FORT EUSTIS, VA, UNITED STATES
FORT EUSTIS, Va. - As you enter the academy, or "dojo," you will see stenciling on the floor, the words "TAKE OF YOUR FOOTGEAR." Your second step inside is greeted by energy that rattles your senses. If you enter the building after 8 a.m., you will most likely find a grappling match in full progress or find level-two trainees sweating as they warm up for the day’s training of armbars and choke holds.
At the Fort Eustis Combatives Academy, you find "Resolute Warriors" eager to learn the basics of the Modern Combatives Program.
“Army combatives maintains the warrior ethos. It instills the will to fight and engage the enemy,” said Spc. Kendrick Washington Scott, an assistant instructor for the academy, currently assigned to the 149th Seaport Operations Company, 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade. “If their assigned weapon doesn’t fire, we give them the skills to finish the fight.”
The MCP begins at basic training where soldiers learn to maintain and keep accountability of their assigned weapon. Soldiers are taught to never relinquish their weapon to anyone, especially the enemy. The three basic options specific for combatants are to disengage with the enemy, gain a controlling position, and finish the fight.
The first couple of days of the 40-hour level-one course are striking and protection drills. Day three is option three drills and the first opportunity for soldiers to get some hands-on experience.
“Combatants will engage their opponents and react to contact. They will then utilize one of the three basic clinches that they have been shown in order to tie up their opponent and keep themselves from getting hit,” said Scott.
The Resolute Warriors primarily from the brigade’s Special Troops Battalion seem able and prepared.
“It’s going very well. We are going through the movements by repetition after repetition. It is making us stronger than when we first started,” said Sgt. Kelsey Miller, assigned to the 558th Transportation Company, STB.
“It definitely incorporates discipline and hard work. They really train you extensively here. It is only a week-long course, so there is so much work to cover,” said Sgt. Aaron Kowall, assigned to the 235th Signal Company, STB. “The trainers have a lot of knowledge and are bringing in techniques I have never heard of.”
On Friday they have a final test before they can move to level-two.
“They have to complete the react to contact drills which are option three drills. They will have to engage an opponent and use non-deadly force to take down their opponent,” said Staff Sgt. Jedadiah Eustaquio, a level-two instructor, assigned to the 368th SOC, 10th Trans. Bn. “Once they graduate it is up to them to take this training back to their units and train others using these techniques.”
The instructors say that at the end of the course, the soldiers will changed enormously.
“They are going to be a lot more confident in themselves, grow into more competent warriors, and hold up their heads a little higher,” said Eustaquio.
Scott added, “Everyone is leaving more confident that they can fight, or at least, that their willingness is there. If it was challenging before, they now feel encouraged to complete the task. At the end, you will see an evolution of that soldier to where they are not just ‘high speed,’ but have an added energy different from normal training.”
Not only does the combatives program seem to give confidence to these warriors, but it also encourages them to teach others.
“I would definitely pursue combatives level-two, and maybe instruct level-one, especially to those who may not get the chance to go through the full 40-hour course,” said Sgt. Kowall. “It was a great experience.”
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This work, Resolute Warriors take it to the mats, by SGT Edwin Rodriguez, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.