martial and combative arts

This is our last installment on “defining” the parameters of COMBATIVES.

I’m sure some will miss the point, but it must be emphasized that this material is historical fact and is accurate in substance and detail. It is an objective view of combatants and NOT a subjective opinion or personal “definition” designed to fill an agenda of one kind or another.

The Battle of Britain began in early July 1940. England was isolated, isolated, and alone. The miraculous retreat from Dunkirk and the German “Blitzkrieg” across Europe, including the crushing tactical defeat of the famous French “Maginot Line”, demonstrated that the Third Reich’s war machine was virtually unstoppable. Hitler’s plan for the invasion of England, dubbed “Operation Sea Lion,” was a daily focal point of danger and concern for the British.

Dunkirk had decimated the British forces and morale was at an all time low. Two British colonial government veterans who recently returned to Shanghai, China have approached the War Office and offered their services at this desperate time. William Ewart Fairbairn, a retired high-ranking officer of the Shanghai Municipal Police and his partner Eric Anthony Sykes, a private arms dealer who served as a “volunteer” in the SMP and led the “sniper” unit of the notorious Squad Shanghai riot police. he promised the War Office that his training and methods could in a short time make “any man equal to ten”. After the debacle at Dunkirk, this was a MOST important and dramatic statement. Initially dismissed, these two men went on to PROVE the veracity of their words and convinced the powers that be as to the absolute effectiveness of their methods. If that meant a middle-aged WE Fairbairn had to admit several young males to the hospital to prove his point in an impromptu, but VERY realistic “demonstration”, then so be it. Those who “tried” Sykes did NOT fare any better. So the methods these men had developed over decades of very dangerous work in Shanghai now became an integral and highly valued part of training for all British forces and Special Operations personnel.

The attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, together with the coordinated attack by the Imperial Japanese armed forces against all American and British forces in the Pacific Rim, drew the United States firmly into this world conflagration. Now we were in the middle of a war with the Axis forces. Fairbairn, who was now in Canada, assigned to the infamous “Camp X” (where along with WEF “unarmed combat” experts and George de Relwyskow was a BRAZILIAN JUDO/JUJUTSU EXPERT, Hmmm……. Colonel Carl Eifler was ALREADY receiving training here) was ordered to assist the US government agency known as “The Office of the Co-Coordinator of Intelligence”, the forerunner of the OSS. Eric Anthony Sykes remained in England and found his services in great demand. He also found himself working under the auspices of the British covert force known as the Special Operations Executive.

The story of these men from the early days of Shanghai to the war years is a complete story in itself and beyond the scope of this article. However, it must be clearly understood that the contribution of these men had a profound effect and influence on hand-to-hand combat methods, tactics and techniques for DECADES after the war. Despite the often-heard “argument” that we have somehow “evolved” beyond these methods, we will drop this notion in future articles. However, they were certainly NOT the only “experts” involved in this field. An example (one of many) would be AJ Drexel-Biddle, who studied and trained extensively in boxing, Savate, jiu-jitsu, fencing, knife fighting, and various bayonet methods.

As the United States prepared for war, an important factor began to be publicized. Both here and in Australia, the press made a lot of emphasis on the superiority of the Japanese fighter. Part of this was undoubtedly rooted in the facts. The Battle of Port Arthur, the turning point in the Russo-Japanese War, several decades earlier, had shown the world the tenacity and ferocity of the Japanese soldier, particularly in the area of ​​hand-to-hand combat. Much was made of the large Russian soldier meeting abject defeat at the hands of his smaller Japanese adversary when he engaged in hand-to-hand combat (hence a very obvious impetus for the creation of Sombo). Jiu-jitsu received worldwide attention and notoriety in this regard. The Japanese conduct of their war in China also showed the world a seemingly invincible and unstoppable force. A force that was brutal and deadly in the extreme.

Much attention was paid to training American and allied forces in methods that would enable the average soldier to face the Japanese combatant on an equal footing. ALL branches of the Armed Forces began an intensive physical training program designed to meet these needs. Much of the necessary “expert” training, particularly in the field of man-to-man hand-to-hand combat, came from the civilian sector. Men with a vast and varied lifetime of experience in all forms of “combativity” were recruited to create training programs that would give the Allied soldier the means to engage his enemies up close. The Axis did the same, of course, with Japan being the obvious factor in this regard, BUT even Adolf Hitler proclaimed the absolute necessity of boxing and jiu-jitsu in military training, as it imparted courage and daring to the average soldier to close with his enemy.

In the US there was a plethora of various training methods and systems. ANY attempt to narrowly define existing methods in this age is NONSEEN! Although Lt Col Fairbairn’s contribution is BIG, as was Colonel Applegate’s influence, DOZENS and DOZENS of different close combat systems were developed. From wrestling, boxing, savate, judo, jiu-jitsu, Chinese boxing, and even football and rugby NOT just methods were used, but entire “systems” based on these methods were advocated. individual. It may come as a surprise to many, but here in the US, even Japanese KARATE was used!

Many of these “unarmed combat” courses were highly complex and technical, having their roots in the favored methods of the men charged with “creating” them. The wrestlers tended to rely on that method, the judo men on that system, the boxers on their experience and so on. Each method could also claim stunning success in actual combat! True after-action reports showed that ALL of these methods had merit and COULD be used effectively in the rigors and stress of actual battle. However, as the war progressed, two main factors began to influence and change these training protocols. One was the fact that more and more men of ALL kinds of backgrounds were conscripted into military service, the other was that as the demands for more and more replacement troops began to increase, the amount of training time was reduced. and limited by necessity.

The approach that seemed MOST feasible and useful was one that COMBINED the “best” or most effective, efficient, and quickest to learn methods, as well as the most RETAINED! The rudiments of boxing and wrestling became part of a general general fitness program and “unarmed combat” became a specialized instructional block. These courses of “unarmed combat”, “hand-to-hand combat”, “combat judo”, etc. they again sought to COMBINE the most advantageous grabs, throws, trips, blocks, chokes, punches, punches, and kicks of all the various methods available. . The ONLY truly limiting factor here was the TIME element. Other considerations were also important. The O’Neill method (another ranked Shanghai and Kodokan Yudansha veteran) is a classic example of a system designed specifically for both the available training environment and the NATURE of the expected combat. There were even attempts to instruct the military in the actual Koryu Jujutsu systems here in the US! However, the MOST effective systems still sought to MIX ALL the various methods of physical combat.

As the war progressed further and further into the aftermath of action, “intelligence” gathered from the reality of the actual battle helped shape and determine training priorities. Many hand-to-hand combat methods began to be “trimmed” down to those fundamentals that were MOST effective OVERALL and most applicable to ALL STUDENTS across a wide and varied spectrum of physical attributes and abilities.

Applegate was perhaps the most eloquent of these advocates due to his exposure in the INFANTRY JOURNAL and the publication of “KILL or GET KILLED.” And he was NOT without his critics, as was Fairbairn.

Some courses were of such short duration that they involved ONLY SEVERAL HOURS of instruction. Others were quite involved and very thorough in the content of their syllabus. Many are familiar with the Navy V-5 programs and the training at Benning, but lesser known is the very EXTENSIVE training at places like Fort Meade and at the Hawaii Jungle Warfare complex, just to name two! Here in these places, and said training was carried out from Brooklyn to California, a very complete and MIXED program of “combatants” was given. From the CIC training center in Chicago to Army training camps in Colorado, from Parris Island to Ranger/Commando schools in the Hawaiian Islands, from pre-D-Day training bases in England to “Killing” school in Palestine, the METHODS taught covered the ENTIRE range of “combatants” from man to man tooth and nail. From complex to “drive killing” (a method designed to FULLY harness the so-called natural “animal” killing instinct) ALL of these methods, systems and approaches FALL under the definition of COMBATTIVE! Even the OSS training staff in Area B were shown the methods of SIAMESE boxing (read Muay Thai)! From Anglo-Saxon boxing, wrestling and grappling, French “foot fighting” (including Assaut Vite savate), Indian Varma-adi/Varmannie, Chinese boxing, “Roman” boxing, Japanese judo/jujutsu and karate, Siamese boxing, Burmese boxing- Bando (remember the CBI), Western swordsmanship, Filipino edged weapons, and ANY and ALL other systems (including nearly every weapon known to man) deemed effective in SENDING enemies into the afterlife were STUDIED, INVESTIGATED. IMPLEMENTED and TRAINED! An American WWII hand-to-hand combat manual references INDONESIA “methods”!

This IS the legacy of COMBATIVES! This is the TRUE DEFINITION of COMBATIVE! And to those who need to “pigeon” others into the “box” of “only” doing WWII “combatants”………………… ..well, applying the definition above based on the TRUE historical RECORD, then HELL YEAH! ….. Yes I follow the LEGACY of WORLD WAR II “FIGHTERS”!

Note: If there is enough interest, we are also happy to cover ALL of these topics in ALL detail based on OBJECTIVE historical facts.

Future newsletter articles will delve into history, training, and method covering armed and unarmed combat, as well as topics on various topics from Shanghai to “Shangri-La” (for those still roaming the land of La-La). ).


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