JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Private Todd Bevan has been fascinated with combatives and physical fitness for years. Before joining the Army, he was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and CrossFit instructor at a gym in Ohio. As soon as he took leave after basic training, he was on the mat back home to hone his skills.

"It is not that I have to go to the gym, I want to go to the gym," said Bevan, a Bridgeport, Ohio, native. "I want to be on the mats as much as possible."

Hand-to-hand fighting is one of the highest levels of human competition, Bevan added. It infers status as an individual; there is no coming back from losing a fight.

Shortly after arriving to 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team in January 2018, Bevan was selected by his first sergeant to compete in the brigade-level combatives tournament that took place on Jan. 18, 2018.

"It was my first day in the unit," said Bevan, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry, 1-2 SBCT. "People were pumped up in a fight atmosphere. I was in bliss and felt right at home."

For Bevan, combatives is what he calls kinetic chess. It is about positioning the body to do the most damage to the opponent while receiving the least amount of damage. A fighter must train and know what he is going to do, especially with the Jiu Jitsu. A fighter has to stay one step ahead.

"That is how I was able to finish the guy in the finals," said Bevan. "I knew where that fight was going before my opponent did. As soon as we hit the floor, I knew I had him."

Bevan won first place that day in the Light Heavyweight class. Later, he would place third in the same weight class during the Fort Bragg Combatives Tournament on March 3.

"I believe combatives goes hand-in-hand with readiness," Bevan said. "It is all about building that warrior culture and warrior mindset. It is one of fight or flight. You don't know how you are going to react until you receive that first shot in the face."

Bevan plans to continue pursuing his passion for martial arts. He sees himself becoming a combatives instructor in the Army and eventually going back to teaching Jiu Jitsu when he retires.