Note: This is part of a series. You can read parts one, two, three, four, and five here.

In 2001, the Army opened the Combatives School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and began formulating training and protocols for this new mixed martial arts-based combatives system, further analyzing and preparing the soldier for close-quarters battle. In 2002, the U.S. Army officially adopted MACP and issued the first Army MACP FM manual, FM 3-25.150. This was a major step up for the Army and allowed major improvements. MACP is modular and adaptable to unit needs and training time constraints. MACP instructor selection is unique to each unit and is based on who is on hand and what they know. Although still lacking in the way of standardization, this was still much better than what existed previously. But, as good as MACP is, in time it became clear to Special Forces that MACP was a good fit for the Army, but not for SF. Not completely.

Combatives FMs

The story of Army combatives manuals offers some insights. FM 21-150 COMBATIVES was first published in 1954 and last published in 1992. It had evolved over the years, but still retained its traditional influences of bayonet (Repeat after me: “Parry! Thrust!”) and e-tool, pit construction, obstacle courses, pugil stick training, and some new and old judo and karate influences and techniques such as punches, throws, pressure points, and even a six-foot pole many martial artists refer to as a “Bo.”

“Stick with what we know,” must have been the dominant logic. A major problem with 21-150 was that it was too vague in the training of qualified instructors or to serve as a system for fluid implementation across all units, and relied too much on the “commander’s discretion.” It did not put everyone on one sheet of music.