JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.— The sounds of the soldiers grappling and shouts of the crowd filled the Sheridan Fitness center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, as fighters seek to find out who is the best in their brigade in Modern Army Combatives.
During this tournament, hosted by the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, approximately 60 soldiers from the brigade went head-to-head in matches broken down into seven weight classes, but all were fighting to earn a place on the team who would represent the brigade at the JBLM-wide tournament in April.
“Whenever we have a combatives tournament, everyone is eligible to come out,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Herrnberger, platoon sergeant, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. “It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to combatives or level four certified. Anyone from a private to a general can show up and try out and compete to be a warrior and a champion.”
The Lancer Brigade team was looking for the best of the fighters in the brigade to be on the team because they had a reputation of being the best from the previous year.
“After this tournament, we will have our team and we will begin our training so that we can go win the I Corps tournament,” said Herrnberger. “We won last year’s tournament and we want to win it again.”
For one particular fighter, competing in tournaments like this allows him to keep old skills fresh and learn new ones.
“I have done wrestling tournament like this before. That is more where my background is. You learn similar skill sets between the two martial arts. The most similar skill between the two is knowing where your body is in relation to your opponent,” said 1st Lt. Charles Reed, platoon leader, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt. “My biggest problem so far is learning certain submissions. Once I get my opponent where I want him, then I have to remember which one to apply. You have to always be learning.”
Many soldiers of the brigade, learning the skills that may allow them to win this tournament may also be the same that save their lives in a deployment.
“The benefit of this type of Army training is soldiers can use these skills in combat, they will gain the confidence in their abilities to defend themselves,” said Herrnberger. “When they kick in that door or meet the enemy on the battlefield, they won’t hesitate and be scared; they will have the warrior spirit to drive through the enemy.”
At the end of the day, and as the battles on the mats where completed, the winners were: Flyweight class, first place, Junrey Pancho, second place, Pfc. Jesse Miller; Welterweight class, first place, 2nd Lt. Sean Meade, second place, Pfc. Diego Betencourt; Middleweight class, first place, Pfc. Donavon Sweet, second, Pfc. Jonathon Hales; Crusier class, first place, Capt. James Daniels, second place, Pfc. Cole Hartline; Light Heavyweight class, 1st Lt. Jordan Hyatt, second place, Pfc. Kennan Spradlin; and Heavyweight class, first place, 1st Lt. Charles Reed, second place, Pfc. Terrance Harman.