Hand-to-hand combat is an engagement between two or more persons in an
empty-handed struggle or with handheld weapons such as knives, sticks, and
rifles with bayonets. These fighting arts are essential military skills. Projectile
weapons may be lost or broken, or they may fail to fire. When friendly and
enemy forces become so intermingled that firearms and grenades are not
practical, hand-to-hand combat skills become vital assets.
1-1. PURPOSE OF COMBATIVES TRAINING
Today’s battlefield scenarios may require silent elimination of the enemy.
Unarmed combat and expedient-weapons training should not be limited to
forward units. With rapid mechanized/motorized, airborne, and air assault
abilities, units throughout the battle area could be faced with close-quarter
or unarmed fighting situations. With low-intensity conflict scenarios and
guerrilla warfare conditions, any soldier is apt to face an unarmed
confrontation with the enemy, and hand-to-hand combative training can save
lives. The many practical battlefield benefits of combative training are not
its only advantage. It can also—
a. Contribute to individual and unit strength, flexibility, balance, and
b. Build courage, confidence, self-discipline, and esprit de corps.
1-2. BASIC PRINCIPLES
There are basic principles that the hand-to-hand fighter must know and apply
to successfully defeat an opponent. The principles mentioned are only a few
of the basic guidelines that are essential knowledge for hand-to-hand combat.
There are many others, which through years of study become intuitive to a
highly skilled fighter.
a. Physical Balance. Balance refers to the ability to maintain equilibrium
and to remain in a stable, upright position. A hand-to-hand fighter must
maintain his balance both to defend himself and to launch an effective attack.
Without balance, the fighter has no stability with which to defend himself, nor
does he have a base of power for an attack. The fighter must understand two
aspects of balance in a struggle:
(1) How to move his body to keep or regain his own balance. A fighter
develops balance through experience, but usually he keeps his feet about
shoulder-width apart and his knees flexed. He lowers his center of gravity to
(2) How to exploit weaknesses in his opponent's balance. Experience also
gives the hand-to-hand fighter a sense of how to move his body in a fight to
maintain his balance while exposing the enemy’s weak points.
b. Mental Balance. The successful fighter must also maintain a mental
balance. He must not allow fear or anger to overcome his ability to
concentrate or to react instinctively in hand-to-hand combat.
c. Position. Position refers to the location of the fighter (defender) in
relation to his opponent. A vital principle when being attacked is for the
defender to move his body to a safe position—that is, where the attack cannot
continue unless the enemy moves his whole body. To position for a
counterattack, a fighter should move his whole body off the opponent’s line
of attack. Then, the opponent has to change his position to continue the
attack. It is usually safe to move off the line of attack at a 45-degree angle,
either toward the opponent or away from him, whichever is appropriate. This
position affords the fighter safety and allows him to exploit weaknesses in the
enemy’s counterattack position. Movement to an advantageous position
requires accurate timing and distance perception.
d. Timing. A fighter must be able to perceive the best time to move to
an advantageous position in an attack. If he moves too soon, the enemy will
anticipate his movement and adjust the attack. If the fighter moves too late,
the enemy will strike him. Similarly, the fighter must launch his attack or
counterattack at the critical instant when the opponent is the most vulnerable.
e. Distance. Distance is the relative distance between the positions of
opponents. A fighter positions himself where distance is to his advantage.
The hand-to-hand fighter must adjust his distance by changing position and
developing attacks or counterattacks. He does this according to the range at
which he and his opponent are engaged. (For a more detailed discussion of
the concepts of distance and range, see Chapter 6.)
f. Momentum. Momentum is the tendency of a body in motion to
continue in the direction of motion unless acted on by another force. Body
mass in motion develops momentum. The greater the body mass or speed of
movement, the greater the momentum. Therefore, a fighter must
understand the effects of this principle and apply it to his advantage.
(1) The fighter can use his opponent’s momentum to his
advantage—that is, he can place the opponent in a vulnerable position by
using his momentum against him.
(a) The opponent’s balance can be taken away by using his own
(b) The opponent can be forced to extend farther than he expected,
causing him to stop and change his direction of motion to continue his attack.
(c) An opponent’s momentum can be used to add power to a fighter’s
own attack or counterattack by combining body masses in motion.
(2) The fighter must be aware that the enemy can also take advantage of
the principle of momentum. Therefore, the fighter must avoid placing
himself in an awkward or vulnerable position, and he must not allow himself
to extend too far.
g. Leverage. A fighter uses leverage in hand-to-hand combat by using the
natural movement of his body to place his opponent in a position of unnatural
movement. The fighter uses his body or parts of his body to create a natural
mechanical advantage over parts of the enemy’s body. He should never
oppose the enemy in a direct test of strength; however, by using leverage, he
can defeat a larger or stronger opponent.
This chapter discusses the trainer’s role in teaching and sustaining effective
hand-to-hand combat. It also discusses unit training training areas, teaching
techniques, and safety precautions that must be considered before conducting
TRAIN THE TRAINER
Professional instruction is the key to success in combative training.
Instructors must be physically fit and highly proficient in the
demonstration and practical application of the skills described in this
manual. Confidence, enthusiasm, and technical expertise are
essential for success in teaching hand-to-hand combat. Assistant
instructors must also be properly trained to help supervise and
demonstrate maneuvers. Highly trained assistant instructors under
supervision may also provide supplementary combative training
during off-duty hours.
2-1. IMPORTANCE OF SKILLED TRAINERS
Diligent effort is needed to perfect the various hand-to-hand combat
techniques, to apply them instinctively, and to teach others to safely master
them. The following instructor responsibilities are the core of planning and
executing combative training.
a. Seek maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Continually strive to
reduce all unnecessary explanations, movement, and activity. Streamline the
training without compromising content, efficiency, or safety.
b. Stress cooperation and technical mastery. Minimize hostile behavior
but promote aggressiveness and power.
c. Reinforce the details of each technique, and provide positive feedback
when warranted. Use occasional humor to motivate soldiers, but avoid
degrading or insulting them.
d. Ensure serviceable training aids are present to use in sufficient
quantities for all soldiers being trained. Ensure training areas are well
maintained and free from dangerous obstructions.
e. Ensure instructors and assistant instructors are well rehearsed and
prepared before all training sessions. Conduct instructor training at least five
hours weekly to maintain a high skill level.
f. Develop as many skilled combative instructors for each unit as
possible. Instructor-to-soldier ratios should not be less than 1 instructor for
20 soldiers. Encourage after-duty training and education for instructors.
g. Require strict discipline of all soldiers.
2-2. SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
To prevent injuries, the instructor must consider the following safety
precautions before conducting combative training.
a. Supervise all practical work closely and constantly. Never leave a
b. Familiarize the soldiers with each maneuver by a complete explanation
and demonstration before they try the moves.
c. Do not allow the soldiers to get ahead of the instruction.
d. Ensure the training partner offers no resistance, but allows the
maneuver to be freely executed during the learning stages and while
perfecting the techniques.
e. Ensure there is adequate space between soldiers during all practical
work—for example, allow at least an 8-foot square for each pair of soldiers.
f. Ensure that soldiers empty their pockets, and remove their jewelry,
identification tags, and glasses before training.
g. Stress that only simulated strikes to vital points, such as the head, neck,
and groin area, are executed. Soldiers may use light blows to other vulnerable
areas; however, they must exercise caution at all times.
h. Establish a signal to indicate to the partner when to stop the pressure
in grappling and choking techniques. Two handclaps or tapping the training
partner with a free hand are examples.
i. Make sure soldiers warmup and stretch properly before practical work.
j. Teach and practice falls before conducting throws.
k. Ensure protective eye wear is available when executing training with
practice bayonets, knives, or any sharp weapons.
l. Ensure that the soldier to be disarmed does not place his finger in
the trigger guard during rifle and bayonet disarming.
m. Make sure soldiers keep scabbards on knives and bayonets firmly
attached to rifles while learning bayonet disarming methods.
n. Use bayonet scabbards or rubber knives during knife disarming training.
0. Inspect all sandbags on retaining walls before conduct of instruction so
that all bags are serviceable with at least 75 percent fill and that entire retainer
wall is covered with sandbags. Any bag placed where personnel are likely to fall
will be filled with the same consistency filler as the sawdust in the pit and will also
provide a minimum of 6 inches of sawdust.
p. Maintain a buffer zone of 6 feet from retainer wall and demonstration area
during all training, especially training requiring throws and takedowns by students.
q. Rake the training pit to loosen sawdust and remove all sharp objects.
Properly inspect the pit so that all safety hazards are removed before
instruction/demonstrations are executed.
r. Perform inspections on training pits two days before use to ensure that
there is at least 6 inches of sawdust throughout the training pit area. This will
allow time to acquire sawdust to resurface pit area if there is not 6 inches of
Although combative are not likely to become part of a unit’s
mission-essential task list, commanders cannot overlook the
importance of soldiers’ skills in hand-to-hand combat. Hand-to-hand
fighting is a possibility in any conflict, and a basic proficiency in
combative may save soldiers’ lives. Entry-level soldiers receive a
training base in combative during basic training and in OSUT.
Advanced individual training commanders should consider using
hand-to-hand combat as part of the physical training program. They
should review the training presented during basic training and, as time
permits, expand into the more advanced techniques discussed in this
field manual. Regular units must incorporate combative into an
organized training program for soldiers to achieve and sustain
WHEN PLANNING COMBATIVES TRAINING,
INSTRUCTORS MUST TAKE PRECAUTIONS ACCORDING
TO THE TIME OF DAY SEASON, AND ACCLIMATIZATION
OF SOLDIERS. THEY MUST ALSO CONSIDER
MODIFICATION OF THE UNIFORM, BREAK TIMES, AND OR
THE AVAILABILITY OF WATER.
2-3. BASIC OR ONE-STATION UNIT TRAINING
Combative training in the basic or one-station unit training program is based on
10 hours of available training time, divided into five periods of 2 hours each. The
following is a suggested POI for introductory-level combative training.
a. Period 1 - 2 Hours.
(1) Introduction to combatives—safety.
(2) Combat demonstration performed by instructors or trainers to gain
attention and to motivate soldiers.
(3) Vital points and vulnerable points.
(7) Elbows and knees.
(8) Short punches and strikes.
(10) Drills. Twenty-five repetitions for each strike—that is, elbows,
knees, punches, and kicks-using vital and vulnerable points.
(11) Combinations of strikes.
b. Period 2 - 2 Hours.
(1) Warm-ups and stretches.
(2) Review of strikes.
(5) Proficiency development of falls and throws through repetition.
c. Period 3 - 2 Hours.
(1) Warm-ups and stretches.
(2) Review of falls.
d. Period 4 - 2 Hours.
(1) Warm-ups and stretches.
(2) Defense and counters against weapons.
Angles of attack and defenses of each angle.
Three-foot stick defense.
Three-foot stick attacks.
Drills. Twenty-five repetitions of defenses against each
angle of attack, knife attacks, and 3-foot stick attacks.
e. Period 5 - 2 Hours.
(1) Warm-ups and stretches.
(2) Overall review.
2-4. UNIT SUSTAINMENT TRAINING PROGRAM
Unit combative training is best done at company and platoon level. It is
difficult for commanders to find time to conduct hand-to-hand combat
training in typical training schedules. Combative training can be conducted
during the times allotted for unit physical readiness training. Most units have
at least one day a week when organized athletics are conducted for PT; this
is a good time to train in hand-to-hand combat.
a. When the unit begins combative training, it starts with the basic
training/OSUT program. After each soldier in the unit has attained the same
basic skill level, the training can then progress to more advanced techniques
and drills. If conducted once a week, this program takes 10 weeks to
complete. A typical progression might be as follows:
Defense and counters against weapons: 3 hours
Field-expedient weapons: 3 hours.
Sentry removal, silent kills, and quick kills: 2 hours.
Advanced knife drills: 3 hours.
b. Once the unit has basic proficiency of the topics in Chapters 3 through 7,
the commanders can easily plan future combative training. Unit trainers will
know where emphasis should be placed in the unit’s hand-to-hand training,
and they can also create more advanced training exercises and drills based on
soldier skill levels.
An advantage of combative training is that it can be conducted almost
anywhere with little preparation of the training area. (See Appendix A.)
2-5. TRAINING FORMATIONS
Physical training formations may be used for combative training.
(See FM 21-20.) If the extended rectangular formation is used, the first and
third ranks should face the second and fourth ranks so that each soldier has
a partner directly across from him.
a. When practicing throws or disarming techniques, soldiers need twice
the normal interval between ranks. Instructors also try to pair soldiers
according to height and weight.
b. A large, grassy outdoor area free of obstructions is suitable for training.
Each pair of soldiers should have an 8-foot square training space. Indoor
areas, such as gymnasiums, are also appropriate; however, sharp or hard
weapons are not used on gymnasium floors or on mats.
2-6. PIT CONSTRUCTION
The most common area for teaching hand-to-hand combat is a sawdust pit.
Figure 2-1, shows a training area for 200 soldiers with a sawdust pit
surrounding an instructor and demonstrator platform.
a. To construct the pit, dig out and level an area 50 meters wide and build
a retaining wall at least 24 inches high. The wall can be cinder blocks,
sandbags, or dirt if other materials are not available. To prevent injuries from
a cinder block retaining wall, cover the wall and the top of the wall with
sandbags. Place a layer of plastic sheeting on the ground to prevent the
growth of grass and weeds, and place a sand base up to 12 inches deep on top
of the plastic. Then, place a layer of sawdust at least 6 inches deep on top of
b. Build a 14-foot square demonstration area (Figure 2-1) in the center
of the pit with the same type of retaining wall described in paragraph a. This
area is large enough for two demonstrators and the primary instructor.
2-7. BAYONET ASSAULT COURSE
The bayonet assault course provides the commander a unique training
opportunity. It allows his soldiers to employ rifle-bayonet fighting skills under
simulated combat conditions. The course can be built and negotiated so that
demands placed on the soldiers’ abilities and on their endurance approach
those experienced under combat conditions. Realistic sights and sounds of
battle—fire, smoke, confusion, and pyrotechnics--can also be created to
enhance realism. (See Appendix B.) The training objectives of the bayonet
assault course include:
Improving rifle-bayonet fighting skills.
Improving physical fitness and soldier aggressiveness.
Improving speed, strength, coordination, and accuracy.
Providing realistic rifle-bayonet fighting under near combat
Challenging the soldiers’ determination and stamina, which are
needed in combat.
Providing an opportunity for team and squad leaders to develop
their leadership and control measures.
SOLDIERS MUST CARRY AND USE THE PROTECTIVE
MASK WHILE PARTICIPATING IN TRAINING THAT
INCLUDES THE USE OF SMOKE.
a. Safety. The safety of the soldiers should be a constant concern of the
instructor and his assistants. The best safety aids are constant control and
supervision. In addition, instructors should brief soldiers at the beginning of
each class on the requirements for safety during rifle-bayonet training.
Instructors use the following safety measures:
(1) Bayonets must be fixed and unfixed only on command.
(2) Rifles should be grounded near the targets when the soldiers are ordered
to move to the instructor’s platform for explanations or demonstrations.
(3) A level surface that does not become slippery when wet should be
provided for the training court.
(4) Left-handed soldiers should be positioned so that they are opposite
another left-handed soldier when working against the targets. This type of
arrangement prevents possible injury when executing a series of movements.
(5) When using the M16 rifle against a target, the force of contact during
the thrust movement may drive the hand, gripping the small of the stock, into
the forward assist assembly (on the right-hand side of the weapon near the
stock). To prevent injury to the hand, the soldier must maintain a firm grip
on the small of the stock; gloves should be worn as part of the training uniform
when weather dictates.
b. Layout. The 300-meter-long course consists of a series of targets to
attack and obstacles to negotiate. Lay it out over natural terrain, preferably
rough and wooded areas. Include natural obstacles, such as streams, ravines,
ridges, and thick vegetation. Build artificial obstacles, such as entanglements,
fences, log walls, hurdles, and horizontal ladders (Figure 2-2).
c. Targets. Use a variety of targets to provide experience in different
attacks. The local TSC can build the targets. Those composed of old tires
are appropriate as well as the ivan-type targets used by range control—that
is, the E-type silhouette, three-dimensional personnel target (large),
FSN 6920-01-164-9625 or the F-type silhouette, three-dimensional personnel
target (small), FSN 6920-OO-T33-8777. Targets should be durable but should
not damage weapons. Place a sign near each target to indicate the type of
attack to be used.
d. Usage. An example of how to conduct the bayonet assault course is as
(1) Task. Negotiate the bayonet assault course.
(2) Conditions. Given nine lanes on a 300-meter bayonet assault course
over irregular terrain with four types of targets: thrust; parry thrust target;
parry, butt stroke to the groin target; and parry, butt stroke to head target
(Figure 2-3, page 2-10). The targets are marked with a sign to indicate the
required attack. Given seven types of obstacles as shown in Figures 2-4
through 2-10, pages 2-11 through 2-14. Given a soldier in battle dress uniform
with load-carrying equipment and a rifle with a fixed bayonet.
(3) Standards. The course must be successfully negotiated by all soldiers
in the class with each soldier obtaining kills on 75 percent of the total targets
in his lane. The course must be negotiated in 5 minutes or less (about
30 seconds for each 50 meters and time to attack and negotiate obstacles).
TO AVOID INJURY, INSTRUCTORS ENSURE THAT THE
PROPER INTERVAL IS CONSTANTLY MAINTAINED.
This section discusses a variety of effective teaching techniques to use
while conducting combative training.
2-8. WARM-UPS AND STRETCHES
Before combative training, the soldier must be prepared for the upcoming
physical stress. A warm-up period gradually increases the internal
temperature of the body and the heart rate. Stretching prepares the
ligaments, tendons, muscles, and heart for a workout, decreasing the chances
a. Warm-up Exercises. To begin warm-up exercises, rotate the major
joints—neck, shoulders, hips, and knees. The warm-up should at least
include 7 to 10 minutes of stretching, running in place or jogging around the
training area, and calisthenics. Grass drills and guerrilla exercises are a good
approach as a warm-up for combative training. They condition the body
through motion in all ranges, accustom the soldiers to contact with the ground,
and promote aggressiveness.
b. Stretching Exercises. Any of the stretching exercises in FM 21-20 are
recommended for hand-to-hand combat training. Five other exercises that
increase flexibility in areas of the body that benefit hand-to-hand combat
movements are as follows:
(1) Backroll stretch.
(a) Position: Lay on ground on back with legs extended and arms by
sides, palms down.
(b) Action: Raise legs over head and roll back as far as possible, trying
to place toes on the ground behind head. Keep knees locked and feet and
knees together; hold for 20 seconds (Figure 2-11). Gradually, return to
starting position. Repeat two or three times.
(2) Buddy-assisted splits (leg spreader).
(a) Position: Sit on ground facing buddy with legs extended and spread
as far as possible. Position feet inside ankles.
(b) Action: Interlock hands with buddy and alternate pulling one toward
the other, causing the buddy to bend forward over the hips until a stretch is
felt (Figure 2-12). Hold this position for 20 seconds, then alternate and have
him pull you into a stretch. Do sequence two or three times each.
(3) Buddy-assisted hamstring stretch.
(a) Position: Sit on ground with right leg extended to front and foot
pointing up. Bend left leg with sole touching to inside of right thigh. Have
buddy kneel behind you with his hands on your shoulders (Figure 2-13).
(b) Action: Slowly bend forward from hips over the right leg and reach
your hands toward ankles until stretch is felt (Figure 2-l3). Hold this for 10
to 15 seconds. The buddy then applies downward pressure and allows you to
adjust your stretch. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat. Alternate legs and
positions after two or three sequences.
(4) Buddy-assisted groin (butterfly) stretch.
(a) Position: Sit on ground with the soles of your feet together, close to
the torso. Hold ankles with hands. Have buddy kneel behind you with his
hands on your knees.
(b) Action: The buddy places his hands on top of your thighs at the knees.
The buddy’s weight is supported by your shoulders while little weight is placed
on the thighs. Then, the buddy increases downward pressure on your thighs
until stretch is felt (Figure 2-14). Hold for 20 seconds, then alternate
(5) Buddy-assisted back stretch.
(a) Position: Stand back-to-back with buddy and interlock arms at your
(b) Action: Bend forward at the waist and pull buddy up on your back
over your hips. The buddy allows his back to arch and tells you when an
adequate stretch is felt (Figure 2- 15). Hold this position for 20 seconds, then,
A fighter’s stance (Figure 2-16)
is the position he takes in
readiness for an unarmed fight.
He may launch an attack or
defend from this stance.
a. A fighter’s stance not only
places his body in a good position
from which to attack or defend,
but it influences his mental
attitude and aggressiveness.
b. He holds his hands high
to protect his head and face.
His fists are clenched, but
relaxed. His elbows are close
to his body and his weight is
evenly distributed on both feet,
creating a stable base. He is
light on his feet with his knees
slightly flexed to allow quick
movement in any direction.
A soldier must learn how to fall to the ground without getting hurt, both during
training and during combat. If he loses his balance or is thrown during a fight,
his use of basic fall techniques enables him to escape injury or to quickly
recover to protect himself.
TO HELP PREVENT ACCIDENTS DURING FALLS, IT IS
IMPORTANT TO EXHALE UPON IMPACT WITH THE
GROUND. THIS HELPS THE BODY ABSORB THE
a. Laying Side Fall. The laying side fall is a training exercise that teaches
the basic movements for executing a side fall. To be safe, the fall is learned
from the squatting position until soldiers can fall properly. From the
squatting position (Figure 2-17, Step 1), the soldier extends one leg across the
front of the body and raises his arm on the same side across his face
(Figure 2-17, Step 2).
Then he rolls onto the exposed side, allowing the extended leg and side to
absorb the shock of the fall. He slowly lowers his arm to stabilize his body.
He raises his other hand to guard against future strikes (Figure 2-17, Step 3).
b. Standing Side Fall. The soldier starts the fall from the standing
position (Figure 2-18, Step 1).
He lowers his weight on the supporting leg and extends the other leg across
the body (Figure 2-18, Step 2).
He then distributes his body weight by rolling along the exposed side from the
ankle of the extended leg to the back muscle. The arm on the ground is used
to stabilize himself; the other hand is used to guard the body (Figure 2-l8, Step 3).
c. Forward Rolling Fall. The soldier starts the fall from the standing
position (Figure 2-19, Step 1). He raises one arm to expose his entire side,
places both hands on the ground, and bends both knees.
He rolls forward across the body along the hand, arm, and back to the opposite
hip (Figure 2-19, Step 2) and ends in a good side fall position (Figure 2-19, Step 3).
He keeps his left leg flat on the ground, knee slightly bent. His right knee
points upward and bends inward to help protect the groin. He keeps his right
heel and sole flat on the ground behind the left leg.
d. Rear Fall. The soldier starts the fall from the standing position and keeps
his head fonward to reduce the chance of head and neck injuries (Figure 2-20, Step 1).
He then falls backward and lowers his center of gravity by bending both knees.
As his buttocks touch the ground, he rolls backward to absorb the momentum
of the fall (Figure 2-20, Step 2).
He keeps his hands cupped and slaps his hands and arms down to help absorb
the shock of impact and to stabilize his body (Figure 2-20, Step 3). He keeps
his chin tucked on his chest.
Then, his legs come down slowly with knees bent and make contact with the
ground (Figure 2-20, Step 4). He raises his hand to protect his face from kicks
or blows. The soldier can kick his opponent from this position.
2-11. CRAWL, WALK, AND RUN
Training can be conducted using the crawl, walk, and run techniques, which
may be applied on two levels.
a. First Level. The instructors use these techniques during each initial
(1) Crawl phase. New techniques should be introduced, taught,
demonstrated, and executed by the numbers.
(2) Walk phase. During this phase, soldiers practice the new techniques
by the numbers, but with more fluid movement and less instructor guidance.
(3) Run phase. Soldiers execute the techniques at combat speed with no
b. Second Level. The instructors use these techniques when developing
unit combatives programs. Before conducting combatives training, the
instructor considers the abilities and experience level of the soldiers to be
trained. During training, those soldiers with prior martial arts experience can
be a great asset; they may be used as demonstrators or as assistant instructors.
The crawl, walk, run approach to unit training ensures a high skill level
throughout the unit and minimizes the risk of training injuries.
(1) Crawl phase. During the crawl phase, the instructor introduces
combatives to the unit. Here, the basic skills that set the standards for
advancement to other levels are mastered. Emphasis is placed on proper
technique when executing stances, falls, and hand-and-foot strikes. Studying
the new techniques in this method ensures that the movements are correctly
programmed into the soldiers’ subconscious after a few repetitions. It also
develops the flexibility of soldiers.
(2) Walk phase. Once a unit has developed a sufficient proficiency level
in basic skills, begin the walk phase. Instructors introduce soldiers to throws,
combination strikes with body weapons, reaction drills, knife/bayonet
fighting, grappling, and expedient-weapons training.
(3) Run phase. In the run phase, unit soldiers engage in full sparring,
advanced-weapons fighting, and sentry removal.
A well-coordinated demonstration and professional demonstrators are
crucial for successful learning by soldiers. Unrehearsed presentations or
inadequately trained demonstrators can immediately destroy the credibility of the
training. There are two methods appropriate for the demonstration of combative
techniques to soldiers. These are based on the size of the group to be taught.
a. Company-Size Formation or Larger. The instructor or demonstrator
uses the talk-through method. The primary instructor talks the
demonstrators through the techniques by the numbers, and then the
demonstrators execute at combat speed. The soldiers can see how to apply
the move being taught in relation to the instructor or demonstrator. The
primary instructor is free to control the rate of the demonstration and to stress
key teaching points. The demonstrators must be skilled in properly applying
the techniques so soldiers can adequately grasp the intended concepts.
b. Platoon-Size Formation or Smaller. A good method for
demonstrating to a smaller formation is for the primary instructor to apply
the technique being taught to an assistant instructor. The primary instructor
talks himself through the demonstration. He stresses correct body movement
and key teaching points as he does them.
2-13. EXECUTION BY THE NUMBERS
Instructors use execution by the numbers to break down techniques into
step-by-step phases so soldiers can see clearly how the movements are
developed from start to finish. Execution by the numbers also provides
soldiers away to see the mechanics of each technique. This teaching method
allows the instructor to explain in detail the sequence of each movement. For
example: on the command PHASE ONE, MOVE, the attacker throws a
right-hand punch to the defender’s face. At the same time, the defender steps
to the inside of the attacker off the line of attack and moves into position for
the right-hip throw. Assistant instructors are able to move freely throughout
the training formation and make on-the-spot corrections.
2-14. EXECUTION AT COMBAT SPEED
When the instructor is confident that the soldiers being trained are skilled at
executing a technique by the numbers, he is ready to have them execute it at
combat speed. Executing movements at combat speed enables soldiers to
see how effective a technique is. This builds the soldier’s confidence in the
techniques, allows him to develop a clear mental picture of the principles
behind the technique, and gives him confidence in his ability to perform the
technique during an actual attack. The command is, THE RIGHT-HIP
THROW AT COMBAT SPEED, MOVE. The soldiers then execute this
technique from start to finish.
Drills are used to maintain soldiers’ skills in executing techniques through
repetition. During these drills, techniques or phases of techniques are
repeated as often as necessary to ensure programmed learning by the soldiers.
Subconscious programming usually occurs after 25 repetitions of movement.
Technique drills help soldiers retain their skills, and they are a good tool for
reviewing techniques already learned.
2-16. FOAM PADS
Foam pads (Figure 2-21) are highly recommended to enhance training. The
pads allow full-forced strikes by soldiers and protect their training partners.
The pads enable soldiers to feel the effectiveness of striking techniques and
to develop power in their striking. Instructors should encourage spirited
aggressiveness. Pads can be tackle dummy pads or martial arts striking pads.
a. The use of pads is especially recommended for knee-strike practice
drills, kicking drills, and 3-foot-stick striking drills. The pad is ideally placed
on the outside of the training partner’s thigh, protecting the common peroneal
nerve. Pads can also be held against the forearms in front of the head and
face to allow practice knee/elbow strikes to this area.
b. Training pads can be requisitioned through supply channels or
In close-range combatives, two opponents have closed the gap between them
so they can grab one another in hand-to-hand combat. The principles of
balance, leverage, timing, and body positioning are applied. Throws and
takedown techniques are used to upset the opponent’s balance and to gain
control of the fight by forcing him to the ground. Chokes can be applied to
quickly render an opponent unconscious. The soldier should also know counters
to choking techniques to protect himself. Grappling involves skillful fighting
against an opponent in close-range combat so that a soldier can win through
superior body movement or grappling skills. Pain can be used to disable an
opponent. A soldier can use painful eye gouges and strikes to soft, vital areas to
gain an advantage over his opponent.
3-1. THROWS AND TAKEDOWNS
Throws and takedowns enable a hand-to-hand fighter to take an opponent to
the ground where he can be controlled or disabled with further techniques.
Throws and takedowns make use of the principles involved in taking the
opponent’s balance. The fighter uses his momentum against the attacker; he
also uses leverage or body position to gain an opportunity to throw the
a. It is important for a fighter to control his opponent throughout a throw
to the ground to keep the opponent from countering the throw or escaping
after he is thrown to the ground. One way to do this is to control the
opponent’s fall so that he lands on his head. It is also imperative that a fighter
maintain control of his own balance when executing throws and takedowns.
b. After executing a throw or takedown and while the opponent is on the
ground, the fighter must control the opponent by any means available. He
can drop his weight onto exposed areas of the opponent’s body, using his
elbows and knees. He can control the downed opponent’s limbs by stepping
on them or by placing his knees and body weight on them. Joint locks, chokes,
and kicks to vital areas are also good control measures. Without endangering
himself, the fighter must maintain the advantage and disable his opponent
after throwing him (Figures 3-1 through 3-5).
NOTE: Although the five techniques shown in Figures 3-1 through 3-5
may be done while wearing LCE—for training purposes, it is safer to
conduct all throws and takedowns without any equipment.
(1) Hip throw. The opponent throws a right punch. The defender steps
in with his left foot; at the same time, he blocks the punch with his left forearm
and delivers a reverse punch to the face, throat, or other vulnerable area
(Figure 3-1, Step 1). (For training, deliver punches to the solar plexus.)
The defender pivots 180 degrees on the ball of his lead foot, wraps his right
arm around his opponent’s waist, and grasps his belt or pants (Figure 3-1,
Step 2). (If opponent is wearing LCE, grasp by the pistol belt or webbing.)
The defender thrusts his hips into his opponent and maintains a grip on his
opponent’s right elbow. He keeps his knees shoulder-width apart and slightly
bent (Figure 3-1, Step 3). He locks his knees, pulls his opponent well over his
right hip, and slams him to the ground. (For training, soldier being thrown
should land in a good side fall.)
By maintaining control of his opponent’s arm, the defender now has the
option of kicking or stomping him in the neck, face, or ribs (Figure 3-1,
(2) Over-the-shoulder throw. The opponent lunges at the defender with a
straight punch (Figure 3-2, Step 1).
The defender blocks the punch with his left forearm, pivots 180 degrees on
the ball of his lead foot (Figure 3-2, Step 2), and gets well inside his opponent’s
right armpit with his right shoulder.
He reaches well back under his opponent’s right armpit and grasps him by
the collar or hair (Figure 3-2, Step 3).
The defender maintains good back-to-chest, buttock-to-groin contact,
keeping his knees slightly bent and shoulder-width apart. He maintains
control of his opponent’s right arm by grasping the wrist or sleeve (Figure 3-2,
The defender bends forward at the waist and holds his opponent tightly
against his body. He locks his knees, thrusts his opponent over his shoulder,
and slams him to the ground (Figure 3-2, Step 5). He then has the option of
disabling his opponent with kicks or stomps to vital areas.
(3) Throw from rear choke. The opponent attacks the defender with a rear
strangle choke. The defender quickly bends his knees and spreads his feet
shoulder-width apart (Figure 3-3, Step 1). (Knees are bent quickly to put
distance between you and your opponent.)
The defender reaches as far back as possible and uses his right hand to grab
his opponent by the collar or hair. He then forces his chin into the vee of the
opponent’s arm that is around his neck. With his left hand, he grasps the
opponent’s clothing at the tricep and bends forward at the waist (Figure 3-3,
The defender locks his knees and, at the same time, pulls his opponent over
his shoulder and slams him to the ground (Figure 3-3, Step 3).
He then has the option of spinning around and straddling his opponent or
disabling him with punches to vital areas (Figure 3-3, Step 4). (It is important
to grip the opponent tightly when executing this move.)
(4) Head butt. The head butt can be applied from the front or the rear.
It is repeated until the opponent either releases his grip or becomes
(a) The opponent grabs the defender in a bear hug from the front
(A,Figure 3-4, Step 1).
The defender uses his forehead to smash into his opponent’s nose or cheek
(A,Figure 3-4, Step 2) and stuns him.
The opponent releases the defender who then follows up with a kick or knee
strike to the groin (A, Figure 3-4, Step 3).
(b) The opponent grabs the defender in a bear hug from the rear
(B, Figure 3-4, Step 1).
The defender cocks his head forward and smashes the back of his head into
the opponent’s nose or cheek area (B, Figure 3-4, Step 2).
The defender turns to face his opponent and follows up with a spinning elbow
strike to the head (B, Figure 3-4, Step 3).
(5) Rear strangle takedown. The defender strikes the opponent from the
rear with a forearm strike to the neck (carotid artery) (Figure 3-5, Step 1).
The defender wraps his right arm around his opponent’s neck, making sure
he locks the throat and windpipe in the vee formed by the his elbow. He
grasps his left bicep and wraps his left hand around the back of the opponent’s
head. He pulls his right arm in and flexes it, pushing his opponent’s head
forward (Figure 3-5, Step 2).
The defender kicks his legs out and back, maintains a choke on his opponent’s
neck, and pulls his opponent backward until his neck breaks (Figure 3-5,
Strangulation is a most effective method of disabling an opponent. The throat’s
vulnerability is widely known and should be a primary target in close-range
fighting. Your goal may be to break the opponent’s neck, to crush his trachea, to
block the air supply to his lungs, or to block the blood supply to his brain.
a. Strangulation by Crushing. Crushing the trachea just below the voice
box is probably one of the fastest, easiest, most lethal means of strangulation.
The trachea is crushed between the thumb and first two or three fingers.
b. Respiratory Strangulation. Compressing the windpipe to obstruct air
flow to the lungs is most effectively applied by pressure on the cartilage of the
windpipe. Unconsciousness can take place within one to two minutes.
However, the technique is not always effective on a strong opponent or an
opponent with a large neck. It is better to block the blood supply to weaken
the opponent first.
c. Sanguineous Strangulation. Cutting off the blood supply to the brain
by applying pressure to the carotid arteries results in rapid unconsciousness
of the victim. The victim can be rendered unconscious within 3 to 8 seconds,
and death can result within 30 to 40 seconds.
3-3. CHOKING TECHNIQUES
There are several choking techniques that a soldier can use to defeat his
opponent in hand-to-hand combat.
a. Cross-Collar Choke. With crossed hands, the fighter reaches as far as
possible around his opponent’s neck and grabs his collar (Figure 3-6, Step 1).
The backs of his hands should be against the neck.
The fighter keeps his elbows bent and close to the body (as in opening a tightly
sealed jar), pulls outward with both hands, and chokes the sides of the
opponent’s neck by rotating the knuckles into the neck (Figure 3-6, Step 2).
The forearm can also be used.
b. Collar Grab Choke. The
fighter grabs his opponent’s collar
with both hands straight-on
(Figure 3-7). He then rotates the
knuckles inward against the neck to
quickly produce a good choke. He
also keeps the elbows in front and
close to the body where the greatest
strength is maintained.
c. Carotid Choke. The fighter
grabs the sides of the opponent’s
throat by the muscle and sticks his
thumbs into the carotids, closing
them off (Figure 3-8). This is a fast
and painful choke.
d. Trachea Choke. The fighter
grabs the opponent’s trachea
(Figure 3-9) by sticking three fingers
behind the voice box on one side and
the thumb behind the other. He
then crushes the fingers together
and twists, applying pressure until
the opponent is disabled.
3-4. COUNTERS TO CHOKES
A soldier must know how to defend against being choked. Incapacitation and
unconsciousness can occur within three seconds; therefore, it is crucial for the
defender to know all possible counters to chokes.
a. Eye Gouge. The opponent
attacks the defender with a
frontal choke. The defender has
the option of going over or under
the opponent’s arms. To disable
the opponent, the defender
inserts both thumbs into his
opponent’s eyes and tries to
gouge them (Figure 3-10). The
defender is prepared to follow-up
with an attack to the vital regions.
b. Shoulder Dislocation. If the opponent applies a choke from the rear,
the defender places the back of his hand against the inside of the opponent’s
forearm (Figure 3-11, Step 1).
Then, he brings the other hand over the crook of the opponent’s elbow and
clasps hands, keeping his hands close to his body as he moves his entire body
around the opponent (Figure 3-11, Step 2).
He positions his body so that the opponent’s upper arm is aligned with the
opponent’s shoulders (Figure 3-11, Step 3). The opponent’s arm should be
bent at a 90-degree angle.
By pulling up on the opponent’s elbow and down on the wrist, the opponent’s
balance is taken and his shoulder is easily dislocated (Figure 3-11, Step 4).
The defender must use his body movement to properly position the
opponent—upper body strength will not work.
He drops his body weight by bending his knees to help get the proper bend
in the opponent’s elbow. The defender must also keep his own hands and
elbows close to his body to prevent the opponent’s escape (Figure 3-11,
c. Weight Shift. To counter being choked from above while lying on the
ground (Figure 3-12, Step 1), the defender places his arms against his
opponent’s elbows and locks the joints.
At the same time, he shifts his hips so that his weight rests painfully on the
opponent’s ankle (Figure 3-12, Step 2).
The defender can easily shift his body weight to gain control by turning the
opponent toward his weak side (Figure 3-12, Step 3).
d. Counterstrikes to Rear Choke and Frontal Choke. As the opponent
tries a rear choke (A,Figure 3-13, Step 1), the defender can break the
opponent’s grip with a strong rear-elbow strike into the solar plexus
(A,Figure 3-13, Step 2).
He can follow with a shin scrape down along the opponent’s leg and stomp
the foot (A, Figure 3-13, Step 3).
He may wish to continue by striking the groin of the opponent (A,Figure 3-13,
As the opponent begins a frontal choke (B, Figure 3-13, Step 1), the defender
turns his body and drops one arm between the opponent’s arms
(B, Figure 3-13, Step 2).
He sinks his body weight and drives his own hand to the ground, and then
explodes upward with an elbow strike (B, Figure 3-13, Step 3) into the
opponent’s chin, stomach, or groin.
e. Headlock Escape. If a defender is in a headlock, he first turns his chin
in toward his opponent’s body to prevent choking (Figure 3-14, Step 1).
Next, he slides one hand up along the opponent’s back, around to the face,
and finds the sensitive nerve under the nose. He must avoid placing his
fingers near his opponent’s mouth, or he will be bitten (Figure 3-14, Step 2).
The defender can now force his opponent back and then down across his own
knee to the ground and maintain control by keeping pressure under the nose
(Figure 3-14, Step 3). He can finish the technique with a hammer fist to the
Grappling is when two or more fighters engage in close-range, hand-to-hand
combat. They may be armed or unarmed. To win, the fighter must be aware
of how to move his body to maintain the upper hand, and he must know the
mechanical strengths and weaknesses of the human body. The situation
becomes a struggle of strength pitted against strength unless the fighter can
remain in control of his opponent by using skilled movements to gain an
advantage in leverage and balance. Knowledge of the following basic
movement techniques may give the fighter a way to apply and gain the
advantage in grappling situations.
a. Wristlock From a Collar or Lapel Grab. When an opponent grabs the
defender by the collar or by the lapel, the defender reaches up and grabs the
opponent’s hand (to prevent him from withdrawing it) while stepping back to
pull him off balance (Figure 3-15, Step 1).
The defender peels off the opponent’s grabbing hand by crushing his thumb
and bending it back on itself toward the palm in a straight line (Figure 3-15,
Step 2). To keep his grip on the opponent’s thumb, the defender keeps his
hands close to his body where his control is strongest.
He then turns his body so that he has a wristlock on his opponent. The
wristlock is produced by turning his wrist outward at a 45-degree angle and
by bending it toward the elbow (Figure 3-15, Step 3). The opponent can be
driven to the ground by putting his palm on the ground.
b. Wristlock From an Arm Grab. When an opponent grabs a defender’s
arm, the defender rotates his arm to grab the opponent’s forearm
(Figure 3-16, Step 1).
At the same time, he secures his other hand on the gripping hand of the
opponent to prevent his escape (Figure 3-16, Step 2).
As the defender steps in toward the opponent and maintains his grip on the
hand and forearm, a zee shape is formed by the opponent’s arm; this is an
effective wristlock (Figure 3-16, Step 3). More pain can be induced by trying
to put the opponent’s fingers in his own eyes.
c. Prisoner Escort. The
escort secures the prisoner’s
arm with the wrist bent
straight back upon itself,
palm toward the elbow. The
prisoner’s elbow can be
secured in the crook of the
escort’s elbow, firmly against
the escort’s body for the most
control (Figure 3-17). This
technique is most effective
with two escorts, each holding
a wrist of the prisoner. Use
this technique to secure the
opponent only if rope, flex
cuffs, or handcuffs are
d. Elbow Lock Against
the Body. The opponent’s
elbow can be locked against
the side of the body
(Figure 3-18) by the defender.
The defender turns his
body to force the elbow into a
position in which it was not
designed to move. He can
apply leverage on the
opponent’s wrist to gain
control since the lock causes
intense pain. The elbow can
easily be broken to make the
arm ineffective. This movement
must be executed with
maximum speed and force.
e. Elbow Lock Against the Knee. While grappling on the ground, a
defender can gain control of the situation if he can use an elbow lock
(Figure 3-19) against the opponent. He uses his knee as a fulcrum for
leverage to break his opponent’s arm at the elbow. Once the arm breaks, the
defender must be prepared with a follow-up technique.
f. Elbow Lock Against the Shoulder. An elbow lock can be applied by
locking the elbow joint against the shoulder (Figure 3-20) and pulling down
on the wrist. Leverage is produced by using the shoulder as a fulcrum, by
applying force, and by straightening the knees to push upward. This uses the
defender’s body mass and ensures more positive control. The opponent’s
arm must be kept straight so he cannot drive his elbow down into the
defender’s shoulder. -
g. Shoulder Dislocation. A defender can maneuver into position to
dislocate a shoulder by moving inside when an opponent launches a punch
(Figure 3-21, Step 1). The defenderholds his hand nearest the punching arm
high to protect the head.
The defender continues to move in and places his other arm behind the
punching arm (Figure 3-21, Step 2). He strikes downward into the crook of
the opponent’s elbow to create a bend.
Then he clasps his hands and moves to the opponent’s outside until the
opponent’s upper arm is in alignment with his shoulders and bent 90 degrees
at the elbow. As he steps, the defender pulls up on the opponent’s elbow and
directs the wrist downward. This motion twists the shoulder joint so it is easily
dislocated and the opponent loses his balance (Figure 3-21, Step 3).
NOTE: The defender must keep his clasped hands close to the body and
properly align the opponent’s arm by maneuvering his entire body. This
technique will not succeed by using upper-body strength only, the
opponent will escape.
(1) Straight-arm shoulder dislocation. The shoulder can also be dislocated
(Figure 3-22) by keeping the elbow straight and forcing the opponent’s arm
backward toward the opposite shoulder at about 45 degrees. The initial
movement must take the arm down and alongside the opponent’s body.
Bending the wrist toward the elbow helps to lock out the elbow. The
dislocation also forces the opponent’s head down- ward where a knee strike
can be readily made. This dislocation technique should be practiced to get
the feel of the correct direction in which to move the joint.
(2) Shoulder dislocation using the elbow. While grappling, the defender can
snake his hand over the crook in the opponent’s elbow and move his body to the
outside, trapping one arm of the opponent against his side (Figure 3-23, Step 1).
The defender can then clasp his hands in front of his body and use his body
mass in motion to align the opponent’s upper arm with the line between the
shoulders (Figure 3-23, Step 2).
By dipping his weight and then pulling upward on the opponent’s elbow, the
shoulder is dislocated, and the opponent loses his balance (Figure 3-23,
Step 3). If the opponent’s elbow locks rather than bends to allow the shoulder
dislocation, the defender can use the elbow lock to keep control.
h. Knee Lock/Break. The opponent’s knee joint can be attacked to
produce knee locks or breaks(Figure 3-24)by forcingthe knee in a direction
opposite to which it was designed to move. The knee can be attacked with
the body’s mass behind the defender’s knee or with his entire body by falling
on the opponent’s knee, causing it to hyperextend.
In medium-range combatives, two opponents are already within touching
distance. The arsenal of possible body weapons includes short punches and
strikes with elbows, knees, and hands. Head butts are also effective; do not forget
them during medium-range combat. A soldier uses his peripheral vision to
evaluate the targets presented by the opponent and choose his target. He should
be aggressive and concentrate his attack on the opponent's vital points to end the
fight as soon as possible.
4-1. VITAL TARGETS
The body is divided into three sections: high, middle, and low. Each
section contains vital targets (Figure 4-1, pages 4-5 and 4-6). The effects of
striking these targets follow:
a. High Section. The high section includes the head and neck; it is the most
dangerous target area.
(1) Top of the head. The skull is weak where the frontal cranial bones join.
A forceful strike causes trauma to the cranial cavity, resulting in
unconsciousness and hemorrhage. A severe strike can result in death.
(2) Forehead. A forceful blow can cause whiplash; a severe blow can
cause cerebral hemorrhage and death.
(3) Temple. The bones of the skull are weak at the temple, and an artery
and large nerve lie close to the skin. A powerful strike can cause
unconsciousness and brain concussion. If the artery is severed, the resulting
massive hemorrhage compresses the brain, causing coma and or death.
(4) Eyes. A slight jab in the eyes causes uncontrollable watering and
blurred vision. A forceful jab or poke can cause temporary blindness, or the
eyes can be gouged out. Death can result if the fingers penetrate through the
thin bone behind the eyes and into the brain.
(5) Ears. A strike to the ear with cupped hands can rupture the eardrum
and may cause a brain concussion.
(6) Nose. Any blow can easily break the thin bones of the nose, causing
extreme pain and eye watering.
(7) Under the nose. A blow to the nerve center, which is close to the
surface under the nose, can cause great pain and watery eyes.
(8) Jaw. A blow to the jaw can break or dislocate it. If the facial nerve is
pinched against the lower jaw, one side of the face will be paralyzed.
(9) Chin. A blow to the chin can cause paralysis, mild concussion, and
unconsciousness. The jawbone acts as a lever that can transmit the force of
a blow to the back of the brain where the cardiac and respiratory mechanisms
(10) Back of ears and base of skull. A moderate blow to the back of the
ears or the base of the skull can cause unconsciousness by the jarring effect
on the back of the brain. However, a powerful blow can cause a concussion
or brain hemorrhage and death.
(11) Throat. A powerful blow to the front of the throat can cause death
by crushing the windpipe. A forceful blow causes extreme pain and gagging
(12) Side of neck. A sharp blow to the side of the neck causes
unconsciousness by shock to the carotid artery, jugular vein, and vagus nerve.
For maximum effect, the blow should be focused below and slightly in front
of the ear. A less powerful blow causes involuntary muscle spasms and
intense pain. The side of the neck is one of the best targets to use to drop an
opponent immediately or to disable him temporarily to finish him later.
(13) Back of neck. A powerful blow to the back of one’s neck can cause
whiplash, concussion, or even a broken neck and death.
b. Middle Section. The middle section extends from the shoulders to the
area just above the hips. Most blows to vital points in this region are not fatal
but can have serious, long-term complications that range from trauma to
internal organs to spinal cord injuries.
(1) Front of shoulder muscle. A large bundle of nerves passes in front of
the shoulder joint. A forceful blow causes extreme pain and can make the
whole arm ineffective if the nerves are struck just right.
(2) Collarbone. A blow to the collarbone can fracture it, causing intense
pain and rendering the arm on the side of the fracture ineffective. The
fracture can also sever the brachial nerve or subclavian artery.
(3) Armpit. A large nerve lies close to the skin in each armpit. A blow to
this nerve causes severe pain and partial paralysis. A knife inserted into the
armpit is fatal as it severs a major artery leading from the heart.
(4) Spine. A blow to the spinal column can sever the spinal cord, resulting
in paralysis or in death.
(5) Nipples. A large network of nerves passes near the skin at the nipples.
A blow here can cause extreme pain and hemorrhage to the many blood
(6) Heart. A jolting blow to the heart can stun the opponent and allow
time for follow-up or finishing techniques.
(7) Solar plexus. The solar plexus is a center for nerves that control the
cardiorespiratory system. A blow to this location is painful and can take the
breath from the opponent. A powerful blow causes unconsciousness by
shock to the nerve center. A penetrating blow can also damage internal
(8) Diaphragm. A blow to the lower front of the ribs can cause the
diaphragm and the other muscles that control breathing to relax. This causes
loss of breath and can result in unconsciousness due to respiratory failure.
(9) Floating ribs. A blow to the floating ribs can easily fracture them
because they are not attached to the rib cage. Fractured ribs on the right side
can cause internal injury to the liver; fractured ribs on either side can possibly
puncture or collapse a lung.
(10) Kidneys. A powerful blow to the kidneys can induce shock and can
possibly cause internal injury to these organs. A stab to the kidneys induces
instant shock and can cause death from severe internal bleeding.
(11) Abdomen below navel. A powerful blow to the area below the navel
and above the groin can cause shock, unconsciousness, and internal bleeding.
(12) Biceps. A strike to the biceps is most painful and renders the arm
ineffective. The biceps is an especially good target when an opponent holds
(13) Forearm muscle. The radial nerve, which controls much of the
movement in the hand, passes over the forearm bone just below the elbow.
A strike to the radial nerve renders the hand and arm ineffective. An
opponent can be disarmed by a strike to the forearm; if the strike is powerful
enough, he can be knocked unconscious.
(14) Back of hand. The backs of the hands are sensitive. Since the nerves
pass over the bones in the hand, a strike to this area is intensely painful. The
small bones on the back of the hand are easily broken and such a strike can
also render the hand ineffective.
c. Low Section. The low section of the body includes everything from the
groin area to the feet. Strikes to these areas are seldom fatal, but they can be
(1) Groin. A moderate blow to the groin can incapacitate an opponent
and cause intense pain. A powerful blow can result in unconsciousness and
(2) Outside of thigh. A large nerve passes near the surface on the outside
of the thigh about four finger-widths above the knee. A powerful strike to
this region can render the entire leg ineffective, causing an opponent to drop.
This target is especially suitable for knee strikes and shin kicks.
(3) Inside of thigh. A large nerve passes over the bone about in the middle
of the inner thigh. A blow to this area also incapacitates the leg and can cause
the opponent to drop. Knee strikes and heel kicks are the weapons of choice
for this target.
(4) Hamstring. A severe strike to the hamstring can cause muscle spasms
and inhibit mobility. If the hamstring is cut, the leg is useless.
(5) Knee. Because the knee is a major supporting structure of the body,
damage to this joint is especially detrimental to an opponent. The knee is
easily dislocated when struck at an opposing angle to the joint’s normal range
of motion, especially when it is bearing the opponent’s weight. The knee can
be dislocated or hyperextended by kicks and strikes with the entire body.
(6) Calf. A powerful blow to the top of the calf causes painful muscle
spasms and also inhibits mobility.
(7) Shin. A moderate blow to the shin produces great pain, especially a
blow with a hard object. A powerful blow can possibly fracture the bone that
supports most of the body weight.
(8) Achilles tendon. A powerful strike to the Achilles tendon on the back
of the heel can cause ankle sprain and dislocation of the foot. If the tendon
is torn, the opponent is incapacitated. The Achilles tendon is a good target
to cut with a knife.
(9) Ankle. A blow to the ankle causes pain; if a forceful blow is delivered,
the ankle can be sprained or broken.
(10) Instep. The small bones on the top of the foot are easily broken. A
strike here will hinder the opponent’s mobility.
4-2. STRIKING PRINCIPLES
Effective striking with the weapons of the body to the opponent’s vital points
is essential for a victorious outcome in a hand-to-hand struggle. A soldier
must be able to employ the principles of effective striking if he is to emerge
as the survivor in a fight to the death.
a. Attitude. Proper mental attitude is of primary importance in the
soldier’s ability to strike an opponent. In hand-to-hand combat, the soldier
must have the attitude that he will defeat the enemy and complete the mission,
no matter what. In a fight to the death, the soldier must have the frame of
mind to survive above all else; the prospect of losing cannot enter his mind.
He must commit himself to hit the opponent continuously with whatever it
takes to drive him to the ground or end his resistance. A memory aid is,
“Thump him and dump him!”
b. Fluid Shock Wave. A strike should be delivered so that the target is hit
and the weapon remains on the impact site for at least a tenth of a second. This
imparts all of the kinetic energy of the strike into the target area, producing
a fluid shock wave that travels into the affected tissue and causes maximum
damage. It is imperative that all strikes to vital points and nerve motor points are
delivered with this principle in mind. The memory aid is, “Hit and stick!”
c. Target Selection. Strikes should be targeted at the opponent’s vital
points and nerve motor points. The results of effective strikes to vital points
are discussed in paragraph 4-1. Strikes to nerve motor points cause
temporary mental stunning and muscle motor dysfunction to the affected
areas of the body. Mental stunning results when the brain is momentarily
disoriented by overstimulation from too much input—for example, a strike
to a major nerve. The stunning completely disables an opponent for three to
seven seconds and allows the soldier to finish off the opponent, gain total
control of the situation, or make his escape. Sometimes, such a strike causes
unconsciousness. A successful strike to a nerve motor center also renders the
affected body part immovable by causing muscle spasms and dysfunction due
to nerve overload. (Readily available nerve motor points are shown in
Figure 4-1, pages 4-5 and 4-6.)
(1) Jugular notch pressure point. Located at the base of the neck just
above the breastbone; pressure to this notch can distract and take away his
balance. Pressure from fingers jabbed into the notch incurs intense pain that
causes an the opponent to withdraw from the pressure involuntarily.
(2) Suprascapular nerve motor point. This nerve is located where the
trapezius muscle joins the side of the neck. A strike to this point causes
intense pain, temporary dysfunction of the affected arm and hand, and mental
stunning for three to seven seconds. The strike should be a downward
knife-hand or hammer-fist strike from behind.
(3) Brachial plexus origin. This nerve motor center is on the side of the
neck. It is probably the most reliable place to strike someone to stun them.
Any part of the hand or arm may be applied—the palm heel, back of the hand,
knife hand, ridge hand, hammer fist, thumb tip, or the forearm. A proper
strike to the brachial plexus origin causes—
Complete cessation of motor activity.
Temporary dysfunction of the affected arm.
Mental stunning for three to seven seconds.
(4) Brachial plexus clavicle notch pressure point. This center is behind the
collarbone in a hollow about halfway between the breastbone and the
shoulder joint. The strike should be delivered with a small-impact weapon
or the tip of the thumb to create high-level mental stunning and dysfunction
of the affected arm.
(5) Brachial plexus tie-in motor point. Located on the front of the shoulder
joint, a strike to this point can cause the arm to be ineffective. Multiple strikes
may be necessary to ensure total dysfunction of the arm and hand.
(6) Stellate ganglion. The ganglion is at the top of the pectoral muscle
centered above the nipple. A severe strike to this center can cause high-level
stunning, respiratory dysfunction, and possible unconsciousness. A straight
punch or hammer fist should be used to cause spasms in the nerves affecting
the heart and respiratory systems.
(7) Cervical vertebrae. Located at the base of the skull, a strike to this
particular vertebrae can cause unconsciousness or possibly death. The
harder the strike, the more likely death will occur.
(8) Radial nerve motor point. This nerve motor point is on top of the
forearm just below the elbow. Strikes to this point can create dysfunction of
the affected arm and hand. The radial nerve should be struck with the
hammer fist or the forearm bones or with an impact weapon, if available.
Striking the radial nerve can be especially useful when disarming an opponent
armed with a knife or other weapon.
(9) Median nerve motor point. This nerve motor point is on the inside of
the forearm at the base of the wrist, just above the heel of the hand. Striking
this center produces similar effects to striking the radial nerve, although it is
not as accessible as the radial nerve.
(10) Sciatic nerve. A sciatic nerve is just above each buttock, but below
the belt line. A substantial strike to this nerve can disable both legs and
possibly cause respiratory failure. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the
body besides the spinal cord. Striking it can affect the entire body, especially
if an impact weapon is used.
(11) Femoral nerve. This nerve is in the center of the inside of the thigh;
striking the femoral nerve can cause temporary motor dysfunction of the
affected leg, high-intensity pain, and mental stunning for three to seven
seconds. The knee is best to use to strike the femoral nerve.
(12) Common peroneal nerve motor point. The peroneal nerve is on the
outside of the thigh about four fingers above the knee. A severe strike to this
center can cause collapse of the affected leg and high-intensity pain, as well
as mental stunning for three to seven seconds. This highly accessible point is
an effective way to drop an opponent quickly. This point should be struck
with a knee, shin kick, or impact weapon.
4-3. SHORT PUNCHES AND STRIKES
During medium-range combat, punches and strikes are usually short because
of the close distance between fighters. Power is generated by using the entire
body mass in motion behind all punches and strikes.
a. Hands as Weapons. A knowledge of hand-to-hand combat fighting
provides the fighter another means to accomplish his mission. Hands can
become deadly weapons when used by a skilled fighter.
(1) Punch to solar plexus. The
defender uses this punch for
close-in fighting when the
opponent rushes or tries to grab
him. The defender puts his full
weight and force behind the
punch and strikes his opponent in
the solar plexus (Figure 4-2),
knocking the breath out of his
lungs. The defender can then
follow-up with a knee to the groin,
or he can use other disabling
blows to vital areas.
(2) Thumb strike to throat.
The defender uses the thumb
strike to the throat (Figure 4-3) as
an effective technique when an
opponent is rushing him or trying
to grab him. The defender thrusts
his right arm and thumb out and
strikes his opponent in the
throat-larynx area while holding
his left hand high for protection.
He can follow up with a disabling
blow to his opponent’s vital areas.
(3) Thumb strike to shoulder
joint. The opponent rushes the
defender and tries to grab him.
The defender strikes the
opponent’s shoulder joint or
upper pectoral muscle with his fist
or thumb (Figure 4-4). This
technique is painful and renders
the opponent’s arm numb. The
defender then follows up with a
(4) Hammer-fit strike to face.
The opponent rushes the
defender. The defender counters
by rotating his body in the
direction of his opponent and by
striking him in the temple, ear, or
face (Figure 4-5). The defender
follows up with kicks to the groin
or hand strikes to his opponent’s
other vital areas.
(5) Hammer-fist strike to side
of neck. The defender catches his
opponent off guard, rotates at the
waist to generate power, and
strikes his opponent on the side of
the neck (carotid artery)
(Figure 4-6) with his hand
clenched into a fist. This strike
can cause muscle spasms at the
least and may knock his opponent
(6) Hammer fist to pectoral
muscle. When the opponent tries
to grapple with the defender, the
defender counters by forcefully
striking his opponent in the
pectoral muscle (Figure 4-7).
This blow stuns the opponent, and
the defender immediately follows
up with a disabling blow to a vital
area of his opponent’s body.
(7) Hook punch to solar plexus
or floating ribs. The opponent
tries to wrestle the defender to the
ground. The defender counters
with a short hook punch to his
opponent’s solar plexus or floating
ribs (Figure 4-8). A sharply
delivered blow can puncture or
collapse a lung. The defender
then follows up with a combination
of blows to his opponent’s vital
(8) Uppercut to chin. The
defender steps between his
opponent’s arms and strikes with an
uppercut punch (Figure 4-9) to the
chin or jaw. The defender then
follows up with blows to his
opponent’s vital areas.
(9) Knife-hand strike to side of
neck. The defender executes a
knife-hand strike to the side of his
opponent’s neck (Figure 4-10) the
same way as the hammer-fist strike
(Figure 4-6, page 4-11) except he
uses the edge of his striking hand.
(10) Knife-hand strike to radial nerve. The opponent tries to strike the
defender with a punch. The defender counters by striking his opponent on
the top of the forearm just below the elbow (radial nerve) (Figure 4-11) and
uses a follow-up technique to disable his opponent.
(11) Palm-heel strike to chin. The opponent tries to surprise the defender
by lunging at him. The defender quickly counters by striking his opponent
with a palm-heel strike to the chin (Figure 4-12), using maximum force.
(12) Palm-heel strike to solar plexus. The defender meets his opponent’s
rush by striking him with a palm-heel strike to the solar plexus (Figure 4-13).
The defender then executes a follow-up technique to his opponent’s vital
(13) Palm-heel strike to kidneys. The defender grasps his opponent from
behind by the collar and pulls him off balance. He quickly follows up with a
hard palm-heel strike to the opponent’s kidney (Figure 4-14). The defender
can then take down his opponent with a follow-up technique to the back of
b. Elbows as Weapons. The elbows are also formidable weapons;
tremendous striking power can be generated from them. The point of the
elbow should be the point of impact. The elbows are strongest when kept in
front of the body and in alignment with the shoulder joint; that is, never strike
with the elbow out to the side of the body.
(1) Elbow strikes. When properly executed, elbow strikes (Figures 4-15
through 4-21, pages 4-18 through 4-22) render an opponent ineffective.
When using elbow strikes, execute them quickly, powerfully, and repetitively
until the opponent is disabled.
(2) Repetitive elbow strikes. The attacker on the right throws a punch
(Figure 4-22, Step 1).
The defender counters with an elbow strike to the biceps (Figure 4-22,
Step 2). The attacker follows with a punch from his other arm.
The defender again counters with an elbow strike to the shoulder joint
(Figure 4-22, Step 3). He next strikes with an elbow from the opposite side
to the throat.
c. Knees as Weapons. When the knees are used to strike opponents, they
are especially potent weapons and are hard to defend or protect against.
Great power is generated by thrusting the hips in with a knee strike; however,
use the point of the knee as the impact surface. All knee strikes should be
executed repetitively until the opponent is disabled. The following
techniques are the most effective way to overpower or disable the opponent.
(1) Front knee strike. When an opponent tries to grapple with the
defender, the defender strikes his opponent in the stomach or solar plexus
with his knee (Figure 4-23). This stuns the opponent and the defender can
follow up with another technique.
(2) Knee strike to outside of thigh. The defender delivers a knee strike to
the outside of his opponent’s thigh (common peroneal nerve) (Figure 4-24).
This strike causes intense pain and renders the opponent’s leg ineffective.
(3) knee strike to inside of thigh. An effective technique for close-in
grappling is when the defender delivers a knee strike to the inside of his
opponent’s thigh (peroneal nerve) (Figure 4-25). The defender then
executes a follow-up technique to a vital point.
(4) Knee strike to groin. The knee strike to the groin is effective during
close-in grappling. The defender gains control by grabbing his opponent’s
head, hair, ears, or shoulders and strikes him in the groin with his knee
(5) Knee strike to face. The defender controls his opponent by grabbing
behind his head with both hands and forcefully pushing his head down. At
the same time, the defender brings his knee up and smashes the opponent in
the face (Figure 4-27). When properly executed, the knee strike to the face
is a devastating technique that can cause serious injury to the opponent.