By Justin Graff, ASC Public AffairsMay 4, 2015
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois -- Soldiers from U.S. Army Sustainment Command were taught advanced fighting techniques from mixed martial arts champion and Quad Cities homegrown hero, Pat Miletich, here, April 30.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship champion and founder of Miletich Fighting Systems taught a combatives clinic to some of ASC's combatives standouts.
"I've been training law enforcement and military for about 17 years and it's something I really enjoy," he said. "Even all the years that I've been coaching fighters, I've always enjoyed training law enforcement and military even more. What they learn definitely applies to them and, hopefully, helps them stay healthy."
Miletich, a native of Davenport, Iowa, became the first UFC welterweight champion in 1998. His professional fighting career spanned from 1995 to 2008. In retirement, he runs an MMA academy in Betterndorf, Iowa, that has produced several champion fighters, including two-time UFC welterweight champion and hall of fame inductee, Matt Hughes, and two-time UFC heavyweight champion, Tim Sylvia.
"My favorite part of working with the military is the comaraderie, you know, working as a team. I've always learned new things from the military," he said. "I've been lucky enough to go to a lot of places around the country and around the world and work with different military groups and they teach me some of their tactics, also. So, it's a give and take relationship. I enjoy learning from them as much as I do teaching.
"I've always been a big believer in, 'the better I am with my own hands, the better any tool I put in those hands is going to be.'"
Sgt. 1st Class David Stephenson, primary master combatives instructor, ASC, organized the clinic and selected 12 standout combatives students to participate firsthand with Miletich.
"Teaching the Soldiers combatives is fulfilling enough for me on its own, but to actually have a legend like Pat Miletich come out here and show advanced techniques beyond the basic Army tactical combatives is extraordinary," said Stephenson. "The experience and the knowledge that he brings to the mat to pass on to the Soldiers is just amazing."
Miletich taught some basic grappling and punching techniques, focusing on the more advanced mental aspects of fighting. As he coached the participants through their movements and drills, he explained how each move affects an opponent mentally, drawing some laughs from the group while he demonstrated some of the strange things he would do to psych out an opponent.
"(Miletich) gave instruction from an actual fighter's point of view. It gives us a better perspective of how our opponent looks at us," said Sgt. Edwin Garcia, veterinary food inspector, ASC. "Not everyone teaches the same way and not everyone learns the same way. For each student you have to put things into perspective. So, I think having him walk through and put a personal touch on his instruction for everyone helps a lot."
For Miletich, it's all about giving back to servicemembers.
"I'm one of the few people in my family who hasn't been in the military or isn't currently in the military, so this is sort of my way of giving back," he said. "I think it's a morale booster on both sides. Obviously them, having signed on the dotted line and given years of their lives for their country…doing something for them is, I think, kind of our duty."