Failure: Sport AND Combat systems

We see an incredible dichotomy between two entrenched positions: Sport Systems and Combat Systems. The argument can be summed up as follows:

1. "Combat Systems" Camp:

* Our techniques are too deadly for competition.

* Sport Systems are Unarmed (weaponry, that is), Singular (opponent), and Protected (environment); whereas a street fight is Armed, Plural and Hazardous. Therefore, Sport Systems inadequately prepares you for a street fight.

* Sport Systems do not include de-escalation skills, pre-incident awareness, and post-incident debriefing preparation necessary for street assault.

2. Sport Systems Camp:

* Our techniques are proven by trial against resisting opponents.

* Combat Systems do not provide a crucible of application to determine effectiveness under stress against resistant opponents. Therefore, Combat Systems inadequately prepares you for a street fight.

* Combat Systems do not take into account the necessity and the integration of physical conditioning of attributes and relies too heavily upon untested technical precision, such as vital targets and pressure points.

Both of these positions CAN and SHOULD be integrated. The question is HOW!

How are both these positions wrong, because they are distinguished AGAINST one another, rather than integrated with one another?



-"Both of these positions CAN and SHOULD be
integrated. The question is HOW!"-

Scott, that statement held greater import for me than the
intertwined nature of the question you asked.

In answer to the question though; they lack integration
because they lack a common set of defining principles
which would allow them to be practiced and understood
as being one and the same.


Very succinct.

Please provide an example of a common set of defining principles which would allow them to be practiced and understood as being one and the same?

Chime in everyone else, as well, and craft a template in terminology non-specific to style. If you really want to test yourself folks, if you really want this to be a productive mental exercise, then...

Create an example that does not model the system you currently practice.



hmmm, let me take a break from my police academy homework to take a stab at this.

Let me start off by saying that Scott is correct when he states "Both of these positions CAN and SHOULD be integrated.". All of those that are seeking "effectiveness" in their training should realize this, but sadly, many don't.

First one has to stop contrasting the two camps and begin to view the manner in which they augment each other. For example, how can you survive an attack if you don't have the needed attributes to weather the initial attack and be in any condition to launch a counter? If one didn't need attributes, then why would the military spend time having soldiers perform Physical Training in order to prep themselves for war? You can't have one without the other.

Second, after you stop the contrasting; you must set an effective training plan into action in order to gain the "best of both worlds". This means instead of simply doing static drills (the combat camp), you put on some safety equipment and try the same material against a "resisting" person via scenerio drills or resistance drills. By doing this, you are training your verbal, mental, AND physical tools in a dynamic manner.

I'll offer up the training model I used when I was teaching at Ft Bragg, and see how you guys (inparticular Scott) see how it fits in with this discussion.

While teaching I would use a "3 Tier" approach.

  • 1st tier -Since I never knew how much time I would have with a group, I always taught simple techniques (drawn from the Applegate/Fairbairn systems). In my opinion, it was better for these guys to have a few simple techniques drilled into them than to start them working on more "in depth" material.
  • 2nd tier - For the guys that had more time to spend with me, I would begin to start them into more detailed instruction. Here they would learn the finer points of grappling and striking with their hands, feet, knees, etc. This was done through the use of pads, some static drills, and after a firm grasp of the basics were obtained, simple sparring. Through sparring, attributes such as shock innoculation/absorbtion, timing, footwork etc were developed.
  • 3rd tier - the apex you might say. At this point the guys would have a solid base formed in both, a technique based approach (tier 1) and an attribute based approach (tier 2). Once 3rd tier work started we would mainly focus on different scenerios that we were likely to face. Situations ranging from taking down a room to dealing with protesters while on a peacekeepng mission were the things we drilled on. Here we included verbal skills, body language, and of course weapon and empty handed physical skills. On many of these occassions we would video the drills so we might be able to either have an AAR (after action review) with the guys in the drill and/or the trainers might look at the tape in order fix any problems that may have came up during the day's session.

Once you had a group trained in all 3 tiers, you would see that they were extremely "well rounded" and felt pretty comfortable in varying curcumstances. By no means were they fully trained, but they had a solid base built due to combing both sport and combat; so additional skills were easily picked up.


Scott, I'd be lying if I told you I haven't found that set of
defining principles to be already contained in my martial
system of choice.

My own approach has always been to back-engineer
things from points of failure.

This is the process I use for finding solutions contained
within that system.

My method of organizing those solutions is based on the
5 components of predation and competition in the natural
world; Range, Rhythm, Timing, Position, and Economy.

They're what facilitate my coaching strategies, and more
importantly, my organizing the strategies of conflict and
survival contained within my system.

It's my alchemy for addressing common patterns of
circumstance and tactical movement present in sport,
combat, and everyday life.


Great stuff here! I think a lot of people get lost in the process, and lose sight of what they are trying to do. The "combat" guys lose track of the goal and get off into collecting a million techniques and styles, and endless games that don't really simulate anything. The process of the class becomes more important than what is being developed there. The sport guys lose the path and get into minute rule manipulation and incredibly specific training, tactics, and mindsets, that have no reality outside of a specific style of competition. Winning at the sport becomes more important than the skills the sport was originally intended to develop and test. They are both wrong. And they both are right.

I was always told (way back in the '70s), that you never spar just to spar, you never walk into a class just to put in time or get promoted, you never compete for a trophy. You do all these things to learn, and you need to stay mindfull of what your goals are. It is sort of like playing military strategy games, you always want to keep the game's Victory Conditions, what you are trying to accomplish, in mind.

Good Question Scott,
I am again going to take the route of the
contrarian, and say that I think this is a relatively
modern "approach" to martial arts. Like the "Which
methods of development" thread going, I think the
two (should) support one another. Two parts of the
same whole. As Sport Sambo supports Combat
Sambo, and vice versa. As Tony Blauer's system
(as I understand it) does, one component
supporting the other. As I think ROSS does,
(--again as I understand it). There are probably a
few others. But only a few.

My perception of this dichotomy is that it again
stems from a marketing source. To make money
"most" MA schools advertise themselves using a
"sporting" model. Most parents (for whatever
reasons) don't want little Timmy or Janey to study
how to incapacitate an attacker, learn
de-escalation tools, Predator-Prey relationships, et
cetera. They want something "safer" than that,
something that seems more socially acceptable.
And right now, it isn't (and hasn't for several
decades) been very socially acceptable to take
care of oneself. Take a look at any area of our
social system and there is an expert, ready and
waiting to tell you what you're doing wrong and
why, as well as give the quick fix (you shouldn't do
X because that's what the police, FBI, et cetera are
for--they would say). Everything in our society (as
well as most in the world) is set up this way. We
are taught it, legislated for it, conscribed by it, et
cetera. Martial art is NO different.

Reminds me of a time, years ago, when I was
going to join the Air Force. I took all the tests and
found out that I could literally go into any area I
wanted to within their branch of service. I was
going to choose their survival school, and learn all
about surviving in any type of terrain, weather
conditions, adverse conditions, et cetera. The Air
Force recruiter asked me why I wanted to go into
that particular discipline, "what are you going to do
with that when you get out of the service?"


Back to the question (sorry for the rant :)), As to
integration, you have written extensively in the past
of the roles Sambo plays in relation to itself, so I
won't repeat them here, but they are extremely
relevant. I did find a couple of articles on Boxing
and Bayonet fighting that had some relevant parts
(I think) to the discussion. I didn't post all of the
article(s), just the part that seemed to fit.

Keep them coming. . .



continued. . .

The Value of Boxing in Military Training

By Joseph E. Raycroft

"The big contribution of boxing to military training is
to develop in men the willingness and ability to
fight at close range. Its purpose is to teach
soldiers to give and take punishment. There is a
close relation in the qualities required for boxing
and bayonet fighting. Both require agility of body,
quickness of eye, good balance and control in
giving a punch or thrust, and an aggressive fighting
spirit that breaks down or weakens defense and
makes openings for an effective "finish."
An efficient fighting soldier must not only be
trained in the technique of offence and defense,
but must be "charged" with the proper fighting

"The importance of systematic boxing bouts
throughout the camps should not be
underestimated, and contests of this sort should
be encouraged to a rational extent. Bear in mind
always that the success of your work is gauged by
the number of men that engage in this direct
competition and who thus develop, through
practice, the confidence and fighting spirit."

"Physical aggressiveness, to be effective, must be
based upon intelligent thought and practice. The
sensing of an opening and the following blows
must come close together. Habit is the result of
repeated efforts, physical or mental. Hence the
necessity of a simple, intensive schedule of

"Supervise your boxing contests so that a stinging
blow or defeat may be used as a stimulus for
self-betterment. Keep in mind constantly that all of
this is for one purpose alone Ð namely, to make a
first-class fighting man. "

continued. . .

Boxing Applied to Bayonet Fighting
By William J. Jacomb

"It has long been recognized in the army that
good boxers make good bayonet fighters. Many
illustrations could be given of this. A noticeable
instance is that of a guardsman who killed with
his bayonet eleven of the enemy in one charge. He
was the champion boxer of his regiment. Other
boxers have done as well. The position of a boxer
is identical with that of a bayonet fighter, and the
illustrations that follow show how closely related
these two exercises are. The armies of England
and this country [United States] now have
instruction on boxing as an indirect method of
instruction in bayonet fighting."

"The object of the boxing was twofold. It must be
remembered that our armies are new armies,
composed of every class and every kind of man.
Many had never fought in their lives and never
wanted to. Thousands had never received any form
of physical preparation. Many qualities had to be
developed and developed quickly. Physical
courage is perhaps the most common of virtues,
but the courage needed in the soldier, and
especially in the bayonet fighter, is a courage born
of confidence and ability to fight and to defend
himself. I do not believe there is any other form of
exercise which develops this as quickly as the
practice of boxing. Secondly, and fortunately,
bayonet fighting is so near akin to boxing that the
practice of boxing develops skill in bayonet fighting
in less time, with less expense, and with fewer
casualties. The official 1916 copy of Bayonet
Training tells us that the spirit of the bayonet must
be inculcated into all ranks so that they will go
forward with that aggressive determination and
confidence in superiority born of continual practice,
without which a bayonet assault will not be
effective. Major Percy E. Nobbs, of the Canadian
Forces, says in the Infantry Journal for August: "I
have seen youngsters in khaki turn pale lilac with
orange blotches on being told to put on the gloves.
And give up cheerily at the end of the first round,
notwithstanding the fact that they were daily going
over the jumps and hitting the bags about. And I
have seen the same boys six weeks later, in the
strength of their youth and fitness, come up
against skilled boxers in the regimental boxing
finals, get a fourth round ordered and come up with
a grin for a certain knock-out. A fight to a finish with
the gloves is an excellent experience for anyone. I
do not mean a ten-round heart-destroyer, but a
short, hard fight. Such a fight is in my opinion an
essential part of any infantrymanÕs training.
Whether he wins or loses he learns a lot. Bayonet
training does the 10 percent that is not spiritual in
the making of a fighter, and boxing can do the other
90 percent. That is the makeup of the first-class
fighting man."

I think simulations bridge the gap. For example, you put tape on the ground and you're in a bus shelter or elevator. Someone can begin a verbal build up that will lead to violence if you can not defuse. Since it is in the gym and the coach is a few feet away- it is relatively controlled and hopefully basic gear (cup) will be used. The "realists" (Blauer, Dimitri, Thompson, Franco, etc.) work this model and hundreds of variations into the ground. The theory being- since you'll fight as your train- train as close to real situations as possible.