Don Draper Judo: Unarmed Self-Defense from the Mad Men Era

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 14, 2013 · 68 comments

in Manly Skills, Survival


As I was browsing through some old magazines the other day, I came across a fantastic issue of Popular Science from 1962 that contained a feature on unarmed self-defense. The article was adapted from a book entitled Modern Judo and Self-Defense by Harry Ewen, a “police judo” expert. The best part of the multi-page article are the fantastic mid-century illustrations by Dana Rasmussen, featuring a well-dressed judo expert who looks like he might work with Don Draper when he isn’t throwing ruffians over his shoulder. Even the “thug” in the article is pretty dapper, proving once again that everything was just swankier back in the day — even the bad guys.

Below you’ll find step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to defend yourself from chokes, bear hugs, kicks, and knife attacks when you’re unarmed, all while still looking incredibly handsome. Enjoy.

Three Ways to Defend Yourself from Chokes from the Front

Finger Lock


Grab the thug’s little fingers, with your thumbs under the tips (fig. 1). The knuckles of your index fingers should be over the the second joints of his little fingers (fig. 2). Move your wrists in a circular motion down toward your hips. Applied pressure will force the thug to his knees to avoid broken fingers. As he goes down, strike him in the face or jaw with your knee (fig. 3).

Nose Break


First, clasp your hands (fig. 1). Then, with fingers locked and elbows bent, swing hard from the waist and strike the thug’s forearms with the bony parts of your arms. Follow through until your clenched hands are above your assailant’s head and the choke is broken (fig 2). Finish by bringing down your still-clenched hands, with all the force you can muster, on the bridge of his nose (fig. 3). Stop short of this, naturally, while practicing this move.

Basic Arm Lock


Grasp the thug’s right forearm with both your hands (fig. 1). Holding his right wrist firmly with your left hand, slip your right thumb under his right palm and pull his arm toward you to ensure that it is straight (fig. 2).


Keep on turning until you are almost at your assailant’s side (fig. 3). Keep his hand elevated above the level of the rest of your arm (fig. 4). Now put all the weight of your body behind your left upper arm and elbow, pushing down on his right arm just above the elbow (fig. 5). Unless he submits, he will end up with a dislocated shoulder.

How to Break a Grip from the Front That Pins Your Arms


Force the thug to move back by giving him a couple of sharp jabs in the groin with your thumbs (fig. 1). As he draws his hips back, pivot on your left foot and move your right foot across in front of him (fig. 2). You should now be facing the same way he is. As you turn, slip your right arm behind his back and grasp his right sleeve with your left hand to keep his body close to yours (fig. 3)

Keep your knees bent slightly, maintain a steady pull on the attacker's slleve, and keep your right hand in the small of his back (img. 4). Straightening your legs will now raise his feet off the ground (img. 5). Your opponent is now balanced on your right hip, and you can toss him by turning him over as you continue to pull on his right sleeve (img. 6).

Keep your knees bent slightly, maintain a steady pull on the attacker’s sleeve, and keep your right hand in the small of his back (fig. 4). Straightening your legs will now raise his feet off the ground (fig. 5). Your opponent is now balanced on your right hip, and you can toss him by turning him over as you continue to pull on his right sleeve (fig. 6).

How to Break a Bear Hug from the Rear


This defense works as well against an overarm grip as against an underarm one (fig. 1). With your feet apart, bend your knees, stoop down, and grab your assailant’s right ankle with both hands (fig. 2). Pull his ankle forward and upward to throw him on his rump (fig. 3).

Defense Against Kick Aimed at Face or Stomach


Trap the thug’s foot by bending your knees and crossing your hands in front of you (fig. 1). As the kicker’s shin contacts your wrists, turn your left hand (fig. 2) so that you have a firm hold around his calf. Assuming that the kicker uses his right leg, spin around to your right, throwing him forward on his face (fig. 3). Once he’s thrown, follow up by going down on the ground with him. In the final position (fig. 4), your left forearm is behind his calf, your left hand is on your own right bicep, and your right hand is on top of his foot. Use care when practicing this lock: doing it jerkily could dislocate the leg.

Three Ways to Subdue a Thug Who Tries to Choke You From Behind

Arm Lock


Grab the choking forearm at the wrist with your left hand and place your right hand under the assailant’s elbow (fig. 1). Pull down with your left hand and push up with your right, turning and bending your body as you do so. This should give you enough space to extricate your head from between your attacker’s elbow and body. Bring your left foot back as you turn, so you are at his side (fig. 2). Twist his right arm behind his back (fig. 3).


When his right arm is twisted almost as far back as it will go, slip your left hand under his right wrist (fig. 4). Slide your left arm across his back (fig. 5) until your left hand is trapped in the crook of your left elbow. To apply the pressure part of the lock, raise your left elbow in a forward circular motion while holding your assailant’s right elbow steady with your right hand.

Shoulder Throw


Grab the thug’s sleeve at the elbow with your left hand while your right grips his shoulder (or as high up on his sleeve as you are able to reach) (fig. 1). Bend your knees, but keep your torso upright. Bend your body forward. Pull down and to the left with your left hand, forward and slightly to the left with your right (fig. 2). Push your hips back against your attacker’s thighs as you pull, and he’ll be thrown over your shoulder. (fig. 3)

Shoulder Drop


This throw starts the same way as the shoulder throw. You first grab your opponent’s right sleeve at elbow and shoulder. All you have to do now is drop onto your left knee, stretching your right leg sideways as you do so (fig. 1). Pull down with your right hand and the thug is tossed over your shoulder (fig. 2). This and other throws that are shown on these pages should be practiced only on well-padded surfaces or on a soft lawn.

Dislodging a One-Hand Hair Grab


Grab the attacker’s wrist with your right hand. Hold his hand on your head (or throat) as you turn right and raise your left arm high (fig. 2). Bring that arm down upon your foe’s upper arm, placing your left foot in front of him (fig. 3). If you do this swiftly, you may well injure your assailant. Better go slow when you’re practicing, though.

Two Defenses Against a Boxer


As your opponent aims a blow, spin to your right with your full weight on your right leg. Bend your left knee and then straighten that leg right out at the attacker, catching him just above his right knee with the sole of your left foot, backed by the full force of your body. As your left leg kicks out, jerk your head right. This counter-balances the weight being pushed left. It also gets your head nicely out of the way of the aimed fist of your opponent (fig. 1). An alternate method is to deflect the blow with your right forearm and counterattack with a knee to the groin (fig. 2). Skip the knee jab, however, during practice sessions.

How to Protect Yourself from a Knife Wielder


As the knifer raises his blade (fig. 1), parry the blow by striking his forearm with the edge of your own left forearm (fig. 2). Quickly seize his clothing near his right shoulder with your right hand. Then with a strong, but smooth movement, pull his right shoulder toward you while also pushing his right (knife) hand upward and away from your body (fig. 3).


Grab his right wrist with your left hand as you push his knife up, while still holding on to his shoulder with your right hand (fig. 4). Now move your right hand from the knife-wielder’s shoulder to his right elbow. Pushing down on that elbow keeps his knife arm straight (fig. 5). Pulling his wrist toward you applies a very drastic shoulder lock. Unless your assailant drops his knife, you can easily dislocate his shoulder.

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carter March 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm

This. Is awesome

2 Rich March 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Nice photos, but I want to make one amendment to the knife picture. I studied martial arts for 16 years and learned a bunch of live knife techniques. I WOULD NOT suggest stepping towards your opponent and turning your back to him as it shows in figure 2. You lose sight of the knife (always dangerous) and actually give a lot of your body to him to hit. I would suggest stepping back so that you’re facing his knife while using your left hand to slow his momentum. Then slide your right foot forward while doing the grab and continue as described from there.

3 John March 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I can’t really say as I approve of the Captain Kirk Double Fist Strike of Shirt-Ripping.

Two main reasons:

1. It hurts. You. There’s a lot of compressibility in the “fist” that move creates, meaning that there’s a lot of skin taking up the space between your fingers, and when you strike something, all your fingers smash together and a lot of force is concentrated on your proximal phalanges bones of your little finger on both hands. Very painful. Ask me how I know.

2. It takes away one of the primary means by which you generate power with a strike; you twist your body. Especially if you’re a big guy, you’ve got the potential for a LOT of rotational momentum just by a small, sharp twist of your body that coincides with a one-handed strike. Furthermore, this twist is generated from your hips, by your legs, which, because you’re an AoM reader and do your squats, are pretty big and muscular (right?). Even if you’re a big, strong guy, your arms are relatively weak compared to your legs and core, which is where your strikes should come from, and which the Captain Kirk Fist Smash takes out of the power equation.

4 Tac March 14, 2013 at 7:40 pm

John, I agree that the double-fist is weaker and opens up a lot of potential problems, not only can you self-injure, you can also open yourself up to your hands being grabbed…..and now you lose both hands simultaneously. I’d suggest this variation:

Break the hold as shown…it’s not a bad break for a choke by the average punk. It’s also simple and relatively easy for someone without coordination to do. When your hands are up above your head (the choke is broken or nearly so), drive AT your enemy with side-by-side hammerfists. Think of it like chopping wood…a manly training exercise….the power isn’t from your triceps/shoulders, it’s from your core and from dropping your weight INTO the blow. The side-by side hammerfists will have the same effect of stunning your enemy, taking away his vision momentarily, and possibly breaking his nose or giving him a black eye. Once you hit, step back a pace forcefully (to finish breaking the choke if it’s not broken yet, by throwing him off balance) and then engage or do otherwise based on the circumstances.

On the ‘side kick to counter a punch’ one, I’d disagree. In the 60s, most people that knew how to throw dangerous straight punches were boxers and the like, and didn’t know squat about ground fighting/wrestling. Now, MMA is so popular that many fighters or wannabees know at least the rudiments of both. Show one of them a leg like that when they throw a punch, and you’re done. I don’t claim to be a great fighter, or even a good one. But if I throw a jab and you counter with that….I’m going to take you down and give you a reenactment of Lesner v. Mir….the rematch.

I also agree that there are lots of things with that knife defense that can be dangerous. However, I’m not going to go into detail here. Suffice to say that knives are incredibly dangerous in close quarters….more dangerous than guns IMHO. Successfully countering knives while unarmed is very difficult even with training. I don’t think that any advice online or a diagram can suffice to show you how to do it. And even if you do everything right….expect to get cut or stabbed at least once. The best defense for a knife is to create time/space/distance, preferably with a barrier between you and the subject.

5 Ben Cope March 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm

The method for escaping a bear hug has two big flaws. 1) When you lower yourself, the attacker can easily slip his arms up and you’re now being choked. 2) When you lower yourself and start reaching for that leg, he can easily knee you in the balls.

Instead, reach up and grab both of his forearms, so he can’t choke you, then lower yourself and get one leg behind the guy. (your right behind his left, or your left behind his right.) Then, keeping both feet firmly on the ground, twist your body. Your thigh will trip him and he will end up on the ground on his back, while you should still be standing.

6 Matt March 14, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I’ve been doing a form of traditional Japanese Jujutsu (Hakko Denshyn Ryu Aiki Jujutsu) for almost a decade now and it’s funny to see many of the same or similar techniques being used here. A solid technique developed over 800 years ago is still a solid technique today.

7 Robin - Of The West March 14, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I’m not a big guy but I have studied a variety of martial arts over the years including: Jujitsu, Karate, Tai Chi and two forms of Aikido – a Sword Form and Fugagaki – the later being my favorite. One could look at Aikido as an ever-evolving relative of Judo – redirecting your opponents energy rather than trying to match or overcoming it – combining with timing with knowledge of how the human body reacts to balance and physical stress. In my opinion, there is physiological advantage when you put an attacker – who might be much bigger than you – on the ground and in a compromising position using his own energy and very little of your own. Peace.

8 Stuart March 14, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Seems like a few people have already covered some specific criticisms, so I’ll just keep my comments brief and broad:
First off, it’s awesome to see something like this on Art of Manliness, self-defense is pretty darn important. A lot of the listed techniques are both simple and quite practical. However, not all of them are, and many (especially the throws) can be incredibly dangerous to you- and the defender, of course, be it somebody you don’t worry about hurting, an angry drunk friend, or a practice partner- if you haven’t been properly trained in their execution. While these descriptions are good, they leave a lot to be desired. Nothing can replace actual martial arts training, of course, but I think that goes without saying. The important thing readers should know is that the throws (and that kick defense! Wow! That’s super dangerous and few people are dumb enough to throw a kick in a fight as is. If the attacker throws a kick that high there are dozens of simpler options that could work just as effectively.) are not that advisable to use unless they have to. The arm lock is particularly ridiculous to have instructions to, not only because it’s dangerous but because there is no explanation as to how somebody would get into that position. Most attackers do not just let you hold their hands and move their arms.

Just taking a couple Jiu Jitsu classes can give somebody a similar level of self-defense knowledge without such a high possibility of misunderstandings or miscommunications. Oh, and Judo’s awesome but it was created as a sport version of Jiu Jitsu. These days Judo emphasizes more throws than Jiu Jitsu does, but Judo is just not as practical for self defense. Obviously people could argue this issue for days, and it really does come down to how the teacher teaches more than anything, but Jiu Jitsu, especially Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, from what I’ve found, has a much more initial goal of self defense with practical applications.

Wow I said I’d keep that short, but I didn’t. Oh well, hope this was helpful and not too negative sounding! :)

9 Stuart March 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm

An edit from my last post. I missed that the arm lock was from a front choke. Not a bad defense so long as that is the situation. Pulling off an arm lock from different positions can take some finesse or luck depending on the circumstances, and I was thinking it was that broad of a guide for some reason. My bad! XD

10 john March 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I was 10 in 1966, which is probably around the time of this article. James Bond and this stuff was HUGE! Everyone was into judo and Ju-Jitsu, which was new, and it was in books and magazines everywhere. My buddies and I practiced this stuff all the time and became quite adept. As I got older, I only remembered a few wrist twists, armlocks, and throws, but they served me well through my teens, the Marine Corps, and as a State Trooper. Even now as an older gent I would’nt shy from a chance to use them. I had forgotten about some of the good times of that era. Thank you!

11 Andrew March 14, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Interesting read, though I’m weary of the knife counter attack. As much as possible one wants to stay on the outside of a knife attack rather than going inside. If you go on the inside, as described, and you fail to stop the knife, you will get stabbed in the back an awful lot… If you move to the outside and miss your opportunity to block the knife, the chances of getting stabbed are greatly reduced, and you are in more or less the same position to try again. Don’t forget that if you are attacked with a knife, expect to get stabbed.

The person who wins a knife fight is the guy that bleeds out last.

12 Gerald March 14, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Old Skool Jiu Jitsu.

But the throws are the very basic throws in Judo also. O-Goshi, Ippon Sai o Nage, Seoi Otoshi…

” In the 60s, most people that knew how to throw dangerous straight punches were boxers and the like, and didn’t know squat about ground fighting/wrestling”

In the 60s there were boxers and wrestlers. And People dont knowing sh** about martial arts kicking your ass just from learning by doing. ;)

13 Brian March 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm

This is kinda cool, but none of these are useful if you cant practice them until they become so. Self desfense should be less a decision, more a reflex, because the time it takes you to decide if its appropriate could easily get you deadified. Just saying.

14 jerry March 14, 2013 at 10:22 pm

So many experts commenting while giving you their vitals. The first thing any real fighting trainer tells you is to keep it to yourself…same as carrying a weapon. But, I am old school old man. I never went to drama class.

15 Don Draper March 14, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Don Draper agrees it is foolish to mess with a man named Don Draper…!

16 Jess March 15, 2013 at 12:12 am

Self defense is awesome. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it on here actually, haha… but either way, still an awesome blog =)

17 Tac March 15, 2013 at 6:22 am

Gerald…..I was just noting that while that technique might have been reasonable to the person that was devising this article fifty years ago, it’s not something that would be advisable to try today. Of course there were people back then with very well-rounded knowledge bases. Now, however, even the morons have picked up on a few things.

18 Stan R. Mitchell March 15, 2013 at 6:27 am

These are some wonderful, basic moves, and you’re right: The illustrations are incredible.

But I can’t help but think about how much further hand-to-hand and martial arts have come since then. Almost all these “defenses” have been further refined, modified, and improved.

And I think most of the practitioners I know have taken every thing to such a higher level. For instance, I’d never be happy with just one style, so I practice three: Shaolin Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, and Muay Thai, and I even nabbed a belt in Kajukenbo, which is some really brutal stuff.

Additionally, I spend lots of time in the gym moving weights, just like most of the other practitioners I know.

I’m not sure why this is the case for most. Maybe we’re more paranoid. Maybe the MMA kick everyone is on teaches us we must be uber prepared. And maybe, we just have more access to knowledge through books, videos, etc. Probably back in the day, you just had one or two choices of dojos to train at.

Regardless, great article. Thanks so much for sharing it!

19 Eric March 15, 2013 at 6:30 am

Back in 5th grade I transferred school and had a problem with being bullied by larger guys. I’m 57, and at the time the only real martial art you could study was Judo, usually taught by soldiers who had served in Japan. After about 6 months, I had a few decent techniques down pretty well. One day on the playground, one of the larger guys who had been bugging me stepped up and grabbed the front of ny shirt. I threw him clean with O-soto gari and I still remember the sound he made when he hit the blacktop. The other kids thought it was magic and that I was some kind of kung-fu killer. No problems after that.

20 Cyrano March 15, 2013 at 7:40 am

I was a regular competitor in Judo for about 7 years before I gave it up for a family (time and pain requirement was too much). Much of the material is more Hapkido than Judo though the throws are definitely Judo. I would say there are a lot of fine points of not hurting yourself when executing these actions that are gained only through personal instruction. To improve your instruction of the shoulder throw… Placement of the feet slightly inside of your opponent and pulling the arm up and around your midsection as you rotate to complete the shoulder throw are key. Just as an example. For more visuals go to

21 A.S Falcon March 15, 2013 at 7:41 am

Nice article, in real life it`s a little different, you can study the techniques all day long, you would have to do this practically everday for it to be effective, it`s not everyday a person fights.

22 Caleb March 15, 2013 at 8:55 am

I did some real world self-defense some years ago, and while no master, I did learn a great deal.

Instead of the “Nose-Breaker” a very effective way to break the choke and disable the assailant is: as in the diagram, bring the hands up through the arms of the attacker, in slightly crossed manner (small X), then insted of forming a fist, work the arms outward and down. This allows you to take control of the assailants wrists as they come off of the neck. Finally, using the wrists as leverage, sharply pull down. This will draw the assailants nose into a headbutt to the center of the face. You can also aim for the temple of the attacker for a swift knock-out blow.

The other techniques are similar to the basic self-defense I learned. In regard to knives, get away if you can. If you can’t, you need to know you are going to get cut, your goal should be to minimize damage to yourself and to disarm or nullify the attacker. If you manage to rend the knife away, I recommend disposal. Get it as far away from the fight as possible, thne use hand-to-hand techniques to defend against the attack, if the coward doesn’t run.

23 Emily March 15, 2013 at 8:56 am

These tips would’ve come in very handy when I tried to “beat up” my sixth grade bully! But who knows, they could come to my rescue some time in the future. Thanks!

24 Joshua March 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

For the sake of your hands, please do not interlace your fingers on the nose break. You will likely break your fingers if you do that, especially if his head drops and you hit his forehead. Use one hammer fist or cover one fist with your other hand.

25 Rob March 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

Another great article. I do krav maga and I do really approve those techniques. There is a simpler and equal effective way for disarming a knife but that one works, too.

The biggest advice I can give is training! Do not think you can aply these techniques just by looking at pictures, videos or reading. You must practice. Get a buddy, explain him every move in detail so he is prepared and start doing it over and over and aply natural situations where an assault could happen. Unless you are sure you can act instinc ively you are better off running away which is almost everytime the best choice unless you have no other choice, not alone —maybe a walk with your significant other— or you are Bruce Lee. Be sure you can react without thinking otherwise you can get in serious trouble if you meet a nasty thug. Wannabes and less dangerous thugs are easily impressed and drived back. But you will never know for sure so be prepared!

26 Steve March 15, 2013 at 10:29 am

I think that most of the above commenters are missing one important point:

These techniques, while not 100%, are a great ‘starting point’ for someone (99% of the population) that knows absolutely nothing about defending themselves.

I think that everyone should have some knowledge in some sort of fisticuffs – boxing, judo, muay thai, krav maga, sambo, etc.

That said – spend a couple of dollars and take a ‘self defense’ course. It’s amazing the difference practicing SD techniques in your mind and practicing them on someone else.

I’ve recently started attending a Sambo class once a week. I’m amazed at the different perspective I have now on my personal safety.

27 Sartorial Madness March 15, 2013 at 10:57 am

You’re all completely missing the point! The defender is appropriately dressed in a suit *and tie*, while the attacker sloppily skips the neckwear.

28 Frost73 March 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

Interesting… While cleaning out a late uncle’s apartment, I came across a U.S. Army field manual on hand-to-hand combat from the 1950s. As I was looking through the techniques and photographs, I couldn’t help but be fascinated at how H2H has evolved.

29 John March 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

It was okay until the last bit about knife defense. As a martial artist, if you are confronted knife vs no knife you should simply get the hell out. Regular training can never protect you from a realistic knife attack. Taking a knife attacker head on should be a last resort if you’re cornered. They can cover 7 paces in about a second.


30 c.w. March 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm

you shouldn’t try to move away from someone that is pullin your hair, especially if it’s long enough for them to get a good grip. someone who is either strong enough, or escalated enough can scalp you.

It’s best to grab the rist of the hand that is holding the hair with your hand(s), and then step into your attacker to put them off balance. Hopefully at this as they fell like they are falling they let go.

31 John March 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Aw c’mon fellas! This was a fun and helpfull article written fifty-years ago. What’s with all the critiques and shudda’s, cudda’s? Some of you “boys” take yourselves a little too seriously!

32 Ozone March 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm

… of course hand-to-hand has evolved. Modern techniques involve the liberal use of sound effects and “bullet time”! ;-)

33 Steven P March 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Some of these are a bit too complicated, and some of them are just plain awesome. Dig this article though.

34 Phil Quim March 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm

If someone pulls my hair, what is wrong with me throwing a right cross to his face? I am not interested in dancing with him.

35 Rodrick March 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Krav Maga is easier and faster with better results…

If no one knows is that one used by the Israel Army.

36 Jared O March 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm

When you face a knife(and compliance is not an option) there are two things you should consider before anything else:
1.) Run. If escape is a viable option do so. Nothing is uglier than a knife fight. And it depends on luck much more than other types of combat.
2.) Grab something longer. A knife doesn’t have much chance against lets say a mop or a handy tree branch or a shovel. You might consider carrying a telescopic baton if it is legal where you live.Or a taser. Or just have a gun if you are lucky enough be allowed to do so.
Any weapon with shorter than 50 cms reach is not a defensive tool.

37 Gerald March 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I wont overrate the influence of mma and especially all that Brazilian JiuJitsu groundworking stuff.
Why? Because its nothing new, never was..
Back to the basics it all the same Kodokan Judo Roots as in these pictures.
Some people tought it was new because of the 70/80s media hype on kung/fu, Karate, Kickboxing etc that ignored grappling and groundwork in the popular styles. I dont say its useless, it should be involved in any good system (and it is and was)
But in the US all that “Ground&pound” got as clearly overhyped as Bruce Lee and his magical TschingTschung art. But its what it is. Just a trend.

Even the US Army “updated” the proven WW2&Nam combatatives FM 3-25.15 in 2002 with lots of groundwork and “crazy” jiujitsu… cutting down the basics of course.
“military use?” like this would work clothed in full gear..maybe they should add mud-wrestling next time..sending drones might be more safe.

If you kick someone you have to do it as fast as punching someone to avoid getting grappled.
This is today not different then 30 or 50 years ago. Nothing changed in the physics. And many “untrained” people in any Martial Arts tend to grapple on instinct if the get into fights.

38 Jed March 15, 2013 at 11:53 pm

It would be wise and advisable to PRACTICE these techniques before relying on them…Practice-partner, foam mats on the floor and slow-movement at first…Learning basic martial-arts (even white-belt level) would be a good start before learning “moves” from a book or cartoons!

39 DaveGorman March 16, 2013 at 1:40 am

One of your best posts yet. Awesome

40 Gil March 16, 2013 at 5:19 am

TAoM rocks!

41 Alan March 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

As someone who was into ju jitsu before it was cool – this post serves only one purpose, which is hopefully to get you down to a local dojo to learn.

Some of these moves are taught in JJ (and some look plain silly) but you’ll never learn them via cartoons on a screen.

I spent years practising such moves but it’s also been years since then, and I’m sure I’d struggle to remember half of them in a serious fight. Which is why I got really really good at just 7 different moves… I call it “Sevenfu” :)

42 jason taylor March 16, 2013 at 10:05 am

One thing the critics did not mention was that all of these, as I understand were meant to be used against a thug. Now it is true someone who doesn’t train regularly wouldn’t be much good. But your average thug will be worse. Not that one should rely on such thing; it is usually safer to just give him the money. Sometimes however it is useful to keep such things in the back of yourmind though.

43 Stengel99 March 16, 2013 at 11:02 am

My favorite part of this post: The men are wearing suits.

44 Jed March 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I forgot to mention–we live in a different day-and-age now…This is not the 1950′s when men fought men one on one…We live in 2013 where groups of 3-4 thugs usually attack one person…So, these cartoon-illustrations on self-defense are like a joke anymore!

45 John March 17, 2013 at 2:13 am

Men have ganged up on other men since there were men! Pick a decade. The real difference is that back then, men didnt need disclaimers. They didn’t fret, or wring their hands because they might not do it right, or that they might get hurt (I mean, we are talking about fighting). Back then, men demanded the dignity to make their own decisions, and to live or die by them. Living life without being brow beat, criticized, and secound guessed, was taken for granted.
Now, everyone feels they must be heard. They know more and it must be shared. What if some one gets hurt? What if they do it wrong? What if…if there’s a MISTAKE!!
Yes, these are cartoon-illustrations, but they work for what they are intended. So quit hovering like somebodys Mother. Assume the man that reads them is man enough to decide when, where, and how to use them.

46 Michael March 17, 2013 at 2:59 am

Jed, learn to use the opponents energy against him. That could be in the form of a wildly wielded weapon, a bunch of cowardly “friends” (bullies), or most often, just him or her alone- angry, impatient, self-righteous and out-of-control.
Techniques against such attacks include issuing combinations to the front attacker, while circling around him and pushing him into another attacker, then delivering another quick combination (kick and punch or other quick blow(s)) to the second (or third if there’s more). Then while still circling, push the second into the first dummie, or third if needed. Retreat or advance as needed.
Another common scenario is your grabbed by one nutter and a second comes at you with a punck, kick or weapon. Grab the arms of the first attacker and use his mass to add force to your forward deflecting kick, stomp kick or two handed thrust or push. You may also drop all your weight onto the first attacker so that it’s easier to throw him after you’ve attacked frontally.
A third common scenario is being held by two kidnappers or assailants at both sides by the wrists or arms.
You may pull your arms down, causing both men bring force upwards. You then use that force to nail them in the balls, elbow them in the chest or strike the neck, chin, temple or nose.
Another of the escapes(there are many) is to push forward with yours arms leading your body (only if held tightly) and use their pull to assist your reverse hammer or chop to the groins or elbows to stomach or solar plexus. Strike twice if you must. Then grab the two closest pant cuffs or ankles- swooping them upwards while you walk forward all in one motion. Your adversaries on their backs and you may retreat or attack as needed.

47 Native Son March 17, 2013 at 10:36 am

Nice nostalgic article. Judging from the illustrations, the cited article seems to be based on an earlier law enforcement self-defense techniques (from the 1930s or 1940s, I think, the dark suited thug showed up prominently in the first work’s photographs), that relied on the Oriental martial arts being virtually unknown in the US.
And as with anything, “a little learning is dangerous”, you don’t practice, you’re toast.

48 Nicholas March 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Nice article. As I ride the bus to work every day in a suit, I know it’s only a matter of time before I need to employ some of these techniques on a would-be assailant.

49 Jais Henan March 18, 2013 at 6:42 am

Most of these techniques require a lot of practice to work.

Awesome illustrations, though.

If someone needs to go right from paper to reality, I would suggest eye gouging, biting pieces off (not just biting down — bite through!), breaking fingers (grab one at a time and bend them the wrong way — they snap easily enough), carrying a small, easily handled blade you are familiar with and making deep, long cuts in areas of high vascular content.

On top of all that, being familiar and comfortable with something in .45 can be a big help. As they say:

God made men. Samuel Colt made them equal.

50 Bria March 18, 2013 at 10:49 am

Watching a series on the Discovery Channel called “Human Weapon” made me really want to join a Karate or Kung-Fu class. Then they showed the episode on Krav Maga and I immediately said to myself “that’s what I want to learn!” So, I found the nearest Krav Maga class and joined. One of the best decisions I ever made. Learned self-defense and get a great workout as well.

51 PapaPaul March 19, 2013 at 12:07 am

At 48 the one move I learned at 6 y/o has served me well. A good firm poke in the eye STOPS a jerk cold, drunk or sober…

52 Taylor March 20, 2013 at 1:57 am

I do not have extensive training in martial arts, but I have studied a few. The knife technique mentioned above is a terrible idea, Knife disarms are heavily debated in the martial arts community, there really isn’t a good knife disarm, especially for individuals that have absolutely no experience doing such a dangerous task. I do not recommend this move. If you think its a good idea, grab a partner and give him/her a sharpie, try this move; he/she will mark on you with that sharpie.

53 Ben W March 21, 2013 at 12:01 am

Wow, this is a simple collection of somewhat effective techniques presented in a manner the lay man can understand. It is unsurprising that many correlate to elementary techniques from several forms of traditional martial arts and wrestling.

I personally take offense with the kick defense illustration for several reasons.

1) Most untrained people have a difficult time kicking above the groin.
2) Timing a cross block defense (aka an X-block) requires acute timing and precise hand positions. Both of these can be acquired with some practice. Failure results in a weak block, or worse… a fractured hand.
3) The illustration displays a notable error. The kick is low (and therefore rather harmless), and defender is bending over to block it. Not only is it unnecessary to block such a kick, it also puts his head in a vulnerable position to be punched. Stepping back once is much easier than the cross-block as demonstrated. Kicking the knees is also a quick way to remove an assailant’s mobility.

My comments are drawn from my personal study of karate of 4 years. The more I train the more I find that the simple techniques tend to be the most effective. Also, as with anything in life, practice makes perfect!

54 Andrew S March 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Of course, you could just kick him in the b**ls, or failing that run.

Alternatively, remember that you can talk your way out of the vast majority of conflicts – it’s much less dangerous, and even if you do lose a little pride in the process, it’s a price worth paying if the alternative is to risk a knife in your chest.

With either option, you’re less likely to damage your suit.

Great post.

55 George F Matheis Jr March 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Neat old article, but take it for what it is, I make my living teaching combatives as well as edged weapons, impact weapons and firearms. The core of my traditional training is Yo Shin Ryu Ju Jitsu and Judo. Most of what is shown is very bad form. Also know that Judo is the sport form of Ju Jitsu and by itself is not usually studied for self-defense.

56 Matt B March 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

This is cool, but kind of funny too. I practice Krav Maga, and we’re taught to end a fight in under a minute. Like with the knife defense, I’m either going to jab an eye out or give a solid punch to the throat, breaking the windpipe or larnyx. And the hair grab, that would be a kick to the balls followed by a punch to the nose. And if someone grabs me by the shoulder, I could simply grab them around the arm with mine, hit them in the nose with the meaty part of my palm, and lean back, popping their shoulder out of place and putting them on the ground. But, all in all, I have always thought Judo was a cool martial. Sure, in Krav Maga we have quick and brutal ways to end a fight, but it’s also cool as hell being able to throw a guy a few feet. Plus, several Judo throws can cause death or paralysis. Good article.

57 Serafin May 7, 2013 at 7:46 am

Funny that you would call this Don Draper Judo… The only time that Draper got into a scuffle on Mad Men he got his butt handed to him by a much older man.

58 Michael May 18, 2013 at 1:50 am

I remember reading this article in the 60s while staying at my uncle’s house during the summer. Thanks for a chance to visit Memory Lane and save a copy for my grandchildren.

59 Andy June 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Nothing is infallible, but this certainly provides some creative suggestions.

60 N.W. June 13, 2013 at 5:57 pm

You can read a lot of these type fighting tips in Dashiell Hammett. His writing about how his protagonists defend themselves is very specific.

In fact, in the short story “The Whosis Kid,” the Continental Op explains a trick similar to the first one shown in this article. If someone is dumb enough to try to choke you from the front, consider the fact that even a woman’s whole hand is weaker than even a strong man’s little finger. So, rather than trying to pry away the attacker’s hands, you grab him by his pinkies, and bend them backwards till they snap. If this isn’t enough, you proceed to the ring fingers and break those, and so on.

Even though Hammett’s writing is fiction, there’s a lot of realistic and practical techniques, as when he was a Pinkerton, he got into a lot of fights.

61 Zack June 17, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I have to agree with some of the skeptics. The last bit about knife attack is not really that well designed. I have done judo before. If any of you are really interested in how judo is used in combat. Check out Major William Ewart Fairbain’s “Get Tough” which contains mainly W.E Fairbain’s own street experience during his service in Shanghai. Arguably the crime capital at the time. It’s more of a mix between his experience, jujutsu, judo, kung fu and boxing. The system has a record of 600 successes.

Back to the knife defense. There are several misconceptions. One is that the knife is shown to the defender. With an unskilled knife user, he might be dumb enough to show you the knife. In most cases, if a knife is shown, there’s a probability of winning. However, on the other hand, it’s more likely that the knife user would conceal his knife and stick it in before the defender could realise there is a knife. Draw out his blade during grappling. Conceal it around his arm pit, then cover the eyes of the defender, then stab, or throw something at the defender to distract him in order to deal multiple slashings. The most successful technique is to just sneak behind someone cover their mouth or their eyes, and stab them from behind. No noise, no struggle.

So first of all, situational awareness beats any physical self defense. If you are hyper about self defense, do you plan your route? Do you walk away from streets or alleys of crime? Do you stay on the right code? Meaning can you automatically know escape routes on the street, are you aware of who’s around you?

If you are suspicious about someone behind, cross the road. Know if he crosses as well, change your speed, does whoever you suspect is following you, altering his speed in response to your change. If yes. Go to somewhere public. It’s not a matter of manhood, it’s a matter of SURVIVAL, no matter how dishonourable it is.

Secondly, another mistake assumed is that the knife user will be compliant and let the judoka execute the lock. Under stress due to adrenaline, and sheer insanity, the knife user will retract his knife hand. This is dangerous as the knife attacker could now aim for the throat, the face or the heart, in close quarters. Furthermore, if he can’t pull his hand back because the judoka has a strong grip, an option would be to swap the knife into his free hand. Again this is a major problem, as the defender leaves his kidney exposed.

The next thing is that the knife user leaves his knife hand in front, his free hand back. Someone who knows how to use a knife won’t do this. Any guy who knows his knife leaves his free hand out. Leaving him able to parry block, and grab the left side of the victim, to carry out stabbings near vital coronary arteries. Leaving someone dead in minutes. If anyone wants to look for knife defense, read “PUT EM DOWN TAKE EM OUT” by someone who was a former ex-con in Folsom Maximum Security Jail. His name is Don Pentcost.

Finally, let me conclude by saying that judo is mainly practiced as a sport today. Trapping, and all other stuffs are largely forgotten. Even my judo teacher told me to always run. Any martial art or physical defense only heighten your possibility of leaving the scene in one piece. Not guarantee it.

Another final misconception is that many of us are looking TOO MUCH on these techniques above. As opposed to something more important. Techniques are manifestations of a principle. These movements contain physics that could be applied to every situation. Instead of interpreting the images as throws, locks. We need to look at the biomechanics. They all contain the concept of kuzushi waza, off balancing, tuskuri, displacing someone’s center of gravity on top of you. Redirection of momentum, acceleration of momentum. Fulcrum points in the form of human joints. We need to look these techniques with those things in mind as opposed to just what should I do if you do this, I will throw you, lock you etc…….

Bruce Lee once said, “I don’t fear 10,000 kicks you have practiced 1 time. I only fear the 1 kick you practiced 10,000 times.”

An interpretation is that having too many techniques and evaluating technique is futile. Attacks change. The only principle that the many techniques are based on, will be useful in that it applies to 10,000 different situations.

62 don June 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I always liked the approach of ww2 instructor william fairbairn-kick them in the groin, when head comes down palm stike to chin and go for the eyes-the idea was to pre empt someone getting ready to attack you and then you attack them first.

63 T. Rochon July 14, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Don’t even interlock your fingers when striking someone. It’s a good way to break all your fingers. Rather, clasp your hands together like your an eight year old trying to make farting noises. This will give you the same shape and save your digits.

Source: I’m a Judo brown belt and instructor as well as a train boxer.

64 Heidi December 6, 2013 at 6:43 am

I’m not a man but I enjoyed this article none the less. In this rotting world full of crime, I think everyone who wants to defend himself/herself should know these self-defense techniques at least.

Thanks for sharing this article!

65 John January 30, 2014 at 3:52 am
66 Gary A. March 14, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Be careful with that shoulder drop technique, guys. I’ve seen more than a few injuries that came from that takedown back in my old bjj days…

67 Craig March 14, 2014 at 8:41 pm

First degree black, Kenpo here. There are some solid ideas in the comments here. Like do not interlace your fingers use a double hammer strike instead, etc. What I like about this post is the simplicity. One does not have to achieve the highest levels of martial arts training to defend himself. A lot of people are intimidated by learning martial arts because of the complexity of some of the moves. But if you get right down to it the basics will often be enough to get you home.

68 jerry l. March 15, 2014 at 10:42 am

Avoid the fight if at all possible….if not….always fight to kill….Semper

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