News: Bruised and battered, but combatives trained
Story by Lt. Col. Carol McClelland
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – It didn’t matter that the sergeant was larger than the other students in the class or that he was paired with a female to practice moves. He had something in common with his classmates – bruises.
“It’s very painful. It looks like I have jaundice after all these bruises,” laughed Sgt. Ryan Wickenden on the last day of Modern Army Combatives Program Level I instruction April 26. A health physics NCO with Nuclear Disablement Team 2, 20th Support Command (CBRNE), Wickenden is able to provide health protection to forces confronted by radioactive materials. Now, after 40 hours of instruction and practical application during the weeklong course, he’s also able to gain a dominant body position against an opponent or perform escape movements using hand-to-hand combat moves he learned.
The Soldier, who didn’t have any previous experience in combatives, said he’s able to find use for everything he was taught in the course.
The course was instructed by Staff Sgt. Sean Oliver, the platoon sergeant for all the NDT’s and a New Port, N.C. native. He previously taught at the U.S. Army Combatives School at Fort Benning, Ga. and wanted to bring the basic combatives course that covers basic ground fighting techniques to Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The four levels of MACP are a combination of jujutsu, wrestling, judo, boxing and other martial arts and are both physically and mentally demanding. Day one of Level 1 instruction starts by covering techniques, body positions, grips, and some advanced techniques like how to escape positions. By day three students react to contact drills.
“I had a boxer come in to be the aggressor so students could feel the contact but also neutralize their opponent,” Oliver explained.
Although the instructor did martial arts before he got into Army combatives, he said anyone can do it.
“There’s not a single type of person who’s interested in this training,” Oliver said. “PT studs or non-PT studs, enlisted, officer, civilians, anyone who’s into self defense techniques.” He’s working to get his Level 4 certification by attending a 30 day course and hopes to offer the Level 1 course twice a quarter to anyone at APG.
Wickenden is a believer. Never mind the bruising, he’s ready to sign up for Level II and said he ultimately would like to learn Level III and become an instructor at the combatives school.