Two Soldiers stood opposite of each other on a gym mat, one Soldier armed with boxing gloves, the other, bare-fisted. As the unarmed Soldier barreled forward, the boxing gloves repeatedly connected with his face and head, yet he pushed onward, eventually locking his opponent’s arms so he could no longer swing them.
Seventeen Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, “Wolfhounds,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, participated in the Modern Army Combatives Program level one certification course from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 here.
Sgt. Raul Doss, a mortarman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-27 Inf. Regt., said the course teaches Soldiers how to establish dominance in ground combat through a variety of grappling techniques.
“It teaches the basics of ground fighting and grappling,” Doss said. “Once the fight goes to the ground, it’s important to gain control of your opponent, gain dominant body positions and finish the fight.”
Doss, a level four-certified MACP instructor, said the skills taught in level one combatives courses also teach Soldiers a certain escalation of force. It can be beneficial to immobilize an enemy without the use of lethal force, and the course assists students in maintaining their composure during high-stress situations, he added.
“I think the benefits for Soldiers in this course are that they learn hand-to-hand combat,” Doss said. “It’s also an escalation of force. If a Soldier can take down an enemy without using his weapon, it’s better because the Soldier can actually detain him.”
Pvt. Cory Magallanez, a mortarman with HHC, 1-27 Inf. Regt. and a trainee in the level one course, agreed with Doss on the benefits of the course, and added that his experience with the current training has already surpassed what he learned in basic combat training.
“It’s a lot better than when I did it in basic training,” Magallanez said. “It’s more in-depth here. In basic, we did some sparring and a few drills whereas here, the instruction is a lot more detailed.”
Doss said the Army-wide combatives program has been moving away from its mixed martial arts roots and has begun integrating more applicable principles. An example of this, Doss said, can be found in the recent addition of the full-gear training segment in which Soldiers practice the level one techniques while wearing their body armor.
Spc. Anthony Esposito, a mortarman with C Company, 1-27 Inf. Regt. and a course trainee, said this addition to the training, though much more difficult, should prove to be more beneficial for Soldiers in units preparing to deploy to combat. In a close-quarter combat situation, a Soldier would not remove his body armor to engage an enemy, he said. As such, the Soldier should have experience with hand-to-hand combat while wearing his or her body armor.
“We’re training with our body armor on, which helps for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Esposito said. “It’s a lot harder, but it makes sense when you think about why we’re doing it.”
With the brigade in its post-deployment reset phase, Soldiers have begun preparing for training at the individual, team and squad levels. Doss said this combatives course fits into the reset phase as it returns Soldiers to the initial stage of combatives training, building their individual skills and establishing a solid foundation from which they can expand upon in future courses.
“It’s getting the Soldiers started back at the basics,” Doss said. “It strips the Soldiers down, builds them up and keeps them fit. I’ve even seen guys losing weight here already.”
Whether the expressions painted across all seventeen of the trainees’ faces were those of joy or pain, they were all expressions displayed by eager, motivated Soldiers partaking in training that they may one day need in a combat situation.