Let's get combative

  • Published
  • By SrA Mariah Haddenham
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs Office
Bare feet shuffle across blue mats as Airmen and Soldiers find themselves in a battle of vigilance and reflexes during the Basic Combatives Course at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Jan. 4-8.

The course supports the "total solider concept" producing well-rounded, skilled and more confident service members with approximately 10 students participating in the course at a time and 12 classes graduating per year.

"A 'total soldier concept' means that it's not about knowing how to shoot a gun or fly a plane, you need to know how to do everything," said Sgt. 1st Class Ralph Alfonso, U. S. Army Combatives School director and instructor. "Students leave here upon graduation with the ability and knowledge to go back to their units and teach them combatives as well."

According to 'History of the Modern Army Combatives Program', the first U.S. Army Combatives Manual was published in 1852 and was a translation of a French bayonet fighting manual.

Meanwhile, Air Force Strategic Air Command under General Curtis E. LeMay implemented a Judo program beginning in 1950, sending 13 instructors to Japan in 1952 to the first Kodokan, a premier Judo school in Tokyo.

While most branches have their own combatives programs, many eventually died out. In 1995, the commander of the 2nd Ranger Battalion ordered a re-invigoration of combatives training. While adjustments were made to the original program, by 2002 the program gained so much popularity that it became Army-wide training requirement.

Since the creation of the program, service members from all military branches have attended the course and returned to their units with what the instructors refer to as a 'perishable skill'.

"Combatives need to be practiced regularly," Alfonso said. "The skill is like a muscle, it needs to be worked and trained to perform at the best of its ability. Students who take the knowledge back to their units, and trains with them regularly, are keeping those skills current."

Students learn grappling, submission and escape tactics to move themselves to a more dominant position in the event of a physical altercation. In all, the students learn 12 techniques, but new skills aren't all the students depart the class with.

"We show our students how realistic training, such as grappling,  places the students in uncomfortable, stressful situations, and have them work through the feelings of fight or flight," said Staff Sgt. Dennis Jones, USACE master combatives instructor. "By the end of this course, the Soldiers and Airmen should leave with the confidence to close with, engage and destroy the enemy."

Any service member who wishes to participate in the course just needs to provide their most recent physical fitness assessment, fill out a safety questionnaire, and complete a combatives injury screening form.

"Some of our Ravens have taken the course, including myself, and I would definitely recommend it to other service members," said Staff Sgt. Gabriell Viera, 811th Security Forces Squadron executive aircraft security team leader.  "A price can't be placed on the skills we have been taught, and I'm grateful to have gone through this learning experience with my team."

For more information about United States Army Combatives School go to http://www.hqbn.belvoir.army.mil/combatives.asp