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Examining Critiques of U.S. Military
Combative Measures Programs

I've written several articles on various aspects of military combative measures programs for Arresting Solutions. During my research and exposure to these systems, I've also come across critiques of aspects of some of these programs by some. While I rarely attach any credibility to critiques made by martial artists who have no experience in military combative measures, or non-martial arts armchair warriors, there are legitimately experienced instructors who have made what I feel to be some valid points in their evaluation of some of these programs. For this brief article, I would like to focus on one or two areas which have been consistently cited as "flaws" according to some critics. One relates to unarmed defenses, the other to armed, specifically, stick and knife fighting.

With regard to unarmed combat, the chief criticism I've read and heard is that there is far too great an emphasis on the ground fighting methods employed, taken from "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu" or Mixed Martial Arts. Prior to continuing, let it be clear that I am not addressing the effectiveness of either "BJJ" or MMA as fighting styles. Rather, the concern expressed is the practical applicability of these techniques in a combative measures program, or real life combat situation. If the Field Manuals dealing with this area of the various military branches are studied, one would have to objectively agree that the current training does lean heavily in this direction. The question becomes, is this emphasis smart and effective in the combat arena?

In terms of the ground work, it is said that while the techniques themselves may be effective, the level of skill required to enter into them quickly and efficiently is too great and therefore not practical for the brief time afforded the servicemen and women.


There is also the question of the vulnerability of the servicemen and women while they are in a ground fighting situation to other combatants. Further, it often seems what is overlooked is the possible level of skill the enemy might have. Since ground fighting seems to be an emphasis with militaries of many countries, the actual combat may turn into a competition. In a hand-to-hand situation, the objective is to kill the enemy quickly, not compete to see who is the more skilled competitor.

When fighting from a standing position, the striking style resembles Muay Thai. Knee blows are shown to the stomach, as are kicks. In the past, leg strikes went to the groin/testicle area and legs. Just as with the emphasis in groundwork, an emphasis on blows to the stomach does not lead to a quick efficient kill or disabling of the enemy. 

Regarding the use of the knife and the rifle, we again see emphasis on the Filipino systems of knife and stick fighting. It has been said that the Filipino knife fighting methods are too complicated in their original state to learn quickly, and must be modified (as they often are) for a combat situation, especially while in uniform with gear. While the Filipino methods of stick fighting may well be effective, a rifle is significantly heavier and weighted differently than a short stick, and many of the stick fighting techniques are simply impractical to transfer to the rifle. 

In the opinion of this writer, I think the critiques do in fact have a great deal of validity. However, neither I nor any disgruntled military personnel have any decision making powers to change or modify this aspect on training. It seems that only time will judge the effectiveness of the current training.

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