USARIEM Soldiers get combative
February 3, 2011
During a normal week, they are much more concerned with how to protect people than to do them any harm.
The week of Jan. 24 to 28 was a little different, however. Gathering in the Task Tent in the Quad between Buildings 3 and 4 at the Natick Soldier Systems Center, 11 Soldiers from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine tapped into their warrior sides while taking the Army Combatives Program Level 1 certification course.
The "train-the-trainers" course is intended to help Soldiers protect themselves without firearms and hone those warrior instincts. A bruise on the right side of his face demonstrated that Sgt. Matthew Dickson had been willing to do what it took to learn those skills.
"It was a little more intense than what I expected, to be honest with you," said Dickson, who admitted to being sore in other areas, as well. "There were some days when we were just smoked.
"You don't think your body's going to get contorted the way that it was. My knees were behind my shoulders some days. That's what you have to go through."
He got the bruise from instructor Scott Eddington when Dickson dropped his hands during a clinch drill.
"We're not here to hurt you," said Eddington, a staff sergeant and master combatives instructor with the 198th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning. "We're here to teach you and to make you better so you can take this program and take it to your Soldiers and teach them."
Dickson had nothing but praise for Eddington's teaching technique.
"He taught it well," Dickson said. "The good thing about it was he was able to demonstrate it to us, and then we got to practice it on each other and drill. Then, at the end of the week, we were able to teach him how to do it. So it was a three-step thing."
Eddington has been teaching combatives since 2006.
"It instills confidence, and builds self-esteem, esprit de corps in their unit," Eddington said. "You have to watch your escalation of force when you're handling certain individuals. You can't walk up and shoot somebody because you don't like them."
Level 1 is the first of four combatives training levels. Dickson came away impressed with how Eddington presented it.
"You can drill it all you want to, but if you don't make it like a real-life scenario, what have you really learned'" Dickson said. "It was good. It's something we can always pass on to other Soldiers."
Eddington said he modifies the course to fit his students.
"You have to take into consideration who you're working with and what their jobs are," Eddington said. "You adjust to your environment. That's one good thing about the combatives program - I can move things around to fit the needs of the class or whatever problems the class might have."
He found a receptive group of students at NSSC.
"These guys picked it up pretty good," Eddington said. "We had a major all the way down to a specialist. These guys are very good, very professional."