Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Combatives, World War II to the MAC Program

Military combatives aren't new, pre-first world war most soldiers were trained in sword, knife and bayonet. As technology adapted weapons to become more effective the basic idea of unarmed combat fell away...

In America pre-first World War boxing and wrestling were competitive programs offered in public schools. They were also offered to soldiers, sailors and marines as competition oriented sports.

Come World War II the American invasion of Japan, though it lasted only four years, brought American service men closer to Asian martial arts. First, in the form of William E. Fairbairn self-created style of Defendu adopted gung-fu, to his early study of boxing, judo and wrestling. Field stripped to create the first combatives program. Later, as American servicemen gained access to martial arts in Japan both Karate and Judo, schools appeared by former service members at or around military installations.

Military combatives has changed drastically between the World War II and the Vietnam War. Because the core composite of the system relies on a combination of gross motor skills and fine motor skills. As always technology has placed a greater burden on the designers of modern combatives programs.

William E. Fairbairn and Eric Stykes designed systems that used gross motor skills to deliever high impact blows to vital areas. Many "experts" suggest that WW2 Combatives is more lethal because it has the highest casualty rating post conflict between it and Modern Army Combatives (MAC).

The reality is World War 2 had saw more conflict then MAC and that again technology plays a role here that needs to be understood. World War 2 combatives also relies on a time when soldiers didn't wear body armor. Which limits accessible vital targets and, well, if body armor stops bullets muchless fists or feet it makes grappling a preferred option.

Additionally, the World War 2 method was not, strictly a striking art since it did use a some locks, chokes and mostly hold escapes but, did not focus on ground fighting (wrestling) as wrestling was a sport taught in public schools, even after boxing was removed between the later 1960s and early 1980s.

We had a saying the Army "Combatives is just like taking a Self-Defense class at the YMCA. They (the US Military & the YMCA) only teaches you enough to get your ass kicked." Primarily soldiers close with and engage the enemy at close range, bayonet charges for example. Bayonets were the foundation of infantry combat since ancient times when medieval infantry fought with spears and shields and when used by lost Empires before that such as the Greeks, Romans, Persians and Babylonians before that. As technology advanced and soldiers could shoot more accurately, more consistently and more continuously the need for close range fighting with bayonets became of less importance, as well as studies into the medicine, psychology and such found that teaching basic techniques and making exaggerated claims based on one's position as an authority figure was paramount in convincing inexperienced young men on their superiority as soldiers to wage wars and fight in combat.

The "deadly techniques" of combatives were meant to be effective but, were propagandized to make them seem "ultra deadly" so that soldiers would not fear closing with and killing an enemy in combat. This has lead to some equally as propagandized marketing for World War II based combatives.

Vietnam lead to the addition of flak vests and fighting at close range in the jungles or urban areas. This placed a larger focus on Judo's goshinjutsu techniques. With additional training taught in on post Dojos for by veterans to service men or service men to service men. Combatives in the Army and Marine Corps from this era became build around a mix of free style Fairbairn's Defendu based World War 2 combatives and mixed with karate and judo techniques. Based off insights from veteran martial artists and soldier working for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services)

The USMC developed its own combatives program after it dropped the Rex Applegate system, this new system called L.I.N.E. or Linear Infighting Neuro-Override Engagement was seen as too defensive in nature and again judo based.

When the USMC established a MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program), they added a level of expertise to the combatives training with ever progressing levels of training and knowledge.

This in turn with conflicts being fought primarily in urban terrain caused the Army to reexamine combatives. The generation one Modern Army Combatives program was started completely fresh and was designed to create a base of instruction or critical self-defense skills useful for the individual soldier in close combat. The war on terror has shifted the focus of the military to fighting smaller guerrilla style cells,  which abuse the laws of war by recruiting, training and operating in urban settings were the full might of a professional military such as air strikes, cruise missiles and artillery cannot be brought to bear as it would endanger noncombatant civilians.

Generation one MAC relied mainly on the program developed by the Gracie family, now known as Gracie combatives.  While the World War 2 Combatives fans claim "their system" is better,  they overlook a key test of war fighting ability, the ability to not get shot. I would suggest anyone can perform a test of whether a martial art is effective for modern combat by sparring someone use the World War 2 methods and have people shooting paint balls across "ring at each other." Now if you get hit in the head or body, its a kill and you die. Oh yeah, you are a target as well for the shooters. See an issue here?

I am not saying MAC 1 is better, because in gaining a dominant position you can do some damage and still be "grappling effective" with gaining the dominant position and striking vital areas. Something I felt was simple and effective. My additions, inspired by limited training in hand-to-hand combatives of the Vietnam era with veterans in my own family, became a pattern for my own hand-to-hand combat system based on research into the history behind the Fairbairn-Stykes system.

Now I don't know if I had an effect on the MAC program but, according to Matt Larson in an article at Special Operations Combatives Program titled simply, What is Modern Army Combatives. Larson states "Local experts at posts throughout the Army have helped this program along immensely. Those who have been acute enough to know where innovation is needed and open minded enough to understand that the Army’s training program, due to its unique needs, must differ from the training regimen at civilian schools, have contributed immensely. Greg Thompson, in particular, has been one of the principle people involved in that capacity." and goes on to say " In order to improve the hand-to-hand fighting ability of every soldier in a unit, it is necessary to systematically develop skills movement patterns and a strong understanding of fight strategy. The basic techniques described in this book are a blueprint for doing just that. This is the method we use in our first two instructor training courses. Beyond the basic techniques, which must be proscriptive by the nature of the challenge of teaching over a million students, the training must become conceptual, more how to train the technique specific. These techniques should be taken as examples of the type of strategies that work and should point you in the right direction. The nature of today’s military conflicts – the equipment we may be wearing, the missions we find ourselves tasked with – are unique to the battlefield and are constantly changing. To meet these demands, effective Combatives training must be an ever- evolving process. "

Meaning theoretically I could have been one if those "local experts at posts throughout the Army" who are too numerous to name. I think fighting someone on the ground makes you less likely to be shot by people around you. In truth I don't know... I know I never met Matt Larsson and never, that I know of, contributed to MAC Generation 2.

However, I do find it interesting that many if the additional methods I was teaching came to adopted by Matt Larson... Great minds do think a like. (Yes, I made a joke...)

One of the funnier aspects here, is that my World War II Combatives Course and Shadow Warrior Edition of Get Tough is now being cloned, copied and dare I say, perhaps even plagiarized by Barron Shepherd. Honestly, I don't care...

And I wish Barron the best of luck with his Combatives Course and his Professional Edge Edition of Get Tough.  However, I feel the need to express that Barron knows very little about the art he is claiming to teach... To be certified to teach World War 2 Combatives one would need certification either through the Military or, through a civilian school that has a lineage to the Fairbairn-Stykes Defendu system.

While Fairbairn & Stykes taught many people anyone claiming to be certified to teach World War 2 Combatives would need a certification through either an instructor in the military, a civilian who used to be an instructor with the proper certification or a instructor under an instructor who has such certification. As far as I know this basically puts us with Damian Ross of the Self Defense Company who draws his lineage form Carl Cestari.

Now what's truly funny is that after I release a Video Course (a historical training video used to Train British Homeguard during World War 2) and the Shadow Warrior Version of Get Tough. Barron began copying me... First posting a blog about his up coming course December 3rd 2016, just six days after I post a blog about the Shadow Warrior Course.

Barron's Course made just 6 days after I announce the Shadow Warrior World War 2 Combatives Course.
 My announcement on the World War 2 combatives course November 28th 2016.

Barron's Version of Get Tough...
Using the imagery of a World War 2 Combatives technique video found on youtube here. Yet, this video was part of a discussion about the historical combatives training video I use for the World War 2 Combatives Course.

Apparently, Barron seems to ne trying to copy my products but fails to see why I have them. I am not a certified World War 2 Combatives Instructor. I am not a certified MAC instructor under Matt Larson either... I am someone who respects the scientific basis behind the modern combatives movement.

Military combatives is by and large the basis for many self-defense systems. The scientific basis is something I have a great deal of respect for, as well being forward thinking. However, combatives alone is not reality based training.

Reality Based Training and Reality Based Self-Defense are the innovations of Jim Wagner. Who make the term famous in 1998 Black Belt Magazine using a term common to Police Swat Teams but, has its roots in the scientific studies of psychology on soldiers in combat conducted by S. L. A. Marshall and published his 1947 book Men Against Fire. Marshall's research was used by Col. Grossman in his 1996 book On Killing.

My interest in combatives is the science behind the methods and tactics, beyond simple tradition. Reality based training is also an area of scientific research and expression. One of the reasons, I was teaching hand-to-hand combatives to my fellow soldiers was because of culture and level unarmed fighting skills which part od the culture of the two Koreas. In both Koreas Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido are part of culture and modern sports in their nations. This means in addition to whatever hand-to-hand combat training a soldier got, ROK soldiers had training drown from TKD, Judo and a Korean form of wrestling similar to Sumo. So I felt soldiers in Korea needed additional training in stand up striking, grappling and infighting.

Martial Arts, Self- Defense systems and Fighting Styles should be able to adapt to the theater of conflict and social settings. Finally, anything claiming to be reality based should include pre-fight and post-fight elements. This means it should have a basis for understanding criminal methods and tactics, sociological and psychological ques as well as a use of force scale or, sometimes called a use of force ladder, and a means of dealing with de-escalation as well as, dealing with police investigation and one's rights under the law.

For example, it is a crime in West Virginia for me to give you legal advice because I have not passed the BAR. However, I can just as easily point you toward published material by the ACLU about your rights when dealing with the police and protecting yourself during an investigation. Of your combatives calls itself "reality based" it is trying to claim that "its" strikes, eye gouges and groin shots are some how different then another art...

In fact, the term reality based self-defense is often used by self-defense instructors to make themselves sound more creditable and effective then "martial arts" that teach self-defense they are "reality based self-defense."

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