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Close Combat Questions, Answers and Comments

Tank Todd

Caution: The contents of this article are for education purposes only. The principles described are extremely dangerous and are for military close combat training and operations only. Their application applies solely to the military.

 I recently visited the Todd Group depot in Dunedin and it was a real reality check.
I have trained for more than ten years and am an instructor in what is considered a practical style; at least I thought it was.
The Todd Group instructors were so welcoming and there was no false pretences egos or bad attitudes.
They made me and the many other visitors that walked in feel most welcome and I now know the reason they were so relaxed it is simple they are confident and know true combat.
I asked questions about the methods I observed and they answered me with detail and it made sense.
They never put down my methods or style but simply explained why they used a particular method and I did not need to be told that most of my methods were way less practical and effective than the Todd system when I had the opportunity to observe and compare them myself.
While I intend to keep training in my style simply because I have put in many years and enjoy it for the physical training I now know where I will get myself defence training from.
I would never have questioned my methods before I saw the Todd systems for my self and it was a real reality check.
The other thing I noticed was the intensity and when I thought that one of my dojo avoidance techniques would work against what was being practised I was allowed to partake and found the difference between the practise pace and the increased intensity pace to be considerable.
It wasn’t only the increases speed it was the fact that the techniques were from so close and directed at places and in a manner that left me with no option but to try and protect my self and unable to attack.
They could have really hurt me but did not they were controlled and didn’t mind showing me.
There were a lot of other visitors welcomed on the same night and they come from different countries and all practised different styles and as we observed and talked to each other we all agreed we had never seen such a great training place or such great skills and Instructors.
I am only pleased my work took me to Dunedin and that through fight times I had read top fighters say the Todd Group had the best close combat and that gave me the interest and incentive to find out for myself.



I recently sat a grading in a martial art and part of it was to complete a self-defence section.
Well a lot of what we had been taught was in my opinion useless for self-defence in this country anyway.
I was well aware of Tank and his facility that is one of the world's oldest and definitely best in unarmed combat in this part of the world with lots of experts from overseas training there.
I went along and explained what I required and was taught some excellent self-defence.
At the grading I was out on my own when it come to the self-defence part and after the grading was commended by both instructors and others grading for the best self-defence they had seen.
One instructor after he had said the same asked how I come up with the techniques and if I would show him and when I told him that I had taken lessons in CQB he started to criticise my self defence part of the grading, talk about a turn around.
It only convinced me of where I should be training and that the grade I had worked for amounted to little in a real life fight and that the instructors knew less than me, a beginner.



I have read a lot about close quarters combat over the years and much is about the history of world war two instructors by more historians rather than people who have actually trained from the experts they write about or are military graded instructors.
The articles and books and videos lack in close quarter combat content and are more different forms of martial arts.
Then I found fight times and through it learnt of Tank and his close quarter combat system.
You only have to read his close combat files in fight times to discover how much he knows and how he offers complete and common sense information that addresses the entire subject of the file not just one technique.
I have now purchased his books and DVD and intend to make the trip from New Jersey to New Zealand 2006.
I only wish I had known of him when he was training with Charles Nelson in NY and could have met the two of them back then.
He is certainly continuing with the work of such former military experts in a way that no one else I have met is and considering his military instructor status is really out on his own.



Tank who do you consider being the best of the old-time instructors you have been trained by?

They were all very different in many ways as people and as instructors but the following is an outline of my thoughts on what they taught me.

Firstly Harry Baldock was the old school and quite a strict no nonsense typical Brit-type instructor.
His unarmed combat was just that Brit WW2 unarmed combat and self-defence with some bayonet and basic knife and weapons aspects as well as sword training.
He was real regular force type training to the letter and a strict taskmaster who led by example and was into perfection with everything he did.
When you got to know him he did every now and then show a less formal side and could smile when the situation deserved it even if only briefly.
He had a great saying Training is a project to be continued not a task to be completed.
He worked and trained hard and it was Harry that advised me on career options and made introductions for me.
So I felt and still do he gave me excellent regular force unarmed combat training.

Charlie Nelson is the best self-defence instructor I have ever seen anywhere in the world and when you spent a lot of time with him you would constantly learn new and more knowledge.
I travelled to New York annually for over ten years and spent every day at Charlies clocking up considerable hours and was still learning until the day he closed the door.
The first time I walked into his school I knew I was in the right place and it was from Charlie I learnt to problem solve and develop skills.
He had taken self-defence training to the highest level or should I say the most complete level.
He was the self defence pioneer of America long before the martial arts explosion and had based his system on his over ten years service in the Marine Corps.
He had fought in the ring in combat and in the street and had developed his post world war 2 system for the street by developing skills to combat the most extreme of urban violence.
So Charlie Nelson taught me my self defence hand to hand combat and control and restraint training for law enforcement and taught me how to be not just an instructor but how to be the chief instructor and skills and programme designer and developer.
He was the best at what he did and I could talk to him about anything and everything, he was not into hype or ceremony and nothing would shock or disgust him.
He had a good sense of humour and was generous and helpful.

Col Applegate was a legend and a true professional in every aspect of the word.
He had a great sense of humour and a mind that was as sharp as a dagger.
He was truly the master of masters of irregular warfare and his knowledge went way beyond hand-to-hand combat.
He was an expert in armed combat and special operations and his combat shooting knowledge and experience was world-renowned.
He taught the special operations way where when you least expected it you would find yourself having to deal with a knife to your throat or he would ask you the hard questions re how to take care of high risk situations.
He taught me the specialist aspects of the trade and how to design weapons and training devices.
His methods were always deadly and over kill and he gave me my grounding in close protection and riot control as well as combat dagger work.
He had a vast knowledge of the history of CQB had worked with many allied world war two experts and he told me of their skills and personalities.
He was the expert of special operations close combat and was my mentor in irregular warfare related close combat and specialist tactical training.
He was fun to be around and had a great smile and sense of humour, he was generous and if he liked you and trusted you would do anything to assist you.
He not only gave me knowledge and free access to his life’s timework but he gave me referrals and endorsed my work and opened many doors for me.
He also trusted me to assist him and instruct his kill or get killed skills to military special operations groups.

All three of the above were lifetime-committed experts in their areas of expertise and that is my answer to your question.



I have researched current leaders in close combat and intended to be on your recent course in Australia but was deployed to Iraq. We really enjoy Fight Times and would like to know when and where your next close combat course for allied exponents is being conducted?

March 2006 at our Dunedin HQ then there will be courses in Australia, Thailand, and the US in 2006.
I will forward you details.



I have read your comments on rank and would like to endorse your sentiments.
I recently read a load of claptrap on forums and you guessed it they started with I’m no expert but or does anyone know of this individual.
I was curious so went and checked out the subject in question myself and found that he had provided all the information that this forum dweller was requesting and questioning.
But what is more alarming and revealing is that the subject had full contact details on the site and why didn’t this interested person simply contact the subject directly.
Rings alarm bells of alternative motives and agenda’s and envy or professional jealousy.
The educated would read and evaluate the information and realise this was nothing more than a veiled character assassination attempt.
I was curious of the enquirer’s motives and credibility myself but did not dare make contact, as I did not want to be the subject of publicity or give him any more credibility than necessary.
These people must have too much time on their hands and can’t be walking the walk.
The good out come was that indirectly the rogue directed me to a site that is full of great information and it is by credible experts.

Yes I agree with your concerns and fortunately the forums are of little interest to the people that have the expertise and experience.
I know that all of the military qualified chief instructors that I know globally they stear well clear of the forums as they can be hives of wannabes and nutcases and tend to attract people that do not do their home work before they submit and that have no qualifications in the subjects they think they are experts in.
They were given two eyes and two ears and one mouth so they should listen or look twice as much as they talk or type but that may not get the attention they seek.
I receive endless contact from close combatants and instructors that only read and contribute to fight times when it comes to military close combat.




I would like your opinion on how someone can claim to be a military hand-to-hand combat expert if they have never been trained on a military qualification course.
I would also like to know how they can suggest they know systems of the old time big names in military close quarter combat when it is a known fact they never trained from them.
It is also confusing how their associates can title them as the best in military close combat when they have never qualified in military close combat themselves or been trained by qualified experts.

Yes I get regular coms asking if I know such people and if they are in fact military qualified instructors and if they have been trained and qualified the pioneer experts people believe they have.
The easiest way to find out is to request in writing straight answers to your questions.
If they are working and advertising in the public domain they need to provide such detailed information if they ever want to attract the combative smart exponent.
Remember the qualified military CQB or CQC instructor has been trained and qualified in military CQB or CQC and trains or has trained the military.
If they are not qualified or are not training the military when they claim to be so great why are they not employed to do what they are self-proclaimed experts at?
Certainly would ring alarm bells with a combat smart realist.
Another important consideration is if the self proclaimed expert is being promoted by his understudies or associates and has to use solely a buddy method of promotion with out any professional credentials, that would also seem to be very unusual as it is definite credentials and experience that any professional in any profession would use when working in the public domain.
Experts in the public domain are easily contactable and their contact details and training facilities locations and services information are made available as well as their background profiles are publicly available.
If they are not I would be wondering why not?
So in conclusion ask the hard questions from the experts themselves and expect straight answers and check the information out with other experts in the field that you know to be qualified. Get everything in writing.



I recently read some criticism of knife disarms where you hold the wrist joint with both hands.
I read you advocate that grip in a previous article. The article that criticised the double wrist grab said although he knew nothing of military close combat claimed you should hold the elbow as well as the wrist.

He was right when he said he new nothing of military close combat and must have not thought that anyone who is going to use a knife will fight to stop you from taking the knife from him.
To attempt to hold the wrist and elbow of any large strong armed assailant is tactically flawed and could be the last mistake they make.
The reason the wrist is held with a baseball bat or as it is also known opposing forces grip is simple.
You cannot control the weapon holding hand of a formidable assailant with a single-handed grip. To attempt such a tactically flawed option even in training will identify this fact.
The elbow joint can be bent and the thumb of the wrist holding hand broken away against to regain control of the knife.
The baseball bat grip is like a clamp and restricts both the knife holding hand and wrist.
You can by maintaining this grip and locking your arms straight keep the knife holding hand away from your person and can move with aggressive pulling or away from pushing actions. You will also with this grip keep the armed assailant off balance by levering his knife holding hand forward and downward. This will put increased weight on his leg and cause resistance stiffening of his knee joint so it can be stamped with out losing your maximum control and containment of the weapon holding hand and also gaining the most devastation with your leg stamp.
I bet the critic did not explain the do’s and don’ts of his reasoning.



Are there special combative techniques for sea and beach needs?

Yes there are and they are usually variations of the land warfare skills.
Some years ago now we conducted a survival combative camp in New Zealand and Barrie Rice and I instructed land and sea close combat phases on this course.
It attracted over fifty exponents and instructors and they were taught how to deal with operational close combat on the beaches and in the sea.
They also learnt skills variations for use on the deck of a rolling ship.
Training was by day and night and footing considerations in sand and sea were a definite challenge for the majority of land dwellers.
They slept in beach caves and outside of all the navigation survival and combat conditioning phases also they learnt armed combat on the sand and in the sea and took part in battle handling exercises involving the new skills they had been taught.
It was a real new experience for most and having instructors from elite forces that were specialists in land and sea close combat made this camp down under very different.



What improvised weapons would or could be carried in your belt order?

Knives ranging from utility folders through to daggers, secateurs, nails, lighters, spikes, sack needles, tent pegs, expandable batons, pepper spray, scalpels, saps or black jacks, hooks, multitools, survival saws, screw drivers, ice picks, paracord, maglites, flails, brass knuckles etc etc etc.



I visited the Todd Group after hearing of it from so many experienced military people that held the training in the highest regard.
I attended two nights of training while in Dunedin and the following is the benefits I immediately gained.

The two nights I attended were the basic phase one level and the training was focused on stopping being held or put in a hold at close quarters followed by escaping holds.
The great thing was there were people of all physical sizes in the group including fighters from both stand up and grappling sports.
Some of these people were very physically capable and had won titles in their fight sports.
You got to learn from the best then train with some strong fast and experienced people.
There was considerable emphasis on not allowing anyone to put you in a hold or grapple with you by using the systems hard target tactics and being proactive.
Even defence was about attacking the attacker in his what Tank called life and senses support systems and ravaging them so even a tough opponent is less likely to be able to recover and take control.
Then the escapes were an experience and a half.
Tank would say your enemy should have taken you out not seized you as this is like the sport of grappling which can get you killed in combat against dirty tricks and armed opponents.
He also said his favourite combat sport was Olympic wrestling.
The command was when first seized do the Poo which I learnt meant lower your centre of gravity while maintaining what he called an affinity with the ground and your stability.
The advice was given to push your insides down and not quite out your rectum.
Then assess and decide on your plan of destruction from what you had been taught and ravage your opponent making him have to let go of his hold on you.
Well it worked a treat even when you were grossly outsized or up against the seriously experienced.
Get it right the first time was the call and if he can’t breath see you circulate blood stand up or as Tank said breed more dumb Asses then you have done society a favour.
I asked him is this what is taught for the military elite in the same situations.
He said this is the last resort options and that their military carried weapons would be the usual escape options and in unarmed silent escapes instant peralisses was another option for kill or get killed roles.
Talk about unconventional hold escapes, one finger rammed right up the nostril while other digits were in the eyes and you want to see how quickly someone lets go when the disposable cigarette lighter is brought close to their bodily parts and the same went for knives.
One second you were holding your opponent the next he had undone your belt dropped your pants and you had problems with fear of losing your manhood combined with trouble standing up and embarrassment.
When Tank identified some one was not confident against his opponent he would instruct them to do this or do that because if you don’t he will have you and if you do this is what will happen because that is how the human body works against that danger.
If you haven’t got the guts to save your self you have lost before you start he said.
He told us of how recently a visiting International Karateka had used the old pants drop and ringing the testicles in his grading self defence section much to the horror of everyone, but it worked didn’t it he said.
I returned home to my training and found that I would not allow my training partners to even touch let alone hold me and when we were practising getting out of holds very quickly no one wanted to be my partner.
I think some thing that Tank said is very true and correct and it went something like this, What ever you practise all the time you will be best at and if it is real proven in combat dirty fighting that will be your strength and best chance at winning as it is not bound by rules physical size or gender but does require a willingness to do anything and everything and never quit.
They have a massive set up and great people at the Todd Group and the system is simply life saving.



In my martial art we are told to kick with the edge of our bare foot and as a person that works in the medical field I can’t understand why and don’t think the instructors know why either can you enlighten me?

I don’t know karate reasons but I can tell you why we would not in CQB.
Firstly bare feet are for bathing and boots are for combat is our first rule.
Secondly we want all our joints in their normal load bearing alignment for moving or employing impact kicks.
We also go right through the target to the ground for two main reasons 1) commitment and 2) so as to continue forward momentum and not loose ground by retracting.
We also utilise the sole of the boot like a hand with toes like fingers for touch as in silent stalking, the ball of the foot for ground contact explosive movement off of the mark, the arch of the foot to surround the target in stamping kicks to assist in securing the target and the heel of the foot for stomping on targets on the ground. The toes and heel also assist in maintaining your balance to the front and back respectively when in the on the balls of the feet ready position.
I once was told by a very experienced martial artist in the US that the Samurai would use the sharp or bladed edge of the sole of their sandals to deliver cutting type kicks and that the bare foot version was a follow on from the samurai sandals bladed kick.
I know we have tested the two positions on an immoveable target and measured the impact force and that the sole of the foot with joints inline could continue to increase the impact force long after the off line edge of the foot kick had to stop for injury risk reasons.
I contacted my friend Terry Hill re your question, as he is far more knowledgeable than I am on karate.
He told me the Japanese hardened footwear is referred to as iron geta and the blade of the foot kick is called sokotou.
He said it was meant as a sharp edge type kick for soft targets such as the neck body and back of the knee.
The striking part of the blade of the foot was back towards the heel reducing the risk of ankle joint injury associated with the blade of the foot closer to the toes.
So there is some good information on both the military and martial arts aspects of such kicks.



Tank I am a doctor from New York and would like to learn your system and qualify in it.
I am very interested in military close combat as taught by military instructors and have read extensively on the world war two pioneers and on your background.

There is no substitute for hands on training but for starters you could buy copies of the manuals and DVD series I have produced on the basic skills.
The DVD series is available from Rising Sun Productions in the US and the manuals from
March 2006 is our annual Close Combat course here in New Zealand that will have over one hundred exponents and instructors from all around the world.
This course focuses completely on the Todd system and preparing exponents for testing.
It is extensive and intensive and exponents return year after year, you can find details on the Todd Group web site.
The International Close Combat Instructors Association will be having their next convention in November 2006 at North Carolina and there will be workshops for non-members.
Details will be advertised February 2006 at

Thank you for your inquiry.



Dear Sir did you ever train from Shocker Shaw in CQB?

No I never personally met Shocker but I do know many of his former understudies who showed me his CQB training programme.
I researched his skills and training history and wrote an article you can find in the record of service archives of fight times on Shocker.
Much of my research came from Mrs Shaw and interviewing some of his closest friends and former soldiers that had qualified on his SAS CQB courses.
I have also physically trained with one of his former understudies over the past twenty years.
Shocker was trained by the late Brigadier Mike Calvert of the Brit SAS who was trained by Fairbairn himself.
Shocker is a legend down under and I am sure you will enjoy his story.



What is a truing stick?

It is a T shaped metal device with all ends padded for truing up exponents guards.
You hold the top of the T with both hands with the trunk of the T pointing towards the exponent.
You can then poke the trunk straight at them like a straight punch or bring the horizontal back ends around and strike them like an elbow strike or a hook.
I developed it over ten years ago and use it to true up exponents guards.



Hi Mr Todd, I first met Charles Nelson as a child in New York City in the early 1970s, and then took his Self-Defense some years later.  I also enrolled in some additional lessons from him.  I have studied the martial arts as an adult, and have never met someone like Charles Nelson.  He was a true martial arts genius.  I know that you studied very extensively with him, and am writing to find out if you know how I might obtain his "Little Red Manual," and any other materials (videos, books) dealing with his system. I would like to devote myself to learning than the basics I learned from him many years ago.

Hi, I will personally reply to your com with contact details for Carol, Charlie’s daughter, re. The manual and other information re. Continuation training. Regards, Tank

Interested in Close Combat Training? Todd Group Depots are located throughout New Zealand and at various overseas locations.

For more information on Todd System of Close Combat see the following books, dvds and cds:

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