By Megan Burnham
Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - It's one thing to defeat an attacker by pummeling them by any means necessary to render them incapable of fighting; however, it's entirely another to take down an opponent without throwing a single punch and while receiving minimal injuries.
Volunteers spent the week of June 9 to 13 participating in the Army-wide standard training program, the Modern Army Combatives Program Level 1, held at Denich Gym. This course consisted of learning basic combative techniques, continually practicing them and demonstrating it to the instructors before becoming level one certified.
The 40-hour course was conducted and overseen by level three combatives instructor Army Staff Sgt. Steven Barthmaier. Barthmaier, along with three other assistant instructors, taught the students in Army combatives by conducting realistic training that improved their proficiency and knowledge in hand-to-hand combat.
The first half of the week was spent learning the basic techniques to prepare them for the clinch against the punch drill. This exercise consisted of the student sparring with the puncher and putting them in a clinch all the while obtaining actual punches to simulate a real hand-to-hand combat situation.
"All the students did excellent," said Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Ellis, a level two certified AI. "You could tell who had previous experience and who had not but still put up a good fight."
The students came from a variety of units and branches including the 525th Military Police Company, the Navy Expeditionary Guard Battalion, Public Affairs Office and one civilian individual.
The main goals of this class are to instill the warrior ethos in each student and build their overall confidence.
"This class builds confidence and helps the student if they were ever put in a situation where they had to defend themselves," said Ellis.
Combatives uses a variety of techniques from other sorts of martial arts including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, moi tai, Russian sambo, stick fighting and Greco Roman wrestling, to name a few, but the primary techniques used comes from jiu-jitsu.
"I like (this class) because it's a refresher for me in basic Brazilian jiu-jitsu and it's easy to learn and easy to do," commented Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Teves, a student with previous combatives training.
Each day was spent learning and practicing different types of techniques including the fighter's stance, achieving the mount, escaping the mount, accomplishing the rear naked choke and the cross collar choke as well as certain arm bar techniques. Every technique was thoroughly explained and demonstrated to the student before they were instructed to attempt it themselves.
"Things that they learn (in this class) is how to be the aggressor in the fight as opposed to being the opossum and playing in a defensive posture," said Barthmaier.
While the spar would stop at the first sign or indicator of an injury, students did, in fact, receive minor injuries but no one was seriously hurt. Throughout the course safety precautions were exercised by always having a combat lifesaver, an emergency medical technician and a paramedic on site.
Even if students was could pass all the exercises, they still had to be able to demonstrate their expertise in teaching the basic combatives techniques before they were level 1 certified.
"It's a train-the-trainer course," said Barthmaier. "For the (students) we just trained, they are now the subject matter expert. They can go back to their unit and train their own on those same techniques."