By Sgt. Peter BerardiAugust 13, 2012
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - The sun was going down, the heat of the day still lingering in the air, and deployed soldiers were arriving at a large, dusty, mat filled tent to attend Modern Army Combatives Program Level One training at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Aug. 6-10.
Level one combatives is a five-day course designed to teach soldiers the basics of self-defense and to familiarize them with the challenges of hand-to-hand combat.
"Level one is not meant to make you proficient in fighting, it's meant to allow you to control the situation and protect yourself long enough for help to arrive," said Staff Sgt. Justin Day, lead instructor and member of Bravo Company, 45th Air Missile Defense. "Soldiers don't always fight on the battle field, sometimes we have to fight at Walmart to protect our family," added Day.
The first day the soldiers went through many warm up drills and exercises before starting to learn any techniques.
For one soldier, the course was an opportunity to not only learn a new skill but to also test his physical and mental limits.
"The first day was pretty rough," explained Spc. Regis Kessler, a resident of Pittsburgh and a member of the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). "There was a lot of physical exercise that I wasn't ready for. It was very tiring, I'm sore, still feeling it from the first day," added Kessler. "I thought it was going to be more instruction and less jumping and rolling around on the ground," he said. "I didn't expect to come in to do more PT [physical training] and get all sweaty."
By day three soldiers were practicing many fundamental techniques including clinches, takedowns, and head control.
Maintaining these techniques is very important.
"The trainings been good, it's tiring and extra PT, but it's something different," said Kessler. Also, "when you do something 70 times it tends to sticks with you," he added.
"My favorite part so far has getting to throw around Sgt. [Andre] Patterson, cause he's a lot bigger than me," said Kessler. "I get him down once in a while, but every time I do he comes right back and does the same to me," added Kessler. It shows that the moves really work and that size isn't everything in a fight.
Along with a steady workout, overcoming bumps and bruises are part of the course.
"The fighting is really tiring," explained Kessler. "Actually going through the moves, rolling around on the ground, having your opponent resist, that can really wear you out. At one point I ended up with a bloody nose and don't even know how it happened."
After five days of training, one last hurdle remains for the students to earn their level one certification, passing the performance test.
"In the performance test there are 15 testable moves and they have to pass six out of eight moves for a go," said Day.
"They made me pretty nervous coming into the test," Kessler said, "but once we started the moves it got pretty easy cause everything came back to me."
Kessler is now a certified MACP level one combatant and is able to teach those fundamentals to other soldiers.
"I was second guessing myself after the first day or two, but after that it was worth it. I didn't expect it to be such a rough workout and then having to come to work the next day wasn't enjoyable," Kessler continued, "knowing to do those moves, anybody can do them, now I know that I can do them.