Combatives Founders

Rex Applegate (1914 – 1998)

Rex ApplegateApplegate was born in Oregon where he began hunting and shooting at a young age and was taught marksmanship by his uncle Gus Peret, a renowned exhibition shooter and professional hunter. This experience played a major role throughout his life. In 1940 Applegate graduated from the University of Oregon with a Business Degree and then took a commission in the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant. Because he had a lung ailment which kept him from holding a combat position, his first billet was with the 209th Military Police Company.

Rex Applegate – WW2

Applegate was developing armed and unarmed close quarter combat courses for the U.S. Army when he was recruited by Bill Donovan for the O.S.S. (forefather of today’s C.I.A.) in 1941. His recruitment was effected specifically to build and run what was called "The School for Spies and Assassins" at a location of which is now known as Camp David. Donovan mandated Applegate with the responsibility to learn all he could about armed and unarmed fighting in order to form a brutal and effective combat system. Because Rex Applegatehe was the close-combat coordinator for all clandestine missions, his role brought him into contact with other tested combatants and “martial artists” of that time period (two such examples are a Finnish soldier who killed 21 Russians with a knife and David Stirling the founder of the British S.A.S.).

He also served as the personal bodyguard to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at one point during the war reportedly when he was having secret meetings with Churchill.

In 1943 he wrote his first book “Kill or Get Killed”, a classic and still sought after manual of Western-style hand-to-hand combat. An updated edition of “Kill or Get Killed” (1976) was published by the US Marine Corps.