T Nation

Close Quarters Combat Video


Found this yesterday and thought I'd share it here. Opinions?

For me I like this guy's style.


i dont like it. i think those looping hand chops take away from your range and power and would be neutralized by someone with their hands up in a guard of any kind. as a preemptive strike they would certainly work however most people would hurt their hand.

obviously the targeting is descent and looks effective against a dummy. id still feel that a good straight punch would be a better lead (if your leading with a hand strike and a strike designed to be a freeze or something to work off rather than a show stopping overhand or ridge hand).

for the reasons stated above power range and durability of the striking surface. i also dont like how he tells you to drop that hand behind the opponent after the strike. this whole maneuver looks like an invitation to get counter punched grappled and tossed (or stabbed if your thinking in that context)

i also feel if your going to sacrifice range and get in that close you would be better off with hooks and short punches.

i dont like the chin grab the way they show it as a push as opposed to a strike like a palm heel strike even then i see the time at which they chose to implement that to be the most opportune time to strike at the exposed neck as opposed to the chin and i thought the part where he grabbed the belt to pull back as he did the chin push absurd

what i did like was preaching modest short combinations do to the dynamic nature of combat, and they have some ok ideas about how to train

truth be told i only watched like 20 minutes

sorry to ramble or if im incoherent midterms have savaged my circadian rhythm ive been awake 26 hours


Couple thoughts (from the first part of the video)

1) Being super tense and doing isometric super tense holds of the movements or sets of slow tense movements are not going to add explosive power in striking. In fact, tension is something you should try to avoid as much as possible if you are after power.

Power is about developing maximal mass transfer, maximal leverage, and maximal speed. Yes, you need to have enough strength to support the force coming back into you and the more you have the more force you can theoretically therefore transfer into the opponent. But practicing like they are isn't a good idea IME.

2) All of this stuff seems impractical to use. A real opponent isn't going to just stand there and let you knife hand them or palm heel them in the neck/chin. They are going to be moving around, many times will have their hands up and ready to defend (which would render much of those techniques ineffective).

Or, if they are just standing there with their hands down, you're pretty much going to jail for assault or perhaps even murder if you just haul off and start chopping their throat or gouging their eyes like that. Much of the stuff that they are doing looks like the WW2 combatives stuff, which was designed for battlefield application (where it's pretty much anything goes and kill or be killed), not for civilian self defense application.

The person would have to have pretty strong evidence that their life was in immediate danger to justify using those tactics. Especially since the guy is practicing them from a casual stance and then aggressively engaging the attacker.

Why not just try to put distance between the two of you while talking your way out of it in that case? Why not try to use postural self defense/de-escalation tactics to try to at least make it seem like you don't want to partake in physical violence?

3) His non attacking hand is kept low and down leaving him wide open to counter strikes. Let's see him strap on some MMA gloves and get into the ring with another fully resisting (and skilled) attacker and we'll see how effective his stuff is and how practical it is for active combat.

Oh, but I bet they'd argue that it's "too deadly" to train with resistance right? In the case of things like weapons training that could be a valid argument (though, even in those instances there are generally methods which allow for close approximation and therefore more accurate testing), but most of the time with unarmed stuff it just means that people have never tested their stuff and are afraid that it might not work (and make them look like less of an expert).

No sir, I don't like it.


Thanks for sharing though, I'm sure that if I watched the whole thing I could find something useful/beneficial.


I have not had time to watch the video.

I did see that it was Carl Cestari.

Cestari did a lot to preserve and teach WWII combatives in America. 20 odd years ago a Cestari VHS tape was the only likely exposure you could get to this stuff in much of America if you were a civilian. He also had a lot of health problems and died before he saw 50.

Cestari and Brad Steiner were also responsible for trying to teach unarmed/empty hand work to those who carried guns. I know it seems so odd now, when close quarters shooting, weapon retention, and even knife work are taught at many shooting academy's, but this was not always the case. It certainly was not always the case for civilians.

I will watch the video later, but even without doing so I am going to state that if you currently study "combatives" or non-traditional martial arts as a civilian Cestari had a role in either teaching and disseminating the techniques or at the least keeping interest in the material alive.

In the early days of the internet Cestari was one of the few sources of this material. Sort of like Don Rearic being a knife/weapons source by default.

I am also sure that we can see a lot of training artifacts that were real common with older martial arts. Static poses, orchestrated movements, set rhythms, and often exaggerated poses were all the norms. Oddly, even among people that had to have known better this stuff stayed as sort of "unofficial" tradition/formality when showing techniques. I have seen instructors with real world experience and sport experience still teach this way. It is almost a reflex were they break into a "formal technique" mindset when demo'ing for a new audience. Now it seems stupid. 20 odd years ago it was pretty damn common.

I never met Mr. Cestari, though I have been told his seminars were well worth attending.

I appreciate what he did.


Robert A


If Cestari is responsible for helping to keep combatives training alive, then he deserves some credit/respect.

Like I said, from a civilian context I don't like it as it wasn't really designed for civilian use, but instead battlefield/war time use. Many of the legal/moral aspects are different. If we're talking about what you could quickly teach to people (that could be easily retained and reproduced under high levels of stress) who were going to be in the field of battle, then I think it's good stuff (still maybe could use some improvement, but good nonetheless).

Also, not everyone who studies non traditional arts or combatives owes lineage to Cestari. But that's neither here nor there.


As far as any kind of formal lineage, I do not think many do. I know he gave seminars, but was far from a prolific teacher.

I was more trying to give some context of how common the whole demo like we are posing for pictures style of teaching was. I honestly wonder if the sickness started as a hold over for photography and sort of embedded in the American martial arts scene. It is to the point that I pretty much give any production made before about 2000 a pass for showing it, even though it seems like they are basically training against mannequins.

That said, I know there are better products to spend money on now. Current standards of filming and modern protective and training gear has really allowed for higher quality instruction. I also think that the Combatives/Reality Self Defense crew often overlooks or de-emphasizes too much of the technical detail that gives the results. This is where I plug the "Technical Mastery" term.

SIDE NOTE: Did you ever get the PM I sent?


Robert A

EDIT: Just checked the copyright, it's 2005. So, I was maybe cutting too much slack.


Cestari is a somewhat controversial figure. Dude was apparently a Jersey cop at one time, then was involved in a shooting or something and got kicked off the force, then had some debilitating disease... I have never been able to put the whole story together.

He did keep combative alive to a degree in the 80s, and since his premature death a host of douchebags have tried to commandeer his teachings and provide the stupid ass martial arts "direct lineage" crap to him.

There's this cocksucker: http://www.theselfdefenseco.com/

And this one: http://www.closecombattraining.com/captainchris.php

And the list goes on.

But Cestari's techniques are much the same as all other WWII combatives, and he kind of seemed above the fray from the rest of the jerkoffs that are involved in the wars over who "owns" combatives.

Truly, the martial arts world is just full of fucking douchebags.


Here's a little more info on the guy. Everyone says that his students are dickbags but apparently he was a good dude and the real deal.



The army already has a well developed combatives program. some of the initial forarm blocks/sweeps appear related to the 'post-frame-hook' drill taught, but a lot of the striking would be impractical given what "typically" consititues a soldier's hand-to-hand engagement.


His hand freaks me out.

I too feel that keeping a good guard would negate quite a bit of the techniques shown. I doubt you'll ever get attacked by someone with his arms to his sides. And as noted, the non-attacking arm always dropped completely exposing that side. Also saw a lot of head dropping... drop your head like that while lunging forward against someone who knows anything about fighting and it's lights out.

I did like the idea of the shoulder strike to create some distance. I'd prefer a push kick, but if the person's already too close for that then I could see this working. But again, I think keeping your guard up would effectively block that.