USAG YONGSAN - Soldiers from across the Eighth Army footprint gathered at Collier Fitness Center, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, June 30, to determine the best of the best of Army Combatives on the Korean Peninsula.
The Annual Eighth Army Combatives tournament pitted some of the best fighters from six major commands from each area.
This tournament was broken down to seven weight classes, double elimination tournament, and separated in three rule disciplines.
The first round of matches began with standard rules fighting. Fighters began in a standing position and worked through grappling and holds. In the second round of matches, fighters progressed to intermediate rules, and kicks and some punches were introduced. Finally, the third rounds involved advanced rules with more serious punches and kicks, according to event organizer, Sgt. Bryan Granger.
The purpose of the tournament is not just to see who can fight the best, but to see who had the strength, mentality and ability to fight if the time were to come to battle an actual enemy.
"I wanted to make sure we had Soldiers from across the peninsula that have the confidence to face a combatant and take them out," said Granger. "This tournament is also about comradery. We have units who put together a team, came here to fight and have their fellow soldiers here to watch something magnificent."
Many Soldiers see the Eighth Army Combatives tournament as more than just an opportunity to fight. They see it as an opportunity to push themselves and have fun at the same time.
"This is all fun and good exercise for me," said Spc. Christian Lee Cox, 21st Military Police Detachment. "Events like this make you understand self-esteem and makes you stronger as a person."
For the spectators who attended the tournament, each weight class bouts was filled with excitement and red-faced cheering, to keep their battle buddies fighting through a difficult match. For the fighters, the support of their unit and commands helped push them to victory.
"As soon as I saw my people watching me fight, I was so excited," said Cox. "Even though they aren't out on the mat performing, they help me on a daily basis so that I can do my best."
Following up on this tournament could be challenging. But there is potential in the works for creating an even bigger event in the future.
"I have proposed an Asia Pacific Championship and develop it into a joint forces tournament," said Granger. "I envision it with Japan, Guam, Alaska and Hawaii, and I am super excited to make it happen. We have enough talent and amazing staff to run this."