This is a book of primarily historical merit and could prove disappointing to any mixed martial arts or martial artistry interesed readers or shoppers. Fairbairn and Sykes were officers with experience in Hong Kong and of asian fighting styles which they sought to import into their training of Commandos during the second world war.
The book has no index but it has a very clear preface, introduction and contents page, which breaks down into blows; releases; holds; throws; miscellaneous advice; disarming (pistol) and the rifle in close combat. Each chapter is broken down into specific topics, for instance in the miscellaneous advice into chair and knife; the match-box attack; smacking the ears; the art of getting up from the ground; getting up from the ground (backwards); attack with a small stick or cane etc. When these headings are addressed within the body of the book it is broken down further into a set number of instructions with corresponding illustrations on the adjacent page and supported by notes.
The stilletto (spelling) dagger and its use in combat is featured here as is the "smatchet" something between a Ghurka knife and a machette, as are some odd rope trick securing techniques and Fairbairn instructs on how to get out of some "come along" holds. It makes for interesting reading, throughout the introduction there is a kind of "gentlemen at war" mindset which is to be found in some of the books of this kind and I'm pretty sure doesnt exist so much today or would appear pastiche or spoof. Reading Fairbairn's reply to officers who found this kind of "rough housing" objectionable, prefering noble boxing, wrestling, rugby and football instead made me think.
An interesting read for readers of either military reads or war time literature.
Not only an instructional work by the famed Bill Fairburn that presents an excellent self defence system but gives a snapshot into the mindset of a Britain fighting for its very existence. Excellent work.