View Full Version : Deadly Force Combatives

Modern Technique
01-17-2004, 10:53 AM

Self-defense is all well and good, but is there any open source for escalating the level of force. In other words, and as plain as I can make it - Does anyone teach unarmed deadly force?

01-17-2004, 11:42 AM

Self-defense is all well and good, but is there any open source for escalating the level of force. In other words, and as plain as I can make it - Does anyone teach unarmed deadly force?

Sure, most combat-oriented systems have an element of fatal techniques in them. Many systems require you to "pay your dues" and train with them for a period of time until the instructor knows your character. Others include both lethal and non-lethal techniques from the start. WWII combatives and Hock Hochheim's SFC are two that come to mind immediately. There are many others.

Charles Rives
01-18-2004, 12:43 AM
The scary part is how many systems do teach potentially deadly techniques but don't identify them as such when they teach their students.

- Chuck

01-18-2004, 09:21 AM
In a lot of cases they overexaggerate what will happen when you apply certain techniques and when the defender tries to apply them to little or no effect they are often left stunned like a deer in the headlights. That is why it is important to train to keep fighting (whether its weapon or unarmed, until the threat is resolved). This is something Gabe certainly stressed over and over again in the Close Range Gunfighting class which I attended last November.

Look at streetfights or footage of streetfights and see:

1. How difficult it is to land telling blows in a frenzied, fast moving situation.

2. How much damage some people can take. Look how much damage people take in car accidents and get up out of the wreck.

Problem is that various martial arts and self defense instructors sell things as death blows and instant knock-out techniques when they really aren't.

The only blow that I consider fatal that I would not use unless in a life and death situation that would warrant the use of a firearm is the edge of hand strike to the windpipe.

Something like a chinjab/palm heel under the chin that snaps the head back could theoretically snap the neck, but is very unlikely to unless you are using it against an octogenarian or someone considerably smaller. Most deaths that occur in unarmed struggles happen as a result of striking the head on the ground or another object.

Charles Rives
01-18-2004, 12:55 PM
. . . Most deaths that occur in unarmed struggles happen as a result of striking the head on the ground or another object.

That sounds right to me. A telling example happened in the town where I went to college. Two eighteen year old friends got drunk and started a fistfight. It was the type of fight that you might expect to end in a bloody nose or cut eyebrow. One fighter caught the other with a sort of weak and sloppy jab, the other wasn't so much knocked down as tipped off-balance. On the way down, he hit his head on a car bumper, passed out, and died. The court was understanding. The puncher didn't do any prison time for the homocide but did plea guilty to a felony.

The other class of blows that I consider to be potentially lethal are some elbow strikes to the head (particularly if aimed at the base of the skull) and knees to the head (delivered by pulling the opponent forward and down first a la Thai Boxing).

Some wrestling and Judo throws are particularly prone to causing a head impact with the ground. (Anyone who's very good a judo or jujitsu will know how to turn or guide the person they are throwing and can probably turn the throw into a skull crusher).

Again, in the town where I went to school, one of the local bars hired off-season collegiate athletes as bouncers. One summer a wrestler/bouncer crippled (broken cervical spine) a drunk at that bar with a parking lot suflex (http://www.rrcnet.org/~voldt/wresly/clipart/suflex.gif). The drunk was very close to death after that encounter.

I don't think that we should limit our training on the basis of these types of events but I do think that we need to be aware of the potential for the severity of the event.


01-18-2004, 01:40 PM
Well... there is always chin-jabbing and driving through to bend them over too far, slam them to the ground and bounce their head like a basketball - ya know, who's to say what sort of rocks, bricks, fire-hydrants their head might intersect on the way down ;)

Arguably it will be easier to deliver lethal force with a tool, even an impact weapon, than with bare hands - but it can be done, it is taught, and does have a place.

I'm a fan of the combatives evolved from WW-II combatives, Applegate/Fairbairn type stuff, material like that Kelly McCann uses on his tapes, or Carl Cestari. There is certainly a component of that type of material that could be lethal force.
Axe hand strikes to the throat a V mentioned, axe hand type blows to the back of the neck coupled with a chinjab, uses a tool like a chin jab to drive the guys head into something, be it the pavement, a sign-post or the corner of a brick building, etc. etc.

In a life or death situation where all you have to deal with an attacker who is going to kill you, the key isnt any special "ninja death pinch" technique, or even a modern "only for killing people" methods - its simply taking what you know, like axe hands, chin jabs, edge of boot kicks, and applying it with violence of action to make it work.

Suggested reading: http://www.gutterfighting.org/nutsbolts.html - Nuts & Bolts by Carl Cestari
Beyond that... take a look at everything on the gutterfighting.org site - if you like what you see, cruise over to http://www.close-combat-video.com/ you might be interested in some of their tapes.

01-18-2004, 01:56 PM
Elbows to the head are not as damaging as you might think (unless we are talking about to the back of the neck where you are dropping your weight on . The elbow is a short ranged weapon which usually results in glancing blows in most standup fights. It often results in grazing type abrasions. Elbow knockouts are not very common in Thai boxing even though they are allowed.

As far as a knee to the head of someone who is doubled over, I would be more worried about hurting my kneecap and make sure to hit the face.

Don't get me wrong, these things can be very damaging, but not nearly as lethal as some might have you think.

Charles Rives
01-19-2004, 04:51 PM
I've been giving this topic some thought and I think that we're miscommunicating. I can think of three ways to approach the topic.

1) Techniques that you might use with some degree of assurance if you definitely want to take the fight to a lethal force level. There wouldn't be many techniques on this list. (e.g. Fairbairn's "bronco kick" maybe?)

2) Techniques that you might want to avoid unless you were reasonably sure that deadly force was justified. This would be a somewhat larger list of techniques. (e.g. The parking lot suflex)

- and -

3) Techniques that are very unlikely to result in fatality but might result in "grave bodily injury" as some courts interpret deadly force. (Poking someone in the eyes like The Three Stooges might be "deadly force" under this paradigm.)

My point is that these three levels all exist and if you plan to use any degree of force to defend yourself, you should be aware that all three interpretations exist and pick your technique appropriately AND "fight them to the ground."


01-21-2004, 09:27 PM
If you're talking about techs that have a high probability of death or serious injury, I agree completely with V42. People are a lot tougher than most give credit for. As far as elbow blows, as stated earlier, they often cut. I have never seen one result in any serious injury or even a knockout. I recently had occasion to knee someone in the head very hard twice, after a hard knee bent the person over parallel to the ground. I was holding the person's head in a relatively stationary position with one hand. The first knee slammed the person's head violently to one side. The next knocked him on his ass. He immediately got up, none the worse for wear. And I've had a lot of practice with knee strikes. I also still have a big knot on my knee directly above my kneecap. That was almost two months ago. I would say both strikes are over-rated, at least in the context of fight-enders. I have also seen people struck very hard directly in the throat with no serious damage. The bottom line in my mind is this: If you hit someone and they die, you were VERY unlucky. Anything less than a fully committed attack on a person wanting to do damage to you is a very big mistake. Aside from all that, I agree that the WWII combatives people are the ones teaching the stuff most likely to be considered "lethal".

01-22-2004, 08:24 PM
As far as elbow blows, as stated earlier, they often cut. I have never seen one result in any serious injury or even a knockout.
The only time I've actually had an occasion to really use an elbow it resulted in fight ending, near unconsciousness. But I'm a total badass...

Just kidding, :D, it had alot to do with his momentum and my good luck.

01-22-2004, 08:42 PM
When I was stabbed back during the summer I tried an elbow strike to the CM and tried 2 or 3 hammer fist to the side of the head, to no effect, the BG was an old time hood and could take alot of pain. The thought of turning his head around did pass my mind for a sec or 2 but that is not a sure thing either, I've seen very few people taken out with just one mystic blow