Combatives Founders

Sykes and Fairbairn in WW2

SykesWhen WW2 broke out Sykes and Fairbairn moved back to England where the pair was to instruct the British Commandos and later the Special Air Service (S.A.S. - formed by David Stirling) in the use of weapons and hand to hand combat. It was at the Lochailort, Auchinraith, Aston House (Station 12), Inverailort, Achnacarry and other schools and Training Centres in Scotland that Sykes worked with Fairbairn. Sykes’ particular specialty was armed combat and to aid the allies he developed firearm sights for night use, silencers and various covert weapons. He too was a pioneer of the instinctive point shooting system probably more than Fairbairn.

When Fairbairn moved over to the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) at the behest of “Wild” Bill Donovan, Sykes went with him. In 1941 Sykes and Fairbairn designed, developed and made the famous Fairbairn/Sykes combat dagger that was used extensively by Allied Commandos during WW2.

This double edged knife was made specifically for killing and together Sykes, Fairbairn and Applegate, whom they met there and befriended, developed a complete method of knife techniques around this dagger. The Fairbairn/Sykes design type is still used by many military today. Eric Sykes had become an expert in knife combat and was known to train with a live blade. His teaching method first instructed students on how to hold the knife and in order to gain a good “feel” for the knife he would have them pass it from hand to hand, thrusting technique was taught next and how to utilise the free hand to protect or grab with. Carry and concealment was the next step. The final stage of training was sentry removal techniques how to search prisoners, secure prisoners and movement with a prisoner.

Knife by Fairbairn - Sykes