Fort Sill Combatives kicks it up a level
November 12, 2010
FORT SILL, Okla. - The Fort Sill combatives program is taking it to the next level. For the first time, Fort Sill Soldiers were certified, here, in level three combatives. A mobile training team from Fort Benning, Ga. put Soldiers from all over post through the rigorous course.
After 30 days of sweat, blood and more sweat, those who passed the class will not only be able to instruct other Soldiers, but also be able to certify them in level one combatives.
"It's an awesome course that encourages Soldiers to develop their hand-to-hand combat skills, and it will save their lives in real-world scenarios," said Capt. Jason Norwood, Fort Sill Combatives School officer in charge.
Norwood said inside the "fight house" they can only instruct up to 60 people at a time. He added every Soldier in the Army is supposed to be certified in at least level one combatives, and with more instructors it spreads the knowledge much more quickly.
"The impact that I make on them is not just the 30 guys I have here. When they go to their units, they're making a huge impact. They're training everyone from the youngest private to the oldest sergeant major, and they're bringing them back home alive because of the things they learn in combatives," said Fort Benning instructor, Spc. Jorge Giovannini, 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment.
The course is broken down into different techniques with week one focusing on boxing. Week two is Muay Thai kickboxing with boxing moves combined. Week three they add in grappling and week four is spent doing combat tactics such as room clearing and patrols.
This obviously isn't your normal pencil-pusher course. Not only do the Soldiers have to know how to instruct the moves, they have to know how to use them. During one of their final practical exercises the Soldiers split into two groups, with one group playing as the enemy in full body gear. The others react to real-world scenarios against the "enemy" and use their new techniques with full force.
And then there's pankration. Pankration is adopted from the Greeks, as an "all powers" or no holds barred fighting technique, and the Soldiers use it as a way to practice true hand-to-hand combat wearing only knee and shin guards.
In summation, open hand slaps to the face are encouraged.
"I think pankration is very effective. I would rather get punched in the face than slapped. The slaps make you more confident in swinging and hitting the face, but it also adds to the desire to defend and counter," said Sgt. Eric Kelly, 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery.
Staff Sgt. Neal Lang, 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery, recently joined the instructors at the combatives school. He has competed in five different tournaments earning him the special duty of training others. He explained how this training helps those who deploy.
"You look at an Iraqi, for example, and he's 150 pounds and you know that he doesn't have any formal training. And you know that you've sparred with Norwood, the two-time All-Army champion. You know that guy is not going to have anything on you. It gives Soldiers confidence," said Lang.
Lang said moving up in the combatives levels only furthers that confidence. And they have exercises that prove it.
"We do what's called a 'braveheart' where two sides line up and they just go at each other. We lined up half the room with eight instructors who were level twos against 20 Soldiers who were level ones. Every single level two instructor submitted the level ones. And none of the level twos were submitted. That shows you how much it evolves a Soldier."
He jokingly added that all of his combatives medals will go to good use when his two daughters start dating.
For Kelly, what started out as a need for adrenaline has turned into something more.
"My passion isn't the rest of the Army, it's not war anymore. I want to train others. I want others to feel the way I feel -- confident in what they do and their abilities as Soldiers."