View Full Version : The Combat Roll?

April 6, 2011, 12:19 AM
Ok sorry or 2 threads in a night, but I am REALLY wondering about this. I love the quote from Hondo in SWAT where he says they only roll in John Woo movies. I am just wondering if there would be ANY case where this is an acceptable tactic? Maybe this belongs in the live fire excersise thread since they do it in training in the movie? But seriously...does anyone actually do this?

I will say that I understand a roll while jumping from up high. It does actually take the load off...that is why parkour runners roll. But we are talking about a combat roll. Does it make sense? I assume this is a product of Hollywood? I mean I practice "combat rolls" during jiu jitsu so that I learn how to fall. This is an agility training thing though, but does it have something to do with putting you off balance and having you come up to shoot during training and that is it? Or is there some mysterious reason that is beyond me atm?

April 6, 2011, 01:13 AM
I have no idea if it;s legit or ever has been, but when did a roll become a "combat" roll? :D

I too come form a jiu-jitsu background, albeit the Brazilian kind, and the roll is used to transfer energy, absorb impact and return you to an athletic stance quickly. Don't really know how well that applies to fighting with a gun.

April 6, 2011, 02:17 AM
I find that combat rolls deplete the stamina meter too quickly to be of much use. They might be buffed in the next update patch, though.

Double Naught Spy
April 6, 2011, 06:35 AM
I thought "combat rolls" were what donuts were called when they are eaten just before SWAT serves warrants on houses where they have to perform dynamic entries. It just seems much more realistic than the gymnastic silliness of the SWAT movie.

April 6, 2011, 06:59 AM
I prefer the Cinnamon Roll.

April 6, 2011, 07:46 AM
Rolls are good for training agility. We've done them in every martial art I've studied. They are also good for physically clearing an obstacle or gap (my diving roll is currently about 16 feet).

Practically, the roll is about as useful as carrying a 9" nail around in your pocket. Hey... some day you may be installing gutters and be one nail short. But you really shouldn't go into a situation expecting to need to use it. That being said, it's not BAD to train them. Do what you want. Just don't expect to be using combat rolls in tactical situations anytime soon.


Glenn E. Meyer
April 6, 2011, 09:01 AM
I used to do rolls when I did judo in my ancient youth. I prefer now the combat flop. :D

I suppose if someone did one I would find it amusing and waste time laughing.

April 6, 2011, 09:14 AM
Icant imagine a roll being all that usefull, at least not from a standing position. Maybe in an "oh ****!" situation where you are already in a squatting position, get surprised by the BG, and need to clear some small distance to cover before doing anything else.

Let's say (dontcha love those made up scenarios that always start with let's say?)', let's say you're out in the field and heavily engaged in practicing a Combat Crap when a BG pops up from behind a large shipping crate and starts tossing lead your way. The only effective tactic to disengage from your Combat Crap is a quick sideways hopping rolling manuever to cover behind the large cluster of 55 gallon rocket fuel drums. Otherwise known as The Combat Roll. Once behind cover you can finish clearing (ahem) yourself from the CC, and proceed to engage the BG.

Highly effective defensive tactic under the right conditions.

April 6, 2011, 11:15 AM
I used to do rolls when I did judo in my ancient youth

Me too, did this then went to tae kwon do for a bit. Boxing was the most fun tho.

April 6, 2011, 11:32 AM
You do that "combat roll" at my range you'll be picking out prickly bear cactus for a while.

Glenn E. Meyer
April 6, 2011, 11:36 AM
I have scar on my leg where I rolled into a pillar at the dojo and split my shin open. I hobbled to the side and the sensei told me to bow out. I told him that if I let go of my leg I would spurt blood all over the very expensive, spring mounted rice straw mat from Japan.

He saw the logic and that and I was forgiven for violating the mystic nature of the martial arts.

April 6, 2011, 11:36 AM
On the field of combat, rolls pay a role only here and there and usually when someones putting hot lead in your area and your diving for cover. The other place they are used is after firing from a position you will at times roll right or left to change position so you dont get your head shot off by being at the same place too long.

Combat rolls are more of a exception than the usual.

In the civilian world... I dont see a lot of use for them.

April 6, 2011, 01:20 PM
I'm just being practical here, as I push the cart downhill;

While you're rolling, your safety is OFF, or ON?

Finger OFF the trigger, or ON.

Assuming it's safety OFF, finger OFF, your 're going to roll, then

immediately shoot, like we've all seen a million times in the movies.

So you roll, recover balance, while acquiring target, aiming, and placing your

finger back on the trigger to shoot-something tells me that this is going to

take more time than it does in the movies, from a practical standpoint.

You can't have your finger on the trigger while rolling, because the muscle

contractions while your body is tensing to absorb the shock of you hitting the

ground is going to make you ND.

(UNLESS you're Mel Gibson, John Wayne, or Vic Morrow...)

April 6, 2011, 01:36 PM
As a teen and in my 20s - we called them "cop rolls." It is what Crochett on Miami Vice did in every gun fight :D:D

April 6, 2011, 04:15 PM
Wait, didn't I see Donatello and Leonardo do those, but they called them California Rolls? Bit different being chopped at with axes, though.

Seriously, if I tried to roll on anything, parts of me are going to break and others be left behind. Not happening. I agree with the "combat flop", aka FAT GUY INCOMING!

April 6, 2011, 04:58 PM
In my training movement requires return fire. No matter how I move or for what reason, I should be shooting back. The theory is that giving the bad guy your back or in this case your whole body to shoot at, without giving them a dose of duress causing return fire, is a mistake.

Move to cover while shooting.
Create or maintain distance while shooting.
Advance while shooting.
Retreat while shooting.

Kinda hard to commando roll while shooting LOL.

April 6, 2011, 05:01 PM
My Gun Fu is stronger than yours?

April 6, 2011, 05:53 PM
Works for the Spetsnaz.


April 6, 2011, 06:03 PM
Didn't Mel Gibson do a big combat barrel roll while firing in the movie 'Lethal Weapon 1' ? :D

Deaf Smith
April 6, 2011, 06:18 PM
Now are we talking a form of Ninja roll where you step forward and bend over while rolling on your shoulder and coming back up into a one knee kneeling stance?

Yea I've done it in TKD classes, but I tell you with full gear, loaded gun in hand, handgun in holster, mags, butt pack, etc.... it ain't so easy.

You will end up like Cmdr. Taggart in Galaxy Quest.

Now on the other hand if you are talking about shooting from prone and rolling to another location to fire, that has been done many a time in real combat and it has worked to keep the other side from zeroing in on ones location.


April 6, 2011, 07:30 PM
The only example of a "combat roll" I have seen, outside of the fantasy realm of hollywood, involves rolling in one direction or another prior to moving from a prone firing position. The concept being that when firing from a prone position behind cover and / or concealment, rolling to the left or right might give you a better chance of not being seen / shot due to the fact that you "pop up" in a slightly offset position, and force a shooter that may have your position "dialed in" to adjust their fire on your "new" location. If you do it fast enough, and far enough away from the baddie, it may give you another half a second to get from where you were to where you want to be, BEHIND COVER.

The only problem is that it requires energy better expended on hauling your arse to a nice piece of cover, it becomes slow and inefficient depending on your kit, and it becomes less and less effective as you close the distance to the baddies.

I neither used it, or taught it, as the way I look at it, if I am going to leave cover, I am going to do so on my feet, moving as fast as possible to the next piece of cover, and if I want to offset my position before I move, I will do so only behind cover and simply use a low crawl.

I DID use many of the same falling / rolling techniques taught in Judo / Aikido / Jiu jitsu, however, never INTENTIONALLY.

IMO, the only "combat roll" worthy of learning and actually using consists of the ability to roll out of an unintended fall / trip, which happens in training AND combat far more often than one would like to believe. Climbing in and out of windows, falling off / out of roofs or helo's, tripping while hauling arse through a street / alley / compound. These things happen, and if you have the ability to "roll with it" and pop right back up on your feet and keep moving, you are less susceptible to injury, and getting shot in the arse....which is good.

April 6, 2011, 08:33 PM
I call it falling with a spectacular recovery. I just saw the new modern twist. I believe it was on Demolition Man. When both Stalone and Snipes met up after getting thawed, Stalone does this flip in the air to land on his back and start shooting. I have NO clue what purpose that served, but I guess the stunt coordinator or director thought it looked cool.


April 6, 2011, 09:08 PM
I saw in one of Michael Yon's Dispatches from Iraq a couple years back where a Battalion Commander was on a foot chase and did a flip/roll across an opening ..... it got him shot in the leg, IIRC. I looked for it again, and can't find it.... maybe someone else's Google Fu is better than mine....

The only "combat roll" I'm doing is combatting the rolls trying to show up above my belt line......:D

April 6, 2011, 10:54 PM
He was shot in the leg mid-stride, then did a roll to come up firing. It worked well enough, in that he didn't get shot again, and was able to return fire.

April 6, 2011, 10:57 PM
raimus, you have a link?

I remembered reading that, but could not find it...... great coverage by Mr. Yon!

April 7, 2011, 08:03 AM
I rolled my duty vehicle once. Took the wind right out of my sail!! The seatbelt saved my life, no doubt!! Airbag deployed, but I was so braced for the impact the ab never touched me.

April 7, 2011, 09:01 PM
so glad that people see this the same way as I do. I have seen it so many times and I was wondering what is this? Where did it come from? Nobody does this. Only thing I can see is if you accidentally fall it would be nice to know how to fall properly so that you can get back to your feet as fast as possible. Like I said before...in my Brazillian Jiu Jitsu class, the only reason we do it is so you can train your agility and how to land from a moving position.

April 7, 2011, 09:09 PM
Combat Rolls are rarely fun... You have way too much gear on, pre-camel back the canteens would dig your back really nicely.. If your stuff not attached right things go missing and its overall better avoided...

Double Naught Spy
April 7, 2011, 09:46 PM
He was shot in the leg mid-stride, then did a roll to come up firing.

Why do I have the feeling he was shot and didn't do a roll by design, but tucked his fall as it taught by various disciplines to lessen the impact and he was able to return to upright and fire was a bit fortuitous?

Think about it. How many folks have trained for the off chase of getting hit in the leg to then go immediately into a combat roll?

It worked well enough, in that he didn't get shot again, and was able to return fire.

Lots of guys only get shot once and don't do combat rolls. There is no way to know if his tumbling had anything to do with not getting shot or not. There is no way to know if the first shot was even actually aimed at him. Given the reports on how well many of the opposition shoot, he may not have even been the target.

It is really hard to read too much into the incident. It isn't a normal bullet avoidance technique you see being practiced/utilized with any frequency when soldiers come under fire. I, for one, have never seen it used in any of the documentation from any of the conflicts. If it was such a good technique, then I think we would be seeing it used regularly, but as BGutzman pointed out, there are so many things that can make them turn out poorly.

Maybe combat rolls work. Maybe pink boxers and flipflops are the ultimate combat uniform. :D
“Any soldier who goes into battle against the Taliban in pink boxers and flip-flops has a special kind of courage,”

April 7, 2011, 11:06 PM
I thought at first you were talking about the roll. Nutnfancy says it's usless.

April 9, 2011, 04:12 PM
Like this?

I think I will pass.

Glenn Bartley
April 9, 2011, 05:28 PM
Like this?

I think I will pass.

From what I can see of what those rather unwise men are performing, I will also take a pass. First of all they are doing a roll with pistol already in hand. Sooner or later one of them will come up with a muzzle full of dirt and blow the barrel up when he fires. Secondly, when they roll, the firearms covers way too many things other than the intended target and they have no way of knowing what it is covering in a street type situation. Thirdly, it would be very easy to do that just a bit off and have your finger winding up on the trigger and the gun going off when you did not intend for it to do so. Fourth, what was the purpose of the roll - was it to bring you out from concealment into the other guy's field of fire where you are an easier target? They could have fired from concealment, in the reeds, then run to the other side, and again fired from concealment much faster than the roll out into the open, stand, then fire thing they did. What truly tactical shooter runs out of a concealed area, INTO THE OPEN, TO ENGAGE??? Finally, doing it on dirt (or on mats) is one thing - doing anything like that on concrete is one heck of a difference; I know due to several experiences with people who resisted arrest during my career.

It may be cool under controlled circumstances but very likely would be mostly useless against someone shooting at you who is a decent shot. By the time you are up on your feet and firing, you would probably have several bullets in your body. I would like to see someone do this during a Simunition exercise against a capable opponent.

As for the guys being less than safe in what they were doing, they added insult to injury because I did not hear anyone correct the guy who turned on the camera gun still drawn. He may have thought he was cool, I think he is an accident waiting to happen as I think about the whole maneuver they were practicing.

I will admit, it possibly could save your life if it startled your opponent enough (then again so could doing jumping jacks or dropping your pants) but mostly it seems to be potentially too dangerous to others than your targetted bad guy so I will pass it up. Besides, I am fat and old and wiser and not about to do things like that even though in my dumber youth I may have tried it.

All the best,
Glenn B

April 9, 2011, 07:00 PM
The consensus seems to be that "combat rolls" are mostly movie fiction. Seems about right to me...

April 9, 2011, 07:40 PM
A combat roll is the wartime version of a dinner roll...

April 12, 2011, 05:39 PM
Put it this way:

I'd rather be shooting AT the guy rolling, than BE the guy rolling.

I don't care how many movie stunts claim different.

Deaf Smith
April 12, 2011, 06:48 PM

Sure hope a skeet shooter isn't shoot'en at them.

Here is a test guys. Get a worn out basket ball and a stick with a long string tied to it. Go to some outdoor range were a berm will allow you to set that ball up high and use the stick to prop it up.

Go back 10 yards and try to hit that ball as it rolls down the hill.

Easy? Actually yea it is.

And I'd love to ask those 'commados' in that youtube movie if they have ever actually used that ninja roll in combat.


Glenn Bartley
April 12, 2011, 08:41 PM
Put it this way:

I'd rather be shooting AT the guy rolling, than BE the guy rolling.

I don't care how many movie stunts claim different. Well said.

April 16, 2011, 11:41 AM
I always thought of combat roles as something a martial arts training move that Hollywood adopted to demonstrate a character's training and experience. Over time, viewers adopted it for themselves.

It is a similar phenomenon to Hollywood dictating firearms be held so that they are seen on the screen/TV, and viewers adopting those holds, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Deaf Smith
April 16, 2011, 05:55 PM
I always thought of combat roles as something a martial arts training move that Hollywood adopted to demonstrate a character's training and experience. Over time, viewers adopted it for themselves.

It is. The combat roll is taught in many a martial arts school. But I've never ever seen it used in any kind of sparring competition (just like the ninja back flip.)

I might see where if you were running and you realized you were about to trip and fall then a roll to bring yourself back up and stable as fast as you can would have its place.

But if anyone here thinks you are dodging a bullet and messing the aim up of a shooter then you are kidding yourself.


April 17, 2011, 06:07 AM
I think combat rolls are great.

They brighten up my day with a good laugh when you see someone do one. They're only good for when you have all your gear on trying to get out the back of a 7 ton and you fall. That too will bring a good laugh.

Equally useless is the 'combat slide' and 'combat dive.' It was always fun watching the new guys run as fast as they could, then dive and slide to their position while training them on movement to or from contact. I'm sure many of you have heard it but slow is smooth and smooth is fast, right?!

Deaf Smith
April 17, 2011, 10:39 PM
Speaking of the 'combat dive', I am sure most of you here when you were much younger did what was called a 'belly buster' dive at the pool.

Remember how it felt hitting the water? Guess how it feels hitting the cement floor!


April 17, 2011, 11:03 PM
Speaking from an Infantryman's prospective, no, there is no such thing as a combat roll. When your wearing 110 pounds of gear rolling really isn't an option. Even if you weren't wearing that much gear, I see no tactical need to roll anywhere, the exception being from a rooftop or something.

April 17, 2011, 11:05 PM
Oh yeah, and, they way I learned it was, fast is slow, slow is smooth, smooth is silk, and silk is panties!:D

April 17, 2011, 11:06 PM
I combat rolled exactly once while in the big Sandbox.

I fell of the back of a five ton while climbing up into it and had the prescence of mind to tuck and roll before I hit the pavement.

April 18, 2011, 12:32 AM

The "combat roll" is really good for one thing only. It helps keep the mortician
solvent. ANYTHING that keeps you from firing a weapon when you need it, is referred to as a "Widow Maker". ANYTHING that increases you chances to put a bullet where it needs to go is called Friend.

The analogy I used when I was Instructing firearm use was:

You are just like a fighter pilot with a parachute. You wear it every day when you go to work. You hope and pray that you will never have to use it. On the chance that you will, you go to school to learn the proper way to use that tool. For if the time ever comes that you must use it, it is the only tool you have that may let you go home that night. You owe it to your wife and children that you are proficient in the use of that tool.

April 18, 2011, 12:56 AM
Well said big bob, I might have to steal that analog from you, if thats ok!

April 18, 2011, 04:32 PM

For the best rolls combat or otherwise....