2014 Study on Hand to Hand Combat

The following is a great study completed in 2014 by Peter R. Jensen of the United States Military Academy.

Big Points:

  1. Grappling was involved heavily in hand to hand struggles
  2. Fighting back is very successful
  3. Striking – punching and kicking was a small part of the equation

A small excerpt follows. For the full report click

Full Report


Hand-to-Hand Combat and the Use of Combatives Skills: An Analysis of United States Army Post-Combat Surveys from 2004-2008   Pg 1

“Despite technological advances, hand-to-hand combat remains a persistent aspect of the contemporary operating environment (Wojadkowski, 2007). To develop a more detailed understanding on the use of hand-to-hand combat, the researcher analyzed 30 Post- Combat Surveys administered to US Army Soldiers from 2004 to 2008 after their return from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. 216 out of 1,226 Soldiers (19.0%) reported using hand-to-hand combat skills in at least one encounter. The Soldiers’ descriptions indicated that hand-to-hand combat occurred in a variety of tactical situations and that the most common skills employed were grappling techniques (72.6%), followed by the use of weapons (e.g., rifle butt strikes; 21.9%); with striking as the least reported skill (i.e., punching and kicking; 5.5%). These results further reinforce that hand-to-hand combat remains a relevant demand and the US Army should continue such training with an emphasis on grappling skills practiced across a variety of performance settings. For many years it was generally assumed that the improvement in power and range of firearms would lead to battles being decided at a distance, and that hand- to-hand fighting would be a rare exception…how completely has the twentieth century campaign exploded this theory. – Colonel Sir John Macdonald, British Army, 1917 Introduction Despite technological advances, hand-to-hand combat remains a demand in the contemporary operating environment, especially given the ambiguity of urban warfare and the close, regular interaction of Soldiers with both combatants and non-combatants in a broad spectrum of use-of-force situations. During OEF and OIF, hand-to-hand combat skills were useful not only during close combat, but also in crowd control situations and to maintain control over detainees and prisoners (Wojadkowski, 2007). Defined as “an engagement between two or more persons in an empty-handed struggle or with hand-held weapons such as knives, sticks, or projectile weapons that cannot be fired” (U.S. Army, 2002, p 1-1), hand-to-hand combat, and the training thereof, appears an important area for the Army to consider in preparing Soldiers for future conflicts.”