FWIW. This was posted in www.knifeforums.com
, "Way of the Modern Warrior" forum. There have been a couple ofl threads on SCAR with most responses negative. But, this response seems the most "authoritative". Also, RE: Vunak. Those who train with him include, as noted in this response, some SEALS who sought training on their own. The major point, which is also reported in some books on special forces training, is the Spec-ops folks are more concerned with weaponry and tactics and their time and training reflects that. The poster is "Belesarius".
Since a little controversy is the spice of life, I will make my first foray into the "Modern Warrior" forum and bore everyone with a lengthy treatise concerning two of the martial arts world's major controversies: Jerry Peterson's Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary System (SCARS) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. If my comments do nothing but incite debate and discussion, I will have accomplished my strategic aims.
As a former special warfare operator, I feel compelled to write in and make a few comments regarding the legitimacy of Jerry "The Deadliest Man Alive!" Peterson's claims to be a "shadow-ops guru." Perhaps due to fear of losing the advertising dollars brought in by Peterson's aggressive marketing campaign, many martial arts magazines seem to be reluctant to print any negative commentary on SCARS, HCS, or any of Peterson's other gimmicks. This is unfortunate, I think, because SCARS is not the invincible fighting system that it is claimed to be. Disturbingly, the recent BLACK BELT Magazine article was a glowing endorsement of the SCARS system.
At one time, SCARS was indeed the adopted hand-to-hand fighting system of the SEAL Teams. Please bear with me as I qualify the "official SEAL fighting system" title. The Teams are constantly bombarded by offers from various martial artists who want to teach their respective systems to the military (in exchange for lucrative government contracts and the opportunity to add the name of a prestigious and mysterious commando unit to their instructor resume). For all of the Petersons, there are also a number of instructors who have brought their skills into the specwar community and then quietly went on their way. Additionally, many Team Guys choose to pursue the arts on their own time (JKD and Wing Chun are very popular).
Why isn't there more standardization? I think it's because the actual cases of style-distinctive unarmed combat techniques being employed on the modern battlefield are virtually nonexistent: there is virtually no way to tell what works and what does not. Most of the martial arts world is based on conjecture: traditional systems generally evolved for specific threats, cultures, and technologies and have rarely been exposed to the "global marketplace." Also, please keep in mind that SEALs and other special warfare dudes fight as members of a team: any adopted system would have to incorporate the scenario wherein two or more SEALs pummel a single enemy soldier. It may not be heroic, but this is the reality. In a dynamic CQB scenario, an unarmed bad guy (or unknown) will be "rendered safe" by one or more operators while a third provides MP5- or M4-armed overwatch security. Most other units follow the same protocol, the exception being the SAS: the Brits' corporate policy apparently is to shoot unarmed bad guys and move on.
The military specwar community is as concerned with preparing its troops for common street- or bar-fights as the NFL is: both groups assume that their respective "players" are tough and smart enough to take care of themselves "off the field" and can concentrate on training for the Big Game. Ironically, the military personnel who have a well-defined need for hand-to-hand combat skills---Strike pilots who have been shot down and find themselves alone and poorly armed behind enemy lines---get very little training in this area.
But I digress. To my knowledge, Peterson was a San Shou Kung Fu instructor before he grew a goattee, started buying black suits and turtlenecks, and became an enigmatic "shadow-ops guru." Despite his claim of having killed four NVA soldiers in a single, apocalyptic hand-to-hand encounter (?), the pre-SCARS Peterson was fairly undistinguished within the martial arts community. As far as his military record goes, he never served with a commando unit. Peterson did have one clear-cut advantage over his peers, however: one of his senior students was an active-duty SEAL in the Navy's counterterrorist unit. This operator brought Peterson into the community (years later, this same individual would leave the Teams and market his own fighting system under a similar acronym. At some point, he and Peterson supposedly started suing each other over royalty payments).
Using some basic Kung Fu techniques and some hot buzzwords from neuro-linguistic programming, Peterson established SCARS and began instructing a cadre of SEALs based at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California. Some SEALs loved SCARS and some thought it was a total waste of time. Everyone realized that weaponcraft and tactical work was much more important. Since the techniques would probably be used to expeditiously handle defenseless prisoners while heavily armed SEALs provided security, SCARS was generally considered to be good for morale and "better than nothing" as a fighting system.
As time went on, the Gracies and Duane Dieter exposed some major problems within Peterson's system. To reflect the increasing particpation of other arts, the name of the SEAL hand-to-hand combat instructor course was changed from SCARS Instructor to Combat Fighting Course (CFC) Instructor. Additionally, many formerly pro-SCARS SEALs were bitterly disappointed when Peterson decided to "cash in" on commercialism and used the SEAL name to sell videotapes. This system panders to the worst of the "Walter Mitty" wannabes and amateur warrior-posers and has never been proved in the advertised type of real-world mission (contrary to Peterson's claims, the SEALs do not normally find themselves in any hand-to-hand combat situation, let alone in the "unarmed behind enemy lines with a hundred-and-fifty-pound rucksack, a bad case of dysentery, and exhaustion from having gone without food, water, or sleep for three days" scenario that SCARS cites as a common mission profile). Peterson and his friends are successful because they have cleverly accessed the kind of latent, collective "heroic warrior" mythology and vigilante escapism that all of us are occasionally guilty of indulging. The fact that the Teams are currenlt in fashion as Hollywood tough guys has helped Peterson enormously.
To be fair, I should add that SCARS was chosen back in the Dark Ages, that terrible period that existed before the UFC, before reality-based (but not quite reality!) fighting tournaments, before any other multi-discipline combative laboratories existed that could be used to gain insight into some of the general truths about real-world unarmed combat. A witchcraft mentality once pervaded the martial arts, wherein a murky background of ancient warrior champions, Jedi Knights, shadow assassins, secret techniques, and mystical death matches were used to give authority and credence to systems that had never known the hard edge of war. But this is another story...<<