Friday, March 8, 2013

Killer Commando

There is a fascinating article published on various news websites concerning a former Australian commando's (Paul Cale) developing a leading edge military close combat system based on martial arts. This could be read in conjunction with an interview with the same person in the Australian martial arts magazine, Blitz.

The original story is fascinating to me, not because of its 'warrior' story but because of the sheer nuts and bolts of it all which my work either informs or raises questions.

Cale tells of an incident in Afghanistan that became a hand-to-hand battle in which he strangled a Taliban fighter. Technically, despite the posted comments to the article, at no time does the article say that the strangulation killed the fighter. However, assuming it did, I'd be fascinated to know the details, not out of some morbid curiosity but from a purely technical point of view.

The forensic pathology literature time line proposed for neck holds/strangulation techniques/shime waza is approximately 10 seconds to unconsciousness, 2 minutes and will resuscitate unaided, 2-4 minutes and manual resuscitation will be required, 3-4+ minutes death.

Was the strangulation held on for 3-4 minutes to cause death? That's a long time to hold a technique in the middle of a combat scenario with multiple combatants. Or was the technique held on for long enough (approx. 10 secs) to induce unconsciousness and then released before the enemy was dispatched by another means? That is to say the strangulation facilitated a decisive technique and was not the decisive technique in and of itself.

This then raises the question concerning how this technique is taught to be tactically employed in a close combat system.

If the time line proposed by the forensic pathology discipline is mistaken, given they've no personal experience in using the technique to cause a fatal injury, Cale's experience would be a unique contribution to the body of knowledge.

Cale talks about breaking an enemy fighter's shoulder. Again, I'd love to know how as I've developed a simply anatomical classification that explains the mechanics of how a shoulder is dislocated by any technique that targets the shoulder taught by any martial art, combat sport, or activity associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter. This understanding then, through experience, facilitates the understanding, study, and use of the technique as you know precisely what your application of force(s) is designed to achieve (more than beyond 'break elbow').

Cale talks about the military kit not being suited for being engaged in hand-to-hand combat and that he developed a method which caters for this limitation. It is disturbing when you see any military close combat, law enforcement empty hand control training, and martial arts being used in those two environments, when the techniques taught to be used in an operational environment are trained wearing outfits that are not worn in operational environments (e.g. uniform with no kit or sports attire). I would dearly love to see Cale's modifications to his martial arts methods to cater for the wearing of the cumbersome military kit.

Cale makes the very important point that the combat sport is only used to train a combat ethos. It is a part of his overall training methodology. It is important to understand what the training produces. Combat sports does not teach combat methods. To be sure, there are overlaps, but there is also significant differences, as Cale points out. Many in the martial arts worship 'action,' 'doing things,' and disregard an intellectual study of what they are doing. Because you struggle and train with resistance, sweat, feel pain, get injured, injure and inflict pain, bleed and cause bleeding, does not mean that your training is preparing you for an operational environment. It most definitely trains a mind set, or a warrior ethos as Cale refers to it as, but the tactics and techniques may not 'fit' the operational environment.

Injury science's division of the factors of an injury event - host (person at risk of being injured), vector (person attempting to cause an injury), and the environment - forces you consider all of these factors. The martial arts tends to ignore the latter two factors, which then affects the development of the tactics and techniques of that martial art.

Taking Cale's methodology a step further based on injury science's methodology. You train your close combat methods in your military kit. Should your training partner do likewise? The Taliban fighter is not going to be similarly attired. If you develop tactics and techniques based on an enemy being similarly attired (and similarly trained), they may be flawed. A similar argument is applicable for the environment factor (dojo/training hall vs closed confines of a room in a house in Afghanistan).

The father-of-two said his program also helped returned soldiers suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. "It's very calming and we find a lot of guys are coming to classes just to unwind and release the pressure valve," he said. "I'm broken, injured and a little bit older than most. For me it's all about technique and being calm and centred. Our psychologists are looking into the calming effect and apparently there's been a body of work done on this issue and US veterans."
In the Blitz article, Cale refers to 'stress relief.' Stress is a limited concept. It looks at a survival mechanism that was selected for in nature to promote an individual's survival. Stress only looks at part of that mechanism, and from a biased viewpoint. Even those involved in the stress discipline describe stress and an ambiguous concept.

The survival process model I've developed provides a holistic approach to study the calming effects produced by combat sports training Cale refers to. Stress training, and some PTSD recovery programs, use an academic understanding of stress and stress effects/symptoms to help manage them. The survival process model, due to its comprehensive/holistic nature, improves on the stress approach.

1 comment:

  1. Hello John, some information relating to strangulation of Taliban commander by Paul Cale. Paul gave an interview on a television talkback show "Today" here in Australia April 6, 2013 and related that the person he strangled did not die and was subsequently captured later during the battle to some surprise. So as you surmised he had been rendered unconscious. Hope this has helped.


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