"Attack rapidly, ruthlessly, viciously, without rest, however tired and hungry you may be. The enemy will be more tired, more hungry ... keep punching." Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

HUMPHREYS GARRISON - When it comes to punching, Sgt. Hector Renteria, an air traffic controller with 4-58th Airfield Operations Battalion has spent more than 20 years developing his ability to dominate opponents in close quarters combatives.

Recently, he traveled to Camp Pendleton, Calif. to fight for the 5th Annual U.S. Armed Forces Combatives Championships heavyweight title. Renteria battled his way through eight competitors to a bronze medal finish.

Army Rangers developed the Army Combatives training system in the late 1990's as a way to survive in close combat without the use of weapons. Combatives competitions resemble the mixed martial arts fighting sport of Pankration, an athletic event that combines techniques of both boxing and wrestling.

"The combatives championship was a one-day event, with more than 120 representatives from all military service branches," said Renteria, who won a silver medal in the middle weight class at last year's Armed Forces Combatives Championships. "I wanted to compete again to keep with tradition and feel the adrenaline rush."

Renteria received full support from his chain of command to use his leave and make the long journey across the Pacific Ocean to California.

"Competitions like Army Combatives are important for character and experience," said Sgt. Maj. Ronald Evans, 4-58th AOB battalion sergeant major. "A lot of the training required to be successful in combatives was done on his own time and his dedication shows our junior Soldiers what it takes to be a warrior."

Renteria arrived two days before the championships and didn't waste any time on the ground. He linked up with a former martial arts instructor for some refresher training.

"Many of the teams that participate in combatives train full-time," said Renteria. "Unlike my last duty station in Alabama, at Humphreys, I'm at a disadvantage because I don't have a trainer or a mixed martial arts team to train with."

Renteria's third-place performance was not what he had in mind after his runner-up finish at last year's championships, but his efforts were not without long-term success.

"We all have something to prove, whether it's baseball, basketball or combatives to make us stand out in the crowd," said Renteria. "In combatives, we score points based on strikes, throws and submissions. This year, my final opponent and I both went for the same submission hold, but he got it a split second before I did. While striking points help, it's the submission holds that basically win the match."

The AFCC is sanctioned by the USA Federation of Pankration Athlima. Renteria and all top three placers in the open weight classes qualified for the USA World Pankration Team Trials June 21, in Milwaukee, Wis. Winners from the open weight classes will represent Team USA at the World Pankration Championships at Siauliai, Lithuania, Sept. 11- 14, 2009.

Page last updated Wed June 17th, 2009 at 03:09