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How to win in hand-to-hand fighting

As taught to the british commandos and the U.S. armed forces




A number of so called "come-along" grips are frequently demonstrated and taught as being 100 per cent perfect, and impossible, once secured, for any man to escape. Under certain circum-stances it would, indeed, be difficult and painful to escape them;
also it might result in a badly strained ligament. Nevertheless, any man of average build and strength can, with at least a 50 per cent chance of success, not only break away from these holds, but he will also be in a position from which he can with ease break his opponent's limbs and, if necessary, kill him.
Two fairly well-known holds that are so regarded are shown on the opposite page:
Fig. 108 - Police Come-Along Grip, and Fig. 109 - Collar and Wrist Hold.

You must face the fact that a man fighting for his life or to prevent capture is a vastly different person from one you may meet in competition. It is an established fact that a man in fear of death will be prepared to undertake the lifting of five times the weight he would in normal times, also that he can, under such circum-stances, take about five times the usual amount of punishment,
Tills is not said with the idea of preparing you to take a lot of punishment should you attempt to break either of these holds, but simply to show you that even if you fail, you will not be in a much worse position than you were originally.
The question will be asked: "Why is it that these holds have been so commonly accepted as being unbreakable?" The answer is:
Those of us who have made a study of the art of attack and defense well know that the average student is too inclined to demonstrate his prowess on his friends after only a few lessons, and before he has mastered even the initial movements. This often results in broken bones, etc. Further, the counter-measures used to break holds such as these are drastic in the extreme, and are shown to students only after they have proved beyond doubt that they would not willfully mis-apply them.


Note. - It is presumed that your opponent is not acquainted with the counter-methods you intend to apply.
A - Your Opponent Has Hold of You as in Fig. 108

  1. Exaggerate the pain you are receiving by shouting or groaning. Try to be out of step with him, which makes it easier to apply your counter. Only resist sufficiently to prevent him from being suspicious.
  2. Do not be in a hurry to apply your counter. The opening will be there every time he puts the weight of his body on his left foot.
  3. Smartly jab the outside of your right leg against the outside of his left leg, forcing his leg inwards, and break it (Fig. 110), simultaneously pulling your right arm towards you, which, in addition to increasing the force of your leg blow, also permits you to bend your arm and break his hold. If necessary, apply the edge-of-the-hand blow on the back of his neck with your left hand, and kill him.

В - Your Opponent Has Hold of You as in Fig. 109

  1. As in the previous method, wait until your opponent is off his guard and only resist slightly.
  2. Turn sharply around towards your left-hand side, simultaneously bending your legs at the knees and your head forward to permit your head to go under his left arm. Then straighten up your head. (These movements, in addition to twisting his arm, will lock his left hand in the back of your collar.) Strike the elbow of his left arm a vicious upward jab with the palm of your right hand, as in Fig. in. If necessary, follow up with a chin jab with your left hand, or knee to the testicles with either knee.


In close-quarters fighting there is no more deadly weapon than the knife. An entirely unarmed man has no certain defense against it, and, further, merely the sudden flashing of a knife is frequently enough to strike fear into your opponent, causing him to lose confidence and surrender.
In choosing a knife there are two important factors to bear in mind: balance and keenness. The hilt should fit easily in your hand, and the blade should not be so heavy that it tends to drag the hilt from your fingers in a loose grip. It is essential that the blade have a sharp stabbing point and good cutting edges, because an artery torn through (as against a clean cut) tends to contract and stop the bleeding. If a main artery is cleanly severed, the wounded man will quickly lose consciousness and die.
The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife (shown on the opposite page) developed by the author and a colleague, is highly recommended as possessing the requisite qualities. This knife and similar types have found wide favor among experts.
There are many positions in which the knife can be carried. Selection of this position depends upon individual preference based on length of arm, thickness of body, etc. The following considerations, however, should always be borne in mind. A quick draw (an essential in knife fighting) can not be accomplished unless the sheath is firmly secured to the clothing or equipment. More over, speed on the draw can be accomplished only by constant daily practice. The author favors a concealed position, using the left hand, for in close-quarters fighting, the element of surprise is the chief ingredient of success.

NO. 28 - USE OF THE KNIFE (cont.)

Certain arteries are more vulnerable to attack than others, because of their being nearer the surface of the skin, or not being protected by clothing or equipment. Don't bother about their names so long as you can remember where they are situated.
In the accompanying diagram (Fig. 112), the approximate positions of the arteries are given. They vary in size from the thickness of one's thumb to that of an ordinary pencil. Naturally, the speed at which loss of consciousness or death takes place will depend upon the size of the artery cut.
The heart or stomach, when not protected by equipment, should be attacked. The psychological effect of even a slight wound in the stomach is such that it is likely to throw your opponent into confusion.

NO. 28 - USE OF THE KNIFE (concl.)

Method of Making the Cut

Artery #i. Knife in the right hand, attack opponent's left arm with a slashing cut outwards, as in Fig. A.

Artery #2. Knife in the right hand, attack opponent's left wrist, cutting downwards and inwards, as in Fig. B.

Artery #3. Knife in right hand, edges parallel to ground, seize opponent around the neck from behind with your left arm, pulling his head to the left. Thrust point well in; then cut sideways. See Fig. C.

Artery #4. Hold knife as in Fig. D; thrust point well in downwards; then cut.

Note. - This is not an easy artery to cut with a knife, but, once cut, your opponent will drop, and no tourniquet or any help of man can save him.
Heart #5. Thrust well in with the point, taking care when attacking from behind not to go too high or you will strike the shoulder blade.
Stomach #6. Thrust well in with the point and cut in any direction.
Note. - It knife is in left hand, when attacking arteries #1 and #2, reverse the above and attack opponent's right arm.