Saturday, 16 June 2007

The Liverpool Nutter

Some years ago I read a book that was to become a classic. "Secret Fighting Arts of The world ", by John F Gilbey.
The book was filled with tales of martial artists with secret skills, way ahead of its time, few people had even heard of karate .It was always questionable as to the veracity of some of the tales told by Mr.Gilbey, and yet they contained more than a grain of truth, and the liberal use of poetic licence added to the telling of the tale. The stories conveyed the qualities that seem so absent in the martial arts today. I had the privileged feeling that I was receiving esoteric knowledge available to few others. All Mr. Gilbey’s heroes were anonymous quiet men, who had to be sought out.
Not the posturing squealing bodybuilder, sat in the full splits, so common nowadays. One chapter in his book refers to an unlikely warrior " The Liverpool Nutter." .He was a character who had developed the unusual art of head butting to a high degree. He had a method, and a way to train. I would like to discuss that unlikely art.
I have lived in Liverpool all my life, and though it may seem fanciful, most of the street fights that I have witnessed at some point employed the use of the head, it may well be the case that this occurs in all major cities the world over, but it seems strange to me, that, what an American visitor witnessed almost three decades ago, should still be available today. In all of the martial arts clubs that I have attended in Liverpool over the years, at some point I was introduced to methods of defence against the head butt. It is such a common attack, however to defend against it one must be able to understand how it is used and the advantages of such a method.

I should also like to make clear that I had serious misgivings about writing this article, I read of the awful attack on innocent people on September 11 in America, and was appalled to learn that some of the perpetrators had learned martial arts. I feel that all serious martial artists must be careful of disclosing their arts to others, in case they are misused. In the case of the head butt however, I feel that street fighters are already aware of its uses and by making others aware of it I am" levelling the field ".
The advantage of the head butt is its speed and tremendous power, and also surprise. The head being used as a weapon could well have developed from English football or "soccer" as all the skills and qualities that need to be learned are well trained in that game. Watch any soccer match and you will notice that when somebody performs a "header " on the ball, what tremendous power and speed is developed. When applied in a fight, this would usually results in an instant knockout or a broken nose, but I am convinced that it could also result in a fatality.
There are really only a few ways to use the head in a fight, but consider this, a boxer also has very few moves and yet boxing is one of the most effective, and in the early stages one of the easiest methods to learn. You must learn firstly, to attack only with your forehead, this is the contact area. To develop power you must bend your knees, pull back at the waist and then lunge forward, your head must aim to contact with your opponents nose, mouth or jaw. To aid this basic attack, a common method is to grab your enemy’s jacket lapels and pull him towards you There are variations to this method Whilst having your right foot forward you may attack to the right side of his head or on the left side, similarly. Alternately, the head may swing in to the right, and then sweep past and, after making contact swing in from the left. - A really nasty one, two combination. - Another method requiring less power is to grab the lapel and only swing the head from the neck, rather like shaking the head, this is infinitely quicker but only marginally less effective and can also easily result in a knockout. These are the basic methods, they may be varied, mixed in with other techniques, such as punches, used to begin or end a fight, in combination with sneak tactics. The possibilities are considerable.
Training these methods is also an easy matter; all you need is a football and an empty piece of wall. Throw the ball up and try and head it at the wall, when it bounces back head it again, keep doing this until you lose contact with the ball, it would take years to develop the skill of a professional football player, but after a short couple of weeks you should be able to use your head really well. Then try practising these simple moves with a friend or good training partner, but beware, always air on the side of caution, be very careful to avoid any contact whatsoever. Women especially can benefit from this type of training, a woman is easily capable of knocking a man out with a head butt, and to see a women use such a method is a real shock.
To defend against a head butt the best defence is awareness, which hopefully you should have after reading this article. There are other methods. If somebody grabs your jacket lapels (he will undoubtedly be using a head butting attack) then bend your knees and lower your head, you will either beat him to the butt or he will smash his face into the top of your head. If somebody lunges at you, to butt you, then try and raise your elbow so that your elbow covers your face, your right palm should be able to cover your right ear from this position. He should then butt the point of your elbow. Be aware though, that this is not a formalised fighting method such as in some styles of karate, when somebody attacks with the head they are much more likely to move like a boxer or a footballer, they should be very light and very quick so be aware and beware. The traditional stance of Uechi-Ryu with the hands held forward is also an excellent method to ward of an attack.
As a final note I have yet to see a martial art that is concerned with the use of the head. I do find it strange that there are methods, which focus primarily on the feet. Many others, before me have talked of the shortcomings of such martial arts .I feel that the head is an infinitely superior choice. It is easier to learn, there is no loss of balance and powerful techniques are guaranteed. Yet, as I say I am unaware of any head based martial art, if anyone is aware of such arts please do contact me.

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