Informative Combatives Sites

Holy smokes!  I cannot believe we did not find this site before now.  I have already read some great articles posted out here on self-defense and close combat.  Very good stuff, and these guys trained with Col. Rex Applegate and Charles Nelson.  Here is the old site:

And here is the new site:

Happy reading!


Hammer Fist

One of the ten techniques that we teach in our Gutterfighting is the Hammer Fist.  I personally love this technique because of its pure simplicity.  Gross motor movement all the way!  As the name implies, your arm mimics the handle of the hammer, and your fist is the head of the hammer.  The meaty part of the underside of the fist is your striking surface.  I like to think of the Hammer Fist as “the beat down.”  Aim for the head, neck and shoulder region, but you really don’t have to be much more specific than that.  We sometimes aim for the area of the solar plexus, as well. 

We train it a number of different ways, one of which is depicted on Kelly McCann’s (Jim Grover) Combatives series.  If you are left lead, as we often are, accelerate off the back foot and plunge the right Hammer Fist in a downward arc, all the way through the target.  We often utilize an angled pad (we like to do a combination with a front kick and Hammer Fists) for our drills.  You can also use a thai pad (little less margin of error) or one of those big Slammer pads.  Use your whole body, as opposed to just your arm, and sink it into the strike to get the most bang for your buck.  I like the way Kelly utilizes the cycling with this and many other techniques. 

In Krav, they also train Hammer Fist to the side and to the back.  We train these, also.  On the first, the feeder holds the pad out from his/her torso and stands to the side of the technician.  The Hammer Fist arcs out from the body, into the feeder’s pad, just like a door swinging open.  With the second scenario, the feeder just moves behind the technician.  The tech must torque his body a little further (utilizing the ever-important pivot points on the balls of the feet) to blast into the target with that horizontal arc.  You could also drill this one with the feeder running into, or “bumping” the tech from behind with the pad, and the tech whirling around to throw the Hammer Fist.  I like this as a reaction drill. 

You can add a more sting to your Hammer Fists by clenching objects like kubotans, and even rolled-up magazines, like we used the other night.  This, of course, concentrates the force into a much smaller area, thereby making it a lot more painful when you land the strike.  In fact, in some target areas, this could very well be deadly force, so keep that in mind.


Levine, Darren, and Whitman, John.  (2007).  Complete Krav Maga: The Ultimate Guide to Over 230 Self-Defense and Combatives Techniques.  Berkeley: Ulysses  Press.

Grover, Jim.  (1999).  Jim Grover’s Combatives Series: Power Strikes & Kicks, Vol. 1.  [Videotape].  Paladin Press.

Interesting Post on Improvised Weapons

Improvised weapons are the brainchild of a mindset, really.  We talked recently about using rolled-up magazines, and trained using them as weapons; certainly this is a great improvised tool to have around while traveling (a Filipino trick taught by Guro Dan).  Here is an interesting weblog on improvised weapons:

Get in the habit of looking around your environment, wherever you are.  Observe escape routes and even objects that can be utilized as weapons (especially if you are not already carrying concealed).  The prepared mind can quickly act on an opportunity, so flex those creative muscles.

Blog Post on NLP

I started delving into the concept NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) earlier this year after reading an article by Marcus Wynne posted on Dennis Martin’s website.  It was entitled “The Neural-Based Operator.”  NLP techniques were developed for programming (or re-programming, as the case may be!) the mind for success in any endeavor.  Some say that NLP has no scientific validity, and others swear by the techniques.  I have an open mind, and I already know how powerful focus and imagination are in making me better.  The author gives examples on applying NLP towards martial arts training, and I love the name of this blog–The Urban Samurai.  🙂

Urban Samurai: Mind Training/NLP

Thoughts on Knife Training


We attended a knife seminar this past weekend.  A lot of the techniques and ideas were a review for us, although we did some cool drills on the ground that involved drawing the knife from the pocket and fending off an attacker who is also on the ground, kneeling, standing, etc.  I was having significant difficulty drawing my folding knife from my pocket.  Then, I would scramble and try to draw it quickly, fumbling around like crazy and having very little success.  My partner kept reminding me that a smooth draw is a fast draw.  I realized he is right, and some variables had also changed from my usual training.  First of all, I was wearing pants with unusually deep pockets.  These are pants I don’t normally wear and the pockets presented a new challenge—swimming through the sea of material to even grasp my knife.  Secondly, I have trained so often with a fixed blade, but even so, we often do drills with the knife already in the hand. 


If I am going to consider carrying a folding knife, I have got to draw that thing from my pocket, click it open and present it a bazillion times until it is like second nature to me, and this action needs to be smooth and controlled before it is fast.  As I write this, I am thinking about Kelly McCann’s new combative knife video that I recently reviewed.  He talks a lot about drawing smoothly—it stands to reason that if I cannot even get the weapon out, it is probably not super useful to me.  In my mind, if you are going to carry any kind of weapon, including a gun, you also need to train some open hand skills.  You may need to fight someone off before getting to your weapon.  Now, I don’t know why you are switched off at that point, but we all have momentary lapses in attention.  Just accept that it can happen and train for it.


Now that we are on the subject of Kelly’s DVD, I must recommend it.  The instruction is very practical, as you would expect it to be, and stripped down.  Nothing fancy—hey, it’s combatives!  He gives you ideas for training equipment (so you can train really hard, and probably be hurting and bruised anyway) in addition to great training concepts.  After watching it, I am really considering going to a very small fixed blade like the one he prefers.  It fits nicely into his pants, and let’s face it, fixed blades are totally un-complicated to draw.  It is strictly preferential, though, so stick with whatever you like, and of course, whatever your local law allows.  He also talks some about fighting strategy as it relates to the aftermath: legal ramifications.  Kelly uses the knife offensively and violently as he would with any other combative technique, but his aim is more to dissolve the attacker’s intention and commitment towards the attack, and I know why.  This is really a liability issue, because we have to be able to articulate why we opted to use deadly force.  It is always better to avoid the fight, if we can, but things don’t always transpire that way.  I am prepared to use deadly force if someone is bent on my destruction, and I made that decision a long time ago because I have a right to be alive.  I think this is where training and imagination really come into play.  Practice mentally and physically for the what-if encounters and make decisions while you have the luxury of time.  Make a vivid imprint of how you want to behave.  I remember Brian Willis telling amazing stories of police officers winning violent encounters, even when they were seriously injured, because of imagination and effective training.  Situations are always in a state of flux—never static.  There will probably be new variables you did not imagine.  Yet, in these real-life stories, the officers stuck to their purpose and won anyway.


You are probably thinking that if there is a point, I can feel free to come to it at any moment.  There is truly a lot to consider when carrying a weapon, whatever weapon we choose.  There is a lot of responsibility that goes along with it, even if our weapons are just our bodies.  Not everyone is going to go at personal protection with the same fervor as me and my cohorts, but certainly some basic considerations should be made since self-defense is a personal responsibility.  I could probably rattle on all day about my thoughts, but if you are truly interested in basic knife training, you should check out Kelly’s DVD.  Great stuff, and very succinct (as he likes to put it).

OODA Cycle

Many months back, I geared up to write about the OODA loop/cycle.  This simple acronym stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.  We talk a lot about this decision loop concept in the Gutterfighting class and in self-defense presentations.  I culled my resources about Colonel John Boyd, who originated the theory of OODA (and created a model), and began to write on conflict and winning.  But honestly, I don’t know that I can do a better job than what has already been done here, so why reinvent the wheel?  It is a worthwhile read:

OODA Cycle by Ken Gould

Improvised Weapon: Magazine

Recently we brought in a stack of magazines to class and told the students we were going to practice fighting with them. Naturally, people were curious about turning a magazine into a weapon. As it has been taught to me, improvised weapons are more of a mindset. The same can be said for combatives.

The other instructor tells the story best about quizzing Guro Dan Inosanto about Filipinos fighting with rolled-up magazines, and using them much like a palm stick before casually going back to reading the magazines (In my mind’s eye, I see him reading and whistling a tune). I imagine a little tape would be great to hold it together. Once we got ours rolled and ready for action, we realized what a multi-tasker a magazine can truly be. Jab it into vital areas and nerve motor points, use it with your hammer fists, or just swat that guy like a big, nasty horsefly. It’s all good. I like the way it concentrates the energy of the strike into one tiny area, like with a kubotan.

Not sure we could re-use our magazines. We tore those suckers to bits.