US Army Combatives

2-08 Warm up and Stretches


Before combative training, the soldier must be prepared for the upcoming physical stress. A warm-up period gradually increases the internal temperature of the body and the heart rate. Stretching prepares the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and heart for a workout, decreasing the chances of injury.

  • a. Warm-up Exercises. To begin warm-up exercises, rotate the major joints—neck, shoulders, hips, and knees. The warm-up should at least include 7 to 10 minutes of stretching, running in place or jogging around the training area, and calisthenics. Grass drills and guerrilla exercises are a good approach as a warm-up for combative training. They condition the body through motion in all ranges, accustom the soldiers to contact with the ground, and promote aggressiveness.
  • b. Stretching Exercises. Any of the stretching exercises in FM 21-20 are recommended for hand-to-hand combat training. Five other exercises that increase flexibility in areas of the body that benefit hand-to-hand combat movements are as follows:

(1) Backroll stretch.

  • (a) Position: Lay on ground on back with legs extended and arms by sides, palms down.
  • (b) Action: Raise legs over head and roll back as far as possible, trying to place toes on the ground behind head. Keep knees locked and feet and knees together; hold for 20 seconds (Figure 2-11). Gradually, return to starting position. Repeat two or three times.

(2) Buddy-assisted splits (leg spreader).

  • (a) Position: Sit on ground facing buddy with legs extended and spread as far as possible. Position feet inside ankles.
  • (b) Action: Interlock hands with buddy and alternate pulling one toward the other, causing the buddy to bend forward over the hips until a stretch is felt (Figure 2-12). Hold this position for 20 seconds, then alternate and have him pull you into a stretch. Do sequence two or three times each.

(3) Buddy-assisted hamstring stretch.

  • (a) Position: Sit on ground with right leg extended to front and foot pointing up. Bend left leg with sole touching to inside of right thigh. Have buddy kneel behind you with his hands on your shoulders (Figure 2-13).
  • (b) Action: Slowly bend forward from hips over the right leg and reach your hands toward ankles until stretch is felt (Figure 2-l3). Hold this for 10 to 15 seconds. The buddy then applies downward pressure and allows you to adjust your stretch. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat. Alternate legs and positions after two or three sequences.

(4) Buddy-assisted groin (butterfly) stretch.

  • (a) Position: Sit on ground with the soles of your feet together, close to the torso. Hold ankles with hands. Have buddy kneel behind you with his hands on your knees.
  • (b) Action: The buddy places his hands on top of your thighs at the knees. The buddy’s weight is supported by your shoulders while little weight is placed on the thighs. Then, the buddy increases downward pressure on your thighs until stretch is felt (Figure 2-14). Hold for 20 seconds, then alternate positions.

(5) Buddy-assisted back stretch.

  • (a) Position: Stand back-to-back with buddy and interlock arms at your sides.
  • (b) Action: Bend forward at the waist and pull buddy up on your back over your hips. The buddy allows his back to arch and tells you when an adequate stretch is felt (Figure 2- 15). Hold this position for 20 seconds, then, change places.

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