Most helpful positive review
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Good practical introduction
on June 16, 2004
I really enjoyed this book, partly for nostalgic reasons. The line drawings and illustrations showing the self-defense techniques reminded me of an earlier generation of martial arts books back in the 50s and 60s and before, such as Kyose Nakae's Police Jiu-jutsu, the Ratti brothers Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere, Donald Hepler's Self-Defense, Simplified in Pictures, the infamous Ketsugo book ubiquitously advertised in the back of comic books in the 60s, and others.
If you're an experienced martial artist you will probably already be familiar with many of these techniques, but if you're a beginner and looking for a good introduction to the field, this is a good place to start.
Before I get into my own comments, I note the extremely negative review by one writer who says the book was a complete waste of money and the author mistakenly assumes these techniques will work against larger, stronger, hopped up, homicidal, or psychotic opponents. However, as a self-defense instructor for 35 years myself who's trained in a number of styles and methods, there is no system I've encountered that is guaranteed to enable you to prevail under any or all of the above conditions and in all circumstances. I've also read the Perkins book the reviewer says is far better and am quite familiar with Fairbairn's book and methods, and although these are also fine books and I would recommend you get these also, they don't resolve these issues entirely either although they admittedly have their advantages also--the Fairbairn methods are more vicious, but if you just add the groin rips and strikes, eye gouges, strikes to the throat and temple, and clapping the hands over the ears to break the eardrums (a technique which Fairbairn favored) to these techniques--you'll basically have the best of both worlds. But, contrary to what the other reviewer says, you'd better have a serious self-defense situation if you end up injuring or maiming someone for life or killing the attacker using those techniques--especially if there are witnesses.
Of course, there are many legal complexities and sides to this issue that I can't possibly go into here, but if you're a 100-pound girl or old lady and you cripple some 250-pound guy for life who attacked you, well, even if you get prosecuted by the district attorney, the jury is likely to go easy on you, and you may get off. But if you're a young, 200+ pound, athletic-looking guy with a dubious or disreputable past and you cause serious harm or injury, or worse, well, you can expect to do some jail time. For some reason, the law frowns on the excessive use of force and violence in self-defense even if the two parties involved are admitted scumbags. :-)
But getting back to the issue of survivability against adverse odds, the most that can be said is that a good self-defense course will increase your chances of survival and give you options that you didn't have before. The way I explain it to my students is that in a low-risk or low-level threat or attack situation you should be able to defend yourself fairly well; in a medium-level threat or attack situation you'll hopefully be able to fight the attacker to a draw and at least avoid serious injury, whereas before you might be completely helpless; and in a serious life-and-death situation with a determined opponent who may be bigger and stronger and better skilled or equipped, or have other advantages, you'll at least have a fighting chance whereas before it would have meant passive acceptance of death or serious injury. Remember, your goal in a potentially lethal street encounter is not necessarily to win, which might require more risky techniques and methods, but to avoid losing and escape with your life.
The self-defense techniques shown are simple but effective, and can be learned by most people with a minimum of training. Effective training for self-defense need not be technically difficult or long and arduous in terms of the training, but it does mean that techniques must be kept simple and complex and flashy techniques must be avoided. The self-defense techniques from many disciplines, including karate, boxing, judo, jiu-jutsu, wrestling, and even tai chi. There's also some good info on nerve centers and pressure points.
But perhaps the most valuable parts of the book are the chapters not on the physical techniques themselves, but on the mental and psychological and other aspects of self-defense. There are separate chapters on What is Self-Defense?, Positive Thinking, and Spotting Trouble. These chapters discuss many other useful and valuable topics, such as self-defense and the law, preventive measures, practicing assertiveness, streetcraft and being streetwise, avoiding many types of risky urban environments and dangers, calming down a confrontation, the eyes and character, the will to win, gangs and drunks, travelling on public transportation, distraction techniques, the effect of alcohol, the elements of surprise, and many others.
I note the author was also the chief SAS instructor for several years in survival tactics. All in all a very well written, thoughtful, practical and well-illustrated book on self-defense and close-quarters combat as taught to the feared and respected SAS commandos.