Site Meter Streets of Shanghai / Reserve Unit
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Buried in cloud files? We can help with Spring cleaning!

    Whether you use Dropbox, Drive, G-Suite, OneDrive, Gmail, Slack, Notion, or all of the above, Dokkio will organize your files for you. Try Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) for free today.

  • Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) was #2 on Product Hunt! Check out what people are saying by clicking here.


Reserve Unit

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 1 month ago


Reserve Unit




The SMP's Reserve Unit (a.k.a. the Riot Squad) was formed by William Fairbairn in the late 1920s. Its main function is to put down riots but it also handles the bloodier end of cases involving kidnapping, armed robbery and armed sieges of criminal hideouts. Members of the unit also sometimes guard dignitaries and valuable cargoes, for a fee.


The unit has a dedicated sniper detachment, headed by Eric Anthony Sykes, a close friend of unit commander Fairbairn. The unit trains in the "Mystery House", a space designed to simulate close quarters fighting. It is a replica of a Chinese apartment, filled with pop-up targets depicting both friend and foe, as well as aural distractions, intended to train the officers in instinctive close combat shooting in as realistic an environment as possible.



All Reserve Unit officers receive training in unarmed combat. They use Tommyguns loaded with shotgun cartridges (ostensibly to reduce serious wounds) as well as steel vests and bulletproof shields (though these are not so bulletproof that the RU don't prefer to fire first). They are known for their distinctive red armoured buses, known as the Red Marias.




William Fairbairn


William Ewart Fairbairn was born in Rickmansworth near London, the 28th of February 1885. He joined the Royal Marines at 16, serving with them for six years, stationed at Chatham, in China and briefly with the British legation in Korea. He joined the SMP in 1907, where he was very quickly appointed a firearms instructor. He became assistant drill instructor in 1912.

Fairbairn had been known as a brawler and bayonet fighter in the Marines, where he developed several new bayonet techniques. From 1908 on, he trained extensively in various Oriental martial arts, including Jujitsu and Bagua (the latter under a former instructor of the Chinese imperial court). In 1931 he received a second degree black belt from Tokyo's Kodokan Judo University. From these studies he developed Defendu, a system of physical training and martial arts geared towards police use. He first published a handbook describing his system in 1926.


Fairbairn soon became the SMP's chief instructor in close combat techniques and firearms training. Fairbairn, who was an excellent shot, wrote manuals on instinctive shooting and proper pistol technique. He formed and commanded the Reserve Unit, and trained the NYPD and British Army Small Arms School in pistol shooting. He retired from the SMP in 1940 and began instructing the SOE as well as other covert operations units in Canada and the US. After the War, he trained riot squads in Cyprus and Singapore.

Though tall and strong, Fairbairn seems, at first glance, a rather quiet fellow and not terribly prepossessing. He is short-sighted and wears glasses even when out on a raid with the Reserve Squad. He has a wife and two children – a son and a daughter.






Above: William Fairbairn (right-hand photo from 1942)








Defendu was developed in the mid-20s by William Fairbairn, based on his extensive martial arts training, incorporating elements of Jujitsu, Bagua, the Sikh martial art Gatka, and street fighting. Defendu is expressly designed for police work and so concentrates on arrest, restraint and self-defence. Techniques include locks, choke holds, disarmament, breakfalls and the use of the baton.



Fairbairn himself describes it as “a number of drastic and admittedly unpleasant forms of defence”. He maintains, however, that such techniques are necessary if one is to defend oneself against criminal types.






Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.