Self-Defense And Close-Combat Is A Specialty In The Martial Arts Field

PRACTICAL self-defense cannot depend upon such things as the individual practitioner’s being young, strong, in top shape, and in hard training. Nor can the body of technical doctrine encompassing the curriculum of skills that are studied assume such things as —

• The defender having to contend with but a single opponent.

• The defender being inevitably confronted by that lone adversary in a face-off type of “squaring off” — as opposed to being attacked without warning, from behind.

• The attacker (or attackers) being unarmed.

• The attack occurring in any particular type of  environment, or on any special kind of favorable terrain.

• The attack occurring in a context where the defender will not be accompanied by a loved one whom he will need to protect — as well as defend himself.

• The attack occurring when the defender is feeling well, as opposed to having some minor illness, or having just gotten over some sickness or recovered from some — perhaps serious — injury.

The matter of self-defense is a serious one, and the discipline of preparing for any contingency requires full-time study, research, training, and professional commitment. You cannot have “a sport, a classical system, a fitness program, and a practical method of self-protection” in one and the same art. All you end up with if you attempt it, is a watered down, so-so approach to close combat that might be effective in some cases, but that certainly cannot be relied upon across the board to manage physical combat under any conditions, anywhere.

Over the years some people have chosen to misrepresent that which has been my adamant stand for many decades: Namely, that combat and competition or classicism are not the same, and that one cannot properly prepare for one by training in another. Misconstruing my position  as being “against” sport or “against” classical/traditional arts, some critics have insisted that I am opposed to schools and teachers that advocate these most popular forms of martial arts studies. That is most assuredly not true.

I am no more against sporting/competitive martial arts than is an electrical engineer against aeronautical engineering. I am merely insistent upon the fact that a difference exists between the two disciplines. And, I further insist, that anyone whose goal is to excel in one of those areas of martial practice should find a school and teacher whose total focus is upon that specific area.

I respect sporting/competitive and classical/traditional studies. They offer immense benefits to those who participate in them, and they are both deservedly popular. However, the art of self-defense and close combat is a separate and specific study, and anyone wishing to become fully confident and physically adept in real world combative skills needs to find a teacher whose total emphasis is on that subject.

“But were not all of the classical/traditional arts — in their origins — intended 100% for actual combat?” one might wish to ask.

The answer is “Yes. In their origins all of the martial arts were, in fact, martial in their design, organization, spirit, and intention. However, the classical/traditional arts were formulated many hundreds, even thousands, of years ago. Cultural idiosyncrasies, manners of dress, levels of sophistication regarding combat techniques amongst the general populace, weapons commonly used and carried, and traditions governing how individuals fought when they met in battle, all influenced and greatly affected what the arts contained and how they were taught. Many of those things that made sense 1,000 years ago, or several hundred years ago, make no sense today, and are absolutely inapplicable to the modern fighting man, or to the private citizen who requires an effective means of self-defense. Because of this, the classical/traditional arts, worthwhile as they are as arts, offer at best only a partial adaptability of that which they teach for practical close combat and personal protection in the modern world. And this is true only of those who have applied themselves to a serious study of these arts for many years. These arts do not offer the person who wants and who needs a fully functional, no-nonsense readily learnable and retainable method of individual combat that which he seeks.”


THE mental conditioning required for personal combat bears no relation to the mental conditioning required for sport or for classical training. Frankly and bluntly, what a person who wishes to be fully prepared to defend himself requires is the ability to shift to a war footing, and to do so instantly and without a fraction of a second’s hesitation. He must be able to turn vicious, destructive, aggressive, violent, offensive, and relentlessly determined to destroy his enemy. People may not like to hear it put that way, but that is the way it is. Speak to any military man who has been in a close combat situation. Or speak to a police officer who has had to fight for his life against a violent felon. Or — speak to anyone who has been victimized by violent criminals.

The art of training and conditioning the mind is one that a professional close combat and self-defense teacher must possess. He must know exactly what a properly combat-conditioned mind requires, and he must be able to impart that to his students. I am not at all shy about proclaiming that I have pioneered this field, and as a professional teacher and hypnotherapist have developed definite and very effective ways to bring any serious and willing student to the right frame of mind for dealing with deadly violence. American Combato is the premier art to recognize this need, and the first to have established doctrine by which the need can be reliably satisfied through training.



THE purpose of a quality self-defense system is to enable the user to save his life, protect anyone dear to him, and to do so with the most reliable and efficient techniques and tactics possible.

The history of combat throughout man’s existence on earth has demonstrated without question what works in real hand-to-hand and close quarters battle: The most ruthlessly foul, vicious, underhanded, and dangerously destructive techniques. When the battle is a sporting contest grappling often tends to prevail over methods of hitting. However, when the fight is for real, the opposite is true; and while some very few grappling methods are a part of serious hand-to-hand combat, fully 90-95% of the curriculum consists of blows, gouges, jabs, smashes, butts, stomps, biting, kicking, kneeing, clawing, grasping and tearing. These actions are fastest in a real affray, and they cause instant disorientation when applied . . . permitting the user to followup and to follow through with savage fury.

Attacking is critical in self-defense. This does not mean starting fights or initiating trouble. It does mean carrying the war into the enemy’s camp and becoming the aggressor once you have been attacked. So long as you are “defending” you are losing; so long as you are attacking, you are winning!

The close combat and self-defense specialist emphasizes supreme aggressiveness — “attack mindedness” as it was referred to during WWII — and if he is a real pro he will train you to seize the initiative, surprise your attacker, and wreck him completely before he even realizes what is happening.

Quality self-defense training instills the ability to attack by surprise, giving nothing away by assuming any “fighting stance” or posture. Severe injury, speedily inflicted . . . that’s the watchword when dealing with an unavoidable, violent offender. Great followup and continuous attack is emphasized in a quality program, and the trainee is taught to expect to get hurt, to anticipate weapons, multiple attackers, murderous intent on the part of his assailant, and his assailant’s superior physical ability. No mention of  “secrets”, “hidden techniques”, “mystical powers”, or the possibility of acquiring “guaranteed methods”. Just heavy, heavy doses of reality, and techniques that has been proven in war to really work, comprise the last of learning, when studying with a true self-defense specialist.



A quality program of close combat and self-defense will include methods of handling attacks that have caught the defender off guard. In many systems of classical/traditional training these are referred to as “self-defense techniques”. Almost without exception they are complex, impractical (though visually impressive) and impossible to rely upon in a real emergency. However, in a quality combat system these techniques are exceedingly simple, practical, and very destructive. What characterizes the counterattacks in American Combato, for example, is that there are relatively few of them, they enable the student to apply them in a myriad of situations and varying circumstances, and once they have been acquired, they offeR the speediest and most destructive way to deal with an infinite variety of situations. The traditional “one technique for each specific position/situation” is not what we teach. We teach a hardcore curriculum of widely adaptable skills.


WEAPONS are tools. The use of modern weaponry is not only a mandatory part of any practical, realistic system of close combat and self-defense, it is also critical that, in addition to being able to use these weapons, a student acquires the ability to understand and defend against them. Antiquated weapons are fascinating, and those who enjoy training with them are perfectly entitled to do so. But for modern, practical, real world use, modern weapons are the required subject.

Because techniques designed for actual combat are, necessarily, dangerous, they cannot be practiced in any “contest” or “freestyle sparring” mode. Nor is it ever desirable to modify combat techniques so that such competitive training is possible. The watering down that takes place when arranging skills for competitive application makes their practice hazardous for emergency use. The student who, for instance, attempts to train on the one hand by working on serious techniques for combat and doing so without sparring, while on the other hand training in sparring and moderating that which he does, only succeeds in short-circuiting his capacity to react quickly and instinctively in a crisis. He has required of himself two different sets of commands: One for sport, one for combat. NO GOOD!

Close combat and defense requires a simple, clear, specific, one-pointed method of conditioning: A mindset geared for war, and a repertoire of skills intended to win the war. Period.

I make no claim that combatives oriented martial arts are “better than” the other forms or versions of martial study. However, make no mistake about it: Preparation for actual combat is a unique, specific, demanding, and very, very critical matter. If it is your desire to receive such preparation the go to a real professional whose life’s work, specialty, and entire focus in teaching is on that, and nothing else.

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