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.

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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)

History

This pilot shot down an enemy fighter at Pearl Harbor in his pajamas

Comfort is important when doing a hard job. If it's hot on the work site, it's important to stay cool. If it's hazardous, proper protection needs to be worn. And comfort is apparently key when the Japanese sneak attack the Navy. Just ask Lt. Phil Rasmussen, who was one of four pilots who managed to get off the ground to fight the Japanese in the air.

Rasmussen, like many other American GIs in Hawaii that day, was still asleep when the Japanese launched the attack at 0755. The Army Air Forces 2nd Lieutenant was still groggy and in his pajamas when the attacking wave of enemy fighters swarmed Wheeler Field and destroyed many of the Army's aircraft on the ground.

Damaged aircraft on Hickam Field, Hawaii, after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

There were still a number of outdated Curtiss P-36A Hawk fighters that were relatively untouched by the attack. Lieutenant Rasmussen strapped on a .45 pistol and ran out to the flightline, still in his pajamas, determined to meet the sucker-punching Japanese onslaught.

By the time the attack ended, Wheeler and Hickam Fields were both devastated. Bellows Field also took a lot of damage, its living quarters, mess halls, and chapels strafed by Japanese Zeros. American troops threw back everything they could muster – from anti-aircraft guns to their sidearms. But Rasmussen and a handful of other daring American pilots managed to get in the air, ready to take the fight right back to Japan in the Hawks if they had to. They took off under fire, but were still airborne.

Pearl Harbor pilots Harry Brown, Phil Rasmussen, Ken Taylor, George Welch, and Lewis Sanders.

They made it as far as Kaneohe Bay.

The four brave pilots were led by radio to Kaneohe, where they engaged 11 enemy fighters in a vicious dogfight. Even in his obsolete old fighter, Rasmussen proved that technology is no match for good ol' martial skills and courage under fire. He managed to shoot down one of the 11, but was double-teamed by two attacking Zeros.

Gunfire and 20mm shells shattered his canopy, destroyed his radio, and took out his hydraulic lines and rudder cables. He was forced out of the fighting, escaping into nearby clouds and making his way back to Wheeler Field. When he landed, he did it without brakes, a rudder, or a tailwheel.

There were 500 bullet holes in the P-36A's fuselage.

Skillz.

Lieutenant Rasmussen earned the Silver Star for his boldness and would survive the war, getting his second kill in 1943. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1965, but will live on in the Museum of the United States Air Force, forever immortalized as he hops into an outdated aircraft in his pajamas.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

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