Many of the self-defence books I have on file originate from the Second World War era and are interesting on many levels. One particular book stands out, however, since it was written by the germans. "ABWEHR ENGLISCHER GANGSTER-METHODEN" translates roughly as “Defence against English Hoodlum Methods”. It is an interesting book, and while the author was trying his best, it is fairly obvious he doesn’t have much idea.
I discuss the many problems with the two-handed cross-block in my book. The author of this book uses two-handed blocks extensively. Throwing your hands up to protect your face is a fairly natural reaction so there is some merit in trying to use it for self-defence. The cross-block takes a natural reaction and tries to make it rigid and mechanical, which slows it down. Here we see the classic cross-block against an overhead stab. Good job this Tommy has a dagger, if he had been using the standard issue 17” sword bayonet he would have stabbed Fritz in the face. The text instructs the German Soldier to defend with the cross-block and counter attack with a kick to the shin. The photos often create the impression that these two actions happen at the same time. Try blocking a powerful overhead thrust while standing on one leg.
If someone tries to stab you in the neck the text tells you to duck forward and kick them in the leg. In the dark, with a hand clamped over your mouth.
Judging from the books I have a frequent occurrence during the Second World War was being bear-hugged or having someone stand in front of you with their hands on your throat. The German counter to a frontal strangle is not one I have seen anywhere else. More commonly you see the rising wedge, descending elbows or the cross-grip and rotate. This rather reminds me of James T Kirk’s favourite double handed smash!
Fritz has thrown up both hands to protect from a karate chop and now counter-attacks with a spear-hand to the throat. This would be a logical sequence if it were not for the fact that the spear-hand is a technique that requires more practice and conditioning than most individuals receive. As a distraction technique against the eyes this may work. Against any harder target there is a real chance of injuring the fingers. Fritz should cup his hand a little so that if his fingers do bend they have a chance of bending the right way.
Lastly, one of the all-time hall of fame impractical self-defence techniques. Put your hand up in front of your eyes to stop someone poking them with two fingers. The photo seems to imply you should do this while on one leg, but we will be charitable and assume the kick comes afterwards. If someone comes running towards you from fifteen feet away with two fingers held up ready, you may have time to get you hand in front of your nose. The finger jab is usually a close range, very fast distraction technique, not to forget that commandos would attack at night. If someone attempts an eyejab, move your head to one side while knocking their hand in the other. Do this against any attack to this region, don’t wait to see if it is an eyejab.