Military Combat Systems


Military Combat Systems

Military Hand-To-Hand combat systems (H2H) are the oldest formalized martial art training systems.

Individual fighting skills were always crucial for survival and individual fighting ability was among earliest highly prized specialization skills that along with survival leadership ability propelled their possessors to the very top of social ladder.

With establishment of early organized military forces, fighting skills became prized for social leadership and development of military combat skills was no more just individual activity. Military leaders have advantage if they know their forces fighting ability vs. their adversaries. Training in fighting becomes military discipline with high priority.

The earliest survived depiction of the military combat training is Beni-Hasan murals in Egypt.

Been a part of overall military strategy, H2H systems evolved along with it.

When earliest military forces were merely bands of individual fighters, they evolved into highly specialized organizations of nowadays with narrow individual role allocations.

The military strategy evolved from “we-meet-them-when-we-meet-them” to convoluted strategic deception games.

The military tactics evolved from a multitude of individual one-on-one fights to the massive uniformed infantry clashes to artillery and fighting machinery clashes to the high-tech hardware encounters with the infusion of the highly trained specialized units into an operational theater.

It will be a trivial statement to say that all the modern martial arts taking roots in the early military combat systems. You will see references to this on many pages of this site. On this page I want to address the modern state of the military combat H2H systems (witch at times also called CQC – Close Quarter Combat systems).

On the other page I will address military combat training applicability to civilian self-defense and for police force.

With introduction in Europe of massive armies and the tight infantry formation in the 15th-16th centuries role of the devise individual fighting skills of the old times diminished and never recovered. The prime skill of the infantry man became not an ability to knock enemy down with the fist or ax blow, but ability to keep his place in the tight formation under intense enemy fire when his comrades left and right failing dead and wounded and their blood spilling on his face.

Introduction of the bayonet and focus on bayonet training made the empty-hand fighting training an optional in most military forces.

With the improvement in fire arms power and accuracy, tight infantry formation became more deadly for its user then to their enemy and light infantry tactics prevailed on the battlefield. This was the primary mode of operation till the end of Korean War and early Vietnam War.

Nowadays the primary mode of infantry tactics is special operations.

Shift to light infantry tactics required changes in H2H training with putting the more emphasis (or, in many cases, just adding to the training curriculum) on non-bayonet techniques.

Let's look what are prime requirements to a military combat H2H / CQC system:

1.   It should be simple: Most soldiers joining military for a very limited time and should complete their training in a matter of weeks or, in case of specialized units, months; only highly specialized elite career volunteer units may have up to two years training schedules. In any case, most of the training time should be allocated for development of specialized professional skills and not to a general H2H training. Also, not every soldier is a martial art enthusiast and willingness is a required precondition to learn sophisticated MA skills.

2.   It should emphasize the lethal techniques: The primary goal of a soldier on the battlefield is to kill or maim enemy; using control techniques is a specialized skill in the military with very limited use. Changing rules of engagement in the most resent asymmetric low intensity operational theaters effectively changing soldiers into peace officers which requires a different training curriculum altogether (and absence of which created a lot of difficult and painful situations).

3.   It should emphasize use of weapon: Soldier expected to be armed and should use this advantage.

Somewhat circa 1985, with the start of Perestroika, for the first time in the Soviet Union has been published in the open press the official “Field Manual of Physical Training” of the Read Army and Navy – small pocket sized hardcover book with Red Army insignia on a pale blue cover.

The H2H combat section defined goals, methods, and required skills' level for enlisted soldiers and commissioned officers.

The goal statement defined H2H training as means “required to develop courage”. It's it! No other goals!

Authors of this “Field Manual”, as the true professionals, understood very clear that is no other tangible goals are required (and can be realistically achieved) by H2H training curriculum in the military setting. Even the most advance level of training (3rd level) aimed at paratrooper field recon team commanding officers (usually in the Second Lieutenant ranking) ware limited to a couple of techniques for taking off sentries and knife, bayonet, and club/truncheon defense.

Sure, the other military combat manuals have been published (I browsed some and I own some) and the training of career special operation soldiers much more intense, but the fact is that the top level military planers don't see practical application of bare-hand fighting skills as of any strategic importance in the modern combat (witch is in a stark contrast to the prevailing commonly shared views in the time between the First and the Second World Wars).

The same sentiment echoed by privet opinions of Russian career special forces officers with real on-the-ground combat experience in the wars of the last two decades on the Southern borders of Russia. Some of those statements and combat accounts can be found in the internet chat-rooms, blogs, and discussion sites (predominantly in Russian; I won't put any links to it as some of the accounts can be disturbing to unprepared readers and organizations from PETA to Amnesty International – war is a dirty blood soaked business).

The point is: the modern soldier is well armed for close quarter combat and personal defense, and if he needs to resort to bare-hand skills, we have a much bigger problem here.

Sure, a plenty of military publications in the civilian press describing and promoting highly enhanced special forces training programs (attributed to British SAS, American Green Berets and Navy SEALS, Russian Spetsnaz, etc.), but please note that target audience of those books – we are, the Civilians.



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