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Orange Frog Wants to Know about William E. Fairbairn's Combatives Doctrine
© 2020 James LaFond
OrangeFrog commented on No Place for Men Aug-28-2020 8:45 AM UTC
Mr LaFond, I did not know how else to ask you, and forgive me if you spoken at length about this elsewhere, so I thought I'd ask the question here.
What are your thoughts on William E. Fairbairn's book 'All-in fighting'? If a person has minimal time on their hands, but wanted to know a set of techniques that could be drilled to be effective in a dire situation, would the techniques in this book be useful. I have been 'instructing' someone in the art of 'being aware at all times' - but she wanted to know what action to take if SHTF?
Apologies if the question sounds naive!

Sir, there is no question too naïve on this subject.
I have not read this book since about 1988 and can't comment on it specifically.
I will state that military combatives tend to have the following strengths and weaknesses:
-Empty-hand weapon integration
-Hard to practice safely at intensity
-Designed for youthful men
You will find numerous useful things in any such manual.
What noncombatant frame of person [a woman, a nerd, etc] needs is something that is assumed of those that military combatives are meant for, fitness for combat, which they tend not to have. Below are the guidelines I suggest for training a frail of either gender:
-0. How to act when being shoved, which is the most common female on female attack
-1. How to act when getting sucker punched
-2. How to act when being grabbed
-3. How to act when being menaced
-4. How to spear, rake, jab and gouge the eyes with fingers
-5. How to use a knife as a defensive weapon
-6. How to use a short blunt object as a defensive weapon
-7. How to avoid being grabbed
-8. How to avoid being punched
-9. How to avoid being stabbed
-10. How to avoid being clubbed
-11. How to egress and escape the attack zone
-12. How to slap
-13. How to punch
-14. How to use a sword or machete for home defense
That is about it for frail survival. The problem with most military combatives is they are designed to use the unarmed soldier to slow down an armed soldier as an obstinate casualty and secondarily to teach the soldier armed with something less effective than a fire arm to eliminate a sentry. It's generally too aggressive and two risky for women and non combatants to employ as a defense. The one place women have been able to compete [not surpass or dominate but achieve actionist status] with men in hand-to-hand fighting is combat with light blades, up to and including sabers and epees. Now that any ivory man or woman that uses a firearm to stop a Reparations Recovery Agent is likely to be prosecuted and persecuted, I suggest that women learn how to carry and use a knife for defense and use a sword at home for repelling boarding parties. For the car, a light hammer would be ideal as well.
A woman should carry at all times:
-a small fixed blade, like a neck knife accessible with her dominant hand,
-a small stabbing object or shank, like the Cold Steel hairbrush dagger, or even a pen or knitting hook, accessible with her off hand
-a razor blade for slicing out of the grapple at wrist and throat and the inner thigh and groin accessible with the dominant hand as a back-up blade and incase the primary blade cannot be reached
Her blade doctrine needs to emphasis checking and pushing off with the empty hand to maintain weapon possession and space for slicing and stabbing. Once she stabs, she needs to rip and bring all of the guts or blood out of the meat bag attacking her.
If she does not have the stomach for this she is better off accepting rape and hoping she is not executed afterwards. This is the big question for a woman that she needs to try and address in advance:
what is more acceptable,
-killing or being raped?
-killing or being killed?
-being raped or being killed?
People are different. I know people who have been destroyed by being forced to kill when they lacked the mental make up for it and I now women who have been brutally raped who have generally had a good life afterwards, at least a better life than Alfred, who was forced to kill Chinese men for his nation in 1952 and drank himself to death every day for 50 years of unending misery.
What can your lady handle as an acceptable outcome?
Her training needs to be based on her actual psychology, not some ideal of what her psychology should be.
We are what we are.
Few women of 2020 have the psychological and physical makeup of the industrial working man of 1943.

Another important aspect of survival fighting is exactly the same as mental preparation for sports activity and ritual combat, and that is VISUALIZATION.
The biggest false statement most often made to me by American men and women is:
"You can never know how you will react in a given situation until you are in that situation. "
This is the supreme anti-heroic, domesticated bleating of the sheep of Modernity, that is only true if you do not practice visualization.
I have always acted by rote according to visualizations when attacked and threatened on the street, lot, alley or sidewalks of the various shitholes I have traversed in my crooked life.
I have cut and stabbed men.
I have drawn my weapon unthinkingly with cool intend scores of times.
I know with absolute certainty, that if I am physically able to act while being attacked, that I will stab and rip.
Every day I conduct at least ten combats of various intensity in my mind. The one I practice every day at least five times, is cutting the throat of a PIG trying to arrest me. I do this because I have promised myself never to do time. Avoiding physical bondage is about my only life goal.
Secondarily I practice butchering groups of attacking men, in my mind, in shadow drills, on the bag, and weave this in with using a bunt extension weapon or makeshift hand weapon like a garden brick, to kill a group of men. I never visualize anything sub-lethal. Every thing is kill, kill, kill...
When I was a working man with a family, I visualized mostly sub-lethal resolutions.
But now, since I am an evil tabooed man and a member of the only evil race on earth, in a society where it is a crime against humanity to even bloody the nose of an attacker, I practice nothing but dealing death. This is for my own peace-of-mind, being at war with a vast human society of some 7 billion enemies.
On a practical basis this is necessary because I am physically inferior in age, stature, strength and speed to virtually all of my past and potential attacker, who will also outnumber me on average 3-to-1. This essentially puts me in the position of your frail student. The physically inferior actor must be capable of high levels of unhesitating violence to have a reasonable chance at success.
I hope this helps, sir.
More Waking Up in Indian Country
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honor among men
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DvF     Aug 28, 2020

Which book or videos come closest to answering those How Tos?
James     Aug 28, 2020

From my selection

Being a Bad Man in a Worse World

The Combat Space

Look on Lancaster Agonistics you tube channel from 2018 for some self-defense demos.

My videos with Dennis have been taken down, sorry.

Will try and do a comprehensive series soon that won't be taken down.
Don Quotays     Aug 29, 2020


I have read Fairbairns books and your analysis is sound. Those techniques are extremely basic tools for guys whose primary weapon is a rifle.

For places its allowed, guns truly make women equal.
James     Aug 29, 2020

When y brother was trained in the 82nd airborne in 1982, their entire unarmed combatives training consisted of glaring at the enemy and yelling, "Kill!"
Denise     Aug 31, 2020

This was the article I've been waiting for. Thank you!
James     Aug 31, 2020

Glad t is hopeful—the butcher knife is your friend, Young Lady.
OrangeFrog     Sep 1, 2020

Mr LaFond. I was away (thankfully) from a computer for some days, so have only had time to read your response. It is very well received. Thank you for putting some time in to giving a considered and practical response, you point about visualisation is a very good one, and I think this may be where the challenge lies.

On the topic of the correct mindset, the area in which I live has steadily declined over the years (I have the means to get out sooner rather than later - but you never know) and the lady in my charge still thinks that walking the streets in daylight with earphones in is a good idea. I have only managed to get her to come round to the fact it it isn't very recently - but it is important to me she is aware. It is not quite Baltimore, I am sure, but always best to stay alert.

Things I have noted in my current neighbourhood as well as where I grew up:

1) Far more people.

2) A far more diverse selection of people.

3) Old style civility no longer considered - loud music played from phones by swaggering groups of teens, spitting and loud cursing is far more frequent in public, abrupt gestures and rudeness as a matter of course.

4) Increase in homeless and drunks occupying places they never used to.

5) Brazeness of the above in asking 'for a cigarette' or for 'change' - these people, the druggies in particular, will actively accost you.

6) Graffiti and vandalism to public property far more prominent.

7) Large areas of refuse as well poor upkeep of houses.

8) Lovely old Victorian era houses now broken up into flats - poorly kept on the outside and leased to groups of males.

9) Police sirens far more numerous.

10) A lot more mask wearing and a more passive face adopted by working and functioning members of the public.

Again, thank you for your response - your musings on our current state as well as practical guidance are very helpful.
Juan Stabone     Sep 4, 2020

I've been meaning to weigh in on this because I trained in a system based on Fairbairn/Applegate combatives for several years. At the start of my lovely police career, I had a significant background in Judo and as high a level of strength and fitness as my genetic profile would allow, but I realized I needed a whole lot more than polite sport competition experience under my belt. (The "defensive tactics" training given at the Academy at that time was laughable, with most of the techniques based on wristy-twistys and - no kidding—hair pulling.)

I looked at several different schools, and soon found one that taught street self-defense, using Fairbairn's methods as the core of the curriculum. Thanks to my training in this system, I was able to save my own life (and protect my partner as well) on at least two occaisons, and the aggressiveness and situational awareness that this system promoted helped me in many other instances.

Fairbairn and his acolytes did not train standard military units of Tommies or GIs. Their training was focused on the British SOE and later the American OSS. These were clandestine units full of eccentric civilian types who were recruited for the specific skills that they could bring to missions involving sabotage, reconnaissance, and guerilla liaison. Fairbairn's job was to give realistic survival training to journalists, anthropologists, lawyers, and the like - many of whom were past the first bloom of youth, and some of whom were female.

I have not read "All-in Fighting", but I have read "Get Tough", which is a good basic primer of WW2 dirty fighting.

My instructor had spent a good deal of his life adapting Fairbairn/Applegate techniques for use in modern civilian life, but the techniques themselves were perhaps the least important part of the process. As you mention, James, visualization was the core of the instruction - a constant stream-of-consciousness monologue during training that stressed awareness and aggressiveness, best encapsulated by the phrase "Attack the Attacker".

There was no full-speed sparring in the class, because the techniques were designed with killing or disabling an attacker in mind. Shadow boxing and bag work were what we used for striking, knives, and stick work. We also spent about half of each class working - slowly! - on specific responses to specific surprise attacks, some of which are detailed in "Get Tough".

What gave me a great deal of confidence in the effectiveness of this system was that it was combat-proven in the most serious possible arena. Although I didn't know her name at the time, I later learned of Nancy Wake, "The White Mouse" who killed one of the ubermensch with a ridgehand chop. I would say when a frail (or a small or elderly man) couples some of Fairbairn's kicks, sticks, and dirty tricks with deception and surprise, that this can drastically improve their chances of survival in a street situation.

IMHO, the best cinematic representation of the Fairbairn style is Linda Hamilton's breakout from the psych ward in Terminator 2. No wire-assisted gymnastics or spinning jump kicks, just well-trained dirty fighting. She begins by attacking a guard by surprise and using an improvised weapon. At another point in her odyssey she hits another guard with the classic Fairbairn "chin jab", and she continues to hit and run, making good use of her environment until Arnie arrives.

Plus, she really rocks the wife-beater t-shirt.
James     Sep 7, 2020

Thanks so much, Juan,

Slow motion training is really good
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