Book Review: Self-Defence Complete, by Pat Butler

Hardcover edition published in 1962 by Emerson Books N.Y.C. (Paperback edition (shown in illustration) published by Faber and Faber, in England). 100 Pages. 154 Photographs.

This is the softcover edition of SELF-DEFENCE COMPLETE. It is perhaps a little easier to find this edition than the hardcover. Contents of both editions are identical. This is a true classic of close combat and self-defense in our opinion, and if you can find a copy, you will not regret buying it!

This is the softcover edition of SELF-DEFENCE COMPLETE. It is perhaps a little easier to find this edition than the hardcover. Contents of both editions are identical. This is a true classic of close combat and self-defense in our opinion, and if you can find a copy, you will not regret buying it!

Patrick Trevor Butler (1929-?) was a distinguished British judo teacher. He authored several quality books on judo and self-defense, but in my opinion SELF-DEFENCE COMPLETE is — hands down – the best of his works. Although a thoroughly competent judo teacher, Butler taught one of the most practical and realistic self-defense programs ever. He did not confuse sport with combat, and he did not in even the slightest way allow his extensive background in Kodokan Judo to influence that which he taught as self-defense. Like Dermot (“Pat”) O’Neill, Butler threw out all of the ne-waza (ground grappling) and the nage-waza (throwing techniques) of pure judo. Like Fairbairn, Applegate, Sykes, O’Neill, Brown, and Begala, etc., Pat Butler had no illusions regarding the enormous difference between defending oneself, and competing against a sporting adversary.

Butler begins his presentation by sensibly introducing the reader to the matter of learning self-defense, and explains the difference between doing so, and preparing for the other possible (not in any sense unworthy) goals for which people come to the study of martial arts. His insistence that karate must be studied for years, and for many hours each week under a qualified master before the student can properly consider himself an “exponent” of the art, let alone an expert, demonstrates that Pat Butler had a greater appreciation for what classical/traditional karate actually is than have many karate “teachers”, today!

Properly, Mr. Butler corrects the then (late 1950’s, early 1960’s) erroneous view held by many that judo is any kind of “ultimate” combat or defense method, and he brings the reader — and his subject — down to earth. He is a competent, honest, utterly reputable authority on his subject. And while we disagree with some of that which Mr. Butler espouses (armlocks and wristlocks), we nevertheless appreciate the context in which he teaches these minor skills, and we’d have welcomed him with open arms into our International Combat Martial Arts Federation. (In fact one of our Associate Teachers in London,, England today is a former student of Pat Butler).

In the instructive chapters that comprise Butler’s program, he delves into karate and atemi blows, kicks, strangles and chokes, practical general defenses, how to counter punches and kicks, some specific instruction tailored to the needs of women and girls, the use of some improvised weapons, and defense against armed

attacks. Good stuff. (We think Butler’s “emergency knuckle duster” might be somewhat awkward to construct and to bring into play in time, but his umbrella work s outstanding).

Once again I must take some issue with the wristlosks and the armlocks material, simply because I see that type of technique as being appropriate for law enforcement and security people who have a responsibility to arrest and control — something with which the victim of a real attack need not concern himself, and should not concern himself, as it is risky and needlessly dangerous. I would also take slight issue with the somewhat (by my standard) restrained attitude that Pat Butler appears to have in regard to brutality and outright animalistic ferocity for self-defense. His point that karate might be “too severe” if taken undiluted as a self-defense method, puzzles me. Classical/traditional karate’s weakness, in fact, is that it is NOT vicious, direct, brutal, and destructive enough, and it takes too long to larn enough to stand even a good chance to defend oneself by using it. I frankly do not think that anything could possibly be “too severe” when acting to defend against the savagery of violent, unjustifiable attack — and I do not want my students thinking so, either. But Mr. Butler makes a ton of sense in so many other respects that I feel almost guilty devoting this paragraph to criticism of a small point with which I disagree.

In any case, I would have liked to read a  powerful advocacy of BITING, and of EYE GOUGING in Self-Defence Complete.

Pat Butler’s book, like so many quality, reliable, and worthwhile books on realistic self-defense and unarmed close combat, is long out of print. Happily, copies do appear on the internet for sale every once in a while, and knowledgeable enthusiasts of close combat and self-defense will snap them up the moment they see them available.

Self-Defence Complete, by Pat Butler, is an excellent companion work to Applegate’s, Fairbairn’s, Martone’s, Cosnecks’s, Styers’, and Wesley Brown’s. I’d rate it a “7” on a scale of 1 to 10.

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