Urban Combatives has many influences - both Western and Eastern. In some cases, it may be a technique or a concept. In others, it may be a mentality or a way of thinking that together will make up the whole. No one system will ever hold all the answers, so you must keep an open mind and try to stay on the cutting edge of progress.
With that said, there is nothing really new in the field of reality combat. Sometimes, someone will come along and try to reinvent the wheel, but most of it has been done before. The thing to understand is that good Self-Protection is all about having a few sound personal security concepts in place, such as the development of good awareness skills that cover 360 degrees of your environment including everyone and everything within it.
Add to this an understanding of your enemy, including any body language, attack rituals and dialogue he/she may display, and finally gain an understanding of fear and how you will feel and react under pressure. The physical side of the equation is pretty simple - just develop 2 or 3 effective strikes that you can hit hard with and that work well for you. Drill them until you reach a level of unconscious competence.
This comes by practicing the said strike(s) for several thousand reps on the heavy bag until they become a part of you. Then take your said artillery, put on some body armour, work with non-compliant training partners in your class environment, and put it under the pressure of dynamic simulation and scenario or 'Animal Day' type training. Do this until you know what works for you and are confident in what you have. Develop this as a bare minimum, for this will form your main game plan. Everything else that you look at and practice are contingency plans for that. So the idea is not to accumulate techniques; just find something workable for you.
My biggest influence here comes from; Western Combatives. Particularly from the Military Close Quarter Combat instructors of WW2 the likes of W.E. Fairbain (1885-1960) who served as a Constable drill instructor and firearms trainer with the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) during the 1920's at a time when Shanghai, China was considered the most violent city on earth. Fairbain and his noted collaborator Major E.A. Sykes (1883-1945) together developed their system of 'Defendu.'
Their approach evolved from practical experience. Fairbain trained and organised riot squads for the Shanghai Police and developed what he called 'Gutter Fighting' a system of fighting born out of methods that got real results. Fairbain's methods went on to be taught to British Commandos and Parachute troops during WW2 and became a major influence to the hand-to-hand combat training of the U.S. Marine Corps through Col Rex Applegate.
Other great instructors of this period include U.S.M.C's John Styers, Dermot O'Neill and Charles Nelson. The latter went on to teach hand-to-hand Combat after the war, in New York City for nearly 50 years. (See Profile) Charlie now 88 years old, is one of the only living representatives of Close Quarter Combatives left alive today. The successor to his street proven system is a man named Robert Spiegel, a 6th Dan in karate and a student of Charlie's for the last 15 years. Mr Spiegel continues to represent the Charles Nelson Defense System in New Jersey USA. I am pleased to consider myself one of Rob Spiegel's students of the C.N.D.S.
Another Combatives group that I am very proud to be associated with is CODA (See- Profile) this stands for Combative Oriental & Defendu Arts, this group is the only British representative of Fairbain's Defendu system, and was founded in 1993 by Peter Robins, Paul Child and Dave Smithers in Essex, UK. We are also lucky enough to get instructional visits from some great overseas CODA hand-to-hand combat instructors such as Bob Kasper and Den Brinkley of The Gung-Ho Chuan Assn.
The lineage goes from W.E.Fairbain, to our mentors Bill Pilkington and the late Les Martin then on to the founder instructor of the CODA group the late Peter Robins and so on. After WW2 people were fed up with the violence of the war and training in C.Q.C literally stopped. A handful of men continued in the techniques but as time went by it was pushed aside because of the influence of the Eastern martial arts. Today there are literally only a handful of small groups around the world, whose goal it is to keep the skill and knowledge of these Western Combative methods alive. More modern links to C.Q.C come from former U.S Marine and Vietnam veteran John Kary who is the founder instructor of American Combatives, a very effective system based on the principles of Fairbain, with instructional options available for law enforcement, the military and civilians alike.
Also, I must make mention of a former Major in the U.S.M.C by the name of Kelly McCann also known as Jim Grover, who is a Security adviser for America's CNN News and a Security Specialist and Combatives instructor for Crucible Security and a group known as the Gung Ho Chuan Assn. (GHCA) this is an organisation that was formed in 1992 and is dedicated to keeping WW2 Combatives alive today. Kelly McCann is probably amongst one of the most influential people for me. He is considered to be a real world operator who knows what works and what doesn't from violent personal experience. His vicious system combines the best elements of combat proven Military Combatives, hardcore street fighting, and McCann's distinctive in your face attitude.
The result is an easily learned, exceptionally brutal fighting system that really works. Another influence from Combatives comes from Defensive Tactics and chief instructor of his C.Q.B. Tactical training programme Dennis Martin. Den is well known within his field and has written for various martial arts magazines for years. I started reading Den's articles relating to realism in training from when I was a teenager having trained with Dennis and studied nearly all his written word I can tell you that this man knows his stuff. I will end this discussion on Western Combatives by quoting two of the most respected Close Combat instructors in the world today.
“Although they come from a dominate Military background, the most important elements that Combatives have to offer civilians are, simplistic effectiveness that is easy to learn, easy to execute and easy to retain.”
- Bob Kasper, G.H.C.A.
“The main difference between martial arts and Combatives is that martial arts are something that you do with someone, where as Combatives are something that you do to someone or on someone.”
- Kelly McCann, Crucible Security
Another huge influence for me comes from one of the best Reality Self-Protection instructors in the country, top martial artist, veteran ex-doorman and best selling author; Geoff Thompson. This man should need no introduction to anyone involved in martial arts today. Geoff has written literally dozens of books, relating to the field of Self-Protection and his unique 'Real Self-Defence' system.
Geoff opened everyone's eyes during the early 90's with his revolutionary ideas and concepts including the introduction of the fence, his controversial 'Animal Days', and the content of his famous book 'Fear: The Friend of Exceptional People'. Since then he has written a few positive thinking, self-help type books, and gives frequent inspirational talks at his book signings and seminars.
Geoff is a true example of someone who has reached the summit of his martial arts journey. We have all read how, through adversity we can transcend the physical until we reach a spiritual plane, where we truly know ourselves and are free from ego. At this point we strive to give back to others and become truly humble; Geoff is all that. He is like most of the truly dangerous men that I have met - a real gentle-man.
Geoff's influence within my training comes from his teachings, regarding understanding the enemy of today and his modus-operandi, use of the 3 second fight, 'sniper option', and gaining an understanding of fear and techniques of fear control along with the importance of pressure testing what you have. Also the importance of line-ups and pre-emption, philosophy, and self-belief. I am proud to look upon Geoff as both my friend and teacher.
Other influences come in the form of techniques, training methods and concepts from some of the other systems that I have trained in over the years. Jeet Kune Do; Like most individuals who have spent the last twenty plus years training in the martial arts, I have always been both fascinated and impressed with the late great Bruce Lee. It wasn't until the last few years that I managed to train in his self developed method of combat of Jun Fan JKD. The two current trains of thought regarding Bruce's system are the JKD Concepts approach and what's called Original JKD, the first looks at what was known as Jun Fan Gung fu which is pretty close to what Bruce was doing in the 60's along with additional added Concepts from Thai boxing, French Savate, and an added influence from the Filipino and Indonesian arts along with some Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
The Original JKD approach pretty much sticks with the entire curriculum just as Bruce practiced it up until he died in 1973. Having trained with some top individuals from both methods, I can see the pros and cons of each. I am not at all interested in what has, now become a political left and right issue between the two groups. I'm only interested in adding what's functional for use in a 'live situation.' To that end the best instructor that I have come across is with out doubt one of the top men in within the JKD Concepts and head of Progressive Fighting Systems, Paul Vunak. He is responsible for the development of the Navy Seals programme called Rapid Assault Tactics (R.A.T.) This is a programme designed by a martial artist for the average person, so that they may have a fighting chance against a bigger and stronger opponent.
It is one of the most aggressive, 'in your face' continuous attack methods that I have ever seen. Although I am not certified by Sifu Vunak and therefore do not teach the R.A.T method. I have after training with Paul Vunak taken what he taught me and adapted it to fit into my own functional little box. For example I have eliminated his methods of entry, which I feel are more applicable to a match fight scenario preferring instead to strike pre-emptively off my fence from a talking range of two feet or less and then I will close into a Thai boxing neck clinch and make use of the finishing tools that are considered to be the most destructive weapons on the body our head-butts, knees and elbows.
What is ironic to me, is that after twenty plus years of JKD, Kali and Silat, Vunak has without realising returned to what one of Fairbain's instructors Dermot 'Pat' O'Niell was teaching as hand-to-hand Combatives during WW2. He made the same use of the head, knees and elbows as finishing strikes with the same 'in your face' style. For instance, in the termination phase of R.A.T you clinch onto your opponent's neck and head butt or elbow his face following this with a sharp knee/s to his groin, the latter was a favourite of O'Neill's and was often referred to simply as an 'O'Neill to the nuts'.
This is a classic example of two great minds coming to the same conclusions through similar experience. The pictures on the next page show the similarities between Vunak's R.A.T and what Dermot O'Neill was teaching the British Commandos and U.S Ranger's during WW2 some six decades earlier. Both methods emphasise effective use of the body's most destructive weapons to your opponent's most vulnerable targets combined with tenacious in-your-face aggression.
The first picture shows Dermot O'Neill in the background observing his recruits during one of his Combatives sessions. The second picture shows Sifu Vunak in the termination phase of the RAT. Note the same destructive knee strike to the groin from the clinch.
Western Boxing - this is considered influential, because Boxing has everything from fine body mechanics to the mental toughness that you can develop from the progressive sparring and toe-to-toe 'milling' type drills. Boxing offers an extreme level of fitness to those that take it seriously, as well as the ability to give and take a punch. Add to this a couple of lessons learned from old time champions Jack Dempsey for his 'falling drop step' a concept that allows you to focus all of your body weight behind your shots and the inspirational, unshakable self-belief of the great Rocky Marciano.
“Boxing is the revealer of character and the unveiler of truth.”
One final element of influence comes from the Wrestling and grappling arts both Eastern and Western. Grappling is considered as a support system from a street perspective. Although the foundational pins and escapes of Judo are practiced, the main tactic if you have ended up on the ground with your opponent is going to be biting and gouging to affect a fast release and return to your feet as quickly as possible.
I have also taken a couple of takedowns from the Greco-Roman style of wrestling, in particular the Snatch, which I have found to be effective in live situations on more than one occasion. A lot of what I would call functional Control and Restraint or subject control that I teach to doormen and security people, come from a variety of sources, from modern day combative groups within the field of specialist security right back to the 'Defendu' and Charles Nelson Defense systems of old.
These were essentially Jiu-jitsu based from the old days when all holds were preceded by a strike or a distraction of some kind such as the methods used by the law enforcement officers in Shanghai and also by soldiers during WW2, if the softer option of prisoner escorting was called for. The only other included aspects of grappling, are some of the old-time wrestler's conditioning drills, such as The Hindu squat or the Baithak and the Hindu push up also called the Dand.
These will be covered in detail later in the section on conditioning. Some of the old-time wrestling greats, such as George Hackenshmidt, Frank Gotch and Farmer Burns were absolutely amazing combat strength athletes even by today's standards. A lot of these conditioning methods have been re-introduced by a great American combat conditioning coach by the name of Matt Furey. I highly recommend his books relating to such methods. This concludes the influences for Urban Survival to date, but like any good student I remain open minded and ever prepared to learn.