The Gutter Fighting DVD

William Ewart Fairbairn is a key figure in the history of western close combat.   His legacy includes instructional manuals such as Get tough! and, together with Eric Anthony Sykes, Shooting to Live.

These men are perhaps most famous for their connection to the British dagger produced in World War Two that bears their names: the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife.   But apart from a few of pages in his book Get tough! there is little direct documentary evidence of Fairbairn's approach to knife fighting.

The Gutter Fighting DVD reproduces two films made by Fairbairn in 1944 while he was on secondment to the US Office of Strategic Services. Until now these films were considered by many to be lost forever.

The film The Fighting Knife is the only known footage of Fairbairn showing the details of his now legendary approach to using the commando knife in combat.




The film Unarmed shows Fairbairn demonstrating many strategic and technical aspects of his repertoire, including the 'tiger claw' and a range of kicking techniques.


Each film was originally produced with English and non-English soundtracks.   The films that have been reproduced on the Gutter Fighting DVD both have non-English soundtracks: The Fighting Knife is in Greek, Unarmed in German.

Copies of the original written scripts for both films were also found.   In several places the films and their non-English soundtracks vary significantly from the scripts.   For example some scenes in the film are missing from the script, or appear in a different order, while some parts of the non-English soundtracks do not seem to be in the scripts.

Selected text from the scripts has been adapted to create optional English subtitles for both films.   Every effort was made to maintain the historical integrity of the films by only using text from the written scripts.

The release of the Gutter Fighting DVD is a significant contribution to the available resources on the history of western close combat.   In particular it is a goldmine for those students of military history who want to understand why Fairbairn was once referred to as the greatest of 'the greatest of them all'1.

1 Yeaton, K. et al. (1996) The First Commando Knives [Phillips Publications NJ] p28

 The Gutter Fighting DVD is in NTSC format.
Go to Preview for a small sample of both films.
Go to Developing the subtitles for more details of that process.