Army Combatives Results

November 13th, 2006  

Topic: Army Combatives Results

FORT BENNING, Ga. — Fighters from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School won the second annual All-Army Combatives Tournament here on Sunday.

Almost 200 soldiers competed in the tournament over two days in the passenger terminal of Lawson Army Airfield. See photos from the tournament.

The soldiers, representing 34 teams, fought in six weight classes. Each team could have up to 12 members, two for each weight class. The winning team was determined by the number of fights it won and the way the bouts were won.

The fights featured Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo, boxing and Muay Thai, said Matt Larsen, director of the Modern Army Combatives program.

“The [program] is the method with which we get hand-to-hand combat instruction to every soldier in the Army,” Larsen said. “What we’re really training for is the battlefield. This [tournament] is just the method, a means to the end.”

Highlights of the tournament included the light heavyweight fight between Staff Sgt. Tim Kennedy, of the Special Warfare Center and School, and Sgt. Damien Stelly, of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

After three heart-stopping five-minute rounds of fighting, Kennedy won this year’s light heavyweight title, repeating his feat from the year before. Stelly won the heavyweight title at last year’s all-Army tournament.

Kennedy said Stelly was “tough” and “explosive.”

“He’s an excellent fighter and an excellent soldier,” Kennedy said. “I take my hat off to him. I knew he was going to be a great fight.”

Stelly returned the compliment.

“I’m just glad we had a good fight,” he said. “He’s a true sportsman. He brought his best, I brought my best. It was a close fight.”

Other competitors this year included soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, the 25th Infantry Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the Guam National Guard and the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Benning, Fort Riley, Kan., Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Sill, Okla., also sent teams to the event.

Competitors must represent an installation, division or independent brigade, Larsen said.

Also featured this year were two female fighters.

Spc. Sheila Pereira, who fought in the lightweight class for Fort Campbell, won her first fight but was eliminated after losing her second and third fights. This was her first co-ed combatives tournament.

After she was eliminated, Pereira was upbeat.

“I hope that being here, coming out, we all respect each other as fighters,” said Pereira, whose father is a judo and jiu jitsu sensei. “I just want to do my best, no matter who I go against.”

“I felt like I was just like anybody else,” she said. “Hopefully they felt that way, too. I didn’t think any of them held back. I have no regrets coming out here. It was an honor to participate.”

First Sgt. Allen Blend, of 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry, Guam National Guard, brought 10 fighters to the tournament. This was the first big tournament for the soldiers.

“The biggest thing we hope to take home is the experience and knowledge … so it’ll spread through the units and [we can] develop the [combatives] program,” Blend said. “Maybe next year we’ll come back with a more experienced team.”

Many of this year’s competitors talked about the importance of combatives.

“I love fighting,” Kennedy said. “I think it’s the greatest sport in the world. Occupationally it’s an absolute necessity.”

Combatives has helped build Stelly’s confidence. . “Fighting in general has helped me stay more calm when things go crazy,” the Afghanistan veteran said.

Since 2000, more than 16,000 soldiers have completed Level I combatives training, Larsen said. The train-the-trainer program has four levels, with Level IV being the most advanced.

“Soldiers today have to be ready to operate at all spectrums of force,” Larsen said. “Some of these soldiers could be fighting for their life when they deploy to Iraq six months from now.”

Larsen said he’s documented more than 300 incidents of soldiers using their combatives skills in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Last year, 128 fighters representing 26 teams competed in the inaugural all-Army tournament, said Sgt. 1st Class Dave Barron, chief trainer for the combatives school here.

“I think that you can expect exponential growth,” Larsen said about future tournaments. “Combatives isn’t just for the people who want to do it. It’s for every soldier.”

Here are the full standings:

Team results

1st: John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, N.C.

2nd: Fort Riley, Kan.

3rd: 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.

Individual results

140 pounds

1st: 2nd Lt. Ben Hart, Fort Riley.

2nd: Sgt. Josh Fridgen, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota National Guard.

3rd: Staff Sgt. Pedro Fombona, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

155 pounds

1st: Pfc. Pedro Lacerda, 75th Ranger Regiment.

2nd: 1st Lt. Roman Kocherovski, Fort Campbell, Ky.

3rd: Cpl. Jamel Ellison, 75th Ranger Regiment.

170 pounds

1st: Spc. Chris Gordon, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Italy.

2nd: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dale Wooden, Special Warfare Center and School.

3rd: Sgt. 1st Class Pete Grey, Fort Lewis, Wash.

185 pounds

1st: 2nd Lt. Brandon Bear, Fort Riley.

2nd: Sgt. Aaron Santana, 75th Ranger Regiment.

3rd: Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hathaway, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

205 pounds

1st: Staff Sgt. Tim Kennedy, Special Warfare Center and School.

2nd: Sgt. Damien Stelly, 75th Ranger Regiment.

3rd: Cpl. Ryan Nyhus, Fort Riley.


1st: Sgt. Brandon Sayles, Fort Benning.

2nd: Staff Sgt. Benjamin Bradley, Fort Gordon, Ga.

3rd: Staff Sgt. Alan Shebaro, Special Warfare Center and School.

• Photo gallery: The second Annual All-Army Combatives Tournament.
November 13th, 2006  
I highly recommend some of the older troopers out there to check this out. Army combatives or Ground Fighting Technique as we were taught to call it, GFT for short. This aint the garbage they were teaching back during the vietnam days, this is the real deal. It focuses mainly on grappling with some killing blows throw in. They are teaching this stuff pretty heavily at Benning, we were out there every weekend learning it. The Infantrymen of today are much better prepared for hand-to-hand combat then the previous generation.

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