Traditionally, “Combatives” is a term for techniques of military-applied hand-to-hand combat, which were formed approximately in the beginning of the Second World War (although some techniques and even systems existed during the First World War). The most well-known leading figures in this area are British William Fairbairn and Eric Sykes, Irishman Piet O’Neill, Canadian Bert “Yank Levy,” and Americans Rex Applegate and John Styers. The basis of combatives of those times consisted of judo, jiu-jitsu, and some Chinese techniques, as well as some moves borrowed from the criminal environment. Simplicity and efficiency were the focus of attention. Techniques that were formed at that time were used in the postwar guidelines and manuals, and became the base for military-applied hand-to-hand combat for many years and almost everywhere. The system influenced even the “combat techniques” of the Soviet sambo.
The popularity of karate and other oriental martial arts has weakened the positions of traditional combatives in the ‘60s-’70s of the 20th century. WW2 techniques became secondary for some time. It was clear that after all the “popularity booms” on kung fu, aikido, Thai boxing, and MMA many people will draw their attention to the combatives again, as the system is attractive because of its accessibility and efficiency. This led to the creation of new directions of combatives, which were not always militarily oriented. Today, “combatives” is already a general term for applied directions of the hand-to-hand combat.
Among the “civilian” combatives versions, such Israeli systems as krav maga (kapap, kalah, etc.) are mentioned first, as well as more modern ones like RAT System, SPEAR, ISR Matrix, Urban Combatives by Lee Morrison, ICS by Peter Sciarra, and others.
In fact, modern Combatives are techniques, tactics, and methods of applied hand-to-hand combat that are based on time-tested military techniques of wartime, and adapted according to all modern trends in martial arts and wrestling, as well as to the modern realities and the needs of ordinary people.