CAMP ZAMA, Japan (July 3, 2013) -- The fourth annual U.S. Army Japan combatives tournament was held June 28 at Yano Fitness Center here.

The event included 24 competitors across seven teams and five weight classes. The matches followed standard rules in the preliminary rounds and intermediate rules -- which allowed limited striking -- in the finals, the USARJ combatives director said.

"The intent of the event is to build esprit de corps among the troops, to build confidence every Soldier should have in order to engage the enemy in close combat if needed, and finish the fight," said Leonardo Munoz.

The tournament was effective at building confidence within the competitors because it gave them the chance to face other skilled opponents and gain trust in the techniques on which they were trained, said cruiserweight winner Airman 1st Class Steve Grigdesby, assigned to the 374th Communication Squadron here.

"I really do respect the combatives program," said middleweight winner Sgt. Duane Sharp, assigned to the 78th Signal Battalion here. "[I'm] here to make sure that we are ready to go downrange into [the] fight with hand-to-hand combat. To get out here to show my Soldiers, to represent my family, represent my unit -- it really meant a lot."

A trophy was also presented to 78th Signal, the overall winning unit of the tournament.

"All Soldiers who competed today are winners to me," said Munoz. "I would expect them to continue doing what they are doing and spread the knowledge of what they have learned and what they have done here among the ranks, especially in their units."

The individual tournament winners here will next compete Sept. 6 against winners of a combatives tournament held on Okinawa, Munoz said.