Ginga Gif

            One of the advantages of a blog is I can now post animations and similar stuff that I could not place in the book.
Here is a nice gif of someone performing the Capoeira movement “ginga”. If he had a partner they would literally be dancing circles around each other.

A few posts ago I discussed how a possible counter to the low knife attack Styers and Cassidy show would be to remove the targeted leg out of reach and then bring it back in a snap kick. Ginga is the method I would personally use for this. As soon as my rear foot touches the ground I am used to bringing it back into a kick very rapidly.

Some more novel applications of ginga are included in the book.

Cord Carrying Method from Hojo-jitsu

Hojo-jitsu was an art used by Feudal Japanese Police for binding a suspect. I use the term “binding” since there seems to have been a cultural stigma against tying someone with knots, even a suspected criminal. Instead a long rope was used to wrap the suspect. See my page on tenouchi for some of the techniques. There was a large variety of wrapping techniques depending on the suspect's social class, crime and other factors. Some of this had a practical level. The wraps designed to restrain women were designed to avoid injury to parts such as their breasts, for example.

Wrapping a long rope around a struggling suspect, possibly in a dark Edo alley, obviously took a high level of technique but also the correct tool for the job. I don’t expect many of my readers to use Hojo-jitsu for self-defence but from Hojo-jitsu we get a very convenient way of carrying a long cord. This is a useful thing to know for camping, boating and many other active pursuits.
  • Take a 15 to 20m length of paracord.
  • First of all, double one end of the cord for about 10" and tie a overhand knot to form a loop of about an inch. Tie another knot further down so that you have a second loop big enough to pass a hand or foot through. With these loops pre-tied in your cord you can quickly haul someone from danger or form a lariat. These loops can also form the basis of other rescue knots. Contrary to what you may see on some websites, these loops should be fixed, not sliding.
  • Hook the thumb of your right hand in the larger loop, just under the lesser loop.
  • Now begin to wind the cord in a figure-eight pattern around your thumb and outstretched little finger. Keep on doing this until you have about two metres of cord left.
  • Slip your thumb and finger out of the wrap and coil the remainder of the cord in a helix around the figure eight wrap until you reach the smaller loop.
  • Pass the free end of the cord back, tuck it under the last two turns of the coil and pull tight.
You now have a compact bundle. If you pull the loop the cord should feed out freely.
Some travellers like to carry five or six 10 and 20ft lengths of paracord instead and divide it amongst pockets and pack. You can carry this in addition to the long hank described above.

Making Indian Clubs

Did you know that dumbbells were once exactly that? They were bell-shaped weights designed to let bell ringers exercise without keeping the whole village awake.“Dumb bells”
Indian Clubs are something that has interested me for some time. The current name probably originated with the Victorians. Club-shaped weights had been used in India to train wrestlers and other athletes. The British Victorians were very familiar with India and many of them were interested in sports and fitness. One of the reasons the Indian club was of interest was that it was a very good device for sword training. To have a whole troop or squadron of cavalry recruits swinging swords about needed lots of room and was potentially lethal. Using Clubs needed less room and any likely injuries were easier to treat. A bonus was that the club could be made a little heavier than a sword, making handling an actual sword faster and less tiring. It is possible that most sword using cultures had something like the Indian club but what they were called before they were called Indian Clubs I don’t know.
Recently I have been attempting to trade some of my body fat for muscle, which has been going very well and has proved easier than I expected. My girlfriend has taken to buying me smaller tee-shirts so she can show me off. It wasn’t long before Indian Clubs entered into my exercise routine. Indian Clubs are a very good first exercise. Their relatively moderate weight means they are a good warm-up and the swinging action is very good for opening up the chest and expanding the lungs ready for further exertions.
If you try to buy Indian Clubs you will probably be in for a shock. Both antique and modern examples are sold at very high prices. Another problem is that many of the examples you will see are too heavy for a first time user. Clubs have a lot of leverage and momentum working for them so generally you want a club of under four pounds for single-handed use.
The solution is to make your own Indian Clubs! This is actually very easy to do. Look on-line for a set pair of plastic juggling clubs such as these. 

Once they have arrived you will have to fill them. What you use will depend on what you have available. If you live near a beach use sand. Mine got filled with potassium chloride salt since there was a load of it going spare at work. This has fused into a single mass inside the club which suggests materials such as cement or Plaster of Paris might be good choices for fillings.
Cut off the top of the Clubs or bore a hole, fill with the required weight of filling and reseal. I used high strength epoxy, a generous length of electrical tape and varnished it for good measure. A more elegant approach would have been to drill a hole and seal over it using plastic from a container such as a shampoo bottle.
An alternate approach would have been to use suitably shaped plastic bottles. These have the advantage that you can fill them through the bottle neck. The complication is that you will needed to improve the what will be the butt of your club so it does not slip from your hand and take out a window. One way to do this would be to acquire something like a pair of golf balls. Drive a woodscrew up through the bottle cap, smear it with glue and screw the golf ball down onto the screw until it contacts the cap. Smear the threads of the cap with more glue and screw it in place on the bottle. Wrap with a foot or so of tape for good measure.
You now have a pair of Indian Clubs for a fraction of the price you could have paid! With the money you saved you can buy a copy of my book!.

Knife Fighting Fallacy.

When a dog goes to lay down, it first turns in a circle. Supposedly this behaviour was originally to flatten stiff grass that might have dug into the dog. The dog still makes its circle, even though it is now intending to lie on a soft blanket or your best chair. We mustn't mock the dog, however, since humans are just as prone  to continue with ideas when they are no longer in context, despite our reasoning minds and other advantages
Knife fights are fortunately fairly rare in our culture. Perhaps what is not so fortunate is that when I knife is used it is often in a situation when there is an armament disparity. Either on party is unarmed or faced with a much more potent weapon. This is why no education in self-defence is complete without some knowledge of how to use a knife or how one may be used against you, which is why my book includes quite a long section on knives. As I remark in the book, there is a considerable variety of opinion on how knives should be used, so schools of technique building on unarmed skills, others drawing inspiration from sword fighting. John Styers' book "Cold Steel" very much draws from the knife as a sword tradition. While the book has some very good ideas there is one sequence that stands out as a discrepancy.

Even if we allow for the common practice of distance being exaggerated to make the photo clearer, the idea behind this is not. Why would lowering you knife cause the enemy to lower his guard? Isn't it more likely that dropping your guard would cause an enemy to attack? If Styers is trying to stab the knee or shin for some reason the more likely response is for the enemy to withdraw the leg and counter attack the head or arm, either with his knife or using the leg to riposte with a kick.
This same technique appears in William Cassidy's "The Complete Book of Knife Fighting" where we are told  that lowering your guard will cause your opponent to do the same? Why? With no trace of irony the following picture (fig 66) tells us a low feint will put your opponent's head and arm within reach. In Fig 65 it seems more likely that Randall would naturally flinch back and slash at Loveless' arm.

Styers drew on the techniques of another marine, Col Biddle, author of "Do Or Die". Biddle based his knife fighting techniques on swordplay but the weapons shown used were GI-issue Sword Bayonets with blades of about 17", so techniques such as parrying were more practical. Interestingly, Biddle's book does not show the technique above.
The sequence both Styers and Cassidy show might have actually worked with swords. A sword would be long enough to threaten the leg and parrying it by lowering your own sword would have been a practical response. It might have worked with a machete or sword bayonet. With shorter bowie knives it no longer seems practical and even becomes foolish. Like the dog circling on the smooth floor we see the same actions being used even though the context no longer applies.
What is interesting is that no one involved in the modelling for either Styers' or Cassidy's books actually stopped and said "Hold on, this doesn't make sense!" That perhaps tells us a lot about human nature.


Savate by Bruce Tegner

The idea for this blog came to me yesterday while I was laying in the bath. Unusually for me I was reading in the bath. I had located a copy of a book I was curious about for a price I could afford (money is tight, please click the links :P) and it had finally arrived.

The book was “Savate” by Bruce Tegner. While there is plenty of material on the web on Savate, there do not seem to be that many printed books in English. Tegner's book had been one of the first published in the modern era and I had been curious as to his treatment of the subject.
For those who are not familiar with the name, Bruce Tegner wrote a large number of martial arts and self-defence related titles in the 60s and 70s. This was a time of widespread interest in the martial arts but very little decent information and Tegner saw a niche in the market and attempted to fill it. Some may consider his works to be “potboilers” but it has to be said that his book “Self Defence Nerve Centers and Pressure Points” is quite well written and is a sensible and rational treatment of a subject that often strays into the fantastical. His comment that: “There is a danger in regarding legend as literal truth. If you believe everything – without verification – it will dull your ability to distinguish fantasy from fact, lies from truth. A credulous person – one who does not ask questions and demand verifiable proof – is in a perilous position. As a consumer, as a voter, as a participant in a highly complex society, it is your duty and in your survival interest to be able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, between promotional hucksterism and plain fact.” is a very sage piece of advice.
Tegner's book on Savate does have some interesting information. He often points out that the techniques shown are for sport rather than practical self-defence. There is a statement that sports and many martial arts require high levels of skill, constant training and practice and high levels of fitness and that self-defence is often needed by those who do not have these attributes.
Tegner states that in Savate competitions kicks to the upper body score more points, and that this is why high kicks are so prevalent when they are not so practical for actual self-defence.
One of the things I was looking for from this book was some information on how to perform the “Revers Lateral” kick from Savate, a reverse roundhouse that hits with the sole of the foot. Unfortunately this book has no information on how to perform any of the techniques shown. Even more surprisingly the French name for a technique is only used once in the entire book. Kicks are simply called “hook kicks”, “stamping kicks”, “roundhouse”, “toe kick” etc. Kicks to the shin region are shown, but the characteristic ankle area kick of Savate the “Coup de Pied Bas” is absent. An inward crescent kick is shown on one page, which I believe isn't a legal kick for sporting Savate. Backfist strikes are also shown which I believe also may not be ring-legal.
While Tegner seems sincere, this is not a very good offering, especially since this is the third revised edition published 23 years after the first.


What Will this Blog Be About?

According to the advice I have seen a good blog should keep to a particular interest. How likely that will be for me in practice remains to be seem. We will probably investigate a few side trails every now and them, but hopefully will never lose sight of the main path totally.
A little over a year ago I published my book, “Attack, Avoid, Survive : Essential Principles of Self Defence” You can find out more about this book at the webpage here. You can order it from and but I suggest you buy it direct from Lulu since you will save yourself a few quid.
This blog has been created to support this publication. During my research for this book I had to read several hundred books on self-defence, martial arts and the use of weapons and on this blog I will be discussing some of the issues and interesting points that have arisen. I will also be expanding on topics and subjects covered by the book, adding additional artwork and even some thoughts on additional techniques. I will also be diverting into related issues so do not be surprised if I verr off into discussions on weapons in science fiction, video games and movies. There will be book reviews too
To close, an illustration that did not make it into the first edition of the book.


CV1 Attack Point

An odd sort of pride. A comment by my girlfriend that she would "Kick any muggers in the point between their balls and bum!" and thinking "That is exactly right for the CV1 point! She learnt that from the book!"


The Beginning of the Blogverse

And so it begins…
The blog about the book  “Attack, Avoid, Survive”, the subsequent books, related issues, and if I am not careful, all sorts of other stuff!