This is our last installment on “defining” COMBATIVES parameters.

I’m sure some will overlook it, but it must be emphasized that this material is historical fact and is accurate in substance and detail. It is an objective view of the militants and NOT a subjective opinion or personal “definition” designed to fill an agenda of one kind or another.

The Battle of Britain began in early July 1940. England was isolated, isolated and alone. The miraculous retreat from Dunkirk and the German “Blitzkrieg” across Europe, including the crushing tactical defeat of the famous French “Maginot Line”, proved that the Third Reich’s war machine was virtually unstoppable. Hitler’s plan for the invasion of England, called “Operation Sea Lion”, was a daily focal point of danger and concern for the British.

Dunkirk had decimated the British forces and morale was at an all-time low. Two veterans just returned from British colonial rule in Shanghai, China, approached the War Office and offered their services at this desperate time. William Ewart Fairbairn, a retired senior Shanghai Municipal Police officer, and his partner Eric Anthony Sykes, a private arms dealer who “volunteered” for the SMP and led the “sniper” unit of the famous Squad Shanghai riot police promised the War Office that their training and methods could make “any man equal to ten.” After the debacle at Dunkirk, this was a MORE important and dramatic statement. Initially fired, these two men continued to PROVE the truthfulness of their words and convinced the power as to the absolute effectiveness of their methods. If that meant a middle-aged WE Fairbairn had to drop several young dollars into the hospital to prove his point in an impromptu, but VERY realistic “demo,” so be it. Those who “tested” Sykes did NOT fare better. So the methods that these men had developed over decades of very dangerous work in Shanghai now became an integral and highly valued part of training for all British forces and Special Operations personnel.

The attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, along with the coordinated assault by the Japanese Imperial Army against all American and British forces throughout the Pacific Rim, led the United States firmly into this world conflagration. Now we were totally at war with the Axis forces. Fairbairn, who was now in Canada, assigned to the infamous “Camp X” (where along with “unarmed combat” experts WEF and George de Relwyskow was a BRAZILIAN JUDO / JUJUTSU EXPERT, Hmmm ……. The Colonel Carl Eifler was ALREADY receiving training here) was ordered to assist the US government agency known as the “Office of the Intelligence Co-coordinator,” the forerunner of the OSS. Eric Anthony Sykes remained in England and found the need for his services in great demand. He also found himself working under the auspices of the British covert force known as the Special Operations Executive.

The history of these men from the early days of Shanghai to the war years is a complete story in itself and beyond the scope of this article. However, it must be clearly understood that the contribution of these men had a profound effect and influence on the methods, tactics and techniques of hand-to-hand combat for the DECADES after the war. Despite the often heard “argument” that we have somehow “evolved” beyond these methods, we will put this notion aside in future articles. However, they were certainly NOT the only “experts” involved in this field! An example (one of many) would be AJ Drexel-Biddle, who studied and trained extensively in boxing, savate, jiu-jitsu, swordplay, knife fighting, and various bayonet methods.

As the United States prepared for war, an important factor began to be publicized. Both here and in Australia, the press spoke a lot about the superiority of the Japanese fighter. Part of this was undoubtedly ingrained indeed. The Battle of Port Arthur, the turning point in the Russo-Japanese War, several decades earlier, had shown the world the tenacity and ferocity of the Japanese soldier, particularly in the area of ​​hand-to-hand combat. Much was made of the great Russian soldier who met abject defeat at the hands of his smaller Japanese adversary when he engaged in hand-to-hand combat (hence a very obvious impetus for the creation of Sombo). Jiu-jitsu received worldwide attention and notoriety in this regard. The Japanese conduct of its war in China also showed the world a seemingly invincible and unstoppable force. A force that was brutal and deadly in the extreme.

Much attention was paid to training American and allied forces in methods that would allow the average soldier to engage the Japanese combatant on an equal footing. EACH branch of the Armed Forces began an intensive physical training program designed to meet these needs. Much of the necessary “expert” instruction, particularly in the arena of hand-to-hand combat, came from the civilian quarter. Men with tremendous and varied lifetime experience in all forms of “combative” were chosen to create training programs that would give the Allied soldier enough means to engage his enemies at close range. The Axis did the same, of course, with Japan being the obvious factor in this regard, BUT even Adolf Hitler proclaimed the absolute necessity of boxing and jiu-jitsu in military training as it imparted courage and daring to the average soldier to approach. your enemy.

In the USA there was a PLETHORA of varied training methods and systems. ANY attempt to strictly define existing methods in this age is foolish! Although Lieutenant Colonel Fairbairn’s contribution is BIG, like Colonel Applegate’s influence, DOZENS and DOZENS of different melee battle systems were developed. From wrestling, boxing, savate, judo, jiu-jitsu, Chinese boxing and even football and rugby methods were NOT only used, but complete “systems” based on these individual methods were proposed. . It may come as a surprise to many, but here in the US, even the Japanese KARATE was used!

Many of these “unarmed combat” courses were highly complex and technical, as they were based on the favorite methods of the men in charge of their “creation”. The wrestlers tended to trust that method, the judo men in that system, the boxers in their experience, and so on. Each method could also claim astonishing success in actual combat! True after-action reports showed that ALL of these methods had merit and COULD be used effectively in the rigors and stresses of a battle royale. However, as the war progressed, two main factors began to influence and change these training protocols. One was the fact that more and more men of ALL kinds of varied origins were drafted into military service, the other was that as the demands for more and more replacement troops began to increase, the amount of training time was increased. reduced and limited by necessity.

The approach that seemed MOST feasible and useful was the one that COMBINED the “best” or most effective, efficient, and quick-learning methods, as well as the ones that were best retained! The rudiments of boxing and wrestling became part of a general fitness program, and “unarmed combat” became a specialized instructional block. These courses of “unarmed combat”, “hand-to-hand combat”, “combat judo”, etc., again sought to COMBINE the most advantageous grabs, throws, trips, blocks, strangles, punches, blows and kicks of all the methods. available. . The ONLY truly limiting factor here was the TIME element. Other considerations were also important. The O’Neill method (another Shanghai veteran and Kodokan Yudansha of classification) is a classic example of a system specifically designed for both the available training environment and the NATURE of combat expected. There were even attempts to instruct the military in the actual Koryu Jujutsu systems here in the US! However, the MOST effective systems still sought to MIX ALL the varied methods of physical combat.

As the war progressed further and further after the action, the “intelligence” gathered from the reality of the actual battle helped shape and determine training priorities. Many methods of hand-to-hand combat began to be “shortened” down to the fundamentals that proved to be MOST EFFECTIVE OVERALL and most applicable to ALL TRAINED across a wide and varied spectrum of physical attributes and abilities.

Applegate was perhaps the most vocal of these advocates due to his exposure at the INFANTRY JOURNAL and the release of “KILL or GET KILLED.” And it was NOT without critics, like Fairbairn.

Some courses were so short in duration that they involved ONLY SEVERAL HOURS of instruction. Others were quite involved and very thorough in the content of their syllabus. Many are familiar with the Navy V-5 programs and training at Benning, but less well known is the EXTENSIVE training at places like Fort Meade and at the Hawaii Jungle Warfare complex, just to name two! Here, in these places, and said training was carried out from Brooklyn to California, a very complete and MIXED program of “combative” was taught. From the CIC training center in Chicago to Army training camps in Colorado, from Parris Island to Ranger / Commando schools in the Hawaiian Islands, from training bases in England before D-Day to “Killing” school. In Palestine, the METHODS taught span the gamut of “combative” tooth and nail from man to man. From complex to “instinctive death” (a method designed to FULLY harness the so-called natural instinct to kill “animal”) ALL of these methods, systems and approaches FALL under the definition of FIGHTERS! Even the OSS training staff in Area B were shown the SIAMESE boxing methods (read Muay Thai)! From Anglo-Saxon boxing, wrestling and grappling, French “foot sparring” (including Assaut Vite savate), Indian Varma-adi / Varmannie, Chinese boxing, “Roman” boxing, judo / jujutsu and karate Japanese, Siamese Boxing, Burmese-Bando Boxing (remember the CBI), Western Fences, Philippine Weapons, and ANY and ALL other systems (including almost all weapons known to man) deemed effective for SHIPPING to the enemies to the afterlife were STUDIED, INVESTIGATED. IMPLEMENTED and TRAINED! An American hand-to-hand combat manual from the WWII era references INDONESIAN “methods”!

This IS the COMBATIVES legacy! This is the TRUE DEFINITION of FIGHTERS! And for those who need to “pigeonhole” others in the “box” of “just” doing “combative” of World War II …………………. …… well, applying the above definition based on the TRUE historical RECORD, then HELL YES! ………………… I follow the LEGACY of “FIGHTERS” OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR!

Note: If there is enough interest, we will also be happy to cover ALL of these topics in ALL detail based on OBJECTIVE historical facts.

Future newsletter articles will delve into the history, training, and method covering armed and unarmed combat, as well as topics on various topics from Shanghai to “Shangri-La” (for those who still roam the land of La-La ).

© 2005

By admin

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