Unarmed Close-Quarter-Combat (CQC): Against Breathers ONLY
Disclaimer: The following material is strictly for entertainment and educational purposes. Readers should be knowledgeable and compliant with all laws and regulations in their jurisdictions regarding the use of deadly force and weapons, yada, yada, yada. The author and any publisher of this material are not responsible for any misuse, harm, or damage resulting from the following material—in other words; it’s your own damn responsibility.
I. "Dracula" Guard & Cover
II. ' Forward Drive
III. ' Edge of Hand (EOH)
IV. 'Tiger Claw & Palm Smash
V. 'Chin Strike
VI. '"Flick" Kick
I. "Dracula" Guard & Cover (AKAs “Cross Arm Block”, “Cross Arm Cover”)
1. Reflexive cover against high-line attacks and readies against mid-line attacks
2. Chambers THREE highly effective strikes for IMMEADIATE launch
3. Can serve to break chokes and label grabs
4. Easily assumed from "Jack Benny", "Aw Shucks", and "Fence" ready positions
5. Can also be assumed from an initial high-line elbow smash
6. Proper body position helps prepare against low-line attacks
7. Once mastered, can “spike” incoming blows on point of extended elbow.
1. Covers but does not absolutely dominate "center line"
2. Telegraphs EOH
3. Crooked elbow obscures perception of lower-line attacks
4. Hinders direct "lead attacks"
5. If you’re covered high, then you’re open low.
II. Forward Drive
1. If done with aggressive short, stomping footwork, establishes dominance via intimidation.
2. Forward momentum adds force to attacks
3. "Drop step" technique natural extension of #1 & 2-- even more force added to strikes.
4. It's harder for your opponent to deliver blows with effective force if he's driven backward.
5. Your balance is enhanced by your controlled forward momentum--your opponent's balance is lessened by his backwards momentum.
6. You can see where you're going and your opponent can't
1. Your momentum can add to the force of the opponent's stop-hit against you.
2."Controlled forward momentum" can turn into "uncontrolled falling" in an instant if you get cocky and stupid. Keep your steps (stomps) short.
III. Edge of Hand (EOH) (AKAs, “Axe Hand”, “Sword Hand”, “Rabbit Punch”, “Shuto”, “Karate Chop”, “Judo Chop”, “Le Tranch”, “Hack”)
1. Natural violent motion, more inherent than strait hitting ("Chimp with a stick")
2. With very moderate conditioning you can hit (with full committed force) very hard surfaces (including skulls) with little or no danger of suffering damage in return
3. Faster and can get into more places than hammerfist
4 .Can be delivered as a surprise set-up, a convulsive hatchet-like strike (especially in repeated "trip hammer" fashion), and as a finishing off full-arm "saber stroke".
5. Can be used to counter strike an opponent's incoming fists and forearms, damaging them and weakening his guard
6. With consistent practice can be used from a variety of angles and from a variety of body positions and motions (including ground fighting) against any part of the body.
1. In chambered (as per Dracula guard) position it's unavoidably telegraphed to a certain degree.
2. CQC "extended thumb" version of EOH has some (probably exaggerated) risk of being grabbed and dislocated, or broken.
3. Not as direct as strait, linear strikes—also shorter range.
4. Without correct training, tendency to use with triceps power alone, or as an ineffective push rather than a convulsive "snap".
IV. Tiger Claw & Palm Smash (AKAs “Heel of Palm Blow”, “Palm Thrust”, “La Baffe”, “Pique”)
1. A fast, direct strike which can be used as a strait lead, a rear-hand cross, or even as a slightly arching hook
2. Especially with forward drive and drop-step, a powerful stunning blow (smash) or the same with maiming ability (claw)
3. Direct bone alignment avoids loss of power from wrist flexion
4. Like EOH, can be quickly conditioned to safely target hard targets
5. By changing hand orientation can target torso (horizontal) or groin (reverse)
6. Face & eye targeting naturally leads to follow-up "Cradle Hand" to throat
7. Another very natural action, “reach out and grab”
1. Potential damage to wrist if hand is hyper-extended backwards on improper impact
2. Smash has slightly less range than punch
V. Chin Strike (AKA “Chin Jab”, “La Musette”)
1. In-fighting version of the Palm Smash, using an uppercut motion to produce a near-guaranteed take-out if executed with full force and determination
2. Easily leads into eye-attack (Dante Gouge) and Neck-twist takedown
3. Effect multiplied if opponent's foot is secured by stomping version of "Flick" Kick (AKA “Post”.
1. Specialized target, only when open and vulnerable—can often be used as a surprise initial strike, coming out from beneath opponent’s peripheral vision.
2. Usually only possible, once hostilities initiated, after successful "entering technique" creates the open path to the chin or as counter to opponent's grappling attack (standing or ground fighting)
VI. "Flick" Kick (AKAs “Outside Edge-of-Boot Kick”, “Boot Kick”, “Chinese Kick”, “Stab Kick”, “Sipa Kick”)
1. Very versatile low line strike: can be used as counter (stop-kick), a set-up & entry technique, a crippler, or even as a killing technique against a downed opponent
2. Quick and non-telegraphed when mastered, does not adversely effect users balance, requires only normal range of motion, and can be done wearing field gear or while hands are occupied
3. Can be either a closing-in (Forward Drive) aggressive move, combined with a shin-scrape and instep-stomp (“Post”), or a longer-range defensive stop-kick. The stop-kick can be delivered to any angle and even while seated.
1. Effectiveness of this kick is absolutely dependent on wearing hard-soled (and preferably heavier) shoes or boots
--The striking techniques are, of course, W.E. Fairbairn's core-curriculum for unarmed combat students in WWII. For an all-out survival situation, other strikes or techniques may be useful but they are not absolutely necessary.
--These four blows were selected for their proven combat effectiveness and relative ease of mastering for the average student. Only one technique (Chin Strike) is limited in targeting, however it is so potentially devastating it more than makes up in results what it lacks in general usage.
--These strikes, as the late Carl Cestari noted, are to be taught as a method and not as disconnected grab bag of martial arts techniques. When properly taught, they "flow" or "chain", one strike leads naturally into another, one technique supports the next technique. "Flow", much more than sheer number of techniques, is the defining characteristic of an actual martial art. A supposed teacher of CQC teaching the techniques of CQC as a disconnected hodge-podge is demonstrating his appalling incompetence.
--Western Boxing provides an excellent basis for incorporating flow into CQC. Like CQC, Boxing has 4-5 basic techniques it uses over and over in a fluid near non-stop manner. Adapted to CQC, Boxing (especially pre-WWII methods) provides the basis for balanced but mobile stance, guarded chambering, and the ability to deliver power strikes with either the lead or rear-hand.
--This stripped down CQC method is strictly for survival situations, where the user must preserve his life even if it results in the grievous injury or death of the opponent. It is for preserving life, not for "defending honor", or use in a sporting context (such as a martial arts tournament or even in the full-contact ring). It is not very good for the non-damaging restraint of an opponent. It is dirty fighting par excellance, which is why Fairbairn called it "gutter fighting".
--A determined student CAN teach him or herself the basics of CQC. The techniques are well within the capacity of the great majority of human beings. They are fairly simple in execution, easily learned, and can be retained for decades without continued practice. They can be performed under conditions of extreme stress. They ARE very effective because they are undeniably brutal and vicious. They are only for actual COMBAT and not for "fighting". While in certain circumstances they can be used less than lethally or less than maiming way, a practitioner should always strive to avoid using these techniques in anything but a fully-justifiable scenario.
"Fighting has rules. Combat doesn’t"--Marc "Animal" MacYoung
Fairbairn, W.E.; Get Tough! (1942 original publication, public domain on Internet), Paperback reprint Paladin Press; 1996
--This book is about half-way through the author’s wartime distillation of core CQC techniques; Fairbairn’s later (1943) “Notes to Instructors”, included the Tiger Claw strike which was not mentioned in Get Tough!. Certain material in this book HAS been shown to be questionable at best (such as the knife wound “timetable of death”). A reasonably sincere online research (see prior and following links) will show what is still valid and what was faulty.
Applegate, Rex; Kill or Get Killed (1944 original publication, public domain on Internet) Reprint rights, Paladin Press; 1976
--A student and friend of Fairbairn, Applegate developed the CQC program for OSS operatives. There is perhaps a little too much material on wrestling type throws and some of the assassination techniques are hypothetical at best.. Living to the turn of this century, Applegate always remained adamant over what worked in CQC and what didn’t; for example, he had no truck with those who taught the EOH with anything but the extended thumb and rigid extended fingers.
Styers, John; Cold Steel: Technique of Close Combat; (1952 original publication, public domain on Internet) Reprint rights, Paladin Press 1974
--Styers’ knife fighting chapter earned him a controversial reputation as an impractical “knife duelist” but IF a knife vs. knife encounter does occur, his simple fencing-based system is far more streamlined and practical than many Asian knife methods. Styers’ unarmed stance, taken from his knife fighting stance is perhaps too open for the “center-line” but like Dempsey’s counter-puncher stance, it’s meant to be a balanced and aggressive platform to launch a barrage of powerful strikes.
--The above three books are mid-Twentieth Century military-style CQC text books and are considered to contain the “core curricula” of CQC techniques, both unarmed and armed.
Dempsey, Jack; Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense; (1950 original publication, public domain on Internet, either as text-only or PDF-file) Centerline Press 1983 (out of print)
---Dempsey’s boxing manual is an almost faultless how-to book to develop power striking—its only short-comings are for physical training (Dempsey was of the “old school” that shunned weight training and promoted LOTS of sit-ups). This book is well worth downloading as a PDF file and being printed and bound at any print shop.
Cooper, Jeff (John Dean); Principles of Personal Defense; Paladin Press, 1989, 2006
--- Cooper’s book (more of a pamphlet), is VERY focused look on the “combat mindset” which is essential for survival
Steiner, Bradley J.; The Tactical Skills of Hand to Hand Combat; (1975 original publication) Reprint Paladin Press 2008
---A “mind-set” book for unarmed CQC. Some of it IS excessive for peace time (repeatedly slamming an already incapcitated muggers head into a concrete curb is likely to earn you a lengthy prison term if not a sentence of execution!). That said, Steiner demands you have your head screwed on tight and abandon any technique or tactic that will fail in the real world outside the dojo or gym.
US ARMY; Deal the First Deadly Blow (FM 21-150); 1972, various publishers, PDF downloadable from the Internet
--About 90% of the manual is the (unaccredited) unarmed combat method of Dermot “Pat” O’Neill, a student of W.E. Fairbairn as well as an expert in several Asian martial arts, including Judo, Kempo, Pa-qua, and Hsing-i. In WWII, O’Neill trained the 1st Special Service Force (“The Devil’s Brigade”) in CQC and served with them in action. In this manual one can find the unique “Pivot Kick”. The “O’Neill method” was taught in the US Military as well as the CIA well into the Vietnam War era. The FM suffers from the posed photographs which make the techniques seem far more rigid and stilted than they really are.
Drexel-Biddle, Anthony; Do or Die: A Supplementary Manual on Individual Combat; (1937 Original publication, public domain on Internet, PDF file) Reprint Paladin Press, 2004
--Much derided as a “dilettante”, Biddle had a keen appreciation for meshing boxing methodology with the then new methods of CQC coming out of Fairbairn’s pre-war “Scientific Self-Defense” and “Defendu” methods. John Styers (Cold Steel) was Biddle’s most famous student, though Styers’ USMC friend, Charles Nelson, was also a Biddle student and taught Biddle and Styers influenced CQC into the first years of the 21st Century.
Beaumont, Ned; Championship Streetfighting: Boxing as a Martial Art; Paladin Press, 1997
MacYoung, Marc “Animal”; Cheap Shots, Ambushes, and Other Lessons: A Down and Dirty Book on Streetfighting & Survival; Paladin Press, 1989
_____________________; Violence, Blunders, and Fractured Jaws; Advanced Awareness and Street Etiquette; Paladin Press, 1992
Quinn, Peyton; Bouncer’s Guide to Barroom Brawling: Dealing with the Sucker Puncher, Streetfighter, and Ambusher; Paladin Press, 1990
Cooper, Jeff (John Dean); To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth; Paladin Press, 1988, 1998
--From a person who uses the “Fairbairn Four” (and a few others) regularly and effectively in his job as a bouncer
---A site promoting the teachings of 20th Century CQC teachers, the original teachers as well as their students
The late Carl Cestari had some other articles not found on the gutterfighting.org site:
Bradley J. Steiner’s two main sites; Agree or disagree with him, Mr. Steiner doesn’t hold back what he believes:
Marc “Animal” MacYoung’s huge site—a must: http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/
Austrailia Savate: http://savateaustralia.wordpress.com/essays/open-hands/
--Considering W.E. Fairbairn’s tenure as a policeman in the “International Zone” of 1920s & 30s Shanghai was right next to the “French Zone”, the probability French officers may have shared WWI “trench warfare Savate” with Fairbairn is an intriguing possibility.
VII. Knee Smash
VIII. Elbow Strike
IX. Cradle Hand
X. Inside-Edge-of-Boot Kick
XI. Direct Toe Kick
VII. Knee Smash (AKAs” Knee Lift”, “Knee Drive”, “Knee-to-Groin”, “Forward Knee”, Knee Roundhouse”, “Knee Hook”)
1. An in-fighting "big gun" but not just limited to targeting the groin. Can be angled directly upwards, upwards diagonally, and near horizontally--especially good at slamming the nerve and muscles on the outside thigh
2. Can also work as a closing feint to actually apply scrape & stomp version of Flick Kick
3. A take-out, possible killing blow when used against head of crouched over opponent.
4. Can be used in dropping fashion, with one or two knees, against torso of downed opponent--potentially deadly as well.
5. An effective counter against low line kicks, especially when advancing (Forward Drive) into close range
4. "Flows" very well with Fairbairn's 4-strike curriculum
1.Groin-targeting should almost never be used as an opening move because of anyone's understandable aversion to getting kneed in the groin--even at in-fighting range, unless opponent is set-up (stunned) by another blow, twisting and taking the Knee Drive on the thigh rather than the groin is an almost innate reflex
2. Especially when targeting a hard surface (like a head) be sure to give the impact with the strong bone (femur) ABOVE the knee-cap (patella)
XIII. Elbow Strike
1. Very versatile, VERY powerful in-fighting blows, can be delivered from almost any angle, in smashing or jab fashion, by itself, reinforced with other arm, or in a series of crashing multiples (see Styers “Wheeling Attack”)
2. Like Knee Drive, these flows very well into "Fairbairn Four", especially as any elbow smash sets up (chambers) an EOH (or hammerfist) strike
3. Easily conditioned to take full-force impact against hard targets
3. Can be used as an entering move ("Wheeling Attack") to smash aside an opponent's extended guard
1. Be sure to impact on the forward blow or backward strike a few inches away from the tip of the elbow. A jab elbow strike using the elbow tip should only target soft targets
2. Stronger blows can be generated by clenching the fists hard upon impact. It may be easier to follow up with a hammerfist than an EOH (see A.2 above) for this reason
IX. Cradle Hand (AKAs “Web of Hand Strike”,”Web Hand”, “Hand Yoke”)
1. Can be delivered as a quick in-and-out strike to the windpipe, usually not lethal, but effective in causing instant breathing spasms or can be a hard driving blow which turns into a windpipe crush
2. Works very well as a rear-hand cross-strike, especially as "Dracula" Guard-Cover's bent lead elbow hides the initial launch (ditto for other rear-hand strikes)
3. Can also be launched as an in-fighting strike
4. Natural follow-up from a successful Tiger Claw
5. Broader striking area more certain of results than finger-jabs
1. Requires specialized hitting-targets to train properly (e.g. Torso-Neck-Head dummies vertically hung bicycle inner tubes filled with sand and pebbles)
2. Can be lethal even if not intended as lethal
3. Special target, requires clear path before launching
X. Inside-Edge-of-Boot Kick (AKAs "Boot Defense", "Coup de pied bas", “Oblique Kick”, "Soccer Kick")
1. Can be, per Fairbairn, a close-in grappling-counter (especially effective with shin scrape and instep stomp) or the longer range strike from La Savate.
2. A potential crippling take-out, either close or longer range.
3. With proper set-up, non-telegraphed, comes out of nowhere
1. Like Flick Kick, requires hard footwear to be truly effective
XI. Direct Toe Kick (AKAs "Front Toe Kick", "Le Direct", “Purring Kick”)
1. Longer range low-line attack, non-telegraphed when done without chambering--lifts directly up from ground
2. With hard footwear, very damaging to anywhere on the body when striking with toes
3. Can hit with instep when groin is targeted.
4. Can be done with rear leg for added power or lead leg for surprise and range
5. Natural body motion: an extension of long-pace walking
1. As per Knee Drive, groin shots require set up
2. Don't target above level of opponent's groin unless he is partially or fully downed
3. Hard footwear required to be effective--even with appropriate shoes or boots, be sure to curl toes DOWN & HARD for impact
ADDENDUM: Useful supplemental strikes included in extended CQC curricula:
Stomps (aka “Post”)
Bare-Knuckle Boxing Punches:
Power Lead (Jab)
Low Side Kick (aka “Chasse bas”)
Cupped Double-Palm Blow (aka “Thunderclap”)
Pivot Kick (aka “Hook Kick”, aka “O’Neil Pig-Killing Kick”)
XII. Technique Training
1. "PERFECT Practice Makes Perfect"--Learn each technique separately and thoroughly, paying particular attention to proper form and balance. Once you have a few techniques down to a reasonable level of competency, start chaining them together in a few combinations, just like Boxing
2. Smoothness comes out of repetition and speed comes out of smoothness Power comes from a combination of speed, strength, and making your strikes HIT ("focus") and not push on impact.
3. Focus effort: Spend 100% of your time and effort on mastering the "Fairbairn Four" for the first month of practice (2-3 workouts each of 1+ hours, per week) Add other techniques gradually, but still spend 60%+ of your time on these four strikes
4. CQC has gotten a bad reputation for lack of effectiveness, not only because of the "hodge-podge" approach, but also because the great majority of the time, it was taught to troops as a single 1-2 hour session. CQC has to be treated as any other martial art--it IS easier and faster to learn and can be retained longer, but a student has to put in some consistent effort. (Jack Dempsey was adamant that an average man could develop knock-out ability with either fist, in 3 months of good effort--It's not unreasonable for CQC to have at least an equal, if not faster, learning curve)
5. Do what you have to do to complete what may seem like a lot of tedious strike repetition. This is the what majority of Boxing workouts consist of and it WORKS--and it does so without many-technique "forms" (kata) of Asian Martial Arts
6. Your major piece of training equipment is going to be the heavy punching bag, 90-100 pounds--preferably with a bottom attachment strap for hanging it horizontally to practice your Chin Strikes and vertical EOHs with. You have to have some sturdy place to hang it, otherwise get a free standing bag rack (preferably one with a back rack for a speed bag). Bag gloves (or smooth leather work gloves) are a necessity in the beginning, but you should eventually be able to toughen your hands up (especially with CQC strikes) to practice without them. If you can afford it, get a head & torso dummy, such as the Century "BOB", and fill the base with enough sand to stay in place while you whale into it. With the dummy you can easily practice Chin Strikes, Tiger Claws, and vertical EOHs and make all your strikes anatomically accurate. Carl Cestari placed the importance of striking dummies even above heavy bags.
7. Conditioning the striking surfaces of the hands for the EOH, Palm Smash, Tiger Claw, and Chin Strike can be done almost anywhere, striking with ever-increasing force harder and harder targets. Fairbairn's Commando and OSS students, were, after two weeks efforts, able to strike tree trunks with full force EOHs (including body weight application) with no damage to their hands
8. Some explanation regarding boxing (especially Dempsey) methodology:
I. Your Power Jab becomes a Tiger claw/Palm Smash
II. Your rear hand Cross is turned into another Tiger Claw/Palm Smash OR Cradle Hand
III. The Uppercut gets changed to a Chin Strike
IV. The overhand rear-hand Hook becomes an Elbow Strike
V. The lead-side Hook is now a hooking Tiger Claw/Palm Smash OR an Elbow Strike
VI. From the Dracula Guard-Cover you launch EOHs into your opponent's hand strikes and his guard similar to boxing parrying "backfist" But if he leaves his head, neck, or torso open you hack that with EOHs as well. Whenever you launch a forward or backward Elbow strike, an EOH can immediately follow.
VII. Once you are comfortable with your hands in combination, work in the Flick Kick as an additional lead-side strike.
9. With the heavy bag or BOB, once you get the techniques down individually, graduate to combinations of 3-4 strikes. "Lead with speed and follow with power" is the guiding adage. Forward drive with a fast and STRAIGHT lead (Tiger Claw, Flick Kick, or a non-chambered EOH) follow with close-range strikes, drop back into guard, shift position, and drive in again from a different vector
10. Once you develop some bag-work stamina, frequently do sustained barrages of strikes, to prepare yourself for the need to be non-stop aggressive in the "end-game" of an actual combat.
11. Switch-off lead sides in practice--you may not be able to choose what you prefer outside your gym
12. Half the time, start your initial series of strikes from a "non-ready but ready" guard, such as the "Fence" (aka "Passive-Aggressive Stance", the "Jack Benny" and the "Aw Shucks". Experiment and see what lead strikes work best from each stance. Sometimes the best solution for an escalating situation is for you to launch a preemptive strike following immediately with a close in strike barrage (You ARE justified in striking first if other considerations of "intent" and "ability" are present in the opponent)
13. The other 50% of the time, you practice dropping into the Dracula Guard & Cover--with the emphasis being on COVER to protect yourself reflexively from the "head-shots" which are standard street fighting opening moves (aka "sucker punching")--All covers (including others like the "Flinch" or the "Wedge") cannot be passive--you train yourself to lash out with a counter-strike no more than ONE SECOND after assuming the cover and preferably even sooner. You HAVE TO TAKE BACK THE INITIATIVE AND DOMINATE THE ENCOUNTER. From the Dracula Cover the EOH (horizontal or vertical) is ready to go from the moment you assume the guard. Drill this cover and counter until it becomes reflex against any head shot launched at you. Follow up with continued Forward Drive and buzz-saw a barrage of strikes, high and low, fast and hard.
B. Partner Training:
1. Partner training is an extension of solo training. You need to have a partner (or preferably partners) who is (are) just as serious as you are.
2. Don't make partner training a series of "CQC vs. CQC" sparring matches. It's unlikely (but not impossible) you will face another practitioner outside the training room, but one of the greatest weakness of almost any formal martial art (including Boxing) is in the gym, or dojo, or salle you only face the same techniques you are training in--or, more laughably, you face supposed "street attacks" which are straw man parodies of the real thing. Multiple and good training partners can draw upon their particular martial arts training as well as real world experiences.
3. "Role play" various common scenarios. Subject ALL techniques to Applegate's "test", or "Animal" MacYoung's "How can I **** this up?” CQC's primary striking techniques have a long track record of effectiveness because they are simple, direct, and brutal. Don't rely upon one strike take outs, an opponent WILL attempt to block you, grapple you, and will try to take you to the ground, or seemingly just shrug off your best shot. You have to learn to use the techniques from all sorts of positions and disadvantages (on the ground, seated, being driven backwards, etc...).
4. Part of effective role-play is a gradual introduction and escalation of psychological stress--e.g. realistic verbal threats and assaults commonly used before and during physical assaults (see Mental Conditioning)
5. You can start out partner training with little or no equipment, as long as you are VERY careful, but eventually you will have to get (or make) good, heavy duty protective gear, so you can apply realistic force blows. Focus mitts/pads are also useful.
6. Partner training is where you can develop the reflexive counter-strike from the Dracula Guard & Cover. One partner acts as the aggressor, and levels a 1/2 speed or slower punch at the defender's head. The defender's arm comes up in Dracula G&C and (preferably) “spikes” the attacker's forearm or bicep with the point of his elbow. Any suitable counter strike follows preferably with a Drop-Step Forward Drive. Continue Forward Drive with other strikes. As you progress, the aggressing partner starts speeding up the punches and protective gear becomes mandatory
7. Follow the basic method of #6 in developing reflexive responses to a variety of common attacks: punches, kicks, grabs, chokes, etc... The emphasis should always be on IMMEADIATE, NON-SPECIFIC, and AGRESSIVE counter attack. Covers are meant to spare you just long enough to regain the initiative and keep the initiative until the attacker is no longer a threat.
8. Research the literature, study videos, learn to "sift the wheat from the chaff"