News: Fort Bliss Combatives Team members triumph in Jiu-jitsu tournament
Story by Sgt. Valerie Lopez
FORT BLISS, Texas - As his sweat hits the mat, Spc. Justin Gonzales, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, reaches over the opponent to place him in a choke hold. While using his legs to lock in the opponent’s neck, Gonzales squeezes his opponent into submission, during a Jiu-jitsu tournament in Rio Rancho, N.M., April 28.
This was one of many battles for seven members of the Fort Bliss Combatives Team.
“Because you have to focus on more techniques, fighting in civilian tournaments helps you improve for Army tournaments,” said Gonzales. “At these tournaments we fight at a higher level of jiu-jitsu, since we are fighting people who practice five or six hours per day.”
Gonzales has been on the team two and half years and has competed in more than 10 different martial arts tournaments.
“The whole reason we came to this tournament is to gain experience and build confidence,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Pretat, Fort Bliss Installation Combatives non-commissioned officer in charge.
Army Combatives instills the confidence to face adversaries on the battlefield, but during this tournament the soldiers went against trained opponents.
Overall, this tournament is a confidence builder and it teaches the soldiers what they need to work on, said Pretat.
Pretat said that in combat or in garrison, if attacked, these soldiers will have the confidence that they have the chance to win or that they will definitely take down the enemy and control them until their battle buddy arrives.
For some of the soldiers this was their first time competing since joining the team.
Second Lt. Jessica Huggins, Operations Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Armored Division, joined the team in late March. She said, “combatives is a challenge. You have to face the fear of getting your butt kicked.”
Although it was her fist time competing, Huggins took the top two honors in the women’s division for her weight.
“I did better than I thought I would,” said Huggins. “It felt good. Just being able to compete alongside [my teammates] and represent Bliss is awesome.”
During the tournament every member for the Fort Bliss team placed in the top third for their weight group.
Although the soldiers had less training than others at the tournament, Pretat said that they still prevailed with winning. In preparation for the All Army Combatives Competition in July, these tournaments are a good training tool for the soldiers.
“I'm excited but nervous because of the huge differences between this tournament and the Army Tournaments,” said Huggins. “But I think what we are doing in practice is helping me prepare a lot [for those] fights.”