FORT CARSON, Colo. - "I'm sure everyone at some point has been somewhere where they just got that weird feeling in their stomach like something is about to happen whether it's an odd person standing behind you or just a weird feeling you get walking into a building," said Sgt. Evan Knode, a Soldier assigned to Forward Support Company F, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Knode was one of 21 students from units all over Fort Carson who began the Master Trainer Course four weeks ago to a become certified Modern Army Combatives Program instuctor.
Instructors from Fort Benning came to Fort Carson as part of a mobile training team to teach the course.
"As soon as these guys graduate here, they'll be master trainers, so they'll be able to train, coach, mentor and certify Level Ones and Level Twos," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Montano, an instructor assigned to the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence's Company E, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment.
In 2009, the Modern Army Combatives Program was revised, and what was formerly known as Level 1 and Level 2, became the Basic Combatives Course and the Tactical Combatives Course, respectively. The Master Trainer Course is the final certification course in a program that seeks to increase unit readiness by building confidence, courage and resiliency in the midst of close quarters threats.
"Every Soldier is supposed to be at least BCC certified in the United States Army," said Montano, a native of Victoria, Texas. "We're not quite there yet."
But the MTC is expected to help achieve that end, since it puts the subject matter experts inside the units - an organic combatives asset to the commander.
"So what that allows the commander to do is, he has the subject matter expert to allow him to train and certify level ones and level twos within his organization now rather than having to look elsewhere for that training," Montano said.
The course is broken down by weeks, with each week focusing on a different skill. During Week One, the focus was basic striking.
"What that allows them to do is to know the fundamentals of how to move to close that distance, learning how to actually throw punches to be on the offense as well as on the defense," Montano said.
The second week introduced advanced striking, basically kickboxing.
"So they've had legs all their lives," he said. "We're just trying to get them to incorporate them along with knees as well as basic striking."
During Week Three, the students learned wrestling techniques, primarily how to close the distance, achieve the clinch position, and take their opponent to the ground. And finally, the last week was the tactical week.
"They learn how to do detainee operations, handcuffing procedures, vehicle extractions, the kind of stuff that's in our doctrine now, so that if they do have to apprehend somebody, using non-lethal force, they know how to apprehend that individual," Montano said.
Many of the students came from martial arts backgrounds, so their passion for it showed in their determination and willingness to learn more from the instructors and their fellow students.
"One of the things that mixed martial arts and combatives teaches you is being humble," said Sgt. Hunter Glenn, a transportation logistics coordinator assigned to the 157th Movement Control Team, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th ID. "You are not always going to be the biggest, baddest dude in the room. Coming here has shown me that I need to continue my training and not get complacent."
Glenn, who has been doing mixed martial arts and jiu jitsu since 2008, is going to his battalion's combatives instructor, helping to meet objective of getting every Soldier certified.
"For me, I think a Soldier should not only be great at their MOS, but we fail to remember that we are Soldiers first, and to be a Soldier, you need to encompass that mind, body and soul," said Glenn, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "You can be great at being a (Human Resources Specialist) or a water treatment specialist, but if you are not a Soldier, what are you? One of those aspects needs to be being able to handle yourself in any type of environment. If you do have the opportunity to deploy and you come into contact and you can't handle yourself, you're no good. You're no longer an asset. You're a liability."
One of the prevailing sentiments among the students was the relevance the instructors gave to the training, making it relatable to everyday, real-life situations.
Knode recalled that familiar uneasy feeling when the hair on the back of your neck stands up, and you know something volatile could happen.
". . . whether it's an odd person standing behind you or just a weird feeling you get walking into a building, having these skill sets gives you the confidence that if something were to happen right now, I could handle myself, but even if something doesn't happen, you can walk away knowing I was ready even though I didn't have to be," said the Waldorf, Maryland native. "You know how they say it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it."