C2: Core Combatives

Foundation Elements Seminar

With Mick Coup


Sunday 29/1/06


This event took place at the Trainstation 2: One to One Fitness Center in Cardiff. Around 10am a medley group of Combatives students and instructors began to assemble for the eager opportunity of training with Mick Coup, who although of massive real world experience, is relatively new to the Combatives scene; at least in terms of teaching civilians his take on Combatives and Self-Protection. Mick has a vast and varied background in the fields of both Military and Security both as an operative and as an instructor. His knowledge is such that both novice and experienced trainees alike have gathered to learn from him first hand. Myself and four of my students came along eager to absorb completely as knowledge seeking participants. It was nice to see other respectable instructors equally humble and eager to learn, Simon Squires and Dennis Martin among them.


Mick started the events with an introduction; safety brief and orientation followed by a brief look into his background as both an instructor and as a real world operative which made for an interesting speech.  Next he gave us an overview of what was to come, starting with the objectives and limitations of the day.  The seminar was to be an in-depth look at the hard skills or Conflict phase of Mick’s take on methods of counter violence. The focus here was tools in the box; working for the worse possible case scenario need regarding extremes in force, with the option to turn down the volume according to threat. The name for his craft is C2: Core Combatives, which offers a concentrated essential essence, to functional unarmed combat just as the name suggests. As always I write this review from my own observation of the day backed up by my own notes and hand out material given out by Mick himself. I will where possible strive to give you only the dynamics of the information and drills offered, first as a means to whet the readers appetite to actively seek out further information and hands on experience for themselves and out of respect for Mick’s methods which are for him to share out as he sees fit and not for me to list in detail here.  With that said; I will try to give you a good feel for what was in store for the rest of the day.  First of all, I really liked the presentation method, which employed the use of an A1 size magnetic display board along with individual magnetic segments of a training model that together formed a visually pleasing pyramid, defining the concepts and essential principles that make C2 what it is. Each segment was placed on the teaching board in order of significant importance and explained in detail. This made for a very precise and easy to grasp teaching method, for both student and instructor alike. By the time the training model had formed you already had a complete grasp of the fundamentals that were to power the physical element to come.


The C2: Concept training Model.


This Model is as you can see, made up of Attitude/Strategy/Tactics/Primary Tools/Secondary Tools & Support Skills. Like any Combative program worth its salt; it should be driven by Attitude, survival instinct and combative mindset. In addition to this we talked about the anatomy of violence, the definition of combat and the conflict templates used to define modern urban violence; namely the ambush and the interview. The first part of the pyramid explained was, Strategy; which was summed up as Constant Offensive Pressure or in laymen terms ‘‘go like Fuck!’’ This was supported with the fundamental Combative requirements such as the need to be Generic rather than specific and instinctive rather than having to make decisions, which are as we all know, impaired under adrenal stress. Then the focus is impact based as opposed to grappling based, as the impact is both easier and more reliable in terms of delivering force to the enemy. Primary target area is the large football sized pressure point that sits on top of the shoulders, this was jokingly referred to as H 1: and responds best to big touch knock outs.  Tactics were up next here we looked at available resources and the tactic of using repeatable strikes, where possible from an attached or indexed position. Then reversing the same strategy to the opposite side once the previously available target is no longer available. This makes for economical use of your resources.


This method of attaching with one limb for repeated attacks with the other is very gross motor and instinctive under stress which adds to its simplicity. We eventually went on to employ the above tactics to the Primary Tools after isolating each one to a good degree of competence first. The primary strikes employed in C2: are the High-Line strike employing the Palm/Elbow, the Off-line strike employing the Hammer-fist/back Elbow to the rear/flank and a Low-line strike using a low hooking kick/Knee strike for shots to the low-line. These are counted as the big 3 as each strike employs the same delivery system via the same machine. The weapon formation is thought of as simply a different attachment of tools, dictated only by a change in range. The body mechanics for each of the strikes were covered in detail along with several principles relating to the development of impact, such as weight transference, plyometric energy and the 90-degree attack-line.


Mick explaining the 90-degree line of attack principle.



The High-line strike is primarily the palm or elbow strike depending on range, preferably from an indexed position. The off-line strike is a back hammer-fist shot or again dependant on range, the back elbow strike.

The low-line strike takes the form of a low leg kick; this changes to a knee strike at closer range.


Next were the Secondary skills, which consisted of an angular/hook strike, a head butt used more as a push to open the attack line as well as the eye gouge and low line stamp kick. Each of these was employed as a means to an end, to get to the primary tools and the H1: target. During the tool development phase


Two examples of secondary strikes; the hook line and a low hacking kick to the ankle.

Mick introduced the final piece of the model referred to as Support skills these included methods of indexing for a point of reference, making the target easier to track and hit, as well as controlling as a means to immobilize the target for repeated strikes. Both skills are extremely useful for dealing with any kind of barrier such as a hand coming up into a guard or as a flinch response, as well as a pointing finger gesture, which is really the aggressor’s innate way of employing a fence to acquire his own target acquisition.


I found the pad drills, which had the feeder placing a hand in front of the target to obscure and obstruct your attack line, an excellent way to make pad work more realistic, particularly when the feeder starts to add the additional factors such as moving the pad to simulate a moving target.  This encourages you to track and attach to the same, in order to strike effectively and repeatedly. The way the feeder is encouraged to move back also programs forward drive in the trainee, as well as continued striking until the pad is no longer available to hit. This maps in, for you to continue the fight until theres nothing left to fight about.  All these elements I will be integrating into my own training method. 


We went onto practice a variety of pad drills, that made a progression of all the principles looked at so far. With each drill the feeder has an objective in mind, that being to expose the trainee to a variety of stimuli. This is defined over 3 phases; first the pad man will flash a pad, that will in turn program the hitter to track and attach to the target in order to strike with the ideal tool, for that range without thought. Second the pad man will move away and retract the pad, so that the feeder is now programming forward drive into the hitter. The third and final phase will incorporate a lowering of the target pad to simulate the head moving or falling to a low line.


In addition to this the feeder is encouraged to turn the target pad over, to simulate closing the target line so that the hitter moves automatically to another target. Finally you are encouraged to keep hitting the target until the pad man pulls it away. This simulates fighting until there is nothing left to fight about. All in all these ideas will completely transform any static pad drill into a much more alive experience. This is then supported with visualization and partner practice, so that a complete understanding is gained into what is happening with a live opponent, during each of the 3 phases of attack. This was practiced from the frontal high-line as well as from the rear/flanked off-line with the addition of a physical cue stimulus. After which we employed the same teaching method as above. Like I said a great way of adding task specific aliveness to you’re pad drills allowing for plenty of room for adaptability and progression. In addition to the above we worked a couple of excellent drills employing secondary skills such as; the eye gouge and head butt in order to make the progression to the primary elbow and palm strikes. The first drill focused on a counter clinch perspective and the second was geared towards regaining the initiative from an ambush attack, employing a flinch response then directing that forward with a blitzing attack until we could gain attachment or index for our primary shots to finish. Again the drills were progressive and focused as always on attacking at the first opportunity i.e hitting the Go Like F**k button.


Mick and Jon demonstrating the default/flinch position.

Without going into too much detail, the trainee starts with eyes closed standing about 2 feet from a wall. The feeder slams you into the wall to help trigger a slight startle reflex and to help inoculate you slightly to getting bumped about a bit. From here in the first drill, the feeder closes you down into a tight clinch. Your first response is to try and keep only 2 points of contact on the wall, with your shoulders slightly in front of your hips and your arms in front of your face, known as the default position. Now the objective is to peel the man off you, via the said eye gouge & head butt until you can get to elbows and palms to finish. The second drill employed the same eyes closed/wall slam but followed by a punching attack, which you meet with a flinch response, partner then shows the pads so you can blitz your way to your primary attached strikes. Sorry that was a bit detailed, great stuff nonetheless. There is massive room within the concept of these drills to incorporate additional progressive factors whilst still keeping to the simplicity of the drill. By the time I had practiced the drill myself I had already come up with ways, as Mick said of making it progressively more difficult for my own use later.


Working off the wall from the default position to secondary to primary strikes.


The course continued with a demonstration of how the said strategy, tactics & tools could be applied when more situational and environmental factors were in play. Here Mick talked about fighting from the ground while the aggressor is standing, as well as restricted positions such as when seated or in a confined space etc. The aim is the same right across the board ‘‘turn off the machine!’’  It seems that Mick is exactly on the same page as those of us now, as well as those before us that have come to similar conclusions via similar experience.


We all seem to share the same common thinking, be proactive, lots of aggressive forward pressure to remove the enemy’s intention i.e ‘‘turn off the machine!’’  The progression from here is to now take the said training model (pyramid) lay it down flat and then build upward from there, specific to your own needs whether Military, Security or Civilian. The day ended with a Q & A session and debrief. All in all I thought the content and delivery of the seminar was excellent. I am all for sharing and carrying the light on into the future, for all of those who have something good to offer, hence the reason I share so much information on my website and hence the reason Mick’s contributions will always be included here. All that remains is to thank all those who attended and to Mick and Jon for making the day possible. I look forward to possibly working with Mick in the future.


Training pictures through out the day



      James, Mick and Phil discus training principles.                        As do Dave, Lee and Mick



Dave hacking my shins/ankles with low-line shots.  Phil and Slack on the pads.



A moment in the clinch during the excellent wall drill. Si Squires gets hand-to-hand with Mick.




         Secondary progression to primary striking tools: The thumb gouge opens the line for the Head butt


Which creates the primary shots; elbow to palms from an indexed position.



                                           Seminar punch; ‘’hold on, is this my good side?’’            Mick Coup & Lee Morrison.