United States Air Force Academy

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Combatives Center of Excellence

Combatives training

Our combatives courses teach more than hand-to-hand combat skills. Our cadets learn to react under pressure, develop self-confidence and demonstrate the mental toughness required to survive and prevail in unarmed combat situations. Cadets learn to perform in a high stress environment and develop a growth mindset.

Combatives has been taught throughout the Academy’s history and has evolved through the years based on mission requirements. Today it is incorporated in the pugil stick competition during Basic Cadet Training, the combatives physical education courses typically taken during junior year, as well as a combatives club. Cadets can also take two elective courses, marksmanship and self-protection.


In 2009, the Academy was appointed the Air Force Combatives Center of Excellence (AFCCE), and the Center began implementation across various officer and enlisted accession sources, pre-deployment training, and tech schools. Likewise, it was integrated into pre-existing training across the Air Force.

In 2018, AFI 36-2620 Air Force Combatives Program was published, helping codify, standardize and aid in the program’s implementation across the Air Force. In 2019 the Expeditionary Center published AFTTP3-4.9.

Check out photos from the latest Barracks Brawl!

Train the Trainer

The U.S. Air force Academy is the home of the Air Force Combatives Center of Excellence. Airmen and Guardians worldwide come here for an 18-day Master Instructor Course. Under stress, they learn verbal and physical management skills, anatomy and physiology, combat mindset, program management, and ethical decision-making. Watch the video.

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