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Self Defense Law

Edge of the Hand Strikes

Edge of hand strike, or an Axe hand blow if you will, is a nasty and painful penetrative strike, earning its place in reality based self defense arsenal through Fairbairn‘s Gutter Fighting method, taught to soldiers in the 2nd World War to test it on real people in real life-or-death situations.

An Edge of Hand blow is another one of the Fairbairn’s Gutter Fighting signature moves taught to the soldiers during the WW2.

The main target for this technique is the neck and head, so it could be effectively used against anyone. Furthermore, the pain and damage it delivers - especially to the neck - is “devastating”.

It is very natural, penetrative and dangerous combat move, that doesn’t really need much hand conditioning and shouldn’t be missing in anyone’s reality based self defense training – in my opinion, mainly the one of women and smaller guys.

There’s no fair play, no rules except one: Kill or be Killed - W. E. Fairbairn

In the second part of the old video bellow, you’ll see William Ewart Fairbairn himself, demonstrating the Edge of Hand as it was presented to the soldiers back then.

Notice all the places the sparring soldier gets hit (neck, face, back of the head). All sensitive spots; hard or soft – doesn’t matter.

At the times of war, they had to work only with what was simple, effective and easy to use even after almost no training what so ever and under a huge amount of stress and pressure.

Apparently, edge of the hand strikes provided just that.

Here next, is an excellent video from Lee Morrison about the Axe hand blow, where you’ll learn all you need to know about an edge of hand striking. You’ll also be shown a simple but effective drill, how to train it with partner.

Now you know there are a short edge of hand and a long edge of hand blow. The short is often used as a preemptive strike to prepare the meat for even more violent chopping and slicing.

As Lee demonstrated – the edge of hand strikes provide also a good head cover while you hit your opponent. That is a great feature allowing you to go in, even if the assailant is trying to hit you back.

Watch the video couple more times and focus on coach Morrison’s body mechanics when he executes the edge of hand technique.


On this last video is Carl Cestari’s student, Damien Ross, teaching a nice edge of hand combo for solo training, hand conditioning and human vaporizing – all at the same time.

Having a BOB is great for this kind of training because of its anatomic shape, but a heavy bag will do just as well.

Keep in mind that hitting the neck is very violent and dangerous thing to do to other people (yet very, very, effective) and it should be treated as such. Be very cautious when duplicating the drills while training with your sparring partners.

To learn more about the effects of hitting the neck, I invite you to educate your self with the following articles: Effects of Hitting Carotid Arteries and Crushing the Windpipe.

TAGS: open hand close quarters combat


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