MODERN COMBATIVE SYSTEMS - Training - Modern Combatives System
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MODERN COMBATIVE SYSTEMS - Training - Modern Combatives System
ARTICLES - CAR/IPD Course Review
  Article written by George Matheis, founder of the Modern Combatives System.  


CAT Theory
Edged Weapons
Preparatory Movement
The Pistol Against the Spontaneous Attack
Spyderco Rescue Knife for Personal Protection
The Ground
The Stick
CQB Pistol Panic Push
Carry VS Deployment
Folder into the Fight
Are You Training for Personal Protection or to be a Bodyguard?
Keep the Light Moving
Knives I See on the Street - LEO and Security Personnel Awareness
Deadly Force is Deadly Force
Police Defensive Tactics
Combative Anatomy
Offensive Defense for the Wounded Combatant
Accessing / Deployed / Attacking
Individual Protection Program
Bag of Evil Contents Revealed
Office Space Survival Volume #1
Root of Excessive Force
CAR/IPD Course Review
Five to Survive the First Five
Which Knives Work Best with the Mercharness
MCS Doctrine as it Relates to Appendix Carry
Musings About the Defensive Use of the Pistol
Edged Weapons - Good Guys vs Bad Guys
Evolution of Combative Anatomy

My relationship with Paul Castle and the Center Axis Relock System started 2002 when David Williams a Robbery Homicide Detective from Alabama was activated as part of the Tennessee Army Reserves and sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground to augment their security.

Dave and I became fast friends and he told me about this British policeman who had come up with a new firearms system that I had to see.

After some research and some e-mails it was not long before Paul himself was on the way to Maryland for a basic CAR Course. The course was hosted by the Aberdeen Proving Ground SWAT Team and was attended by officers from their team as well as the City of Aberdeen's team and Baltimore County Police's team.

What would follow the next three days was total indoctrination into the CAR System. CAR is based on body mechanics and science. There is no other activity we engage in where a weighted object is held at arms length for any period of time. The reason is that it is uncomfortable and the farther your elbows are from your sides the weaker you are. This brings us to the first position in CAR, the High position

Picture holding your favorite beverage in the middle of your chest, but with two hands. This is where your pistol is held. In CAR this is the weapon retention position as it keeps the weapon close to the chest and allows you to use elbow rolls and strikes to protect against disarming tactics from the back and front in addition to the flanks. The High position is used to engage treats from 0-5 feet but can be accurate beyond that distance.

High Position


The next position in CAR is the Combat Extended, this is the most commonly used position in CAR and is achieved by simply rolling your gun hand elbow up to approximately ear level while keeping your elbows at your side.

This does several things, the first of which is placing the front sight of your pistol 11-13 inches from your eyes; this is your natural focal distance. We are all familiar with “Front sight in a fight”, however this is hard to do utilizing the Weaver and Isosceles stance since they put the front sight at around twice your normal focal distance.

The second is that you gun hand rotates in at about a 30-degree angle as if you were throwing a punch. This places your bones, muscle and tendons in alignment. Upon pulling the trigger the gun muzzle cannot flip up or down so it takes the path of least resistance, which is straight, back. This drastically reduces muzzle flip and felt recoil resulting in a decreased time between shots fired. Not only is it lightening fast it is accurate.

The High Extended is used out to about 5 feet -10 yards (you know, where gunfights occur). Something else that is interesting with the Combat Extended is that you can see the entire threat in front of you, in contrast to how while using traditional stances you actually loose part of this view. One of the points that people like to make against CAR is that you are not square to you target, therefore not getting the maximum benefit from body armor.

A few problems with that argument, one is that few armed professionals wear body armor every time they are armed. The second is that by in the High Extended position your entire support arm is collapsed against your side protection your torso and especially your armpits, which are very exposed in the traditional stances. This has led to many police fatalities even when officer were wearing armor.

High Extended


Shooter's View


The last position I will talk about is the Combat High, which is basically the low ready of CAR. It is your position when you are “looking for work” as Paul calls it. It is accomplished by just relaxing and bringing the sights down a bit. The Combat High puts you half way between the High and High Extended.

Combat High


After weapon retention the most appealing aspect of CAR to me is the fact that it allows you to shoot quickly and accurately with both hands. During the class you do so many hand changes the only way you remember if you are right or left handed is by looking at your holster, because you can't tell from the targets.

Due to the initial CAR course I attended being comprised of SWAT officers Paul was especially brutal with his drills and lessons, the details of which I will spare you.

Several of us were asked by Paul to attend a subsequent two-day instructor course that would certify us to teach the basic course. Being a training whore I seized the opportunity and achieved a passing score. While he was in town for that class I introduced Paul to my Master, Sensei David Bish of Red Dragon Ju Jitsu in Havre De Grace MD.

Bish Sensei is also a retired Army NCO with an interesting background. He and Paul hit it off to the point where myself, Bish Sensei and his Head Instructor Suzanne Saporta were asked to attend the first CAR Master Instructors Course held at Ft. McCoy Wisconsin in the winter of 2004. Paul wanted their input from the scientific and martial theories found in Ju Jitsu. From that point on I introduced CAR to every forward thinking cop and soldier I met.

Fast forward to November of 2007. I knew that Paul had been working on bringing the CAR system to the armed citizenry in the form of IPD or Immediate Personal Defense Systems. After being introduced to the Threat Focused Forums I found that they had a CAR sub-forum. It was there that I saw that Robert Desrosiers of Argive Defense Systems was doing an IPD course in Hellertown PA on 05/06 JAN 08.

Being extremely interested to see how if civilians could learn CAR as fast as professional shooters, I quickly e-mailed Bob to introduce myself and see if he would like an extra instructor for the class. Bob and I then met at the Valley Forge Gun Show and began to make plans for the course. MCS instructor Art Dorst also signed up to attend the course hoping to learn more than he had during my crash course.

Arriving at the Hellertown Sportsman's Club on the morning the 5th I found Bob, Art and CQCG member Jose Sousa waiting on me. Jose, a policeman that realizes you can never have enough training had heard about CAR from me and signed up for the class after meeting Bob at the gun show.

The class started off with the normal introductions, wow, talk about a mixed bag. We had a few police, three correction officers, three doctors, semi-retired folks and a few young hard chargers who had trained with Bob before.

Bob made it the first point of business to point out that he would like everyone to take anything they had read on the error net about Paul Castle and the CAR system with a grain of salt. The one thing that the majority of individuals who trash Paul or the system have in common is that they have never met the man or been trained in the system.

The class continued with detailed explanations the three positions as well as the science and theory behind each one. Shortly thereafter the class adjourned to indoor pistol range where all shooters were instructed to toe the line, lock their slides the rear and show a safe weapon. Upon doing so, a piece of yellow nylon rope was inserted into the ejection port and the slide released indicating a clear weapon.

Extensive dry firing, transitions and sighting were done from all three positions. From there students where told to put their mouth pieces in and get ready to get physical. This is a very radical departure from traditional firearms training. Students were reminded that the High Position was the default position from which gun retention should be performed.

After being divided into two-man teams, students were encouraged to reach in and attempt to disarm their partner from the front, back and flanks. This demonstrated that it was near impossible to obtain a secure grip on the gun because or the defender rolling his elbows to protect the pistol.

The largest student in the class was allowed to get a secure two-handed grip on the smallest student's gun, but do to body mechanics unable to maintain it. By rolling your attacker to one side or the other you were able to throw punishing elbow strikes to any target of opportunity.

It was from this drill that we moved onto doing “Pistol Punches” on training pads. The Pistol Punch is executed by striking an attacker in the face with the muzzle of the handgun or with the flat of the side of the pistol supported by the palm of the support hand. What became very evident even using pads was this would be a devastating less lethal technique in reaction to a gun grab or keeping a malfunctioning pistol in the fight.

CQCG member Jose Sousa performing a tactical reload


After a breather it was time to go live. Live fire started out with student engaging a single target from the High Position at three yards with singles, then doubles and then the advocated four rounds. Students were obviously hesitant about shooting their pistols up against their chests, that lasted as long as it took for them to fire four rounds as fast as they could pull the trigger in an area that could be covered with a palm even in the case of the worst shooters.

Before going to lunch the shooters used both the High and Combat High to engage the targets with head and body shots out to 5 feet.After lunch students were shown how to switch hands to engage threats to the rear as well as transferring from hand to hand depending on need.

Several drills in CAR as well as IPD require you to switch hands between rounds, at times very rapidly. This is usually done in a sequence or against called targets to cause you to forget about which hand you have the gun in and instead concentrate on technique. These were introduced late in the day on Saturday before the class was released.

Day two started off with a review of day one and quickly moved to the range. Since this was primarily intended to be a civilian course, Bob had told everyone to be sure to wear their typical concealment garment and holster etc. It was nice to see this would be included since I feel that too many armed professionals fail to practice drawing from concealment.

The first order of business was to practice drawing from concealment. Students saw how much a loose sweater or what different types of outer garments can do to impede the draw stroke.

Before long the class was again being stressed out by having to communicate during drills that required them to shoot specific targets in specific order with their teammates on the line. During these drills which a huge part of Paul Castle's teaching style of using physical and mental stress so that students focus on the task and forget they are doing things like changing hands and reloading.

The biggest difference between the civilian and LE/MIL courses seem to be the lack of physical punishment in the way of push-ups and flutter kicks in IPD. During the LE/MIL classes there is a pain penalty for mistakes and as you pay the penalties Paul is right they're next to you knocking them out too.

Once sufficiently frustrated the class began to draw, fire from the High Position and transition the High Extended while moving backwards-issuing verbal commands.

Before long we were onto one another of my favorite aspects of CAR, how well it lends itself to shooting from inside of a vehicle. Unfortunately due to range restrictions this had to be simulated. Do to the compressed nature CAR there is not problem going from one hand to another depending on the location of the threat even while seated behind the wheel of a car.


The remainder of the day saw the class doing more shooting on the move drill against multiple targets as well as combat reloads while on the move.

The last drill was an eye opener for many of the students who had never been involved in any type of combative training. The student would walk up to the five yard line and put his eye and ear protection down on a folding char and then come back and get in the box after being handed a training gun.

For 30 seconds four other students would assault him the best they could with ASP training pads while two other students struck them with training batons.

The student in the box would defend with pistol punches and elbow strikes while issuing verbal commands. At the end of the 30 seconds the shooter would approach the line, put on eye and ear protection and wait for the buzzer, at which time they would draw and attempt to achieve a head shot in less than 2 seconds. I would estimate that approximately 80% of the class achieved that goal.

MCS Instructror Art Dorst fights in the box


After returning to the classroom for a little post course discussion, the course was concluded.

My initial thoughts about CAR have remained the same. If I had to take a head shot at 25 yards would I use CAR? I doubt it. But research and experience tells me that is far outside the typical combat shooting distance. For employing a pistol under 5 yards the CAR system has no equal. This is made more oblivious by what it has to offer for retention and shooting from inside a vehicle.

If you are serious about combat pistol craft I would encourage you to take advantage of checking out an IPD course if you get the chance.

The class


I would like to thank Bob Desrosiers of Argive Defense Systems for having Art Dorst and myself.

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