What is CQC? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

Thanks to the Metal Gear Solid series since Snake Eater, CQC, or Close Quarters Combat, has given players an exposure to another aspect of combat for war and on the streets. While Metal Gear and other war-related games have featured some forms of hand-to-hand combat in the past, CQC takes it to a reasonably tactical realism showing that you don’t always need to use a high-powered rifle to terminate an enemy, or use fancy Jackie Chan moves.

Close Quarters Combat is when you’re close to the enemy, you neutralize them as quickly and effectively as possible. Depending on the situation, it can be done with a gun, knife, strikes, takedowns, and other grappling techniques. It’s in-game and real-life applicabilities can be used in all kinds of environments whether it would be the jungle, desert, the club, or schoolyard. While this is never emphasized in pop culture or other forms of media, guns can jam and it is not uncommon on the field, so if in the event that happens to an opponent, you have the upper hand if you have skills in CQC. In addition, guns run out of bullets and need time to reload so a CQC master can take advantage of that opportunity and instantly take out the enemy. It all comes down to reaction time, and that can help you in the field or in the game.

The History of CQC

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

  • System: PlayStation 2
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Kojima Studios
  • Release Dates: Nov 17, 2004 (US) Dec 16, 2004 (JP)

Considering that some of the moves in Metal Gear aren’t something flashy you see out of a Hong Kong or Thai movie, Volgin and Ocelot thought CQC was a form of Judo since it became an Olympic sport in 1964 when Snake Eater takes place. Since it uses throws, trips, clinches, and joint locks in order to neutralize hostile combatants, it is natural to assume it could be Judo. In some ways, you can call CQC a hybrid martial art made for the most intense situations. In an athletic definition, you can reasonably compare it to Mixed Martial Arts. While grappling plays a significant role in MMA competitions, it has rules and rounds that do not apply on the streets or in the battlefield. In war, there are rules of engagement but depending on the nature of certain missions, police officers or elite military units may need to capture their targets alive, and CQC is a skill necessary in getting that job done.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater trailer

Various military units around the world have their forms of striking range combat. The Israeli Army has Krav Maga and the Russian Army uses Sambo. While some of these fighting styles do share similarities to CQC, what about CQC as MGS fans know it? Combat historians trace it back to William E. Fairbairn, a royal military police officer who was stationed in Shanghai between both World Wars. Due to injuries he sustained in several altercations during his time in Shanghai, he wanted to develop a fighting style strictly for self-defense. During his military service, Fairbairn cross-trained in boxing, wrestling, Savate (a style of kickboxing from France), Judo, Japanese Jujutsu, and Kung Fu.

As a result, he put his experiences and training to create Defendu for police officers stationed in Shanghai. Later on, he would also develop anti-riot units and teach Defendu as a means of riot control. Then when World War II broke out, Fairbairn would modify Defendu for battlefield conditions, which would then pave way for CQC. While Defendu was used for self-defense and to restrain a street thug, CQC would be more for offensive purposes in a heated conflict zone. Throughout the war, elite senior officers of allied nations (especially that of the United States) would seek the tutelage of Fairbairn.

Realism of CQC in Metal Gear Solid

It is undeniable that many of the moves portrayed have a sense of realism to it and that is the appeal of CQC. But how real is it? For starters, the stance Big Boss assumes in MGS3 where he holds a knife in one hand and a pistol in the other isn’t ideal for real-life combat and is meant for show. Despite what movies and games can show audiences, guns, no matter what their size, are rather powerful to the point you need both hands to grip it to keep it steady when you fire. If you don’t, the kickback will be powerful enough to hurt you without 100% stability. While the game attempts to justify this stance, experts unanimously agree that it isn’t the best way to approach any kind of fight.

However, later installments of Metal Gear remove this element and bring a mixed bag of what works and what is for show. But if there is one thing that martial arts have been criticized for, has been that it is ineffective in fighting multiple opponents. But CQC in MGS does a great job on how one man can take out a small army along with the right skills and training, alone. If you have an enemy combatant in a chokehold, surrounding enemies will be hesitant to fire at you.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

  • System: PS3
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Kojima Studios
  • Release Dates: June 12, 2008

Metal Gear Solid 4 expands the CQC in instances when holding up enemy soldier after pointing a gun at them at point blank range, it allows the player to pat them down while they have their hands up to take items. In MGS2 and Twin Snakes, while you can hold a hostile up by pulling a gun on them, the only way to get items is to point the gun at their head or crotch to make them drop it. But in MGS4, holding up enemy soldiers takes a comedic approach by giving players the option of knocking them out by grabbing their crotches (and if you try this on a female soldier, just see what happens). Similarly in MGS3, if you grab an opponent from behind, you can either get them to speak by pointing a knife to their throat, slitting them, slamming them down with a Judo throw, or choking them out.

Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker

  • System: PSP, PS3
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Kojima Studios
  • Release Dates: April 29, 2010 (Japan), Jun 8, 2010 (US)

Peace Walker simplifies and extends CQC to comedic levels but still gets the job done. This time, you get to throw your opponents up against walls, trees, or against other opponents for more damage. Since interrogating enemies while holding them was rather difficult in Snake Eater and Guns of the Patriots, Peace Walker prompts up an options screen with what you can do in that position such as interrogating them, letting them go, or choking them out. It also introduces the multiple opponent takedown systems if enemy soldiers surround you. What some martial arts enthusiasts appreciate in this game is that whenever Big Boss or Solid Snake choke out an enemy, they isolate one arm so they can’t reach for a weapon demonstrating a sense of dedication to realism. For wrestling fans reading, the grip of this choke is similar to how a wrestler named Taz, who uses this move as the Tazmission, his finisher.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

  • System: Multiplatform
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Kojima Studios
  • Release Dates: Sept 1, 2015 (US), Sept 2, 2015 (Japan)

With the fifth game, it further refines the CQC system in both style and substance. This installment properly gives it a fluid striking system while it was rather stiff and useless in previous games. As opposed to using flashy jumping spin kicks in fighting games, in MGSV, you can set up your knock out punch with a leg kick or a body shot in order to lower the opponent’s posture to get his chin open for it. What many martial arts and combat enthusiasts have given praise to in relation to that is when Venom Snake throws that punch, he throws it with rotation concentrated onto his shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hips for maximum power, and to allow the knuckles of his index and middle finger to make an impact.

Realistically, if you try to punch with any other knuckle or any part of the head beyond the jawline, it can damage your hand. In addition, it also allows players to disarm opponents or properly counter a knife attack. So if you find yourself held at gunpoint, you can use CQC to immediately act and take the hostile’s weapon and fire it back at them.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain trailer

CQC in other Games

EA Sports UFC

  • System: PS4, Xbox One
  • Publisher: EA
  • Developer: EA
  • Release Dates: June 17, 2014

As previously shared, CQC and MMA do share foundational similarities with being hybrid forms of martial arts, and for its emphasis on takedowns, chokes, and joint locks. In both video games and reality, MMA is meant for one-on-one competition and no weapons. If in the instance a fighter locks an armbar on another fighter, a tap ends the match in both real life competition and in a UFC video game with no arms getting broken. In a non-competitive hostile situation, the moment you apply that same technique, the purpose is to break the arm and not get a tap. The same can be said for applying choke holds.

EA Sports UFC trailer

In the UFC game, if you don’t escape, you tap while with Big Boss, the purpose is to immediately put them to sleep. In addition, while both emphasize on throws and takedowns, the purpose of takedowns in MMA is to establish a dominant position but in war or on the streets, there are no mats to protect anyone from getting thrown. If you land full force on concrete, you’re instantly out or likely face other injuries that are going to require immediate medical attention. Last, MMA has time limits and rounds while a real fight can go last less than 30 seconds, which is masterfully demonstrated in MGSV.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

  • System: Multiplatform
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Treyarch
  • Release Dates: Nov 6, 2015

While Metal Gear Solid popularized CQC, other games that are centered on warfare have progressively adopted their own distinguishing CQC systems. One instance is with the famous Call of Duty series, which demonstrates CQC as a more team-oriented SWAT tactic as opposed to being used for stealth. Some of the training levels in select installments of Call of Duty allow players to learn how to raid in indoor situations by kicking down doors, firing at a respectable distance, and setting up barges with flash-bang grenades. In fact, this is one of the tactics developed by Fairbairn when he developed CQC.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Trailer

Final Thoughts

The fact that CQC is presented in a manner that takes little effort with maximum efficiency is what makes it distinctively appealing. While not flashy, Metal Gear Solid does a great job of making it look exciting and dramatic. When we watch it, we feel we can do it compared to what Tony Jaa does is what makes it cool. Whether it would be in a military training facility, a traditional martial arts dojo, or an MMA gym, we can probably learn some aspects of CQC and be just like Big Boss. While some of us may not be cut out to be elite soldiers, it is certain that we do feel the need to learn some form of self-defense in our lives.

Some places will teach you basic hand-to-hand combat for a competition like Tae Kwon Do and an increasing number of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools, others will also teach what to do when weapons are involved such as Krav Maga. If you can’t attend and/or afford classes full time, try to attend an occasional seminar at a local school or if your local law enforcement agency or military installation offers them.

If you’re interested in training, be sure to do your research, if not, then that’s cool, too. As someone who has nearly 25 years of martial arts experience, if you feel the need to try these moves when you mess around, please do it in a safe environment and make sure no one gets hurt, and should idealistically be practiced in a professionally supervised environment. If in the instance you are training with weapons, please use replicas and/or use proper protective gear. By putting in the practice like you do with your controller, if you find yourself in a confrontation you can’t avoid, you can come out on top like Big Boss.

Metal-Gear-Solid-HD-Collection-Wallpaper What is CQC? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]


Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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