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Syllabus and Weapons

At the heart of RAT, practitioners believe that one must have Persistence & Determination (P&D). We even have a special course devoted entirely to the aspect of P&D. Without having completed the P&D course, students cannot advance beyond a certain rank.

Our view of a complete self-defence art is that it should include striking techniques (punches, kicks, elbow strikes, etc.), throwing techniques, locking techniques, strangulation techniques, weapon techniques and a group of miscellaneous techniques (such as biting). We generally do not believe in carrying weapons, but rather learn how to use everyday implements for self-defence.

RAT practitioners can expect to take part in a lot of physical training to develop fitness, strength, flexibility and self-confidence. And most of this training will take place outdoors in small groups in line with the very first traditional RAT classes.

Teaching and learning in RAT is based on an open learning approach, as well as a drill and practice style similar to military situations.

While there are people with different ranks, all learners including teachers are considered equal and all are considered as life-long learners. The approach is somewhat different to the conventional martial arts class, as learners are expected to ask questions and develop their own techniques in addition to what they learn in classes. These techniques and ideas are shared with the rest of the class and as such RAT is a dynamic martial art, very hard to pin down and say, “That is what RAT looks like.” Once these techniques are proven effective, they are used as part of our training regime and drilled. Not only are they drilled, but they need to be applied in sparring.


There is a Junior RAT syllabus for children aged 4-12, and a Senior syllabus for learners aged 13 and older.

Both syllabi are based on similar learning principles, but the senior syllabus is more challenging. The junior syllabus consists of and a conventional belt ranking system. Once moving up to the Senior syllabus, learners begin a new and unconventional ranking system, consisting of 18 levels.

The syllabus is structured in the early phases to help learners become accustomed to the skills and thinking required for RAT. Later stages are less structured, requiring greater proportions of sparring and creativity. Higher level learners can choose what aspect of combat interests them the most and they are expected to specialise in that area. For example, if a learner enjoys grappling, then the syllabus is created in such a way that they can develop this interest. So is unique as a martial art, in that it will look and take on different forms for each practitioner at higher levels.


A number of common weapons as found and used in South Africa are studied as part of the syllabus, but we train will train in any weapon and customise our training according to our unique geographic location. These include:

  • Stick/baton
  • Knife
  • Sjambok
  • Panga
  • Hand stick
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 October 2009 21:49