News: Pain, blood and victory: Soldiers and airmen compete in combatives
Story by Sgt. Adrian Borunda
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. - Members of the Arizona Army and Air National Guard competed in the 2013 Arizona National Guard Combatives Tournament and Qualification Jan. 26 at Vista Grande High School.
The guardsmen were competing for spots on the team that would represent Arizona at the All Army and All Guard Tournaments in March at Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Hood, Texas.
“The whole point is to test the endurance and the combat resiliency of the soldier,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Sojourner with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion.
The tournament consisted of three, double elimination rounds lasting various times in which the competitors had to apply their knowledge and physical stamina in rounds of increasing contact.
The first round consisted of ground fighting-like wrestling, the second round was a pankration round that added open hand slaps and kicks, and the third round consisted of full contact with MMA style gloves, Sojourner said.
“It’s all about taking the fight and fighting to win – taking the fight to the enemy,” Sojourner said.
Sgt. Michael Jones, a member of the 996th Area Support Medical Company based out of Tempe, Ariz., came to the competition with the goal of putting his training to the test.
“I have never had the chance to use my skills in a real fight, I did that today,” Jones said.
The tournament was an opportunity for Jones to re-evaluate his skill set and learn what he needs to work on.
“I want to improve on my cardio and my submission game,” Jones said. He was forced to give up twice when his opponent caught him in an arm bar and a choke, but redeemed himself with a technical knockout win in his final fight.
Jones said he “recognizes” the physical benefits but there is something more to be gained from combatives.
“It builds mental toughness to get into the fight and not quit,” Jones said.
For Spc. Jordan Dekock, a member of the 365th Signal Company based out of Papago Park Military Reservation, a form of martial arts has helped him since high school.
“Combatives has helped me gain confidence. I used to get picked on in middle school so I got fed up with it and I picked up wrestling in high school,” Dekock said.
Being consistent is the way to be successful in combatives, says Dekock.
“It’s just like staying in shape – it takes not just a month of going hard, but year after year,” he said.
“In combat, we come upon a situation where we have to close with the enemy and finish the fight,” Sojourner said.
With 32 competitors in six different weight classes, this was the largest Arizona National Guard Combatives tournament to date.
The 12-member team consisting of the first and second place winners in each weight class, will continue to train at the Petty Crew Armory until the competitions in March.