Rex Applegate

Rex Applegate

Colonel Rex Applegate (1914-1998) worked in the Office of Strategic Services where he trained allied special forces in close-quarter combat during World War II.

In 1943 he wrote "Kill or Get Killed", still considered the classic textbook of Western-style hand-to-hand combat. The updated 1976 edition of "Kill or Get Killed" was also published by the US Marine Corps as Fleet Marine Force Reference Publication 12-80. From the foreword:

:"Fleet Marine Force Reference Publication (FMFRP) 12-80, "Kill or Get Killed", is published to ensure the retention and dissemination of useful information which is not intended to become doctrine or to be published in Fleet Marine Force manuals."


:"This reference publication was written in 1976 by Lieutenant Colonel Rex Applegate, USA (Ret), with the help of the Combat Section, Military Intelligence Training Center, Camp Ritchie, Maryland. At last there is one volume which speaks to the subjects of unarmed combat (offensive and defensive), combat use of weapons, disarming the enemy, handling of prisoners, the handle of mob/crowd disobedience, the use of chemicals in such situations, and how to establish a professional riot control unit."

Applegate developed the techniques outlined in the book during his work with William E. Fairbairn, who had previously developed his techniques while working for the Shanghai Municipal Police from 1907 to 1940. Fairbairn drew heavily on Chinese martial arts, which he simplified and tailored to the needs of training police in one of the most crime ridden cities in the world, with its history of opium trade, rebellion, and Triad gangsters. The result of this was the development of what is widely considered the first scientifically based martial art, Defendu. Applegate's techniques are heavily based on Fairbairn's Defendu, and enhanced with feedback from the OSS operatives who put his techniques into action in World War II.

Applegate was the proponent for a system of combat pistol shooting that is outlined in "Kill or Get Killed", based on point shooting and stressing training for close range, fast response shooting. This system is somewhat at odds with the other prominent system developed and promoted by Jeff Cooper, called the "Modern Technique". Both systems have many supporters, with variants of Cooper's system being the more common currently. Supporters of Cooper's methods point to the nearly universal use of Coopers methods in IPSC and other forms of action shooting, while Applegate's supporters point to police incidents where officers trained in Cooper's methods discharge vast numbers of rounds at very close range, most measured in tens of feet (3 m) or less, with few if any disabling hits. The last years of Applegate's life were spent actively promoting his combat pistol shooting methods to the police.

Applegate also co-wrote "The Close-Combat Files of Colonel Rex Applegate" [] with Chuck Melson. There is also a line of knives, produced by Gerber Legendary Blades, based on a design that he and William Harsey Jr. developed based on his work with Fairbairn.

Colonel Applegate was a founding member of the International Close Combat Instructors Association. He was inducted into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame at the 1994 Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia in recognition for the impact that his designs have made upon the cutlery industry as well as his writings on knife fighting.cite news |title = Colonel Applegate Inducted into the Hall of Fame| work = Blade Magazine| date = 7/31/1994 | accessdate = 7/30/2008 ]


External links

* [ International Close Combat Instructors Association]
* [ Obituary and tribute]
* [ USMC source for doctrinal materials] , including FMFRP 12-80
* [ Non-military source] for FMFRP 12-80 and other military doctrine documents
* [ The Applegate-Todd Connection]
* [ Paladin Press] Publisher of Colonel Applegate's books and videos.
* [ Defendo close combat system evolved from Defendu]

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