Kelly Mc Cann and Modern Combatives: A Review

Kelly McCann and Modern Combatives: A review

In a previous blog, I looked at W.E. Fairbairn and how his training methods have influenced modern self-defense methods. In this article let’s have a look at Kelly McCann ( aka Jim Grover ) and his modern version of “combative” fighting methods.

Kelly McCann is a former U.S. Marine officer and while serving, was responsible for standardizing hostage recovery tactics and equipment, and training counter-terrorist forces.


He now runs a specialist company, Kembativz, that teaches many of the methods he has developed over the years to the general public.

So what is his relevance to Contemporary self defense?

His methods are simple, effective and use awareness as one of the key elements to surviving a hostile encounter. In his videos and books he goes through the process of how you should stay aware to pre-empt any attack. How you should then deal with any attack and how you deal with the aftermath. A complete picture, so to speak. He constantly emphasises,

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Failure as a learning tool in Self-Defense

Dealing with "failure" is a part of any learning curve.
Dealing with “failure” is a part of any learning curve.

Failure as a learning tool in Self-Defense

The title may seem a bit of an odd one, so let me explain a little bit. 

To defend yourself against someone who is attacking you, you need a certain amount of know-how and skill. Realistically speaking, you will have had to train to develop this skill and know-how. So at first, it would seem odd that I would suggest that an important part of this would be failing because that doesn’t make sense.

Learning curve

The point is this. Anyone who has achieved any level of skill and knowledge at anything has dealt with failure along the way. They attempted to do something to improve and failed at it. They then went back to that something and tried again. And again! Until they were somewhere near what they wanted. To drive home the point then is that the sooner you accept that you are on a learning curve and will get things wrong, the sooner you will be on the path to better learning. The sooner you deal with failing, the sooner you will improve your skills.

How would understanding failure apply directly to Self-Defense?

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W.E.Fairbairn. The“Godfather” of Modern Self-Defense

W.E.Fairbairn. The "Godfather" of modern Self-Defense.

W.E.Fairbairn. The“Godfather” of Modern Self-Defense

William E Fairbairn ( 1885 – 1960 ) is often called the godfather of modern “Combatives” Self-defense.

He developed a quickly learnable system that had to be tested as realistically as possible in the most dangerous of circumstances. Fairbairn also wrote several well-illustrated books on the subject.

As a British Royal Marine and police officer, he developed hand-to-hand combat methods for the Shanghai Police during the interwar period, as well as for the allied special forces during World War II.

In the introduction to “Get Tough”, Fairbairn says…

“The methods described in this book I have carefully worked out and developed over a period of many years. They owe something to the famous Japanese judo (jiu-jitsu), and something else to Chinese boxing. But, largely, they were developed from my own experience and observation of how most effectively to deal with the ruffians,thugs, bandits, and bullies of one of the roughest water-front areas in the world.”

His methods were quick to learn and instantly applicable, which was very useful in training the Shanghai police and the army. Time was limited.

So what did he do to make things so learnable?

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