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On Saturday the 1st of December 2012 I travelled up to the beautiful Derbyshire district of Chapel en le Frith to run our Street Knife combat program for a local Jui-Jitsu training group.

I had been invited up to run this program by a couple of the “old sweats” of the Modern Combatives Group, Andy Goodwin and Dan Mason. 

Andy and Dan are great guy‘s and instructors that always throws themselves into any training with 100% commitment.

After a brief introduction from Andy about me and his involvement with the MCG, we settled down to discuss the parameters of what the Street Knife program was about, what it aimed to achieve, and what context we would be applying counter-weapons training for the rest of the day.

In short Street Knife gives a realistic overview about the tactics and strategies that a knife attacker uses to target and eliminate his victims. It also provides an insight into why so many accepted “counter-knife” methods fail to stand up to a true test outside the sterile environment of the training hall, especially against someone attacking at full speed!

The basic principle of Street Knife was that we needed to discover first how to create something in order to figure out how to destroy it.  We needed to look at the reality of how a knife attack can happen, rather than how a martial artist THINKS that they happen so as to support his chosen styles “techniques.” 

This is then followed on by the host club testing out their own counter weapons syllabus against what they have just been shown in the Street Knife session.

From here we looked at the variety of “tools” that a knifer uses – ranging from high-end tactical knives, to home made shanks to improvised/expedient weapons. This section also included a period of testing out the amount of damage that even a light cut can do to a target from a directed knife attack - with some surprising results consisting of deep trauma wounds and slashes by using minimal force.

This was followed by a series of drills to see what strategies, tactics and ruses an attacker would use to get close to his target before using launching an attack.

After discussing at length the accepted myths by some instructors of knife disarms, we moved onto the real meat of the street knife program – the tactical and scenario drills.  Here we worked out several doomsday scenarios consisting of rapid attacks, gang assaults, VIP protection drills and ground work.

This was the section that seemed to hit home to people about just how flimsy, in some cases, traditional knife defence techniques and training can be especially when confronted by a larger, armed and committed attacker.

My final module for the day was on the use of training weapons and how they can be effectively utilised for safe training.  I have seen, over the years, an awful lot of bad practices and gimmicks regarding knife/counter knife training.  A brief discussion set forth my experiences and what I believe was a comprehensive method of good training practice.

So after that a short snack break was needed before I handed over to Andy G to take control of the counter-weapons module for the day.

Andy is a great teacher and it was a pleasure to listen to his material presented in a calm and confident manner.  He first worked on the doomsday scenario principles that Street Knife had previously covered stressing the need for awareness and avoidance as primary tools. 

This was then followed up by a series of blade blocking/fending drills, which was subsequently followed by block and strike techniques.  All these techniques were trained in a “tactical” scenario – robbery situation, rapid attack.


The combative strikes and takedowns were practiced with full power behind them, thus overwhelming the knife attacker and putting him out of action. 

The Street Knife section had shown the group that overly complicated and “horse and Pony” techniques just don’t work – no matter how much delusional instructors might want them to. There was no twisty-wrist stuff, no Hollywood fancy moves – just pure out and out power striking to negate the threat as quickly and effectively as possible.

By the end of Andy’s counter-weapon module everyone was bruised and battered, but at least a bit wiser about how a knifer works on the street and what to do in that lethal eventuality.

A so all that was left to do was to bid farewell to some great people and old friends who had thrown themselves into the day with gusto and enthusiasm and start the journey back home.

A great day’s training, and from an instructors point of view a great learning experience also. 

Hopefully I’ll be asked back at some point in the future, and it would be my pleasure to go.

MCG – December 2012










This year’s annual MCG close combat training program was held over a balmy summer’s weekend in mid July and, uniquely, was a 2-day affair. 

The purpose of this year’s training day was the study of close protection skills.

I, and many of my colleagues, spent almost a decade working in the executive protection (bodyguard) industry.  I started working as a contract employee and eventually ended running my own contracts both here in the UK and on overseas projects in North Africa, the Middle East and mainland Europe.

During that time I had the opportunity to work in a variety of roles such as residence security, security driver, personal escort section right through to the VIP’s close protection officer and team leader. 

I have also run several CP related combative skills programs – in the UK and Europe - for PSD contractors (prior to deployment to the Middle East) and private security personnel over recent years.  It was an interesting period of my life and I have since moved on to related fields within this industry.

Several years ago I formulated the SHIELD program which covers many of the skills that are utilised for executive protection (bodyguard) projects, and transfers them  over to civilian self protection when out and about with our family and friends or in extremis by protecting members of the public facing an assault. 

This covers the wide spectrum from protective concepts, walking drills through to hand to hand combat techniques and close range weapons work.

The training weekend was in NO way intended to be a fully fledged bodyguard training course – for that you would need a sustained learning program over a longer period of time – but it did give us the opportunity to work on many of the physical/combative skills that are used in this specialist profession.

As usual the MCG Close Combat day is by invitation only and the guest list is restricted to around the 10-12 people mark, that way it keeps it all concise and still allows everyone the opportunity to get something from the training without having to be rushed.

This year’s intake consisted of a wide range of personnel with an equally wide range of experience of skills, and included civilians, military personnel, private security and police close protection personnel, specialist firearms officers and private investigators.

The purpose of these days, as usual, is so that we can explore new skills, learn from other MCG members, and interact in an environment that allows us to indulge in our chosen passion – close quarter combat.



After a brew and a chat we got down to a brief talk that covered the basic principles of close protection work and how that core could be easily transferred over to civilian 3rd party protection should the need arise. 

For the civilian we would class it as intervening in an attack against a loved one or possibly even a member of the public being attacked, for the CP operator we would class it as an attack upon our principal in any number of environments.

The presentation also highlighted the reality of running and working a CP job in the commercial sector, as opposed to the general public’s perceptions of what a close protection operative is about, and despite what is propagated a successful CP job is when everyone goes home safe and sound with the day having run smoothly…oh AND you get your pay at the end of the job if you’re lucky!  If you’ve a score of dead bodies lying around, well, you’ve made a serious blunder somewhere…….

This included several cases that we have worked on over the years, how each presented its own unique problems and how we would counter them to ensure a smooth running operation.

Next it was time to work our way through a series of role play and tactical drills that covered contact management whilst transitioning the principal as part of a CP team.  This could have been walking down the street, entering a building or entering/exiting from a security vehicle.

After several team tactic scenarios we moved onto the warm up to get ready for the unarmed combat session of the day. 

It is my belief that a “warm up” should reflect the type of training that you are running on that occasion, and should certainly have a combative element to it.  The VIP Escape warm up was the perfect start to get everybody loosened up and ready for striking work whilst being encumbered by a body.

Striking work consisted of a series of close range impact “hits” aimed at a close protection scenario, where the teams would have to turn, recognise a threat (and verbalise it “ATTACK”) and then deal with it combatively. 

This section was the core of the combative module and introduced open hand, elbows, knees and kicks into mix, and also included the use of covert strikes to provide a low profile technique to deal with an overt threat.

These methods blended nicely into Rob S’s module on takedowns, throws and control and restraint (C&R) for the CPO where an aggressor has to be stunned, taken to the floor and then restrained or dealt with using a higher force level. 

In a CP role not every potential threat has to be eliminated using lethal force, more than likely it will be a less lethal option on the use of force spectrum that will be utilised.  It was a fantastic module and was enjoyed by all.

All of these techniques were then “worked through” in a series of role play and stress scenarios relevant to a close protection role i.e. protecting a VIP whilst walking along a busy street/having members of the public approach them at an organised book signing, through to a situation where the team had to provide tactical medical treatment to a “downed” VIP.

It was a great test of the operator’s situational awareness and reaction time, and the drills provided some really interesting insights into how quick an assassination attempt can gain momentum at close quarters!

After that…a break was definitely needed and lunch was called for.  This wasn’t just a chance to get some carbohydrates into our system (much needed as they were) but also a chance for the guys to bond as a team and perhaps swap a few “war stories.”

The afternoon session started with a review of our counter-weapons procedures and tactics.  This was material that we had covered many, many times, and the only difference this time was the context of how we would use it. 

And so, with the members now “locked in” to two separate teams we drilled counter knife, counter stick and counter handgun in a variety of scenarios relevant to a close protection/escort section operation. 

The counter-knife section was interesting as we also got to have a “play” with the Shockknife training tool – everybody had it tested on them, and I can confirm that it really is liked being sliced!!  An invaluable piece of kit for counter weapons work.

The final section of the day was geared towards the 2 teams each running they’re own mini-CP job out on the streets.  The teams would be given a briefing with all real time intelligence and then plan out the protective effort. 

This included recce’ing the venues, choosing the vehicles, driving the routes, arranging the team and finally briefing the VIP. 

Meanwhile the other team was also busy planning a potential assassination, criminal attack or kidnap!  Definitely a case of Poachers turned Gamekeepers…

With the planning complete and the teams briefed and set to go, the close protection operation swung into action. 

The first attack was a scenario where an industrialist was attacked by a “mob” of disgruntled former employees (one armed with a knife). 

The other ran to a similar theme but this time consisted of a potential chemical weapon attack!

After the end of these highly charged (and not a little competitive) sessions we gathered around for a quick de-brief of what went wrong and what went right.  This is an invaluable part of running a professional security operation, thus giving the team members the chance to learn and evolve to the job at hand.

And so tired and worn down, the team broke up for a quick wash and change of clothes for some invaluable down time at a nearby Chinese restaurant!  A great night with great food (and a few drinks) and fantastic company.  Priceless!



An early start……grab some breakfast.  Grab the kit.  Wait for the vehicles to get us to the RV point!  Drive! Phew….

We spent the morning travelling to a state of the art training facility somewhere in the North of England (or as one of the MCG guys put it “we spent the day doing nothing with people who weren't there at a facility that doesn't exist!!!!).

The venue which we had been invited too had everything and more that would be needed to run full on VIP protection training, tactical firearms and CQB skills.  About the venue that is the last I will say about it for reasons of security, suffice to say it was impressive, well equipped and exclusively at our disposal.

I think it’s fair to say that the summer of 2012 isn’t going to be best known for its weather, but the Gods must have been looking kindly on us, as it turned out to be a glorious hot summers day (we all went home with tans!). 

After an orientation walkthrough around the facility by our hosts, we sat down for a brew and to discuss the agenda for the day.  This covered the syllabus outline, safety procedures and general housekeeping (weapons, ammo, training equipment, etc, etc).

We then made our way up to the firearms range in the vehicles.

The first module of the day was a look at the methods of close quarter point shooting.  For some of the team it was a refresher as it is something they had been doing for years, and for others it was a new learning journey.

We began with the basic principle of what exactly point shooting was?  Ever since man first picked up a rock and threw it at his prey he has, in effect, been an exponent of point and shoot. 

We then covered the application of point shooting during combat operations during WW1 and WW2 right up to post-war Special Forces applications.

Starting with a dry-fire session, we then moved onto live fire shooting, slowly adding in tactical movement, various distances, and of course, quick draw applications. 

As this point shooting lecture was meant to be about a progressive system, we discussed how certain UK military units had taken the original applications and evolved them for their own unique remits and theatres of operations.

From there it was back to the “line” to go over everything that we had discussed and to put it into practical application on the range. 

Several drills and many magazines later, the PS method was becoming second nature to the team – and this was being borne out by consistent shots to the centre of mass on the targets.

Now we were going to integrate unarmed combat with close quarter pistol shooting – or “fighting with pistols” as we term it! 

After running through some basic strike and draw drills – defensive stance, hit, draw, assess, shoot/no shoot – we turned our attention to the “good guy” getting of the “X” as quickly as possible whilst under threat or physical assault.

For the next module we had to move in doors, more specifically to a state of the art close quarter battle/killing house. 

Here the team would enter the building one by one, find the appropriate room and engage the targets that presented themselves as a threat.  First in a covert method of entry, and finally in a “crash and bash” room storming with all guns a blazing. We threw everything at them – noise/sound effects, flashing lights/dark rooms and general encumbrance during the method of entry phase.

There were some interesting outcomes, and after each drill we would do an overall de-brief to discuss strategy.

With the bulk of the work done for the day we next worked on some solo bodyguard and escort section shooting drills.  This included a lone operator intervening, drawing and protecting the VIP – then laying down covering fire.

The PES drills included advancing at speed, again laying down covering fire so that the BG could evacuate the VIP, as well as having to draw inside a crowd situation and move the innocent passers-by aside in order to neutralise the threat.

The final piece of the day consisted of one of the team being put through his paces for a DTS grading.  It was a tough old battle test and he acquitted himself superbly when faced by the rest of the team that he had to fight.  Everybody was battered, bruised and bloody by the end.  Fantastic!

As with most of these training days, time is an enemy and we unfortunately had to drop one or two modules to fit everything in comfortably. Ah, well….maybe we’ll finish them off next time……so with a final check to make sure no “brass” casings had made it into our vehicles tyres we headed off home (somewhat bruised and battered, but in good spirits) after what had been a full and varied  weekend’s training.

So another fantastic close combat weekend for the Modern Combatives Group, made all the more satisfying because we do what we do on “our terms” without outside interference. 

The big plus for the MCG is the remarkable quality of the people that we have attending, and who travelled from all over the UK to be a part of it. 

And that isn’t by accident. 

Everybody gelled together as a team, everybody got on and everybody worked hard, each bringing their own specialised knowledge and experience to the table.  What more could be asked for. 

So, a big thanks to our hosts for the Sunday session, Rob for his C&R/takedown module (fantastic), Dave M for being our long suffering VIP throughout the weekend, and to Mike our resident paparazzi (literally during some of the bodyguard scenarios that we ran.)  

To Tim (thanks for giving us your insight into the job and for the laughs over the weekend – especially the fake heart attack!), Andy and Jamie for all their hard work (Jamie we missed you on Sunday mate – you’d have had a blast!).

To Ron (via Dan #1) for the loan of the training guns and Dan #2 for letting us borrow his “Tommy.”

Also congratulations to Pete for passing his grading – sorry for what we put you through and for the punch in the mouth mate – blame Rob he made us do it!  Just think yourself lucky that Jamie H wasn’t there that day!!

Pete put his head down and battled through with commitment, stoicism and humility – a truly inspiring young man.  He is a credit to his sensei.

So we’re all already looking forward to the 2013 close combat day when we will be, hopefully, heading down South for something a bit different.

And finally, a mention to Monty, our combative forefather and group patriarch, who very sadly passed away several days later and will be sorely missed by his friends. A true Warrior -Utrinque Paratus.

So, to ALL of us of the MCG that where there on those days; gentlemen, I wouldn’t have wanted anybody else by my side to enjoy the experience. I salute us all;

“Hile Gunslingers”

Copyright - MCG – July 2012







In mid January I was invited to be the Guest Instructor at Chester University’s Defensive Tactics Systems based within the Chester Uni campus.

The club is run by Sensei Robert Stenhouse, a recognised Jiu-jitsu, defensive tactics instructor and serving police officer. 
Sensei Stenhouse and I had been in touch over recent months about having a cross training session and the New Year was the first opportunity available for a “catch up.”

After a brief introduction about the MCG and my background, we got down to the business at hand, namely – combatives for civilian self protection.

The point of the session was to highlight the need for evolution from the core WW2 based close combat and how we can apply certain techniques for a modern combative environment. 
This included a definition of the various combative ranges, the limitations and unique specifications of Fairbairn’s wartime system (and how we could adapt them for civilian SP), as well as the need for an aggressive combative attitude when dealing with a violent attacker!

The techniques that I chose for this introductory session are what we at the Modern Combatives Group term “The Big 3.”  They are the Tiger Claw, Chin Jab and Hammerfist.  This was supplemented with a range of low destructive kicks that complimented the “Big 3” perfectly.

After working hard and putting the team through the nuts and bolts of the techniques, we ramped up the pressure with a range of scenario and stress applications which included combination of striking/kicking techniques, restrictive environment striking, escapes, takedowns and multiple attacker drills.

As ever with these things time is always the enemy and the session had to draw to a close….

I have to say I enjoyed working with the DTS team immensely and a more welcoming, enthusiastic and hard working bunch of young people you’d be hard pressed to find.  They did their Sensei proud with their positive attitude and the way they conducted themselves.  Excellent.

Hopefully they took something from the small amount from the MCG syllabus and I would be more than delighted to go back at sometime in the future and work with Chester DTS again. 
So a big thanks to Rob for inviting me up and to all the guys and girls for making me feel at home.
MODERN COMBATIVES GROUP: 2011 Close Combat Training Day – Review.
It was a bright cold Saturday morning that greeted us at the start of the MCG “Do or Die” Annual Close Combat Training day.
The “unofficial” training day had actually started the previous night when a couple of like minded combatives practitioners had gotten together over a few drinks to watch and discuss the W.E. Fairbairn Gutterfighting DVD, swop war stories and show off their latest acquisitions that had been gathered over the previous months. A great night with great company.
But the Saturday was all about hard work.
The obligatory catching up with old comrades and the introduction of one or two new ones over a quick coffee came first and then it was straight into getting the heart racing and blood pumping around the body.
It’s always been our rule of thumb that the warm-up of a training day should have a “combative element” to it. By that I mean there should be a physicality to it rather than just a solo operator doing press ups, sit ups, etc, etc. We are after all combatives practitioners and our training – even a warm up – should reflect that to the full. In our opinion the warm up should be a “short sharp shock” to stretch out all the muscle groups as well as being a cardio assault course.
The unarmed module was geared towards the application of speedy reaction, effective targeting of knockout zones, and rapid recovery from an assault (and countering the threat through focused intensity).
We started the reaction section with the line from the 1943 Arwrology book (and recently brought to light in the excellent American Arwrology by Fred Bauer) with the principle that “If anyone can see what your doing…your doing it too slowly.” 
What followed was a series of (speed x power) applications of pre-emptive striking work, with training partners constantly increasing the speed/power to outdo their opponent. This set then incorporated the methods we use for “feeding the machine” of looking for – and finding – the optimum striking targets as quickly as possible.
And so with gum shields firmly in place – we moved onto the final part. Recovery.
What is it?
Well an attack is launched at you – either by being blindsided or by him pre-empting YOUR pre-emptive and you have to both recover from the initial assault, create space and then launch a MORE aggressive and successful counter attack.
We also broke down the various elements of the WW2 methods of combatives and analysed how they could be adapted and improved for modern combatives training.
We are lucky to have had at the MCG over the years several experienced firearms instructors and practitioners, and with the team all working together offering their experiences and knowledge, we looked at a broad spectrum of methods of close quarter firearms work; from the operational planning stage, to kit, to entry method tactics and finally culminating in the “Crack House Raid” Action Drill. 
This wasn’t just about having a blast shooting the training weapons – fun as it was – this was more about the practicalities of planning and working together as a small unit.
A huge thank you to “Big Jeff” for being our hostage at such short notice.
XPD weapon and stick/baton methods is something that we have looked at on many occasions, but because we had several new people attending it gave us an excuse to return to the basic principles and tactics in relation to applying “weapons of opportunity” in a combative situation. We also had the opportunity to look at the various WW2 methods as used by the likes of SOE and the USMC.
This also included a section on use of “Big Blades” as a fighting tool – Smatchet, Bowie, Machete, Navaja, Bolo, or hatchet – for situations relating to a possible rural or combat environment.
This was a subject that we had covered in depth last year during our “Vehicle Combatives” module where we looked at the realty of fighting inside or around a vehicle where space may be at a premium, but you still have to be able to pound the attacker into the floor (or even out of the vehicle and onto the street)!
This time we geared the training towards a variety of positions that may be found in a physical confrontation in a social setting – pushed up against a wall, seated, kneeling – and by utilising the skills of deception, pre-emption and power at these ranges.
After checking the training weapons we turned to the often contentious issue of counter-weapons, specifically in this case – counter handgun.
Working on the basic principles of REACT – AVOID – COUNTER - TAKEDOWN, we worked on a range of situations where you’ve been “bumped” and have to fight your way out of a close range pistol attack. Neck, front/low, execution, rear were all added to the mix.
One MCG attendee once told us that as a former member of an intelligence unit operating in Northern Ireland during the 1980’s, his team had to train pistol disarms using blank rounds, which certainly gives a certain amount of “aliveness” to the training – could you imagine Health and Safety signing up for that nowadays!!!
The day finished off with a return to the unarmed element that we had started that very morning, once again looking at speed, power and targeting, except this time it was integrated with the tactics for dealing with “mob” or multiple attackers. 
A series of scenarios was wheeled out using an escalating level of threat with each time a new “dynamic” being thrown into the mix such as time restraints, the numbers, or weapons.
This years MCG Close Combat Day did in my (not so) humble opinion top last years. Why? Well its all about the people and the topics.
In a sense the topics are all ready there and have been for many a good year – nothing drastically new has been invented, but many things have been re-invented or given a new “buzzword” for people who want to sell DVD box-sets, Instructor Certificates, etc, etc…….
Thankfully that’s not our way of doing things.
As Bob Kasper stated regarding combatives, “In a sense all the hard work has already been done.” Our close combat/fighting/combative forefathers (whoever you may choose to nominate) have been there and done that….all that the modern exponents are doing is to see if we can become that little bit cleverer, faster, stronger, and more powerful.
So topics and techniques covered. What about the practitioners?
The MCG as an organisation has always stood on its own two feet and looking back (and in a very Darwinian sense) the group would have either ceased to exist virtually straight away or survived and flourished. 
I’m proud to say that since early 1999 we have survived and grown and we’ve managed to do this without selling out/brown-nosing to whichever “RBSD guru” is flavour of the month at that moment or by forming temporary “expedient” alliances in order to get the cash-registers ringing. I would rather disband the group than go down that route.....
The reason behind its continued existence are the people that make it a pleasure to be a part of.  I think that it’s fair to say that our training hut is NEVER going to be packed to the rafters –we prefer to “cap” the number of attendees, and it’s a strategy that has paid dividends over many years.  It provides a clearer and more concise learning experience for all those involved.
We have people travelling from all across the UK in order to spend the day training in combatives with us. That alone tells you something about the levels of commitment, passion and professionalism of the people attending…..conversely it also speaks volumes about people in the past that couldn’t be bothered to travel from 5 minutes away to train…..obviously not made of the right stuff.
So, a big thanks to the “Tech Team” for all their help with the CQB pyros, photos and videoing for the day (which makes an invaluable training aide for assessing were people went wrong/right at the end of day de-brief).
And a final word to the MCG lads – gentlemen, the pleasure was – and always has been – mine.
Copyright – MCG – 2011


This Easter I was invited to give a series of afternoon lessons in the skills needed for using an expedient impact weapon for self protection purposes.
This was for a small number of gentleman and one very feisty lady who were of “mature years.” Self protection is just as much an important concern for middle aged and pension year’s citizens as it is for the young and fit. If anything more so.
After covering the basics of our awareness and basic security protocols we moved onto the physical aspects of using the cane or walking stick for self protection.
I believe that each group of students that an instructor takes has a unique and individual need, and as such a competent instructor will tailor specific techniques for their physical and tactical requirements. The trick is not to lose any of the practical methods and therefore a balance has to be struck between what is applicable and what is practical.
The first thing we looked at was the limitations of the wooden cane or stick that is used by the general public and included legal matters, range, strength, and effectiveness.   
Much of the techniques used that day came from the WW2 stable of impact weapon instructors such as Fairbairn, Pilkington, Styers and Biddle. After some initial reluctance the group quickly “got into” the improvised use of this walking aid.
A pleasant afternoon – despite the swampy humidity – and some genuinely nice people. I must say a big thanks to “old” Sam for acting as my stooge, and also for the post instruction chat (over tea and biscuits) were he regaled me of his time serving with the Hong Kong and Singapore Police Forces, where ironically he had learned some of the Fairbairn techniques that we had studied that day.
Rather than taking a fee for this training program I asked that the folks made a donation to the Help for Heroes charity.


Every year a diverse group of martial artists, combative exponents and self protection practitioners from across the UK gather to attend the Modern Combatives Group annual close combat training day.
The practitioners come from a varied background and over recent years have included BCA instructors, security industry personnel, bodyguard’s, private investigators, ex-military, emergency services personnel, law enforcement, as well as ordinary citizens concerned with their own self protection on the street.
We don’t advertise the MCG training day’s widely. Instead invitation to attend is through word of mouth and recommendation of a fellow MCG member. We run a closed door policy and it is one that has paid off over the years, by keeping the numbers small we offer a more concise learning experience. However, for the right person with the right attitude and commitment we gladly extend a welcoming hand.
The MCG close combat day’s give the attendees the chance to share knowledge, experiences and skills of fighting at close quarters!
This year saw the MCG’s 6th Annual Close Combat training day and took place on Saturday the 7th of August at our usual venue of the “hut” on the Wirral, Merseyside.
One of the fundamental principles of the MCG is that we train, study, practise, and learn to deal with the ever changing and shifting trends of modern day threats. That is its primary goal – to always adapt, evolve and sustain the latest information that threatens our personal protection.
Because its members are active in a wide range of environments that can on occasion bring them into various states of physical conflict, they are always keeping abreast of the latest range of personal and corporate security threats and how they operate in the real world.
That is why the Modern Combatives Group is ALWAYS constantly shifting and adapting to these situations and environments, and fundamentally we owe it to ourselves to train to counter the “next big thing” in personal security threats.
There are many groups (and indeed TMA’s) out there that are still “locked” into a bygone age of WW2 era combatives and don’t (or won’t) develop strategies needed for the modern-age. The Modern Combatives Group recognises that the methodology of “attacks” (and more importantly how to train for them) has changed too over time.
These days you are more than likely to find groups of almost “feral” gangs attacking the unaware, street assaults that consists of taking people to the ground and “pounding them”, armed assaults with all manner of weapons, car-jackings in major cities, and attacks on company employees and staff at various retail environments. Street criminals and their tactics have themselves evolved in to related areas of crime and violence. That is why it is our duty as modern combative exponents to evolve and be as cutting edge as we can be.
When you enter our training hut you are met with all the paraphernalia to go around beating each other up. The musty smelling room is filled with punch bags, focus mitts, shooting targets, impact pads, sticks and a wide range of training knives and test cutting “dummies”. Occasionally if we’re very lucky we’ll even add in some crash mats to soften the blow!
After a brief chance to catch up with old friends (and introduce some new ones) the day started with an assessment of modern day personal security threats and how they can impact on our personal protection planning. As always first we cover the strategy, then we supplement it with the tactics. 
Street Smart Personal Security Skills:
This topic looked at multiple target placement shots – the optimum place to strike for the best effect whether that be a KO or to disable an opponent. At the MCG we call this “feeding the machine” (for an overview of this subject there is an article on our web-site) in other words we want to hit high value targets, correctly and as often as possible. 
There seems to be a trend at the moment with everyone trying to “micro-manage” power, usually at the detriment of concise and effective targeting of a chosen striking tool. Therefore our methods combine ballistic power striking coupled with accurate shot placement, rather than the “swinging out and hoping it lands” principles that fail to offer a serious forward planning outcome.
We also discussed – and in some cases dismissed – the so called “effectiveness” of certain techniques that have been propagated as 100% proof over recent years. This is something that we have highlighted time and again on corporate training courses that we have run, where people new to self protection are sometimes duped into believing that a certain technique has the magic bullet effect. 
Our aim is to give them a quick (and sometimes harsh) reality check, but also for them to question and test out each and every technique to see if it stands the test of resistance, pressure and effectiveness. Every person engaged in combative training has a duty to themselves to NOT take at face value the merits of a chosen technique just because “its always been that way.” Only dead fish go with the flow, and if the technique and its application don’t pass muster then it should be relegated to the trash can.
Street Boxing and Grappling:
The “Feeding the Machine” tutorial culminated in a series of practical street boxing, open hand combative striking and close range grappling drills designed to present constant pressure to an attacker and take him out of the game ASAP. As ever we looked at the elements of STRIKING TOOLS - POWER – FOOTWORK - TARGETING to build on the combative tactics building blocks.  
The final combat boxing stress drill was designed to make everybody go weak at the knees and have them sucking in gulps of air by the end of it all. I’m happy to say it achieved its desired result and no one collapsed (although there were a few close calls). It loosened everybody up nicely and got them in the right frame of mind for what was to come.
Rapid Action Takedowns/Defensive Tactics:
We then moved onto various skills and tactics required for rapid action takedowns, this was particularly relevant as a percentage of our group have worked in various roles in front-line security – from dealing with members of the public, doorman, retail security through to close protection operators – and the need to take an aggressor out of the picture rapidly is sometimes more preferable than impact striking.
R.A.T.’s are a lower force option than straight in power shots and present the operator with a less lethal option which can be “upgraded” to more extreme violence as and when the situation requires it.
This module was one of the high-lights of the day as it gave the participants the chance to share knowledge about how to get the best from the techniques, as well as offering real time experience from those that had performed them in extreme circumstances.
The takedown section ended with impact weapon defensive tactics for those who might on occasion have to work with the tactical baton/ASP, etc. Great fun and lots of hard work as we introduced takedowns, chokes and locks into the equation. By the end of the module there were more than a few swollen throats and aching ribs!
Multiple Attackers and Team Tactics:
One of our long time members Andy G took the next module on dealing with multiple attackers and team tactics. Although we have covered multiple attacker training many times over the years, Andy’s module was one I personally was looking forward too with relish.
It seems blatantly obvious that “bad guys” like to learn and adapt too, and in a very real sense we are, as self protection practitioners, always playing “tactical catch-up” to the latest gang strategy or street tactic. They develop a skill, we have to discover how to counter it, and so on and so forth.
Andy laid down the basic strategy of dealing with a multiple or mob attacks, namely that it’s a very scary worst case scenario with no easy solution, and if you can’t get out of there double quick you don’t want to fight a gang all at once, but rather one at a time in a linear route. Hit and move, hit and move was the order of the day and one that pays dividends when you have adversaries coming at you from the front, side, behind and those blindsiding you. 
This module included a wide range of physically draining stress drills of having to deal with overwhelming force by means of deception, body positioning, pre-emption, and at time pure naked aggression and force that puts the attackers on the back foot giving you enough time to “blast” through their barrier. A great module that everybody got something from and one we’ll definitely be re-visiting at a future seminar.
Knife Combatives:
The morning ended with a follow on from last year’s training, namely the second module of our knife combatives program. This time utilising the defensive applications of edged weapon usage which included blade fending and counter-cutting, as well as various drills introducing an edged weapon in a close range grappling situation.
As ever with close range knife work we work from a realistic and practical application, rather than going through a range of “martial arts” drills, and this is usually borne out by the wide range of bruises on show at the end of the pressure drills. 
Close Combat Concealed Pistol Skills:
The CCCP was the module that everyone was eager to get stuck into, and one that was to take up the rest of the day!
We are fortunate to have had over the years at the MCG several experienced firearms practitioners that has enabled us to present a comprehensive and well thought out introduction to the combat pistol.
Several of the guys attending had never had the opportunity to train in any kind of firearms related material, so it gave us the chance to pass on our experiences. In many ways having so many people unfamiliar to pistol work was a plus as they were basically “blank sheets” to start working on and didn’t have to start unlearning bad habits.
We have conducted this shooting program several times overseas – working with live weapons - but obviously because of UK firearms restrictions we utilise high-end air-soft training weapons to get it as close as we can to the real thing. This is vital when running ECQ shooting drills with training partners. 
However, our attitude is that we can be as professional as we choose to be, and it was drilled into the people attending that we would take all precautions and have the proper respect for the weapons that we were using as though they were ACTUAL firearms as opposed to training weapons. It’s a good mindset to instil into new people being instructed in pistol work and one that can pay dividends over time.
Starting with the primary skills such as operational roles, mindset, safety, concealed carry options, technical proficiency and ballistics, we then moved the training onto to look at the various stances, draw stroke and shooting positions.
Believing that what grows well grows slowly we took our time to get the guys to an acceptable level before we upped the scale and started introducing “live-fire” shooting drills. 
For those that thought that this was going to be a paper target shooting exercise, well they were quickly wised-up. We classify this as “street fighting with handguns” rather just taking pot-shots with no physical interaction involved.
There is a world of difference between shooting at a static paper target and having to deal with (and fire at) a live adversary getting ready to gut you with a knife, and this was borne out in several force on force (FOF) stress drills.
Again everybody learned a lot from the CCCP introduction program and I’m sure its one we will be returning to again and again over the years. We, literally, had a blast!
Vehicle Combatives and Defensive Driving Tactics:
The day finished with a look at the use of combatives whilst operating in or around a vehicle. 
I worked out recently that I have spent half of my working adult life operating in and around vehicles during private security and close protection projects to conducting informal “meetings” and running surveillance jobs in a variety of vehicles in a wide range of environments – some unproblematic, some decidedly hostile. Not to mention the amount of driving as part of day to day life from one end of the country to the other or even something as simple as parking in the local supermarket or multi-storey!! Each presents its own individual security issues.
We looked at the operational requirements needed when approaching, entering and/or exiting a stationary vehicle in a potentially hostile environment, namely our situational awareness and personal security protocols. This goes back to our original point of adapting to modern threats and with the spate of car jackings, roadside muggings and robberies this was a relevant topic for the day.
The tutorial was followed by a series of close range power striking drills and applications of weapons skills to remove an attacker from the access points to the vehicle and facilitate an escape.
Thanks for assistance and information on this module must go to “Big” Dave P, who has more practical fighting experience (20 years +) in or around vehicles than many of the “street fighting” RBSD instructors of today.
You won’t find any big name “celebrity” instructors at most MCG training day’s (although we gladly invite guest instructors that we believe have something to offer), no DVD’s, internet downloads, T-shirts, coffee cups, key-rings, etc, for sale or anything of a commercial aspect. It’s just not our kind of thing.
But you will find people that are willing to offer their experiences and knowledge from having been there and done it for real on numerous occasions.
There is ho “hype” surrounding the CQC training days (unlike some that claim to offer the “ultimate” the “best in the UK”, “the best in Europe”, etc, etc) they are what they are - tough, arduous and at times physically and mentally exhausting instructional programs that provide relevant information on a specific subject matter, but can tend to leave participants with a wide range of bumps, bruises, cuts, welts and the occasional black eye. It’s a beast of a day, that is all about the learning of new skills.
“You get out what you put in” is a phrase that I use on many occasions during instructional training. And its very true.
However it was pointed out to me recently, by some wit that had viewed some of our training material that “if that’s what you fellas do to guys you like, imagine what you’d do to people that you DON’T like.” Fair point.
The physicality of the training session is probably best summed up by one of our lads who contacted me the next day to say that he “didn’t remember being in a car crash” on the Saturday, but he obviously had the duelling scars and aches to remind him.
If the above statement doesn’t phase you at all – well, then you sound like our type of person! Get in touch!
Fundamentally you can forget all the techniques, tools, methodology and experience of its members, etc, etc, the day’s greatest attribute is the ability of the people to work together as a unit with support, professionalism, good humour and an unending quest for knowledge and to share information about a chosen subject matter.
In short the MCG training days are a success which can be summed up by one simple phrase;
So a big thanks to all the team for making the day a success and making it so enjoyable.
Also a warm welcome to our newest “honorary” combative team member – Mike B – who it seems can handle a Glock as well as he can handle a video camera and a Nikon!
The lads are already starting to plan out the next “bash & slash” day (how’s that for keen). I can’t wait, roll on 2011…..
 The Modern Combatives Group was established in 2002 and regularly trains both civilian and specialist security personnel in self protection, close quarter combatives and personal weapons skills.
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Copyright – MCG – August 2010


MODERN COMBATIVES GROUP: 2009 Annual Gutterfighting Close Combat Day
Saturday the 8th of August 2009 saw the Modern Combatives Group’s annual “Gutterfighting” close combat training day.
The training day was an “invitation only” affair which saw practitioners of modern combatives travel from all over the UK. The annual “bash & slash” day provides the MCG with a chance to get together and train in a wide range of close combat related skills.
Hard work is the order of the day, and with one of the hottest days of the year so far, the 2009 day was no exception. 
The lads covered everything from pre-fight/in-fight concepts; street based bare knuckle fist-fighting, WW2 combatives, Fairbairn’s Defendu/SMP Police C&R techniques, counter-weapons, to knife combat/edged weapon and impact weapon/stick combat.
It also gave us the opportunity to dispel some of the combative “myths” propagated by numerous instructors as to how certain close combat skills are applied for “the street.” This isn’t just based on theory, as we are one of the few groups out there whose members use these skills in live situations on a regular basis.
Overall a first rate day with a great bunch of like minded individuals who provided hard work, tenacity and humour to make the day truly exceptional. As usual the end of day finished with much swapping of material, kit and “toys.”
Congratulations to the “beer run” boys who well and truly earned their prize – hopefully they made it home sober and in one piece. Also a big thanks to James B and Dan W - who are the “rocks” of the MCG – for presenting some fantastic training modules, as well as Richard M our long suffering chronicler/cameraman for all his hard work. The only bad news was that Jimbo was unable to join us (due to being involved in a biking accident), but hopefully he’ll be fully recovered in time for the next one!
A few cuts and bruises along the way, but all good fun and the team are already looking forward to next year’s gathering.
MCG – 2009



The May 2008 CQB program was attended by a four man contingent of guys from the local infantry regiment who'd approached us regarding military based combative training.

On the whole it was a great training day with receptive guys willing to learn new combative related skills. As for my newly created knife training dummy - well he started the day "spick and span" and ended up finishing looking like a sieve thanks to the enthusiastic knife work of some of the Army lads!!

As always instructors should walk away having learnt something from the people they are training, and for me that was certainly the case as most of the attendees had recent practical experience operating overseas in theatres of conflict.  
As the day was unintentionally "military" in focus, it gave me the chance to talk about military knife instructors and methods from days gone by which included information gleaned from the likes of Bob Kasper, Kelly McCann, John Styers, Drexel Biddle and Greg Walker, and how these skills can be translated to civilian security operations.

Final result; we now have four Level 1 Close Quarter Blade skills students in the British armed services, who hopefully will come back (during breaks between tours) to complete Levels 2 & 3 of the knife combatives syllabus.  

So a big thanks to Brian and all the lads that attended for inviting us up to their training centre and for making the day so enjoyable. 



The Extreme Close Quarter Counter-Weapons workshop was our last training seminar for (a busy) 2007, and focused on the very real and in your face world of counter weapons. 
These were themes that we had previously looked at in our recent edged weapon awareness and combative pistol courses.  For the ECQCW we would be putting these base skills into a tactical scenario and applying them under various pressure tests.  For some of the people attending it was a skills review, whilst for others it was a whole new learning curve.  The course was attended by a majority of hardcore "old sweats" from the Modern Combatives group, with one or two new people taking part - thus giving them the chance to try out their new skills in a dynamic environment.

On UK streets today violence is usually perpetrated with the assistance of some kind of weapon - either to aid compliance or damage as quickly as possible.  With this in mind the purpose of this program was to teach the attendees to immediately take charge of an offensive situation and either escape or use combative skills to negate the threat.  The morning session was devoted entirely to both offensive and defensive knife work both from the modus operandi of the attacker, to the strategies and tactics used by a street thug, as well as the types of weapon at his disposal. 
The practical drills consisted of the reality of blade protection, and we introduced a variety of concepts into play over a period of drills to deal with/counter a wide range of edged weapon attacks.  The philosophy was to keep it simple, and this coupled with a combative mindset, this gives the student an effective game-plan (and solid tactics) when dealing with a knife attack. 
The morning culminated in a full on series of "Attack Man" simulations with a padded attacker (and his dubious cohorts) engaging our Good Guy in a mob/knife assault.  This more than anything got over the fluidity and explosiveness of how quickly some one can do SERIOUS damage with a knife at close quarters.  After that, well a break was most definitely needed.......

For the afternoon session we again detailed the tactics and types of response to various street weapon attacks - which ranged from stick, impact weapons, expedient/improvised right up to the use of various types of firearms - and more importantly how we should deal with them from a self protection point of view. 

This also gave us the opportunity to dispel some of the myths and nonsense regarding "pistol disarms" that are propagated on various forums and video sights - and even by some instructors who really should know better.   

The various techniques were shown and then pressure tested with some interesting results. 

The day finished with a module on Trauma Management/Paramedicine and how it relates to us in a self protection/high risk operator situation.  This was a session formulated with the assistance of a colleague of ours Steve B, a qualified battlefield medic, with more years of experience at the sharp end than most people will ever see. 

It got over the truisms of emergency first aid and didn't pander to the "kit nuts" who, to be frank, scare me even more than the thought of an injury ever could!!! 
All the guys went through the trauma management stress drill and performed superbly and highlighted and important skill that is often overlooked in relation to self protection - both for themselves and as a 3rd party protection skill.

Overall it was a fantastic training day and I'm glad we had the guys there that we did - professional, eager to learn, competent, and most important of all enthusiastic.  Well, the no-shows were obviously not made of the "right stuff."

The MCG workshops also provide an excellent free-flow of information both ways.  And I'm always amazed how much more I learn from training with such committed professionals. 
A big thanks to Dave M for assisting this time (how's your arms mate) and Richard for filming.  Also a huge thanks to Dan W for his knowledge, humour throughout the day and having the chance to rummage through the kit he brought up,  Andy for his never ending enthusiasm and to Jeff for being the BIGGEST Bulletman I've seen in a long time - he blocked out the sun at one point!!!!



In April 2007 MCG was approached by a private client company to create and implement a bespoke defensive tactics program for that corporation's employees. 
This was a departure from the norm for us.  Whilst most of our training programs are geared towards high risk operators and civilian self protection combatives, we have also conducted client training for security professionals.

This individual program however was to have some physical and conceptual constraints on it as the employees would be dealing with vulnerable, but potentially aggressive people in their care.  For us it was a fine balance of minimum self protection concepts for the employees whilst also providing procedures of duty of care to the corporation's customers. 

On a warm Spring morning the training team headed off to the client's newly aqquired headquarters to meet the people we would be working with for the duration of the program.

After a quick "get to know you" chat  with the guys we got down to business.  The core skills of self protection and personal security were discussed via the medium of powerpoint, as well as the protocols of dealing with an aggressive and/or violent individual.  This included how to spot pre-assault indicator cues and culminated in a variety of role play drills. 

Also including in this section was the use of Geoff Thompson's "Fence" that provided the attendees with a basic starting point in a self protection scenario.  I have to say that the people attending were complete professionals and quickly worked through the drills with an open mind and an eye for what was applicable to their work situation.

The afternoon session consisted of "minimum physical contact" drills and escape techniques (including some classic pre-WW2 escape scenarios) and gave the attendees the reality of what is a reasonable force level against various stages of aggressive/violent behaviour. 

The day culminated in a series of reality based scenarios involving individual employees and team tactics drills, which everyone (including the instructors) got a vast amount of information and practical knowledge from. 

The working day ended with a Q&A and a review of some basic concepts and strategy.  For the MCG training team it was superb training day and a pleasure to work with dedicated and professional team players.  




The Modern Combatives Group are a UK based security training group that specialise in close protection and covert surveillance, along with many other facets.

One of these facets includes corporate and personal security training.

After an exhaustive web-search on UK based handgun retention training, I eventually came across MCG via some links given to me from some pals in the ol' US of A.  I fired off an email and waited for a reply.  After the first reply I built up quite a rapport with David Armstrong and arranged to attend his Extreme Close Quarter Combat (ECQC) Handgun seminar on the 5th August 2006.    
This seminar is primarily aimed at Police, Military and Close Protection personnel; generally folk that is likely to have a gun pointed at them!!

The ECQC Handgun seminar is just one module in a five module modern combatives series of seminars run by MCG, aimed at providing effective and retainable combative self protection skills for street situations. 

As for me, an ECQC handgun course is another "tool" for my "toolbox" and involved driving up the 250 miles to Wirral, Merseyside from Croydon, Surrey the night before and staying over in a B&B.  I found their training centre easily the following morning due to the directions and many maps provided in the pre-course pack. 

As I drove into the car park a stocky, hard looking gentleman walked out and introduced himself as Dave Armstrong.

I had arrived.

All preconceptions of what awaited me went out the window as I entered the training hall to see a number of individuals standing around calmy chatting whilst two guys in the middle of the room where knocking the living snot out of each other (it was a warm up drill....I think?).  Introductions were made and we sat down to watch a brief Powerpoint presentation covering threat awareness, history of combatives, along with handgun placement on the body, accessibility, correct access techniques and an in depth look into training and mindset which can be very basically summed up with the old saying "Its not the size of the dog in the fight, its about the size of the fight in the dog."   Saying much more would be giving away trade secrets - so I won't.....
To get round the pesky 1997 firearms amendment act this was a simunitions/airsoft seminar, but for the duration of the day all sidearms are treated as the "real deal."

Throughout the day techniques were broken down into their most basic forms and demonstrated (sometimes painfully) by James, one of the senior instructors.  This allowed us to perform them slowly at first and build up to speed before introducing "live" attackers.

This presented a very realistic (sometimes scarily) threat that needed to be engaged, disarmed and generally put down.

Skill sets covered included, safe firearm handling, point shooting, retention drills, counter-retention drills, learning combat speed rock, combative strikes, stress drills, force on force training, multi attacker scenarios, firearm assaults, low-light killing house, disarming a third party, and although it wasn't supposed to be included, the guys also ran me through some knife drills.

Throughout the day techniques were video taped to help address any issues that people may have had and the attention to details by these guys was outstanding.

By the end of the day I was absolutely exhausted and thoroughly dreaded the 250 miles back home but I drove all of those 250 miles with a huge grin on my face, reflecting on what I had learnt and the sheer information overload I was suffering from, along with extra confidence that I had developed to handle myself in aggressive situations.

MCG provided a type and quality of training that is extremely rare in the UK and I will definitely be training with them again in the future, despite the long drive for me, it is definitely worth it and whole heartedly recommended.

Dan Webster - United Kingdom



Following on from the previous seminar review, we conducted several more private classes of the Extreme Close Quarter Combat Handgun program, including an invitation down to Southampton to run a session with some suitably qualified participants, this finally culminated in early September 2006 with the training of a private security team at a "closed" facility in the Nerja region of Spain.

It had been a busy few months (July-Sep) but we had been able to instruct a wide range of practitioners - from novices to seasoned specialist security personnel - in an effective, realistic and easy to learn close combat shooting system.

It also gave us the chance to introduce the shooting system and techniques from such legendary instructors as W.E. Fairbairn, E.A. Sykes and the inspirational Hector Grant-Taylor.              This section also included a brief biography of these exceptional wartime instructors and what they contributed to close combat fighting (for more information look out for our forthcoming publications).

Much information was passed both ways on all of these courses (you never stop learning) and the guys attending showed superb combative spirit and fortitude during some of the stress tests.  This course also gave us the opportunity to re-use our CQB/House of Horrors again, the first time since our 2005 summer bodyguards courses.

Special thanks - as ever - go to the guys who help make the training day's what they are - a success - namely James B, Mark, Jeff, Dave and Richard  Thanks also to Ian S, for his recent invaluable background information regarding awareness in a hostile environment - Iraq.

A special thank you to "Monty" Hughes, former RSM, for his knowledge and experiences of Hector Grant-Taylor and for his memories of his time in Palestine.  Monty epitomises that "bulldog" fighting spirit - even now in his late eighties!!  Thanks also to Ralph G, and Dave K for expanding my knowledge of the "disposal man."

The ECQC Handgun courses made up the bulk of our summer training schedule and were a great sucess and were thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.  We will be offering them again in the not too distant future and look forward to training with you all.



This was our first "civilian" VIPER Program that we had conducted over recent years.        

The majority of women's self protection training that we have been approached to organise has been of a corporate nature.  So it was nice to giving something back to the people who really required self protection - the everyday local person. 

The May 2007 program was a strictly non-profit making project and was run purely to raise awareness amongst local women on the Wirral about personal safety and self protection.

With a compact but diverse group to train ranging from teachers, to party organisers, to businesswomen, it was back to basics with all the usual self protection concepts of awareness, evaluation and avoidance being covered as well as a range of role specific security situations being discussed. 

These scenarios covered topics such as anti-rape advice, home invasion and everyday travel.  After a quick coffee break we moved onto the physical aspects of self protection, starting with conflict management and quickly incorporating role specific combative striking and ECQC "dirty fighting" tactics.  After some initial hesitation about face smashing and eye gouging the ladies quickly threw themselves into battle with the rest of them.  The morning session ended with a series of Anti-Rape drills and tactics and provided a platform to include the striking skills they had trained that morning.

The afternoon section started with an overview of edged weapon awareness and aimed to dispel the myths that surround surviving a knife attack.  We then moved the attendees onto our "Doomsday" drills - that in your face close up and personal scenario of knife assaults. 
This again provided everyone the opportunity to work in full power combative strikes with the aim of destroying the attacker QUICKLY!! 

The mid afternoon module concerned expedient weapons and the legal and tactical constraints that envelope the concerned citizen and included a range of items that we all carry and how we could use them to our advantage in the event of a violent assault.

Next up was our usual stress drill - with the ladies having to survive an encounter with Big 'Ed.   All took part and all coped superbly with what is indeed a frightening scenario to find yourself in. 

The day finished with a brief Q&A session in which matters of a physical, tactical and strategic nature where discussed and talked through.  On the whole a FANTASTIC DAY with a superb bunch of attendees who worked well with humour, humility and courage.  Bravo! 

As ever thanks to James for all his hard work and Richard for being our long suffering "movie man."  We will be running several more VIPER Programs in the near future. 

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