TORII STATION, Okinawa -- In a speech entitled "Citizenship in a Republic," delivered April 23, 1910 in Paris, President Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Twelve Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group stepped into the ring, April 15, during Fight Night VIII -- a quarterly combatives competition designed to test their mettle and demonstrate the hand-to-hand combat skills they have learned through the Special Operations Combatives Program.
The program became the first official combatives program for all U.S. Army Special Operations Forces in 2010 and strives to ensure that the combatives program for the special operator will be uniquely attuned to the ever-changing requirements based on current missions downrange as well as those in the future, according to Special Operations Combatives Program.
The Soldiers, from featherweight to light heavyweight, put techniques like ground fighting and clinch fighting to use during the heavily attended event. Soldiers and Families were even treated to an exhibition match between the Easter Bunny and the Peeps Chicken.
"Soldiers need to be proficient in hand-to-hand combat for enemies and people who resist or become combative," said Sgt. Devin "The Stormin' Mormon," whose last name is being withheld for operations security. "We train other country's militaries and at times, we do not have a weapon on us, or don't have enough time to pull out our weapon. We are required to make split-second decisions," he said.
Sgt. Devin said that Families being able to participate in events like Fight Night builds bonds between the battalion, its Soldiers and their loved ones. "I think Families enjoy these events because it's something that they can go and do and bring the small military community together … also it shows that we are Family men," he said.
For Pvt. 1st Class James "Buck Knife" Davie, Fight Night is an opportunity to shine in front of the First in Asia Battalion Family.
"[The battalion's] high op-tempo and environment has helped me to become a better, more efficient Soldier," said Davie who won the middleweight card. Before a fight, I mentally go over my game plan and how to counter various situations that may arise. During a fight, I constantly look for the next move to make. After a fight, I'm honestly too tired to think, win or lose," he said.
Win or lose, the 1st Battalion's brawlers will never have to join the ranks of what Roosevelt called, "cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."