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Matt Larsen

Matt Larsen
Matt Larsen demonstrating a chokehold
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps (1984–1988)
United States Army (1988–2005)
Years of service 1984–2005
Rank Sergeant First Class

3rd Battalion 5th Marines
75th Ranger Regiment


Active Duty

Private Contractor

Matt Larsen is a former United States Army Ranger, Marine and Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame combatives instructor. He is known as "The Father of Modern Combatives," credited with the creation of the United States Army's modern combatives doctrine and the establishment of the U.S. Army Combatives School.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] He has also been credited with pushing Hoplology, a science that studies human combative behavior and performance, into the modern era.


  • Military service 1
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor Lineage 2
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts 3
  • Combatives Black Belts 4
  • Post military career 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Military service

Larsen enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman in 1984. He was stationed overseas in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan with the Marine detachment at Naval Air Facility Atsugi. During this time Larsen began training in judo, Shotokan karate, and traditional boxing.[9] He continued his training in martial arts when he was transferred to Okinawa with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment. He trained in Shōbayashi Shōrin-ryū with Eizo Shimabukuro and continued his judo training. He also trained Sayoc Kali in the Philippines.[10] During this time Larsen fought in the Japan Karate Association's All Japan Karate Championships, Muay Thai bouts in Thailand, and a bare-knuckle fight against the ROK Marines Taekwondo champion. He was also a member of the 3rd Marine Division's boxing team.[10]

Upon his discharge from the Marine Corps, Larsen enlisted in the United States Army. He went on to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, where he would remain for the next 14 years. Initially assigned to 1st Ranger Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Larsen parachuted into Panama with the Rangers during Operation Just Cause[5] and was also involved in Ranger operations during the Gulf War. He began to involve himself more in combat sports and served as the president of the 1st Ranger Battalion's practical shooting club. Upon his reassignment to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, he started the Battalion's practical shooting club. He soon found himself as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of combatives and Close Quarters Battle (CQB) training for the battalion. He utilized his martial arts training, having attained black belts in several disciplines including Brazilian Jiu-jitsu under Romero "Jacare" Cavalcanti and Russian Sambo, and merged them into a single, effective fighting style. As the program grew more elaborate, he became the NCOIC of combatives and CQB training for the entire 75th Ranger Regiment. During his service with the Rangers, he established himself as the Army's subject matter expert on combatives. When the opportunity to shape the Army's Combatives program came, he transferred to the Ranger Training Brigade, which was charged with the development of the combatives doctrine. During this time, he refined his training methods and started to compile a comprehensive training manual.

Larsen was asked to move to the 11th Infantry Regiment to design a combatives instructor training course for their cadre. As the 11th Infantry Regiment would soon have a more rigorous training regimen, taught by the Army's subject matter expert on combatives, the proponency for combatives doctrine moved with him.[11] His ideas were well received by the 11th Infantry Regiment and he found himself with an old warehouse that he utilized as a combatives training facility. Within a short time, the school became so successful that units from throughout the Army began sending their soldiers. Several new courses had to be developed in order to continue teaching beyond the initial course, with the idea of building programs within these units. Eventually the school was recognized by the Army as the "United States Army Combatives School". In 2002, the training manual which he had been working on since his time with the Ranger Training Brigade was published by the Army as Field Manual 3–25.150 (Combatives).[12]

In March 2005, Larsen was inducted into the Order of Saint Maurice at the Centurion level.[13]

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor Lineage

Jigoro KanoTsunejiro TomitaMitsuyo "Count Koma" MaedaCarlos Gracie, Sr.Helio GracieRolls GracieRomero "Jacaré" Cavalcanti → Matt Larsen.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts

Andrew Chappelle → Max Faught → Nate Ford → Iako Kalili → John Renken → Damien Stelly → Jeremy Brown → Keith Bach → Bill Bader

Combatives Black Belts

Damien Stelly → Andrew Chappelle[14]Tim Kennedy (fighter)[15][16] → Jeremy Brown → Troy Thomas → Keith Bach → Rich Miranda

Post military career

After retiring from the Army, Larsen worked as a Fort Benning, Georgia.


In 2007 he helped the United States Army Special Forces Qualification Course revamp their Combatives curriculum and was an advisor to the US Air Force, who adopted his program in early 2008.[17] In 2008 Larsen designed the Combatives training program for the Canadian Special Operations Regiment. In 2009 he consulted with both the Royal Marine Commandos at the training base in Lympstone, Devon, as well as the British Army's Infantry at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick on the development of their Combatives programs[18]

He was featured on the cover of the September 2010 issue of Black Belt Magazine in a two-part article continued in the October issue.

Larsen was inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame as the Self Defense instructor of the year in December 2013.

LHR Combat Knife

In 2006 Larsen linked up with knife designers William Harsey, Jr. and Chris Reeve, who designed and make the Yarborough knife presented to graduates of the Special Forces Qualification course, to develop the LHR Combat Knife based on the lessons from hand to hand fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is manufactured by Gerber Legendary Blades.[19]

After leaving the USACS, he returned to Iraq as a contractor in 2011 to help train units on how to affectively employ knives during close quarters combat.[20]


In 2008 and 2009 Larsen rewrote the US Army Survival Handbook and the U.S. Military Pocket Survival Guide: Plus Evasion & Recovery for the publisher Lyons Press.[21][22]

In 2010 Larsen co-authored Sniper: American Single-Shot Warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan, with war correspondent Gina Cavallaro with a foreword written by the 31st Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. (Ret.) Richard A. Cody, architect of the Asymmetric Warfare Group and former commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The book is a collection of stories and impressions from dozens of snipers – Soldiers and Marines, including Rangers and Special Forces Soldiers – who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2013 Larsen published Modern Army Combatives: Battle-Proven Techniques and Training Methods from Black Belt Books.


In June 2011 Larsen was in Libya assessing the rebel forces.[1]

In 2010 Larsen opened a gym in Columbus Georgia named "Matt Larsen's Combat Fitness Center".[23] He has since opened three more locations, one in Killeen, Texas, one in Springfield, Virginia.,[24] and one in Warrenton, Virginia.

Larsen worked as the regional director for Africa for an American security company. He was based out of Lusaka, Zambia.[25]


  1. ^ a b The New Republic
  2. ^ Paraglide article
  3. ^ The Pentagon Channel Blog
  4. ^ NCO Journal article
  5. ^ a b US Army Newsarticle
  6. ^ 75th Ranger Regt. wins team trophy at first All-Army Modern Combatives Championship
  8. ^ USACS (2000) FM 3–25.150 (Draft) TAB C, Ground Fighting Technique Hip Pocket Session Cards. Fort Benning: United States Army.
  9. ^ a b The Bayonet: Matt Larsen takes Army combatives to new level
  10. ^ a b Black Belt Magazine interview October 2010
  11. ^ NCO Journal April 2006 – Combatives
  12. ^ School teaches combatives to Army Program integrates tactics training
  13. ^ Full listing of OSM members
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Bloody Elbow
  16. ^ Ranger Up
  17. ^ Air Force Times
  18. ^ UK Infantry Blog
  19. ^ Larsen/Harsey/Reeve Combat Knife
  20. ^ Stars and Stripes
  21. ^ US Army Survival Handbook
  22. ^ U.s. Military Pocket Survival Guide: Plus Evasion & Recovery
  23. ^ Matt Larsen's Combat Fitness Center, Columbus
  24. ^ Army Times
  25. ^ New York Times

External links

  • FM3-25.150
  • Ultimate Grappling article
  • US Army Combatives School
  • United States Combatives Arts Association
  • Realfighting Article
  • Black Belt Magazine
  • NCO Journal
  • New York Times
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