By Mr. Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)September 7, 2017
The 5th Engineer Battalion won the Commander's Cup Combatives Tournament for the third consecutive year, with six of its team members placing either first or second in the championship rounds Aug. 31 at Davidson Fitness Center.
"It was a team effort that we all focused on," said Kennard Ard, a Modern Army Combatives Program instructor with the 5th Engr. Bn., who accepted the championship trophy from Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Orvis, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major.
"We've got a lot of good scrappers out here," said Staff Sgt. Justin Helt, the combatives master trainer for the MACP schoolhouse.
The Commander's Cup Combatives Tournament was open to all units on post, with participants earning points toward the overall Commander's Cup series.
The tournament began with 32 competitors on Aug. 29 at DFC. First-round competition followed standard rules, allowing only wrestling-based moves with submissions.
On Aug. 30, competitors moved on to the intermediate-rules round, which allowed punches and kicks. With the competition narrowed down to 16 finalists by Aug. 31, competitors fought for the title of their respective weight classes in full-contact matches consisting of three, 5-minute rounds inside a tactical enclosure.
Two of the championship fights consisted of 5th Engr. Bn. teammates facing each other.
In the light heavyweight final, Eben Torres, 5th Engr. Bn., defeated Dakota Uplinger, 5th Engr. Bn., by submission in the first round.
Earlier, in the lightweight final, Tenzin Sherap, 5th Engr. Bn., earned a victory by decision over Adrian Jimenez, 5th Engr. Bn., after a grueling three rounds.
"I gave it my all, he gave it his all," Sherap said. "It was a good fight. A big shout out to him -- I didn't think it was going to last all three rounds. My stand-up game was good, and I didn't want to let him take me down -- so that's what I did."
The 84th Chemical Battalion took second overall, led by Ronald Jacobsen's win by decision over Matt Lansford, 43rd Adjutant General Battalion, in the heavyweight final.
The 14th Military Police Brigade took third overall, led by Nicholas Smith, who won by submission in the second round over Daniel Felix, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, to win the cruiserweight title in what was the main event of the night.
"I knew he had long arms, so I just stayed away from his punches," Smith said. "I took a couple to the face, but I just figured if I could get him up against the cage, I could take him down from there. I'm a purple belt in jujitsu, so I used my jujitsu game and ended it from there."
In other title matches:
-- Rollinson Jackson, 5th Engr. Bn., won the flyweight final by submission over Ericka Kong-Martinez, 554th Engineer Battalion.
-- Martin Smith, 554th Engr. Bn., won the super heavyweight final by submission in the first round over Tyler Stone, Medical Department Activity.
-- Max Boyd, 354th Military Police Company, won the middleweight final by submission in the first round over Jesse Handy, 14th MP Bde.
-- Trent Kersey, 35th Engineer Battalion, won the welterweight final by submission in the second round over Skyler Doss, 5th Engr. Bn.
Following the competition, Orvis presented certificates to the winners and runners up.
"This was a great event, and I'm proud of everyone who did this," Orvis said.
This was the third year for the Commander's Cup series to include combatives. The tournament is unique in that it is run and officiated by the instructors of the MACP schoolhouse. Several competitors said they were impressed with the organization of the tournament, including Boyd, who has been involved with combatives and similar martial-arts competitions for the past 14 years.
"It's a very well-run event, very organized and very professional," Boyd said. "Everybody involved has been great. It's actually one of the better events I've been involved in. I'm happy to do it, and I hope to do more."
Kong-Martinez was happy for the opportunity to compete. The tournament allowed her to get back into combatives after a three-year break.
"It was a little difficult at first, because I've been out of the game for a little bit. I'm sore pretty much every day, but it's been exciting and fun," she said. "It's something I like to do. You get a good workout."
Helt, who served as the tournament's director, said all 16 competitors who made it to the finals will now have a chance to represent Fort Leonard Wood at the All-Army Combatives Program Tournament in December at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
"We will have a combined team," Helt said. "All the first-place and second-place finishers will have an opportunity to advance."
Ard said the competitors will have to put in a significant amount of work between now and December to prepare for the Fort Bragg event.
"The first- and second-place winners will all go down and have a tryout. We'll see who the best is and take it from there," he said. "They're going to have to train very hard. It's about to get real."
The MACP schoolhouse is open to all service members interested in learning combatives.
"We're open from 0600 to 0730 during PT hours," Helt said. "Stop by Building 1027. We're at the corner of 21st (Street) and Artillery (Circle)."
Sherap, who said he trained nearly every day for the past month to prepare for the Commander's Cup tournament, encouraged anyone interested in combatives to "come in and try it."
"You never know how good you'll be until you fight," he said.