JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Combatants from across Joint Base Lewis-McChord gathered at the Soldier's Field House to compete in the 3rd annual Modern Army Combatives Program tournament on April 11-13.

The three-day event showcased Soldiers from various units from Special Forces to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade. The Soldiers were divided into eight weight categories ranging from bantamweight to heavyweight.

Representing 16th CAB in the finals for the middleweight division was Spc. Christopher Avery, 46th Aviation Support Battalion avionic and survivability equipment repair specialist. The tournament was a first for Avery, who has previous experience in boxing and is combatives level 2 certified.

Avery trained with teammates combining wrestling, boxing and weight training techniques into their regimen. Every morning and afternoon was spent at the gym doing push-ups, sprawls, and grappling to hone combatives skills and pass on knowledge to teammates.

"All of us were fighters, grapplers and strikers so we just got together, fought each other, put our experiences together and trained each other," said Avery.

"He definitely had a lot of strength and was a strong boxer, so training with him was an eye-opener on what to expect for the tournament," said teammate Joshua Wren, D troop, 4-6 Air Reconnaissance Squadron aircraft pneudraulics repair specialist. "The thing that I noticed about him most was that he was always happy and enthusiastic to be training."

Avery advanced his way up to the finals after a two-day trial through preliminaries and semi-finals.

"They tried to explain (the tournament) to me, you know, break it down, but I didn't think it was going to be like this. It was pretty fun and definitely exceeded my expectations," said Avery. "I gained a lot from the experience of training with Avery and fighting in the tournament. I also got to see a lot of different skills and techniques from wrestling and Taekwondo and other martial arts," said Wren, a two year Brazilian Jujitsu student.

Avery's final adversary, Spc. Terry Smith, 2-23 Infantry Regiment, 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, was the last obstacle in a caged bout that filled the Soldier's Field House with hollers, yells and cheers. Martial prowess was finally proven in the grand finale between the proverbial striker and grappler.

Opponents tested each other for weaknesses with a few jabs here and some strategically placed cross-to-hook combos there as the match opened.

"This was definitely my most difficult fight. I'm most confident in my striking game, but I think to improve, I need more experience in grappling," said Avery. "When he had my back I wasn't fast enough to defend myself, so I need to improve in strength and speed."

Fists flew, bodies collided and sweat poured in a three ring match that eventually led to the end of a month-long journey of training and hard work. Avery's fight up the ladder to the cruiserweight championship inevitably lead him to take home the runner-up title in the middleweight division.

Avery will be representing JBLM and 16th CAB in the All-Army Combatives Championships at Fort Benning, Georgia, July 23-27. Avery's wish for more experience in grappling may come sooner than he thought; and coincidentally enough, it will be at the home of MACP.

Page last updated Tue April 17th, 2012 at 00:00