Incremental Combat Model (ICM)

The Incremental Combat Model (ICM) is the name assigned to the conceptualisation of Fighting ranges, and how these are related to Escalation and Control. This is the basic model:

  • Combat is defined by Risk; a high risk requires different responses than a low risk.
  • The most logical response to risk is to seek Control. Control is the defining aspect of all behaviour in combat. This point cannot be stressed enough. In a bid to have control (and therefore security and safety) combatants will increment the combat both in intensity and in proximity.
  • As one constituent perceives the risk increasing, so he acts with greater intensity to gain control.
  • As his opponent perceives the opponent attempting to gain control, he considers the risk to increase and therefore also attempts to gain greater control.
  • Hence we see a reciprocally-induced spiral in which attempts to control increases the risk which correlatively increases the need to gain control – and the intensity increases as a result.

Various explanations have been given for the variety of behaviours exhibited amongst humans during physical conflict, or ‘interpersonal combat’. Kernspecht (1985, 200-202) outlines five “phases” in which fighting begins with the farthest range (“fighting with the feet”) and moves through inevitably to “groundfighting”. In brawling, combat often begins from within one’s personal space, often at conversation range (Thompson, 1998).

Predative combat often begins from a conversation range, and alcohol-induced inter-male combats often begin with a machismo pre-fight ritual (Miller’s “Monkey-dance”, or Kernspecht’s “Affentanz”; Thompson’s “Match Fight” or MacYoung’s “Escalado”), and a duel between rapier wielding gentlemen depends upon a pre-fight guard from a distance. A Combat System devised for high risk combat (where death is the aim, or a highly likely outcome, such as in medieval judicial duels) is different to one designed for low risk combat (such as modern sparring competitions), and this is the basis of our entire theory.

There are a number of attributes which are logical and universal:

  1. All combats progress through proximity – we might begin from outside of distance, then enter closer or begin from wrestling range.
  2. Combat increments in both time, escalation and risk.
  3. The state of the opponent defines the course of events: that is the perception of the adversary.
  4. The proximity in which actions are made is predicated by the physical attributes of a combatant (Somatotype).

The result of which allows us to deduce three behaviour-sets, from which all martial arts are derived, and to which all may be reduced:

Ballistic or 'Hit and Away' Skillset

Some Combat Systems have isolated the preliminary increment of combat and devised its systems upon that basis. Combat Systems which prefer the “Out of Range” environment, the result of the “problem of actions from distance”, use sets of algorithms which may be united under the terms “Hit & Away” or “Ballistic” skill-sets.

This strategy, by its definition, must always rely upon Percussive action, since Non-percussive action requires being in a closer proxemic. Being an art of “Hit and Away” it is a system devised to allow its users to enter, to hit and exit with a high degree of skill before the opponent’s retaliation.

Further characteristics are as follows:

  • Prolixity; Extended movements (committed, outside vector of equilibrium)
  • Percussive mode of action (attacks on anatomical targets)
  • Use of both hands and feet
  • Emphasis upon mobility and agility
    • including gymnastic skills
  • Emphasis on avoidance and non-involvement
  • Attempt to terminate combat in initial entrance;
    • If entrance unsuccessful, exit out of range.
    • If entrance successful, iterate percussion, or immobilise.
  • Profile combative posture
  • Present less of a target
  • Maximise torsion by levering rear side of body
  • Unilateral (orbiting) behaviours

Needless to say, these skillsets favour taller combatants due to reach, as well as combatants who are potentially weaker than their opponent (because coming into strength contests will always be lost when the combatant is relatively weaker). In which case, this skillset may well favour the attributes of the Ectomorph.

Tactile or 'Stand and Cope' Skillset

Some Combat Systems decide that, since coming into range is a requirement of Ballistic systems – and this “coming into range” implies risk of being attacked – it would be logically better to devise a set of responses designed to help a fighter remain in distance and cope with potentially volatile blows. In which case, “Stand and Cope” systems are different from Ballistic systems in that they do not focus too much upon mobility and agility, but rather stability and remaining firm when exposed to exponential pressures. When standing in such close proximity to an opponent, the potential for being displaced from one’s position is high. Summary of characteristics for Tactile systems;

  • Propinquity;
    • Often internally rotated position
    • Requirement to maximise muscular tension and
    • Ensure stability.
  • Percussive and Non-percussive (SBM) mode of action
    • Emphasis usually on Hands
    • Leg techniques always preserve balance as far as possible (i.e. low kicks)
    • Anterior combative posture
    • Ensure both hands may act and react equally. Logically, the Somatotype most logically predicated to this set of behaviours is the Mesomorph.

Wrestling or 'Close and Displace' Skillset

Standing in gross-bodily contact means that we can use the shoulders, hips and thighs as fulcrums upon which to manipulate force. This means that there is emphasis upon throwing and displacing the bodyweight of the opponent.

Summary of characteristics for Gross-Bodily systems

  • Corps-a-corps (body-to-body)
  • Non-percussive (GBM) mode of action
  • Always use of methods to displace equilibrium
    • Lifting
    • Tripping
  • Using parts of own body segments as fulcrum for lever displacement
  • Stability and solidity
  • Sometimes use of clothing to facilitate holding and gripping

Because the control of the opponent’s Centre of Gravity (COG) is foundational to this set of behaviours, and because advantage in these skills is derived from the combatant who is able to issue most mass, and is most stable; this skillset is largely favoured by the Endomorph.