Throughout the month of April, more than 20 Soldiers from across the 1st Infantry Division became certified as Combatives Master Trainers.
During the month-long course, the "Big Red One" Soldiers learned basic striking techniques, advanced striking techniques with intermediate ground techniques and tactical techniques involving vehicle extraction of detainees and room clearing while encountering hostile and non-hostile forces.
"All the Soldiers going through the course will go back to their unit and multiply their force, making their Soldiers, organizations and units qualified in level I and level II," said Staff Sgt. William Ransom, U.S. Army Combatives Course senior instructor from Fort Benning, Georgia.
The newly certified instructors will go back to their units where they are now authorized to teach combatives courses to their fellow Soldiers.
"Being an NCO (noncommissioned officer), I am proud to go through this training," said Sgt. Esteban Gonzales, 1st Engineers Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div. "As an NCO, you lead and train from the front, so I can teach my Soldiers to be prepared to go downrange. If they ever get into a situation, I know they will confident in their abilities to employ the techniques that I taught them."
Confidence in the Soldier to the right and left is a large aspect of the combatives program.
"When a Soldier goes to war," Ransom said, "How prepared are you and your Soldiers? You may be able to defend yourself, but are you sure about the person to your left and right can?"
The course allows units to incorporate the combatives program in accordance with the particular unit's mission and capabilities.
"Combatives is for every Soldier, regardless of MOS (military occupational specialty)," said Sean Roberts, Fort Riley Combatives Program director. "With all of these Soldiers in varying MOSs going back to their units and being able to show their command structures how combatives can fit their METLs (Mission Essential Task List) specifically, it becomes an Army-wide thing, not a combat arms thing."
The Fort Riley iteration of the course had a special instructor in the form of former mixed martial arts fighter, Josh Koscheck, on April 18. Since retiring from the sport, Koscheck has become a supporter of the Army and combatives program.
"I have heard nothing but amazing things about this program," Koscheck said. "They are producing real Soldiers. They are teaching these Soldiers leadership and resiliency through this training. I wanted to come and see it firsthand."
Koscheck sees similarities between MMA fighting and combatives, but he also pointed out one extreme difference.
"A takedown is takedown, a defense to a takedown is a defense to a takedown," Koscheck said. "The difference between what I do and what I have done in my past life is it's a sport. We are out there competing in a sport.
"There is no sport when it comes to combatives. It is straight up, hand-to-hand combat, understanding techniques and how to manipulate the human body to get to your weapons system, or at least be able to fight the combatants off and wait for help."