Monthly Workshop

April review


On Sunday the 29th of April we held our monthly workshop at the usual venue in Southampton. Attendance was good with some 17 students taking part. After an initial introduction we looked at our first of several modules for the day. Here the theme focused on incorporating a little historical influence from the methods of Close Combat taught during WW2. Here we looked into the extremely compressed curriculum taught by W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes around 1942, specifically the home guard and Commando phase of Fairbairn’s teaching career. Along with some of the methods that were influencing what the US Marine Corps, were practicing around this time. The main unarmed skills employed were the Edge of hand blow, the Chin-Jab and the Edge of boot kick as depicted in the WW2 manual ‘All in Fighting’ published in America as ‘Get Tough!’ The Americans also incorporated influences from Western boxing and wrestling, Japanese Ju-Jitsu and French Savate, amongst a variety of dirty fighting tactics. We then went on to look at ways in which we can adapt and employ some of these methods to 21st Century civilian Self-Protection.


The first strike practiced was the classic Edge of hand blow or Ax hand to use its modern term. I employed this hard skill here, as a vehicle to practice body mechanics via the two main variations of this strike.  Namely the short linear version powered by the drop-step and the longer more cleaving type of blow which makes greater use of the hip-twist to assist in power delivery. From Here we looked at the Heel of hand blow or the Chin-jab. Another classic strike from Fairbairn’s compressed war-time curriculum in addition to some of follow up methods employed via the use of the knee, clawing into the eyes and/or following up by slamming the back of the head into the ground via takedown etc.


Here we see the mechanics behind the short Ax hand employing a linear strike to the throat or face powered by the drop-step. As always we practiced tool development with a partner for feel and target acquisition then transferred to striking pads for priority impact practice.


The long Ax hand incorporating more hip twist depicted during partner and impact practice.


Depictions of the Edge of Hand Blow taken from Col. Rex Applegate’s book Kill or Get Killed.



The Chin-jab comes straight up under the chin and jaw bone, striking with the palm heel of the hand.

 Fairbairn training an OSS Operative.

One immediate available follow up option is to drive the fingers straight into the eyes.


Working the transition from partner to impact work.



The Chin-jab can be thrown as an unattached strike straight under the jaw, or from an attached anchor  as depicted in these two variations. The first one shows my son Dan employing a slap into the lower back as the strike is delivered, in fluence here coming from A.J Drexel Biddle. The second photo shows the index via a holding of the tricep/arm area as you flank the subject’s centre line and fire the strike up and througth the middle.



Finally we put both of these strikes together as a pre-emptive attack starting with a short Ax hand to the face/throat following immediatedly with an explosive Chin-jab, note the forward pressure.



From here we looked at follow up options, such as the knee to the groin/attacking the eyes/blasting the back of the head into a wall and taking the man down to the ground from the Chin-jab strike.

We also looked at the use of the Edge of boot kick for low-line attacks to the feet, ankles and knees etc. Such low-line kicks were influenced by the old art of French boot kicking or the original street Savate. The American’s would also employ such methods of kicking with the edge of the boot and also with the point of the boot for the spike kick to the groin and various toe punt kicks to the head of a fallen subject, as many of the war-time manuals depict.



Here are two depictions from W.E. Fairbairn’s All in Fighting showing the edge of Boot kick from both a counter clinch perspective and as an offensive attack followed up with aChin-jab.




Many Unarmed Combat systems of WW2 employed influence from Street style Savate; namely kicking low-line targets with the point and edge of the boot as depicted here from Applegate’s KOGK.



Here we see the inside and outside Edge of Boot Kick from a counter clinch perspective.



Flanking to gain attachment, then using the Edge of Boot kick to the knee for a follow up attack…


Rob and Jon from UC Ireland and Brendan and Steve all practicing for impact.


Next we worked a low-line counter clinch drill focusing on low-line boot kicks/stomps to the feet, ankles, shins and knees along with knees to the groin employing shin guards and impact shields along with plenty of movement and non compliant energy. The final drill in the module demonstrated one extremely useful way in which we could tool develop the low-line skills in addition to providing the student with an opportunity to gain composure to the pressure of dealing with multiple punching attacks, from not one, not two but three feeders throwing multiple combinations at your head as you cover with a good default position whilst wedged in a corner. Of course the ideal is to never get caught in such a position, but the pressure of such a drill will indeed yield significant benefits in particular composure to pressure along with an understanding of just how useful good solid low-line kicking can be as a support system in such a scenario.


Here we see some of the guys working this drill right up to an all-out level of intensity…The picture top right shows the only female student of the day Debbie, giving a great example of have a go attitude, well done Deb…



Next module up was counter weapons. We started by looking at ways in which we can apply our Cover, Crash & Counter tactics to overhand/backhand stick attack along with two handed attacks from a baseball bat. Here we broke down the common M.O employed during such attacks along with the dynamics of the same in a physical sense. Each counter was drilled with a partner to a fair level of understanding, then we made 3 power lines and added body armor, role play and verbalization before placing the said tactics into a non-compliant scenario.


Here we employ the principles of cover, crash and counter. The priority here is to cover the head and get inside the weapon bearing limb. From here we are looking to blast through the subject with explosive and continuous knee strikes as we wrap the weapon bearing arm.


This response is the same to a back handed swing or a two handed baseball bat attack…just cover and close him down before the strike gains momentum then blast through with knees and elbows as you gain attachment.


Here we can see how the default position comes into play as we cover and crash forward to shut the subject down and stifle his momentum.


Sticking with the same historical influence, that of Fairbairn’s curriculum during WW2. Our next module looked into the dynamics of pistol disarming at hold up range.  Incidentally, most of what we covered on the day was supported with depiction on screen, by the showing of the classic OSS training film with W. E. Fairbairn and Col. Rex Applegate. One such module on this film included pistol disarms. Before I get into this I would just like to stress the following points the main reason that I included this module was purely due to the theme of the day and the fact that many war-time instructors were including such methods in their curriculum at the time. With that said it is fast becoming common knowledge that current statistics are showing that such training could become some what of relevance in this day and age.  The main thing to bear in mind as far as guns are concerned is that if somebody wants to shoot you dead they will probably do so from a distance and there is not a whole lot that you can do about it. If on the other hand you find yourself held up with a gun with the muzzle either touching you or close enough to reach then you at least have a chance.   


There are a few important points to consider when training any firearm disarm;


o  In any training environment, using training weapons all that you are going to get from the exercise, is the basic dynamics of the skill or the ‘how to’ part, nothing more.


o  What’s missing from the equation is the stress that such an episode WILL induce. The variables, that could affect your performance even in a gross motor sense include. The shock inducement of the loud bang of the gun going off/the burn and heat from gunshot residue if it goes off and your hand is in contact for the disarm and most important of all, the REAL threat to life!


o  Any of these factors have the capacity to affect whether or not you will/can successfully disarm the gun or not! Take solace in the fact that if you have no choice and you might now die, then what choice do you have?


o  Be aware of the path of bullet trajectory as you move the muzzle off the attack line. Is there someone else now in its path? If it’s another bad guy then f##k him, but what if it’s a significant other? Or an innocent bystander? Again all are considerations that require thought, during a time when you can’t think!


o  Take solace in the fact that many, many individuals HAVE pulled such disarms off successfully, without thought at a time of no choice. If others have prevailed then why not you? It’s just my moral duty to point out the difference between training and reality.


o  Once the basic skill is mastered, employ the use of be be pellets or better still Simunitions and have the subject fire a shot off, as soon as he/she anticipates you move. Now when you successfully disarm the subject, you know you have something workable in a physical sense. All you’ve got to do now is get a handle on your emotions under stress. 


Myself and Mick Coup demonstrating part of a ‘live’ pistol disarm. Here we are practicing purely to gain de-sensitization to the noise of a shot fired (in this case via a live round of a Glock .45) and the burn from the heat of the GSR as it hits my hand from an ALREADY gun off-line and parried position. Anything else would be totally irresponsible and would never be attempted unless out of an act of sheer desperation.





Gun threat hold up from the front:

Here we employ examples from Fairbairn’s All in Fighting. The hands are raised in compliance (this depiction shows them a little higher than they should be) a better option is to keep them on a level plain to the gun, though very subservient looking at the same time. From here the body is turned away from the line of fire as the weapon hand is parried in the opposite direction. From here use one explosive motion as you show him the muzzle then blast through with a barrage of knee strikes as you strip the weapon and beat the granny out of him with it!




Close up depiction of showing the subject the muzzle…Where possible it is preferred to seize both the hand in conjunction with the top of the pistol from here knee strikes are most definitely the first tool of choice.




The legendary Charles Nelson performing a frontal pistol disarm…



Slap, grab the gun as you turn off the line of fire…


In one explosive motion, come from underneath with the opposite hand, careful to avoid muzzle flash…


From here show him the muzzle with one explosive yank, the trigger finger is likely to get snapped in the process and if the gun does go off it will most likely discharge into him. If the gun comes free from his hand, go straight to impact and smash it into his face…


Regardless of this follow up with immediate knee strikes, violently blasting through him until the threat is down if necessary continue the attack by cycling the granny out of him using the pistol as an impact weapon until the jobs done…


This pretty much brought an end to yet another successful workshop. I hope everyone enjoyed the day as much as I did and I hope to see some of you back on the 27th of May for the next one….

Details to be posted soon.

Peace LM.