Monday, June 22, 2015

Handshakes and Fighting

     In the old Vietnam War days of the 60s, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) had an expression that “a westerner could not resist a handshake.” And that if a Viet Cong (VC) could shake a soldier’s hand in a surprise encounter, the troop could be somehow ambushed.

     Back in World War II, the Japanese Army declared that if their soldiers could get “belt-buckle-to-belt-buckle” with any American, get that “toe-to-toe” up close, they could beat the American in close quarter, hand-to-hand combat. A handshake ruse was also suggested.

     So the handshake and attack trick goes way back., more than these two "recent" examples. Now these are not hardcore, battlefield suggestions. Of course not. They are ambush and trick suggestions.

     In the 1990s several police training programs connected with police science and criminology colleges tried to research a host of info on physical encounters. One endeavor was trying to determine how we “hit the ground” in a fight. There was accidentally tripping and so forth, and one major way was being punched down, and furthermore, one listed punch was the "sucker punch."

     The sucker punch. There are numerous sucker punches and a few important setups and tricks to know. I cover them in Level 5 of my Unarmed Course. One such sucker punch, one way to get buckle-to-buckle and toe-to-toe is the aforementioned handshake trick. A handshake with the right and a punch to the face or neck from the left hand, was such a common one.

     Getting the "irresistible handshake" ties up one of the enemy’s or suspect’s hands. Usually an important idea. Now, 90% or nine out of ten people are right-handed. The handshake is right-handed. And more often than not, the right-hander keeps his weapons on his right side. So for a brief few seconds, his right hand is locked in and busy. So too is yours, but you have an ambush plan!

     There is way more than punching. A few hand shake set-up tricks are used for a number of  throws/takedowns on someone by first establishing a “handshake” move or a “handshake-like” positional grab. This is found in "old-school, original" generic, Jujitsu and other grappling systems. As shown in the photos below for an example, you can fake the handshake, lower your thumb, pass his hand and grab the forearm.

      For myself, being a Texas police officer for decades past, that meant being trained and tipped off by veteran officers from even further "way back when." I am told that an old western lawman would approach a dangerous suspect, smile, shake his right hand, and with his left hand reach over and disarm the outlaw’s right-side gun. Yank the gun right out of the open-carry holster! In the 1970s, an old Chicago P.D. detective told me Chicago policemen did the same thing “in the big city.” Shake a hand, then reach with the left hand under a jacket or coat and pull a pistol from a waistband or a knife from a pocket. You obviously need a solid hand grasp and to be fast on the grab of the weapon.


The normal approach for a handshake. Thumbs up!

And, handshake complete!


Now look at my thumb. It's down.  

This allows me to pass the thumb/hand and grab the arm 

Supported by the other hand for further grappling

Or, the other hand can disarm a knife from a carry site

Spot and get the knife!

Or maybe grab his gun from that carry site. 

Here are some old World War II Combatives photos of Fairbairn doing the classic handshake, then stabbing with the concealed knife in his other hand. This stab was once taught as a pretty instantaneous death stab, but it isn't really. 

      There are numerous take downs and arm controls starting from the handshake. Some people appear rude when they refuse to shake someone’s hand. Most won’t do it, like Donald Trump, so as to not spread nasty germs around. "People's hands are filthy!" they declare. But we know there are more problems with handshaking than just the germs!  

     I have denied the handshake when I felt the situation was suspicious. So should you. Just think of something to say that is appropriate for the situation.
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