FORT HOOD, Texas, June 17, 2011 -- The III Corps Combatives team received help from the outside June 10, 2011, as experienced mixed martial artists Timothy Kennedy and Jason Norwood stopped by the Fort Hood, Texas, fight house to help them train for the All-Army Combatives Tournament at the end of July.

Kennedy currently fights in the civilian world for Strikeforce, an MMA organization, but he is also a three-time winner of the All-Army Combatives Tournament (2005-2007).

“I believe in the program,” Kennedy said of combatives. “I’ve used it in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and other places, as a Special Forces operator. It’s very important to have these skills.”

He said Fort Hood has an amazing team and an amazing facility, and he wants to see these guys succeed.

“It gives me an opportunity, having been successful in the program and successful as a professional fighter, to give back to them,” Kennedy said. “It’s really rewarding to get to do that.”

Jesse Thorton, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of III Corps Combatives, said Kennedy’s visit was very helpful.

“Soldiers come to Soldiers,” Thorton said. “He knows we have a big tournament coming up, so he made sure to open his facility down in Austin (Texas) and he still comes to help us.”

Thorton added that having Kennedy there “adds a level of competition and makes you step up.”

While the fighters were sparring, Kennedy would beat up on who he was fighting with, but Thorton insisted that afterward, the fighter would be better for it.

“It will elevate his game,” Thorton said. “Kennedy is coaching him at the same time. That’s the good thing about Kennedy; he’ll dominate you, but he’s going to teach you along the way.”

Fort Hood will host the All-Army Combatives Tournament July 20-23, 2011, marking the first time the tournament will be hosted by a post other than Fort Benning, Ga.

“It’s pretty much the most prestigious event in the military now,” Kennedy said. “If you’re the champion, if your team gets the team championship, you’re loathed throughout every single unit in the whole entire Army.”

Throughout the week, the combatives team also received the aid of Jason Norwood, a fighter out of Fort Sill, Okla. He won the All-Army tournament in 2008 and 2010, and was deployed in 2009. He now fights in the civilian world, as well.

Norwood, also known as G.I. Jason, is 11-2 as a professional fighter for M-1 Global, and his next fight will appear on Showtime July 8, 2011.

“Myself, Fort Sill and Fort Hood have a very close relationship, because unbeknownst to most people, the director for III Corps Combatives, Kris Perkins, was the NCOIC for Fort Sill Combatives, and he was my first corner when I started fighting,” Norwood said of his reason for visiting. “There’s a connection there that will never die.”

Norwood was a Division I wrestler at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and while he was also there to train himself, he hoped to bring his wrestling experience to the Fort Hood Soldiers.

The III Corps team is comprised of 16 spots -- two at each of the eight weight divisions.

Perkins, the III Corps Combatives director, said they’re making the best of the Soldiers that are here at Fort Hood.

“We had our tournament to find the top people,” Perkins said. “Then we take those people from our tournament and, people come and go, but we try to keep people that we know will be here till the end of July.

“A lot of people are deployed right now, but we have the best that’s available on post right now. Mission is always first, and we should be able to win with whatever he have here,” he added.

With just over a month to go before the tournament, Thorton said the team is practicing at about 80 percent.

“If you go all out, you’ll get a lot of injuries and you’ll lose a lot of guys on your team,” Thorton said. He added that as they get closer and closer to the tournament, that percentage will rise.

“You have to push the intensity,” he said of their practices. “Once you push the intensity, that’s when you can get something out of it. You don’t go out there to hurt your teammate, but it does happen.”

Kennedy said that while he was here, he hoped to give the team an energy boost.

“You kind of get bored doing the same thing,” Kennedy said. “So you have to light a fire, ignite that passion back into being a competitor. I’m the igniter. I’m just here to show them how much fun this sport can be.”