“Special Forces Unarmed Combat Guide” by Martin J. Dougherty, “Satori” by Don Winslow, and “The Informationist” by Taylor Stevens

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The only way you can learn to win a fight is to lose a lot of fights. Sure, in the movies those ninja-black-bell-hells-angels-MMA tough guys whip out a blinding flurry of punches followed by a Chuck Norris round house kick and –WHAM- the bad guy goes down after barely landing a punch.

Sadly, that isn’t real.

Nor is the reverse. That’s the scene where Stallone, Shwarzenegger or Duane “The Rock” Johnson throws a single blow that lands with the force of an atomic blast. Teeth, hair, blood and other bodily fluids spray into the atmosphere and the bad guy is down for the count.

In the real world it doesn’t happen that way.

Long ago in a dojo far, far away, my experienced, black belt sensei had his clock cleaned by a young Marine who had just completed basic unarmed combat training. There were no fancy moves. No fancy throws. Afterwards, the Marine said. “Those martial arts sports are great. They teach you skills. They help you get fit. But they take too longer to learn..”

Special Forces Unarmed Combat Guide

So, if you want to feel safe walking down the gritty dark streets of a major metropolitan area without an Uzi or maybe you just want to teach your kid how to keep the local bully from stealing his lunch money, check out “Special Forces Unarmed Combat Guide” by Martin J. Dougherty (Metro Books, $11.50, 320 pages, soft cover).

The first section is about being aware. Avoiding dangerous places. Watching for suspicious people. Often the best option is to get the heck out of Dodge before things reach the level of violent physical aggression.

But sometimes it is impossible to avoid confrontation. If you find yourself in that unfortunate situation, the practical techniques from “Unarmed” can be worth its weight in blood. Your blood.

Learn where to hit, punch, pull and tear to cause maximum damage and prevent painful, personal injury. Eye jabs, the knee defense (otherwise known as knee ‘em where it hurts). “Unarmed” is valuable advice in an easy to read style.


“Satori” by Don Winslow (Hachette Book Group, $25.99, 504 pages, www.donwinslow.com).

Once an author named Rodney Whitaker wrote under the pseudonym, Trevanian. His first novel, “The Eiger Sanction,” was an international bestseller. Sadly he passed away in 2005 and his lead character, Nicholai Hel appeared to be no more.

Enter Don Winslow, a thriller writer with a diverse pedigree. Not content to write a continuing character series like Spenser or Hammer, Winslow’s characters are more diverse. His novels “The Dawn Patrol” and “The Winter of Frankie Machine,” rank high on the Grit Lit’s good reads list.

In “Satori” Winslow brings Nicholai Hel back to life. If you haven’t met Nicholai, here’s a glimpse into one of the thriller genres most fascinating characters. Hel is best and inaccurately described as Bond on steroids. He is a genius, a mystic, the perfect assassin, a master of hoda korosu (naked kill), fluent in seven languages and has a highly honed proximity sense that gives him an extraordinary awareness of the presence of danger.

Any Nicholai Hell novel, by Trevanian or Winslow, is guaranteed outstanding.

The Informationist

“The Informationist” by Taylor Stevens (Crown Publishers, $23, 307 pages, www.taylorstevensbooks.com).

Vanessa “Michael” Munroe sells information, expensive information gathered, often at great personal risk, to corporations, heads of state and private clients. The folks who hire Munroe aren’t looking for information that can be found with Google. They want information that can be leveraged to make millions. Data that can destroy economies or topple governments.

In “Informationist” a Texas oil billionaire asks Munroe to find his daughter who disappeared in Africa. While this isn’t her usual line of work, she can’t resist the very will paying challenge.

A debut novel by an exciting new talent, “Informationist” is captivating with glittering writing and power on every page. It hits like an unarmed combat professional.

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