Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The "Murray" Troop Training System.

One of my more regular correspondents recently mentioned that he had brought a copy of “Crash Combat” and was finding it a “great read”. This is always nice to hear. He is in Australia and this reminded me of the Australian connection that the book has. Readers will know that the concept of the book was indirectly inspired by a section in John Vader’s “Battle of Sidney”. I thought I had already made that passage the subject of a blog. Turns out that I never got around to it, so here it is.

…editor whose reporter named Murray as his source. He was taken to the GOC, General Maitland, who at once asked, “Well, Brains, what's the big secret?” Colonel Murray, forever to be known as “Brains”, explained his theory:

“In a situation like the one existing now in the country, there no time for special training to deal with all the conditions which are likely to be presented to the infantryman. To begin, the fittest men must be chosen and every part of boredom in training must eliminated. There is no need, for example, to learn how to salute, since nobody salutes at the front except the peace-time men who can,t drop the habit. Naming the parts of a Bren or Vickers is a waste of time: tell a man which part may cause a blockage, show him how to clear it and he will be as efficient as an instructor. Retire the fire and brimstone sergeant-majors until the war is over and replace them with sergeants who know how to give simple orders in simple teams which will get their meaning across. Take out all the "snarlers" and "bludgers" — there is no time to make them into soldiers. Send them to dig holes.

When men choose their own leader they are usually right and recruits should be allowed to choose their corporals, the section leaders. Then send them out to live in the bush for two days, to cook their own food and make their way to certain points by a certain time. They have to learn how to stay alive both fending for themselves and avoiding enemy fire. On their first or second day — as soon as possible — give them trenching tools and tell them that in, say, ten minutes, machine-guns will be firing live bullets across the ground where they are standing: they'll learn that to stay alive they must dig quickly, and when the bullets fly over their heads they'll get a quick and impressive example of the value of cover. Also within the first couple of days give them rifles and targets — without bothering about rifle ranges — and let them get the feel of the Lee Enfield. As many practice rounds as possible should be issued to them so that they can be confident that they can actually hit a man at a hundred yards, for that is about the distance where most men are accurate and anything further be left to the good shots.
They should all fire the Bren, Vickers, Owen and Thompson guns, and if possible let them see an anti-tank and bigger pieces fired so they'll know what slow and cumbersome things they are to move about when the infantr’ call for their support. Any farmers who have driven tractors should be made members of Bren-gun carrier crews, either as drivers or as gunners who can drive in an emergency. On the third or fourth night send them on night exercises. Most of them will get lost but they will learn the importance of control, identity and perhaps how darkness can be used to an advantage.

If there are no commanders of the new battalions being formed who will accept these ideas then anybody, whether sergeants, junior officer, who has the will and ability to adopt this system should be promoted to battalion leadership. Cut out drill al- together. On long route marches and training exercises they will soon learn to march in step for the convenience it offers, and when they march they will also know that it is easier to march in ranks Of two or three than in straggling lines. Australians have a good instinct for soldiering — both in attack and defence —and the best way to bring it out is to teach them how to use a gun. I certainly believe that the majority could, with the right leadership in platoons and companies, be made into soldiers in one week.”
(From Major-General Murray’s Australia Invaded.)

Murray’s ideas were readily accepted by General Maitland: field commanders were instructed to follow detailed training systems for new recruits as well as transport supply, artillery and other non-infantry units who could be used as infantry in an emergency. The response was most encouraging. When battalions, freed from parade ground bull and dull repetitive lectures, were given a greater opportunity to release the men’s initiative and show in field exercises a more dashing spirit. The AIF battalions were surprised to find themselves being challenged in these exercises by militia battalions whose previous conduct was careless and indifferent. The new mood of the Australian Army was to prove as important as the material help from Britain and America, for in the long run it would be militia and ATF infantry who would be standing against the invader.
The Books

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Common Mistakes in Military Writing.

You may be working on a TV or movie script or creating a video game. You may be writing a news report, sourcebook, article or novel. The chances are that sooner or later you will have to deal with weapon or military related topics. Using the wrong term can easily make your efforts worthless nonsense. Here are some common mistakes that can easily be avoided.


One of the most common and prevalent mistakes is also one of the easiest to avoid. There are few ways that will as easily destroy your credibility or that of your character as this mistake. A “clip” is not a “magazine”. Despite common misuse “clip” is not an alternative term for “magazine”, they are separate and distinct things.  A clip is a mechanical component that fits inside a magazine. To say they are the same is like claiming a rabbit is the same as a burrow or a sock the same as a foot! It is not “semantics”, it is just plain wrong! I have known at least one veteran soldier who would grind his teeth every time a journalist, screen writer or supposed “expert” gun writer made this mistake. Details that you may not appreciate may matter a lot to others. If you cannot get a basic detail like this right you might as well give up writing.

The quick rule of thumb is, if you want to use “clip” you should use “magazine”. For small arms clips are something of an anachronism and only found is some vintage weapons. Very few modern firearms require ammunition to be loaded into a clip. Rounds fit directly into the magazine. Futuristic weapons are very unlikely to use a clip. See here for more detailed explanations. If you take one thing away from this article, make it this and your writing will have improved considerably.


Shrapnel is a term that needs to be treated with some caution. Strictly speaking shrapnel comes from a shrapnel shell. Typically a shrapnel shell contains a mass of musket balls of around half an inch diameter. Unlike a shotgun shell or canister load a shrapnel shell explodes in mid-air to release its cargo. Shrapnel shells were adopted in 1803, copied by other nations and saw a decline in use during the First World War, the large infantry formations that were the intended target becoming uncommon. Some later designs such as the AHEAD anti-aircraft round could be legitimately described as shrapnel. The term is actually seldom used in modern military technology publications. See here for a space warfare application of shrapnel.

Most of the time someone uses the term “shrapnel” they actually mean splinters or fragments. It could be argued shrapnel has become a generic term for such things but its more definite meaning can cause problems. I recently read a book where the author spoke of “ground strewn with jagged shrapnel”, which is a ludicrous oxymoron to the educated reader. A very nice example of the problem was in the BBC Musketeers series where a character claims men have been wounded by shrapnel. Not only did she actually mean wooden splinters and stone fragments, but this constitutes an anachronism too.

It is tempting to use specialized jargon to create the impression that you are knowledgeable. Not doing your research and using it wrongly can create the opposite effect.

Shrapnel is a term best reserved for character dialogue only.


You will find assertions that the term “silencer” is wrong and that the correct term is “suppressor” or “moderator”. This is a modern affection and is actually wrong. Maxim’s first designs were called “silencers” so the term is legitimate. Many people who claim this is wrong call magazines “clips”, which tells you all you really need to know about them! Suppressor and moderator are more fashionable terms in modern usage so are the terms more likely to be used by characters familiar with firearms or military hardware. What term a character uses will depend on their familiarity with such devices and their era. A cop in the 1920s or a modern civilian non-shooter is likely to claim a suspect had a silencer.

Graticule vs Reticule.

This is an easy one to remember. A graticule has some form of graduations, a reticule does not.


In some older books “revolver” is used as a generic term for a pistol or handgun. Characters will draw a revolver which in a later passage is identified as a Luger! You will also see revolvers treated as being distinct from pistols. This confusion is the result of “automatic” being dropped from “automatic pistol”. Revolvers are actually a subset of pistols or handguns, so calling them pistols is permissible.

A revolver has a cylinder with a number of chambers in it. One round goes into each chamber. Typically there are six chambers. Small revolvers and large calibre designs may have fewer chambers. Small calibre revolvers or some more modern designs may have more. You can say that a revolver only has “two shots in its cylinder”. You cannot say it only has “two shots in its chamber”.

Revolvers have a gap between the barrel and the chamber. Therefore most revolvers cannot effectively use a suppressor/ silencer. There are exceptions to this but that stable of 70s cop shows, the detective special with a little Champaign cork-sized thing on the muzzle, is pure fantasy.

Trading Shots.

If two units are “trading shots” they are shooting at each other. I would have thought that did not have to be explained, but I recently read a book where several times artillery “trade salvos” and the shots are then described as being targeted against other units.

Incidentally, a weapon is not “the answer to…” another system unless it is a direct counter to it. The German Nebelwerfer was not the answer to the Soviet Stalin’s Organ, it was its equivalent.


Like many institutions and cultures the military have their own jargon, some of which are effectively shibboleth. You should familiarize yourself with some of these before writing on the subject. For traditional reasons the British rifleman will call his bayonet “a sword”, no matter how short the blade. A private of a rifle regiment will be a “rifleman”, not a “trooper” incidentally. A more common tradition is the US military practice of calling caps and hats “covers”.

A tradition to note is that US marines do not refer to themselves as “soldiers”. One marine will never call another a soldier. I have even seen a marine chewing out kindergarten children on this when the children had sent a letter “hoping that he and the other soldiers were safe”. Traditions and terminology matter.


In the English-speaking militaries an NCO is never addressed as “sir”. Civilians may be addressed as “sir”, officers are “sir” but corporals, sergeants and warrant officers are never “sir”.

You should not write on military matters unless you have some comprehension of rank and how it fits into a military structure. A major would not normally command a rifle squad, nor would he be commanding a division. There is a movie where a character is introduced as “a colonel in the SAS”. Generally regiments only have one colonel, and they are unlikely to be twenty-somethings who are sent to single-handedly deal with alien invasions.
I could fill a book with dumb and avoidable mistakes in modern media. Don’t assume you know things, do some research. Some of your assumptions will prove to be misconceptions, which may be uncomfortable and difficult to accept. Don’t claim an aircraft has a twelve cylinder engine when a couple of seconds’ research will tell the reader it had nine. Don’t fuel your T34 with gasoline. Don’t give a character a laser weapon and then have him notice the increased recoil. A shotgun is not a rifle. “RPG” does not actually stand for “rocket propelled grenade”. “Chain guns” do not have multiple spinning barrels. Decimate does not mean “nearly wipe out”. “Shaped-charge/ hollow-charge/ HEAT” does not melt through armour, it forces through.

Good writing is in the details. Not bothering to get the details right shows a contempt for your reader and your subject. Even if your writing is not sympathetic to the topic getting your details right can only help you convey your message.  
Just as important as getting your details right is to be consistent. I have read books where a firearm changes calibre four times in a short paragraph, sometimes within the same sentence! In a book I read recently a character is described as a “dashing colonel”. Later in the same scene he worries about offending a superior officer who is a major. On the next page he is engaged in conversation and is frequently addressed as “major”. In a later scene set a day or so later he is once again called a colonel. This is just sloppy and there is not really any defence for this.
The Books

Friday, 5 May 2017

Getting Old.

Recently I have been re-reading Appleseed, trying to pin down the aspects of utopias hinted at in the first two books. I have been using the snipping tool to copy particularly relevant panels for later consideration. The panel below is not relevant to this theme, but is an interesting idea in its own right.

Then, two days ago, facebook publishes a “memory” from several years back. Turns out that I have already written a blog about Appleseed, utopias and competition. I had completely forgotten about this.

So effectively had I forgotten this article that I actually enjoyed re-reading it. It had some insightful points and is probably far better than the article that I was intending to write.

Evidently I am getting old and my memory is failing. On the positive side I guess that will allow me to better enjoy my movie collection once again. Providing I can remember where I live!

The Books

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Survival Weapons: Optimizing Your Arsenal

When I wrote “Survival Weapons: Optimizing Your Arsenal” I tried to include all the information that I might want from such a book if I were purchasing it. Thus the chapter on shotguns explains choke and there are numerous tables to help the reader understand pellet sizes, pellet counts and what loads are best suited to what game.

There is a whole chapter on exterior ballistics that explains near and far zero and other influence such as wind effects and target speed. I included stuff that is not usually covered such as how canting a weapon or shooting to a higher or lower elevation target will change the point of impact.

The book includes a number of snap-shooting techniques that can be used when there is insufficient time to take careful aim. There is a chapter on a various types of sighting system and how to zero them correctly. There is a chapter on using your sling as a shooting aid and how to make a sling both lighter and quieter. There is information to help you choose firearms for defensive purposed for both two and four-legged threats.

In addition to all the gun-related content I have included several chapters on the selection, use and care of survival knives. There is also a discussion of improvised weapons for defence and food gathering.

Whilst I can obviously be accused of bias, I think this is a very fine little book, packed with useful information and very good value for the price.
The Books

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Middle Finger Trigger

Since last week’s post I have had some time to further explore the point shooting website.

It seems the idea of using the middle finger on the trigger dates back to at least the 1800s. It was once considered to be a valid alternative for shooters. One factor for discouraging its use seems to have been the adoption of the Colt M1911. As described on this page, the index finger pressing on the takedown pivot on the frame of a M1911 can cause a malfunction. The US Army pistol manual still encourages the soldier to use his natural pointing ability, then instructs him to use the finger he naturally points with for something else!

The USMC manual on pistol marksmanship wisely tells us A firm grip is essential for good trigger control.” and that “The pressure applied to the grip must be equal to or more than the pressure required to move the trigger to the rear.”

An interesting feature of using the middle finger on the trigger is that the hand makes four points of contact with the weapon. At the top it is held between thumb and the pointed forefinger. On the grip it is held by the two lower fingers. The pressure on the trigger is applied between these two points. Mechanically, this is quite a stable configuration.

Contrast this with the “traditional” grip using the index finger on the trigger. The bottom part of the grip is held by three fingers and pressure is applied higher up. Mechanically, that is a lever!

US Army manual FM-3-23.35 tells us Poor shooting is caused by the aim being disturbed before the bullet leaves the barrel of the weapon.” and that “A slight off-center pressure of the trigger finger on the trigger can cause the weapon to move and disturb the firer’s sight alignment… Trigger squeeze is the independent movement of the trigger finger in applying increasing pressure on the trigger straight to the rear, without disturbing the sight alignment until the weapon fires… If pressure from the trigger finger is applied to the right side of the trigger or weapon, the strike of the bullet will be to the left. This is due to the normal hinge action of the fingers… The firer must not apply pressure left or right but should increase finger pressure straight to the rear.”
Applying trigger pressure “straight to the rear” can be problematic if you use the final section of your index finger. To be consistent the same region of the finger section must always make contact with the trigger. Some shooters try to use the crease of the finger if their finger is long enough to allow this. With some guns your index finger has to reach for the trigger at a downward angle too. This may affect moving the trigger straight to the rear.

If you operate the trigger with your middle finger the point of contact will be the middle section of the second finger. This will give a more consistent trigger operation, allowing any inequalities in pressure to be compensated for.

Another advantage of using the middle finger is that the gun sits lower in the hand, reducing the effects of recoil and muzzle climb.

The middle finger is also stronger, which may explain why Ruby used his for a double action revolver.

This page describes how to construct an “aiming aid” or “index guide” from plastic cornering and double-sided tape. On this page are some patents for alternate devices. An important point to grasp, however, is that these are optional. Providing you have a suitable weapon you can try this technique without any modifications or financial outlay. In absence of a firearm you can try it with an airsoft, an airgun, a toy or whatever.

The point shooting website concentrates on shooting when there is insufficient time to use the sights. Middle finger triggering can also be used when the sights are being used. My subjective impression is that this grip causes the sights to align with the intended target a fraction quicker. Because the pressure that you are applying to the trigger may be different using this method your mean point of impact (MPI) may change. Judge the groups on their consistency rather than how close they are to the sighted point of aim. If there is an improvement in your performance you can adjust your sights later.

When I first tried this technique I noted a tendency to grasp the trigger when picking up the “weapon”. A simple solution is to adopt the habit of holding your first two fingers in a “V” sign as you reach for your weapon. Just remember “Peace to my piece”!

The Vermont UFC and police academy report on the technique included a useful list of weapons they found to be suitable. Note that this list includes rifles, shotguns and SMGs in addition to pistols. I will confess to being surprised the little Seecamp .32 was found to be suitable! This list is, of course, not comprehensive and only lists the models tried in the Vermont study. There will be other suitable models of weapon.

SIG - P228, P229, P239, P220, P230, P232, P225, P226
S&W - 4506, 3903, 39, 59, 66, 49, 1006, 4006, 622, 3000 Shotgun
Colt - 1911 (Caution), Python Trooper, Detective Special
H&K - P7M13, USP, MP5 Navy, MP5SD
Glock - 17 thru 33
Beretta - 92, 96, Cougar, SMG
Ruger - P89, Blackhawk, GP1000, Security Six
Seacampo - 32 (Seecamp?)
Remington - 870, 1187, 1100, 870 Marine, M-24
Bennelli - Super 90, M1
Ithica (Ithaca)- Model 37
Mossberg - 500 Series
USN-SEAL - 300 Win. Mag. Sniper rifle
US Military:
- M16A1 @ 300 meters
- M14 @ 500 meters
- M21 @ 500 meters
- M1 @ 300 meters
- M24 @ 700 meters

In short, you have nothing to lose in trying this technique. If you do not like it or it does not suit your shooting style then at least you tried it out before you decided, unlike some of its critics. If you find it better/ easier, you have gained! To paraphrase Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not”.

It would be nice to see using the middle finger included in firearm course as an option. It would also be nice if more firearms incorporated an index guide into their design. A simple groove or a narrow ledge between the slide or cylinder and the frame would suffice.

The Books

Friday, 28 April 2017

Workplace Survival.

As is usual for a Friday the blog will be a little more diverse in its topic than usual. Today’s post still comes very broadly under the topic of survival or even defence!

A few weeks back I was reading some books by David Devereux that a friend had given me. First I read his novels, which are worth checking out. After that I read his more autobiographical “Memoirs of An Exorcist”. This will not be to the tastes of some of my readers I suspect. That is a shame. Devereux is obviously an intelligent and insightful individual. He is also a competent and entertaining writer, which is more that can be said for some other better known writers!

Below is an extract from “Memoirs of An Exorcist” about workplace environments. There are some insights here that are likely to be familiar.

So what do we find in offices? Generally, a matter of dealing with negative energies. Most offices have a stock of that: people hate their job, their boss, their colleagues and their customers. They hate the necessity to work. They hate commuting. Be honest with yourself for a second: do you actually enjoy working? If you do, you’re a rare creature. I generally enjoy what I do, but it leaves me tired, frustrated, angry and occasionally despairing about clients and the world in general. So, if this is someone who likes their job, imagine what kind of emotional roller coaster someone who doesn’t is riding. Now stick them in an open-plan office with thirty so other people. No privacy, no respite from the pressure. In some offices, the length of time you spend in the toilet is monitored to make sure you stay productive. The number of calls you take in an hour, or the number of keystrokes at your computer, or the number of shelves you fill, or whatever it is you do, someone’s watching, making you work harder, keeping the pressure up. For all their much vaunted training, managers are not always good communicators. Self-expression is discouraged - wear the correct dress or be sent home.

 I’m not saying that it is wrong for a company to want to get value for money from its employees. But there are ways of doing it that turn offices into nothing more than battery farms and there are ways that treat employees like people. The former approach is generally the cause of difficulties, poor staff retention and a general air of gloom over the whole workforce. This spreads from employee to employee as each drags the others’ mood down.

I’ve seen entire open-plan offices of fifty to a hundred people where nobody smiled. Sure, the managers were allowed a few personal effects on their desks, but employees sat at a desk with a phone, and a computer and whatever they needed to do their jobs; nothing else was allowed because the company enforced a “Clear Desk” policy. Nothing personal, unless you’re a manager. Side screens divided each employee from their neighbour, and conversation was discouraged. Of course, the managers were expected to enforce an atmosphere of jollity and esprit de corps that just wasn’t there because people couldn’t bond. So the atmosphere of the place was depressing and wasn’t helped because almost all the staff were temps with no job security or feelings of loyalty to the company. People were arbitrarily dismissed with no need for notice, because they had no contract and, while the temp agencies responsible for staffing this battery farm had an office on site, there was a distinct impression from some of the liaison personnel that the staff were just replaceable commodities not worth getting to know.

The other parts of the company employed people properly and treated them far better. These parts were more profitable, had better retention rates and happier people. But the first office seemed to end up going through the entire available workforce of its town and it got to a point where they couldn’t hire enough people to keep up with the losses caused by attrition and the summary justice within. The solution was classic corporate thinking: they opened an office in a new town, and expected some of their more loyal temps to travel two hours each way to teach the new office how to do the job.

The simple fact is that misery loves company. If you take an approach that makes people miserable, then that misery will build upon itself and spread throughout the working environment. This applies in the home as well, but is more likely to happen in an office because many people resent having to go to work at all. I’ve noticed that companies who spend time and trouble to create a decent environment for their employees have less sickness, absenteeism (“throwing a sickie” being different from actually being ill) and attrition than companies who are perceived not to care. Something as simple as taking a genuine interest in your staff can make the difference between people who are happy to work for you and people who would rather gnaw their own leg off than spend one more minute than necessary in the office. This seems the most obvious thing imaginable, but it amazes me how few companies do it.

And here’s a thought: how much oxygen are you actually taking in? For a start, most people breathe very shallowly, using about the top third of their lungs. Lack of oxygen leads to them getting tired and emotional, which again contributes to the problem. Simply sitting quietly at one’s desk and breathing deeply for a few minutes can have a remarkable effect on stress.

But put aside my feelings about the generic corporate culture for a moment and consider those more enlightened companies who feel that happy employees are more productive. Things can get interesting when a company switches its policy from battery farming to free-range. Trying to introduce a sunnier disposition to people trapped in a misery-sink can be something of an uphill battle, since employees may not trust the management and are still working in an environment that has stored their anger. This is why office refurbishment is a good way to start, but may not cure the problem entirely. Something obviously needs to be done to dispel the preceding atmosphere and give people a chance to face the new environment with a more open mind. Far Eastern companies have been doing this for years and have started to introduce the same approach here over the last twenty years or so.

The Books

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Point at what you Shoot.

Regular readers will know that I often find that diverse threads of research unexpectedly meet.

The other day I was contributing to a discussion on futuristic and unusual revolver designs. One such gun was the Vector 22 shooting system that was offered by an Albuquerque company called “Mark Three”. The Vector 22 had a number of novel features, one of these being a distinct lack of decent photographs of it on the internet! I may devote a future blog to this design once I find time to scan images from a few of my reference books.

The particular feature that interests me today is the grip and trigger. The Vector 22 had a grip somewhat like a saw. It was designed to be held with the first finger pointed down the side of the weapon and the lower three fingers around the grip. A rest for the tip of the forefinger can be seen top centre. Firing was by squeezing the grip so involved every finger except the trigger finger! The muzzle of the pistol was a little below the line of the first finger and close to the axis of the forearm.

Later, I am flicking through another book on a quite different subject and I come across the statement that when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald he pulled the trigger with his second finger and had his first finger pointed at the target. From the photographic evidence this does appear to be the case. Allegedly this was a technique taught to the SIS and SOE. Ruby may have arrived at the technique independently or may have learnt it from another source. He may have just grabbed the gun wrong in haste! Ruby had lost the tip of his forefinger but this was on his left hand. Pocket revolvers such as the Colt Cobra Ruby uses often have short grips. Working the trigger with the second finger may also be more comfortable with such a weapon. It would also place the bore-line lower down in the hand, helping to reduce felt recoil and muzzle climb. This technique is sometimes called “Point and Shoot” or “P&S.”


Sadly I do not have access to any firearms at the moment so I had to experiment with a pistol-shaped video game controller. I noticed that gripping with the second finger on the trigger did encourage a firm grip. This is an advantage when using the “Quick Kill” techniques advocated by Fairbairn and Applegate. Snap presentations tended to put the front blade over the target. Using the second finger seems to encourage “squeezing the grip” rather than “pulling the trigger”. This, and the lowered bore-line I suspect will tend to reduce movement of the firearm when firing. Overall the “weapon” seems more stable in this grip.

One the downside I noticed I had a tendency to apply pressure to the trigger with the second finger when I first gripped a gun in this fashion. Your initial experiments with this grip should be made with an unloaded weapon until you become more familiar with this technique. When using a loaded weapon be wary of the possibility of accidental discharges and keep your muzzle orientated in a safe direction at all times. You will also need to learn to keep the second finger off the trigger when not firing.

Ruby used this technique with a pocket revolver. It should work with an automatic providing that there is sufficient depth of the frame. Obviously you do not want your forefinger resting against the moving slide, over the ejector port or beyond the muzzle. It is not recommended for Colt M1911s. The pistol will also sit lower in the hand so there is the potential for “hammer bite” with some weapons. I suspect this is more likely to be a problem with some older designs rather than modern weapons. Finger guards can be constructed or purchased.

There is no reason why this technique should be restricted to pistols. Try it with a rifle or shotgun and see if it makes the weapon present better. A rapid fire technique for bolt-action rifles uses the second finger to work the trigger, freeing the first finger to manipulate the bolt.

The Books

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Four Defense Techniques for Women.

When I first started this blog I expected it to feature more techniques than it has. “Attack, Avoid, Survive” was written to be a fairly comprehensive work so between it, the new edition and “Crash Combat” the majority of techniques I might wish to pass on have been covered. On this blog it has been more common to pass on more specialist techniques such as the Fairbairn Thumb Hold.
Following a recent private conversion I thought it might be instructive to look at some defensive techniques in the context of shorter, lighter users. The video shown below has appeared a couple of times on a group I frequent. This is interesting since the group is not about martial arts or specifically for women. Self defence videos span the full range of quality but this is one of the more realistic. My additional comments follow.

The finger jab is a technique in my book and recommended for its speed and ability to distract a foe. Chaining techniques together to maintain initiative is also in the book. Here we see the two concepts logically combined to produce a rapid fire counter attack. I would be inclined to teach this technique alongside the chin jab. The chin jab is well suited to users of shorter height than their attackers and the barrage of finger jabs can create an opportunity to use it.
The knee to the groin is an effective and well known technique. So well known that many attackers will be prepared for just such a move. My best advice here is to be aware that there is a definite window to using this technique. You do not throw it when you feel like it, but when you detect the instant where to attacker is open to it. This is mainly learnt from sparring and practice. This window is spatial as well as temporal. Too far away and your knee will not reach, too close and it cannot access the target. The same mechanics of a good knee strike also teach you the front snap kick, so add this to your arsenal.
Striking the groin is not just a technique for the knees! The palm heel strike can be directed to this region too. After impact dig your fingers deep into whatever you have encountered, grasp with all your strength and throw that hand back over your shoulder. This technique is described in the Vital Points section of my book. In the new edition with give it the aide memoir name of “Monkey steals plums”. Someone I personally know used this technique on a would-be rapist. She pulled so hard one of his testes popped out of his scrotum. Serves him right and good for her!
If some defence courses and books are to be believed someone grabbing your throat with both hands is commonplace. I am sceptical about this but it is something my girlfriend specifically asked me about recently so it is obviously something that concerns women.
Effective counters to the frontal strangle fall into three groups. Those that come up, those that come down and those that come from the side. The technique shown in the video is a side technique. It may be considered to be an abbreviated form of the “ginga-based” technique shown in my book. The latter is more likely to throw an enemy off-balance and places your elbow ready to counter attacks to attempted head-butts and similar.
The upward technique involves clamping your hands together  and using your forearms as a wedge to drive upwards between the attacker’s arms. Swing your joined hands forward to hit towards his face in time honoured Captain Kirk fashion. This is a more strength and surprise orientated technique so may not work. Be ready to follow on with another counter-attack.
An example of a downward technique is that described in my book as based on “Wind through the ears”. Your forearms come together before your face like sliding doors and you put your full weight into your elbows against his arms. You may even jump up to deliver all your weight.
Another sideways technique you may have seen is to reach over the top of both arms with one arm, under both arms with the other. Take a firm hold and twist your waist so your lower elbow is raised and your upper is dropped. This is a technique you can attempt if you are lying on your back.
Unless your attacker has pinned you against a wall moving backwards can weaken the throat grabber’s position. Perhaps you can lead him so that an obstacle such as a chair or counter is between you.
Alternately, hold onto his arms for stability and use your front snap kick to hit his groin, stomach, solar plexus or heart. You may need to add an oblique delivery to access your target, which is why my book also covers the roundhouse kick. Grabbing the arms and kicking is a valid follow-up to the “upward wedge” technique if it does not break the hold.
Having a heavier attacker on top of you is a difficult situation for any fighter. To the advice given in the video I will suggest that if he has his weight on your arms accompany your bucking action by sinking your teeth into his wrist or thigh to distract him and weaken one corner of his stability. More ground techniques in my book.
The Books