Chinese M.A. Grappling

William Ewart Fairbairn: The Legendary Instructor

Combatives researcher Phil Mathews has put together another excellent biographical article on yet another combatives pioneer. This time the subject is none other than William Ewart Fairbairn, possibly the biggest name in the field.

Fairbairn spent time in the Royal Marines in the 1900s, the Shanghai Municipal Police in the 1920s, then taught combatives at Camp X in Canada and in America during WWII. During that time he studied judo, jujutsu, chinese boxing and various other arts which he synthesized into his own style of dirty fighting that he taught to law enforcement and soldiers.

How dirty was Fairbairn’s dirty fighting? My favorite line from Phil’s article is the quote from a Fairbairn student: “Within 15 seconds, I came to realize that my private parts were in constant jeopardy!”

The article fills in some gaps and clears up some misconceptions about what “everybody knows” about Fairbairn’s life and work. To read it in full, see William Ewart Fairbairn: The Legendary Instructor

Phil also recommends Peter Robins’ book The Legend of W.E. Fairbairn, Gentleman and Warrior: The Shanghai Years:

For more on the 1920s Shanghai Municipal Police, also check out Robert Bickers’ Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai:

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