What is combatives part 1.


Combatives started with the training of the United States military. sometimes called Close Quarter Combat (CQC ) , it was developed to train soldiers for hand to hand fighting. the goal was to have a reliable and easily taught system.  combatives were largely developed by Britain’s William E. Fairbairn and  Eric A. Sykes. Also known for their eponymous Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife, Fairbairn and Sykes had worked in the British Armed Forces and helped teach the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) quick, effective, and simple techniques for fighting with or without weapons in melee situations. Fairbairn had been in hundreds of confrontations during his time in Shanghai.  He had spent some time learning Chinese martial art moves as well as boxing and wrestling. After adding some Savate, Yoshin Ryu jujustsu and Judo to his studies he created his own system of fighting.  His method was different from previous concepts in that Fairbairn emphasised the necessity of forgetting any idea of gentlemanly conduct or fighting fair: “Get tough, get down in the gutter, win at all costs… I teach what is called ‘Gutter Fighting.’ There’s no fair play, no rules except one: kill or be killed,”.

Traditional Asian Martial arts are culturally tied to concepts of Spirituality, Buddhism or Shintoism and cultivating peace and harmony. Asian martial arts are viewed as a method of self development as well as self defense.  Combatives separates the techniques from the cultural elements and focuses on the practicality and effectiveness of combative behavior.


In 2001, Matt Larsen, then a Sergeant First Class, established the United States Army Combatives School at Fort Benning.  Larsens martial arts backround started when he was stationed overseas in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan with the Marine detachment at Naval Air Facility Atsugi. During this time Larsen began training in judo, Shotokan karate, and traditional boxing. He continued his training in martial arts when he was transferred to Okinawa with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment. He trained in Shōbayashi Shōrin-ryū with Eizo Shimabukuro and continued his judo training. He also trained Sayoc Kali in the Philippines.  He utilized his martial arts training, having also attained black belts in several disciplines including Brazilian Jiu-jitsu under Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti and Russian Sambo, and merged them into a single, effective fighting style which became the military MACP program. Students are taught techniques from the 2002 and 2009 versions of FM 3-25.150 (Combatives), written by Larsen. The aim of the regimen is to teach soldiers how to train rather than attempting to give them the perfect techniques for any given situation. The main idea is that all real ability is developed after the initial training and only if training becomes routine. The initial techniques are simply a learning metaphor useful for teaching more important concepts, such as dominating an opponent with superior body position during ground grappling or how to control someone during clinch fighting. They are taught as small, easily repeatable drills, in which practitioners could learn multiple related techniques rapidly. For example, Drill One teaches several techniques: escaping blows, maintaining the mount, escaping the mount, maintaining the guard, passing the guard, assuming side control, maintaining side control, preventing and assuming the mount. The drill can be completed in less than a minute and can be done repeatedly with varying levels of resistance to maximize training benefits.


Combatives and martial arts both continue to evolve.  Today, combatives programs are taught not only within the military but are also popular with civilians.  while the program content may be different for the general public than what is taught to branches of the service, the basics and the philosophy that underlies the training is the same.

The defining element is that civilian combatives are devoid of the more common Asian flavor or sport oriented backdrop.  It is a bare bones effective methodology of human combative behavior.  Asian martial arts were the initial inspiration and seeds sown to develop western combatives,  but today’s combative training are simple, effective and devastating.  Perhaps they are more in line with where the Asian martial arts themselves originated.

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