• Sgt. Juan Jackson, of Tacoma, Wash., with the 493rd Military Police Company, is nominated winner against Staff Sgt. James Thornton, of Inman, S.C., with the 323rd Engineer Company, at the modern Army combatives tournament during the combined Regional Best Warrior competition hosted by the 412th and 416th Theater Engineer Commands at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, April 30. Both Jackson and Thornton won first place in the noncommissioned officer category for their respective engineer commands.

    NCOs Brawl to the Best

    Sgt. Juan Jackson, of Tacoma, Wash., with the 493rd Military Police Company, is nominated winner against Staff Sgt. James Thornton, of Inman, S.C., with the 323rd Engineer Company, at the modern Army combatives tournament during the combined Regional...

  • Sgt. Juan Jackson, of Tacoma, Wash., with the 493rd Military Police Company, grapples with Staff Sgt. James Thornton, of Inman, S.C., with the 323rd Engineer Company, at the modern Army combatives tournament during the combined Regional Best Warrior competition hosted by the 412th and 416th Theater Engineer Commands at Fort McCoy, Wis., April 30. Both Jackson and Thornton won first place in the noncommissioned officer category for their respective engineer commands.

    NCOs Brawl to the Best

    Sgt. Juan Jackson, of Tacoma, Wash., with the 493rd Military Police Company, grapples with Staff Sgt. James Thornton, of Inman, S.C., with the 323rd Engineer Company, at the modern Army combatives tournament during the combined Regional Best Warrior...

  • Sgt. Juan Jackson, of Tacoma, Wash., with the 493rd Military Police Company, grapples with Staff Sgt. James Thornton, of Inman, S.C., with the 323rd Engineer Company, at the modern Army combatives tournament during the combined Regional Best Warrior competition hosted by the 412th and 416th Theater Engineer Commands at Fort McCoy, Wis., April 30. Both Jackson and Thornton won first place in the noncommissioned officer category for their respective engineer commands.

    NCOs Brawl to the Best

    Sgt. Juan Jackson, of Tacoma, Wash., with the 493rd Military Police Company, grapples with Staff Sgt. James Thornton, of Inman, S.C., with the 323rd Engineer Company, at the modern Army combatives tournament during the combined Regional Best Warrior...

FORT McCOY, Wis. -- Best Warrior Soldiers stood nose-to-nose, toe-to-toe ready to face off. Competitors at the end of day three were bloody and bruised and that was before they even began to fight. Twenty-seven Soldiers fought and only two champions could rein. Soldiers saved the talk and let the mat decide who it would be.

For the noncommissioned officer category, that would be 416th Theater Engineer Command's Sgt. Juan Jackson, a corrections specialist with the 493rd Military Police Company from Rancho Cucamonga, California, who fought fellow Soldiers to win first place for the noncommissioned officers category of the Modern Army Combatives Program event during the 412th and 416th Combined Theater Engineer Command Best Warrior Competition at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, April 30.

Jackson bested the 412th TEC's Staff Sgt. James Thorton to win in the final round of the combatives event of the competition.

Thornton, a combat engineer with 323rd Engineer Company, 391st Engineer Battalion, fought and won multiple rounds before his final bout was excited to be a contestant. He may not have been victorious in the combatives event, but he did take home the title of 412th TEC's Best Warrior for the NCO category.

"I've been in the Army for 12 years and I wanted to do the competition," he said.

Thornton, of Inman, S.C., had the more years in the military than most competitors, but still felt his experiences didn't translate well to this particular competition.

"As a combat engineer, I get really in depth in the engineer tasks," he said. "But this is just a broad range of everything in the Army. I'm not going to say you have to start from scratch, but you have to restudy everything because a lot of it you lose because you don't use it."

Thorton was only beaten by Jackson, who ended up taking home the title of Best Warrior, NCO category for the 416th TEC.

During the final bout, the competitors were not aware of their overall point standings. It was only by chance the two would-be Best NCOs ended up squaring off on the mat, but it was Jackson's proficiency that led him to be the champion of this event.

Jackson is not a stranger to the mat. As a Muay Thai fighter in the 170- pound weight class, he has four welterweight amateur fights including three knockouts.

Muay Thai is a Philippine martial art form of kickboxing, which also uses knees and elbows to strike your opponent, Jackson said.

"I like to fight, that's my hobby. The combatives should be my strong point, but I'm not a ground guy," said Jackon, referring to the Army event focusing on submissions and grappling rather than the striking matches he is used to in his hobby.

Jackson has only recently been exposed to the MAC-P fighting style. "I went through level-one combatives a few weeks before this
competition."

It was his hobby that helped him gain valuable points for his overall score at the CBWC.

"My training helped to prepare me to be able to conduct these exercises," said Jackson. "I knew without practice I wouldn't be able to perform with any kind of proficiency."

Jackson knew his martial arts alone couldn't win the Best Warrior Competition, so he sought assistance from his comrades to become the best.

"One of my good buddies helped me prepare by doing ruck marches and running together. That really helped me to prepare. You must be consistent and do well in every event to win. You can't be strong in just one event- everything is graded differently. You have to be an all-around professional in order to have a decent chance."

And that is precisely what Jackson did. He consistently placed well in most of the events and eventually went on to win the title of the 416th TEC Best Warrior, NCO category.

Jackson felt the BWC helps justify Soldiers saying this is an 'iron sharpens iron' competition.

"I think this training is really important because it brings the most knowledgeable Soldiers together," said Jackson. "You have one Soldier that's pretty good in your unit, but you don't know how good he is. When he comes to competitions, he gets around other super Soldiers like himself and he learns more. Then he goes back to his unit and makes everyone in his unit better."

Jackson will take what he learned in this competition and bring those lessons back to his unit and his Soldiers.

Before that though, he has more brawls to conquer.

Both NCOs will take those lessons forward to the U.S. Army Reserve Command's Best Warrior Competition in June, where they will be ready to brawl again and possibly each other.

Page last updated Sun May 4th, 2014 at 00:00