ICS Philosophy, Training, and Objectives
"One Mind Any Weapon"- Hunter B. Armstrong
Most modern training systems take a compartmentalized approach to training the individual in non-natural, fabricated fighting skills. Such training generally covers only very specific weapons and techniques related towards and driven by those weapons. Handgun use, for example, is typically considered a completely different set of skills from any other weapon, even other firearms. Instruction in handgun use rarely, if ever, is related to non-firearms combat, such as with blades, sticks (batons), or empty-hands. As a result, each of these areas tends to be taught (and learned) as separate and distinct skill sets. Unfortunately, this is a proverbial ass-backwards perspective on human combative behavior and performance.
In any combative confrontation, the weapon does not do the fighting; the human wielding the weapon is the combatant. Any weapon can be nothing more than a tool to be used more or less efficiently in whatever situation the user applies its use. The tool does not need training, nor does each tool require a distinct set of behavior and performance skills for the user to engage in combat. Tools do need training in their efficient operation, however, that is not training in or for combat; that is merely training in the simple basics of operating that particular tool.
ICS training courses are designed to enhance the individual's combative performance and behavior capabilities. All training is aimed at making the individual competent and capable in combat no matter what the weapon. To that end, ICS training is designed to enhance the natural human responses and capabilities that have evolved with the human species. Rather than attempting to learn artificial or fabricated skills that will inevitably breakdown under the extreme stress of combative confrontation, ICS training aims at enhancing natural human attributes that evolved in humans and their ancestors to deal with combat and the stress of combat. That core instruction is combined with training in the operational skills of weapons.
Those capabilities form the foundation of effective fighting whether with handgun, empty-hands, knife, or shotgun.
Combat always involves at least one opponent - an adversary. Two elements are vital in performing effectively against an adversary: the operational aspects (weapons handling, movement, etc.) and the behavioral aspects (handling the stress of an adversary who is attacking with the aim of causing death or injury). No matter how good an individual's operational skills are, if the individual is not prepared for the stress of fighting another human being, the fight is likely to be lost. All ICS courses put a great deal of emphasis on adversary drills. In these drills, instructors act the parts of motivated adversaries in a variety of scenarios that are utilized to work from the most basic level of combat operational competence, to tactical capability. The structure of adversary training in the ICS courses allows the individual to learn to deal with the stress of an adversary simultaneous with developing operational skills. This is the only way to simulate not only the physical but the psychological stress that occurs in combat.
All ICS courses are aimed at developing each individual's natural abilities to deal with personal combat. In any conflict situation, the weapons available to the individual are not as important as the individual's own capabilities. The martial system that ICS trains is called BattleHand, and includes principles of the full range of handheld weapons skills, combative behavior, and socio-spiritual integration.
Hunter B. Armstrong
Biography of Hunter B. Armstrong, Director of Integrated Combative Systems
As Director of the International Hoplology Society (established in 1976 by Donn Draeger), Hunter Armstrong is professionally engaged in the research and development of hoplology - the study of human combative behavior and performance. In his efforts to gain a broader perspective on hoplology, he has spent considerable time on field research in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India, researching the training and fighting arts of those areas.
Armstrong and his family lived in Japan for ten years spread over a 25 year period. Starting in karate in the early 1960's, he has been training consistently for the past forty plus years. Now, primarily concentrating on classical Japanese battlefield martial arts, he has also trained in a number of Chinese combative arts. In addition to Asian weapons and fighting systems, Armstrong has researched and studied classical European weapons and fighting systems and the relationship of biomechanics to the development of weapons use. In particular, he has concentrated on the principles of efficient behavior in combat, especially as expressed in traditional martial cultures.
Since 1996, Armstrong has been involved in developing training programs and seminars for the military and law enforcement. To facilitate that work, he co-founded Integrated Combative Systems (ICS) based specifically on principles extracted from the world’s premier classical close combat systems.
This work has particularly involved him with the United States Marine Corps. He is one of the original subject matter experts (SME) brought on to help develop the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) and continues to work in further developing the program. In 2007, he was one of the SMEs interviewed in the PBS documentary, The Marines.
Concurrently, Armstrong has been involved in strength & conditioning training and study since the mid-1970's. In that area, his focus has been on the enhancement of combative performance capabilities through functional training methods. Armstrong has studied movement and traditional training methods in Asia as well as in the United States. Armstrong has developed unique training programs that integrate fitness with body-mind-spirit performance enhancement, as well as programs specifically aimed at combat performance enhancement (to that end, Armstrong completed a training text entitled, Strength and Conditioning for the Combative Athlete).
Armstrong has written numerous articles on combative behavior and performance, including work on European non-firearm fighting and weapons, and he has translated several Japanese articles and texts concerning both classical and modern Japanese fighting arts.