CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Jan. 23, 2013) -- Soldiers assigned to the 88th Military Police Detachment here shared their knowledge of martial arts with Japanese police officers during an annual New Year's martial arts demonstration ceremony held Jan. 22 at the Sagamihara South Police Department in Sagamihara City.

The main event of the ceremony was an intensive Japanese martial arts demonstration by SMPD officers. They performed judo, a form of Japanese martial arts closely resembling wrestling; kendo, a form of Japanese fencing; and karate. Each demonstration showed the high level of technique the martial artists gained from their daily practice.

This year, for the first time, 88th MP soldiers were invited as guest demonstrators, which allowed them to demonstrate their training as military police officers. The officers utilized some of the tools they are trained on, such as OC spray, commonly known as "pepper spray," and the tactical baton. They also engaged in sparring matching using modern Army combatives.

"I was very impressed with the kendo and judo tournaments, and it was my first time I've ever seen either one of them," said Spc. Joshua Tyson, assigned to the 88th MPs. "I was honored to come out and work with Japanese police and learn different techniques they use, and I was also so happy to show them what we do. I want to thank the Japanese police for inviting us out here to participate. I hope that in the future, we can come out and do it again."

More than 50 distinguished guests, including Sagamihara City government representatives, Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force members and representatives from U.S. Army Japan, attended the ceremony.

"This is a special event because it coincides with the beginning of the year, and I can't think of a better way to start off the year than with demonstration like this," said Col. Eric Tilley, U.S. Army Garrison Japan commander. "[I enjoy] any opportunities that we have to train with [the Japanese] and show the different types and techniques that we can use and learn from each other. This is a learning opportunity and a time to build friendship and fellowship."

The martial arts demonstration is a traditional event for all police stations in Japan to motivate all police workers with the beginning of the New Year. USARJ has been invited to the ceremony by each local community including the Zama, Sagamihara and Sagamihara Minami police departments annually for several years.

"It was a good opportunity to see the U.S. Army's martial arts style, and we saw some similarities and differences [between theirs and ours]," said Naoya Watahiki, chief of the SSPD. "We would like to maintain a good relationship and support each other as neighbors with U.S. Army Japan."

A reception was held following the event, during which the USARJ soldiers met and interacted with the Japanese police officers and other attendees.