Integrated Combatives with Bill Rapier

Bill Rapier is an unassuming and patient teacher who has instructed countless people in integrated combatives; an area of expertise he has mastered over decades of combat training and battlefield experience in SEAL Teams and DEVGRU. Our friend Clint Emerson, New York Times best-selling author of 100 Deadly Skills and Escape the Wolf, met with Bill to learn how he uses a knife, pistol, and rifle with deadly effect against assailants. 

Bill is an expert at Integrated Combatives and is the founder of American Tactical Shooting and Blades where he teaches people the integrated combat skills that have saved his life countless times along with the lives of fellow warriors.

“Somewhere around 2005 or 2006, I had a phone call from a buddy. He said, ‘Hey, you want to come up with us and do some blade stuff? It’s going to be pretty serious,’” Bill recalled. “’I’m like, ‘Of course!’” 

It was through this specialized and intensive training in the Pocono Mountains where Bill began to master the deadly skills required in the split second reality of close-quarters combat.

He says, preparing for these sorts of situations begins with a single question: “What do I want to be ready for?”

Let the Tools Match the Taskbill rapier reactionary gap

It is this critical question that led Bill to understand a very important point:  It is what you’re preparing for that should drive what you carry. 

The tools he carries include his mind and the knowledge and trained instincts of how to move. Other tools include physical assets, like your head for headbutts, your elbows, and integrating it all together with your knife, pistol, and rifle.

“There’s so much emotional attachment to what we carry. I like this knife. I like this gun,” Rapier said. “But really think through ‘why am I carrying these tools. What’s the purpose of these tools?’ At the end of the day, they’re just tools.” 

Follow the Rules of Reactionary Gap 

The distance at which a defensive reaction is required against an assailant is called the Reactionary Gap. Rapier says there are Two Rules of Reactionary Gap:

  • Train your defensive measures inside the reactionary gap, which is when you’ll need them most.
  • Learn to interact in a ready stance without telegraphing your defensive moves.

bill rapier knife

“If you telegraph, you don’t actually even deserve to hit the guy,” Rapier said. “Don’t telegraph your shots. Your shot should always be thrown from whatever natural position you’re at. I prefer non-fighting fighting stances. You’re talking with the backs of your hands right in here. Stand just outside of the reactionary gap, and then we can come a little bit into the reactionary gap.”

He says to keep in mind that the whole situation is taking place in fractions of a second. In situations when lethal force is required, such as in a combat setting, integrative combatives trained properly can be deployed rapidly and save your life.

Deploy Strikes then Lethal Tools

In the video, Rapier demonstrates how to properly use an elbow strike or head butt in order to buy time to pull the other tools in his arsenal, such as a: knife and pistol. He goes into detail showing the proper training techniques to train for efficiently deploying weapons quickly and placing them effectively for maximum results. 

“If you can end a fight with elbows, hands, feet, or forehead, great,” Emerson emphasizes. “But there’s always some people who want to take it to the next level, so it’s important to know how to get to your knife or gun. If your adversary goes for a weapon, now you’ve got to go for yours.”

bill rapier close quarter pistol draw

Proper Rifle Technique

Securing the magazine, checking for a chambered round, and readying the sites are important disciplines, among others, thatRapier encourages us to master, but he also talks about balance for shooting and using the rifle for blocking and striking.

Holding the rifle at a natural angle in order to pull the rifle into the shoulder is a simple technique Rapier emphasizes for stability and easier use of the gun.

Pulling it all Together

“What I love about Bill’s philosophy is that you’re not limited to one move or one weapon at a time. You can put them all together,” Emerson said. “Especially in the multi threat environment. His training is somewhat advanced, but once you practice and train it, you’ll become more dangerous than any other person on the street.”

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