The Chopper: The Pugilist’s Backfist

The backfist, and by that I mean the direct backfist, not the spinning one, often gets a bad rap. Many view it as a technique that is useful for TKD practitioners to get a quick point in tournaments, but one that has little value otherwise. Boxers and kickboxers are particularly skeptical of its effectiveness because…

Kung Fu Tricks & Other Fakery

Breaking stones with heads or hands, tearing phone books, performing amazing feats of strength and the like go waaaaaay back. The earliest accounts of martial art tricks/stunts I recall go back to the days of the Roman gladiators. Today it’s shaolin monks, less recently “no-touch” knockouts, a couple decades ago it was the “unbendable arm”…

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…

Dealing with Footpads

I came across this a number of years ago and found it amusing because you see the same discussions today with keyboard self-defense experts describing how they would dismantle hypothetical attackers with their favorite techniques. This piece was originally printed in the April 28, 1900 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle (p.14). I added the…