Combatives Articles

Combatives Qualities

The Necessary Qualities of the Combatives Practitioner

You cannot afford to be caught unawares, this does not mean that you have to act like you are being hunted, but it is necessary to be alert to what is going on around you. In today’s conditions of city living you may be called upon at the most unexpected moment to make decisions that will kill you or save your life, so making the right decisions is important. Having made your decision, the manner in which you meet the threat directed at your dignity, health or life is going to decide the outcome and your future. In this future you will have to deal with your conscience, where perhaps you may be tortured with not having made the right decision. Whether you decide to fight or not, the result either way has consequences. Consequences… bad or good… which can haunt you or strengthen you for the rest of your life. Whichever path you decide on at that moment of truth, be sure to take the initiative and be quick but not hasty about it, for it is in haste that bad decisions are made. Keep your wits about you because losing them means losing the advantage and perhaps your life…

Principle 1 – Awareness

Self preservation is a 24-7 activity

You cannot afford to be caught unawares. You need to be alert to what is going on in your surroundings, all 360˚ of them, and you need to be looking for anything that doesn’t “fit”, anything that your instinct tells you is just not “right”. Take heed of your “gut” feelings.

Because humans have eyes facing forward, it is only natural that an attacker would approach from where he will not be seen. It must become habit to look around often.

Does this mean we walk about our business looking like we are being hunted? Of course not! After all we have made a conscious decision we are not prey. We need to be alert and observant so as not to be surprised, we need to have a “quiet awareness” about us. Sheep will bleat “that is no way to live”! It is, if you don’t want to be lunch! Awareness is a small price to pay when it comes to protecting one’s life.

By not being surprised we rob a potential assailant of that advantage and if a predator still decides it is worth the effort and risk to take you on, then because you are very aware and not surprised, you have spotted him and are prepared to do something about it and surprise him instead.

Principle 2 – Decisiveness

Too much analysis causes paralysis

It is never easy for the average person to go from being non-violent to totally violent in order to protect his life. This can be done by a few people, if it is part of their character. However, it can also be learned in two ways.

Drilling in Role play and Scenario training
By playing mind-games

The first is by drilling in role play and scenario training which is inherent in a good Combatives curriculum. Much can be said for physio-psychologically induced stress via convincing pressure. People quickly perform better when there is an induced threat of injury in training. Cover tends get into position snappier, lunges are deeper and techniques are “tighter”, fighting spirit is “higher” a.s.o.

The second method is hypothesizing by playing mind-games which is neuro-programming, e.g. walking down the street as you approach an alley ask yourself “what would I do if…”. Tactical mind-games do not replace physical drills and pressure testing, but they certainly help us reach better decisions much faster.

Principle 3 – Aggressiveness

Just enough is enough

Plainly put, initiating violence is legally forbidden and by law, all you are allowed is violence in self defense. In practical terms, this means that your assailant has already initiated a full scale assault or (here is the Combatives “loophole”) attempted to do so. If this is the case, you are now well within your legal rights to defend yourself and may continue to do so in equal measure to the force used against you until the threat is neutralized. Once this is achieved, you may not strike an unnecessary blow, which means that you cannot continue to strike once the threat is neutralized because by law you are now perpetrating assault. If the situation is life threatening, you may use sufficient force and violence to prevent an assailant from inflicting serious injury or death upon you or third parties, and if there is no other way, (you must be able to prove it) may kill him to stop him.

The above is mentioned so we can appreciate just how much aggression is legally permitted. Anything more than that can carry serious legal penalties. All this being said, most of the time, via common sense and good judgment, we can, with one glance, appraise just how much aggression is necessary. In Combatives, it is the assailant’s attempt to assault we want to “check”, and this is done pre-emptively just as he is about to attack. The level of aggression we ideally use is overwhelming aggression; we want the assailant to change his mindset 180˚, from attack to defense or even escape. In order to achieve this, we have to meet his assault with “overkill”, which amounts to heavy doses of aggression, ferocity and ruthlessness. Always keep in mind the threat to force parallel and remember, just enough is enough.

Principle 4 – Ferocity

Strike fear into his heart!

Few things can make a person rethink his assault than the ferocity with which it is met. It is your willingness to go one step further than the enemy is willing that will stop him and make him look to saving his own skin! In a struggle for survival there are no rules! Growl, bite, spit, gouge, swear, and rip into his flesh like you mean to tear it off him, attack him like you intend to eat his heart! Hit what hurts most and keep going till he is either running to save himself or down and out for the count!

Principle 5 – Ruthlessness

The rapacious are not deserving of lenience and tolerance

There must be no doubt in your mind that your life and those of peaceful people are of far higher value than that of some scum which want to deprive you of what is yours (possessions, health or life). Such malicious low life must be stopped and you cannot permit yourself to soften your heart, for by failing to stop such an individual, you allow him to inflict pain, horror or worse on some other less capable person as well.

Do not for a moment think that pleading not to be hurt or killed is enough. The fact that you have already been assaulted should tell you that if you do nothing to stop this, you have no chance at all to expect mercy; you are after all a damning witness.

Resist the assault with every cell in your body and do not heed the advice of every self proclaimed idiot expert that has never even been in a school fight. We are not talking about school bullies, we are talking about sociopaths that just don’t give a S***! Psychology and sociology degrees and diplomas have no value here, you assailant will not ask you if you have one, the only thing they will appreciate is force, and the fact that you will maul them, if they don’t turn and run for fear of losing their limbs or life!

Attack ruthlessly with as much aggression and ferocity you can muster and do not stop until he is stopped. Keep pressing your attack till he is incapable of movement and exact as much pain as you can but no more than the law permits. There is nothing gained by serving time for over zealousness. Remember – Just enough is enough.

Principle 6 – Surprise

Surprise is a weapon

If there is anything an attacker cannot handle well, it is being robbed of the element of surprise and having surprise sprung on him! Whether it be pre-empting his intended assault in true Combative spirit, or resisting with unexpected aggressiveness, ferocity and ruthlessness, we are practicing tactical surprise when we do what is least expected by our attacker.

Do not back down, do not give any warning, hit first, hit hard, keep hitting till he is running to save himself or down for the count.

Principle 7 – Speed

Speed, Speed and more Speed!

Speed is vital in the struggle for survival. It entails the time it takes to recognize a threat from the state of our “quiet awareness”, till the moment we are we are actually doing something about it.

There are 6 types of speed which contribute in total to face an unprovoked assault. If we are weak at one type, we may be strong in another.

The 6 types of speed are:

  • Recognition Speed – the time it takes to read potential assault cues.
  • Perceptual Speed – entails the following:
    • The ability to see openings about to present themselves for counter attack or escape.
    • The ability to see openings on your assailant.
    • The ability to perceive the assailant’s choice of possible moves.
    • The knowledge of our weak points in our defense and discourage his taking advantage of them.
  • Mental Speed – the ability to process and assess the correct cover or counter technique to use.
  • Reaction Speed – the ability to pre-empt quickly with focus and intent.
  • Performance Speed – the ability to apply techniques with speed (this is the kind of speed most people relate to).
  • Alteration Speed – the ability to change the direction of attack as openings appear.

Because we must be law abiding citizens, we must only use our Combatives skills if we are about to be assaulted or are already in the process of being assaulted.

Naturally the prime objective of Combatives is not to be caught unawares. This means that we are not surprised since we have already seen and processed imminent assault cues via Recognition Speed.

Principle 8 – Timing

Timing over speed, always…

Timing is what makes technique work, practice it until it becomes instinctive. If you are to choose between speed and timing, choose timing for there is no point in striking at thin air when your timing is off, no matter how fast you are. A miss by a centimeter is as good as a miss by a meter. Time your counter attack so your attacker cannot evade your blows.

If you have to choose between speed and timing, choose timing. Practice it till it becomes instinctive.

This is especially pertinent to a stop hit kick as the assailant advances toward you. When practicing on a bag for instance, time your technique as the bag swings back toward you. This applies to all techniques.

An assault on your part without the assault in progress or impending assault of the assailant becomes a legal nightmare in favour of your attacker (this applies when there are witnesses). This is also relative to timing. It is only when you are certain of this assault that you can do unto others before they do unto you.

Principle 9 – Composure

Keep cool, aim true, steady… fire!

Most people tend to loose their composure when being assaulted or are aware of imminent assault; they just “freeze up”. This is not acceptable for a Combatives practitioner. He turns fear to anger.

You should get “spitting mad” and channel that anger in the form of cold fury into your weapons. Your anger combined with the awareness and the knowledge for handling such an attack will give you the necessary composure to select the right tools for the job at hand. Composure is a matter of will and can be acquired to a significant degree with the right kind of training. This is why it is vital to attend classes at a Combatives school which “pressure tests” its trainees regularly. The more desensitized trainees get to violence and especially the fear of violence, the more their composure increases, the clearer they see the situation, the more lucid their thought process becomes and counter attack becomes a matter of clinically calculating the demise of their attacker. It is in this spirit that Combatives trainees go from being sheep to wolves and from victims to victors.

At the Combatives Group of schools we take the subject of personal security and self protection very seriously. The prerequisites of a good combatant are a combative mindset and an indestructible will to survive. Training for a length of time at any of the Combatives Group of Schools will certainly help one to acquire these qualities.

It is important to appreciate that it is not the techniques that make a system combative, it is a combination of the methodology of teaching, the mindset we cultivate, the tactics we teach, the skills we build, the emotional content and work ethic that one is encouraged to cultivate that make us different.

Author Zak Kapantaidakis