Self-Defense Is Close Combat

YES you could say that escaping the scene of an intended ambush and a few other possible scenarios also qualify as “self-defense”, and these situations do not exactly fall under the heading of close combat; however, 99% or more of those predicaments that do entail an individual defending himself or another person certainly involve close combat.

Unarmed personal defense and offense is the foundation of close combat. The use of the stick, the knife, the tomahawk, improvised weapons “at hand”, and the handgun all involve close-in combat. Even shoulder weapons ––– used as the WWII USMC instructor Stephen Savers advocated in what he called “snap shooting” ––– frequently involves close combat, as of course does any engagement with a bayoneted shoulder weapon (i.e. shotgun or rifle).

Techniques taught in martial arts often violate that which close combat demands for success. For example, those really beautiful demonstrations by taekwondo experts in which they run a distance and leap into the air, or jump over a line of colleagues who kneel in a row before them, and then deliver a kick or series of kicks; very admirable athletic accomplishments, no doubt ––– but irrelevant for actual personal combat. Squaring off with a sparring partner for freestyle practice or contest is fine ––– but is not preparation for dealing with an actual dangerous attack in which you either preempt a clearly aggressive threat, or you are caught such that you must counterattack (i.e. defend against) it. Military combat and certain counter-terrorist predicaments do occasionally require dealing with adversaries at considerable distance ––– but self-defense does not.

High, spinning, leaping, jumping, and wide-swinging actions, so commonly observed in formalized “martial arts schools” (and in motion pictures and on TV, as well, please note) look fabulous and impressive. However, despite their appearance they are almost 100% useless in genuine hand-to-hand combat.

Whether with empty hands or hand held weapons, self-defense, being an aspect of the discipline of close combat, requires that one’s bare-handed skills as well as one’s weapons training, involve dealing with violent enemies who are close-in.

The techniques that work best in real unarmed combat are:

• Open hand chinjabs and heelpalm thrusts and smashes

• Open hand edge-of-hand chops

• Open hand clawing to face and eyes

• Open hand finger-tips thrusting into eyes or throat

• Thumb gouging eyes, mouth-hooking, or tearing


• Ripping ears off

• Biting

• Elbow smashing

• Knee blows to testicles and face

• Head butting

• Low stomping side kicks, low front kicks, and low

back kicks

• Throat-locking (thyroid cartiledge)

• Neck breaking and naked choking/strangling

• Rarely but occasionally very simple, basic combat-type throwing 

• Half-fist jabs to throat or neck

• Knee drops, downward heel-palms, downward stomp kicks

vs. downed enemy

• Seizing, crushing, and pulling testicles

Not all of those actions are always applicable ––– some require  certain positions, opportunities, or sets of circumstances ––– but all are practical, simple, destructive, and versatile; and all have been tested and proven in WAR.

The stick, the knife, the tomahawk, etc.utilize similarly close-in, very basic and simple actions. Where and when elaborate swinging of very lengthy poles is incorporated into a martial arts curriculum, or knife throwing is taught, or handgun shooting at distant targets in which the weapon’s sights are employed is emphasized, the training is not practically-oriented, real world, close combat. And as a result, however beautiful, interesting, enjoyable, or challenging the activity may be, it simply has nothing to do with the known and well-documented realities of geuine close combat and emergency situations requiring self-protection.

Since there appears to be no limit to the dishonesty and imbecility of so many who clearly are threatened by the truth, and by a frank presentation of reality, we wish to reiterate a point that we have been communicating for decades, and which is ignored by some, who enjoy misleading others for personal or commercial gain:

While we have no personal interest in or concern for the furtherance of sporting or competitive martial arts, we certainly respect those dedicated participants in the sporting/competitive field and the price that they pay for their excellence as contestants. We have no argument with competitors or with classicists. We do not maintain that that which we do and espouse is “better” than that whichthey do ––– only that a radical difference exists between their activities, and actual human combat.

We are concerned now as we have always been, to present the truth about unarmed and armed martial training and application.

We do not say that our System, American Combato, is effective because of our “say so”. It has been painstakingly built over a lifetime of training, study, participation, and research, and the truths which we do present are true because reality has demonstrated their veracity.

We hope that you benefit from them.