CQB Services 3rd International Seminar

3rd/4th/5th/09/05 Review by

Lee Morrison, Lee Griffiths & Nick Engelen.



International group gathering.


This was to be the third annual gathering for Combatives trainees, instructors and enthusiasts and if anything like, the proceeding two, promised to be a most eagerly awaited event.  Guys traveled from all over the globe, including South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and Holland as well as from all corners of the UK making this a truly International event.  A lot of the guys turned up for a social gathering the night before but I couldn’t make it until Saturday morning, arriving for registration at 10am at the Prescott leisure center in Liverpool.



Dennis Martin gave an introduction and overview to the weekend’s events. The course was going to be mainly about WW2 Combatives.  There were some researchers among the instructors that had interviewed WW2 veterans, and could uncover some interesting stuff about the way they trained. Den explained that the way of fighting developed by Fairbairn and Sykes was very controversial during that time. To many fighting was to be governed by the rules of fair play, as the Englishman was always considered a gentleman.  Poking an eye out or biting someone’s nose off, was not considered sportsmanlike. The wartime manual by Fairbairn was named All-in fighting referred to this controversial syllabus and this course; was about all out fighting, referring to how this syllabus was applied.


Combatives of the Renaissance period:

After the initial welcomes and introductions things got underway with an excellent presentation by fellow instructor Mark Gittins; who talked about the initial comparisons relating to the Combative methods of Renaissance Europe and the later links, to the methods of Fairbain during WW2.  This made for a truly interesting discussion for Mark and me later as I just happen to be researching a similar subject for a new book project of my own.  Mark went on to demonstrate the similarities between the early methods of fencing to the latter methods employed by Biddle and Styers among others during WW2. The conclusion of Mark’s presentation bought to light the fact that whether we are talking about the 1410 or 1942 ‘’similar requirements, produce similar results.’’  We then paired up with a partner and armed with eye protection and floppy makeshift knifes, set about some knife sparring; a practice that served to warm every body up as well as offering a drill that is extremely useful for developing footwork, timing and reflexes not to mention the fact that it was fun.

Mark and Phil during their Renaissance demonstration and lecture.


Classic Strikes of WW2:

Next we moved onto the classic strikes, as Fairbain had taught them during WW2.  Both Den and Mika contributed to this topic providing a valuable insight into how the Operatives of WW2 were actually trained, in terms of time, instruction as well as some of the actual drills presented within the syllabus at that time. Bearing in mind that fair play was not an issue, the objective was to fight foul all-out with 100 percent commitment. This method of ‘’All in fighting’’ made all strikes and all targets valid. The first practical instruction started with Giles Lane who gave an excellent depiction of most peoples favorite strike the

Tiger’s claw:

Giles presented this hard skill over three drills giving the student a complete approach to practicing this strike. The first focused on working for impact on pads, followed by a three man reaction type drill which encouraged the trainee to work on his/her observation skills and his/her ability to adapt and move, making the whole drill much more alive. The final drill was used to bring in the conditioning phase of Combatives to the trainee, using what I like to call the 5-1 drill. This is where the trainee drops to the floor for 1 push up, then gets up for 1 TC, followed by 2 push ups to 2 TC’s and so on for a count of 5 working as hard and fast as you can. 



Giles demos his take on the Tiger’s claw.

One interesting point that was brought to light by Den, Mika and myself during a discussion of the Tiger’s claw, was the question of when, was the strike actually included into the WW2 syllabus? There is no mention of it in Fairbain’s book All in Fighting/Get tough the only mention I have seen made of its inclusion, is from the excellent treatise the Close Combat files of Rex Applegate.  This led us to the speculation that the Tiger’s claw; was included in the instructional program presented to the OSS while Fairbain was over in the States in 1942.  When Fairbain was quoted as saying ‘’the Tiger’s claw is probably the most logical frontal strike to the face, ever worked out!’ or words to that effect. Perhaps our own historian  Phil can shed some light on this topic?




Stab kick:

Next up was my own take on the classic edge of boot kick; also referred to as the stab kick. This is basically a low line destructive kick aimed at the outside of the knee joint that is designed to put the knee out. The kick works best as part of a combination attack or from an offensive clinch by flanking your opponent, whilst maintaining a tight controlled hold, as you smash your boot through the outside of the knee joint. In my first example the stab kick is used as a reaction to your opponent’s guard or an aggressive finger pointing gesture by flanking and clinching as mentioned above and smashing the knee out with the outside edge of your boot. In my second example we have obtained a dominant Thai clinch from where we offensively attack on the low line. Starting with a knee the inside thigh, (femoral nerve) from where you smash out the inside knee joint (simulate only) using an edge of boot stab kick. 

Lee demo’s the stab kick on his favorite demo partner, fellow instructor Si Squires.



The next strike up was the main stable of the WW2 syllabus, everyone’s favorite, the Chin-jab. Mika told us how the Chin-jab was the second strike that was taught, the first being the edge of hand blow or Axe hand as it is commonly called these days. Mika presented the Chin-jab in a few different ways. From my own research I could see influences from both Biddle (slapping the hand into the small of the back) and ofcourse Fairbain (checking the arm at close quarters and striking with the Chin-jab as a more long-range weapon without the arm check.  With all methods Mika brought into play the knee to the groin or (fork) at it was referred to then. As well as incorporating various other strikes like the cradle blow and follow ups such as lifting the elbow, whilst driving the fingers into the eyes for a take down, all excellent stuff from a very knowledgeable overseas instructor.

Axe hand:

Next up was the Axe hand presented by our favorite host Dennis Martin, who preceded his active demonstration with a few facts relating to the edge of hand blow during the time of WW2.  For example, this was the first strike that Fairbain would teach and was often considered the most destructive hand blow within the compressed curriculum. Den went onto to show us the short (linear) method of use as well as the long, more cleaving type blow finishing up with partner/pads drill incorporating the use of the vertical type Axe hand.

Here Den shows us the vertical Axe hand as Larry holds the pad.


This concluded the presentation on the classic strikes of WW2. As you can see the curriculum was compressed and although other methods were taught periodically throughout the war The Axe hand, Chin-jab and sometime later the Tiger’s claw along with the stab kick and a flick kick to the groin; really made up the meat of offensive strikes taught during that period. Bare in mind also, that most Operatives were only given approximately 16 hours of training in the use of firearms, knife, stick and Hand-to-hand combat so what they were taught, had to be compressed and had to work!  What was also interesting to note, is that Fairbain was indeed familiar with additional methods of unarmed combat, including Burmese boxing; a style that incorporated the use of the head, knees and elbows for striking and also, of  the foot-fighting art of French Savate. Such understanding came from working with recruits from these places and Fairbain liked, where possible, to teach guys with talent and knowledge of such skills, including boxing and wrestling and would often help such trainees to make such methods more functional and Combative.


Combat Karate:

Next up was Greg Hall’s presentation of what he called Combat karate. Greg has a vast experience of the martial arts in general, but started out predominantly as a karate man. Greg also has plenty of live experience, forged from working the doors in Manchester.  Greg focused mainly here on a slight variation from Peter Consterdine’s Double hip delivery system, again influenced by the late Sensei Kimuru of the Shukokai system of karate. The tools of choice included a reverse punch, the elbow strike and a front kick used more like a stop kick. All made for a very interesting take on a Combative aspect taken from a traditional art.

Here we can see Greg demonstrating his take on the double hip delivery system.

Offensive/Counter Clinch:

Next was my own presentation, which was primarily aimed at developing functionality from within the range of vertical grappling or standing clinch. After my initial introduction we looked at a few drills that depicted offensive options for striking and takedowns from a non-compliant partner in the clinch. Then we looked at a couple of counter/offensive methods that will allow us to employ our basic hard skills in a reactive sense, and finally we took a look at a couple of things we can do if our opponent counters our offensive from this dominant position.

Lee Morrison and Alan Beckett demonstrating one aspect of offensive striking from a vertical clinch. In this example a bicep pop lifts the head into the path of an elbow strike.


Developing killing power:

This was the topic of Mika’s next presentation; and was probably one of the highlights of the day for me, this was definitely a drill that I took home and have since incorporated into my own teaching.  Mika told us about one of the drills used during WW2 training, where they would place one trainee in a small space surrounded by make shift training dummies suspended from the ceiling. These were randomly shoved and swung at the trainee as violently as possible, the object of the drill was for the recruit to strike out continuously with the skills he had learned so far; with as much power as he can muster for a duration of 30 seconds, when he was then pulled out for the next recruit to have a go.


This is one of the drills used to develop power, aggression and quick reactions. Dummies must have figured quite a lot for impact development during wartime training and today was no different. Mika had everyone make up four lines in front of four feeders, the first was a shield man feeding clinch knees, second in line was a feeder holding one of Larry’s creations, a kind of half sized manikin dummy with additional padding, this was used for back and fore handed, continuous slaps.  Next in line were two Spar-pros, one for an Axe hand sinawali type drill, a favorite of Carl Cestari’s and the next was for a combination of lead hand Tiger’s claw followed by checking the dummy’s lower back and striking with 3 additional chin-jabs.


The drill was performed as follows; On the first whistle blast each man works on each piece of kit for 15 seconds, at about 50 percent intensity, giving each trainee the opportunity to perfect form, then on a second whistle blast each trainee must increase his/her intensity to 100 percent plus, with as much aggression, power and determination as they can muster, this continues for a further 15 seconds until the next whistle sounds, when each trainee will move to the next piece of kit. All the while that this is going on, instructors are on hand to hold the kit and shout encouragement. This is a fantastic drill, one that I now highly recommend to all instructors and trainees to cultivate and make yours.

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Here we can see the intensity that this drill generated with Nick Engelen from Belgium and Ireland’s leading Self-Protection instructor John Brawn in the midst of action.


This concluded the training events for day one and after some much needed rest and refreshment we all met up for the traditional Chinese slap up meal.



The events of day two started with a lecture from Den relating to clothing and equipment. The main factors regarding clothing were discussed, taking into account the following aspects; Protection, against for example (extremes of hot and cold weather) The fashion aspect often overrides this, for example, you see people nowadays in the cold weather wearing only a t-shirt which ofcourse is simply not logical. You need to be tactical as well as logical when it comes to clothing. Think about terrain and your environment for example.  If you’re attacked, can your clothing provide protection, can you move in these clothes? Can you run or fightEye Protection is also important in some environments you need it to protect from glare of the sun. Eyes are the body’s primary sensory input. Vehicle Operation guys, such, as bodyguards in the front of a vehicle would wear clear eye protection known as ‘shooting glasses’ as an example of relevance.  Jackets such as Leather and Bomber jackets provide good protection against a blade that’s one of the reasons that bouncers have been known to wear them. Kevlar lined gloves also provide protection against a blade.


Footwear is also a consideration here; you need a good non-slip sole offering adequate ankle protection, and strong lace ups slip on shoes, slip off.  Steel toecaps can make for an excellent equalizer. Though some good shoes can provide similar protection, most people wear trainers nowadays, therefore fewer injuries occur. Should an individual wearing steel toe capped boots kick someone in the head then the injuries could be devastating. Clothing makes a statement about whom you are, it is a ‘signature’.  For specific places and times the clothing you wear can matter. Think about how you would be able to fit in and at the same time keep your tactics.


Moving on to Equipment or Kit. The saying goes “its better to have and not need than to need and not have” Items covered here included; illumination, having a good flash light which can also act as an impact weapon as well as giving you the ability to see in the dark. It’s always good to have equipment that has multiple uses; this will cut down on what you have to carry. Body-amour was another topic for consideration here; particularly for those Operational or working within the security industry. Additional items talked about, included medic kits, communication devices and of course weapons.


All WW2 unarmed combat was designed for people who were foolish enough to be caught without a weapon. The unarmed aspects of Combatives were aimed to give you time to access your weapon. Nowadays the law restricts the carrying of weapons; therefore it is pointless to carry a weapon in the UK. However, if you have any tactical sense you will never be far away from an improvised weapon. You should also aim to become very proficient in unarmed combat. This is an area that I personally give a lot of attention to. Next up was the first physical warm up of the day followed by





Vasbyte training:


Presented by Tony Da Costa of the Liverpool Gutter fighters. This kind of training as we all know, targets the task specific ATP system and is geared towards making the trainee fit to fight. The meaning of the African word ‘’Vasbyte’ is to bite down! Is more than applicable here. The drills were worked along the lines of the following;


10 squat thrusts into 10 knees

10 press-ups into 10 tiger claws

10 sit-ups into 10 shin kicks

10 narrow grip press-ups into 10 hammer fists

10 burpees into 10 elbows.

Next up was a lecture by our very own historian Phil "the Bristol Bloke" Matthews with a talk about the life and times of W.E. Fairbain’s counter part, E.A. Sykes. Considered ‘’the forgotten hero of Combatives" As always with Phil’s lectures, it was detailed and supported with an in-depth hand out.

E.A. Sykes 1883-1945


This was followed by Den taking the class through

The S.O.E crowd Drill:

This called for a group of 5 or more people one person goes into the middle while the others form a circle around him or her. All have pads, the person in the center has to hit the pads continuously for 30 seconds whilst in the middle, the others move around pushing and shouting etc, recreating a crowd surrounding their victim. After 30 seconds he/she comes out and they all take it in turns to go in the middle.

Here is Liverpool Gutter fighter Larry in the middle of an S.O.E drill.


Ground Fighting drills:

Were up next, with instructor Simon Squires. The first drill made use of 2 people, one person will take the mount position and start punching his/her partner with boxing gloves, whilst this is taking place the other person will cover then hammer fist their mounted partner on the chest / stomach (shield) until they can reverse the mount and turn the person over. Now on top, they will continue to hammer fist again 3 times then get up and tactically disengage. The next drill called for 8 people, 1 person to hold focus pads and another will hit pads 5 times, the pad man is shouting out a count. 


Then another guy will pull the person hitting the pads to the floor, from here another will aim to kick the person on the floor in the face, this will be fended off and the person on the floor will take this attacker down, again hammer fisting like the previous drill. They will then get up and attack the focus pads for a further 10 counts, the others will try and pull / push the person from the pads to make it harder.  Once the 10 counts have been completed the pad holder will shout out ‘Check, check check’ and the drill is completed. The others will then take turns.


Here we can see the Flying Dutchman feeding Kerberos punches, and then receiving the same from the Spaniard.


Forward Drive:

Was covered in detail next, by potential instructor Alan Beckett. Here Al discussed the attitude and mentality necessary in order to put forward, assertive body language profile, and where necessary to focus ones indignation. This was followed by several physical pad drills all quite arduous in nature, all of which made for a very interesting and important topic of discussion.  Incidentally if you get to read this Alan, is there any chance that you could forward any handout you may have made on this topic to my e-mail?


Alan Beckett presents his topic of ‘’Forward drive.’’


Now we come to the to the final phase of the day, the Padded Assailant Stress Scenarios.  Giles Lane headed the group of Potential Instructors, over seeing the smooth running of the scenario grand finale.  As usual Simon Squires padded up in his trusty Smurf suit to act as aggressor. Taking the trainees through the majority of the stress drills. After about twenty fights he took a much-needed rest while Giles took over for the duration before handing the suit back to Si for the remainder. 


Here are a couple of the guys getting pressure tested by the man in the Smurf suit!

As always these kind of scenarios are the pinnacle of the day, this kind of training is hard on both the trainee and the feeder so hats off to all who took part.  Basically the guys come in two at a time and are put through their paces by the instructors on hand.
The students are placed under a fair degree of stress, designed to fatigue, dis-orientate and trigger the adrenal stress response. It is under such stress that the trainee is coaxed to operate efficiently, thereby increasing his/her confidence in such situations.  Without too much detail the trainee is pre-fatigued with sprints; push-ups and all out striking on the spar-pro, then made to face the aggressive role-play and dialogue of a demented padded Scouser who will bang you, given half the chance. 

‘Milling’ with open hand slaps off the knees, guaranteed to trigger much needed pre-fight aggression.


I heard also that Jimmy Fatwing who was on hand helping out, introduced the milling slap drill that I showed him, this little gem was given to me by Self-Protection guru Alan Charlton, top drill.   That was the conclusion for the day, apparently some of the guys stayed for the next day for more of the same, as well as Den’s excellent take on the use of the knife, but that’s for another review.  I would just to say a big thank you to all who attended and made this most excellent annual event possible and give a big shout out to our mentor Dennis Martin for bringing so many like minded individuals, from all over the world, into one place so that we can net work together for our love of what we do. Thank you.

Peace out…





Additional pictures:




Here are some of the guys training on the pads.                  Phil puts the Face claw on Andy.



Group class photo, there was a lot of talent in this room.


Group of CQB instructors.




Intensity on the pads.                         Trainees from Norway. Mika with his Smachet.



Monday was reserved for those ‘the last few’ who wanted to stay for a light session and for the guys that had stayed in Liverpool Sunday night, in order to catch a plane later on Monday. The first thing we did was a combative style warm-up, which was anything but light.  Then we progressively went trough the ‘all in drill’.  This started with the basic hand blows then various people added things like ‘the fend’, ‘counter clinch’,counter take-downs’, etc… It seemed this day’s training wasn’t as light as first promised!



The second part of this day was about knives.  Lot’s of knives were brought along and all got a review by Mika.  Most of these knives were of the double-edged dagger variety.  Mika explained that these knives were designed for stabbing.  The Romans said ‘slashes wound, stabs kill’.  A stab will penetrate the vital organs whereas a slash or cut doesn’t.

Thereafter Mika showed us some drills he uncovered after talking to veterans of world war two.  It was simple but effective.  After this session we all said goodbye and then ground transport was arranged. Si Squires and John Mon took the lads to Manchester, while Larry Blundell handled the Liverpool airport run. I’m sure all the travellers were grateful to Si, John and Larry for their generosity. At the airport I had a good chat and a beer with the famous John Brawn and Stephan, a German brother in Arms.  A Belgian, a German and an Irishman were sitting in a bar… looks like the start of a joke. That night I had my flight back home.  During the flight I was reflecting on the past few days…It was a great weekend worth remembering.  We had a great teacher, some fantastic guest-instructors and kind people to share it with.  I would highly recommend this course to anyone; you won’t be disappointed. Nick Engelen