FORT BENNING, GA - The Fort Benning Combatives Tournament, open to Soldiers around post, is set for Saturday at Smith Fitness Center.

It's a tough competition, said SFC Tohonn Nicholson, NCOIC at the Combatives School. "It's a big deal to win at this stage because then you go on to represent the best in the Army at the Army Combatives Championship," Nicholson said.

The top two in each weight class will compete against other Soldiers in the Army Combatives Championship Sept. 17-20 at Smith Fitness Center. The top three in each weight class will receive medals.

During the semifinals, competitors will fight with standard rules, which includes grappling and no striking. And during the finals, competitors will fight with intermediate rules, which includes kneeing below the waist, open-hand strikes and kicks to the head, and closed-fist attacks.

"This tournament isn't just a tournament," said Nicholson, who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan several times. "It's about preparing Soldiers for the battlefield. It's realistic training. The more trained they are in combatives, the better. Combatives focuses on the warrior ethos and teaches Soldiers how to close with the enemy should they encounter a close quarters battle too close to use a weapon or if a weapon malfunctions. They can still close with the enemy and still survive using combatives."

And the tournament is a way to build confidence in Soldiers, he said.

Spectators are welcome and admission is free. The first bout will begin at 9 a.m. Parking is available at Smith Fitness Center.
For more information, call 706-545-2811.