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    Defending Fairbairn

    Hi all,

    First time poster here. I was reading through some old threads and found one discussing Fairbairn's "Get Tough" manual that explained the techniques he taught to the allied WWII commandos, Marines, OSS, and paratroopers. I think some legit questions were asked, but after several pages of opinions and a lot of people saying they thought the entire system was junk, I didn't feel that the honest questions got answered, and I think a lot of things were dismissed out of hand. A few comments even stated that Fairbairn was a charlatain and didn't know what he was talking about.

    I'll address a few other topics first and let ya'll make up your own minds about Fairbairn.

    QUESTION 1: In "Get Tough" as well as the Army training videos, Fairbairn shows a knife hand strike with the thumb sticking straight out. What is up with that?

    Answer: Fairbairn did indeed teach the strike in just that way. He illustrated it and made a point of insisting that the thumb be straight out during the strike. Although Fairbairn never directly explains why, one of his pupils wrote a book called "Kill or Get Killed" in which it was explained that Fairbairn wanted the thumb out because he believed it would aid in keeping the hand very rigid, whereas laying the thumb flush against the hand could lead to "cupping" the hand slightly, which was considered a less effective striking weapon.

    So for all those scratching your head and saying "My dojo teaches to put the thumb down!" Well, there's the reason Fairbairn wanted it straight. To keep the hand rigid. Nothing more. Don't worry, thumb up or thumb down isn't likely to make a huge difference in your knife hand strike, just as long as you keep the hand rigid.

    QUESTION 2: WHY DIDN'T THE TRAINING INCLUDE PUNCHING?

    Remembering that the system was intended for use by allied soldiers during WW2, we must also remember that the intended opponent was most likely going to be a Nazi soldier in full uniform. This included a helmet. Fairbairn mentions helmets several times in the text and included them in nearly every sketch that included an opponent. Sufficed to say, he was well aware that German soldiers wore rather large steel helmets that covered nearly everything but their face.

    Throwing a haymaker at a helmeted man isn't a very bright idea. A slight turn of their head (flinching for example) will send your fist crashing into steel.

    Your hand will be very damaged. Likely broken, depending on how aggressively you were punching. The helmet won't be dented, and likely your opponent will be unharmed.

    Fairbairn realized that haymakers thrown at an armored head is stupid. Hence he focused on palm strikes to the chin and knife hand blows to the neck, as well as attacks to the groin.

    QUESTION 3: THIS SYSTEM DOESN'T EVEN ESTABLISH A FIGHTING STANCE. THAT'S BASIC STUFF. WHY'D HE SKIP IT?

    Fairbairn wanted a system that could be employed quickly and from any position. In the close in fighting of WW2 it was unlikely that an unarmed solider would have the time to strike a pose, find good footing, etc. The system was designed so that even an unprepared soldier who was resting against a wall with his hand looped through his belt could immediately respond with strikes without worrying about 'getting ready' or into a particular 'start' position.

    QUESTION 4: I READ 'GET TOUGH' AND A LOT OF THESE TECHNIQUES SEEM WEAK AND OUTDATED. WHY THE HELL DID THEY TEACH THIS TO COMMANDOS?

    A famous quote from a Gutterfighting instructor regarding Defendu (aka Gutterfighting) as a martial art: "If you want to learn an art, learn to paint. I'm here to teach you how to kill someone."

    The techniques presented are not difficult. They are incredibly simple. Looking at the text one might be tempted to scoff and decide that they are too elementary or too "weak" to be of use.

    I would encourage a person of that attitude to go back and re-read the text and insert a violence of action and speed to the moves. Remember that the moves are not meant to injure or stun. Every maneuver is meant to KILL.

    Punching a helmeted foe is out. We've established that. So what do you do when a Nazi soldier is trying to overtake you and for whatever reason you are without a weapon? You are belly to belly with someone who wants to kill you!

    As violently as you can, Palm Strike the face below the chin. Not some pansy-ass swat. Bend your knees, coil like a cobra, launch forward with all your body weight and all your strength behind the strike. Hit him like you want to take his fucking head off with the strike!!

    Step 2 of the combo is to knee him in the groin. Again, this is not some pansy sort of strike where you simply lift a knee and jiggle his balls and make him a little uncomfortable. DRIVE your knee UP and INTO him. ALL your weight, and as much force as you can propel yourself upward or forwar. LAUNCH the knee into him with FORCE. Knock his ballsack into his throat!

    Step 1 & 2 should be done quickly and fluidly. BAM! KNEE! At this point if you've been properly violent with your strikes the enemy is bent over (if he's still standing) Next, get him on the ground (Sending all your weight and strength into a downward chop to the neck/spine is recommended, but any method of getting him on the ground is fine)

    Once he's on the ground you put the boots to him and KICK and STOMP his living guts out until he's fucking DEAD.

    That's what Fairbain's method is about. Fast. Violent. Deadly. That's why the Marines loved the system for so long. That's why the guys of the OSS and Devil's Brigade still shake their heads and say "That was the dirtiest fighting I ever learned". (Check out some interviews with those heroes on youtube. Its enlightening.)

    The same violence and killer mindset has to be applied to all the other techniques in "Get Tough".

    Example: People scoff when Fairbairn suggests attacking the "Little finger" of an enemy who has you in a bear hug. Of course it seems silly. Why would someone release you from a bear hug simply because you bend their finger backward.

    I'd agree. If you are looking for pain compliance it seems stupid.

    We arent looking for pain compliance. We want to kill this motherfucker.

    So don't just "bend" the little finger backward. BREAK THE FUCKING THING to get out of the hold, turn around, drive a knee into him, do whatever you have to do to get him on the ground and then stomp his guts out.

    See the pattern?

    The same goes for the application of the choke hold. A lot of people these days know the standing rear naked choke. When they see it in "Get Tough" they roll their eyes and go "Yeah, we know that one. Its old news."

    But remember how Fairbairn is using it. KILL is the motto. When his commando's put an enemy into a choke hold they weren't going to let him go when he 'tapped out'. They weren't attempting to render him unconcious. They were going to hold the choke until the guy was fucking DEAD.

    QUESTION 5 WHY DOES THE SYSTEM FOCUS SO MUCH ON BEAR HUG ESCAPES?

    The bear hug is a simple example for a technique that can be applied for most chokes, holds, etc. The technique itself is simple. Somebody grabs you from behind. You reach between their legs and attack the groin, try a backward head butt (smashing your helmet right into their face). Some different techniques that pay into arm bars are shown, but the result is always the same. Attack a weak point, put them on the ground. Kick their guts out.

    The 'testicle grab' is also not given much respect these days. I've heard people say that Fairbairn relied far too much on groin attacks, and that a swift blow to the groin was no guarantee of getting out of a hold.

    I'd agree with some of that. A slap to the groin may or may not have the desired effect. In a dojo setting somebody lightly grabbing at your junk might be nothing more than annoying. But neither of those things are what Fairbairn is talking about.

    He's talking about getting up IN there. Smash your hand into their groin. Feel around if you must, but find the guy's nutsack. Once you found it CRUSH HIS FUCKING BALLS in the most VIOLENT manner you can manage. Rip his fucking sack off. Crush his nuts!

    That's what Fairbairn was talking about, and I'd challenge anyone to say that it isn't an effective way to get out of nearly any hold (as long as you have access to the crotch, of course)

    QUESTION 6 "GET TOUGH" DEPICTS AN ARM BAR, AND THEN DIRECTS THE SOLDIER TO STRIKE AT THE BICEPT, ELBOW, OR WRIST WITH A KNIFE-HAND STRIKE. WHATS THE DEAL WITH THAT? WHY BOTHER? ISN'T THERE MORE IMPORTANT PLACES TO STRIKE OTHER THAN THE ARM?

    Again, realize that Defendu wasn't advocating some mild downward slap with the hand. The strike is meant to carry all the energy and body weight with as much force as possible onto the target. In this case the point was to break the arm, break the wrist, or dislocate the enemy's shoulder. Are there other ways of doing that? Sure. Does this one work. Yup. Is it Fast, Effective, and Violent. Yup.

    QUESTION 7 IS THIS THE BEST MARTIAL ART TO LEARN FOR SELF DEFENSE?

    Nooo. Resounding no! Not by a long shot.

    I like Fairbairn. I like his book. I respect the hell out of what he taught and I wanted to clear up the misconception that Defendu was some namby-pamby fantasy bullshit. It wasn't. It was a very mean, very violent, very fast way to kill a person with bare hands.

    If you did that stuff to a person on the street you'd go to prison.

    Secondly, the Defendu system was incredibly narrow in it's teachings. Chances are that you won't be mugged or abducted by a helmet wearing psychopath. In this day and age, and in civilian conflict, punching someone in the head is a decent option.

    Yes, you can still break your hand if you throw a hard punch and wind up hitting dense bone. I've heard of it happening to boxers and the like. I've never seen it happen myself.

    I've punched a person in the face before in a defensive situation. It didn't break my hand. It hurt their face and they stopped attacking me. He got a bruise. I was fine. Win for everyone.

    In any event, there are a lot of very dynamic systems out there that bring knees, fists, elbows, throws, controlling maneuver, joint locks, etc into play. Defendu is not the end-all-be-all of fighting. It was simply a fast way to train large groups of people to kill in a very violent, fast and efficient manner using a very basic skill set and tool kit.

    Ok, so that's my rant. I welcome comments or questions if anyone has them.

    #2
    "They weren't attempting to render him unconcious. They were going to hold the choke until the guy was fucking DEAD."

    And how long would that take ? Hmmm?

    Now if you are talking about crushing a larynx...even then...

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      #3
      Just out of curiosity what did the actual soldiers that tried to use it think of it?? Were there accounts of it actually working in combat??

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        #4
        I believe my thread is the one you're talking about:
        http://www.bullshido.net/forums/show...ight=Fairbairn

        I don't appreciate the strawmen you're setting up and knocking down, as if we were discussing it like a bunch of neanderthals who had no idea of the context or intent. Basically all of your answers is that they would hit FUCKING HARD. So, you think we figured they were countering with their daintiest swats? Come on, we understand that we're talking about a hand to hand combat text.

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          #5
          I remain an avid supporter of the bronco kick.

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            #6
            Apparently all RBSD needs to work is for you to DO IT HARDER.

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              #7
              Originally posted by BKR View Post
              "They weren't attempting to render him unconcious. They were going to hold the choke until the guy was fucking DEAD."

              And how long would that take ? Hmmm? .
              A blood choke like he taught deprives the brain of oxygen. The opponent would quickly lose consciousness. Continuing to hold the choke after they pass out is going to result in brain damage and death in a few minutes.

              They actually had a pretty disturbing video on youtube a few months ago where two kids were messing around wrestling. One kid put the other in a choke hold. The kid tapped out but the kid kept choking until he passed out. Even then he held it. Kid winds up dead. I think the guys even did a "Gracie Breakdown" about it on their channel.

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                #8
                Originally posted by Permalost View Post
                I believe my thread is the one you're talking about:


                I don't appreciate the strawmen you're setting up and knocking down, as if we were discussing it like a bunch of neanderthals who had no idea of the context or intent.
                I didn't insult anyone, nor do I feel that there were any neanderthal answers. I just felt that some things never got answered, such as why Fairbairn taught to chop with the thumb sticking up. A lot of people talked about it and gave opinions. Nobody mentioned the 'rigid hand' theory put forth in "Kill or Be Killed". Instead of reviving the old thread I just thought I'd jot down what I knew in a new thread to finally answer those questions.

                And there were plenty of people calling into question the entire system because it uses palm strikes and knife hand blows. Plenty of people tossed out opinions that it was silly, or that punches to the head were better. (and on a normal opponent I would agree) but I wanted to explain that Fairbairn did have a reason for not utilizing heavy punches in his method. Namely that helmets were worn by the enemy which made punches to the head a dicey option.



                Originally posted by Permalost View Post
                Basically all of your answers is that they would hit FUCKING HARD. So, you think we figured they were countering with their daintiest swats? Come on, we understand that we're talking about a hand to hand combat text.
                I think there were enough comments regarding the practicality of palm strikes and blade hands compared to boxing style punches to give the overall impression (to me anyhow) that at least a few people think a palm strike is an underpowered blow thrown by extending the elbow rather than a devistating blow to the chin with the entire power and force of the body behind it.

                I wanted to be clear that the blows taught in the course were not weak, as some people seemed to believe.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by chaosexmachina View Post
                  Apparently all RBSD needs to work is for you to DO IT HARDER.
                  Same with Internet porn.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Bneterasedmynam View Post
                    Just out of curiosity what did the actual soldiers that tried to use it think of it?? Were there accounts of it actually working in combat??
                    There are a lot of sources out there regarding the First Special Service Force (aka The Devil's Brigade or Black Devils). It was reading about them that first introduced me to Fairbairn's Defendu stuff. In "A Perfect Hell" by John Nadler one of the veterans recounts their training in Wyoming. He gives an anecdote about him and a buddy going off-base and getting their kicks by disarming Marines who were also out for a good time. There's a lot of books and documentaries about them, some of which can be found on youtube for free. ("Supercommandos" is also on my reading list)

                    In actual combat the FSSF gained their "black devils" nickname because they would blacken their faces and go out on night raids. Often times they were so far ahead of their support units that they'd be told to stop and wait for them to catch up. In those instances the FSSF commandos would entertain themselves by sneaking ahead to Nazi positions and killing sentries silently using their knives or chokes. Then they'd slap a sticker on the dead man (Reading "The worst is yet to come" in German) and leave the body for his buddies to find.


                    Anyway, there are lots of things to read about those guys. Fairbairn's "Defendu" was also taught to the British commandos and some US Marines. In fact "Kill or Be Killed" (another book that teaches Defendu) was written by a USMC Colonel.

                    I've never come across any interviews or books where military personnel had anything bad to say about the system, other than "It was the dirtiest type of fighting I'd ever learned".

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                      #11
                      I have spoken to some old German guys who served in the German army (some even in the Wehrmacht). They all seemed to highly respect Fairbairn`s stuff. Even the Russians pay tribute to him. He apparently knew his stuff. Pretenders usually don`t earn such a big amount of respect. Was this the best martial art ever? Probably not. Was his system the best available military combative training back then? I think that we can answer this with a clear yes.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by All_secure View Post
                        If you did that stuff to a person on the street you'd die.
                        Fixed.

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                          #13

                          Comment


                            #14
                            You have made a very valid point. The success rate of most traditional martial arts is quite grim. They are based on the idea of the enemy behaving in a certain way, which is never the case. Most attackers on the street are highly chaotic and do not follow any "honor rules" from the martial arts.

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