience provide real treasure for personal students.

We learned one of those “tricks” years ago, from the late Col. Applegate. He advised us that this was taught by Fairbairn to the British Commandos, and was not really emphasized (if mentioned at all) to students in SOE or the OSS. Due to the nature of this technique we assume that the emphasis upon it for commandos grew out of the knowledge that these specialized soldiers were incredibly well-conditioned, fit, and supremely aggressive and strong. Unlike those who filled the ranks of the SOE and OSS (who were also well-conditioned and fit) the commandos were real and true “gut fighters”. They were in many instances naturally aggressive far beyond whatever aggressiveness may have been integral to the personalities of the rather intellectual body of recruits who filled the ranks of the wartime secret services. The commandos were —— unapologetically —— killers; and they were very, very good at their craft.



When issued their F&S Commando Knives they were trained thoroughly in the use of these daggers, and each commando was an enthusiastic “knife man” —— in addition, of course, to being an unarmed combatant and an expert with individual firearms. All things pertaining to combat and killing —— with and without weapons —— and to instilling murderous ferocity and merciless aggressiveness was the mainstay of commando training. SOE and OSS agents were very well trained, but the personal killing (with knives, sticks, and guns, etc.) did not occupy anywhere near the number of hours that it did with the commandos.


Because close combat was so integral to commando work, and closing in hand-to-hand combat was anticipated and expected during most if not all commando operations, every dirty and effective foul method of gaining the upper hand and destroying the enemy was drilled into these ferocious shock troops. This was one of them:


As the enemy came into contact range in hand-to-hand, the commando held his knife well back, hand braced at his side. In darkness or semidarkness and with a darkened blade (which commandos were taught to do with their knives) the enemy most often never even noticed that the British soldier was in possession of a blade!  Suddenly and powerfully, using the advancing momentum of the Nazi soldier, the commando seized his adversary and yanked him strongly toward himself, using the combined momentum of the enemy’s advance and his own strength and determination. The result was that the commando effectively pulled the advancing enemy onto the braced and poised blade of his dagger!

Once impaled, the commando simply ripped the blade across the enemy’s body. This insured a fatal wound, and the agony of such evisceration far surpassed the effect of a mere “stab wound” (which, even when eventually fatal, often caused little actual shock or severe pain).

The superb F&S Commando Knife. The straight double-edged dagger with its spearpoint, slim blade and sharp double edges is ideally suited to this and to all of the knifework tactics that Fairbairn taught. Randalls, Eks, and other well-designed fighting knives work as well.

The superb F&S Commando Knife. The straight double-edged dagger with its spearpoint, slim blade and sharp double edges is ideally suited to this and to all of the knifework tactics that Fairbairn taught. Randalls, Eks, and other well-designed fighting knives work as well.


Alternatively, if for some reason the combative encounter resulted in the enemy breaking body-to-body contact upon the initial blade penetration, the commando simply slit his throat or drove his knife into the enemy’s throat or into his carotid artery.


We readily admit that this sort of combat is, well, distasteful. However, if we have not yet conveyed the message, let us do it now: All real combat is “distasteful”, ugly, and —— whenever possible —— to be avoided. Only in unavoidable self-defense should any combat actions be used against anyone —— armed or unarmed.

Now you’ve had a lesson in WWII knifework that you won’t find in Get Tough! or in Kill Or Get Killed.
















Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

                           The Half-Fist Strike

THE half-fist strike (“hiraken” in the Okinawan and Japanese styles of karate) is a very useful blow in unarmed combat. The late Prof. William Chow, founder of the kenpo-karate system that the late Ed Parker brought to the mainland, favored this strike. Chow’s thick fingers and powerful hands enabled him to employ the half-fist blow to numerous targets that most individuals would be well advised not to attack with this weapon. However, this blow can be utilized with extreme efficiency by nearly anyone when limited to the throat and to the sides of the neck.



Used in a fast thrust to the throat the half-fist is excellent as an opening move in a combination. Once this blow connects with the throat the least that it will accomplish is complete disorientation, leaving your enemy totally helpless to resist your subsequent actions. The blow could also be fatal, so obviously —— like all genuine combative techniques —— this blow is to be employed only to save life and limb in a dangerous and unavoidable attack.

It is always critical to avoid telegraphing this or any strike.

It is also critical to never rely upon one single blow to drop a dangerous and determined adversary, and follow up.

When launching a preemptive attack you will almost without exception be in your prepared stance (in American Combato, our relaxed-ready stance). You launch a straight-line non-telegraphed half-fist thrust from this stance using your lead hand.

Used defensively against whatever your adversary initiates —— catching you for the moment off-guard —— the half-fist may be driven to the throat or to either side of the neck with either hand. Use it when and where the opening occurs, and use it fast!

Advantages of the Half-Fist Strike

1. Its reach extends a few inches beyond the clenched fist.

2. The flat, narrow hand formation insures that the blow will travel under the enemy’s jaw and not be blocked by the jawbone, as a clenched fist might be.

3. The blow is strong, and the two recommended target areas are extremely vulnerable.

4. The blow can be delivered —— powerfully —— despite the assailant’s close proximity.

For all but those very, very few who might find the half-fist blow awkward or the hand formation difficult to achieve, this blow is very versatile. With lots of practice its delivery can approach the effectiveness of an open hand chop (“handaxe strike”).

How to Condition the Half-Fist Blow

Do not use sheaved straw. Use a thick rubber pad fixed to a striking post or solid wall.

A most excellent conditioning method is to use a block of artist’s modeling clay and repeatedly drive the blow into that. It will not cut your hand or damage your knuckles but will improve the quality of your weapon’s hardness and destructive potential.

While the half-fist blow in not one of the key Basic Blows of unarmed close combat it is nonetheless a valuable supplementary blow for those who have developed their key basics.

Remember: This technique must never be used unless you are given no choice but to take action to protect life and limb.


Thursday, May 8th, 2014

                                              Does Your .45 Jam? 

                               (A QUICK FIX: USE THE RIGHT AMMUNITION!)

WE know how popular the Glocks are, and we appreciate that those who swear by them are legion. Still, our first and foremost choice of a combat/defensive handgun is the old (over 100 years old, to be precise) Colt 1911 Government Model .45 pistol. This handgun is not “outdated”. It is perhaps The Most rugged and reliable battle pistol on earth. Reliable not only because it is simple and durable under the most terrible conditions, but also because the .45 ACP slug that it sends smashing into an adversary is as certain to drop a man as any practical handgun round could be. (Note: We really do need to point out that Springfield Armory, Remington, and other firearms manufacturers make fully serviceable and top quality 1911 .45’s today. Our preference first and foremost for Colt’s —— Government Model and Commanders —— comes from that being the 1911 we first acquired and trained with, and we have a very strong personal, admittedly emotional, bond with the Colts.)

Every once in a while something sensible manages to find its way into the newsstand “gun magazines”. Mostly, however, these are commercial periodicals dependent upon keeping their advertisers happy and touting the current or long-standing fads and biases in the shooting field, so as to keep gun buffs smiling, reading, subscribing, and buying.

One of the favored topics in these magazines is “the latest ammo”. This or that “expert”, “guru”, or (we’d call him a) nincompoop is going to let the panting readers in on the latest scoop regarding the greatest and latest super ammo, guaranteed to stop anyone, and to surpass all of that “silly stuff” which the unenlightened non-subscribers to the magazine foolishly carry in their sidearms.

This is largely commercial bullshit. And anyone who, like ourself, carries and prefers a 1911 .45 sidearm, just may be causing problems for himself by buying into the horse dung that some of these “experts” in the magazines advise.

If your weapon is a 1911 pistol you do not need and you ought not carry in your weapon, anything but the standard, unglamorous, WWI and WWII, and Korean War, and Vietnam War proven 230 grain full metal jacketed “G.I. hardball” round.

“Really?” Yes, really.

First of all anyone who disputes that the 230 grain hardball round is a powerful one, is a fool. It has proven again and again and again to be a real “walloper”  —— and although no handgun round can rise to the level of reliable stopping probability that a 12 gauge shotgun or a .308 battle rifle most certainly provides, that’s the compromise you must live with in return for the compactness and handiness of having a firearm at your side when carrying a powerful shoulder weapon just isn’t feasible.

We (and plenty of others who know what the hell they are talking and writing about, too) have been emphasizing for years now that it is SHOT PLACEMENT that is most critical for bringing an attacking felon or enemy soldier to the deck. Of course the more power your sidearm commands, the better. But by its nature any handy sidearm just cannot deliver so much power that, like a shotgun or rifle blast, it will likely drop your man every time pretty much with a hit anywhere. The .45 ACP round delivers what a handgun can deliver. For reliable self-defense it is up to the shooter to deliver his weapon’s best where it will most likely drop him immediately.

Magazine articles touting some “new and better” round for close combat use that far surpass what could previously have been fired in the “.45” should be taken as seriously as bugs bunny cartoons. Stop looking for a “better” round. Purchase factory new Federal, Winchester, or Remington 230 grain FMJ (GI Hardball) ammunition. Make sure you can hit your enemy with those rounds quickly and in the kill zone, twice when you fire your weapon. Practice. Don’t look for a “better round”.


When the U.S. military issued the 1911 .45 in WW’s I and II, Korea, and Vietnam, they issued plain, stock weapons. No “throating” was necessary and the handgun served in  a rock-steady, utterly reliable fashion because the ammunition utilized was factory-made 230 grain hardball —— THE AMMUNITION FOR WHICH THE 1911 WAS DESIGNED.

If you will settle on the 230 grain hardball then your 1911 .45 will function with optimal feeding and firing efficiency. Stop paying attention to those who insist that such ammo is “purely for range firing”, but for combat purposes you’ve got to use some newer hollowpoint or other “special combat round”. Bullshit!

The reliability that comes with using GI hardball is a million times more important than any imaginary “advantage” you might enjoy loading your sidearm with ammo that does often cause jams.

Use a good quality 1911 pistol, be certain that you use quality, carefully maintained magazines, and feed your weapon what it was designed to fire: factory new, 230 grain full metal jacketed hardball rounds.

You will then be able to say “goodbye” to the irritating jamming problems “the latest and greatest ammo” is almost certain to give you.

The Superb 1911 .45 automatic pistol — below.

Unfortunately, many have experienced jamming when they’s attempted to load and fire “hollowpoint” or “wadcutter” type ammunition into this weapon. That’s because the 1911 .45 was designed to feed and fire the 230 grain full metal jacketed round. Media nonsense has convinced many that the 230 grain hardball round isn’t sufficient. Not only is it “sufficient” —— it is the most dependable ammunition for the weapon!






Monday, December 30th, 2013


(Derived From Studying The So-Called “Knockout Game” Phenomenon)

HERE’S a test of our society’s health: If every single one of the sewer animals participating —— directly or indirectly —— in the sick “knockout” crimes is hunted down and KILLED, then our culture is relatively healthy. If any single one of those violent scum lives, then our society is in dire straits. (Note: Yes, we know. Our society is definitely in dire straits. We just wanted to open this article with a statement that establishes very clearly where we stand on this issue, and how we feel our system should handle it).

Under conditions where punching someone is not illegal (i.e. in a boxing or martial arts contest, for instance) or even in an extralegal fighting situation, where both parties square off (like idiots) and swing on each other, it is most unusual for one of the participants to land a single, sufficiently telling punch, that knocks out —— or kills —— the recipient. And these are trained and conditioned fighters or  hardened, violent street types. So what is it that imbues the fifty-for-a-penny lumps of street s—t , who do this “knockout” crap,  with such skill and strength that they are able to do what trained fighters and/or hardened street fighters generally have difficulty doing?

This is an important question, and there is a crucial point to be made here, so pay attention and learn.

The answer —— which underscores a training lesson for all of us —— is that the scum has no real “fighting ability”, or particular strength advantage, at all. THE KNOCKOUTS ARE SUCCESSFUL IN RENDERING THE VICTIMS UNCONSCIOUS (OR DEAD) BECAUSE THE VICTIMS ARE TAKEN COMPLETELY BY SURPRISE! In an inattentive, unalarmed, relaxed, and calm state —— physically and mentally —— the ability of any human being is to resist a violent physical attack is drastically reduced. The late, truly magnificent magician, Harry Houdini, died as the result of some moron’s suddenly punching him in the stomach —— fullforce, and by surprise. Note that Harry Houdini had a standing offer to anyone who wished to try to hurt him by doing so, to punch him in his stomach as hard as they could. The catch? Houdini had to be ready for the punch! His stomach muscles, ready and tensed, could probably have withstood the punch of a professional boxer — the magician’s level of strength and physical condition was so high. Prior to the moron’s attack, no one was able to even phase Houdini with his most powerful, deliberate punch. But relaxed and off guard, Houdini was as vulnerable as any statistically normal, unconditioned man would be to such sudden trauma.

CONDITION WHITE WILL NOT DO WHEN YOU ARE OUT AND ABOUT! Ever-alert, situational awareness and a healthy suspicion  regarding anyone you do not know who is near to, or who approaches you, is in order. Trust no stranger. Never mind how old or which gender. If you do not know the individual, remain suspicious, on guard, and in condition yellow (or orange) if close proximity occurs between you.

In a heightened state of mind —— a ready, combat state —— you will automatically be much more resistant to injury and damage that some sudden attack by some scumbag might cause. And if you are trained you probably will be able to neutralize —— with your hands and feet, or perhaps with a sidearm —— the attacker’s onslaught, before it begins!

Mere heightened alertness and awareness by itself will serve to protect you to a great extent against serious injury from a street s—t’s attack. After all, even a completely untrained person will at least reflexively bring his hands and arms up to shield himself when he perceives a punch being thrown at him. LEARN THIS WELL! Be alert, aware, suspicious. This is not a sane or friendly world.

Two additional points:

1. Obviously it is best to avoid contact with the kind of toxic, living mistakes that initiate mindless violence. So, if your commitment to always being in condition yellow warns you in sufficient time, get the hell away from the scene. Steer clear of trouble whenever possible, as avoidance is the very best self-defense technique of all.

2. Your being in a heightened state of awareness and readiness will trip the wire in time, and enable you to go into your own savage counterattacking action —— which you should do like your life depends upon it, because it may. There have been deaths caused by these scum who get their entertainment from from playing this “knockout game” of theirs. Best to shoot them, if possible (as one woman shot two of seven bacteria dead, who attempted to knock her out, some months ago). But you will at least be able to break the attacker’s leg, smash his throat in, or strike him in the eyes before or as he throws his “fun” punch.

The big, BIG lesson for us all, is the crucial importance of being mentally conditioned, always alert, aware, suspicious, and ready-to-go whenever you circulate in the world.

Be ready.




Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Simplicity: A Key Requirement Of Effective Combat           Techniques

ANYONE who has spent a number of years training seriously in any of the classical Asian martial arts knows that there are a not insignificant number of techniques that are difficult to learn because they are complicated. We recall hearing about a judo technique that is taught at the advanced black belt level which requires seven years, on average, for the individual to master. Seven years! And that’s for someone who is already a black belt level expert.

While it certainly is commendable for a person to be so disciplined and dedicated to his art that he is willing to devote long stretches of time to learning its skills (and then to devote even more time to mastering them) it really must be said that such techniques cannot be realistically thought of as “practical” for actual, desperate combat engagements, either in peacetime or in war. The individual who is looking for combat and defense abilities needs to specifically avoid complicated and elaborate techniques. Those skills that can be applied naturally, instinctively, speedily, and reliably in the sort of chaos that is a real hand-to-hand engagement must be easy to learn, easy to retain, easy to develop, and reliably destructive.

Any study of real close combat will reveal the truth of what we are saying here. YouTube offers a plethora of videos that show real battles. Some are awful revelations of vicious and unprovoked attacks on innocent victims, others are mutual engagements between fools; but many show acts of legitimate self-defense — thankfully successful and well executed by the intended victims of the attacks. Virtually all of these videos will verify that the actions resorted to by the participants (with the exception of those staged encounters that appear and those childish but not brutal “fights” between youngsters) are simple, gross movements. Neither acrobatics nor fine motor articulations play any part.

Where and when anything “martial artsy” might be attempted in a real encounter, it is the one against whom that action is intended who will emerge victorious.

In actual combat the human organism undergoes a sudden and involuntary change. Physically, there is a surge in blood pressure, adrenaline is dumped into the system, and the entire musculature of the body is “jolted” into a coordinated effort at “fighting or fleeing”. Tunnel vision (the “peripheral optic dysfunction phenomenon”) occurs, the threshold of pain explodes through the roof, and one’s ability to generate speed, power, and concentration quadruples. Mentally, one abandons conscious, deliberate thought, and the subconscious directs actions and reactions. (This is one of the reasons why, for example, highly skilled combatants cannot remember what they did after a physical engagement. When firearms are involved it is not uncommon for a participant to not be aware of how many times he fired his weapon.)

Unless these things are understood, and unless they guide your choice of what you train to do in case of a dangerous emergency, you very well may develop impressive and effective expertise in the techniques that you train in, but not be able to employ them for real because their complexity prevents them from being reflexively applied when you are under combat stress.

You are better off with a half dozen simple techniques that meet the criteria of being retainable, and destructive and that can be applied in the widest variety of situations, than you’d be learning 100 techniques that demanded fine motor articulations, endless and meticulously arduous practice, and specific positioning of yourself and your adversary, in order to be effective.

What are the very best SIMPLE techniques? First and foremost key blows like the chinjab smash, the handaxe chop, the fingertips thrust, elbow smash, side and front kicks. We emphasize sixteen key blows in American Combato and —— similarly —— utilize a curriculum of key combinations and counterattacks that provide solid, all-round training and conditioning. If you are one of our personal students or if you use our DVD Course at home, then you have a complete overview of this, and you’re on your way to mastering the kinds of simple techniques that we are emphasizing.

In any violent emergency you want to rely upon those war-proven basic and simple skills that have been established and demonstrated to be effective in the real arena of deadly combat.

Simplicity. Its value and beauty really need to be appreciated!


The importance of simplicity applies to weapons as well. The simple straight hardwood baton is infinitely superior to that piece of junk called the PR-24, or the ridiculous “expandable batons” that are so politically correct (and useless). The Browning designed 1911 .45 pistol at more than 100 years of age, is still — in large measure due to its simplicity — regarded by many as the finest combat handgun in the world. And forget about the sexy and exotic latest-design “fighting knives”. The good old proven simple-design Eks and Randalls, and the Fairbairn-Sykes and Applegate-Fairbairns are still without peer for real world practical efficiency.


Thursday, October 17th, 2013

 “Disarming” And Weapon Retention: Two Badly    Misunderstood Skills

“DISARMING” as a term used to describe defensive actions taken when confronting a man with a handgun or shoulder weapon, is a misleading designation. It literally implies taking away the enemy’s weapon; removing it from his grasp. And while there are indeed a number of actions that are taught where literal disarming is the objective, these are terribly dangerous and ineffective skills. Suitable perhaps to motion picture fight scenes and TV shows (and perhaps to martial arts demonstrations) such techniques are more likely to be suicidal than successful when actually attempted against an armed individual.

Consider the following: You have taken a man at gunpoint. You do not wish to kill him right away, but you are perfectly prepared to do so if he resists, and you are in a state of heightened agitation — ready for action — should he make any suspicious or aggressive move. Obviously you believe this individual to be a potential problem or you would not be pointing a loaded gun at him. Now, what are you going to do the second this man slams your weapon aside and secures a grip on your wrist and/or the weapon? Will you stand there and watch as he goes through some series of actions that wrestle the weapon away from you? You certainly will not! You will throw a punch into his face, or claw at his eyes, kick him, elbow him, etc. You will be immediately desperate! While the man you are pointing your gun at may have completely surprised you with his first move, his second and third, etc. will merely provide you time to act; that is, unless his second movement is a crushing blow to your throat, or some similar destructive action, followed up with a barrage of successive actions!

Certainly your man will be able to disarm you if you are an inattentive, relaxed and careless fool. But to train in a methodology of firearm defense that relies upon the weapon-bearing foe being an inattentive, relaxed, careless fool is a very poor strategy.

“Disarming” is nonsense. Confronted by a man with a gun and convinced that he is after you and not your wallet, the solution is to KNOCK ASIDE THE WEAPON OR SOMEHOW GET OUT OF ALIGNMENT WITH BARREL AS MOVEMENT NUMBER ONE. MOVEMENT NUMBER TWO: KILL THE GUNMAN.

No one really likes to hear that. Too realistic. Too blunt. Too “un-martial artsy”. Too damn bad!  “Kill the gunman!”  Yes. Remember that if you yourself had a firearm you would be legally justified and morally justified in shooting a man who was pointing a gun at you. Deadly force is justified in the face of a deadly threat.  And any weapon in the hands of an assailant is a deadly threat.

You are of course free to disagree with our thesis. But remember what the consequences may be — to you and to your family — if humane considerations intervene when and if  you are ever in a situation of this kind. Defend like a murderous, wild animal and kill your foe; or be killed by your foe. Take your choice. Pretty and impressively acrobatic moves, or undramatic, simple, and practical ones. It’s your neck!


Our reaction years ago when we first saw weapon retention skills that were being taught to law enforcement — from the local levels on up to the FBI — was “My goodness! Does anyone believe that this s—t could ever actually be applied?”  We even discussed our reaction to these skills with Col. Rex Applegate, who agreed with us. (With all due respect to Lamb and Lindell — two of the most noted promulgators of weapon retention skills, we honestly cannot fathom how their techniques could be applied outside an academy gymnasium. We intend no personal disrespect here, but we feel very strongly about our Nation’s law enforcers being properly trained and fully prepared to survive the dangers that may arise during the course of their work).

Note: Weapon retention skills are primarily needed by uniformed protectors — i.e. police, security guards, etc. However, any individual who carries his handgun in a manner that makes its presence visible should learn retention technique.


Preliminarily, understand that there can be no substitute for continual alertness ( situational awareness).as a safeguard against having a weapon snatch successfully undertaken against you. The person who is continually wary (as every officer must be, when on the job), who guards his back, who observes his surroundings, who maintains proper distance from anyone whom he approaches or who approaches him, and who, in any instance when he approaches anyone in an official capacity, or when anyone approaches him when he is on the job — maintains mental condition ORANGEis not going to have his weapon snatched.

A good holster helps, but the primary factor for preventing a weapon snatch is a combination of alertness, and the readiness to attack and neutralize any sudden aggressor.

Weapon retention skills that require the individual to know which hand the weapon snatch from behind is being attempted with (!), or that teach a few separate and specific defenses, each requiring fine motor articulations, or that emphasize suspect control (?) as the culminating action in a retention technique’s application are not in our opinion combatively sound and functional.

Remember: If you do not see a snatch attempt coming, you will be reacting to the awareness that it has already gotten underway! At that point only the speediest moves will stand any chance of succeeding. And a weapon snatch attempt is a deadly attack. The individual is in fact pulling a weapon — yours! — and we need not be psychoanalysts in order to predict the course of action the offender will take if he is successful in securing your sidearm. Then there’s this: In addition to launching a lethal attack, the assailant is a thief! You have got to stop him — or perish.

In the 1980’s we developed and published a description of what we believe is a practical, usable, simple, effective weapon retention method, in Petersen’s Handguns, where we then authored a monthly column: “Defensive Combat”. Our method can be taught to any police recruit within a half hour, and acquired to a level of practical proficiency after only a few brief practice sessions. Here it is:

The very second that you feel any snatch attempt being made — front, side, or from behind) slam your hand over your weapon’s butt. You will either pin the attacker’s hand to your weapon, making it impossible for him to get his hand free or to pull your weapon from its holster, or you will get your hand on the butt of your pistol first, and make it impossible for the attacker to even touch your holstered weapon. The leverage is all with you! Almost without exception (because of the fact that if a snatch attempt can be made, then the criminal has surprise on his side) your hand will pin the attacker’s to your holstered sidearm. Great! Now lash out with a kick to his knee or shin and stomp down hard on his instep. Keep his hand pinned! Using your free hand, drive chinjabs into the attacker’s face, use a tiger’s claw against his face, stab his eyes with your fingers, hammerfist his face, and keep on smashing into him until he collapses.

Perhaps no one has ever told you this flatly in basic academy, but when you are dealing with a weapon snatch attempt you are dealing with a deadly attack. Forget all about “controlling” this character. “Arresting” him is your LAST concern now! Right now you’ve got to render this creep harmless. If he should be successful then he will surely kill you and quite likely innocent citizens. Continue to attack your man until he has been rendered harmless. It will be easy to handcuff him when he is unconscious.

Note: Very simple variations of this simple technique can be applied against a snatch attempt from a shoulder holster, and in our training we teach all of this. But for the sake of helping to protect those who protect us, we wanted to present the basic, nuts-and-bolts technique so that interested officers can learn and practice it . . . and hopefully never be succesfully victimized.