By Mrs. Martha Yoshida (Leonard Wood)September 17, 2015
The final tournament for the Fort Leonard Wood combatives season, which showcased 14 of the installation's toughest hand-to-hand combat warriors, concluded Friday.
The event included seven bouts with advanced rules, which had the crowd at Davidson Fitness Center on their feet cheering.
"I think we had some really good bouts," said Sgt. Brandon Bunner, U.S. Army Level-IV Tactical Combatives instructor with the 515th Engineer Company, 5th Engineer Battalion. "We had a good competition where it was evenly matched. The better man today came out on top."
"The level of competition surpassed what I was expecting," Bunner said.
The final match in the Heavyweight class between Sgt. Anthony Hampton and Spc. Dylan Smith, both with the 5th Engr. Bn., was clinched by Hampton with an "epic hit to the nose," as described by one combatives fan.
Hampton said Smith put up a good fight.
"It was an awesome fight," he said. "It's hard fighting your own teammate, but we all go in there, we fight hard, and we respect each other a lot more after. We ultimately train for the enemy and to show your sportsmanship against a teammate or a friend; it just furthers you and prepares you for downrange."
Hampton said the training period for a combatives tournament can be anywhere from one year or two, to a couple of weeks -- depending on how bad the person wants to win.
The Las Vegas, Nevada, native said he was pleased with the match, "I worked hard. (It was) good cardio, and I came out on top."
Bunner, who got his first taste of basic combatives in 2007, said his goal is to take the team who competed Friday to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in December.
"Fort Bragg is holding an invitational, which they hold every year, the second week of December," he said. "I'm hoping to fill the 110-pound weight class, since we only had one Soldier for this tournament, but I want to take a full team of 16 competitors, two for every weight class, who went through the complete graduated rules and made it this far."
Following the tournament, Bunner said training does not just stop. He gave the competitors an opportunity to get back into training Monday.
"Our open mats are strictly voluntary. They are welcome to come in. I give them the place and the avenue to train, and it's up to them to bring themselves in and take advantage of it," he said.
The Army sergeant said he would like to see all branches of service participate in the tournament next year.
"Since the beginning of this year, we've trained a little more than 600 students across the post," Bunner said. "That's at the Basic Combatives Course and the Tactical Combatives Course. We also have open mat times, which are almost daily, where we invite anyone -- Marines, Air Force, Navy, Army -- to come in and train with us."
"We teach the basic and tactical combatives course," said Bunner, who has been the post's primary combatives instructor for more than two years.
"This is what our Soldiers could and probably will face when they go into combat. They need to be able to use all of the skills they learn in Army combatives to bridge the gap, if they do not have time to engage with a weapon," he said.
The training facility is located at 1701A Cooley Ave. For more information, contact Bunner by email to email@example.com.
Weight class winners
Flyweight -- Pvt. Rollinson Jackson, 509th Engineer Company, 5th Engineer Battalion;
Lightweight -- Spc. Hector Leon, 988th Military Police Company, 92nd Military Police Battalion;
Welterweight -- Sgt. Adrian Alonzo, 509th Engr. Co., 5th Engr. Bn.;
Middleweight -- Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Cunningham, Company B, 169th Engineer Battalion;
Cruiserweight -- Sgt. Stephan Rudd, Forward Support Company, 5th Engr. Bn.;
Light Heavyweight -- Staff Sgt. Bruno Richardson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Chemical Brigade;
Heavyweight -- Sgt. Anthony Hampton, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Engr. Bn.