Combatives Founders

As far as who are responsible for what is largely taught today, the term COMBATIVES as most people perceive it is directly related to the names of Lt. Colonel William Ewart Fairbairn, Captain Eric Anthony Sykes, Colonel Rex Applegate and William Underwood.

Such is the influence and success these men had teaching their brand of Combatives as a combat system in their day, that the philosophy and methodology has been carried successfully into modern day use by military, law enforcement, clandestine and personal security professionals around the world.

In fact, if one were to make a comparison of this “western” version of “martial art” it would be appropriate, having taken stock of their massive contribution, to name them “masters” of their art. Even dare we say, revere them for it as the old eastern masters are revered for establishing their respective Asian systems practiced today. Some traditionalists and practitioners of these Asian systems may scoff at this idea, but let us consider that these Asian masters too in their time were considered radicals for not conforming to their teachers system, and “inventing” or more correctly, establishing their own system which expressed their ideas of how a combat system should be. Is this not what these four men did?

Granted, some of the larger military establishments have since experimented with other systems or attempted to incorporate them into their curriculum. The ground fighting craze is one of these, but they have over a relatively short time discovered that although it is another good way to encourage aggression and use as a sport, it is not a smart tactic to “go to the ground” in order to “ground fight”. There are several good reasons for this:

Senrty Removal
  • It is never wise to sacrifice one’s mobility in combat
  • It leaves you open to assault from third parties
  • You give up the advantage of the “high ground”
  • It needs a much longer learning curve
  • The techniques used are neither simple or direct
  • Most of the techniques require much articulation
  • Incorrect positioning nullifies leverage
  • A physically stronger or much heavier assailant has advantage
  • There are too many techniques and variations
  • There are too many details to assimilate

And worst of all

  • Is does not work against a knife wielder due to its static nature (anyone disputing this last point should try ground-fighting an opponent armed with a red felt tipped marker or if he is “brave” enough a real knife)

High kicks are not to be considered at all in real combat since conditions are rarely ideal for these (ground conditions, equipment carried a.s.o.).

Jumping kicks and Spinning kicks are unwise and extremely hazardous to their user for the same reasons as the previous point.

Punching with a closed fist can easily break one’s hand against a helmet, and other equipment which would put a soldier in danger of not being able to use his weapons effectively.

Compare the above to the simple, direct and effective techniques of Combatives.

Unfortunately there will be those that dispute these points, all of them however are valid and easily proved. Contrary to popular belief, Common sense is NOT common and it is indeed a “BIG” man that can admit to these failings and weaknesses.