News: Arifjan combat team rolls through tournament
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait - Members of the Arifjan Combat Team stretched in the corner of a gym, just a few feet away from the fight mats and minutes away from the first round of the Desert Warrior Open Combatives Tournament. The thick air of stale sweat and heat only added to the palpable tension between the four walls – the kind of atmosphere one would seemingly avoid. However, members of the ACT recreate this intensity three-times a week, making June 30 the perfect opportunity to showcase their skills.
Of the 10 members that participated from the ACT, six medaled in five of the six different weight classes at the Desert Warrior Open Combatives Tournament June 30.
“This being my first tournament, I came here looking to win one or two matches, and I got to the finals,” said Sgt. David Salazar of 127th Maintenance Company, who won a silver medal in the cruiserweight division. “I can’t thank my teammates enough. I have been to a few classes and they have taught me a lot.”
The combatives tournament, which was exclusively held for military members, hosted approximately 65 fighters with more than 200 audience members.
“The tournament allows them to come out and demonstrate some of the skill sets they have learned and trained,” said First Sgt. Wilfrid Chapdelaine, senior instructor for the Army Component of U.S. Central Command’s combatives program. “Some of that skill set we actually use on the battlefield and not only that it helps them have some friendly competition with their fellow soldiers.”
In the first round participants competed in five, five-minute fights. Each fight, depending on the style of finish – whether decision or submission – was graded on a point scale from three to six.
“The butterflies and everything goes away as soon as you step foot on the mat,” said Sgt. John Chaffee of the 27th Brigade Combat Team, who won a bronze medal in the heavyweight division. “However, the first match is always the hardest; you really work all of your kinks out after the first few minutes though.”
After the points were tallied, 24 individuals were selected to fight in the weight division’s bronze-medal fight and championship fight. If the prospect of fighting for a medal was not intense enough, the rules changed; allowing participants to open-hand strike to the face, as well as, punch and kick to the body. Additionally, the time limit of the fight increased to a ten-minute round.
“Your adrenaline starts pumping from a referee perspective but also as a fan,” said Chapdelaine, who is a Level 2 in combatives training. “I get very excited to see the young soldiers out here really give it their 110 percent.”
During the medal ceremony – winner or loser – each participant was cheered and revered. Afterwards, the gymnasium stands cleared and the mats were rolled up. However, ACT members ended their day the same way it began – in the corner. Through tattered uniforms and bruised faces, the members were seen laughing and conversing with one another, giving prudence to the notion that while competition is an aspect to the sport; camaraderie is paramount.
Arifjan Combat Team Medal Winners:
- Heavyweight Bronze Medal: Sgt. John Chaffee of the 27th Brigade Combat Team
- Cruiserweight Silver Medal: Sgt. David Salazar of 127th Maintenance Company
- Middleweight Gold Medal: Cpl. Logan Maples of 513th Transportation Company
- Middleweight Bronze Medal: Staff Sgt. Keith Cottrell of 188th Engineer Company
- Welterweight Bronze Medal: Spc. Dustin Clark of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 4-5 Air Missile Defense
- Lightweight Gold Medal: Pvt. First Class Chris Legget of 160th Signal Brigade.
Date Posted:07.05.2012 06:05
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