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Combative engineering is the process of filtering a martial art or any other combative (for example a firearms training course) to find the non essential portions thereof, and then to remove them.

This process allows a combative to be streamlined, and become more effective. In addition, since all non-essential elements are removed, the combative is easier, faster and simpler to teach and learn.

The purpose of combative engineering is also to improve those techniques, strategies or teaching methods that are not stripped away. This is achieved through the testing of the techniques in as real situations as possible.

Mental Testing: Removing the Non-essential

An example of combative engineering is the cutting down of high kicks and the development of elbow strikes. if one thinks carefully about the effectiveness of bodily weapons, one can create the following categories:

  1. Maintenance of the weapon.
  2. Effectiveness of the weapon when properly used.
  3. Penalties where the weapon is improperly used.
  4. Ranges at which the weapon can be used.

If one now considers the high kick (for example a simple snap kick to the head) in light of the above categories one will find:

  1. In respect of maintenance, the high kick requires a large amount of: stretching, timing, co-ordination and effectively, training.
  2. In respect of effectiveness the high kick is EXTREMELY effective. A good snap kick to the head can end virtually any one on one confrontation (including an argument with your boss).
  3. In respect of penalties, the high kick can be a very dangerous technique to attempt. The opponent can catch your leg and drop you on you butt and the opponent can use destruction techniques quite easily against a high kick. If you miss your target you might well slip, lose balance and fall on your butt (at which point your boss will laugh and fire you).
  4. In respect of range, the high kick only really has a use at kicking range. If one attempts a high kick at close range (trapping, clinch or grappling range) the weapon will (unless it works!) have been improperly used, and unless you have extremely good luck, the opponent will take advantage of one of the penalties above.

In considering the use of elbow techniques:

  1. In respect of maintenance, an elbow technique requires little or no maintenance. The elbow is a weapon naturally endowed on human beings. It is hard, pointed and weighty. No stretching or warming up is required for the use of elbow techniques and very little training is required to teach someone how to effectively hit someone in the head with their elbow.
  2. In respect of effectiveness, an elbow strike is extremely effective, especially when the opponent is struck in a vulnerable point such as the throat or temple.
  3. In respect of penalties, there are very few penalties that can be associated with the incorrect use of an elbow technique. If one misses the target, the technique may leave one slightly open for attack, but this penalty applies to virtually all attacking techniques. In addition the elbow technique is more likely to leave you in a less vulnerable position than other techniques (especially compare to a high kick).
  4. In respect of range the elbow has a variety of uses at various ranges. This may seem counter intuitive so I will illustrate with examples:
  • Ground fighting range: The elbow can be used conventionally (blunt force) or used as a pointed weapon (digging into ribs, ramming the point into nerves or vulnerable areas such as the throat or groin).
  • Grappling range: As per ground fighting range.
  • Clinch range: As per ground fighting range
  • Trapping range: As per ground fighting range, although the elbow's use as a pointed weapon is more limited without closing the gap to one of the above ranges.
  • Punching range: The elbow can effectively be used as a defensive tool as the structure of most conventional elbow strikes can be used as blocks or parries to oncoming punches or mid range kicks. In addition, the elbow can be used to "destroy" incoming punches and kicks by smashing the point of the elbow against the incoming force.
  • Kicking range: as per punching range, except apply the concepts to incoming kicks.

Once this process of analysis is applied, it is easy to see that high kicks have less of a place than elbow techniques in combatives. This is because overall, they are less useful, more dangerous (to the user) and harder to maintain. This is not to say that high kicks should be disregarded or banned from martial arts, but merely that they should be regarded with more caution.

Physical Testing: Improving the Essential

Another aspect of combative engineering is the testing of techniques. This is in the following way:

  1. Attempt the technique in partner drills based on co-operation. This will isolate the technique and test its applicability in a totally cooperative situation.


    With your partner facing you, attempt a parry as he throws a straight punch at your face. If you miss the parry, he will stop the punch short of your face and the drill will begin again. If you manage to parry, your partner will not force the punch through. You now know that the parry works in co-operative drill situations.

  2. Attempt the same technique in partner drills with increasing degrees of non-cooperation. This will change the drill as the non-cooperation increases.


    Attempt the drill in the example above, but make the punch increasingly faster, more forceful, and less forgiving of error (if you miss the parry, he hits you in the face, although he is not aiming to kill you). Continue increasing the resistance to the use of the technique until the technique no longer works (if it never stops working well done, you have a great technique!). At this point, attempt to adapt the technique to make it work. Including footwork or changing the structure of the technique could achieve this adaptation. Do not allow the technique to become limited to co-operative drill situations! Either discard the technique or adapt it at this point.

    This process can be never ending, but at some point the technique should be elevated to the next level, sparring.

  3. Once the technique has been adapted as in the above example, or found to be perfect regarding non-cooperative drill scenarios; it should be used in focused sparring. Focused sparring is similar to normal sparring except that one should attempt to specifically attempt the technique that is being tested.


    If we continue with the parry technique example as above, the format of the sparring would be as follows: Normal sparring (choose your own level of contact - or preferably, increase the level of contact as you ability to use the technique improves) in which your opponent will frequently use a straight punch. Your job is to spar as normal. However, whenever your opponent uses the straight punch, you must, if possible attempt to use the parry technique on which you are focusing. As this point, you should be beginning to develop strategies and tactics on how to use the technique.

  4. Sparring proper.

    Example: As per focused sparring, but this time put on protective gear, and get in a ring. Take this sparring as far as you can, going harder and faster and always attempting to use the technique. This will train you to use the technique under physical stress, adapt your tactics and strategies and increase your physical fitness and endurance.

  5. Attempt the technique in a real life situation.


    I am not advocating that you go to the local pub and kick over some Harleys! If you do, and if the owner of the Harley tries to put the boot in, you may as well test out your technique. After all...what the hell else have you been spending all that time training (or even reading this node) for?

Any martial artist or person interested in combat or the should be engaged in combative engineering to further their skills. Without it we end up with often useless and dangerous techniques, which when combined with blind faith, could end up getting us killed.

Martial arts theories differ greatly, and you may not agree with this one. If so, I suggest you take a good look at you martial art of choice and ask yourself whether or not you are merely following it blindly. Feel free to msg me if you would like more information regarding this method.

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