Fitness & Sports

5 of the best moves from Air Force Combatives

In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Army recognized a problem with their existing combatives program. At that point, the program had withered to having whatever martial arts enthusiast they happened to command at the moment teach techniques to units. For the Army, being a fighting force and all, this was a huge no-go and a revamp ultimately led to the advent of the Modern Army Combatives Program, which has been all the rage since the beginning of the All-Army tournament in 2004.


We all know the Air Force likes to copy big brother Army in a lot of areas, and this one is no different. Well, it is a little different. Did you even know there's an Air Force Combatives Program? No worries, most of us didn't.

The difference, and the problem, is that the AFCP isn't nearly as widespread nor is proficiency in combatives seen as important as it is to Soldiers or Marines. Nonetheless, there is an Air Force Combatives Program and here are 5 of the best moves.

Related: This is what it was like being in the military on 9/10

5. Guard, sweep, mount

This is a basic flow that could be very useful in real-world situations where the goal isn't just tapping out your rolling partner.

These two basic positions, along with a sweep, are taught in AFCP/MACP and are consistent with traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. The basic idea here is to gain top position. With some practice, this becomes a vital combination for any airman.

When to use: After you've established dominant position from the bottom (i.e. closed guard).

Staff Sgt Mark Velasquez is in a perfect position to sweep Sgt 1st Class Jesse Thorton. Just sayin'. (U. S. Air Force photo by Alan Boedeker)

4. Rear naked choke

The rear naked choke is one of the most popular submissions in existence. It's seen on film and television, it was once used by law enforcement, and everyone seems to know it. At least everyone thinks they know it.

There are some finer points (hint: hand placement and back contraction) to the move that take it from a good positional hold on an opponent to an almost-immediate night-night for any unruly tough guys you encounter.

When to use: When your opponent has surrendered their back.

We've all wanted to choke an airman or two, am I right? (Image from Wikimedia commons)

3. Guillotine choke

Another super well-known submission, the guillotine choke also has some finer points that many of us that "know" the move tend to miss.

This is much more than just a headlock. Master the fine points and this move becomes a sometimes-lethal fight-ender.

When to use: When your opponent is charging/rushing you with their head down, in a tackling motion.

Guillotine in 3... 2... (USMC photo by Alfred V. Lopez)

2. Arm triangle

A much less popular but equally valuable move is the arm triangle. This move can be applied in all circumstances. Standing, laying, from the top or the bottom, the arm triangle can be thrown and landed to subdue an overly aggressive opponent with relative ease.

It's essentially choking your opponent with their own failing/punching arms.

When to use: When your opponent is throwing punching or extending their arms.

Also read: 5 best reasons why the Air Force doesn't need warrant officers

Wanna hear a bedtime story? (USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua J. Garcia).

1. Double tap

What's the one move you absolutely must develop for your own safety? Steady trigger manipulation and consistent aiming.

Really hard to find an escape from some gun-fu. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Charlie Emmons)