All-In Fighting for Gentlemen

Get Tough

Things are getting rough out there. I held a door for someone today and no 'thank you' or acknowledgement of any kind — they just breezed right through. Later, whilst dining in a restaurant, a group of two couples at a nearby table spoke at an unnecessary high volume and using language that was so colourfully Anglo-Saxon that I had to ask them to pipe down. They were putting a damper on the enjoyment of my porterhouse steak, which was going down in lumps. They did apologise, but from these harrowing incidents we can only assume that civil society is collapsing rapidly and we must take measures to defend our corner forcefully. We need to fight the good fight.

If you consider yourself compromised in the fisticuffs department, help is at hand. All-in Fighting by W. E. Fairbairn is a step up from the Sherlock Holmes School of Self-Defence in that it takes more of a punch first, ask questions later approach.

William Ewart Fairbairn was a British soldier and police officer, which is exactly the right kind of background to develop a fighting system called Defendu with friend and colleague Eric Anthony Sykes.

With Sykes, he also developed the famous Fairbairn-Sykes British Commando fighting knife used in hand-to-hand combat. Fairbairn also developed the lesser-known Smatchet knife, a close-quarter weapon used by British and American special forces.

The splendidly-named Defendu system is a mixture of jujitsu and boxing. Initially, it was developed to train the Shanghai Municipal Police, of which Fairbairn and Sykes were members — Fairbairn policed the red light districts and reportedly got into countless fights. He was recruited by the British Secret Service in the Second World War and trained allied forces in win-at-all-costs gutter fighting and conquering 'our ingrained repugnance to killing at close quarters'. Quite. But let us not forget that the very existence of Britain was at stake when this book was published in 1942. Desperate times call for desperate measures, cometh the hour cometh the man, and so on.

With sections on blows, releases and holds — and miscellaneous advice including defending yourself with a chair and smacking an opponent's ears to debilitate them — you should be more than equipped to respond out-of-proportionately to outbreaks of impoliteness.

The book is reprinted and available from Naval and Military Press.


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