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Combatives:  Military Martial Arts

Many martial arts are derived from military combatives; the study of hand-to-hand combat in warfare. After all, the term "martial art" means "art of warfare." For example, the sport of judo comes from jujitsu, which comes from samurai grappling, which was part of the training Japanese warriors received as preparation for battle.

Many weapon-oriented arts, such as iaido, kendo, kyudo, and naginata-do, originated in schools of martial techniques for warriors. These weapons, the sword, bow and arrow, and pole arm, were the assault rifles and machine guns of their time--the default weapons of military fighters--and as such were key components in combat training.

Today, most military personnel are trained in battlefield-expedient combatives; namely, the techniques that would be most effective to stop or kill an enemy fighter. As such, a look at the training programs of the different martial arts branches turns up techniques from striking arts, like karate and kung fu, and grappling arts, like jujitsu.

For example, the U.S. Army's Combatives program includes striking, grappling, knife, and bayonet techniques.

Striking techniques include basic punch/kick techniques, as in sport martial arts like karate or tae kwon do, but emphasize combat-oriented striking like knee and elbow strikes.

Knee strike to head
Standing armbar Many grappling techniques are familiar to sport grapplers, such as this simple standing armbar.
Other techniques are unique to military situations--most notably bayonet usage and sentry removal. Bayonet thrust

Most nations emphasize well-rounded, effectiveness-oriented martial arts techniques in their military training. Several recently-developed martial arts are derived from modern military combat training:

We say "recently-developed" here because all of these arts came about in the past few decades, unlike most other martial arts that have centuries of history behind them.

Next Page > Introduction to Krav Maga

Illustrations on this page are from the U.S. Army Field Manual 21-150, Combatives.

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