Army Martial Arts - Are You Joking? By Keith Pascal

Discussion in 'E-Zine Articles' started by Bob Hubbard, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Darth Vindicatus Supporting Member

    Army Martial Arts - Are You Joking? By Keith Pascal
    By Bob Hubbard - 10-01-2009 01:35 PM


    Army Martial Arts - Are You Joking?
    By Keith Pascal

    When I search for martial-arts terms in the search engines, a lot of ads appear along with my keywords. Lately, I have noticed advertisements for army-related martial arts. The general public needs to do more research, if they think these online pitches are the answer...

    Martial Artists Don't Look to the Armed Forces
    In over 40 years in martial arts, I have never seen a black belt seek instruction in the army way of hand-to-hand combat. It would be like a surgeon asking for operating advice from someone who only has a first-aid card. In fact, as you'll read in the Navy-Seals section of this article, it's usually the reverse. Army people get their instruction from martial artists, rather than the other way around.

    In the U.S. army, you are lucky if you get even two weeks of hand-to-hand combat. Often it's just one or two sessions, at the most. Compare that to the years that a martial artist dedicates to his or her mastery.

    The Marines
    In the Marines, it's a little better. There actually is more self defense taught. After all, these people are being taught to be our "roughest" branch of the army. Still, most people searching for practical self defense, probably wouldn't be satisfied with marine instruction. This is especially true, if you aren't as rough-and-rugged as a "leatherneck."

    So, why are there so many marine self-defense courses offered?
    My guess is because once they get out of the marines, some of them want to make money from what they learned. Also, it's the brand of fighting that they were exposed to. This isn't meant as a criticism; they just don't know the world of more efficient martial arts out there.

    The Navy Seals
    What about the Navy Seals? Aren't they known for their fighting prowess?
    This is actually an interesting puzzle: You go to a Navy Seal looking for self defense, not realizing that the Navy Seal went somewhere else in order to learn practical application. Throughout the 1980s and some of the 1990s, some of my buddies were hired to teach the Navy Seals.

    Apparently, the S.E.A.L.s spent a lot of money on bringing in the best martial arts instruction that money could buy.

    What kind of instruction you get from an ex-S.E.A.L. depends on what type of extra training he had. Just keep in mind that if your S.E.A.L. claims that it's "army training," it came from a third-party source. (It's probably not "Navy Seal born.)

    Krav Maga Requisites
    Even Krav Maga is the short and quick self defense taught by the Israeli army. It was designed for those in extremely good shape and those who didn't have a lot of time to learn a complete self-defense system. Sure, the Krav Maga organizations have progressed since then, inventing belts, and requiring more skillful perfection of the technique. Still, its army origins ...

    Army Martial Arts
    I am not suggesting that all instructors who advertise their army roots are martial klutzes - far from it. But it "is" important not to be fooled by the term "army training." To some people, it could imply ... amateur.

    Keith Pascal is the author of the new ebook, How to End the Fight With One Hit: New Ebook. Pascal is also the editor of several martial arts ezines, including: Practical Self Defense. (Free elbow strike counters ebook when you join.)
    Pascal has taught martial arts for over 25 years. He left his job as a high school teacher in 2000, to become a full-time writer.
    Article Source:


    Articles by Bob Hubbard.
  2. Mutt

    Mutt New Member

    I have ghosted these forums for three years now, and I have read a lot of things that made me angry. In the interest of mutual respect and civility I have, to now, remained silent. This article has finally stirred me to action, for I feel it is a blatant mischaracterization of military training and doctrine. I am posting this reply here on these forums because, as a fellow practitioner of FMA, I feel it necessary to address this here and now so no one I might train with is misled.

    In the interest of full disclosure prior to my reply I will state that I am a six year veteran of the 3rd Ranger Battalion, two of those years I spent deployed between Iraq and Afghanistan. I served in every capacity from line rifleman to weapons squad leader prior to leaving the service. I also have just over twenty years of training in the martial arts to my credit, the last four being a study of Southeast Asian styles (Arnis and Silat). I don't say this to imply that what I have to say is infallible, only to communicate that I am intimately familiar with both military hand to hand training doctrine and civilian martial arts. I am willing to verify both those claims to anyone who wishes, please PM me if you feel like it.

    In order to facilitate a proper understanding of why the military teaches hand to hand combat the way it does requires insight into the tactical mindset.

    First: Don't bring a knife, or your fists, to a gunfight.

    Your hands are not your first weapon in the close combat environment, your brain is. For that reason you use your brain to logically find the most effective tool at your disposal to neutralize resistance. For the soldier, in the majority of cases, this would be your rifle. With all due respect to everyone's interest in preserving and propagating martial tradition, we live in the age of the gun. The gun is the weapon of choice, and the preferred tool of soldier and criminal alike. I believe that martial training is absolutely critical to a person interested in self defense, but to focus on traditional fighting systems while ignoring the reality of the age we live in invites disaster. A soldier's time is better spent dry-firing their rifle, practicing battle drills, and putting rounds downrange in an effort to master the martial traiditons which govern his primary weapon - the rifle. And yes, "the way of the gun" is very much a martial art. A soldier stands an exponentially better chance of having to shoot an enemy than he does of having to utilize joint locks or hand to hand striking.

    Second: Warrior spirit.

    If the focus is on using weapon systems like rifles, why does the military teach hand to hand combat at all? Simple, to instill warrior spirit within its ranks. Pure terror is a reality of combat. I never knew someone who walked away from a firefight and said they were not scared senseless. The goal is not to destroy fear, but to master it. It's a process called compartmentalization, and it's reinforced and instilled through hard training to develop automaticity. That's why doctrine recommends that you group combatives partners who have different builds, weights, and gender together. That way soldiers are forced to confront a daunting obstacle and summon forth the will and aggression necessary to overcome their adversary's resistance. Mr.Pascal addresses these same concepts in several articles:

    How can it be good enough when he preaches it, yet insufficient when the source is from the military? I assume it is because he never attempted to dig deeper than what he knew off the top of his head about military doctrine. Then again ssumption is the child of ego and the mother of screw ups, as Mr. Pascal has shown us.

    Third: K.I.S.S.

    Many of you are familiar with the K.I.S.S. concept (Keep It Simple Stupid), so I won't belabor the point. It makes a huge difference when you consider how little time the military has to make an efficient soldier out of an undisciplined civilian. The basic task manual for skill level 1 (your basic entry level soldier, sailor, marine, or airman) is pretty daunting. Everything from radio operation, rifle marksmanship, land navigation, and more must be taught in a short amount of time. The military does not have the luxury of training each soldier for five to ten years in a dojo in order to facilitate an in-depth understanding of methodology and terminology associated with what they are doing in a hand to hand combat situation. Often they only have days, weeks if they are lucky. So you boil it down to the bare bones of what needs to be done. Teach them to punch, teach them to kick, teach them to throw, teach them to land, teach them to block, and teach them to fight with ferocity and intensity. Many of the arts we practice in FMA were taught the same way in World War II. Do you think the FMA grandmasters we love and cherish today had the luxury of training guerillas for months before they went out after the Japanese? Do you think they imparted the entirety of their knowledge to these warriors in a couple days? Or, as is more likely, do you think they boiled it down to what was absolutely essential to know? Mr. Pascal's analogy of the martial artist being a surgeon may, in some cases, be true. Maybe you don't want to look at military-influenced fighting arts if you already have 20 years of experience or more. But, for the beginner, there are few better places to start in order to get a strong grasp on fighting fundamentals. Besides, what kind of martial artist would any of us be if we only focused on the flashy complicated maneuvers and disregarded fundamentals entirely?

    Fourth: History

    The lion's share of martial arts in the world today are directly descended from past military usage. Yes, there are notable exceptions (capoeira off the top of my head). No one can deny that formulated fighting systems were birthed with war in mind; everything from boxing, karate, muay thai, and FMA were created from a need for efficient combat solutions in the face of organized war. And a soldier is a soldier, whether they were tribal warriors protecting their village with spears or uniformed servicemen marching in step. There are valuable lessons to be learned from a military perspective. I'm not insinuating that a military perspective is more viable than any other; simply that it would be a dangerous oversight to disregard it entirely, or underestimate its efficacy.

    Fifth: Real servicemen do not play the "Who's tougher?" game

    This concept that somehow Marines and SEALs are magically stronger or more "combat focused" than any other branch is a childish statement which reveals an appalling depth of ignorance. That playground rivalry crap may be played up by recruiters and kids straight out of basic/boot, but in the real military (especially in time of war) it has no place. Multiple units in every branch of the service practice and learn different styles of martial arts. While in the Rangers I studied everything from standard Army Combatives under Matt Larson (a permutation of BJJ) to Karate and Muay Thai. Certain units will emphasize these arts more, others will not. The Marines as a whole don't have a better, or worse, system than anyone else. It's all about the soldier in question. What the soldier/marine/sailor/airmen does with what they have learned is the key. You get a combat Army vet and a combat Marine vet in the same bar and ask them whose tougher they are gonna laugh in your face. Then they are going to go have a beer together and commiserate in their mutual experiences. I'll tell you honestly that I would never have graduated Ranger School if it had not been for my assigned Ranger Buddy, who was a Marine from 1st Recon out of Okinawa. What branch of service a person's experience comes from makes no difference. To state otherwise is a demonstration of ignorance.

    I've extolled long enough upon the atrocity that this article was. What's the end state? If Mr. Pascal wants to insinuate that anyone claiming "military training" is to be dismissed because they are "amateur" then it begs the question of why he should have some special level of consideration. After all, he wrote an ebook whose titles implies that he can show how to end a fight with one punch. Just try and tell me that concept isn't amateur...
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  3. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Darth Vindicatus Supporting Member

    Thank you very much for that well presented rebuttal.
  4. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Senior Member

    Not to beat a dead horse, but the training in which our military engages, in whatever form appropriate to their service, is martial arts.

    To give just one example:

    Currently I'm looking at a Marine Corps marksmanship DVD that purports to show the rifle training that a marine recruit receives at boot camp. Breathing, muscular control, relaxation, body mechanics, mental focus, etc. - all the fundamentals painstakingly repeated systematically and logically over and over and over....

    And of course that's just a small piece of lessons learned during basic training and within a lifetime of service.


  5. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Agreed Mutt. I would also add that Mr. Pascal seems to be so out of touch with the current state of combatives training in the Military that I hardly know where to begin. In the old Army H2H program and the USMC as well, particularly when they did LINE, I would probably have agreed more than I do now, but not in this day and age. From what I can tell from Mr. Pascal's bio, he is a HS Spanish teacher who also happens to have studied something called Twin Dragon Method and JKD. He has, according to his bio, no experience at all in any type of military combatives program and no experience in the armed forces or law enforcement which might color his experience.

    A friend of mine wrote the following after some similar statements on another forum and I think it is pretty pertinent here. It is worth noting that the Modern Army Combatives program has a very similar process of training and advancement with MCMAP. I agree with what Dave wrote below 100% in that I would rather have a level one instructor of the MCMAP or MACP on my side in a scrap than 95% of the people who call themselves martial artists out there.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  6. patrickdpr

    patrickdpr New Member

    There are others with similar points of view as mine. I am a USMC Vet and had a green belt in MCMAP. I also teach Eskrima...

    I will say MCMAP glazes over too much info to be very useful, and things like arm bars and wrist locks are taught "dummy style". I also saw boot camp "buddies" with an over inflated confidence because of this.."im gunna put someone in a wrist lock if they mess with me when I go home from boot camp.."..etc etc..

    as the post above says- it does give VERY good conditioning, and build toughness. All the stuff about getting punched, kicked, and sprayed is accurate.
    Most importantly, It teaches you how to get your a** kicked, and get back up--that is probably more valuable then most techniques. ( i may or may not be luck but I had the experience of getting my a** kicked before boot camp)
  7. silat1

    silat1 Active Member

    I have been through part of the current combatives training that the marines are teaching and have observed the army combatives training as some of our people in the agency where I work was sent to the recent classes held here.. I keep harping on the mindset of using grappling and going to the ground when you have a full tac load along with your weapon, ruck and other stuff that add to the restriction of movement..

    I think that Patrick has a good reply to his observation of the MCMAP, but it is useless as teats on a boar pig.. I have always relied on the combatives that came from the use of by personnel who used the ww2 combatives programs of fairbairn/sykes/applegate and other ww2 instructors who have actually used them in real world applications which dictated as to whether you survive and live to fight another day or become worm food because you were thinking too hard about what to do..

    Combatives should be ingrained in the muscle memory and have the ability to be used when the movements come naturally when the fecal matter hits the oscillating mechanism..

    I use these combatives in my job along with the crap that we are taught on an annual basis, but when the chips are down, the KISS stuff comes out without any hesitation..
  8. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise Senior Member Supporting Member

    I have met to work out and also trained some great guy's who only had army combatives training or MCMAP or even the old line. Many of them were exceptional in what they did. I have also met other military people who must have missed some of the training or simply could not pick it up sufficiently. The current combatives program is a step up from the old line system but like Silat1 said maybe a step down from the WW2 combatives in some ways. Bottom line broad sweeping generalizations just do not cut it as some people can apply what they learn and others simply cannot! In the end it will come down to the individual and not the system they were taught! Just my 02. [​IMG]

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