The advent of World War One (the war to END all wars) brought warfare into a new and foreboding era of man to man killing and slaughter. Air power, mechanized warfare, chemical warfare and the general widespread use of machine guns changed the face of battle almost completely. However the solitary fact remained that in the end it was STILL man against man in a desperate, brutal and deadly struggle for survival. The static and stagnant lines created by entrenched warfare demanded new and innovative tactics and strategies. Among these was the advent of “raiding" parties. Small groups of lightly armed men who ventured out into “no man’s land" for the purpose of recon, probing, intelligence, prisoner grabs, and psychological “demoralization" missions. The nature of fighting under these conditions became popularized as “trench warfare". This was close-in knife to belly hand to hand combat. All manner of expedient, purpose designed and improvised close-combat weaponry was employed. While technological advances were being made in all other forms of warfare, this particularly nasty and vicious man to man fighting reverted to the most barbaric, primitive and bloody “methods" imaginable. Just as it has been since Cain slew Abel and how it WILL be until the last two humans clench fists or seize stones in raging anger during the final melee of the Apocalypse.
Fostered by this, most military forces researched, developed and implemented fairly comprehensive and rigorous training methods specific to close-combat and “trench fighting". The bayonet, the knife(especially the trench knife), and hand to hand combat became prime training doctrines along with advancements in general physical conditioning and battle preparation. The unarmed hand to hand methods were drawn from any and ALL sources of man to man combat. Boxing, wrestling, Savate, jiujitsu, and any number of “rough and tumble" gouge and kick back alley tactics were employed. Those charged with the task of developing such training programs were well AWARE of the fact that NO ONE SINGLE “approach" to combat was SUFFICIENT in REAL man to man kill or be killed battle!
Punching, kicking, striking, butting, stomping, biting, gouging, throwing, tripping, choking, strangling, bone breaking and the use of ANY and ALL weapons of close combat expediency were STRESSED! The foregoing should satisfy and fulfill anyone’s “definition" of MIXED martial tactics and techniques (even if Muay Thai or more accurately Siamese boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu were not included). And to be fair, I do have English language books circa the late 1920’s – early 1930’s that detail Siamese boxing quite well. As an aside, one manual details the “favorite" attacks of Siamese style boxers as being directed at the liver with brutal kicks and at the throat while grasping the hair with one hand and smashing the throat with the other fist (gloves were NOT worn at this time). The liver attack was lethal in many cases because of the widespread epidemic of malaria which left the spleen swollen and distended even if you survived and made it a deadly focal point of attack. DEATHS occurred DAILY in these matches and were considered just a routine hazard of the “trade".
The years after WWI saw an increase in self-protection “systems" designed for and “marketed" to the average citizen. Law Enforcement organizations also began to pay more heed to this area of training. This was just part of a movement to increase the professionalism of law enforcement personnel in general. Virtually ALL of these “systems" advocated an all-around well-balanced approach to personal combat. Elements of boxing, wrestling, foot-fighting and jiu-jitsu as a “mixed" toolbox of personal defense tactics became quite popular. Even methods that relied primarily on western boxing and wrestling maneuvers acknowledged that a well rounded combatant MUST be able to BOTH strike effectively as well as grapple. Other methods that touted “jiu-jitsu" as a singular answer to personal attack and defense were advocating a “jiu-jitsu" THAT was quite comprehensive in it’s syllabus of blows, strikes, kicks and grappling methods. It would be VERY good to remember here, that for all the “talk" about W. E. Fairbairn, during this period the Shanghai Municipal Police academy trained their recruits in BOXING – WRESTLING and JIU-JITSU! OR as one veteran of the SMP put it……………………. "our training in this area was a MIXED BAG of physical skills"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There was virtually NO “authority" or “expert" in this field who DID NOT advocate a “MIX" of striking/kicking and grappling either as a combined “method" or as found singularly as in “real" Japanese jiu-jitsu. When it was “for all the marbles" NO ONE would be as short-sighted as to negate ANY and ALL possible methods of attack and defense. As far an “aliveness" training goes, jiu-jitsu (NOT Kodokan Judo) “free practice" of this period allowed virtually ANYTHING. Including atemi to almost ALL kyusho points, including the testicles, base of skull etc. The ONLY “advisement" proffered was NOT to hit so HARD as to KILL your training partner, SAVE that for “matches" against OTHER jiu-jitsu schools!
ONLY in the arena of sporting combat did this division of method, pitting one against another, become a somewhat popular past time. Matching wrestlers against boxers, either of the two against jiu-jitsu men, or Savate fighters against boxers (Biddle fought in such a match while in Paris) was done under a constantly varying set of rules so that it became virtually impossible to ever really determine what “method" was superior, and even then, as some sportswriters of the time pointed out, what did ANY of this have to do with REAL fighting when NO rules applied. Even Jigoro Kano’s nephew got involved in promoting these types of matches between western boxers and native Japanese Judoka. They were called “JU (as in Judo/Jujutsu) – KEN/KENTO (as in fist or fist-fighting)". Even Choki Motobu when asked if his Kempo-Karate was “superior" to boxing (after his KO of a western style pugilist) said that in order for his “method" to be used against a boxer specialized training specific for that type of match would have to be undertaken. Judoka interested in these JU-KENTO bouts sought out SPECIFIC instruction in just HOW to make Judo work against boxing. An entire book on this subject was published in Japan in the early 30’s. It is of the UTMOST importance to remember that ALL of these bouts had strict rules and regulations of engagement! Few if any of these mandates would have had much bearing on what one could do in a real pier-six back alley brawl. As an example: Judoka were almost ALWAYS forbidden to use any methods of ATEMIWAZA (striking, punching, kicking, butting and smashing). However, Judo “experts" of the time have advocated often and in their writings that ATEMI would be the MOST preferable method of attack and defense in a serious engagement.
The bottom line here is simply this: for use in a REAL violent assault NO ONE, but an utter FOOL, would suggest an attitude or method approaching anything LESS than that of an ALL-IN “anything goes" doctrine. In regards to “sporting combats" NOTHING was ever, or could ever be, conclusively proven to be superior to anything else. At one time or another ANY of these various “methods" had BOTH big and impressive WINS and equally impressive FAILURES.
Next installment we’ll look at the World War Two era and define the true meaning of the term “combatives"………………
Carl Cestari began his study of the martial arts with judo at the age of 7 under the direction of Yoshisada Yonezuka. During the past forty plus years Carl has dedicated his life to studying the martial arts, hand to hand combat systems, history and religion. What makes Carl unique is his combination of martial arts, law enforcement and military and real world experience. Carl has been exposed to a multitude of people with a wide variety experience. The following is a list of some of Carl’s ranks and honors.
Shinan (Founder) Tekkenryu jujutsu Ryokudan (6th degree) Koshinkai Karate under John Burrelle Godan (5th degree) Jujutsu under Clarke of the World Jujutsu Fedaration (now defunct) Sandan (3rd degree) Nippon Kempo under Narabu Sada Nidan (2nd degree) Judo under Masafumi Suzuki Shodan (1st degree) Judo under Yoshisada Yonezuka Shodan (1st degree) Shukokai Karate under Kimura, Kadachi and Yonezuka Shodan (1st degree) Daitoryu Aikijujutsu Instructors Certificate- Charles Nelson System of Self Defense under Charlie Nelson http://www.thetruthaboutselfdefense.com