4-8 Lone Warrior


Note: More courses can be scheduled upon request and sufficient class size.

19 April 2014

We are hosting a LONE WARRIOR course on NOVEMBER 4-8, 2013! Contact us for more information



March, 2013:

Armored Grappling

BattlHand Armored Grappling 

The armed professional is always expanding and polishing his martial capabilities. Weapons’ training is the primary emphasis, but empty-handed training also has its place. One of the modalities that we train in BattleHand is in armed/armored grappling. Here, getting away from most connotations of the term “grappling”, we are referring to engaging in the extremely close martial context, where while armored and armed, the intent is to break the enemy as quickly as possible by applying our own body force to do structural damage on the opponent.

As is the rule in weapons’ combat, in armored grappling we train to stay on our feet. We don’t want to get into a wrestling match with the opponent. We want to break him as quickly as possible and be able to move on. There is very little body-to-body contact. The more body-to-body contact there is, the more contact points the opponent has to wrestle against. The fewer contact points applied against the opponent, not only is he less able to engage in counter-movements, but the more force you are able to apply to into areas that will mostly effectively leverage a break on the enemy opponent


On the Hunt!

BattleHand Tracking and Engagement


Developing a combat mindset is a process that the professional must engage in while armed and against an armed adversary. One of the training modalities that we use in BattleHand training is short-distance tracking and engagements against armed “tangos.” In these training scenarios, the mind is the drive that brings the weapon to the target to completely dominate the adversary. (Also, check out our gear review of the A-TACS ACU Coat that we use in tracking in our "Reviews" section.)


In BattleHand training we utilize tracking to engage a hunting mindset in the individual. With that mindset, the “hunter” has heightened physical, cognitive, and behavioral capabilities. We use a 4-6 man tracking team (as used by David Sott-Donelan) to track down and engage with 1-3 armed “tangos” who have a 3-5 minute head-start. In this training, the focus is not for the tracking team to learn to follow footprints. Rather, it is about reading sign that the tango has left behind in order to close with him and dominate him. The track and the terrain determine the path, the tango is the target.

(Left, the tracking team is following spoor. Right, A tango lays in ambush with bayonet trainer in hand)
As well, it is not enough that the tracking team merely locate the tango; they must close-with and completely dominate them. In the core of our tracking training we have both the tracking team and tangos use wooden bayonet trainers so that they must engage in close combat in spear/bayonet distances.  The engagements are close-in, kinetic, and emphasize both individual prowess and team efficiency. In an alternate tracking scenario, both the tracking team and the tangos are armed with BB Pistols that have a range of about 50 ft. Logic of the use of the BB pistols changes the group dynamics and engagement slightly, but the principle behavior of tracking down and dominating the tangos remains the same.

Locate, close-with, destroy. This has been a principle of hunting since humans engaged in hunting for sustenance; the same principle applies to how armed professionals hunt other men.

 - July 26, 2011




The Path of the Warrior - Tsuwamono-no-michi

A Different Kind of Warrior
-Hunter B. Armstrong
Being / Becoming
For most armed professionals, training and practice in combative skills training is approached as a necessity of the profession. For them, it is readily apparent that combat is the most difficult arena in which humans engage, and there can be no such thing as too much preparation physically or mentally. For some, however, it’s too easy to become complacent. Reliance on routine, faith in the infallibility of the team, apparent familiarity with a situation are all factors that can degrade one’s awareness, and the feeling of need to constantly improve not only combat skills, but the mindset that enables skills to operate. Training and practice have the very obvious benefit of enhancing combat skills, but there is another reason they become even more important over time. It would seem that over time, as our skill improves through training and practice, there should be a corresponding drop in the amount of necessary time and effort on such training. It seems obvious that “the better I get, the less need there is for me to try to get better.” For the professional, however, the opposite is the case.
Aside from the simple enhancement of combative skills, why is training so important? The short answer is that training defines a difference between being and becoming. The fact that we are training is an indication that we are trying to further develop ourselves, become something more than we are now. If we are satisfied with who/what we are now, we wouldn’t need to train, other than to simply practice skills we already have. Training is forging and polishing, striving to learn more, do more, to achieve a higher level of capability, to become more.
Who or what are we trying to become?
We are engaged in a combative endeavor that at root should be no different from that of the combat professionals throughout history. In essence, we are part of martial tradition. However the tradition of the martial encompasses a wide variety of character types from protectors of society to warlords and brigands. The scope for the current age is no different. However, as with any era, the true professional has higher ideals of character and standards of behavior than merely being skillful at combat. In the end, it is character and a high standard of ethical and moral behavior that separates the true warrior from the well trained thug.
We often cite earlier examples of idealized warrior types such as the knight and the samurai as potential role models. And while they provide some traits that are worthy of emulating, we are in a different age, and need to look more closely at our models of behavior.
For example, let’s look at the Japanese samurai. As an historical figure, the samurai (also known as bushi) has been around for over 700 hundred years. However the image of the samurai that we’re most familiar with now has his roots in the Sengoku Period, roughly 1490-1600, a time of extensive battlefield warfare. During this period, the bushi’s survival was based on his ability to dominate in battlefield personal combat. It was during this period that the martial skills of the Japanese warrior were stimulated to a peak of development. With the end of battlefield warfare in the early 1600's, there followed the relatively peaceful period of the Tokugawa era. In spite of the lack of battlefield warfare, the samurai evolved to further meet the needs of the warrior in an age of little battlefield combat, but greater demands in a different type of combat, one that is in some ways more difficult to train for. This was the single combat of professional warriors in a civilian world.
The single combat that arose was of a nature in which it is all too easy for the ego to become the driving force. Ego is not always a bad thing, and properly applied can be a very useful driving force. Ego drive, when used for unselfish ends (see the hoplological concept of “non-grasping-persona”) can be useful as a force of will, achieving remarkable ends. The other side of that coin is the ego of selfish ends (the grasping persona). Here the ego turns one inwards, becoming an inhibitor. In either case, for non-selfish or for selfish ends, for good or bad, the ego can be a lethal determiner. The nature of the martial training during this period was to further polish the effort of will, the unselfish ego of the non-grasping persona, towards just ends. Here we see the development of such concepts as the dichotomy of the “life-giving sword and the death-dealing sword”: the sword of violence being used for the protection of life.
Most of us are familiar with the term, samurai and to a lesser extent, bushi, and what attracts most of us to the bushi/samurai is that they trained as individuals in some of the world’s most highly evolved systems of personal combat. At the same time, we tend to ignore the less savory nature of the samurai’s social position and the behavioral nature of the samurai class status. However, that behavior is important for the modern professional to understand. While the samurai on the one hand had arguably become one of best trained warriors in personal combat, particularly during the height of the Sengoku Period (1490-1600), his code of ethics and morality during that period and evolving further during the following Tokugawa era (1603-1868) would, by today’s standards, leave something to be desired. During his height, the samurai’s duty, loyalty, obligation, responsibility was owed not as a societal protector, but directly and specifically to his lord and only to his lord. The samurai was not the idealized, individual, knight errant, seeking to suppress evil, right wrongs, and protect the weak. He was a retainer, a servant-warrior for his lord and master at whose whim he served. If you look through one of the English translations of a Japanese manual on samurai behavior—AJ Sadler’s The Code of the Samurai (an annotated translation of the writings of Daidoji Shigesuke - 1639-1730)—you’ll see far more instruction on the daily comportment for serving as a dutiful retainer than on the obligations and responsibilities of protector-warrior to society at large.
For most of us this is not the persona we visualize in ourselves or in our own development as modern warriors.
For my part, I prefer a different and earlier concept of Japanese “warriorship.” The term, tsuwamono, is from an earlier period of the Japanese martial history.
The Japanese character for tsuwamono 兵 is now read as “hei,” as in heihō, generally translated now as “tactics,” “strategy,” “the art of war.” However the older meaning involved a concept of tactics that was rooted in the individual and expanded outward to groups. Importantly, though, that heihō, while rooted in combative skills, also included an aspect that would be best described as “one’s behavior towards others.” The individual who practiced that older heihō was one whofollowed the tsuwamono no michi, “the warrior’s path.”
The tsuwamono was the warrior of an earlier Japan, prior to the rise of the “servant” samurai. As with the later samurai, the tsuwamono strived to live up to the ideals of his class, but the tsuwamono’s code of conduct included valor, loyalty, honor, trust, non-desire, and importantly, demeanor or comportment. However, unlike the later samurai, the ethics and morality of the tsuwamono was not aimed at polishing his role as a servant serving a lord-and-master, but towards the greater good of the group within which he served. Compared to the later samurai, the tsuwamono had greater independence, and was often himself an independent land owner. His responsibility was to his family and to the society in which he lived. He might owe fealty to greater powers, but his immediate and primary obligation and responsibility was to those among whom he lived.
It is at least partly to the this earlier concept of the warrior that I believe we should turn in getting a better understanding of who or what we are training ourselves for.
Tsuwamono - a Modern Warrior Concept
●          The tsuwamono is an individual; he is self-initiated and self-motivated.
●          The tsuwamono is a follower of the warrior path of responsibility and obligation. His following of that path underscores his individuality while stressing the importance of his responsibility as protector in his society.
●          The tsuwamono trains to become ever more capable at combative skills. The foundation of those skills is based in his self-initiative to become more. It is inherent in the tsuwamono that as he gains in capability in and comprehension of the principles intrinsic to the martial path, he will of his own self-initiative, seek to expand the application of those principles beyond any institutional standard. In other words, the tsuwamono is never satisfied to stand still waiting, being, but is constantly looking forward, to becoming
●          The tsuwamono attempts to conduct his daily life based upon a code of conduct rooted in an innate sense of ethics, integrity, and morality. This code of conduct is not an outwardly enforced expression expected of the tsuwamono by others, but a code of behavior that the tsuwamono expects of himself. As with the tsuwamono of old, valor, loyalty, honor, trust, and comportment are values that are inherent. Compassion, an aspect of the “life-giving sword” (an often neglected component of martial behavior), is vital part of the code.


February 26, 2010
Form and Function
Hunter B. Armstrong
[adapted from "Form and Function" in Hop-Lite, No. 8, Fall 1999]
"Form follows function" is a principle that pertains to all combative training whether pop sports "martial arts," such as MMA, karate-do, wrestling, and fencing to the use of sword or firearm on the battlefield. Using the form-function rule as part of our perspective, it should be pretty obvious when looking at the form of a "fighting" system what its true function is.
Most of what we now call "martial arts" are pop sport or recreational systems. In most cases they are derived from systems that originally were functionally aimed at real combat. However, over the last fifty years in particular the greatest interest in "martial arts" has been for sport/recreational use or entertainment. Their popularity and spread has been based almost entirely on their use to those non-combat ends.
Modern karate provides a good example of the changes that typically occur. Modern karate has evolved over the past hundred years from a complex of Okinawan village and town self-defense systems that originally were used for actual fighting, though primarily by civilians. In karate's evolution, it was adopted from its primary use as village/town civilian self defense system to inclusion in Japan's educational system in the 1920's. There it was melded into a program of physical education. After World War II, what remained of karate (now, with a distinct Japanese flavor) was heavily influenced by its physical education context: competition in kata and sparring. American military personnel in post-war Japan were exposed to the system, and introduced it to the U.S. market. With its expansion abroad, it was primarily the overt competition elements that were popularized.
In its relatively new guise as a competitive sport, karate's form altered to meet the demands of the new function. Consider the change in characteristics in form and function from the a village/town fighting art to a modern combat sport:
training outdoors on natural ground
preparation for environment of real fighting
training primarily on artificial floor of dojo
competition on same type of surface
variety of training methods: applications, strength conditioning, body hardening, makiwara, etc.
preparation for demands of real fighting
relatively limited training methods: form and sparring techniques
preparation for competition
stance/posture - relatively high
balance and mobility on rough ground against multiple opponents
stances/postures - lower more Adynamic@ looking
aesthetic value for competition
"one-step" restricted sparring only, but with no limitations in types of techniques (e.g., eye jabs, joint kicks, etc.)
real fighting demands destructive techniques
free sparring - limited techniques and targets
safety in competition
techniques aimed at structural damage
defeating adversary in real fighting
techniques aimed at general target areas
competition victory - points
no difference in techniques between kata and kumite
combative outcome demands that only applicable techniques are practiced
kumite and kata techniques are different
kata competition - demands techniques that "look good;" kumite demands techniques that earn sparring points
Again, the function for which a system evolves will alter the form of the system to suit that function. For example, on the sport side, if judges start giving more points for flashy kicking techniques, the system will alter to include such kicks. This is not a matter of good or bad fighting arts, it is simply a matter of changing functions forcing changes in the form.
The form of a system reveals the true function of the system. Unfortunately, people often believe that the system they're practicing is for one thing-typically combat-when the form of the system shows that it is primarily for sport. Variations of this theme can be seen in all of the popular "fighting" systems, whether they are Asian based systems or Western combat sports such as boxing, fencing, or "combat" handgun competitions.
The confusion and real problems occur when the two ends are confused - when people assume that a system that has evolved for one function will be equally suitable for another. Typical is the belief that a system that has evolved for sport or recreational purposes can function equally well in real combat. This occurs even though there are great and readily apparent differences in the techniques used for sport and combat.
Combat has intense and demanding characteristics that the form of any combat system must comply with if its function is to truly prepare for combat. That form is not going to be as aesthetically pleasing nor as sportingly functional as the forms of systems that have sport ends. If sport techniques are used in combat or combat techniques used in sport the consequences can easily lead to injury in the latter or death in the former.
Integrated Combative Systems, by its nature, is aimed at developing a systematic approach toward understanding as effectively as possible training the mindset for lethal combat. To that end, it is imperative that we recognize and clearly delineate the differences in combative behavior-and-performance between lethal combat systems and those whose functions are aimed at other ends.
 April 3, 2010





Welcome to the new Integrated Combative Systems website. On this homepage we will be posting articles, after-action reports of training courses, gear reviews, and pertinent ICS updates.


ICS is continually expanding its range of capabilities for training armed professionals. In doing so, ICS has codified its principles and methods of training into a comprehensive martial system called BattleHand. At the core of BattleHand is the development of the combative mindset. In training this mindset we include the full range of weapons, from firearms to bayonets to knives to empty-hands. The principle of weapons training as the foundation of warrior mindset and skills embodies the axiom of "One Mind, Any Weapon."As well as creating the BattleHand system, the core place for training BattleHand has been established at the Spartan Training Center in Sedona, AZ.


We continue to devote our time and efforts to effective martial training, and we are sure that our new website will enhance the capability of spreading, sharing, and advancing knowledge of human combative behavior and its performance.