DEFEND YOURSELF!, by Jack Grover

Published by The Ronald Press Company – New York City – 1958

This was one of the first books aimed at providing an eclectic "all practical" approach to self-defense by drawing upon different formal arts. The author, an accomplished athlete with particular skill in wrestling, presented some excellent material on effective self-defense. While not necessarily a "must have" title, this volume is certainly a good one for any serious close combat book collection.

This was one of the first books aimed at providing an eclectic "all practical" approach to self-defense by drawing upon different formal arts. The author, an accomplished athlete with particular skill in wrestling, presented some excellent material on effective self-defense. While not necessarily a "must have" title, this volume is certainly a good one for any serious close combat book collection.

JACK Grover, the author of this interesting title, comes from a background in football, wrestling, and boxing — not at all bad for someone wishing to describe doable self-defense measures, since all three of those activities involve some tough man-vs.-man experience. Grover apparently made some study of at least the rudiments of ju-jutsu, certain police tactics, and quite possibly some karate, as well.

Like most books on self-defense, this one contains some very good material as well as some material that is perhaps most useful for demonstrations, and best not attempted in hand-to-hand combat.

The finest example of the good material is Grover’s presentation of ways to start a fight. Clearly, not intending these attack sequences to be employed literally to “start a fight” per se, Grover wisely urges these attacks (which in certain cases we our self took from this book and incorporated into our own repertoire and System) in order to preempt an obvious aggressor who has not yet begun to initiate his full attack. This is very, very good instruction. It is also extremely unusual, and the fact that Jack Grover sees the importance of preempting, per se, speaks to his obvious “real world” knowledge of exactly what close combat is all about — and what prevailing in an encounter really does necessitate! This is the best part of the book.

The less-than-terrific material involves the wrestling-type actions, especially the takedowns and ground grappling. It seems that many who have distinguished themselves in the great arts of wrestling and judo sometimes fail to appreciate that —  a) Almost no one who trains for self-defense is or will become an accomplished wrestler;  b) Wrestling and judo are both done on mats, and hence that which one may do in either of those sports does not translate into that which one will likely be able to do in an honest-to-goodness close combat situation;  c) In real combat one strives to knock one’s adversary to the deck — not to accompany him there for a “pin” or for a “submission hold”. Instead, one uses one’s feet, knee drops, downward blows of the hands, etc. against the downed enemy.

The book includes a section devoted to “self-defense for women”. Some of the material is good. Eye attacking, for example. However, Grover’s advocacy of holds and control type grips in order to “bring a man to his knees” is, as far as we are concerned, pure fantasy and nonsense. It might work against a mildly annoying and physically inept fool; but a woman would be insane to try this stuff on a dangerous male aggressor. Chops to the throat, eye gouges, biting the face, kicking the testicles, and rippling off the attacker’s ears is more in line with what a woman ought to be training to do, if she is genuinely interested in self-defense.

There is also a “technique” that we take exception to. A woman is urged to remove one shoe (assuming she is wearing high heels) and strike at her attacker with the heel. Barefoot — or with one shoe still on — a woman is, as far as we can tell, more vulnerable than she was with both shoes on! (Yeah . . . if she’s wearing six-inch stiletto heels she’s immobile while wearing her shoes. But let’s face it: in general the sort of women who wear six-inch heels also tend to carry better weapons with themselves than the heels that they are wearing!)

In all seriousness, the high heel can be employed in only one way: an obvious, swinging hit. This is easily blocked and then she’s helpless. Besides, going through the action of removing a shoe and positioning it for a blow is not likely to go unnoticed by a rapist, kidnapper, murderer, or other nut. Better the lady simply act compliant, then bite a piece of his face off while ripping off his ears and kneeing him in the testicles. Or carry a utility knife and tear his throat open.

There is a chapter on exercise, and it is refreshing not to have the author advocate the useless (and potentially harmful) stretching that is so often taken for granted as being “necessary” for self-defense. We would have liked to see a frank advocacy of weight training, but the book was written in 1958 . . . and it really wasn’t until we wrote WEIGHT TRAINING FOR THE BUDO-KA for STRENGTH AND HEALTH MAGAZINE in the late 1960′s that weight training per se began to be associated in this Country with combatives training.

There is an interesting chapter on “Tricks of the Trade” which covers some interesting and possibly useful tips of a miscellaneous nature, that self-defense students might find helpful to know. Nothing on the order of any spectacular revelations, but when you consider the time of the book’s authorship (1958) and the fact that — insofar as the private sector was concerned at that time — virtually all of the “good stuff” was the WWII material by Applegate and Fairbairn, and Styers (slightly post-WWII), Grover deserves a lot of credit for his approach in this volume.

The Ronald Press (as far as we know, no longer in existence) produced three books that have each become fairly difficult to obtain. Two of them are genuinely valuable. The three books are:

SELF-DEFENSE, by Wesley Brown

JIU-JITSU, by Frederick Paul Lowell

•  DEFEND YOURSELF!, by Jack Grover

The genuinely valuable two are the ones by Brown and by Grover. Lowell’s is interesting, but the least practical,  in our opinion. Book collectors will of course be after all three titles. But if you can obtain SELF-DEFENSE or DEFEND YOURSELF!, you’ll have located a real find for practical instruction.

Our students will smile when they see in DEFEND YOURSELF! Grover’s description of two attack methods that we adopted for our System. Our students will recognize them as “Chop—Punch—knee” and “Distract—Punch—Knee the face”.

Doubtless, a serous study of this book — if you can find a copy — will prove interesting and, perhaps, reveal a tidbit or two about practical combatives that you’ll be able to employ, yourself.

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