Female Soldiers talk about their experiences taking on their male colleagues in Combatives Training.
In 2001, Matt Larsen, then a Sergeant First Class, established the United States Army Combatives School at Fort Benning. Students are taught techniques from the 2002 and 2009 versions of FM 3-25.150 (Combatives), also written by Larsen. The aim of the regimen is to teach soldiers how to train rather than attempting to give them the perfect techniques for any given situation. The main idea is that all real ability is developed after the initial training and only if training becomes routine. The initial techniques are simply a learning metaphor useful for teaching more important concepts, such as dominating an opponent with superior body position during ground grappling or how to control someone during clinch fighting. They are taught as small, easily repeatable drills, in which practitioners could learn multiple related techniques rapidly. For example, Drill One teaches several techniques: escaping blows, maintaining the mount, escaping the mount, maintaining the guard, passing the guard, assuming side control, maintaining side control, preventing and assuming the mount. The drill can be completed in less than a minute and can be done repeatedly with varying levels of resistance to maximize training benefits.
New soldiers begin their Combatives training on day three of Initial Military Training, at the same time that they are first issued their rifle. The training begins with learning to maintain control of your weapon in a fight. Soldiers are then taught how to gain control of a potential enemy at the farthest possible range in order to maintain their tactical flexibility, what the tactical options are and how to implement them.
During the graduation exercises the trainee must react to contact from the front or rear in full combat equipment and execute whichever of the three tactical options is appropriate and to take part in competitive bouts using the basic rules.
The Combatives School teaches four instructor certification courses. Students of the first course are not expected to have any knowledge of combatives upon arrival. They are taught fundamental techniques which are designed to illuminate the fundamental principles of combatives training. The basic techniques form a framework upon which the rest of the program can build and are taught as a series of drills, which can be performed as a part of daily physical training. While the course is heavy on grappling, it does not lose sight of the fact that it is a course designed for soldiers going into combat. It is made clear that while combatives can be used to kill or disable, the man that typically wins a hand-to-hand fight in combat is the one whose allies arrive with guns first.
Subsequent courses build upon the framework by adding throws and takedowns from Wrestling and Judo, striking skills from Boxing and Muay Thai, ground fighting from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Sambo and melee weapons fighting from Eskrima and the western martial arts, all of that combined with how to conduct scenario training and referee the various levels of Combatives competitions.