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Former Delta Force Soldier’s Opinion on Hand to Hand Combat and Combat Physical Training

by George E. Hand IV Oct 24, 2023
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Delta’s Patrick A. McNamara, author of Combat Strength Training
Delta’s Patrick A. McNamara, author of Combat Strength Training
Author’s Note: Dedicated to my brother LPD256; love ya madly

This essay we shall, for the sake of the political season, refer to as my ‘Concession Speech.’ I have received to date a common core battery of questions, the top subjects of which fall into either a ‘Weapons and Tactics’ container, or the other heavy hitter, ‘Combat Physical Fitness Training.’ To this point, I have conceded to proceed with my account of my own physical training regime while serving with the Delta Force.

I am a physically fit sort of fellow, that I am inclined to fancy of myself. I started a deliberate personal physical fitness program at the age of 13 years old, motivated by the prospect of learning a hand-to-hand martial art. In my case, Ed Parker’s Ken Po Karate, a Chinese system by claim, with a Japanese title by sheer dumb luck that some punk white kid in Arizona would know the difference and call them out.

My first lessons came from a high school mate who studied the Okinawan system of Sho Rin Ryu. My mate was not a fighter; he trained for the sake of perfection of technical form in kicks, strikes, and in Kata. His form was impeccable; he could lift his leg into a fully extended side kick, and hold it there, still, balanced, and awe-inducing.

Haircut-needing author locks out a side kick

I learned all he knew, just as he knew it. He and I found an opportunity to train with a reputable Black Belt Si Fu in the next city over. This guy was not about cool-looking, awe-inducing anything! He was about getting it on and mixing it up. We junked up on the first day and pounded the shit out of each other. I broke a toe, was pretty sure I did; fought anyway.

On the drive home my brother confessed that he didn’t have the heart for the fight, so he continued with the dance, and I continued with the Si Fu, training in full contact kickboxing, to eventually fight in the first ever full contact kick boxing match in the history of Arizona. This was a MARS rated event that would officially match fighters and allow them to progress up matrix to eventually fight for sanctioned city, state, and national championships.

I managed a pallid five wins, no losses record in AZ, winning one championship in the Black Best division of a tournament in New Mexico.

When I broke the news to my Si Fu that was going into the military, he surprised me with distressing reaction: he promptly offered me the next belt rank up the chain, which backfired on him intensely. So he is bribing me with a belt I didn’t earn?? That gesture, even back then, did not reside on the periphery of my standards.

My first two years in the Army Infantry were a high 90% waste of my time and effort. The regular peace-time army was nothing short of an insular penal colony inbound for the Island of Miss-Fit Toys. I was offered Airborne School as a route out of the Infantry, but suffer a clinical dread of heights. Before long I accepted the school, insisting that I would even jump without a parachute, if it meant getting me out of where I was.

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