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Old 01-07-2013, 03:35 AM   #11
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
FCCT has a fair amount of knife work, and was widely known; there are probably still practitioners.
Could I make a case for any practisioners that are still spry enough in 2005 to work full-time as instructors to healthy young people, many with a background in military or police work? As far as I know, organised training in the style mostly ended with WWII, i.e. sixty years before the first quick-reaction team started to form.

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Does anyone know anything about Gurkha martial arts? There's nothing in GURPS Martial Arts, and while Stealth + Knife is clearly the core, there must be more.
Bando teaches kukri forms as part of its advanced curriculum, at least in the US (ABA Bando). It also seems very practical for overpowering possessed people and a fine basis for a general self-defence style. All in all, I would like it if I could justify Gurkha instructors teaching Bando to recruits, complete with instructions in how to use the kukri to decapitate.

On the other hand, I can't find any evidence that Gurkhas are any more likely to know Bando than any other soldier. In fact, I'm not sure that someone living near Oxford or Cambridge could find any instruction in Bando and it could be hard even for someone in London to find high quality training.

Basically, most Gurkhas seem to know a very basic form of military hand-to-hand, with a somewhat greater focus on knifework, specifically kukris. In GURPS terms, if such a style was defined, it would consist of Brawling, Knife, Spear and Stealth; with Judo and Staff as optional skills.

Edit: Combat Bando in East London looks intriguing. This could actually be it. I especially like that Lord Mountbatten is quoted on the page, because it provides a connection to the Queen. It wouldn't be all that implausible to postulate that some Gurkhas, interested in formalising their already formiddable mastery of their kukris, would study bando and other thaing.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:49 AM   #12
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It's true, there is no formal, named style associated with the Gurkhas (although the Nepal Army does apparently include Tae Kwon Do training).

However, I believe that many Gurkha do practice fighting with their kukris, and many do end up with practical close combat experience.

I certainly wouldn't scoff at the idea of a Gurkha PC or NPC with something like Dagger Fighting on their character sheet, nor at the idea that such a person (like the man who took out 40 armed thugs on a train with his kukri) may be recruited to teach close combat to a group of secret monster hunters.
All true. I certainly intend to have several Gurkhas among the quick-reaction teams. For one thing, they come from a culture where royalty is not just a quaint relic, but only recently relinquished more or less absolute power. The Gurkhas have also traditionally been extremely loyal to their adopted sovereigns and not all that likely to talk to the media, about anything, especially not if it would be contrary to the interests of their adopted nation. Not to mention that they certainly have the relevant skill set for taking down big bad supernatural monsters.

See the post above for ideas about having Gurkhas teach their kukri forms to recruits who have studied Bando. The military and police recruits are also likely to have what amounts to familiarity with some type of judo or jujutsu with the Military or Police lens.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:45 AM   #13
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It's tricky. In all honesty there's pretty much no martial art that will prepare you to go up against someone significantly stronger who can ignore most injury.
Very true. On the other hand, most of the threats that the Queen's Secret Warriors expect to face have little or no training in either armed or unarmed combat.

Being possessed by a crazy spirit doesn't make a normal person into an effective fighter, just someone who can hit slightly harder, choke more ferociously and ignore pain that would immobilise a normal human. The same muscles are in play, even if they are working at overcapacity and causing damage to teh body by so doing. A strong and healthy ex-military recruit in top-notch condition might even be stronger than a nomal person on a rampaging spirit overdrive.

Dead bodies animated by hostile spirits are more threathening foes, in that such spirits are usually more powerful and can move the body without the help of muscles. That means that crippling them requires breaking the load-bearing bones and anything less is pretty much ignored. Total cessation of movement is usually only accomplished by driving out the spirit, which can be done with metaphysics (ash and salt are good for that) or just by damaging to the corpse until the spirit can't sustain his concentration and loses the connection with the body.

Spirits usually aren't good at hand-to-hand combat while wearing a physical body, but some apparently retain a memory of fighting from a mortal life. These are extremely dangerous foes, obviously, as they can be much stronger than a human and they require massive structural damage to defeat, which most concealable or even easily portable guns are poorly suited to delivering. Any firearm or ordnance that causes such damage also tends to be big, flashy and loud, which would bring the authorities and that would be awkward, to say the least. One advantage that trained and aware humans have over such spirits-in-fleshy-bodies is that the control is usually somewhat awkward and even if the spirit knows how to fight, he'll have trouble having the body move with any semblence of grace.

Even many of the creatures from the Otherworld seem to be animalistic predators, more like big and strong wild beasts than anything else. As such, their tactics tend to be simple and their skill level in GURPS not so high as to make it impossible to counter their size, strength and ferocity with training and equipment. It also helps if you've shot them full of holes before they reach you. Lead bullets might not kill them permanently, but few corporeal foes ignore them entirely.

When it comes to facing foes like vampires who in life were muscle for organised crime, fey warriors with centuries of swordsmanship training and experience or the undead body of a Roman centurion from Caesar's legions who retains his memories, things rapidly get much worse, of course. These will have combat skills at high levels in addition to supernatural powers. But so far, these things are more theoretical threats than something that the quick-reaction teams have actually faced.

I do think that Bando is interesting as a possibility, because it can incorporate armed forms with a history of use that reaches more or less into the modern day, it is very aggressive and brutal and it teaches practisioners to overcome pain in the course of putting down the foe. With that in mind, it sounds like a good way to learn how to face enemies that because of supernatural factors behave like a Bando stylists on PCP-amphetamine-steroids in combat.

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I think FMA is pretty close, as at least it strongly emphasizes weapons and "trapping" of limbs by moving to areas where the opponent has difficulty applying his full strength. However, there's still the assumptions on how joints work that may or may not apply to various supernatural entities.
Trapping limbs and anything that relies on leverage are good options to have, but the worst case scenarios will usually feature firearms being used to put the target down and melee weapons and grappling being used to finish the job once the threat is down and reeling. That's a very different scenario from what I usually see FMA stylists practise, which so often feels like a knife or stick duel.

Obviously, no practical martial art can focus exclusively on one situation and I'm not saying that well-taught FMA ignores the possibility of the enemy simply barrelling in for a tackle while accepting a hit or two, but I think it would be fair to say that it often less emphasised there than in other styles. Which makes sense, because few trained and moderately intelligent human foes will do that and even if they do, a hit or two with a knife are often enough to disable a human foe or distract him enough to enable more hits.

It's just that FMA arose in a culture where knife duels actually happened and what the recruits are going to need to learn won't have much, if anything, in common with duels. It's more like a piledrive on top of a shot-to-pieces enemy, with knives being used to cut off heads and carve out hearts.

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In my opinion, FMA is the closest you're going to get because it's the most heavily weapon-based art I know of that's still fairly close to it's roots as actual pre-firearm combat training.
Burmese thaing were used extensively in combat sixty years ago, by people who had limited access to firearms. I don't doubt that the constant state of irregular warfare within Burma/Myammar provides 'opportunities' for people at the economic edges of society to either survive by using their skills or die at the hands of ethnic cleansing squads.

While organised rebel groups obviously have guns, that's not always true of an ordinary person harassed by paramilitaries or simply driven past the point of endurance. I doubt that knives in the back are unknown as part of the endemic warfare there. And even those who have guns may need sentry removal or find themselves fighting at very close quarters in the jungles.

The Indian, British and Nepalese armies all teach use of the kukri in combat as part of their hand-to-hand instruction. The techniques appear to be a more-or-less composite of several East Asian styles, including bando. I'm trying to find out what other styles influenced the training regimen currently in use. If I get enough detail to stat it out in GURPS terms, that might be the style for which I'm looking.

Unfortunately, I can't find any detail on Nepalese martial arts. Nepalese from the same areas and castes as those who join up as Gurkhas have a tendency to be soldiers in the Indian army and Nepalese army too and those who aren't soldiers are often private security, cops, border guards or bouncers. They have a robust tradition of knifework and stick-fighting with police batons. As in, Nepalese cops and security people wade in with batons swinging in riots that would cause Western police to call in SWAT with riot gear, gas and a full range of less-than-lethal technology. Fairly often, too, because there is a lot of street crime in the neighbouring countries where these warrior-culture Nepalese find such work.

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Any modern military style is going to focus less on hand-to-hand fighting than something that existed before guns, with greater concentration on sentry removal stuff. And the whole "defanging the snake" bit with FMA is not really that heavily emphasized. It's in there, but it also includes a lot of quick closing and close-in knife work to vital bits in the body's core. And various supernatural critters MAY still be susceptible to pain from the touch of whatever can kill them, even if they don't take injury unless they're stabbed somewhere specific. If that's the case, a focus on weapons will pay off well, IMO. So that'd be my recommendation.
Sentry removal, close-quarter shooting and using melee weapons in an environment with guns are all factors that might turn out to matter. Even bayonet techniques might be useful, at least in the future when the secret is out and these people form a training cadre for a military that will be expected to face supernatural threats.

The most common use for a knife will probably be the coup de grace to a foe that is temporarily incapacitated from being shot up. It has to happen fast, because they never know if it's really out, stunned for just a second or two or just faking injury. So knowing how to cut off someone's head in under three seconds is a really valuable skill. Sentry removal is valuable here, in that it provides a selection of techniques for attacking the neck of a foe that isn't moving.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:56 AM   #14
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The operatives are recruited among patriots loyal to the Royal Family in the British armed forces (overwhelmingly Old Etonians or from 'the Other Place'), ...
I have to ask - which "Other Place"? And wouldn't recruiting from the SAS and SBS be a little wiser than selecting for chinless Ruperts?
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:59 AM   #15
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I have to ask - which "Other Place"? And wouldn't recruiting from the SAS and SBS be a little wiser than selecting for chinless Ruperts?
A surprisingly high proportion of SAS officers are Old Etonians.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:01 AM   #16
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Fair enough.

I'm still wondering, though - Harrow, Winchester, or Hell?
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:03 AM   #17
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Default Re: British Military Combatives in the Queen's Service

I quite like the idea of Bando + Kukri techniques. Seems to meet all of your design goals while keeping just enough exoticism to be interesting.

I still think Pentjak Silat is worth another look as a knife fighting style that has at least as strong a claim to recent combat use as Bando or FMA. Plus there is enough mysticism to make an interesting hook in a secret magic campaign.

Re: Nepalese Martial arts, I haven't been able to find any either, TKD is quite popular for historical reasons, and there is a very large and prominent Tibetan population there so Pok Hok and other Tibetan Kung Fu styles are probably available in the region.

Kalari is probably unlikely, since it's almost exclusively found in Southern India.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:17 AM   #18
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I have to ask - which "Other Place"? And wouldn't recruiting from the SAS and SBS be a little wiser than selecting for chinless Ruperts?
Old Etonians refer to Harrow graduates as having attended 'the Other Place' and vice versa. I meant to convey a sense of social status rather than a specific school, though, i.e. the recruits are not just people from Eton, Harrow or Winchester, they also tend to be the people who would use 'the Other Place' about people from the other schools.

The first recruits have very much been selected on the basis of personal loyalties, friendship and long-time acquintanceship, rather than just skill set. Basically, unless the Queen or someone she had already recruited was absolutely certain that the person would not reveal the secret to anyone, that person would not be approached.

This is still the case, mostly, but with the first few recruits that came from elite military backgrounds, the possibility of them recruiting personal friends with similar background opened up. That, plus the ever-increasing pace of supernatural phenomena (and consequent greater sense of urgency as well as the realisation that the secret can't last forever), has led to the skill-sets of recruits improving greatly in the years after 2000 or so.

At first, knowledge of ancient languages, history, archeology, anthropology, theology and even literature were considered more important than combat ability. It is still the case that most of those who know the secret in Britain are academics and scholars, not soldiers. Only after 2005 have these people started to actively hunt supernatural threats, as opposed to just studying them. And it was important that the early recruits were able to self-finance odd hobbies and travel, not to mention make a living without doing anything so vulgar as working so much that one couldn't take time off for a month at some isolated moor where there was an interesting rumour.

Money is easy to track and it was much more covert if the Queen didn't have to move large sums of it around to some mysterious organisations. People from a background where a social connection to the Royal Family was considered a reward in itself and/or actually could end up financially benefitting them enough to at least partially make up for their outlays of time and money were thus prefered. Also, the Queen and her close advisors spending time with such people was much less noteworthy than if they had started to cultivate hard-bitten mercenaries from all around the world.

That being said, graduates of Eton and Harrow (and other elite schools with historical pedigrees) are seriously overrepresented among recipients of military decorations for gallantry, not to mention among the officer corps of elite military regiments. The British 'upper crust' still retains some traditions of service, loyalty to the Crown and a warrior ethos, at least judging by the frequency that people from 'good' families choose to volunteer for dangerous military careers. Ed Butler and Mark Carleton-Smith, the two last commanders of the SAS, are both Old Etonians and so are many, many other people associated with the Regiment.

There is also a tendency for them to be well-travelled, have social advantages compared to less fortunate people (including, but not limited to, wealth, status and a network of well-placed contacts) and to have hobbies that might be useful to a secret organisation, ranging from outdoors survival and mountaineering to esoteric studies. Bear Grylls and Ranulph Fiennes are just two of the most famous examples, but there is actually a large pool of these people.

Mostly, though, it's a matter of whom the Queen and her closest associates were likely to know well enough to approach and to trust them to be silent about it. Many of the people in the Royal Household had familial connections to these Ruperts that just didn't exist in the case of other highly skilled SAS or SBS soldiers.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:48 AM   #19
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Your mention of people loyal to the Royal Family can be expanded upon.

When I joined the Royal Air Force (not the Army), I swore an oath, to (IIRC) 'Her majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, and the government she chooses to place under her'.

The exact wording escapes me, but most people who make such an oath mean it, and will stand by it.
Just so. In many fictional works where the normal order had broken down or was in the process of doing so, the Royal Family of the United Kingdom managed to retain authority over the armed forces. While their actual authority today is not much, it is at least not completely far out to imagine that in a crisis where the normal government was helpless or entirely absent (in this case, due to ignorance of the problem), some people might continue to regard the Crown as a legitimate source of authority. If enough of those people are high-ranking military officers, it is possible that the Crown would effectively have real authority for at least the duration of the crisis.

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It did not permit me to obey orders given against the Queen, or her heirs and successors. The rest of the Royal Family is specifically not included.
There's a division right there.
You might have lesser Royals in conflict with the immediate Family of her son Charles, his son Harry, etc. Leading to probems in who obeys.
I haven't made up my mind yet as to precisely who among the royals is aware of the Queen's supernatural gifts and the conspiracy this has led her into founding.

My initial idea was to have most of them kept purposely in the dark, as the Queen feared they'd simply see her as slipping into senility, not actually psychic and sensitive to spiritual phenomena. Initially, she even sought help from her physician for psychological or psychiatric problems and was not convinced of the reality of her paranormal abilities until his research appeared to reveal that there was some substance to her visions and intuitions*.

At some point, the Queen might have provided some partial explanations to her son and grandsons, but I'm not certain how much she'd tell them or how much they'd want to know. Even if they believed that she was just becoming batty, they certainly wouldn't go the Sun with the news.

On the other hand, I'm tempted to cast Harry as an inquisitive, open-minded, active, persistent and idealistic young man, enough so that he has learned about the conspiracy and wants to be a part of it. Given the informal nature of the Rangers and lack of legal command structure, what would the loyal senior people do if the Queen's grandson demanded to be allowed to go on dangerous missions? They can't claim that he doesn't have a relevant skill set and when a mission finally blows up in their faces (a constant fear), with police arriving on the scene, he might be able to talk them into silence when normal ex-police or ex-army recruits would just be arrested.

*She knew things she couldn't have otherwise known, could convincingly relate conversations with spirits with memories allegedly only possessed by deceased relatives of the physician, her prophetic dreams and visions increasingly started coming true in ways that both Queen and her physicians felt was more than coincidence, etc.

Of course, later on, when she became able to control spirits in ways that influenced the material world (early to mid-90s or so), neither she nor anyone she trusted well enough to perform such tricks in front of could deny the reality of the supernatural. One problem with that convincing proof, however, is that it is much harder to do when in the presence of hard-core sceptics and modern technology and sterile environments also appear to make it more difficult. Thus, scientific proof, as opposed to proof that will convince someone already prepared to entertain the possibility, is very hard to come by.


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On martial arts styles; 'unarmed combat' exists, the Fairbairn book exists, but I feel most regiments do not train in this stuff, preferring skill at arms.
Elite or specialist units do train in this, so I'd expect SAS and other elites, the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines to be the ones that do this.
Individual soldiers study when they have access to schools and have the time. Not very likely in my mind, as deployments to war-zones come first.

All this is based upon my limited knowledge of the army, and my experience of the RAF in the late 1970's to mid 1980's.

Hope this is useful.
While the term is not used any more, I get the feeling that the FCCT in GURPS Martial Arts is generic enough to be a useful basis for a lot of the commando-style sentry removal and hand-to-hand training that modern special operations personnel in the British armed forces might receive.

Would it be reasonable to use a few points spent on that style for recruits who come from the SAS, SBS, Royal Marines and Parachute Regiments?

Perhaps only those who focus the most on sentry removal would, with others having what amounts to 'hard' Judo or Jujutsu with the Military Lens. In any case, these are very similar in game terms.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:13 AM   #20
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I quite like the idea of Bando + Kukri techniques. Seems to meet all of your design goals while keeping just enough exoticism to be interesting.
Yep. I quite like it.

I'd assume that some form of jujutsu-derived style was what was most common among ex-soldiers and ex-cops. In GURPS terms, that's Jujutsu (perhaps with Karate exchanged for Brawling in some cases) with the Military or Police lens. Possibly the Street lens would also have some fans.

I'm wondering whether to just use FCCT as is for what SAS commandos and other first-rate commandos in the Commonwealth would have continued to learn after WWII and into the modern day. Even if the name was no longer used and specific techniques and emphasis on various aspects shifted with time, the GURPS stats look about right.

Individual operatives (and thus also the pool of trainers for the new recruits) in the Rangers would thus have jujutsu or FCCT (very similar, as it happens), and would then start to add thaing styles like Bando and at least some axe, knife, machete and shortsword techniques from Banshay after having come to a conscious decision that it was the best fit for their mission description.

And the Gurkhas in the Rangers would come arrive knowing their kukri-based style, which I'm still trying to find out more about, and thus be able to incorporate it into the composite Bando-variant that is emerging as the prefered style of the Rangers.

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I still think Pentjak Silat is worth another look as a knife fighting style that has at least as strong a claim to recent combat use as Bando or FMA. Plus there is enough mysticism to make an interesting hook in a secret magic campaign.
As yet, I haven't found evidence that silat is used as a basis for the kukri training of the Indian, Nepalese and British armies. I don't rule it out, though. It's actually rather likely. But thaing is still ahead in that department.

Edit: Annnd just after a wrote this, I found that Gurkha fighting methods are considered very similar to the machete forms of the Dyak in Borneo, which means silat. Apparently, the modern military training combines various East Asian arts into a simple, but effective, composite style, incorporating elements of banshay thaing as well as various silat forms. There are even hints of escrima/arnis.

---

I didn't find any currently operating pentjak silat schools in London. There are several silat schools, mostly Malaysian in origin, but they are all small and many of the links I clicked on were already defunct. It appears to be no easier and perhaps even harder to learn silat in the UK from civilian instructors than Bando.

Finally, while the mobility and agility emphasised by many silat styles is probably good to avoid being grappled by Big Bad Paranormals, I am not sure that avoiding full-on contact and trying to fence with raging corpses animated by spirits is that practical. Silat is a wide continuum, though, and there are many useful close-combat forms, so I imagine that using silat against the paranormal is quite possible.

All in all, I think it's more likely that silat will be the style of choice for other groups in the setting. But Britain does have an abiding connection to former colonies with silat traditions, such as Malaysia and Singapore, so it's not impossible that some recruits to the Rangers will be familiar with silat.

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Re: Nepalese Martial arts, I haven't been able to find any either, TKD is quite popular for historical reasons, and there is a very large and prominent Tibetan population there so Pok Hok and other Tibetan Kung Fu styles are probably available in the region.

Kalari is probably unlikely, since it's almost exclusively found in Southern India.
Anything you can find would be great. If you can find the styles and techniques that make up the elements of kukri training of Nepalese, Indian and British armies, I'd be ecstatic.
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