FORT SILL, Okla. -- While politicians were deciding if a furlough was the best course of action, Fort Sill Soldiers were hard at work, showing off their training in the 2011 Fort Sill Modern Army Combatives Championship.

"You know we were going to have a government shutdown, but today we\'re going to have a government smack-down," said Brig. Gen. Roger Mathews, Air Defense Artillery School commandant. "Soldiers are fighting in this event and you know it's all about the warrior ethos. It's about making warriors, killers, who know their business."

One hundred and eleven fighters competed over two days leaving the top to fight for titles Saturday at Rinehart Fitness Center. The crowd went wild as Soldiers and Marines used all levels of combatives to see who could 1. Close the distance, 2. Gain the dominant position and 3. Finish the fight.

"I think it's inspiring to see Soldiers put themselves out there like that. It motivates the troops to think about doing the same things and be the best they can be," said Advanced Individual Training student, Spc. Christopher Holmes, B Battery, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery.

Due to a decade of wartime fighting and over 900 documented hand-to-hand encounters Capt. Jason Norwood, Fort Sill Combatives officer in charge, said the Modern Army Combatives Program has revolutionized the way Soldiers interact with and engage the enemy.

"We're not trying to make the next 'Street Fighter.' We're trying to give them the capability, the confidence and the knowledge base to be able to handle themselves on the battlefield until their battle buddy comes."

Each match was set up by weight, and even though some in the audience didn't feel it was fair to have women fighting men Sgt. 1st Class Andy Pierce, Fort Sill Combatives coach, disagreed.

"It's not about being fair. It's about survival," said Pierce. "The whole purpose of the combatives facility is to teach them how to survive out there on the battlefield. And you don't get to pick your opponent."

Although not every person walked away victorious, it was their fighting attitude that earned them respect.

Staff Sgt. Neal Lang, 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery, 75th Fires Brigade, came back to compete for his second time at the Fort Sill tournament and once again won the welterweight division. Afterwards he said several fighters were inspiring by their never-say-die spirit. That included Pvt. Matthew Morgan, who he defeated early on.

"I put him unconscious in the first round and I thought that was it for him. He won all the way back to fight for third and fourth place and placed fourth in the tournament."

An unexpected victory also came from Pvt. Corey Bailey who only recently completed level one and two combatives and took the middleweight division by knockout.

Other highlights of the night included several submissions by arm bar and rear naked choke and referee stoppage. None of the fights were left in the judges' hands, displaying each service member's willingness to close the distance and engage the fight, exemplifying the combatives ethos: "We do not win wars because we are better at hand-to-hand combat than the enemy, we do however win wars because of the things it takes to be a good hand-to-hand fighter."

The results were:

1st Spc. Blake Evans, 31st Air Defense Artillery
2nd Capt. Amanda Rowse, 6th ADA
3rd Pfc. Fred Conde, 214th Fires Brigade
4th Pvt. Rafael Roca-Gallardo, 6th ADA

1st Spc. John Florez, 214th FiB
2nd 2nd Lt. Scott Maclean, Marine Detachment
3rd Pvt. Jack Flaherty, 6th ADA
4th Pvt. Josephine Strachan, 6th ADA

1st Staff Sgt. Neal Lang, Fires Center of Excellence
2nd 2nd Lt. Angel Alegre, 428th Field Artillery
3rd Pfc. Donald Thatcher, 31st ADA
4th Pfc. Matthew Morgan, 6th ADA

1st Pfc. Corey Bailey, 214th FiB
2nd Capt. Erik Deneau, 6th ADA
3rd Spc. Anthony Pena, 214th FiB
4th Staff Sgt. Chad Reynolds, FCoE

1st Sgt. Donald Kirchner, 31st ADA
2nd 1st Lt. Scott Ferguson, 434 FA
3rd 2nd Lt. Josh Fernandez, MARDET
4th Pfc. Paul Moye, 6th ADA

Light Heavyweights
1st Capt. Jason Norwood, FCoE
2nd Pfc. Daniel White, 31st ADA
3rd Spc. Nicholas Baccaire, 31st ADA
4th Sgt. Eric Kelly, FCoE

1st Sgt. Joseph Batten, 31st ADA
2nd Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Ackee, 6th ADA
3rd 2nd Lt. Richard Erickson, 6th ADA
4th Capt. Adrian Liptrot, 6th ADA

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