By Mr. James Brabenec (IMCOM)October 7, 2010
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Capt. Jason Norwood's superior ground game enabled him to win a unanimous decision over Jacob South, from Fort Douglas, Utah, to take the cruiserweight division Oct. 3 at the U.S. Army Championship Combatives Tournament at Fort Benning, Ga.
Norwood, officer in charge of the Fort Sill Combatives School, overcame a slip to the mat in the first round and some toe-to-toe punching with South, who also fights professionally. Keeping the fight on the ground, Norwood drove South to the mat in the third round and asserted tactics to maintain his advantage.
In a discipline that draws from ju jitsu, wrestling, judo and kickboxing, he said nearly 500 Soldiers competed and brought a lot of talent to the tournament. He estimated there was at least one professional fighter in each weight class and double-digit advanced belt holders in the various martial arts skills.
"We had an extremely good showing and I'm proud of how hard each fighter worked to prepare for this tournament," said Norwood.
He estimated Fort Sill finished 10th out of 67 teams overall. For a team that brought only 13 fighters, he said to finish anywhere in the top half of teams competing is pretty good.
Sixteen Soldiers faced off in the finals in eight weight classes to earn the distinction of being one of the Army's best fighters.
In other fights, David Mason, from Fort Hood, Texas, carried the bantamweight championship into round three. Mason threw a kick, but Sean Stebbins, from the Minnesota National Guard, grabbed it and wrestled him into a reverse triangle lock. Mason muscled himself free, and kept Stebbins on the mat until the round ended to win by split decision.
Francisco Mercado, from Fort Bragg, N.C. kept tight on top of Erik Cabal-Garibay for nearly the entire fight, loosening up just enough to pop off a few strikes to the head. The fight went to time and Mercado won the flyweight championship in a split decision.
In the first round of the lightweight finals, Donnie Bowen, from Fort Campbell, Ky., unleashed a barrage of hard connecting head shots against Neil Chitwood, from Fort Carson, Colo. Chitwood ducked under a volley of punches in round two to tackle his opponent to the mat and repeatedly drove his knee into Bowen's back. He then kicked Bowen's head while his opponent was down, and the referee disqualified Chitwood in the third round.
Marquis Daniels, from Fort Drum, N.Y., submitted his opponent, Trey Robbins, from Fort Bragg, with a guillotine choke hold in the first two minutes of the welterweight championship fight.
The middleweight championship was decided on the ground when Jon Anderson, of Fort Benning locked a rear mount on Andrew Chappelle, from Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Anderson proceeded to rain blows on the back of Chappelle's head until the referee stopped the fight.
Applying a reverse bent arm bar, Jason Eggelston, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., forced a verbal submission from Brandon Wallace, from the Military District of Washington, to win the light- heavyweight class.
Aaron Jackson, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., ripped Ngozi Collins, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, off the ropes and slammed him to the mat. Jackson took a dominant position and showered blows to Collins' back until the referee stopped the fight to win the heavyweight title.
Fort Hood won the team award this year for the unit or installation whose fighters collectively score the most team points.
"I'm really proud of my guys," said Jon Moore, Fort Hood combatives coach. "We drilled and drilled and drilled until the techniques became second nature. To see all that work pay off and Fort Hood to take trophy this year, feels amazing."
The Pentagon Channel covered the entire event for its upcoming series "Close Combat," which premiers in January.
(Editor's note: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio contributed to this article).