By Sgt. Ryan Twist, 139th MPAD, 13th ESC Public AffairsMay 3, 2010
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The 80th Ordnance Company out of Fort Lewis, Wash., sponsored the Phoenix Support Combatives Tournament April 24 at Morale, Welfare and Recreation east at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Although 112 signed up, 87 Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen weighed in and competed in the third tournament sponsored by the 80th, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard C. Mantooth, the JBB corps storage area accountable officer with the 63rd Ordnance Company, 80th Ord. Batt., 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
Mantooth, a level four instructor of Modern Army Combatives and a Biloxi, Miss., native, said the event was the second tournament the 63rd Ord. Co. hosted.
Fighters traveled from other bases to compete, said Mantooth. The event offered service members a chance to vary their routine and eliminate some monotony from day-to-day operations, he said.
Spc. Billy C. Avery, a supply specialist with the 63rd Ord. Co., placed fourth in the Cruiserweight division. This was his second competition at JBB.
"I did a lot better compared to my first match in the last tournament," he said.
Avery, a Pennington, Texas, native, who is level one combatives certified, said he lost in the first round of the last tournament. Since then, he said he has worked to better himself, and participated in this tournament to test his progress.
Mantooth, who studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai and boxing, said the biggest difference between the tournaments was the physical striking in the semi-final and final rounds, including open-hand slaps to the face, fist punches to the body and authorized leg kicks.
"When you start adding striking to it, it definitely changes the way somebody responds on the ground, especially in combat," he said.
Pfc. Ismael Roman, a heavy equipment operator with the 37th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Bragg, N.C., 36th Engineer Brigade and an Arecibo, Puerto Rico, native, said he participated in all three tournaments and was excited to hear about this one.
"I am a fan of MMA, which is mixed martial arts, and I follow it," he said. "When I knew they were doing a combatives tournament, I jumped on it right away."
Roman, who won the Welterweight division, said he is level one certified for combatives and also studies judo.
"I think this was the best one, since the competition was pretty good and all the guys fighting were good," he said. "The other tournaments were smaller compared to this one, with not as many participants."
Mantooth said he thought the event went well.
"We had a packed house," he said. "People were standing, squatting, fighting for seats and it stayed that way throughout the day. We kept the gym packed."
During the last tournament, he said he saw a great amount of technique and was pleased with the strikes, but was more impressed by the competitors who participated.
"The most impressive thing I (saw) was the 3/2 Stryker Brigade team that came out from Fort Lewis, stationed at Warhorse," he said. "Most of these guys just came off of a patrol mission. ... They haven't slept and they came in here, competed and won the team competition. That was pretty impressive."
To give service members a chance to compete, to watch them learn and then teach their skills to other service members - those are the fruits of labor for program instructors and competition coordinators, said Mantooth.
"We give these guys an opportunity to be champions, to showcase their skills," he said. "It goes to show you that even though we are over here in Iraq, thousands and thousands of miles away, we're still trying to bring Soldiers together, compete and have fun and try to bring the best out of one another. That's really what these tournaments are about."