FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Staff Sgt. James Johnson was exhausted and dripping with sweat after a recent early-morning combatives training session that stretched for nearly three hours.

And though Johnson, a drill sergeant with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, had finished his combatives training, his day was just beginning.

Johnson is among a small group of Soldiers from Fort Jackson who almost every day put in some grueling hours at the gym on top of its regular duties to train for a shot at glory in the upcoming 2009 Army Combatives Tournament.

Aca,!A"Being a drill sergeant takes a lot out of you,Aca,!A? Johnson said. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs mentally draining. But you have to put all of that aside and come train.Aca,!A?

A wrestler who used to be a part of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs World Class Athlete Program, Johnson said that the combatives training he is doing now will help him be competitive one day as a mixed martial arts fighter.

Aca,!A"I want to fight, and the more I know, the better,Aca,!A? he said.

For others, the combatives tournament, which is scheduled for Sept. 18-20 at Fort Benning, Ga., is simply a way to keep doing something they love.

Aca,!A"ThereAca,!a,,cs something about grappling that keeps me happy,Aca,!A? said Staff Sgt. Michael Robinson, a training NCO for Company C, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs more than just a hobby for me. It gives me a rush I donAca,!a,,ct normally get.Aca,!A?

Robinson, the captain of the Fort Jackson Combatives Team, began assembling the team in early July when he first heard about the upcoming tournament.

Teams from Army posts around the world will compete. Each team can have up to 14 fighters, with two fighters in each weight class.

Robinson said he will select the best two fighters for each weight class and those Soldiers will make up the Fort Jackson Combatives Team. Each workout is essentially a tryout for the team and that makes for a competitive atmosphere.

Aca,!A"This is the hardest training IAca,!a,,cve ever done,Aca,!A? Robinson said. Aca,!A"All the guys say this is pretty much the hardest training theyAca,!a,,cve ever done.Aca,!A?

The teamAca,!a,,cs training sessions started out as hour-long bouts in a post gym, but have gradually gotten longer and more intense as the tournament approaches. Aca,!A"The hardest part was getting the Soldiers the time to train,Aca,!A? Robinson said. Aca,!A"I spent a lot of time talking with different sergeants major around the post. IAca,!a,,cve never networked so hard in my career as I did for this.Aca,!A?

Now the team is doing most of its training off post at the Gracie Barra School, a mixed martial arts training facility. The team is being instructed by Vince Salvador, a former mixed martial arts fighter.

Robinson said considering the long hours spent training and dedication of the Soldiers involved, he believes the team has a chance to make a strong showing at the tournament.

Aca,!A"As a team, I think this will be the best Fort Jackson has done so far,Aca,!A? he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16