Self Defense Kicking As Taught By Eric A. Sykes

Eric Anthony Sykes, England, was a soldier and firearms expert. Sykes entered the volunteer branch of the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) Specials and reached the rank of Inspector in 1926.  In 1939 he joined the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS - MI6).

Self Defense Kicking As Taught By Eric A. Sykes

He is most recognized for his work with William E. Fairbairn in the development of the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife and modern British Close Quarters Battle (CQB), hand to hand combat skills taught the Special Operations Executive SOE community worldwide.

What is The Defendu Gutter Fighting Close Quarters Combat System

There are two descriptions of how Sykes taught kicking, one from his SOE Close Combat Syllabus and one from the document believed to have been written by him - Notes On Unarmed Combat.

The curriculum presented in the actual Special Operations Executive (SOE) training syllabuses was used at the Special Training School 103 (STS 103) or unofficially called Camp “X”. It was located between Whitby and Oshawa, Ontario Province, Canada.

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) (sometimes referred to as "the Baker Street Irregulars")was a World War II organization of the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton officially formed it on 22 July 1940, to conduct warfare by means other than direct military engagement. Its mission was to encourage and facilitate espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines.


Although there is no direct proof it is believed these techniques were learned from Chinese Cui Zhen Dong from that time. These skills are similar to Chi Gerk found in Wing Chun where opponents stand on one leg and try to take each other's balance. In addition, Wing Chun also has a scraping low sidekick that goes all the way down to stomp the instep.

Unfortunately, there are no surviving photos or films of Sykes demonstrating his techniques we can only go by the written accounts of what he taught in trying to describe his methods as best as possible.

In Sykes' SOE syllabus he describes kicking as follows-. "How to kick - as a general rule, kick with the side of the foot and, unless you possess unusually good footwork and balance, you shouldn't kick above knee height.

Never kick too foremost unless your opponent has both hands occupied. In that, as both hands occupied. In that case, it is safe to kick to the fork (groin).

Once the opponent is down, neutralize by kicking the side or back of the head (not the top of the head)". Here Sykes gives solid advice for real-world situations, keep your kicks low and not to kick to the fork (groin) unless your opponent has both hands occupied (or if the opponent has been sufficiently stunned by a previous blow that an immediate follow-up kick to the groin is a safe option, with the emphasis bring on "immediate follow up").

Note where Sykes speaks of finishing off a downed opponent with kicks. This seems to have been a major point Sykes emphasized in his training. In another part of his SOE syllabus, he advises telling students "That they should never go to ground if they can help it".

Instead, Sykes emphasized finishing off a downed opponent with your feet. This goes along with several accounts said by other SOE agents and read from SOE agents. Some of which were involved with Operation Jedburgh. Sykes instructing them on using the feet to finish a downed enemy off.

Operation JEDBURGH:

Parachuting behind enemy lines in the cover of night, the Office of Strategic Services' (OSS) elite Jedburgh teams were special operations paratroopers sent into Nazi-occupied France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to coordinate airdrops of arms and supplies, guide local partisans on hit-and-run attacks and sabotage, and assist the advancing Allied armies to defeat the Third Reich.

In another part of his SOE syllabus, Sykes also mentions instructors having students practice maintaining balance while kicking -. "For the technique, balance is essential and the instructor should now demonstrate how to keep on balance when swift movement is necessary for kicking while standing on one foot.

Students were paired off and, standing on one foot, arms folded, they should try to kick each other off-balance whilst maintaining their own balance". And from the document "Notes On Unarmed Combat" kicking is described as follows "Toe Kick: Toe of boot kick directed at groin only and is effective only when the enemy's hands are otherwise occupied.

Kick With Outside Edge Of Boot:

  1. Stamp kick is delivered to the knee at distance.

  2. Stamp kick delivered to shin and follow-through to smash instep at close quarters.

Kicking With Inside Edge Of Boot:

  1. Kick is delivered into shin and scrapped down to crush instep. This kick is only used at a grappling distance.

Like Fairbairn, Sykes was a proponent of simplistic self-defense skills. The brevity of his teaching for kicking is proof of that. The test of time is evidence of its effectiveness.

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