Crash Combat Third Edition Out Now!

I am pleased to announce that the Third Edition of Crash Combat has now become available.
This version has been extensively expanded, being about 30% longer. More content, extra illustrations, more techniques, new techniques and generally much more book for your money. In addition, much of the book has been rewritten and restructured so information is more easily assimilated and learnt.
While Crash Combat was originally written for a military context, it remains relevant to any individual wishing to learn to protect themselves in this dangerous and uncertain world.
Visit the Author Spotlight for my other books.
May be purchased direct from in either print or epub format. It will take a few more days or more for this version to appear with other retailers. Buying from Lulu costs you less and more of the money goes to the author.


I have just received and approved the proof copy of the print version. Very pleased with how it looks and reads. Treat yourself!

Help for Time Travellers

In my novella, “Anatopismo”, one of the characters expresses surprise that a community has electricity. The other character is surprised by this reaction and responds “Why not? It is just wire and magnets.”
I was reminded of this passage since I have started reading “How To Invent Everything: A Survival Guide For The Stranded Time Traveler” by Ryan North (2018, Riverhead Books) ISBN 978-0735220140. A common theme that occurs in this book is that many of humanity’s inventions and discoveries could have been made centuries or even millennia before they were. Sometimes an idea was adopted in one field, but it was a considerable time until it was applied in others. For example, wine was being pasteurized centuries before it was applied to other foodstuffs, such as milk.
How To Invent Everything will probably prove interesting to many readers of this blog, but particularly those interested in long term scenarios. It is packed full of diverse, useful information in an easily readable style. There are a few points of contention. The beer recipes given are rather vague. The comments made about the cloudiness Egyptian-style beer are probably out of date. Staphylococcus are not necessarily harmless. The author also describes yeast as “animals”, which is a pretty basic, avoidable mistake, and makes me wonder about other inaccuracies. You should probably double check any facts from the book before you get into any arguments, but that is a sound policy anyway.
On the topic of verifying information, the book is worth reading just for the comments on the scientific method:
“This is the more accurate theory of combustion that we still operate under today, but we could still be wrong.
Or, more likely, we could still be more correct.
Here’s how you produce knowledge using the scientific method.
An example: maybe you notice (as per step 1) that your corn didn’t grow well this year. For (2), you might ask, “Hey, what the heck, everyone, how come my corn didn’t grow well this year?” You might suspect the drought affected the corn’s growth (3), and so (4) decide to grow corn under controlled conditions, giving each plant different amounts of water but equal amounts of everything else you can think of (sunlight, fertilizer, etc.). After carefully doing that (5), you might conclude (6) that a precise amount of water grows the best corn plants, and (7) let your farmers know. And when your corn still doesn’t grow as well as you want, you might explore (8) and wonder if there’s more to growing great corn than just making sure your corn isn’t thirsty.*
The more ways a hypothesis has been tested, the more likely it is to be correct, but nothing is certain. The best case you can hope for by using the scientific method is a theory that happens to fit the facts as you understand them so far: science gives you an explanation, but you can never say with absolute certainty that it’s the correct one. That’s why scientists talk about the theory of gravity (even though gravity itself clearly exists and can cause you to fall down the stairs), theories of climate change (even though it’s obvious our environment is not the same one our parents enjoyed, or that you’re enjoying right now), or the theory of time travel (even though it’s a fact that you’re clearly trapped in the past for reasons that cannot have any legal liability assigned).
Note that the scientific method requires you to keep an open mind and be willing—at any time—to discard a theory that no longer fits the facts. This is not an easy thing to do, and many scientists have failed at it. Einstein* himself hated how his own theory of relativity argued against his preferred idea of a fixed and stable universe, and for years tried in vain to find some solution that reconciled them both. But if you succeed at following the scientific method, you will be rewarded, because you will have produced knowledge that is reproducible: that anyone can check by doing the same experiment themselves.
Scientists are often seen as turbonerds, but the philosophical foundations of science are actually those of pure punk-rock anarchy: never respect authority, never take anyone’s word on anything, and test all the things you think you know to confirm or deny them for yourself.”


Slash and Thrust by John Sanchez

When I first started this blog, I expected that I would be writing more book reviews than I have done. The problem is, many martial arts books are somewhat lacking in content.
The reason I wrote my first book was to address many of the points that I did not feel were adequately covered. Hence it is very hard to review a book such as “Slash and Thrust” without making the point that my own work does a better job at covering the techniques of defensive knife use or throwing objects in self-defence.

Back in the days when I was a regular on a knife throwing forum, John Sanchez’s book “Slash and Thrust” would sometimes be mentioned.
These mentions were usually due to the short section on throwing weapons in the book, and in particular a weapon Sanchez called the “Irish Dart”.
Years ago, I flipped through a friend’s copy of the book, but I admit we were mainly interested in the throwing section at the end.
Recently another friend commented that he intended to brush up on his knife techniques by rereading his copy of Slash and Thrust.
I decided to finally treat myself to a cheap second hand copy.
According to the blurb: “Until Slash and Thrust, no book ever presented a complete, practical knife fighter’s training program. This classic covers choosing the martial knife, quick-kill strikes, footwork, deceptive movements and using such exotic weapons as the shuriken, shaken, Irish dart, chakram and Chinese cloth dart.”
Quite a big claim for a small book of only 68-72 pages!
Having now read the book properly, my impression is of an inflatable structure that tries to look substantial but has very little content.
For example, Sanchez notes that there are a number of different footwork techniques used in various martial arts and then states he favours “natural footwork”. That sounds very logical, wise and sensible, but once you examine the statement, you realize it has very little actual meaning or content.
The footwork he goes on to describe involves moving with the knees bent. While this is a good technique, it is not what I would describe as natural.
The book has a number of statements or references that seem to be placed there mainly for the effect of making it seem more learned or insightful than it actually is.
In its handful of pages Sanchez uses the phrase “common sense” at least four times. Readers will be aware that this is a fiction, and any time someone uses this phrase instead of providing detail or justification, any information should be treated with skepticism and suspicion.
Sanchez also describes thrusting with a kukri as “at best, awkward”, which makes me seriously doubt that he has ever handled one.
There is a section on carrying techniques where Sanchez advocates carrying a belt knife inclined with the edge up.
He makes an argument that because the hand is inverted and turned palm out to draw from, this position it is better defended.
In fact, this would expose the more vulnerable area of the inner forearm with its nerves, blood vessels and tendons.
It also ignores that if the enemy is within attacking range you should be defending rather than attempting to draw a weapon.
The book does have some points of interest, but it was easy to overlook these among the padding.
You may pick up a tip or two, and one or two good points are made, but there is no way that this should be used as your main source of instruction. It gives little glimpses rather than a comprehensive view.
Occasionally he refers back to some ideas “already described” but these were in fact detailed very briefly.
Areas such as the guard posture could have been described better and would have benefited from an illustration.
There is an illustration of useful target areas, but important information such as that there is a high probability that attacking through the ribs can cause a blade to jam or be lost is not mentioned.
Sanchez suggests a number of books to consult for further study.
Paradoxes of Defence” by George Silver is mentioned a number of times. I have mentioned Silver’s works on these pages, and in my books too.
Silver is worth a read but his comments on knife fighting techniques are only a few paragraphs long.
Also, Sanchez fails to mention that Silver’s discussion of actual techniques are in his related work “Brief Instructions upon my Paradoxes of Defence”.
Musashi’sBook of Five Rings” is also suggested for reading. Referencing this book was quite common in the 80s. The Book of Five Rings contains some techniques for sword use. I don’t recall any knife relevant stuff in the book, but it has been a while since I read it, so will give Sanchez the benefit of the doubt there.
“Cold Steel” by John Styers is another suggestion. This is an interesting book providing you understand it was built on the ideas of Drexel-Biddle, whose knife fighting ideas were heavily influenced by sword-fighting techniques.
The last suggestion was Cassidy’s “Complete Book of Knife Fighting” See here for my review on that book. It is an interesting read, but I would be very cautious on trying its techniques in a real encounter!
As I have mentioned, there is a brief section on a variety of throwing weapons.
Sanchez admits that there may be situations when there is no other option but to throw a weapon, and briefly describes a number of historical examples of hand thrown weapons.
His explanation of how to throw knives and shuriken is reasonable if a little inaccurate on a few points.
Contrary to the claims of some reviews, the section on throwing weapons does not take up a third of the book. It is just a handful of pages.
For alternate information on self-defence, see my books.