News: National Guard soldiers promote combatives
Story by Sgt. Joshua Risner
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - National Guard soldiers Sgt. 1st Class Michael Huitdma and Maj. Greg Darlow discuss the importance of combatives.
In a tent on Forward Operating Base Schoonover that is normally reserved for briefings, two soldiers have set down mats and are testing their skills in jujitsu on each other.
They are here for Combat Support Training Exercise 91 11-01 at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., but this is not part of the exercise. They are simply getting in a good workout and keeping themselves sharp.
“Even though we’re in the field, we still continue with our combatives training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Huitdma, assigned to the 109th Regional Support Group out of Rapid City, S.D. “Everywhere we go, we like to take some mats with us even though the days are hot and long.”
For Huitdma and his sparring partner, Maj. Greg Darlow, combatives is more than just a minor training tool; it is a vital part of being a soldier.
“I think it instills the warrior ethos,” said Huitdma. “It gains you confidence to know that if you’re on the battlefield and get in trouble, you know the more you train here, the easier it is out there.”
Huidtma has been involved in martial arts since he was 17, but got involved in the Army combatives program after his first tour in Iraq. He trained Iraqi police in hand-to-hand techniques but was met with skepticism.
“At times when I was showing them the techniques, they tried to resist to prove that what we had might not be legit,” he said. “I knew that I needed to find something else to be able to have that edge.”
Since then, Huitdma has trained diligently, earning a brown belt in Brazilian jujitsu and a level four certification in Modern Army Combatives. He is a firm believer in the program and urges all Soldiers to train and become more proficient in combatives.
“I think there’s times we get resistance because somebody might think they’re too old or too out of shape,” he said. “ I think every soldier and leader needs it; it’s a confidence booster.”
While the combatives program has become a major part of the active component, Darlow feels it is still on the fringe of Reserve and National Guard training programs.
“It’s continually gaining momentum, but it won’t get big until the senior leadership starts to buy off on it and realize how important it is,” said Darlow. “If it can save one soldier’s life, that’s worthwhile to me.”
For Huitdma and Darlow, the combatives program is an invaluable training tool, both for physical fitness and for mental readiness. They want to spread the word that it is not just for combat arms soldiers; it can be beneficial to anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort.
Who knows, it could save your life one day.