The COMSUBIN knife and fighters

(To Francesco Bergamo)

(For reasons of secrecy only the initials of the names are reported)

Defense Online continues its journey to discover the abilities in hand-to-hand combat and to the white weapon of the Italian FFAAs. The Comsubin of the Italian Navy is considered to be the best special body in the world in the maritime sphere and the second in absolute behind the English SAS (but some say it is second to none ...). In Varignano, locality of Le Grazie (SP), there is the Teseo Tesei Underwater and Tossing Command Group: the home of the raiders! The base is perched on a promontory.

Commander R. calmly and kindly explains to me the story of the GOI (Group of Raiders) incursors and how the commitment of his men is also oriented towards the creation of operational solutions and the improvement of the weapons supplied because "we are the heirs of those who sank about 250.000 tons of English ships during World War II" and then "we continue to swim and we are a complex integrated with our Armed Forces, otherwise we would not go far alone".

The raiders, therefore, wrote pages imported during World War II with their actions, but above all they were the pioneers of a certain type of combat that up until then did not exist: the assaults from the sea of ​​only men to ships and enemy ports . Teseo Tesei, Elios Toschi, Gino Birindelli, Emilio Bianchi and Luigi Durand de La Penne, just to mention the most famous, besides being military, were also extraordinary inventors: the Slow-Stroke Torpedo it is perhaps the most famous creation, but other inventions and improvements cannot be forgotten. Just to give some examples: the fins, the sub-model mask Pinocchio and long-life breathing apparatus.

Commander, why are the methods of the Italian Navy raiders being copied from all over the world?

The creation of the "modern" technological tools during the Second World War, or the SLC (Siluro in Lenta Corsa), commonly known as "Maiale", and the long-range breathing apparatus, allowed the raiders to be known all over the world as the creators of a new technique of underwater combat and occultly brought against the enemy ship. This has led others to equip themselves with departments similar to ours. Even today we are at the forefront of our specialty.

How are these men trained?

The ordinary course lasts one year. The operator is trained in his basic skills, then aggregated to the department but is not yet ready. Only after two years it is operational and ready for an autonomous assignment, for example as a couple leader for diving missions. However, the operator is mature only when his commander says he is ready: because the individual is central to special operations and there must necessarily be a human evaluation that goes beyond the training tables.

Commander, Defense Online readers would like to know if his men are capable of facing a hand-to-hand combat even with the white weapon. Could you please them?

Sure! Combat with bare hands and knife is contemplated in our preparation. Originally the GOI operators used Judo, then over time we came to have a "martial art" of our own.

And what is your philosophy in this regard?

Using a gun, knife or other weapon for us is the same thing: it is only the extension of our body. For example: the Thay warriors had only shield and spear, but they fought holding the center of gravity in what is now called a guard. This allowed them to be effective despite having their hands busy. We have actually coded many techniques and made our own. This allows us to be ready even in the difficult art of knife fighting. This all-Italian solution allows us to acquire combat capabilities without breaking down training excessively.

Excuse me, commander, but what exactly does that mean?

You see, the men of the GOI train and study continuously to be at the peak of their physical form and to keep abreast of the tools and techniques to be adopted. We realized with the experience that some workouts could be superimposed such as hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting. At that point a unique training method was created that allows you to do two in one.

The commander introduces me to two operational raiders who have materialized as if by magic, silently behind me: F. and A. They are athletic-looking boys but not at all like the Hollywood men. Navy Seals.

After the presentations the commander leaves me in their hands for the technical explanation of the new white weapon supplied and the operational level combat. This is why we move into the Bruno Vianini Gym, an official member of the Comsubins who died in Afghanistan, passing through a series of corridors where decorations and creations typical of Comsubin have been displayed since its origin.

Arrived at the gym, I see lined up on tatami a row of curious combat knives. But they are strange in form. Very strange.

F. is in fact the one who conceived and created, in collaboration with Extrema Ratio, the specific combat knife used by the GOI. The Italian desire to always improve that made the forerunners of the GOI great continues with the new generations. The brilliant raider has revolutionized the combat knife to allow it to be adherent and faithful to the philosophy of unarmed combat previously explained by commander R.

F. what is the name of this innovative knife?

SERE 1, acronym of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape 1.

The shape is very curious. How did it get there?

The study started from a Colt R15 platform and from there we began the elaboration and creation of the combat knife that is unique in its kind because it exploits the alignment of the arm and its natural line of force that passes between the index and the medium.

In fact we have created the handle with the same ergonomics as the butt of a firearm.

In fact, the handle has the same angle as the butt of a pistol, the internal handle protrudes between the index and middle fingers and then becomes a real blade. The shape of the tip, the double cutting edge, the cutting groove and the thickness of the blade make it a creation with a strong vocation for combat.

How do you exercise?

We have three levels of training: let's start with the 1 blue aluminum trainer. The beveled edges and the slightly rounded tip are slightly lighter than the real one, without wire. This is to avoid accidents to the person during the first acquisition phase to master the tool.

Then you go to the 2 steel trainer that reproduces exactly the weight, with the sharp tip but not sharp. The shine is desired as it mentally conditions the student and brings him closer to reality.

In the third bar we have the actual knife [lethal, then. nda]. With this there is the total breakdown of the conditioning to have the real knife in hand. 

Why break it?

We need to acquire bodily movement and adapt it to all the tools we have. The neophyte gets stuck with such a knife in his hand, but we can't afford it. At this level the techniques are first performed slowly and then gradually faster and faster [we talk about a real and sharp weapon, note]

But doesn't the survival instinct stop you?

No, because with continuous training we condition our movements to the point of being completely natural. From our ten-year studies on the subject we have found that everything falls within time and distance, which is why we must be very prepared because they are two key factors in a fight.

Being caught up in the survival instinct would lead us to almost certain death, because the body would not react in the most appropriate and functional way to combat. Therefore through these specific training we arrive at what we call "conditioned instinct".

At this point A. asks to be able to make a case in point.

The brilliance of a blade has an inhibitory effect, both cognitive and emotional, which drives the behavior towards uncontrolled reactions. Therefore, if I get used to working only with simulacra it is like always shooting blanks. This triggers processes that adapt attention to that context. If instead I find myself in the context of reality, then I no longer find myself. That's why here at GOI we get used to fighting with real knives.

I would also like to add that we respond to the concept of proportionality of the offense. We respond to the attack suffered proportionally. We don't do it for a legal fact, but for an ethical one. We are not going to apply techniques superior to what is actually required.

Do you wear this type of knife on your shoulder?

(answers F.) No. We carry it with a horizontal blade at the solar plexus or at the side with a vertical blade or with the kidneys. It is more functional for us based on our clothing and the tools we wear.

We try to be more "subtle" for practical reasons and for a variety of reasons. We have to consider that we carry 30 to the 50 kg of equipment when we are operational and we have to try and always want to be reactive. SERE 1 allows us to be.

After the explanation F. and A. show me the techniques that perform perfectly and lightly. During the execution I saw in their eyes a sudden change going from serene glances to feral looks within a few moments. I greet them and let them accompany me to the base exit but first I am lucky enough to visit the very exclusive GOI museum where there are the memorabilia and the prototypes that have helped make this body the most imitated in the world.

I pass from one window to the other, carefully observing everything and, correlating what I saw in the gym, I come to the conclusion that Italy is lucky to have men like that.

(photo: SM)