ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Fight or flight; it's you or me; live or die.

Some military personnel have to make split-second choices to sustain the mission and come out alive when the enemy will be physically upon them in seconds.

Hence, there is always a need to train Soldiers to how defend themselves mainly using their body. And because there are many sizes -- weight and height -- it is imperative that a Soldier knows fighting techniques which allow one to use leverage, for example, as an equalizer.

The two-week (80 hours) Tactical Combatives Course deals with "more striking, more of the advanced kicking, ground fighting, close quarters combat, clearing rooms and vehicular extraction," said Sgt. 1st Class David Stephenson, course instructor.

A graduation ceremony was held April 11 at the Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., Physical Fitness Center to acknowledge the recent graduates.

Assistant instructors included Sgt. Walter Buck, Distribution Management Command, and Sgt. Lucas Blair, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Army Sustainment Command.

Stephenson said fighting has elements of boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, judo and muay thai.

Which style or styles one uses "depends on the situation," he said.

"The primary goal is to survive the encounter," Stephenson said. Others include neutralizing the enemy so he is no longer a combatant, while allowing him to remain alive to take as a prisoner depending on the situation.

Spec. Brandon Wilson, HHC, ASC, earned top honors as the class's distinguished honor graduate.

The other graduates were Maj. Peter Studebaker, ASC; Sgt. 1st Class Jared Clapper, Distribution Management Command, ASC; Sgt. Eugenio Fernandez, executive administrative assistant to the ASC deputy commanding general, and Sgt. 1st Class Matt De Lair, First Army.

Stephenson added the training is valuable for all Soldiers of any specialty or rank.

"You're a Soldier," he said. "An enemy is not going to be selective because you're male or female, nor age," Stephenson said.

"I'm always giving up weight," said the 5-foot-7-inch, 170-pound Stephenson. But to compensate, the course teaches to use the enemy's "weight against them" by using the center of balance for leverage.

Other related courses include the Basic Combative Instructors Course, Advanced Combatives Course, and Master Combatives Instructor. However, the Army is looking at restructuring the overall program by combining some courses, Stephenson said.

The ASC goal, he said, is to teach the Tactical Combatives Course twice a year.

A combatives tournament is slated for May 17 here dubbed "Battle for the Rock," Stephenson said. A local Army Reserve unit will sponsor it and is open to any Soldier. Look for more to follow, he said.