In Search of Efficiency Part Seventeen: Swallow and Smother

Sensei Canna offers insight into the real world of self defense!

Moderator: Van Canna

In Search of Efficiency Part Seventeen: Swallow and Smother

Postby Rick Wilson » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:27 pm

In Search of Efficiency Part Seventeen: Swallow and Smother

In my book on knife defence, “Watch Out For the Pointy End” I have these brief descriptions of what the principles of swallow and smother mean:

Swallow: “To engulf, absorb, make disappear. I want you to think of an amoeba enveloping its food. If you are a horror movie fan think of the movie “Alien” where the alien rips out of the human’s chest, only run the film backward sucking the alien in. BUT always remember it is done as you step.”

Smother: To stifle, cover entirely, to suppress, to leave no room even for air. This is vital you want to ****** that weapon arm into to you as YOU move to it. Leave no room at all. Smother it into your chest. Like a vacuum-sealed bag, ****** all the air out between you and the part of the Aggressor you are wanting to control. Think bone crushing to bone.

You can see by the repetition that when you use these principles on, for example on a limb of the Aggressor, you do not bring the limb to you, you move to the limb and envelope it.

This may seem like some small difference but the difference in effect of the two moves is drastic.

The first issue in pulling a limb to you is that you must be able to move that limb. Sometimes either due to positioning or the size and strength of the Aggressor that may not be easily accomplished. Recall that the first principle covered in this series was “move you not them” and the reason is the fact you can often move yourself even when you can’t move them. I have seen smaller people in drills struggling to move the limb of a much bigger partner when they simply could move to the limb or around the limb.

Therefore, it is often easy to move to the limb you want to swallow and control rather than bring it to you.

The other benefit is that often by doing the swallowing as you step does in fact affect their balance and structure.

Once you have swallowed the arm then you must smother it by leaving no air or room between the part of your body being used and the part of their body being smothered.

I’m going to borrow some pictures from my book to illustrate what I mean and to introduce the fact that all the principles in this series do not happen in isolation they are stacked and combined to exponentially affect the Aggressor. (Note the eBook has colour pictures while the print has excellent black and white.)

In this first picture I want to move me to the Aggressor and swallow his arm with my right. As you can see just moving to the Aggressor and swallowing the arm I have bent the Aggressor over. Now, if I had brought his arm to me that would not have happened. Which means I have used the principle of move you not them to not only swallow but to take their balance and affect their structure.


In the second picture you can see that my arm has moved up and covered the Aggressor’s arm by the end of my step and it is now swallowed, and now I smother leaving no room between my wrist bone and their arm, which allows me to bone slave that arm to me. You will also note that I am not “grabbing” the arm but pinning it. It is also important to use the wrist bone to pin and not the flat of your wrist.


We do not only have one arm so as I am stepping to swallow the arm with my right arm, and since we know moving to the arm already will affect the Aggressor’s structure, I enhance that by using my left arm to shear the Aggressor’s arm as I step and swallow. This picture shows the positioning to perform the shear.


The final picture shows total effect. By moving me not them I can easily do this move but you will also note that all the movements – my step and the actions on their arms, all of them are done into empty space. The stepping to them not bringing them to me affects their balance. The shear affects their balance. The swallowing so that I can bone slave that weapon arm gives me control (at that moment) over the weapon arm.


To obtain any kind of control over a part of the aggressor you need to be able to swallow and smother. Not the only approach but a good one. To swallow means to move so you surround what you want to control. To smother means to leave no room between what you want to control and you.

As you can see from this post all the principles can come together in one simple action.
Rick Wilson -
User avatar
Rick Wilson
Posts: 608
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:43 am
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Return to Van Canna's Self Defense Realities

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests