News: ‘Straight Arrows’ enhance skills, esprit de corps during tournament
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, vied against one another to establish the best hand-to-hand fighters in the battalion, during a Modern Army Combatives Program tournament at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 31-June 1.
“Straight Arrows,” in weight classes ranging from light to heavyweight, took down opponents, grappled, and strove to achieve dominant positions, to earn points or forced submissions to win each bout.
Competitors embodied the “I will never quit” tenant of the Warrior Ethos throughout the tournament, said the event’s coordinator, 1st Lt. Paul Wagner, communications officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 42nd FA Regiment.
“Even in dire situations, many of them held out, testing their physical and mental resiliency, to fight on until the end of the mission,” Wagner said. “They have stepped up to test themselves in an arena of competition that most of them had little or no experience in. I feel the soldiers have a better understanding of what they are capable of.”
Wagner said the competition also brought the battalion closer as a whole.
“The camaraderie displayed during the fights was exceptional,” Wagner said. “After a tough match, you would see the soldiers come together to talk about the experience, give each other praise, and end up coaching each other in later rounds.”
In the months leading up to the competition, 47 “Straight Arrow” troops completed the 40-hour MACP level one course, a training regimen designed to develop realistic fighting skills, incorporating ground fighting, stand-up fighting, and take-downs into a soldier’s tactical repertoire.
Pfc. Allen Rodriguez, cannon crew member, Battery B, said he enjoyed the opportunity to demonstrate his new skills to the rest of his unit.
“Learning combatives and fighting in this tournament has made me more confident, and demonstrated to my leaders that I’m a dedicated soldier,” Rodriguez said. “I hope I can compete in more tournaments as the deployment continues.”
While Rodriguez said he considers his ability to wiggle out of a tight spot his greatest strength as a fighter, Sgt. Jacob Newell said his strongest asset is his mind.
Defeating an opponent hand-to-hand has as much to do with strategy and mental agility as it does with strength and speed, said Newell, cannon crew member, Battery A, who won the cruiserweight class tournament.
“Physically it all comes down to heart, but one of my biggest challenges is to slow down and think,” Newell said. “It’s like a game of chess; mentally you have to be three or four moves ahead of your opponent.”
Newell said he prepared for the competition by training with larger and more experienced fighters.
“My training partners could wipe the floor with me, but they were always willing to help me learn new moves or how to read and counter my opponents,” he said. “It all comes down to training.”