Palm Striking According to The Father of MMA, Self Defense Training Instructor William Fairbairn


The only mention of the Tiger's Claw in Fairbairn's works can be found in two documents written during his time with the OSS. His "Notes For Instructors" and the script for his OSS film "Gutter Fighting Part 2 Unarmed" In Notes For Instructors he describes it as follows.

"Tigers Claw 1. Into the eyes and face with a piston - rod forward jab. Fingers bent like a tiger's claw.

Palm Striking According to The Father of MMA, Self Defense Training Instructor William Fairbairn

Weight of the body to be behind the blow with no 'telegraphing' of the intention to strike. This is the most effective hand blow ever worked out.

It has the advantage of three inches additional length as compared to a 'straight left' and can be achieved with lightning-like speed. It is a complete answer to any attempt at a frontal attack and permits one to deal effectively with one's opponent before he is really dangerous".

If you're able to get a good, solid shot in, the Tigers Claw will basically serve as two strikes in one. The palm and heel of the hand strike into the nose and face while the fingers target the eyes, resulting in both a stunning and blinding blow.

Learn More about Fairbairn and His Legacy

While it can and should be practiced for use at close range also, the Tigers Claw is most useful when you're not close enough to effectively deliver a strike such as the chin jab for example.

The Tigers Claw also makes an excellent pre-emptive strike, and I believe this is what Fairbairn meant when he said of the strike it "permits one to deal effectively with one's opponent before he is really dangerous" ( i.e. before he gets in close to you). While the strike can result in a stunning effect, the primary goal of the Tiger's Claw in the pre-emptive strike is to reach the opponent's eyes.

Your fin

Palm Strike According to William Fairbairn

gers making contact with the opponent's eyes is of course the best outcome. But even if they don't make solid contact, the strike will still obstruct the opponent's vision and distract him, as well as delivering a stunning effect if your palm and heel make contact with the face, giving you an opportunity to deliver immediate follow-up strikes, with a very strong emphasis on IMMEDIATE!

One strike should always immediately follow another as the situation dictates until the opponent is incapable of further aggression. In the script for his OSS film Gutter Fighting Part 2 Unarmed, Fairbairn describes the Tigers Claw also bring used deceptively (artifice) -.

"Deceive your opponent. Make him think you're out on your feet. Now bring the Tigers Claw up from the cellar and put vicious brute force behind it".

While this seems to imply a situation where you've already been struck by a blow or blows in an altercation, remember also that Fairbairn was training wartime agents who would be serving in enemy-occupied territory, often dressed as civilians.

Looking at it from that point of view one can imagine this deceptive use of the Tigers Claw being used as follows - the agent is approached by an enemy soldier, perhaps at a checkpoint, on a street, etc , but for whatever reason, must make an attempt to escape. The agent could pretend to be drunk or ill (I e. 'out on his feet') then, at the right moment, deliver a surprise Tigers Claw.

As mentioned the Tigers Claw being followed up by other strikes. As with any other strike, once the Tigers Claw itself is mastered, one should practice using it in combination with other strikes. Focus on short, brutal combinations of two or three strikes that flow together naturally and quickly.

One other use of the Tiger's Claw is it being used along with the knife. The freehand delivers a Tiger's Claw into the opponent's eyes and face to stun him and obstruct his vision while simultaneously delivering a thrust or multiple thrusts with the knife.

#selfdefense #selfdefensetraining #selfdefensetips #selfdefensemagazine #selfdefenseseminar #selfdefenseonline #selfdefenseknife #selfdefensecompany #counterviolence #selfdefenseclasses #selfdefensewomen #SituationalAwareness #kravmaga #combatives

More Self Defence Resources Skills & Tradecraft

About AxxNox Self Defence Skills and Tradecraft Magazine

AxxNox self-defense training magazine that focuses on personal-protection industry, education, news coverage, article stories. AxxNox represents numerous thought leaders and subject matter experts from a wide range of backgrounds. Our goal is to provide evidence-based analysis that can help men and women avoid and respond to a real-life crisis. The online magazine creates, curates, and reviews various types of self-defense skills and tradecraft. Education, techniques, and tips are delivered in quick how-to guides and videos


Discuss, Engage

We would love to hear from you 

Share This With a Friend

Connect With:

Shawn Lebrock on LinkedIn

Director Of Training

Self Defense Magazine Episodes


External Research

© 2013-2020 AxxNox Self Defense Training Magazine  Privacy PolicyTerms & Conditions | GDPR | Copyright Statement