Paul Cale: in command of combat

Written by Paul Cale

Sergeant Paul Cale has been a soldier in the Australian Army for 25 years and a qualified commando for 20 of those. Following multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is now manager of the Integrated Combat Centre at the 2nd Commando Regiment and in charge of developing close-quarter fighting methods for Australian Special Forces. A martial artist for 33 years, the multiple Black-belt holder recently spoke to Blitz about his work and his recent efforts as president of the non-profit organisation Double Diamond Integrated Combat Club Inc.

The 2nd Commando Regiment at work

Paul, how did the idea for the ICC come about, and what are its fundamental functions?
My section supervisor, whom I can’t name, and I put the idea for a combat sports club to the commanding officer of 2 Commando Regiment just over a year ago. The Double Diamond Integrated Combat Club (ICC for short) is a registered not-for-profit association and operates a combat sports program at the Integrated Combat Centre, which is the centre of excellence for combatives at 2 Commando Regiment and has been benchmarked as a world leader in this field. The idea of the club was to separate civilian martial arts from tactical close combat training. In the past, what was once known as unarmed combat was greatly influenced by the civilian martial art background of the instructor involved. Now our training is completely influenced by our own close combat experience over many years and we use combat sports as a part of the whole, a training aid in developing the commandos’ depth of knowledge.

What do the ICC martial arts classes do for the soldiers, in terms of their skill sets and day-to-day lives?
The classes conducted by the club allow commandos to develop their skills free from tactical or team considerations. Combat sports training is stifled when you spend all your time telling people what they should or shouldn’t do in a combat situation, ‘a real fight’, so we just spend club time training and improving in our combat sports. It’s a little like MMA fighters just working on boxing or jiu-jitsu so as to improve their depth of knowledge in that field, and then adapting those skills to fit in their overall game for the cage. We do a similar thing, using MMA and its component parts and adding those skills with our shooting, team tactics and other weapons, and adapting them to fit our overall application for the battlefield.

Regarding the ‘Kinetic Fighting’ system that ADF Special Forces use for the battlefield, how was that method developed and how is it different to the ADF’s standard unarmed combat developed at the Military Unarmed Combat Cell?
Kinetic Fighting is just a term that I coined in 2007 when we started to update our close-quarter fighting course. It has allowed us to put a line in the sand between what once was, and where we are now. The Australian Commando Integrated Combat package is now a world-leading combative program. The Military Unarmed Combat Cell was used to train the ADF (mostly Army) in military self-defence (MSD), which has nothing to do with Special Forces.

What are the similarities in soldiering and combat sports, and how do they complement each other?
Similarities? That would be the striving for excellence, the work ethic and the determination to be the best that you can. Combat-sports fighting is just another way for us to train the body and mind; a tool for us to help train a warrior ethos. However, in saying that, I’m talking about the training environment, as there are no similarities with the sporting field and the battlefield. In fact, there is nothing in life similar to battle.

Is it important for soldiers to maintain a combative or competitive mindset away from the battlefield, or do they need a break from that?
Firstly, all Special Forces soldiers are competitive — they had to be to pass selection and they never stop being competitive. As far as the combative sports go, fighting when not at the battlefield in a combat sport is an amazing stress relief for our members. It has a calming influence on all of us that has been an incredible by-product of training. Our psychologists are looking into the calming effect and apparently there has been a body of work done on this matter with US veterans.

As an elite soldier, what have you gained from your martial arts training, and what part does it play in your life now that you’re moving away from a battlefield role?
I could give a long answer to this question as I have done martial arts for most of my life and I have been involved with the military, in one way or another, for my whole adult life. So martial arts have been a focal point for my life and will remain so into the future.

Martial arts helped me understand that something worth doing, and skills worth having, take a lot of time to develop and that if you persevere you will one day master your craft.

Regarding the ICC fight shows, who gets involved and what is the general purpose of these?
The shows provide a link to the civilian combat sport community and all are welcome to participate. Our club, along with our major sponsors ASN, The Hugh Element and Aimpoint, works to support the Commando Welfare Trust and Legacy.

What plans do you have for the ICC in the future?
The club has conducted five amateur MMA events so far. Our first ICC Pro MMA show will be held in Townsville on 30 June with the ICC Welterweight title being contested. Last year, Bleddyn ‘Taff’ Davies came on board and, being a Robert Drysdale [BJJ] Black-belt, he has greatly pushed our jiu-jitsu program along. Also, his links with The Arena MMA in San Diego, being the Australian representative, has been of great help to the club. The ICC association has so far spread from New South Wales into Queensland and now with Taff on board, into Western Australia. We have also started training in Kudo Daido Juku with support from Japan and plan to expand on our amateur events with the Kudo format.

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