News: Army Combatives Championship kicks off, III Corps defending title
By Daniel Cernero, III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Dynasty - a term used in sports to refer to a team's continued success over multiple years.
At the 2012 U.S. Army Combatives Championship, the III Corps Combatives Team, winners of back-to-back titles, will look to establish just that - a dynasty.
July 26, Soldiers from posts around the Army will take to the mats inside Abrams Physical Fitness Center to begin their quest of being named the best in their respective weight class.
"I'm honored that Fort Hood has been afforded the privilege to host it again, by virtue of the fact that we're two-time defending champions," Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, said. "I'm really excited about the team we've put together this year and the hard work that they've put into the preparation."
According to III Corps coach Jarrod Clontz, this year's team consists of an even higher level of competitors than the teams of 2010 and 2011.
"We have five Division I wrestlers that wrestled through college," he listed as an example. "When you get that caliber of athlete, there's a different type of guy. They already know how to take care of their bodies, they already know how to weight cut, they're already coachable, and really, I just had to tweak a few things about their game.
"They're just monsters," he added. "It makes my job easier."
Clontz, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt himself, said it's the toughest room he's ever grappled in.
"I take some of the team members to roll with a room full of black belts -- seven or eight black belts -- and I'll have some of my blue or purple belt jiu-jitsu guys who are on the team right now, and they're running through black belts from different schools," he said.
Clontz pointed out that at some schools, fighters are separated within the belt system - blue belts grapple with blue belts, purple with purple and so on.
"Here on Fort Hood, we all grapple together, so you'll have brown and black belts rolling with blue and purple belts," he said. "That pot gets stirred. Everybody gets to roll with everybody, and the whole level of the room comes up all at once."
In pursuit of another title, Campbell encouraged his III Corps fighters to represent Fort Hood as strong and professional Soldiers.
"I think these athletes, Soldiers, have demonstrated a level of professionalism that really takes them to another level," Campbell said. "And if we can win for a third time, yes, I would classify that as a dynasty along the lines of Pat Riley in the old Lakers days and the Bulls. We're excited about that, and I'm confident that our team will do well."
Taking note of last year's success, Campbell knows the key to victory lies in racking up as many points as possible early on in the first two days of competition.
Clontz agreed, adding that it's not just how many wins accumulated in the early going, but also how those wins are achieved.
"We always want to go for the finish," Clontz said. "You get five (team) points if you win by points, and you get 10 points if you win by submission.
"This goes with the Warrior Ethos -- we don't want to just go out there and win on points and stall, we want to go out there and finish the fight. And that's why the rules state that you get extra points for finishing, and that's what we want. That's how we practice."
Kris Perkins, the director of Fort Hood's combatives program, said a three-peat is very possible, but added that anything can happen.
"There is some very, very tough competition here," he said. "Off the top of my head, I know of three Olympic alternates that are competing on teams."
Perkins listed teams from Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Stewart, Ga. and Fort Carson, Colo., among Fort Hood's formidable opponents.
"They've definitely brought some heavy-hitters," he said. "The thing is, though, that we're deep across the board. There's no weight class that we're conceding.
"A lot of (posts) bring one or two superstars, but instead, we just have one deep team."
On what another title would mean to Fort Hood, Perkins said it proves that the Great Place is doing things the right way.
"It shows how the command team is supporting the program, and the Soldiers are taking advantage of the opportunity," Perkins said. "They're working their butts off to be champions."
Campbell added, "Regardless of whether we're three-time champs, I think the fact that we're recognized as having one of the strongest, if not the strongest, combatives programs in the Army speaks volumes of the leadership, not from me, but from the team on post, and from our coaches and our Soldiers who want to be part of a very strong dynasty team.
"I think it speaks volumes of our embracement of 'close with and destroy the enemy' -- building that Warrior Ethos in our Soldiers."
The tournament begins July 26 with preliminary bouts, which will follow basic rules. These bouts are scored similar to a wrestling match with the addition of jiu-jitsu, or submissions. July 27, intermediate rules will kick in, allowing for kicks, knees, open hands to the face and punches to the body.
The final day of competition, starting at 4 p.m. July 28, will feature the bouts to decide third and fourth place, followed by the finale with fights to decide the individual winner at each of the eight weight classes. Rules for these matches are advanced rules, which will much more resemble a professional mixed martial art fight, with the exception of knees to the head and elbows.