DFM Martial Arts 

Mixed Martial Arts and Modern Combat Systems

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Directional Fighting Method Principles

About The Method

Directional Fighting Method is a modern, reality-based self-defence and combat system.

It is designed so students cover all the areas of self-protection and self-defence. It has no sport element to it.

DFM uses modern theories such as flinch and freeze and body language techniques and blends these with old martial theories such as the centreline, three point touch, the power of the circle and high-low theories etc.

The areas covered by the DFM syllabus include evasive blocking, punching, kicking and striking, break falling, unbalancing and takedowns, sweeps and throws, ground defence and locks, chokes and submissions, yielding and flowing.

Students also learn walking cane (hanbo), five and six foot staff (jo and bo), single and double stick (rattan cane), sword (ken) and how to defend against weapons such as knives, bottles and baseball bats.
The system draws on a number of sources including boxing, kickboxing, Ju-jutsu (Japanese and Brazilian), Ninjutsu, Judo, Kali, Wado Ryu and Shotokan Karate, and grappling.

The system uses the eight angles of evasion (represented by the badge and known as the Method’s Grid) to teach students techniques and principles and their limitations. Students then have a better understanding how techniques work, which is the best angle to evade down and which to enter in. The grid is a training tool that can be used for solo practice.

Students are also taught Conflict Resolution Techniques. These are the methods taught to professionals such as the police, NHS doctors and nurses, social services, journalists plus many more.

Club Ethos

DFM does not claim or attempt to be a mystic system that will make someone a better person.

We do not as instructors claim to be better moral animals than our students. To do so would go against both common sense and humility. How can an instructor say he has a higher moral understanding and consciousness than another person?
However – this does NOT mean there is no ethos to DFM training.

The Core Ethos is Respect. This includes not only respect for the instructor and fellow club members but also others.

Below is the system’s code. This should be taught in classes to all students.

·        Always be respectful to others and show consideration.

·        Never attack first in thought.

·        Only use your skills to defend yourself, loved ones or in the defence of law and order.

·        Be open-minded about martial arts and people.

·        Help those less fortunate than yourselves and support your fellow club members.

·        Be clean for training.

·        Always follow the instructor’s commands and stop immediately if ordered to.

·        Do not bring DFM into disrepute.

·        Always put the need ofNi
always done in a circle to show equality. Show equality to everyone regardless of race, gender, religion, disability or culture.

As well as respect each student and instructor must be responsible both for and about the techniques and system as a whole.

Exploration And Being Open-Minded

Another DFM ethos is having an open mind about techniques and other systems. Again this is about respect.

But it is also so instructors and students alike don’t fall into the old trap of styles. This trap happens when systems become set in stone and techniques not ‘approved’ become ‘outside’ the system despite having many merits.

The DFM Concept is to assimilate old ideas to produce new techniques and varieties. There is no real ‘end’ to DFM or a definitive set of techniques that encapsulate DFM. This is because the system is eclectic and draws on a number of different martial art sources.

If an instructor learns a new movement that fits in with the central principles and theories of DFM – or can be modified to do so – then it is perfectly acceptable to add that idea or principle to their DFM. This is to be encouraged because DFM is not a style but a Method, a way of doing things not the way of doing things. This means there is no end to DFM and no bar on the assimilation of knowledge from any source. But it must fit in with the DFM principles or be able to fit in. Otherwise it will not be a ‘natural’ movement to the students and this may cause it to fail in a real situation.

The basis of assimilation of technique is the Grid. Think how the movements already in DFM already work on the grid and use their principles such as yielding, covering, entering in etc to connect the new technique into the system.

Students should be encouraged to explore techniques using the Grid. They should be shown different variants and be shown how these relate to the Grid.

Freestyle Drills are a method that can be used for exploring evasion, blocks and strikes. Because it is up to the student what combinations they employ and in what order these drills teach students how change from movement to movement freely.

Evade Block and Strike Silmultaneously

Flinch and Freeze are the smaller components of Fight and Flight. When attacked the body reacts in one of two ways. It either Flinches and moves or Freezes to the spot. These reactions are an evolutionary response to danger and are autonomic (meaning they are not triggered by conscious thought but rather to a stimulus such as a fist or something rushing towards you).

DFM uses Flinch in its guard positions and blocking principles.

When people naturally flinch they instinctively move away (Evade) from the stimulus, either by moving their feet or by twisting or tilting their upper body away from the stimulus. They also usually bring their hands towards the stimulus to form a cover or block.

Think how you naturally react when some one jumps out on you unexpectedly – that is flinch (or freeze!) in action.

A Core DFM Principle is to combine this flinch action with a counter-strike.

However, if you simply evade and block that is one movement to the attacker’s one movement.

If you don’t combine these elements together with a counter-strike you must make two movements to go on the offensive. If your opponent threw the first strike then – like a game of chess – he will react to your movement. He has the initiative, as it were, as his second movement (another punch) will be following close behind his first. Or, alternatively, counter your counter.

The evasion-block-strike principle melds these into one movement so the evasion-block is either a counter-strike or a set up for a counter-strike.

By using the evade-block-strike principle you are using one movement and cutting down the attacker’s reaction time.

(Example: Brushing Block Vs straight punch.)


Flowing from one technique or movement to another is a core principle of DFM.

Its important one movement begets another movement so everything flows continuously.

Some systems will throw one counter to one attack. DFM throws multiple attacks to one attack to overcome an opponent.  A jab should help throw the cross the roundhouse kick the hook the hook should trigger the back knee press etc.

The idea is deny the opponent a chance to re-achieve the initiative. Multiple strikes to targets that cause pain are demoralising as well as painful (however – they need not be permanently damaging).

Flowing also cuts time down between movements meaning less reaction time for your opponent.

Flowing also makes harder for your opponent to read your full intent. A flow with punches can distract an opponent so they don’t see a stamp kick for instance.

Balance Stealing

Balance Stealing is another core principle of DFM.

If an opponent is fighting for his balance he isn’t fighting you. DFM actively looks to steal an attacker’s balance at any opportunity.

This can be done in a number of different ways.

The Three Point Theory: If you are in contact with opponent on three separate parts of their body you can destroy their balance (outer axe entry-with foot press).

The Power of Circular movements: This class of technique can be used to redirect energy and to unbalance (neck throw)

Angling: This is the art of using the optimum angle not only to evade-block-strike but also to steal their balance.

Section two’s semi-free fighting movements for example.

Balance Stealing is a core element of grappling and takedowns. When applying locks and takedown you should be ‘ragging’ the opponent around so they cannot regain the initiative. To do this you must be working on more than ‘dimension’ and use principles such as High-Low, Circles and Angling and body mechanics to achieve this constant unbalancing action.

The moment an opponent can regain his balance is the moment they can attack you. Keep the initiative at all costs.

The Four Elements

There are four basic elements to unarmed combat.

 These are:

1)     Strikes: punches, strikes and kicks.

2)     Locking and trapping

3)     Takedowns

4)     Grappling (both upright and on ground)

The DFM syllabus covers all these areas because it is a rounded martial arts system designed to give the defender the tools for any situation.

Again the principle of flow is important when moving through from one element to another. This allows the defender to keep the initiative while moving from say a striking combination to a takedown. The principles of angling and unbalancing are also factors while flowing from one element to another.

This does not mean that you must go through the elements as if they are a sequence of pre-determined moves. A defender using DFM could immediately go to a takedown and finish there. Alternatively he could strike first then go to a standing grapple, followed by a takedown and ground grappling and ultimately apply a lock.

A DFM student by brown belt must be able to defend themselves in any and all of the four elements.

STRIKES: The Core Principle of striking is to strike hard, strike fast and keep on striking at multiple targets. One technique begets another. Most people can defend one or two incoming blows because they have (generally) two arms. Their brain is divided into two with the left controlling the right hand side of the body and the right the left. Adding a third or fourth, or more, strikes overcomes the brain’s reactions to the incoming stimuli (strikes) – in other words it gets confused.

In DFM the High-Low principle is used to overcome the attacker’s defence when using strikes. If you punch to an attacker’s head they will open up their body to a low strike, and vice-versa. A defender could use a combination of punches, such as a jab (head), reverse punch (body) hook (head) front kick (shin).

The Penetration Principle should be applied when striking so the full force goes through the target. Pad practice should be used to drill this principle.

DFM is primarily an in-fighting system. Exponents should be looking to close the gap when striking and maintaining the fighting range until resistance is over come through multiple striking, locks etc.

Kicks should be directed to the body and legs and not go above chest height. This is because high kicks lack good balance and can be difficult to perform in many environments (cobbles, soft or uneven surfaces, wet and icy conditions etc). If there is a need to kick an opponent in the head bring the head down to chest level or on the ground beforehand. Kicks should always be directed to pain points (ankle point, mid thigh-inner outer, groin, shin, solar plexus etc).

LOCKS: The principles used in DFM locking techniques are distractions, unbalancing, flow, circles and angling.

It is very difficult to apply a lock on a static person. This is because the brain is able to deal with one single task – stopping the lock being applied (see striking). By stealing their balance and flowing with the movement into the lock it can be applied much easier. Their brain on an instinctive level recognises the inherent danger in falling over. This becomes their primary focus of resistance. The lock is fully applied before they see its danger. In this sense unbalancing is a distraction rather than a takedown – it disguises the defender’s true intent.

When using distractions such as slapping, eye brushes and jabs, low kicks, pain point strikes and unbalancing they should flow from the entry movement into the locks to cut reaction time down (section two semi-free fighting) 

In DFM locks are generally applied using circular motions of the joints, particularly the wrist and elbows (inner and outer locks, bent arm lock etc).

Using the optimum angles (Your Method) for the technique and environment (small corridors walls etc) to apply the locks a defender should always apply a lock from an angle which puts them in the better position in terms of both defence and offence.

(section six - (attacker): wrist grab-punch/(defender): arm check-distraction-inner take-off/ vertical bent arm lock).

TAKEDOWNS: The core principle of DFM takedowns is it should be completed in three but preferably less moves. The three moves could include a distraction or entry or both, or a meld such side fold as well as strikes etc. But if a takedown takes more than three moves then generally it will fail. This comes back to the principle that people will instinctively resist being taken to the ground. Once it becomes apparent that is the defender’s intent, then the opponent will actively seek to overcome being taken down. Using more than three moves allows his brain to register your intent. By flowing from strikes into takedowns or up-right grappling etc means you are cutting down reaction time.

To achieve this core principle takedown techniques are taught over and over again but from different entries until the student understands if they are in one position they can transition from one element to another through a range of techniques (This idea also applies to all the Four Elements). 

For instance, lifting an opponent’s arm upwards while pushing down on their head as if attempting a head roll takedown can also be used to knee the attacker in the head and then apply a vertical arm bar or a back bent arm lock etc.

GRAPPLING:  On the street ninety-nine per cent of fights start from a standing position and then ninety per cent up with either both people or one ending up in a ground position. This is why Grappling plays a very important part of DFM.

The core principle of DFM grappling is to always seek to get to the better, more dominant position from where to finish the struggle.

Again the principle of Flow is important in this element but is subservient to the core principle of dominance. 

In ground fighting a student should first look to achieve a better position before they can launch a counter-strike or finishing technique. Poor position will see any technique likely fail because the student will not be able to apply it fully or correctly.

To achieve the better position may take several movements some of which need to be done slower than can be achieved from a standing position. Thus flowing smoothly and quickly from technique to technique in a standing position sense is not always possible and sometimes is detrimental to grappling techniques.

However, this doesn’t mean there is no flow principle in grappling. Once a dominant position has been established and a finishing technique undertaken its individual components should flow methodically towards their conclusion – the finishing technique’s application. Failure to flow and cut down reaction time will likely see it fail otherwise.

In Stand-up Grappling the core principle is unbalancing.

On the Street if a fight isn’t finished with a couple of punches and both are still standing it usually ends up in Stand-up Grappling, with strikes added in. This is because when people are threatened their brain is taken over by its most primitive part. They are not fighting in a ‘style’ but instinctively.

Because humans have effectively two grabbing implements in the shape of hands an attacker will often instinctively grab a defender to close the gap. If you just meet force head on, and they are stronger then eventually you will lose because their strength will win out.

This is where the principles of unbalancing and yielding using circles and angling become vitally important.


DFM practises defences against weapons and using them. This is because to understand how a weapon works you must be able to use it.

The weapons grades are as follows:

1)     basic single and double stick

2)     basic hanbo (walking stick)

3)     basic knife and advanced double stick

4)     basic bo staff and advanced hanbo

5)     basic sword and advanced bo staff

6)     advanced knife and advanced sword

(See weapon grades for more details)