GYEONGGIDO, South Korea - As soldiers, we have some pretty deadly weapons. But, they jam on occasion, or our fine motor skills succumb to adrenaline and that sixth Rip It we probably shouldn't have chugged before setting out on a mission. Sometimes the enemy can get close enough that the situation becomes a little more ... intimate.

Soldiers need to be ready for all sorts of craziness and, if things go south of shell casings, the situation may require a bit of the old Van Damme touch. This unfortunate reality is a very large part of why we conduct physical training and why the Modern Army Combatives Program was created.

Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division soldiers are now getting a regular dose of that, thanks to a revised PT schedule that calls for two hours of combatives training each Thursday.

Sgt. Brad Cannon enjoys Jack Johnson and beating people unconscious. As the non-commissioned officer in charge of the division's combatives program, he gets paid to do at least some of what he loves.

"That whole part of the Soldier's Creed about engaging and destroying the enemy in close combat: Well, this is it," he said.

Teaching individuals to overcome personal limitations, as well as instilling a willingness to punch faces, is of significant use in the profession of arms, he added.

While Pvt. Park Sung-jin, a Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army soldier, has no real interest in learning close-quarters combat techniques, he also acknowledges their use in battle.

"But, I have never been in a real fight, so I don't know how useful it would be in real life," said Park.

However, training in hand-to-hand combat actually does have other benefits, including increased confidence and vastly improved physical fitness, said Cannon.

"Combat sports, in general, teach a lot more than fighting techniques. They teach controlled aggression and discipline, release endorphins, and condition a person physically, mentally and emotionally," he added.

All of these things play a vital role in the efficiency of a modern soldier, says Cannon, because the concept of a linear battlefield is a thing of the past.

"There are no more front lines. Anybody can be a target at any time," he said. "And whenever you're a target, bad things can happen. You never know when you're going to need this."

The combatives program is much more than a glorified tough-man competition. It is just one piece of a deadly puzzle that is designed to hone the soldier and help complete the package. So remember: if the weapon jams and things get real ... it's just a tool. Rely on your training because the real weapon has always been the U.S. soldier.

Cannon teaches free mixed martial arts classes at the Camp Red Cloud Fitness Center each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Page last updated Fri October 19th, 2012 at 00:00