Combat: It's not about tapping out!

Discussion in 'General' started by robertlk808, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. robertlk808

    robertlk808 Member

    Cool article from a soldiers perspective about training with Kelly Worden.

    **Also within the article there is a type-o it refers to a person as Matt Worden but I believe they mean Matt Larsen.**

    Instructor lets students know combatives all about survival
    Sgt. D.A. Dickinson/28th Public Affairs Detachment
    Published: 12:32PM December 11th, 2008

    Sgt. D.A. Dickinson/28th Public Affairs Detachment

    Kelly Worden demonstrates one way to utilize his "travel wrench," which is designed to inflict excruciating pain on an enemy.

    It’s not every day that a lowly little public affairs lackey like me gets the chance to beat the P. Mortal stuffings out of senior NCOs and officers.

    Naturally, when my combatives instructor, Kelly S. Worden, called and offered me the opportunity to help him train the leaders of 4th Brigade, I leaped at the opportunity. Especially since the training would involve a few of my favorite things: foot trapping takedowns, hand-to-hand combat and using a Worden-designed “travel wrench” to inflict excruciating pain on people who out ranked me.

    Thank you, Santa.

    Let me explain a little about Kelly Worden. Every fictional fact ascribed to Chuck Norris pretty much applies to Worden in real life. There’s a reason the man spent nearly seven years slapping around the shooters of 1st Special Forces Group as their combatives instructor. And it’s not because they liked the smell of his aftershave.

    Worden grew up on the mean streets of Tacoma, learning to box and quickly adapting the sport to the dirty science of street fighting.

    When he eventually found martial arts, he picked it up as a way to get an edge in a street altercation. But after he began training with the Philipino Modern Arnis Master, Prof. Remy Presas, Worden discovered a way to create his own unique and insanely effective fighting style that he named Natural Spirit International.

    Natural Spirit draws upon Modern Arnis, boxing and Muay Thai, Aikido, Sambo, Isshin Ryu Karate and the non-classical Wing Chun Gung Fu taught by Bruce Lee when he first began teaching in Seattle. (While it may sound fancy to the uninitiated, Natural Spirit is actually quite simple, adapting everyday movements for combative purposes.)

    Years later, Worden’s explosive and innovative approach to fighting was adopted by Army 1st Special Forces Group and Air Force combat controllers.

    So when Col. John G. Norris, commander of 4th Brigade, wanted to integrate a unique combatives experience as part of a team-building exercise, he called Worden, whom he met years before while training with the Soldiers of 1st SFG.

    “Our combatives program is good,” Norris said. “But you get people out there and their first instinct is to go to the ground. I wanted to expose my leaders to other stuff.”

    The idea of controlling your opponent while keeping your footing offered certain advantages, Norris said. “If you don’t have to go to the ground and lose control, why?” he asked.

    Norris said he perceived Worden’s combatives instruction as a great option for dealing with detainees, particularly in the way a smaller fighter can throw a bigger opponent around.

    “All the restraint options that you guys bring to the table, that’s valuable for our Soldiers,” Norris said. Staff Sgt. Terry Rodgers, an instructor at the Operation Warrior Trainer, 2nd Battalion, 364th Brigade, 191st Infantry and a student of Worden’s, was on hand to assist with the instruction.

    “It opens you up, mentally and physically,” said Rodgers, who holds black belts in aiki-jujitsu and taekwondo. “When you compare this to the Army’s combatives program, this gives you more tools when a Soldier’s got all his gear on. That’s how I look at it from the military view.”

    One of the leaders participating in the training said he appreciated the stand-up fighting options Worden taught. “It was good, real good,” said 1st Sgt. Nick Pingel, first sergeant of F Company, 52nd Infantry, 4th Brigade. “It’s more practical than being on the ground with all the stuff we wear and carry.”

    Worden said he resents the influence the mixed martial arts community has on combatives for Soldiers.

    “It’s not a sport,” Worden said. “That’s what we need to get away from. I don’t appreciate guys bringing sport into a Soldier’s self-defense.”

    “Combat ain’t about tapping out,” Rodgers said. “It’s about survival.”

    The emphasis on ground fighting as a desirable place to be in a combative situation is pretty much the exclusive domain of Matt Worden and his fan base. Every other leading combatives instructor in the world has taught that the ground is the worst possible place to be in a fight involving lethal weapons and multiple opponents.

    The risk of the wrong kind of injury (yours) escalates exponentially when you find yourself wrestling a knife-wielding foe in a third-world street littered with debris and flowing with raw sewage and human waste.

    “The ground is not a good place to be,” Worden said. “Just look at any riot or a concert that goes bad.”

    The assessment from the participants was positive.

    “As chaplains, we can’t carry weapons, so for us, this is a great option,” said Maj. Terrell Jones, a chaplain with 4th Brigade.

    First Sgt. Derrik Wilson, headquarters and headquarters company first sergeant, for 138th Infantry, 4th Bde. said he was particularly fond of Worden’s nefarious foot trapping takedowns.

    “Those foot traps come so easy,” he said. “One minute you’re engaged, the next you’re aggressive and he’s falling and wondering what happened.”
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  2. gagimilo

    gagimilo Member

    What I have always liked about Kelly Worden is that pulls no punches when presenting his opinion and doesn't rat's behind about what others might object to his style of expression. In other words - screw the political correctness!!! My kind of guy...
  3. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise Senior Member Supporting Member

    Worden definitely has quite a bit to offer. Some good friends of mine train with him and love it!
  4. fangjian

    fangjian Jo Dong

    I remember reading one of the combat manuals for the army. At the time I was thinking about reenlisting and I wanted to be an instructor for hand to hand combat. I remember reading about 'passing ther guard'( to side control). Hahahaha, unless I missed something, why the hell would you teach a soldier how to pass the guard? If a soldier is ever in 'the guard' for some reason, I would teach him/her to break the guard and escape, not pass it to get to side control. It seemed absolutely ridiculous to me.
  5. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Well, sometimes you find yourself halfway between the guard and side-control (e.g. half-guard), and punching isn't always an option (e.g. thick winter clothing). Knowing how to get from A to B gives you options. I might start a guard pass just to get to where I could trap one of his legs down (half-guard) and punch, rather than letting him control my balance and distance with his legs. So, I disagree about the value of teaching it even though I agree that escaping is often good. Sometimes though you're effecting an arrest or something and escape might no be a good option.
  6. fangjian

    fangjian Jo Dong

    "Knowing how to get from A to B gives you options."

    Awesome. You mind if I use that while I'm teaching?:)

    Anyway, as a martial artist I see its value and use it often while sparring. I'm also a soldier and was trying to see it's value in that context.
    When would you need such a technique and whom would you use it on? I guess either against an insurgent ( haha) or perhaps as an MP apprehending someone. I guess it depends on the rules of engagment for that soldier, but I figured at that range there were better options. I also happened to be an MP but it was more of an infantry type missions in Iraq. I never did the 'police' stuff. I'd like to here from cops or soldiers that might use this. But I do see some value in the controlling of an assailant.
  7. arnisador

    arnisador Active Member

    Use it--it's yours!

    I was even thinking of the near-silent knife grappling situation in something like Saving Private Ryan. Escape sounds good...but if you escaping backwards let's him gain or retain a weapon that could be used against you, is it best? If I could escape the guard to my rear but behind his head was where his rifle had fallen...I might be better off staying engaged.
  8. fangjian

    fangjian Jo Dong

    Good example
  9. cfr

    cfr New Member

    I'm confused.... who in the MMA community is suggesting that what they do would be good for soliders in combat? Any idea who he's talking about?

    Who exactly is trying to bring sport into lethal fighting with weapons?

    Exactly what influence has MMA had on military combatives?

    Better yet, if it had such a big influence, what were they learning before it was MMA? Any chance it was an improvement?

    Most MMA fighters I've known, read interviews of, etc. talk about using a .45 for self defense, not trying to tap someone out.
  10. tellner

    tellner New Member


    MMA has eaten a good portion of my lunch. I've got to find some way to promote myself by putting it down.
  11. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone New Member

    I've been training with Kelly for about 7 - 8 months now, and was one of the people that organized that training event. I'm also a Level 2 instructor in Modern Army Combatives, and a 23-year student of Chinese martial arts.

    First, MACP offers tools to the standard line trooper to use "in case of." The program doesn't try to make martial artists out of Soldiers... They have a primary weapon, wear heavy armor, and are almost always within easy reach of a good number of buddies. The likelihood of fisticuffs erupting is small; even if an insurgent engaged a Soldier in hand to hand combat for whatever reason (e.g. the Soldier flagged a door entering a room and had his weapon grabbed by the bad guy, a bad guy surprised/ambushed a Soldier in an alley or back room, whatever, etc.), the fitness level alone of most Soldiers would allow for easy domination of the enemy. Combine fitness with motivation provided through regular MACP sessions, or better yet with some actual skills provided from regular MACP sessions, and you'll have a good $5 bet that the Soldier will come out on top every time.

    Second, there are flaws in MACP, but those flaws are constantly under evaluation as AARs from downrange come in to the MACP schoolhouse in GA. Situations are evaluated, and the program evolves.

    Third, what Kelly Worden provides is a unique blend of experience and insight which, when plugged into the MACP structure, allows for a huge lateral drift in terms of available options and applications that take into full consideration what the Soldier's wearing, carrying, and using (which some of the ground techniques of MACP simply don't easily translate to).

    Bottom line up front, Kelly's NSI program is one of the most intuitive, innovative, easily absorbed and easily applied programs I've encountered in 20+ years of training. I've literally stepped away from what I've spent the last two decades doing in order to focus solely on Kelly's curriculum, it's just that good.
  12. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone New Member

    The basic grappling techniques included in BJJ/GJJ are easily learned, easily applied with minimal training, and produce results no matter the situation. Also, they are very safe for general training and unless applied to extreme degrees, result in few, if any, injuries during training.

    Modern hand to hand combat techniques need to possess a variety of application levels - non-lethal through lethal options - not just a "kill or be killed" approach.

    Quite a bit, but though it's the most advertised component of Modern Army Combatives, it's not the be all/end all of the program. Striking and improvised weapons use are also included.

    The previous incarnations of Combatives were abysmal. The 1960s era training was a huge pile of steaming, wet, sloppy poo, sold to the Army by a slick salesman who also happened to be a half-wit pseudo-black belt in judo and karate. Completely craptastic. The 1980s version was slightly improved in orientation if not technique. It was still very stiff, and very "karate-like," with stances, karate-style techniques, etc. Still sucktacular.

    Finally, the modern incarnation, led by SFC (Ret) Matt Larsen, began presenting useful, practical, applicable material in a comprehensive package instead of a collection of semi-militarily-applicable individual techniques without much in the way of comprehensive integration.

    Personally, I think MACP still has a lot of gaps that could very easily be shored up with both additional training in the basic material as well as a more diverse and well-thought-out training program. Unfortunately, as the Army does with everything, it gets "dumbed down" so nobody has to do much thinking, time cards and training tickets "get punched," and people graduate certification courses with only minimal skills.

    Still, with its flaws, MACP is better than everything we've had since WWII put together...

    Most MMA fighters I've known, read interviews of, etc. talk about using a .45 for self defense, not trying to tap someone out.[/quote]
  13. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Choosing to be on the ground in a combat situation is very very different from knowing what to do if you happen to end up there. Choosing to be there in a war zone is probably stupid and I think most sane people would agree with that. Choosing to avoid learning ground techniques because you "train to stay on your feet" is myopic in a very dangerous way. Every time military combatives comes up someone seems to bring up the influence of BJJ on the Army Combatives program as well as the Marine Corps combatives program. Typically this is brought up as a negative by stating that grappling on the ground during combat is not a good idea and various reasons are brought up to support this claim. At this point, those who have some experience in these systems chime in and point out that there is much more to both of these programs than simply BJJ. What never seems to get discussed, at least to my recollection, is how ground fighting is actually dealt with in these two combative systems and how they differ from BJJ in that regard.

    So, with that in mind, can someone fill me in on what is different with regard to techniques used on the ground, in modern military combatives systems, from what is taught in BJJ? I would assume that there would be a focus on things such as: escaping guard rather than passing it, striking and "dirty tactics" (e.g. eye gouging, biting, attacking the groin, etc.), using weapons such as a bayonet or folding knife from various position while on the ground, going for limb destructions rather than working for submissions, and weapons retention (I'm sure that there are other things I am missing in that list).

    In addition, I would expect that some techniques have been modified in an attempt to prevent the US Soldier or Marine from being open to attack from weapons, dirty tricks, and the striking I mentioned earlier. With my very, very limited experience in BJJ, I can see obvious situations where in a combat you might be open to things which are not legal in grappling competition or MMA fights. However, having no experience at all with the newer Military combative systems being taught, I have no way of knowing if any of those things are being dealt with or not. Someone enlighten me here, am I close at all? I know Matt Stone has a ton of experience here so hopefully he will continue to contribute to this thread and enlighten me a bit.

    Thanks in advance...

    As for what Mr. Worden is teaching, it sounds very similar to what I am learning with Mr. John Baile which uses Modern Arnis as the core and adds in some Sayoc, Oakland era JKD, and Gung Ho Chuan combatives into the mix. Having said that, I still train BJJ on my off days with John as we don't deal with the ground much on a regular basis. I do not want to end up there in a self defense situation, but I figure I had better know a little bit about what to do if I get there anyways.

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2008
  14. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone New Member

    Precisely why MACP has ground fighting... The likelihood of HTH is low, but the likelihood in a HTH situation of an armed and armored Soldier slipping, tripping, falling, or just collapsing to the ground for a variety of reasons while struggling with one or more enemies is quite high. So, knowing in advance that such a struggle will very likely result in both combatants falling to the ground, being both comfortable and superior while "wrasslin" with an opponent is probably pretty good planning on the Army's part (as opposed to just relying on "instinctive reaction" while down there).

    Which is why we place reliance on one's personal weapon as the primary method of "self-defense." Nothing in HTH beats a 3 round burst to the chest... :wink3:

    Well, when you've been sold a partially accurate version of how HTH combat plays out (e.g. "Okay, so the guy punches, so I'll go ahead and catch his punch (which the opponent seems to always leave hanging in the air, allowing it to be caught) while striking this, this, and this vital point (all of which are less than a dime-sized spot, and which the opponent courteously remains still for, allowing you to hit them), which will, as you can 'obviously' see, cause him to go into cardiac arrest... Any questions?"), it's hard not to be overly critical of things that aren't understood whatsoever. I know I did it before I had the opportunity to really see how ground work is done.

    Well, this is where MACP should hang its head in shame... "Big Army" (i.e. Washington D.C., the Department of the Army, or Army Leadership, individually or collectively) is very concerned about combat application and lethality, but its also concerned about safety in training. All those delicate sensibilities Mommy and Daddy and Joe the Plumber express about their babies being placed in harm's way need to be attended to, and if Baby gets a single fat lip, bloody nose, or blackened eye, believe me, we get phone calls... :bawling: So there are a lot of aspects that simply either a) never get taught (my first complaint here would be stand up striking/kicking, next is the use of the primary weapon as a HTH tool instead of just a firearm, last is the use of "improvised" weapons such as sticks, knives, helmets, etc.) or b) gets taught/learned but is never practiced.

    You'll see all sorts of Soldiers doing Combatives, drilling and rolling all over the gym floor, tapping frequently, developing their ground game. Seldom do you see them doing this while wearing their armor. Even more seldom do you see them going from standing positions to the ground (because you learn the takedowns and falls briefly during initial certification training, but nobody likes falling, so nobody practices it, therefore nobody develops sufficient skill in it to teach it safely to others, therefore nobody knows how to fall, therefore nobody learns how to fall safely, therefore nobody practices takedowns from standing positions (which just happen to naturally transition from standing striking/kicking ranges), therefore nobody practices stand up fighting much, if at all...

    It's sad, really, but that's where Kelly comes in. His training provides a very much needed technical "shot in the arm" for a potentially very, very good program.

    One of the biggest complaints about initial training is that the "Gracie Gift" is the standard, beginner level of passing the guard. Why pass the guard instead of break it and own the other guy? The potential of losing control over the opponent. The potential for getting your face smashed in by doing so. All the MACP techniques go out of their way to maintain whatever dominant position and control has already been established by the (assumedly) better trained Soldier, and eliminate the ability of the (most likely) poorly trained enemy to have a chance in hell of escaping his pending doom (or submission, whichever comes first). They're not the best techniques, not the fastest in some cases, but they are safe for the Soldier to apply, both in training and in combat, mitigating the Soldier's chances of getting his/her ass kicked and improving the enemy's chance of getting a seriously large, economy sized can of STFU opened up on him.

    There are some areas that could use improvement. Unfortunately (fortunately?) most MACP instructors that I've run into had absolutely no other martial arts experience whatsoever, so they didn't "bring anything to the table" in terms of overall skill development. They had/have what they learned in MACP class, and that's all. That's good, because they don't bring a lot of bad, TKD, hopping around, BS habits with them. It's bad, because they don't have experience and wisdom to see where things need improvement, and what needs to be left well enough alone (because it's good enough as is).

    I think you're confusing me with someone else... :wink3:

    It's entirely possible, there's little new under the sun. That being said, Kelly's approach is really unique, and his personality adds to that unique quality, putting Soldiers at ease and earning their trust almost immediately (Soldiers have a "0 meter" BS tolerance, and can smell BS, like the sometimes unofficially taught LINE garbage, a mile away). He teaches a complex blend of JKD, FMA, non-classical gung fu, sprinkled liberally with a lifetime of experience, and nearly a decade of teaching Special Forces Soldiers HTH techniques (and if they kept him around that long, you know what he teaches has got to have passed many BS tests and been used in "real time" more than once). After 23 years of what I considered to be premier instruction in an art that is, in my opinion, one of the technically most complete and holistically integrated systems available, Kelly's methods brought my ability to apply what I know to new levels in a very short time.

    I'm not trying to sound like a fan-boy, but anyone who knows me knows I don't speak highly of anything or anyone unless they really deserve it. And Kelly Worden is no joke.
  15. jwinch2

    jwinch2 Member

    Thanks for the detailed response Matt. I appreciate you taking the time to break that down for me. Also, Mr. Worden sounds like an interesting guy with a wealth of experience. As a side note, I find it interesting that he and my instructor, Mr. Baile, teach such similar stuff coming from similar backgrounds in different locations. He (John Baile) is a member of this forum so perhaps he will chime in on this as well.

    Thanks again Matt.


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