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PostSubject: LOFTY WISEMAN ON CQB   Tue 11 Aug 2015, 11:22



After World War Two things changed in military CQB training. In truth, the physical training establishment resented the radical, task-orientated approach of Fairbairn, Sykes, O’Neill and Applegate. The US military went tried numerous systems based on traditional martial arts. The very fact that they were constantly being revised indicates their lack of practicality. In Britain an Aikido based system was eventually introduced. It was only in the Special Forces that “gutterfighting” was preserved and adapted to meet evolving threats, such as terrorism.

[Lofty during “Op Storm”]

To give us a grasp of this we have interviewed one of the most outstanding personalities in the field. Lofty Wiseman served for 26 years with 22 Special Air Service Regiment. During his service he was an instructor in Combat Survival, Squadron Sergeant Major of a "Sabre Squadron", was tasked to set up the British Counter-Terrorist Team, and ran the famed SAS Selection Courses. Since leaving the Regiment founded the leading Survival School. His books "The SAS Survival Manual", "Urban Survival” and “The SAS Driving Manual” have become worldwide best sellers. Lofty was seen recently putting contestants for the BBC TV series “Castaway” through a rigorous induction program.
I have been privileged to have worked with Lofty for ten years, on Bodyguard courses here and overseas. In introducing Lofty I can do no better than quote what the Commanding Officer of 22 SAS said to me in 1985; "Lofty is a legend in this Regiment". I am delighted to elicit his concepts of training for "CQB"- Close Quarter Battle, the SAS term for all-in armed /unarmed combat. The interview took place in Hereford.

Lofty, you've just been showing me the manuscript for your new book THE SAS PERSONAL TRAINER, which covers all aspects of physical training. Would you like to tell us what type of fitness training you recommend for CQB?

OK, for CQB obviously you want want explosive power, strength, timing and co-ordination. Endurance is not so important, unless you're in competition. To achieve strength you train with weights...not too heavy, you look for a balance. You want to build yourself up without losing speed.
Roadwork, running, is a must, that will never change, get the body conditioned that way.
Then depending on what sort of martial arts you favour add specific exercises. Boxing type training, for example is fine, it gives you all the stamina, the speed, and also balance is very important. I had some lads up the hill doing the survival course, and I know they're graded Black Belts but when we put the canoe out they were very clumsy...and I was thinking "balance", it came to me then Den, you've got to know where to put your feet, to always be on balance. It's important in the woods too!

[Lofty leading a class over an obstacle course]

To go back to the training side, you definitely want speed, timing and power. If you can get those things together they add up  to a good performance. If you do this you may not need the stamina so much, because you'll effect your win quickly. However, if you come against someone who has trained the same he's going to counter this, and that's where the endurance comes in. We have a saying "you can't cheat the gym", put the roadwork in because it may all come down to endurance.

What develops timing and co-ordination?

The speedball is good for hand/eye co-ordination. It's also a good arm and chest exercise, keeping it up, keeping going, but it's primarily a co-ordination exercise, it keeps you fast. Skipping is excellent. It keeps you light on your feet, and works the cardio-vascular system. You can skip, breaking rhythm, and all fighting should be in a's when a guy can upset your rhythm, that's when you're off balance and he's dictating the fight.

We encourage training with a partner, sparring, so you get used to handling someone, and how to cut down distance. The hardest thing about striking is distance, closing down the distance so that when you hit you've got maximum power delivered on the target and you're not falling short, or over-reaching. It's one of the hardest things to learn, how to close that distance down without getting hit yourself, and you get it from sparring with different partners, different heights, different weights. Always try to spar with someone a bit better than yourself...not so that you're completely outclassed and lose confidence, but spar and work with someone slightly better than you are, to bring you up.

On our BG (Bodyguard) Courses you use partner training for strength and stamina too.

This gets you used to handling human weight. We do "Fireman’s Lifts" with them, across the gym, then up and down stairs. We do the "wheelbarrow" and "reverse wheelbarrow", using muscle groups you don't normally use. All getting used to handling someone...the "stubborn donkey", a bloke braces himself, you get his neck and pull him,'re getting used to bodyweight, getting used to handling someone, and all the time he's being as awkward as he can, so you're getting to know where joints are, how to move him around.
Combine this training with roadwork. Get a good heavy pair of boots, a pound on the feet is probably worth, say, ten-pound on your back. Henry Cooper {British Heavyweight boxing champion} used to do his roadwork in old army boots. Leather is ideal, it's natural. Man-made materials like canvas and Goretex draw your feet something cruel, so get a good pair of heavy leather boots...people certainly hear you coming and you might get attacked by dogs, but it really is worth it.

Your roadwork isn't the same as jogging is it Lofty?

No, you can jog for maybe two hours, and all you're going to do is knacker your knees up. It's better than nothing, but again, we aim to break rhythm. A run is distinctly different than a jog. What we do is we pick a point a hundred yards away, a gatepost for example, and sprint to it. We then settle down, keep on jogging to recover your breath, then maybe run another hundred yards backwards. Remember, in combat you not only go forward, you go backwards too, so again it's important to learn how to run backwards, keeping your balance and being light on your feet. Stopping off, doing press-ups, run a bit further, abdom crunches, run further burpees, all this keeps you sharp.
You must warm up thoroughly, including stretching, then finish the session with a warm down. You've got all that blood pumping round the body, and if you don't warm down then that's when you get problems. Walk round the gym, easy jogging, shake loose, do some stretching.
Sit round discuss the training for a bit then have a shower. Start as warm as you like, but always finish with it cold. It's not a macho thing. Even in winter finish by gradually turning the water colder. It's no good leaving a warm gym and a warm shower and going into the cold air. Also it's a challenge. If you get things too easy you don't enjoy them. We get everyone singing in the shower, making out they're enjoying it.... it's like a good hiding Den, it's nice when it stops!

Loft, one of the themes we've pursued in this interview series is the mental aspects of fighting. Can you let readers have your thoughts?

OK, I think the most important aspect of all the training is the mind. What we know now, if we could have applied years ago it would have saved a lot of grief to us. I think that's where you've got to start training people, not only the physical side, but they have to be trained mentally as well.
Life is a mental exercise, survival definitely is. The stronger we are mentally, never giving in, and realising what the problem is, and having the determination, the will to live, the will to survive, the will to win. On the streets if you're going to get mugged your will to live, or, your desire to hang on to your money has got to be greater than your opponents. If you are going to face a guy in combat, regardless of the art, you've got to believe in yourself and say right, I'm not going to let him beat me...I've trained hard, I'm in good condition. You're obviously going to meet people better than yourself, but you must believe in yourself.

[Lofty and Den on the range]

It's getting your mind right. What I tell people with self defence, especially women, you may be facing a guy who may be real menacing, real impressive; but if he's on substances, his lifestyles terrible, he's sleeping rough maybe, not eating the correct food, and although he looks menacing he's depending on a substance. Here you are, you've been training, looking after yourself, in superb condition, for a start mentally you've beaten the should almost feel sorry for him!
You want the adrenaline flowing. When adrenaline is in the system no growth can take place, nothing can change in your body, there's no sort of healing process or anything. This is like an instinct that you're relying on. As long as you retain the co-ordination, using this basic survival instinct you become very sharp. Your eyes are better, your hearing, everything becomes alert. Even if someone is hitting you, stabbing you, shooting you, unless it's somewhere vital you won't even feel it.... until after, when you think "why is that knife sticking out of my arm!"  Pain, you can train through one ever died of pain, they may have died of associated problems. All pain is calling for attention, for example, "my toe hurts, why.. it’s broken, look at it". In the heat of the battle you don't feel the pain. Afterwards you can give it the attention.
You focus all your's like the karate guy breaking bricks. Channel all your physical energy, mental confidence and aggression. This confidence has to be brought out in training, right from the start, then you can use it.

Lofty, the Regiment emphasises controlled aggression in training.. Could you tell the readers about "Murder Ball"?

Murder Ball, yeah (laughs), we used to get two teams, wearing 18-oz boxing gloves, and play it with a basketball in a gymnasium. The only rule was you if you had the ball you could be punched. With the big gloves on it cushioned it a bit, but they still hurt. You had to get the ball, pass it between your mates and into the basket. Whoever had the ball could be punched till they released the ball. The story that stands in my mind was a big Guards officer one day. Guards Officers are arrogant, not known for common sense. I explained the rules: "The rules of this game, there are none, but if you've got the ball you can be punched"...and he said "Even my tiny brain can comprehend that Sergeant Major"...with that I gave him the ball, which he gladly accepted.., along with a punch right on the nose!
It was excellent aggression training. No-one got hurt, except me...I got a hernia for laughing Den, I'd laugh and laugh, and the only reason I'd go to work was to play this game.
On Training Wing I had good instructors with me and we'd get to know all the tricks, how to thumb someone, all the sly stuff. As the selection course got whittled down they knew the ropes too. Then when we'd hold the big Combat Survival course, with all forces from NATO, I used to put my team against them, and they used to wade through, you can imagine what it was like.
In my spare time I used to train the police, and I tried to get them involved, but they didn't like the combat side of it. At the same time I was doing motorbike scrambling, so I had all the bikers too. I used to get them in the gym, you can imagine a team of coppers and a team of bikers, gloved up and I tell you what Den, it was magnificent! Everyone could hit a copper. Inspectors who had booked them for speeding maybe, the week before, Dennis it was mayhem. That's how I got the hernia from laughing.

What about Milling?

I was against it for us. For the Parachute Regiment, great. You're a young soldier, 17½ years of age, you go in the army, into the Parachute Regiment. Milling is done by weight, you're matched against someone of similar weight, gloved up, and you just stand toe-to-toe, no boxing skills, and you just punch each other to a standstill for one minute. Doesn't sound long, but you try punching for a minute, especially if you're not trained for it. What it shows is, has the guy got a spark, can he take a punch, is he shy, does he cower; you can tell a lot about the guy. I agreed with the milling for that, it was great. It was conducted on a proper boxing ring, referee and ropes. The floor was sprung, so if you went down OK.
We had a guy came from the Parachute Regiment and he brought milling into our Selection. Now, the sort of guy you’re getting on SAS Selection they're the 25 year old corporal and you can't teach them like little boys you know? Also you get guys who've done boxing, and it's unfair. You get all these people in and they started milling them one-on-one. Now, our martial art in the Regiment was all open-handed stuff, and there they are with gloves on punching each other. So there they are, on the gym floor, punching each other, and the majority of injuries came from split elbows and concussions from falls, so a steady stream to the medical room.
Since then they stopped it. It wasn't good for that age group, whereas "murder ball" was a fun game, and it was a group thing, you could look out for your mate as well, if he was getting punished you could move in and protect him. I was the sergeant-major Den, and as soon as I blew the whistle I was the bloke at the bottom getting punched!

You mentioned the SAS CQB featured open hand strikes. I understand in the early days there was a lot of influence from the work of the American OSS instructor Rex Applegate?

In those days we had very few books or manuals, and Rex Applegates' Kill or get Killed was a good book, and a lot of his stuff was still used. It was a case of the blind leading the blind. Someone with an interest in the martial arts would come in with his bits and pieces, and we'd try it out, but Applegate was a big influence. Remember that mostly a soldier will have a weapon with him, so we taught unarmed combat on Combat Survival, where a guy is breaking out of prison camp, and he might have to take a sentry out, or we'd practice all this stuff with garrottes or whatever. Mainly we taught palm strikes, elbows, knees. So the main training for us was CQB with weapons (pistol, rifle, subgun), with the unarmed combat for survival. I think, though, that for any elite force you've got to give them the unarmed combat to give them the confidence to say, right I'm better than the average. They are going to be fit guys, plus they tend to be naturally aggressive, so if you can channel that into the CQB it's excellent.

How did the CQB training develop over the years?

Traditionally self-defence was taught by the PTIs (attached instructors from the army Corp of Physical Training). We had a guy we called "Ogoshi McCarthy", because all he knew was Ogoshi (Judo hip throw). He got my mate one day and said " strangle me", my mate said "really, do you really mean it?" and strangled him...and he couldn't get out of it.. he was going "Aghh!" (laughs), because we knew what he was going to try, this "Ogoshi". That's what it was like, but they got guys in later who knew what they were doing, and I'm pleased what you were telling me Den about who they're getting in now. No-one had any money then, so we did in-house training, and it was only after I left the Regiment I realised what was available outside, like the shooting.  We did Instinctive Point and all that stuff, whereas if we had gone over to the Weaver Stance we would have saved thousands of rounds of ammunition...again it was the blind leading the blind.

We should have gone outside for expertise where it was, but we listened within ourselves, and didn't move because we thought we were the kiddies. It wasn't till I came out and saw different things, people like yourself, I thought we were kidding ourselves.
What being in an elite unit, like the SAS, gives is the aggression, the will to fight, survive, win. Partly it's pride, partly aggression, it’s a spark saying I'm never going to give matter what happens...someone’s got his head in a mincing machine and he's still trying to strangle the guy, know what I mean!

The SAS have had many outstanding feats of endurance on various operations. When you were in charge of selecting personnel for the Regiment, what characteristics did you look for in the lads?

SAS Selection doesn't just assess the physical side, but the compatability, and also the mental side, and also can they learn something? That's the material you're looking for, an all-round guy. The lads come in all shapes and sizes, but what they all have in common is this mental thing, this will to be the best.

It was a self-selecting process really. We said your going from A to B, go. If he went up the hill, turned round and said he couldn't go on, we didn't want that character. The guy who was always last in, but who kept going, wouldn't give in, he's the on we'd look at. No-one woke them up in the morning. Five o'clock on the trucks, if they weren't on the trucks then you took it they didn't want to come, that was it they were finished. The guy who didn't turn up, or turned back, really he failed himself. The other guy, even though he found it very difficult he kept on going, and you had to physically pull him off at an RV (rendezvous point), saying look the RV is now shut, you're too late, and he still didn't want to be pulled off, you had time for that guy, and you encouraged him. He might not do it this time around but with a bit more training he would do it next time.
Looking back to when I did selection, I turned up on the Saturday, got my kit. We had a small run on the Sunday, then Test Week started Monday. On the following Monday we knew who was going to stay or go. That weeded it down from about 130 to about eight guys. That all happened in that time, but now they say the army has changed, there's more mechanised transport, people aren't as fit. If they have just come from Northern Ireland they can't train, so the Regiment now has to train them, so we do all the fitness training with them. It's a matter of pride. Guys turning up for Selection should try to impress the staff, so no matter where they were based they should have trained, be fit.
Some people turn up can't even pass the standard army BFT (Battle Fitness Test), consisting of a 1½ mile run in about 20 wife Mab could do that with that washing machine on her shoulder! Dennis, people couldn't even pass that. Next we pick out the posers, the medallion men, who want to be in the Regiment without getting dirty, doing all the hard work. As soon as you put them over the hills, the posers fall out, and the workers keep going, out to impress, to finish the course
So during Test Week you're looking for the guy who has got the physical ability. We go on from there to look for compatability. He could be a super guy, but not a team player. When you put him in a four-man patrol he could have irritating habits, picking his nose or worse, or be a know-all, always arguing, won't fit in and he'll fail. Again it's a self-selecting process. What we do is get people to pick teams, and all the good guys go first, not necessarily the fittest, but guys you get on with. We do this in the gym, like we do on our BG courses Den. Those left to the last are the misfits.
Finally, are they willing to learn? You're looking for fertile, open mind, not someone who is set in his ways. I used to ask myself would I want that guy in a four man patrol with me? If the answer was yes, then I was happy for him to be in the Regiment.

[Lofty, Evan Marshal, Den, Dave Scott-Donelan. Minneapolis]

A final topic, Lofty. You are renowned for your two best selling Survival Manuals, could you sum up the "survival personality"?

Okay, who makes a good survivor? Again it starts with Willpower, the will to live. I always say you're never subjected to anything on this Earth that you cannot deal with. It's not going to be pleasant, you've got all the stresses of pain, fear, isolation, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, boredom and tiredness...all this comes in to it and that's what you've got to expect. What makes a good survivor is someone who can overcome those stresses.
We use the Pyramid of Learning to teach this. The will to live is the most important thing. In other spheres it could be the will to win, to succeed, to make a lot of money, or, whatever, but in survival it's the will to live. This forms the base of the pyramid. Above that comes knowledge. Now, the more knowledge you've got, the more you can cope with the dangers, you can light a fire, trap animals, recognise plants, and so on. Peak of the pyramid is Kit. Now a lot of people reverse this, making kit the basis of their survival, and this fails.
Survival is about overcoming all these stresses, and women make excellent survivors. Physiologically she's better equipped to survive, because firstly, they are used to pain and hardships (it might come from childbearing and so on), and secondly women also have an extra layer of fat, which gives them their shape, and this acts as insulation, so they can withstand cold. Plus, in a tight situation they can metabolize the fat. Another factor, is that women tend to be organised. Up in the training area (where Lofty had a survival course currently running) they're making sleeping bags, and Michelle is straight into it, cutting out the material and sewing, whereas the lads, being more physical don't like it, they get fed up sitting stitching, they didn't expect to have to be doing it; whereas a women accepts things and gets on with it....and you've got to do it to survive.
Another important quality is a sense of humour. A lot of people have got false pride, with no sense of humour whatsoever. In a tight situation this works against you... it's no good getting uptight, falling out with people. Something happens, someone loses a knife, say, you feel low, but you make a joke about it. They put the fire out, spill the tea, or, the last drop of soup, whatever, it's no good getting uptight, you can't undo what's been done.
Instead of seething, the safety valve is humour, "I didn't want anymore soup anyway", make a joke of makes them feel better. They feel horrible anyway, so why aggravate them more?
Planning is a must. Every time you see a disaster, or incident on TV analyze it. Ask yourself what you would have done. If you were on the Zeebrugge ferry, would you have got out? We learn from other peoples mistakes, and put yourself in their situation. You can feel what they're going through, I know what it's like to be hungry, I know what it's like to be cold. You can only relate to it if you've done it. This is why they are doing the survival training. The course is up there now, on the hill, being deprived of food and shelter. Unfortunately, the weather's too good. However they are on limited rations with water, they can imagine what it's like with no water, so they know what people go through.

How did you first become involved in Survival training?

In the Regiment we had to carry essential stores, ammunition, explosives, radio batteries and medical kit. Our clothes were what we stood up in, and our sleeping kit was minimum, so the only way we could adjust the weight we carried in our Bergans was by cutting down on food. So we were always hungry, but this kept you sharp, animal instincts came to the fore. You lay awake with the hunger, so you were always alert. You're looking around for stuff to eat, so again you're alert. On my first jungle training op I promised myself I'd never go hungry again, I'd eat whenever I could to try to store calories. I once ate eighteen Mars Bar. When the Colonel asked if it was true I'd ate that many I said I didn't know, because I was drinking tins of condensed milk at the same time! That's what encouraged me to learn all the survival I'd know what to eat.

Do you have any final advice on training for CQB?

Encourage people to start at an early age, involve kids while they're young. But whatever age you start, make it a way of life. Fitness and CQB training should be lifelong habits. Respect your bodies, avoid injuries, eat well. Remember the mental side, willpower, attitude, never give in.

Lofty, thanks for taking time out from your survival course to give such a detailed and fascinating interview.

It's a pleasure Den. I'm looking forward to our next course together.


Loftys' latest book THE SAS PERSONAL TRAINER has become another best seller.
Divided into three main parts; Strength & Endurance, Nutrition, Mental Agility, the book presents a complete regime of personal fitness.

The Strength & Endurance section is the "meat" of the manual, with chapters on weight training, running, injuries, and the importance of physical fitness. Self-protection is covered in detail, which included specialised CQB training programs. For the military readers, there is valuable material on the SAS Endurance Marches.
Nutrition includes chapters on daily requirements and also survival rations. Recipes in the chapter on SAS Diet include "B Squadron Soup", and Lofty breaks the Official Secrets Act by revealing the closely guarded secret recipe for the SAS Curry!
The final section on Mental Agility, contains chapters on positive thinking, will, focus, fear and stress, among others.
The book is fully illustrated with photos and drawings.

All in all, the book takes some of topics raised in this interview, and greatly expands on them. There really is a lot of information presented, in a concise, easy to use manner. Exercises are individually detailed, then combined in various programs. It is equally useful to the individual wishing to increase his/her fitness, or, the instructor wishing to expand his repertoire.

All martial artists will find the book interesting and valuable. At £12.99 it is excellent value. SAS Personal Trainer
( ISBN 0-7472-7773-7), is published by Headline, 338 Euston Rd, London NW1 3BH. It is in all major bookshops now.


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Dennis Martin
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PostSubject: Re: LOFTY WISEMAN ON CQB   Wed 22 Jun 2016, 17:59

Chance to meet Lofty, details here

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Dennis Martin
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