The “Gutterfighting Way”

As warrior trainers, we must ensure that our students not only possess a “win at any cost” mindset, but also a fighting system that has been pressure tested. You must instill in them the skills that are going to work no matter where they are at or what they are doing. I believe that training the “Gutterfighter Way” is your answer, and let me explain why.

Gutterfighting – “The Mental Side” Every day thousands of people train at a martial arts academy. I think this is awesome! The martial arts are great in helping to develop self-discipline, self-confidence, self-esteem and physical fitness. So what exactly is the problem? Let me ask you a question. Take any student of Karate, Kung Fu, Kenpo, Tae Kwon Do or any other form of martial arts and ask them the following: when was the last time you talked about the violence of a physical encounter? When was the last time you thought about the violence of interpersonal human aggression?

Physical confrontations are brutal! I have been in law enforcement for over 24 years, so I have seen my share of violence. It is not a pretty thing. It is your duty to prepare each student mentally for this. Okay, let’s say one of your students has trained for three to four years, three nights per week for at least one hour per session. Wonderful, I applaud them. They have most likely achieved what is equivalent in most martial arts to a Black Belt rank. Nevertheless, do they really know if the skills that they have paid their blood sweat, tears and earned money for will serve them when they most need them? The student must be trained to recognize and accept the realities of violent confrontation. Please do not fail in giving them this valuable knowledge. They need your experience. The question you must ask yourself is this: have I tested my techniques, my tactics, and my methods in a realistic environment and ensured that they will work? If you do not know if your skills will work, how will your students ever know?

“Will this work so that I can use it instinctively in vital combat against an opponent who is determined to prevent me from doing so, and who is striving to eliminate me by fair means or foul?” Lt. Col. Rex Applegate, Kill Or Get Killed

As you may know, when faced with a violent confrontation, must people will run (flight), attack (fight) or freeze. When the mind and body have not been prepared together, it has been my observational experience that most people will do nothing when faced with a confrontation. I have even witnessed seasoned law enforcement and military personnel display the “deer in headlights” expression because they had not developed the correct mindset to handle these stressful encounters. They certainly had been trained in the physical skills, but they just had not received the correct mental programming.

One can achieve the will to win through reality-based training. Here are two simple examples of training that will make a world of difference for any practitioner. For one thing, a very high percentage of physical assaults occur in reduced-light situations. It is the perfect environment for the bad guy. When is the last time you turned the lights down in your dojo or training facility and practiced your techniques in reduced light? Secondly, when was the last time you practiced your self-defense skills in the clothes that you wear every day, and not the clothes that you wear to the training facility? I rarely wear sweat pants, nor do I carry on daily activities in a Gi! Practicing these two simple training drills, coupled with some true threat assessment and you are well on your way to winning. I am all about winning. Please begin training yourself and your students with reality in mind.

Gutterfighting – “The Physical Side” I teach a system that borrows its name from the Defendu techniques developed by Fairbairn and Sykes. The name given to our system is “Gutterfighting”.

“When you’re caught, you’re down, and you’re a goner if you don’t ATTACK…And keep in mind, it’s ‘Gutterfighting’: any means, fair or foul, to save your life”. W.E. Fairbairn

Our system of Gutterfighting is a blend of Krav Maga, Filipino Martial Arts, World War II Combatives, and Grappling skills. Each of these styles of fighting has certainly been pressure tested in battle. Our Gutterfigthing is all about “fighting” and “winning”. One of the most interesting principles of our system of fighting is to rapidly charge at the threat, get as close as possible and finish him off before he can counterattack. Never wait for the attack. Once an imminent danger is observed, attack with all the meanness of a caged animal and don’t stop until your opponent is no longer a threat.

I have done my best to ensure that our Gutterfighting has been designed to stand up against the pressures and strain of an all-out confrontation. It is a collection of offenses and defenses in which the smallest person can successfully defeat a larger opponent. It is brutally effective, easy to learn and retain. Gutterfighting is not about fighting pretty. It is all about going beyond just survival and truly winning over your aggressor, which I believe and preach daily! We want our students to win from a legal, mental and physical perspective, and our mission is to teach them to do just that.

Our Gutterfighting training practices combine the use of simple equipment and body weight exercises with focus mitt and Thai pad striking drills in a circuit-training format. This method of this madness is to help better prepare us for the stress of a violent confrontation! We believe in being “Fit to Fight”. As previously stated, violent confrontations are brutal; your students must have the stamina to stay in the fight until they have won. The great champion Muhammed Ali stated,

“Champions aren’t made in the gym. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, and a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

There are certainly many great men that have blazed the path of Combatives, and they all deserve credit for their work. They have all been an inspiration during the development of these fighting concepts.

Gutterfighting – “Striking & B.E.A.T. Target Model” We do not teach fancy striking techniques. I believe that anything will work when applying the B.E.A.T. target model; however, here is a short list of some of the striking techniques that we use: Ax Hand (long/short), Face Smash, Chin Jab, Headbutt, Straight Blast, Cupped Hand Strike, Elbows, Hammer Fist, Knee Smash, and Shin Kicks.

We utilize the B.E.A.T. Model in application of all striking techniques. B.E.A.T is short for Brain, Eyes, Abdomen and Testicles. This model of striking application was adopted from Frank Albert’s great book One-Strike Stopping Power – How to Win Street Confrontations with Speed and Skill. This book is available at

All striking techniques are applied to one of these target areas and are used to distract your adversary long enough for you to exit the threat zone or distract your opponent so that an effective take-down to controlling follow-up is applied. As you already know, these blows will most likely not cause an instant knockout but they will usually cause a great distraction. Striking these target areas will create a very short time period in which your adversary is not thinking about you, but his own pain. That is your window of opportunity. Dominate Him! Do not stand around waiting for something else to happen. Use is distractionary window to your advantage and continue the fight until your adversary is down and out. You must fight “down and dirty”. Do not give up until it is over.

Many years ago, Forrest E. Morgan wrote a wonderful book entitled Living the Martial Way. In his book there is a very interesting quote: “If someone asked me what a human being ought to devote the maximum of his time to, I would answer, ‘Training’.” Some might think this a little fanatical, but I would disagree. Someone once said that “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” I certainly do agree with this statement. Remember as the warrior trainer, you must also set aside time each day to work on your own warrior skills; this is the only way that you will grow and win! What are warrior skills? Simply put, they are life skills. Anyone who adopts the warrior mindset and prepares the body properly can handle life’s straight pitches as well as its curveballs.

So there you have it, the “Gutterfighter Way!” Prepare your mind, prepare your body, practice your physical skills and be ready for an all out battle. Hopefully the day never comes that you need these skills but if you do, BE READY! Train with a Gutterfighting mindset and practice all survival skills until they are second nature. “Train Today for Tomorrow’s Battles.”