Since Colonel Fairbairn first starting teaching his system back in 1918 the ensuing decades has seen the great strides that police and military training took to improve overall realistic combatives training because he laid the foundation. Generally in that 100 years Fairbairn, his instructors and the system he created has become legendary so much so it is almost forgotten today because so many have adopted his standards. During WWII we saw millions of allied soldiers, airmen and sailors making use of his system.
The system has taken on many forms and been called by many names; Defendu, Police Scientific Fighting, Hand-to-Hand Combat, Unarmed Combat, Silent killing, Military Combatives. At one point in that history we forget this system helped win WWII. The system was there when the first Police SWAT Teams were born in the 1920’s and it included back then a very modern program on close combat marksmanship. The system became the feared close combat method of WWII Commandoes and Rangers. It was taught to the secret agents of SOE and OSS at secretive camps hidden away in Great Britain, Canada, USA, the Middle East and even the Far East Ceylon and India. Dozens of WWII civilian books were published showcasing military unarmed combat for the morale of the home front several of which have been re-published for today’s self defence market. And let’s not forget the legend formed the backbone of modern Special Forces folklore.
The system’s training hallmark was simple brutal reality, kick him in the balls poke him in the eye. No rules and no tap out! Fairbairn taught and inspired pre-war martial art instructors like Major Pat O’Neil and hundreds of others to find ways to train men and women for combat, the realistic way. One basic rule, ‘prepare them for what’s to come at all costs’. The enemy feared Fairbairn’s training and its reputation. The soldiers trained in it loved it! It is the most combat tested system in modern military history.
After the war Hollywood made him and his methods legendary. But like all legends they get passed over by time and fade away. But what a history, what training and for myself I have been part of that history for over 50 years. Fortunate! You bet! To have the chance to train under the mentorship of the men who made the legend stick keeps driving me forward. We forget Fairbairn’s system is older than most of the popular Asian based martial arts we see practiced today like aikido, taekwondo, karate, BJJ and so many more.
But are we up for the next 100 years? Who is going to take it up? You perhaps? How hard are you willing to train to master the system that launched the legend. How much will you spend and how many miles will you travel? Being part of that next 100 years and laying claim to ‘Training in the footsteps of heroes’ is something you have to earn and it does not come from reading a book or watching YouTube videos. It comes from hands-on sweat equity.
Everyone has been asking me, how are we going to mark the centenary, some special badge and Anniversary party perhaps? But I think we should do it as we always have done – through our training – after all that is what Fairbairn and O’Neil believed in. So who is up for some exciting courses to commemorate 100 years? Battleschool in September for sure to ensure the military value of the system is not lost. The elite 14-day combatives instructor course is to qualify the next generation of instructors for the civilian self defence market place. We’re open for suggestions. So tell us what you want to in the way of training, after all you’re part of this legend now. Contact us at http://whwolfe.com with your ideas.
100 YEARS – ‘training in the footsteps of heroes’