Syllabus and Learning Approach

The core values of RAT are 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 in rank. Not only does developing these traits help in combat, but can be applied to other areas of life.

Tim Twigg throwing opponent in full contact competition

Our view is that a complete self-defence system should include all aspects of combat, such as striking techniques (punches, kicks, elbow strikes, etc.), throwing and take down techniques, locking techniques, strangulation techniques, holds, escapes, weapon techniques, miscellaneous techniques (such as biting) and a whole host of others. Nothing is discounted before being tested. We generally do not believe in carrying weapons, but rather teach methods to apply combat principles to the use of everyday implements for self-defence, such as the pen, belt, brush, wheel spanner and many others.

A person joining in RAT training can expect to:

  • engage in extensive physical training to develop fitness, strength, flexibility and self-confidence,
  • mostly train outdoors,
  • perform numerous drill and practice exercises based on various scenarios,
  • solve open ended self-defence and other problems,
  • take part in a large variety of hands-on sparring drills and self-defence practice,
  • treat all ranks levels with equal respect, and
  • ask lots of questions and develop an individual approach to RAT.


RAT training in China 1998

The RAT syllabus has undergone several iterations so that it can evolve and become more useful, contemporary and effective, but the core values always form the foundation of the learning.

There is a simpler junior syllabus for children, which ends at the age of twelve. The senior syllabus consists of eighteen ranks, with multiple compulsory and elective courses to further expand and develop practitioners’ learning.

The syllabus is more structured in the early phases to help learners become accustomed to the skills required for RAT. Later stages are less structured, requiring greater proportions of sparring and creative exercises. 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. RAT is unique in this respect compared to most other martial arts, in that it will look and take on different forms for each practitioner at the higher levels. RAT students are also expected to learn other martial/combat arts in order to develop their skills, understanding and personal specialisation. Most practitioners seem to fit in well with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, MMA, Eskrima, or other combat oriented martial arts.


A strong emphasis is placed on using implements as improvised weapons, but this learning is based on the principles of the following weapons, common in South Africa:

  • stick/baton
  • knife
  • sjambok
  • panga
  • short hand stick