JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The 80th Ordnance Battalion hosted a Modern Army Combatives Program tournament Sept. 27 at the East Gym on Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
"The importance of Army Combatives is to let everyone know that we're Soldiers first, regardless of whatever our (military occupation specialties) may be," said Spc. Nigel Davis, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Modern Army Combatives Program, with the 80th Ordnance, Headquarter and Headquarters Detachment, out of Fort Lewis, Wash.
Davis said competition is in his blood and he looks forward to competing in the next tournament, in which he expects participation from more service members.
"I was very shocked," said Davis. "I never expected to see so much technique, so much professionalism and so much joy out of competing in this tournament, and the fact they are ready for more."
"I feel great," said Pfc. Ismael Roman, the operations administrator for the 37th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Bragg, N.C., who competed and won the middleweight division. "It was one of the best times I've had here. I didn't expect to win."
Roman, a Puerto Rico native, said he has competed in other tournaments, but this was his first Army combatives tournament. Before he joined the Army, he studied grappling, wrestling and Aikido, and plans to compete in the next tournament, he said.
"I'm going to try to get into every tournament there is here; I encourage everybody to," said Staff Sgt. Oscar F. Narvaez, noncommissioned officer in charge of training for the 72nd Signal Battalion (Expeditionary), out of Manheim, Germany, who competed in the lightweight division and finished runner-up.
Narvaez, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, who has studied combatives for three years, said watching the event grow from one year to another was remarkable. Although the Army adopted the program in 2002, better marketing has resulted in an increase in training facilities and instructors, he said.
"I encourage all Soldiers to actually go out and get involved in the Modern Army Combatives Program," said Narvaez. "It's something positive and it's going to lead to nothing but positive things in the Army."
Davis said he has only done combatives for a year, but has trained in boxing and has knowledge of martial arts in Aikido, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
"My goal is to go to level four and to continue on training Soldiers," he said. "For me to train someone and to see them utilize the technique that I have trained them on, is just like an architect putting a brick in a building. They can always look at that building and see something they were a part of ... A majority of the combatants were my students."
Davis teaches MACP level-one class, three times a month.
"Right now, we have graduated a total of 198 students," he said.
Davis said he was grateful to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation East Gym staff members for setting up the event, because without them it would have taken much longer.
"I would also like to thank my assistant instructors," said Davis. "If it wasn't for them, the program wouldn't be as strong as it is today. It is easy for me to go in and sign a certificate but they actually train and teach the class, and we're looking to have more students. So, bring them on."