Hand-to-hand combat tactics

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Concepts and terminology of hand-to-hand combat.

Hand-to-hand combat (HHC) – a fight in which the opposing sides use cold weapons, hand-held small arms, improvised means, unarmed combat and other means to defeat the enemy and complete the task to protect and attack each other.

The tactic of hand-to-hand combat is the most rational way to use technical actions in a specific situation of combat, ensuring victory over the enemy. This aspect of the activity includes the following:

- the ability to quickly and correctly "unravel" the enemy, his intentions and method of action;

- the use of various, appropriate environment, fighting;

- masking their intentions and mastering the initiative of the battle;

- choosing the moment for decisive actions;

- speed and accuracy of their construction, etc.

The main elements of hand-to-hand combat tactics are:

- ability to conduct surveillance;

- choosing the right moment for your actions;

- courage and determination in conducting them;

- actions at such a distance from the enemy that would allow you to effectively solve the combat task;

- dexterity and speed of actions that provide an advantage over the enemy.

These elements are important only if they are related to each other, because the absence of one of them in the course of actions will negate the successful use of all the others.

A hand-to-hand combatant must have the ability to navigate independently in various situations, make decisions and act creatively in any case.

Actions in hand-to-hand combat are motor acts of fighters, subordinate to the solution of specific tasks (to attack the enemy, disarm) and aimed at achieving the goal (to destroy the enemy).

They rationally use the means of hand-to-hand combat, which is advisable to combine in a specific situation.

These actions, as specially organized movements, merge into a single act developed in combat practice, taking into account the human anatomy and biomechanics of his movements.

Attack and defense in hand-to-hand combat, due to its transience, are one action. Without an attack, there is no defense, and Vice versa. For convenience, we will consider them separately.

An attack on the enemy is a method of action aimed at disabling the enemy. It is prepared covertly and carried out suddenly, usually according to a pre-developed plan.

Defense is a method of action aimed at repelling an attack with a further transition to retaliatory actions or the exit of their battle.

Combat means of hand-to-hand combat are methods of using weapons, equipment, improvised means, fighting without weapons, performed in the form of appropriate actions (techniques).

Actions in hand-to-hand combat are the basics of hand-to-hand combat tactics and consist of the following components:

Intelligence is an action performed to find out the intentions and intentions of the enemy, his readiness for hand-to-hand combat, to assess his moral and psychological state, as well as to determine the correct way to conduct a battle with him.

Masking – actions that mislead the enemy and cause him to respond inappropriately, which contribute to his defeat.

These actions include:

- calls – actions that are performed in order to provoke the necessary attacking actions, so that a pre-prepared defense can then repel his attack and hit him in a retaliatory attack;

- threats – actions aimed at intimidating the enemy;

- deceptions – actions that mislead the enemy.

Deceptions include:

    • - distraction of the enemy – actions that cause the enemy to switch attention to another object or another action;
    • - simulation-actions that deliberately deceive the enemy in order to create the illusion of victory.

Maneuvering is movement for the purpose of creating favorable conditions for attacking the enemy or defending against his attack.

Movement in the conduct of hand-to-hand combat is performed mainly to approach the enemy and defeat him, to occupy a favorable position, to escape (evade) his blows or fire, to deceive the enemy, as well as to "pick up" weapons or any object (which can be used to defeat).

Attacks – actions of a rapid attack on the enemy in the course of hand-to-hand combat. They can be simple or complex. Simple attacks consist of a single action that can destroy or disable the enemy.  Complex attacks include: the first attacking action, the development of the attack, completion or exit from it.  The first attacking action, if it is successfully carried out, the attack may end. To develop the attack, optimal actions are used that would ensure the defeat of the enemy.  In case of a failed attack, the actions necessary to get out of it (withdrawal, withdrawal) and continue the hand-to-hand combat are provided. Types of attacks are:

  • repeated attacks-performed immediately after a failed attack.
  • repulse attacks-consisting of blows to the opponent's weapon (limb) in combination with a simple attack.
  • deceptive attacks-consisting of a deceptive movement combined with a simple attack.
  • counter attacks-carried out to meet the enemy's attack;
  • false attacks-shortened, aimed not at defeating the enemy, but only to ensure the success of the subsequent effective attack.

Counterattacks are a type of counterattack against an opponent who has launched a usually complex attack.  They begin on the first movement of the enemy in order to get ahead of him in the attack.
Defensive actions are used to repel the attack (attacks) of the enemy in combination with a retaliatory attack on it.

Retaliatory actions by their structure are retaliatory attacks that are performed after protection.  These are complex motor acts performed in extremely limited time.  If the attack is prepared by the fighter in advance, then the response attacks are impromptu, largely depend on the foresight of the situation and the quick choice of appropriate actions of the response attack.

When conducting protection, it is necessary to boldly reduce the distance from the enemy, come into contact with him and use a complex of blows, levers, impact on the pain zones and points of active destruction.

A group attack consists of individual actions of individual hand-to-hand fighters performing roles according to a pre-developed plan. With any complexity of the tasks, they can be successfully solved only by coordinated actions of the fighters.  Coordination is carried out in two main ways:  adaptation to the actions of the Manager (leader) or alternating roles of leaders in the group. However, in all cases, there will be many regulated and unregulated events (probabilistic and random), which it is also desirable to foresee in advance.

Actions in repelling a group attack are the most difficult type of activity in hand-to-hand combat, since coordination (management) of individual actions of fighters will be almost completely absent and can only be reduced to individual actions.  However, they include: repelling the first attack, assessing the situation, maneuvering in combination with retaliatory attacks, coordinating the actions of the fighters on the part of the commander, and retaliating.  Interaction and mutual assistance are of great importance.

When moving in a group, it is necessary to maintain communication, interaction, protection and cover in the group, maintain orientation and observe the actions of the commander, maintain communication with other units (supporting or interacting) and use mutual recognition signals.

Hand-to-hand combat of military units can be conducted with the use of standard weapons-bayonet (bayonet-knife), knife (scout knife), dagger, automatic, rifle, hand machine gun, submachine gun, pistol, grenade, magazine and more;

Criminal situations and self-defense are characterized by the use of civil and hunting firearms, cold weapons and improvised means (various household tools and items, sticks, pieces of rebar, bricks (stones), nails, glass fragments, handfuls of sand, etc.);

without weapons-hands, feet, head, other parts of the body (including the body of the enemy), as well as other actions.

In addition, the angles and protrusions of walls, buildings, trenches, and irregularities of various surfaces (cars, trees, rocks, etc.) can be used for damage.

Weapons or improvised items and how they are used to defeat determine the time (duration) and distance of the battle.

According to the situation, the range of hand-to-hand combat with various types of weapons and without them can be:

Weapons, means, regulations

Effective use distances  (m)

1   A pistol, submachine gun, infantry shovel, knife, stone, household utensils, etc. 0,5-6 m
2   Machine gun, rifle, hand machine gun, axe, stick, shovel, etc. 0,5-4 m
3   Kicks. 0,5-2 m
4   Punches. 0,5-1,5 m
5   Fight with the use of grapples and blows. close
6   Fight lying on and under the opponent. close


Distances are determined by the possibility of hitting the enemy with one or another weapon (improvised means), as well as the regularity of the fight – if the fight at a distance did not give a result, the enemy is hit in the fight standing or lying down.

The use of weapons and improvised means makes the fight more fleeting than the fight without weapons. This is due to the fact that weapons (improvised means) make it possible to more effectively hit the enemy.

Differences between hand-to-hand combat using weapons and improvised means compared to hand-to-hand combat without weapons:

  • Increases the distance of the reference HHC.
  • Increases the variability of combat work.
  • There are new opportunities for applying and strengthening pain and damage.

Due to the fact that weapons, improvised means are included in the biomechanical system "man-weapon", there are additional levers, links, chains. Due to this, the resulting system increases the bio-kinematic connections, which increase the effectiveness of the use of levers.

There are additional opportunities to use weapons as a fencing tool, in contrast to classical fencing.

Increases the possibility of psychological impact on the enemy.

A bayonet, knife, dagger, nail, piece of rebar and other sharpened objects can be used to inflict stab and cut wounds, painful grabs, to fence or knock out the enemy's weapons, and can also be thrown from a distance of up to 6 meters.

An infantry spade, shovel, axe, pickaxe, and other sharpened items can be used to inflict chopped wounds, fractures, hooks or grabs on the body of the enemy, knocking out or selecting enemy weapons, as well as for throwing at a distance of up to 4 meters.

Machine gun, rifle, carbine, submachine gun with butt, scrap, stick, and other similar items can be used for striking, poking (for example, a gun – barrel, shop, butt), hooks, hooks (e.g., fly machine), tapping or knocking out weapons, as well as for throwing at a distance of 4 meters.

A submachine gun, pistol, short stick, armature, hand grenade, stone, household utensils, and more can be used for striking and throwing.

Ropes, belts, wire, and other flexible items can be used to bind, bind, grab, and strangle.

Objects of the surrounding environment (walls of houses, trenches, sides of cars, buildings and rocks, trunks and branches of trees, etc.) can be used for blows, painful grabs, restraining and restricting the movements of the enemy, as well as for knocking out weapons, binding and pain fixing various parts of the enemy's body.

Punches, kicks, head and other body parts can be used when an opponent has knocked out or taken away a weapon, or in combination with punches with a weapon.

Considering the distance of hand-to-hand combat, it is advisable to determine the phases of HHC.  Phases of hand-to-hand combat have always existed, as well as distances, regardless of whether or not those who engaged in hand-to-hand combat knew of their existence.

We consider three phases:

Phase I – the starting position, or the position in which the encounter with the enemy occurred.

This phase is characterized by:

- unexpected meeting;

- ability to assess the situation;

- ability to make decisions.

To protect yourself as much as possible from an unexpected encounter with the enemy, you need to move correctly, keep your weapons ready for battle and constantly monitor.

It is advisable to move as part of a group at distances that provide mutual cover.

Constant monitoring is necessary, because the time to assess the situation and make a decision will be negligible.

In turn, the assessment of the situation and decision-making will depend on:

- in what position did the meeting take place, i.e. where and how are you and the enemy located;

- what weapons do you and the enemy have;

- from the presence of any shelters or obstacles;

- from the common task at hand.

Phase II – reducing the distance, reaching the distance of defeat.

This phase is the most variable.  In it, depending on the decision made in the I-th phase, there is a convergence, various movements, disguising their actions, using the features of the situation.  During this phase, the decision is adjusted.

Phase III – destruction or neutralization of the enemy.  This is the final phase. It uses all means and methods to defeat the enemy in direct physical contact.

However, it is likely that the situation will develop in such a way that the collision with the enemy will occur "head-on". In this case, there will be no phase II. Phase I will grow immediately into phase III.  But this does not mean that the tasks of phase II will not be solved.

In contrast to the" classic " version, in a real situation, tasks are not distributed in phases, but are implemented in a complex, i.e. they begin to be solved all together, only with different intensity.

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