Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Army Combatives Program Changes Lesson Plan

Army combatives program changes lesson plan

Nov 20, 2009 [COMMENTS BY John Nottingham in BLUE)
Aritcle Source: http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/11/20/30751-army-combatives-program-changes-lesson-plan/

Story Highlights

  • Curriculum adjustment based on lessons learned from Iraq, Afghanistan
  • Army wants more effective fighters in close quarters
  • Combatives School to mix changes with core principles

Photo credit Cheryl Rodewig

Capt. Keenan Ellison places a rear-naked chokehold on Capt. Chris Zagursky before beating him in one of the early bouts in the heavyweight division of a combatives tournament held on Fort Benning, Ga.
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The U.S. Army Combatives School has adopted a new teaching plan.  [Correction - OLD Lesson Plan]

The Army is revamping the curriculum to take lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan and build more effective close-quarters fighters, said Matt Larsen, the school's director. The goal is to push advanced techniques down to the small-unit level, including basic training.  [Once again, government is slow to react but the Army eventually gets it right.]

"We want Soldiers to be agile, adaptive and competent (so) they can adjust to the realities of the battlefield," Larsen said.

The modifications are based on feedback from across the Army and other factors, he said. More than 900 interviews were conducted with Soldiers who saw hand-to-hand combat in the villages, houses and streets of Iraq or Afghanistan. [NTS Principle 1. Situation/Reality Dictates Response 2.  acquire updated feedback from front line operators as a mastermind group 3. test, test, test then question everything and start over and test again]

Soldiers most often enter small houses and rooms during combat operations, so the Army wants to take the ground-grappling principles taught in combatives and emphasize them from a standing position, Larsen said.
[Reference any of my cautions on video in the 80's and 90's and you will see me making this point again and again.  Training solutions and strategy must be engineered to be A. Mission Specific B. Highly adaptable C. Testable and duplicable... ]

"In the field, the fight is always over weapons and how to maintain control of them," he said. "That will be taught all the way down to basic training."  [Training should be integrative - not compartmentalized so that the operator's training has continuity.]

Knee strikes, clinch drills, fighting with weapons and combat equipment, and pushing terror suspects against the wall are among the upper-echelon combatives techniques Soldiers will now be exposed to at lower unit levels, Larsen said.

Larsen said the school will stick with the four pillars - instruction based on universal, foundational, motivational and tactical attributes - that allowed the program to thrive. But Soldiers often struggled to retain knowledge gained in unit combatives training, so adjustments were needed.  [Notice the missing link that we provide?  Not to seem cocky or say "I told you so" but...Wake up Army - the answers are here.]

Levels 1 and 2 are being changed to the basic and tactical combatives courses, while the basic and tactical combatives instructor courses replace Levels 3 and 4. Under the new construct, the number of training hours at each tier remains the same - 40 in basic, 80 for tactical and 160 each within both instructor phases.

The school will begin implementing the new methods in the next month. [Hooray USA!]

"Combatives is an integral part of what we do as Soldiers," Larsen said. "You can't effectively train in close-quarters combat without combatives. You're going to need it any place you can be hands-on with potential enemies."

He said more than 57,000 troops have graduated from the Army Combatives School since its inception in 2002 - including 50,374 (Level 1), 5,255 (Level 2), 1,408 (Level 3) and 564 (Level 4).

Briant Wells Fieldhouse on Fort Benning, Ga., home of the U.S. Army Combatives School, has extended its hours to 6 to 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday for Soldiers, civilians and family members who want to do combatives training on their own time.  [AIRBORNE!]
Aritcle Source: http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/11/20/30751-army-combatives-program-changes-lesson-plan/
Footnote: Top tier trainers have been making the case that a grappling/BJJ platform should be in question as the base for military hand to hand - hand to weapon combatives training.  As one of my old Army SF instructors said, "Just because something is popular doesn't make it right Nottingham".  

The Gracie BJJ family did a great thing with the UFC, however, we must be put the training, strategy, techniques and fundamental concepts into context.  I'm glad to see SSG Matt Larson and the Army doing great things.  I salute his efforts and applaud his implementing a modern army combatives program.  Perhaps one day my phone will ring and he will be ready to consider some of our strategies and research methods.  I make this statement with a healthy sense of humility and the full knowledge and confidence of our research, systems and years of hard work.  In the end, we're on the same team and the goal is to defend freedom and save our soldier's lives.  De oppresso liber.
THE NTS CHALLENGE: Our offer stands to take two like candidates, put one through our training and one with anyone else. Then, have an objective third party test the results from a live, full-speed, full-contact scenario.  We'll stake our reputation on the results. 


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Paul Vunak's Filthy MMA - Contemporary JKD

The following is a reprint of my teacher Sigung Paul Vunak's article in Black Belt Magazine Published April 2010.  It describes his organization called PFS (Progressive Fighting Systems) latest innovations in practical fighting sciences and the new teaching methods he is requiring of an elite corps of hand-picked instructors.
  • What are the origins or this self defense fighting method? 
  • Would Bruce Lee and Danny Inosanto be proud?
  • What happens when you remove the rules from sport UFC MMA?
Source: http://Fighting.net Reprinted with permission.  Direct link: http://fighting.net/main.php?page=filthymma  

For more information, seminars or training in the Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah region Contact:
DOM Instructor John Nottingham: http://fighting.net/johnn with Sword & Shield Security.

Paul Vunak's Filthy MMA (Contemporary JKD)

In 1959 Bruce Lee came to America, at that time his original art was Wing-Chun. Over the next few years of working with much larger and stronger Americans, Bruce Lee discovered the limitations of Wing-Chun.

In 1964 at the Long Beach Internationals is where Bruce Lee first met Dan Inosanto. Inosanto at that time was a world class athlete running the 100 yard dash in 9.4 seconds. Over the next 9 years Bruce and Dan together created what is now known as Jeet Kune Do. They dissected and synthesized every art and philosophy salient to street fighting. In 1973 Bruce Lee passed away, and the mantle of Jeet Kune Do was officially passed to Dan Inosanto. In 1974 Mr. Inosanto opened the doors to the Filipino Kali Academy. His intention was and still is to continue to cultivate and refine the original process by which he and Bruce started.

3 years later in 1977 is when I personally joined the Kali Academy. From that very first day, I vividly remember Inosanto pounding in our heads, what he said was the most important principle in JKD. "Constant Growth and Progression". Indeed the very words on his certificate echo this principle of continual growth and progression.

"Change is necessary so the practitioner can adapt to the ever changing times and situations. "

The reason JKD was and is so affective lies in the simple fact that it is cutting edge. For example, during the mid 70's everyone used to kick above the waist only. The folks that were at the top of the heap in this world were PKA(Professional Karate Association). The raging paradigm at the time was, one would irreparably damage the knees if leg kicks were applied. We disagreed vehemently with that conclusion. Very few people knew anything about Thai boxing in those days. And this happened to be one of the last arts that Bruce and Dan were exploring before Bruce's death. Wanting to continue this exploration we invited Chai Siruste "World Champion Thai Boxer" to the Kali Academy. We all fell in love with Thai Boxing. The effectiveness of Thai boxing became so evident from that day on, that we made it a staple in the JKD curriculum. Throughout the rest of the 70's and into the early 80's while most of America was fighting out a low stance, and throwing face kicks. We were slamming our opponents front leg with the infamous Thai round kick, then clinching their necks and throwing elbows and knees Thai style. This curriculum served us well, right up until 1983 when we first met the Gracies.

My first experience with Rorion and Royce Gracie left me speechless, angry, and enamored. So I decided to train Jiu-Jitsu full time and became quite fanatical. A few years later Inosanto and Larry Hartsell both caught the bug. Not long after Dan Inosanto became Rigan Machado's oldest Black Belt.

[The Gracies, Machados, BJJ, and MMA]

By 1985 we made Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu an official part of our JKD curriculum. If one were a fly on the wall at the Filipino Kali Academy around these very years they would see during full contact sparring,-jabs, crosses, kicks, Thai clinching, elbows, knees, takedowns, arm locks, triangles and chokes. In other words it would look like what MMA looks like today. The conclusions that we discovered in JKD are the identical conclusions that the MMA world discovered. 95% of the actual techniques needed in one on one empty hand battles lye within two arts, Thai boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I use mix martial arts as an example, because the greatest fighters in the world have culminated to what is now known as mixed martial arts. The top of the heap in this game is the UFC. The UFC has sponsored just over "100" fight nights. There have been roughly 700 fights, of those there have been 432 victories.(268 went to a decision) 218 were from knockouts, of either punches, kicks, elbows or knees. Mostly Thai style. And mostly from the Thai clinch. We clearly have to give the majority of the standup techniques to the Thai's. There have also been 214 victories on the ground due to submissions. This means arm locks, leg locks, triangles, and chokes, these moves all belong to Brazilian jiu-jitsu(no one even know of any of these moves till Royce Gracie came along).

Additional Arts in contemporary JKD,

Once one has the foundation of Thai Boxing and Brazilian Jiu-JItsu. It always helps to spice up your game by throwing in other styles. Say Greco Roman for the Clinch, Wing-Chun to improve forward pressure, or perhaps Savate for some Cro-Cop like kicks. In 1989 we decided to investigate shooto fighting, Inosanto brought in Sensei Yuri Nakamuri, and much like the Thai boxing everyone fell in love with shoot fighting.

In 1993 Eric Paulson (In my opinion Dan's all time best student) won the Light Heaveyweight Shoot Fighting Championship of the world and solidified shoot fightings contribution in contemporary JKD.

Where does original JKD fit in ?

When we say original JKD we are referring to the combined curriculums of the Seattle, Oakland and LA Chinatown schools prior to Bruce Lee's death. We strongly believe that the original curriculum should be preserved and immortalized. In order to assure this for the past 25 years we have made it mandatory for all Phase 1 students to know the entire curriculum of original JKD. When I hear people asking which is better ? Comparing original jkd to contemporary jkd(which is commonly called JKD concepts) I have to smile and scratch my head. You see, original JKD is contained within contemporary JKD. It would be like asking which is better, a Jab or Boxing ? Since a Jab is contained within boxing, the question is moot. Another reason against comparing the two has to do with fairness to Bruce Lee. In order to even be competitive now adays, there are some simple pre-requisites one absolutely must have...

A clinch Game(Either the neck or the body)

Takedown defense,

A Ground game.

The reason that none of these elements are in original JKD. Is because they didn't even exist prior to the first UFC which was 20 years after Bruce Lee's death.

Taking JKD to the next level of violence.

Paul Vunak and SEAL TEAM 6 - Virginia Beach,1987

Once one has gone through the rigors of getting their thai boxing and brazilian jiu-jitsu as good as possible, then the only logical conclusion in order to progress is to cheat. The elements that serve us best in this cause are the weapons, stick and knife, and kina mutai. The Filipino Art of Un-Interruppted Biting and Eye Gouging. Regarding the weapons first, 76 % of altercations envolve weapons of some sort. We have gleaned these statistics from various FBI, DEA and police departments. In other words when a fight begins, the first visceral response someone has is to reach around them and grab something. This something can be a tire iron, a crow bar, a pocket knife a mag lite, a broken bottle, a pool cue etc... etc..

This means one could be a UFC champion, and go celebrating that night with the belt that they just won and perhaps confront some knuckle head, drunk, who pulls out a knife. Well there are absolutely, positively certain edged weapons principles that one must know or die. And the possibility of this world champion being a statistic is greater than one would think.

So as the JKD person is concerned with survival first, they augment their empty hands with Filipino Weaponry. In the world of combat as Bruce taught us that no one style, system or ethnicity has it all. And just as the Brazilians are experts on the ground, and the French are experts with their high kicks, it is the Filipinos that are cutting edge with all weapons. Therefore I highly recommend that you find a Kali or escrima school for this part of your game.

Kina Mutai - the Filipino Art of Biting and Eye Gouging.

The Main difference between a kinamutai bite and just a plain bite has to do with how, when and where they attack. When a kina mutai practitioner bites you, it is with an uninterrupted bite. Since he knows the exact places on the body to bite, and with precise timing. He grabs you with his incredible grip strength, rips into your flesh like a pit bull( using mainly one's k-nines) and the single most important thing is that you are in some sort of bear hug while this is happening. Every single bite or eye gouge performed by a kina mutai specialist is augmented with their right hand gripping their left wrist, or their left hand gripping their right wrist(in a bear hug type of fashion). The actual motion of the bite is a repeated circular ripping of the flesh ,when applied over a period of time the damage inflicted is unimaginable. A contemporary JKD man escalates their level of violence to this degree only for two possible reasons.

  1. One is to protect their to family.(perhaps carjacking, home invasion, or child abductions etc)
  2. For a military operation.

In conclusion, please understand that my intention upon writing this article, "Contemporary JKD", is not to add yet another name for all of us to "fuss" over, I am however real big on respect. I believe out of respect to Bruce Lee and his direct original students, his original curriculum should be preserved and immortalized. I also believe that the people that have put forth 3 decades of sweat and blood, in order to keep Bruce's Art cutting edge also deserve respect, as we are all branches of the same tree.

If I had to describe contemporary JKD in a couple of words, You've heard of Dirty Boxing ? My couple of words are ... Filthy MMA.

About the Author:
Mr Vunak would like everyone to know about his program Adapt 4 Life, "teaching martial arts to physically challenged children". For more information go to www.fighting.net.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What is Krav Maga? Is it Best for Security, Police, Military, Me?


Krav Maga is the official system of hand-to-hand combat and self-defense employed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).  Litterally translated as "contact combat" or "close combat", Krav Maga is an eclectic hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel which involves wrestling, grappling and striking techniques.  It was derived from street-fighting skills scientifically developed by Imi Lichtenfeld.

I am a proud practicioner of Krav Maga and have studied with Darren Lavine, Bas Rutten, Amir Perets, John Whitman, Paul Reavlin (my Revgear friend) and others. My school USA Martial Arts hired Wade Allen (Jennifer Lopez and SWAT trainer) to train our staff and students here in Phoenix Arizona.

You can see clear influences of the Krav Maga on my teaching, the USA Martial Arts system as well as our NTS / Nottingham Sword & Shield Security training courses.  I can attest to the fact that all Krav Maga is not the same.  Darren and his team have my utmost respect and I consider them a valued resource for my own growth and training.

Krav Maga training focuses on teaching simple (not to be confused with easy) techniques which are specifically designed for reality based attack scenarios and specifically developed to produce skilled individuals in a short period of time.

The guiding principles for Krav Maga are:
  • Neutralize the threat 
  • Avoid injury 
  • Go from defending to attacking as quickly as possible 
  • Use the body's natural reflexes 
  • Strike at vulnerable areas 
  • Use any tool or object nearby
  • No rules 
You'll find these in almost any practical and scientifically tested hand to hand or hand to weapon combat system for close quarters battle.  These principles are well ingrained pillars in my NTS training systems as well as what I teach the military and security/law enforcement.  (VIPER, RAT, PFS DOM and many other programs.)

In Krav Maga, students will learn to hit any area that is available on an opponent as well as use anything at their disposal within their reach to their advantage. A student of Krav Maga is also taught to deal with the most important or most dangerous threats first and to keep the opponent or attacker from continued attack. Krav Maga teaches the student to utilize the body’s own responses and abilities to move quickly from a defense position to one of attacking or striking.

Is Krav Maga the best for me?

That depends.  Being physically and mentally prepared to handle confrontation is why hundreds of law enforcement agencies and civilians around the world train in Krav Maga. Based on scientific principles and instinctive movements, this reality-based system is designed to teach real self defense in the shortest possible time. You'll learn to defend against common chokes and grabs from all angles, punches and kicks, and weapons such as guns, knives and sticks. Just as important, Krav Maga will teach you to function under the stress, shock and adrenalin rush of a sudden, violent encounter.  

Having said that, Krav Maga is extremely physically demanding and carries risks people should consider. Numerous clients reporting to me that they were injured or simply couldn't keep pace or recover with their demanding profession, lifestyle or physical abilities.  Krav Maga takes an intense level of commitment to practice because it is designed as a short term, quick learn immersion training system for young, fit, full-time military personnel.   I love, practice and teach elements of Krav Maga but that isn't what I offer the public at my martial arts school.  I draw on elements of Krav Maga and other sources to tailor training to my individual students needs.


Frankly, KM isn't for everyone and has a chronically high drop out rate, even with the best instruction and optimistic intentions.  It favors young, athletic and aggressive individuals with durable bodies and an intense work ethic.  Yanking peoples feet out from under them and going full contact comes with a higher risk than many of my clients are prepared to take (while I love this personally and would use it to train certain military  or SWAT personnel.).  Put simply, it is difficult to maintain it as a lifestyle or ongoing lifestyle fitness program for most of us.  Despite how it has been marketed by some, it is not a martial art, Krav Maga is a military combatives system.  

The key to Krav Maga, as with any instruction in my view, isn't the system as much as it is the instructor.  A skilled teacher can adapt the principles and concepts to the practitioner and their individual needs.  This is especially important if the individual is law enforcement, security or a profession with a clearly defined mission and use of force liability concerns.  Krav Maga get's my highest recommendation for military, a cautionary recommendation for law enforcement and a strong caution for civilians.  As with most things, I've seen it taught well and I've seen it taught horribly.  The bottom line is finding the best instructor for your goals, mission and one who can bring out your best.

NTS Nottingham Training Systems
Nottingham Sword & Shield Security
NTS training offers context and mission specific solutions to military, law enforcement, government agencies, various institutions and individuals.  Our team integrates our background in military, law enforcement, security (bodyguards) and martial arts to efficiently tailor training to the needs of our clients.  We draw on a variety of sources as well as scientific research for our methods.  For more contact http://NottinghamSwordandShieldSecurity.com

IMPACT : Our version of Krav Maga and unique blend of Fitness and Self Defense
Intense Mental Physical Applied Conditioning Training

Krav Maga not a perfect fit for you?  That's why my team developed IMPACT.  Impact is a program designed to incorporate the winning strategy, tactics, drills and skill of Krav Maga, JKD and Mixed Martial Arts Kick Boxing as a recreational fitness program.  The atmosphere is designed to be comfortable for a variety of ages, fitness levels and tailors well to individual goals.  We have a ton of fun and even integrate Yoga to heal old injuries and balance the body with flexibility and stress management.

You can try IMPACT MMA Fitness Kick Boxing Self Defense for free as my guest to see if it's right for you.  

In the United States, personnel from various Federal, State and Local law enforcementagencies regularly train in Krav Maga, JKD and now MMA concepts, including the FBI- Federal Bureau of Investigations,United States Marshals Service, ATF- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, DEA- Drug Enforcement Administration U.S. Treasury Department, INS-Immigration and Naturalization Service, State Department, CIA Central Intelligence agency, United States Coast Guard, and police and sheriff's offices in New York (NYPD), Illinois, Texas, Alabama, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland to name a few.

If you or your organization are interesting in our force and mission specific training options contact http://NottinghamSwordandShieldSecurity.com or info@usa-martialarts.com