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Close Quarters Combat System (i.e. Defendu) is a modern martial art developed by William E. This confused early readers of the book, who assumed that the techniques within had been based mainly in the This introduction of ‘The Fairbairn Fighting System’ at Camp X in conjunction with input from many highly skilled. : Basic Manual Of Knife Fighting (): William L. China, under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel William Ewart Fairbairn, then. He is best known as the co-inventor of the famous Sykes-Fairbairn knife. . “Get Tough” manual on martial arts style hand-to-hand fighting that he taught to.

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ww2 Fairbairn knife fighting | FMATalk

Fairbairn, OBE, presented me with an unpublished document on the subject of knife fighting. This document was written by his father in It takes the form of a typewritten manuscript, with numerous holographic notes in Lieutenant Knifee Fairbairn’s own hand. It figbting never titled, nor was it ever completed. Accordingly, his son requested that I edit, revise, and rewrite the manuscript for publication.

Revision and rewriting was to be accomplished knif the basis of instruction in the form and style of knife fighting covered in the manuscript, together with such other material that I deemed useful. Major Fairbairn gave me such instruction in sessions at his home. Pronouncing himself satisfied with the result, he next presented me with his father’s personal edged weapons, prototypes, and service revolver, as well as his father’s personal papers. I have delayed publishing this work for twenty-two years.

The delay was at Major Fairbairn’s request, made for reasons that must remain in confidence. In the following, I have engaged in strict historical editing practice. I provide text exactly as encountered in the original manuscript. I make special note of the author’s excis i ons and additions. Material that I have added is so identified. This is a unique and historically significant document on the art of knife fighting.

I have elected to make this electronic edition openly available, in order to preclude the material’s exploitation by unscrupulous firms and individuals who seek to unfairly trade upon Lieutenant Colonel Fairbairn’s name and the wide respect it engenders. You are at liberty to read and study this material via the World Wide Web.

I respectfully ask that no other use be made, inclusive of hyperlinks, downloading, adaptations, interpretations or unattributed quotations, absent prior permission. This material is first posted 2 February Fly leaf The Author has been an ardent student of Self Defense in all of its branches for a great number of years.

In the course of these studies fibhting received expert knifs in the art of Chinese “Boxing” from one of the retainers of the late Dowager Empress. He received special instruction in Foil and Dagger fighting from several of the finest Instructors in the Far East. Combing all this knowledge, plus practical experience gained during over 2, Riot Calls in SHanghia, he is now publishing his latest book on Knife Fighting.

This manual describes methods developed and practiced over a number of years and in spite of their un-orthodoxy, they have stood up to the practical test during World War II in the Far East and elsewhere, and becomes a “must” book for all men serving in the Armed Forces. We believe that the time has arrived when the bayonet should be discarded as no longer effective and like the Pike placed amongst the weapons of the past. There can be no doubt, once you have handled a scientifically designed Fighting Knife, that you would prefer it to a Bayonet, especially if the fighting was to take place under any of the following conditions – over roof tops, up or down stairs, climbing up ships sides, crossing streams up to your waist in water, in manuall jungle, or through paddy fields.

Under such conditions, a bayonet attached to a rifle would be a severe handicap. We are aware that there are many who will disagree with this; also that some of them will come back with – “The bayonet has won more wars that any other weapon.

Be th i s as it may, we sti ll contend that it shou l d be rep l aced by a we ll ba l fxirbairn f i ghting kn i fe. Dur i ng a and b no reports were received of the bayonet hav i ng been used fairnairn any great extent, but i n c the bayonet was reported to have been very effect i ve i n Trench f i ght i ng, a l so during the South African War it was put to good use. This rather tends to show We admit that the bayonet was a very effective combat weapon in the bygone days but with the advent of the Flame Thrower, Sub-Machine Gun and Hand Grenade, all close-quarter weapons what chances has a Bayonet Charge of being successful?


The claim that the psychological value of the bayonet in building up the moral of the Troops is such that its retention is more than justified, does not make sense. Paratroopers frequently need a knife to cut themselves free and there are numerous other occasions when a good knife would be invaluable. In addition, there are times when it would be inadvisable to fire a pistol, [ or other f i rearm ] on account of raising an alarm. Yet it is an established fact that once contact is made and the firing starts, it is only a matter of seconds before the one hand gun is empty, after which, i t wou l d not make a respectab l e c l ub.

We contend that at such a time, it would be a very comfortable feeling to know that one had a well balanced fighting knife handy. There are many who will regard this as rank heresy, or worse. I shall be content for the present if the reader will concede me at least a title to my views and I hope to fortify the title subsequently by statistics of actual results of shooting affrays with one-hand-guns over a number of years which took place in Shanghai.

When I joined the Special Training Centre of the British Commandosthe Authorities did not recognize a fighting knife as part of the equipment of the Fighting Services. In fact, such a thing as a fighting knife could not be purchased anywhere in Great Britain. To meet the many requests, I designed the “FAIRBAIRN” knife and managed to persuade the Wilkinson Sword Company to manufacture it privately from a number of old bayonets they had in stock, personally guaranteeing the sale of three hundred.

The day they arrived there was a near riot in the rush to buy them. Shortly after this official recognition was given to the Fighting Knife.

This same knife was just as popular with members of the Armed Forces of the U. There i s someth i ng about a good [we ll ba l anced, razor sharp] fighting kn i fe that appea l s to the major i ty of fighting men, irrespect of nationa l ity.

ww2 Fairbairn knife fighting

I contend that th i s i s on account of that fee l ing of confidence which such a kn i fe g i ves its owner, which is apprcnt l y so much greater manua that which one rece i ves from any other weapon. E falrbairn i a ll y is this so when one i s operat i ng i n the dark. A recruit, trained in Manuxl Fighting and equiped mwnual a well balanced, razor sharp knife, khife a wonderful psychological advantage over an opponent who has not received such training.

This is clearly demonstrated when operating in the dark, or on Forward Sentry duty. Many a man has testified that immediately he drew his manuzl, his confidence returned and he was no longer afraid.

This confidence is apparently so much greater than one receives from any other weapon. Certain individuals will never make Knife Fighters. They have an aversion to using a knife and no amount of instruction will make any difference.

In this connection I had a V. He was six feet seven inches in his socks, over lbs. At that time my weight was lbs. The student duly qualified in the first three subjects and during a “break” period, I learned something of his “back-ground” Professional All-in Wrestler.

That decided me to cut the un- armed combat Judo and pass on to the Knife Fighting. Despite the student’s colossal strength he actually lifted me above his head with the greatest of easeI know, Immediately I drew a concealed knife and mode o few posses near h i s faceknie I cou l dby moons of a knife, bring him down to my own weight and strength.

One might say “you could hear his shoulder blades click” as he jerked himself backwards out of reach. On several of these encounters as many as twenty Policemen and criminals were fighting from room to room, etc. Members of the Force, when questioned as to why they had not immediately re-loaded, could not offer any reason for failing to do so.


Could it be, that under such circumstances, it is a mental as well as a physical impossibility to do so? The fact remains, that no one re-loaded. Note – So that the fairbairrn will not think that the reason for failing to re-load was owing to the lack of proper training, let me here state that the Shanghai Municipal Police had the most up- to-date IN-door Pistol Range in the world.

Their quarterly Pistol Practices were conducted under conditions as near as possible to those they had to fighging with whilst on duty – firing up and down stairways, over roof tops, from and in to windows, sometimes in very poor light or with no light at all.

Twelve shots in all, which necessitated changing of magazineswith point deducted if caught with an empty pistol. I have a very high opinion of the fightinf value of the Tommy and one-hand-guns.

This is based on my 40 years experience of these weapons, which includes not only armed encounters with armed criminals but the responsibility for instructing large numbers of Police and Soldiers, etc. The situations you are liable to have to contend with are very seldom of your selection and frequently they may vary with every step you take. You may be running; going up or down a slope or stairway; up to your ankles in a mud patch, or up to your waist in water.

In fact, the situations are astronomical in number. Under such circumstances all the student can do is to remember that, as far as possib l ehe should try to achieve a crouching stance, with knees and waist as flexible as possible. Hold the knife in the right hand, the thumb full length along the back of the hilt, the knife resting on the index finger, between the first and middle joint. Close the three remaining fingers over towards the fleshy part of the tumb. Note – The position of the thumb and fingers will vary according to their thickness and length.

To find the most suitable grip for yourself, grip the hilt firmly, and if necessary allow o ll ow i ng the tip of the thumb to go forward on the back of the blade.

Full text of “The Fairbairn Manual Of Knife Fighting”

At all other times, the grip should be fightlng with the fingers and thumb. At all other times, the knife is mainly held manhal the fore-finger and thumb, with the fingers only maintaining a loose grip.

Note – This closing an relaxing of the grip will become automatic after a very little practice. The manner in which edged weapons are initially grasped by the wielder governs the manner in which they are carried and withdrawn, and influences both weapon design mabual the dynamics of initial maneuver. We therefore observe that the foundation of every knife fighting technique is grip.

The knife is controlled by the thumb and forefinger. The former provides power and the latter precision. The placement of thumb and forefinger is gairbairn the foundation of grip. Precisely how the thumb and forefinger are placed is a function of weapon design, culturacy idiosyncracy, personal preference, and a host of other factors. The above factors hold true regardless of whether one employs a prison-made “shank,” or a fencing foil; they are a function of the motility of the human mnaual, and reflect mind-body interaction norms.

Holding the knife in the right hand, arm shoulder high, forearm bent, back of the hand up, knife over the left shoulder. Whip the forearm out towards the right, to the full extentent of the arm.

Arm shoulder high – reverse the hand – back of the hand down. Whip towards the left, allowing the arm to bend to the original position, as in Para. Now reverse the hand back to the original position. Note b Remember that your opponent is liable to attach from your right, left, or even from behind. Practice changing your position quickly, to cope with this. Assuming you are fighting with a knife against a knife, it is wise to never lower the arms below the navel or raise them above the faibrairn.