Defendu is a modern martial art developed in England by Lt. Colonel William E. Fairbairn. It is a hand to close-quarter, hand-to-hand combat system based on jujutsu that was developed to train the Shanghai Municipal Police, and was later taught in expanded form to Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Special Operations Executive (SOE) members during World War II. It is rooted in the harsh and brutal realities of real world violence.
Throughout a thirty year career with the Shanghai Military Police, Fairbairn made an in depth study of almost every known form of close combat. He was able to test these methods in actual combat against determined and often armed criminals.
Based on his judo training at the famed Kodokan School in Tokyo, and fights he was involved in during his police work, Fairbairn began to develop his own system of hand-to-hand combat, Defendu. He additionally added many jujutsu techniques and also techniques from various Chinese martial arts. Defendu was designed to be simple to learn and provide effective results.
In 1926, Fairbairn published a book about his methods. These methods were referred to as a system called "Defendu". However, the term confused early readers of the book, who assumed that the techniques within had some basis in the Eastern martial arts that Fairbairn had learned. When the book was reprinted in 1931, the term did not appear in the book in order to clarify his methods and materials. This system was geared primarily towards self defense. Fairbairn published several more books on the subject of self defense, all of which referred to the term "Defendu" only in relation to the earlier book.
Fairbairn was later called upon by the British to help train Allied troops in World War II. He and others expanded on the system to create the Close Quarters Combat (CQC) system. The CQC was built on Defendu, but modified for military applications rather than for police. The later system concentrated on rapid disabling of an opponent, with potentially lethal force.
Later commissioned in the British Commandos, Fairbairn was ordered to teach a lethal version of his system at the Commando school in Scotland. A U.S. Army officer learned these highly effective skills at the commando school and also taught them to U.S. troops including the Marines and Rangers as well as OSS operatives and later to the FBI and CIA as the foundation of their basic training.
Once the British Commando School in Scotland was able to produce its own qualified instructors, Fairbairn was sent to Canada to teach his system to Allied special forces at the most highly classified training operation of WWII, Camp X. Agents were trained in depth to dispose of their enemy quickly and quietly with brutal effectiveness. Following his instruction at Camp X, Fairbairn was helped form the United States Camp B, now known as Camp David.
This introduction of 'The Fairbairn Fighting System' at Camp X in conjunction with input from many highly skilled instructors with various backgrounds helped develop fighting skills that followed a progression and refinement. Since WWII, Defendu has been adopted by a large number of police agencies throughout Canada and the U.S. including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.