The Bayonet

Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013

Armor lieutenants learn basic combatives skills

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For the Soldiers of L Troop, 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry, 199th Infantry Brigade, Thursday and Friday provided a change of pace in their physical training routines.

The troop conducted combatives training at the combatives gym on Harmony Church in place of their usual PT, and Soldiers said the change was a positive one.

“It was a good change of pace for PT,” 1st Lt. Ethan Ulrich said. “A couple of the guys have been itching to get out here and roll around. We’re starting to learn the fundamentals, and starting to put some things together.”

The Soldiers started Thursday by learning the basic ground positions and the warmup drills that begin each combatives class. 2nd Lt. John Wessel said many of the Soldiers in the troop did not have combatives experience, which made Thursday’s initial class challenging.

“Most of the guys are probably unfamiliar, so I think it takes a while to get used to the warmup drills and having to stand up a certain way every time,” Wessel said. “That discipline is going to be a foundation for the troop.”

Jason Keaton, combatives director, said the first day is usually tough for Soldiers who are new to combatives. However, he said he was sure progress was on the horizon.

“What’s really amazing about this program is we can take a group of untrained individuals and within a 40-hour course make them fairly competent in hand-to-hand fighting,” Keaton said.

While Keaton said he wants the Soldiers to learn the fundamentals of combatives, he also wants them to pay attention to the teaching techniques the instructors use during the course, as the ability to teach the basic fundamentals to other Soldiers is an important skill he hopes the class will develop.

“The toughest part for them is learning to slow down so they can really learn how to teach this,” he said. “Getting them to spar and train hard is never an issue. They’ll get it. They always do.”

For many of the Soldiers, the initial combatives course may be the only combatives training they receive for the rest of their military careers. In that case, Keaton said he hopes they leave the class with a basic understanding of fight strategy.

“Close the distance, gain dominant position and finish the fight,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean going to the ground.” In addition to the techniques learned during the class, Keaton said combatives training also helps to develop mental toughness, something that will undoubtedly be useful on the battlefield.

“It’s kind of a gut check, and it helps to develop the right mindset for fighting,” he said. “The mindset is the same whether you’re fighting mixed martial arts or clearing a room. If you have the proper mindset, it’ll be easier to deal with things as they come up. Combatives is all about making sure you have the proper mindset under stress. That’s why it’s such a valuable tool for honing warriors. It’s not just about coming out here and grappling.”

In addition to developing mental toughness, the Soldiers also said the class was a fun activity that has helped to boost troop morale.

“It helps our espirit de corps,” Ulrich said. “It’s a morale booster, and also helps teach us the fundamentals of basic fighting and Soldiering.”

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