Combat (French for fight) is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or unarmed (not using weapons). Combat is sometimes resorted to as a method of self-defense, or can be used as a tool to impose one's will on others. An instance of combat can be a stand-alone confrontation or a small part of a much larger violent conflict. Instances of combat may also be benign and recreational, as in the cases of combat sports and mock combat.
Combat may comply with, or be in violation of local or international laws regarding conflict. Examples of rules include the Geneva Conventions (covering the treatment of people in war), medieval chivalry, the Marquess of Queensberry rules (covering boxing) and several forms of combat sports.
Hand-to-hand combat (melee) is combat at very close range, attacking the opponent with the body (striking, kicking, strangling, etc.) and/or with a melee weapon (knives, swords, batons, etc.), as opposed to a ranged weapon.
Hand-to-hand combat can be further divided into three sections depending on the distance and positioning of the combatants:
Military combat has always been between two or more opposing military forces in warfare. Military combat situations can involve multiple groups, involving guerilla groups, insurgents, domestic and/or foreign governments. A military conflict is known either as a battle or a war, depending on the size of the fighting and exactly which geographical areas in which the war/battle occurs. Combat effectiveness has always demanded that the personnel maintain strategic preparedness by being sufficiently trained, armed, equipped, and funded to carry out combat operations in the unit to which they are assigned. Warfare falls under the laws of war, which govern its purposes and conduct, and protect the rights of combatants and non-combatants.
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO Standardization Agency AAP-6 – Glossary of terms and definitions, p. 80
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