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COMBATIVES? ...... Don't Tell Me. I Know What That Is! (Part 1)

"Combatives" from the root word COMBAT - "to fight in direct contact", "active fighting between enemies", "any fight or struggle".

Well, let's see??????..There is ONE singular glaring absence in the above definition. Notice it? Absolutely NO mention of Fairbairn, Applegate, or Coach Hanley. No mention of Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, Savate or any member of the Gracie family. No mention of World War Two, the Punic Wars or the Spartans. No mention of Juji-Gatame, a smashing overhand right, an edge of hand blow, or even a good old kick in the butt!

Get it? THERE ARE NO SPECIFICS that define what is or isn't so-called "COMBATIVES"! So why do so many people feel such an overriding need to "define" combatives into a narrow scope of limited methodology? "I know what you do"???????.."That Fairbairn stuff". A month ago this same guy thought FAIRBAIRN was simply a decent suntan. "Yea, I base my combatives on Applegate"?????..six months ago this dude thought Applegate was the entrance to an orchard! Everybody's an "expert". At what exactly? I'm not sure even "they" really know.

I won't presume to speak for ANYONE else that uses this term "combatives". Actually I wouldn't want to! All I can do is offer a CORRECT semantic observation and proffer my view on what encompasses my study, training and understanding of so-called "combatives".

If you really do your research and homework you will see that even in manuals describing man to man combat that are CENTURIES old there exists a very COMPREHENSIVE survey and presentations of MANY forms of armed and unarmed combat. ALL in the same manuals! A vast array of weapon skills are shown and even the "unarmed" combat is a diverse mix of "techniques". Before the use of London Prize Ring rules and the Marquis of Queensbury, "pugilists" used and relied on a great number of different grappling/striking/kicking and gouging methods. Ancient Greek Pankration was a combined system of "ALL POWERS" combat. The original Koryu Bujutsu of the Samurai included a comprehensive catalog of both armed and unarmed skills. The unarmed combatives of the Japanese Bushi also DIDN'T limit scope or method. Grappling was stressed when THAT was the best method of gaining tactical superiority. Striking, kicking and even BITING was resorted to when THAT was deemed the most appropriate method. The Chinese have ALWAYS maintained fully robust systems of combat that included all manner of striking, punching, kicking, throwing, strangling and joint-locking. Original Okinawan Te (Ti) included percussion methods as well as "tegumi" and "tuite". Punch his lungs out if that did the job best. Kick his gonads out the top of his head if THAT worked best. Or grapple him into submission and control OR grapple him into a spine lock and neck break. Whatever was called for and whatever GOT THE JOB AT HAND DONE!

The 19th century saw many methods of "combined" self-defense systems develop in the West. The French combined elements of Chausson/Savate (Basque Zipota as well) with Boxe Anglaise, Parisian Lutte, and even the "new" Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. The British did the same. The "BARTITSU" of Barton-Wright is a classic example. In the US a number of "self-protection" methods became available to the public that combined methods from Boxing and Wrestling. EVEN before any "organized" systems were presented, men who "fought" even for "sport" used virtually ANY device to insure victory. Just read Elliot J. Gorn.

The Twentieth century saw even MORE "mixed" combat systems. It CERTAINLY didn't take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out that in a REAL fight ANYTHING goes. Any and ALL manner of grappling, throttling, kicking, kneeing, butting, biting, punching, gouging, stomping and whatever other methods of mayhem could be employed were ALL "FAIR" when "fair" meant the difference between life or death. And it CERTAINLY didn't just end at "unarmed" fighting! A "Gentleman" beset upon by a rough and tumble "footpad" on a lonely and desolate backstreet would feel perfectly JUSTIFIED in running said "footpad" thru and thru again with his sword cane or bashing his brains in with a "lifesaver". Even when the highwayman wasn't even armed with a lowly brickbat. What's that old saying? All's fair in love and war. Often it's not a matter of who's "right", but simply who's LEFT!

This IS "combatives" pure and simple. Whatever WORKS BEST at the time! A sort of "mixture" of varied fighting skills. HEY??????..wait a minute! A "mixed" fighting system? What a NOVEL IDEA!

Our next installment will look at "combatives" from the Russo-Japanese war and World War One thru to our "brandy new" millennium and all our new age "innovations". Should be fun!


Carl Cestari began his study of the martial arts with judo at the age of 7 under the direction of Yoshisada Yonezuka. During the past forty plus years Carl has dedicated his life to studying the martial arts, hand to hand combat systems, history and religion. What makes Carl unique is his combination of martial arts, law enforcement and military and real world experience. Carl has been exposed to a multitude of people with a wide variety experience. The following is a list of some of Carl's ranks and honors.

Shinan (Founder) Tekkenryu jujutsuRyokudan (6th degree) Koshinkai Karate under John BurrelleGodan (5th degree) Jujutsu under Clarke of the World Jujutsu Fedaration (now defunct)Sandan (3rd degree) Nippon Kempo under Narabu SadaNidan (2nd degree) Judo under Masafumi SuzukiShodan (1st degree) Judo under Yoshisada YonezukaShodan (1st degree) Shukokai Karate under Kimura, Kadachi and Yonezuka Shodan (1st degree) Daitoryu AikijujutsuInstructors Certificate- Charles Nelson System of Self Defense under Charlie Nelson



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