Story and photos by Sgt. James R. Moore
43rd Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Office
The energy at Garcia Physical Fitness
Center was almost palpable Aug. 28 as the last preparations were made for the 2009 All Fort Carson Modern Combative Tournament.
Racquetball courts were turned into padded stretching areas for the fighters to ready themselves for a long day that would push their bodies and minds to the limits.
Of 117 fighters in seven weight classes, only the top three in each weight class would make the team to represent Fort Carson at the All Army Modern Combatives Tournament at Fort Benning, Ga., Thursday-Sunday.
“I’m just going in there nice and relaxed, letting my opponent waste his energy,” said Spc. Joshua Hankin, 549th Quartermaster Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, as he warmed up.
Large blue mats were laid down on the north and south end of the gymnasium floor for the preliminary rounds, and a boxing ring with rows of surrounding chairs stood in the center of the gym for the finals round.
Two large screens displayed video footage from 4th Infantry Division’s deployment to Iraq. The sounds of rock ‘n’ roll filled the air as the crowds of spectators filtered into the gym. Event staff members, such as referees and medical support personnel made sure everything was in order to begin the day’s events.
Soon, the music stopped and a spotlight shone down on the event organizer, Sgt. 1st
Class Vincent Miller, Mission Support Element Training and Modern Army Combatives Program, who stood in the center of the ring to welcome the crowd to the event.
Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding
general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, spoke to the crowd and the fighters about the importance of being able to use combative skills in combat.
After Miller led the fighters and crowd in reciting the Soldiers’ Creed, the tone was set for the bouts to begin.
Amid cheers and shouting from the crowd, fighters paired off on each of the four mats to begin the preliminary round.
Spc. Steve Figueroa, 360th Transportation Company, 68th CSSB, 43rd SB, won his preliminary round in the heavyweight division.
“This has been a good challenge; I mainly focused on takedowns and to accumulate points.
I just wanted to take my time and keep focused. It feels great to have made it this far, I’m actually surprised.” said Figueroa, who also won in the finals to make the Fort Carson team.
A one-hour intermission after the preliminary round gave those who made it to the finals a chance to eat and rest. During the intermission, Miller introduced the crowd to the principles and mentality behind the various teachings of the program.
Fully padded-up fighters than entered the ring and demonstrated these practices in full contact. Miller injected realism into the demonstration when he introduced three fighters to the ring, one fighter simulated being a detainee, and the other two had to work together as a team to subdue the “hostile” detainee. This demonstration not only proved how the techniques taught in the program could be applied to real-world situations, but it also got the crowd fired up for the finals.
After a long day where blood and sweat met the mats, the event came to a close as
21 fighters who would go on to compete at
Fort Benning were identified.
“This was a great event; it was well set up and well run. Miller did a really great job, as did the 43rd Sustainment Brigade,” said Master Sgt. David Bolling, 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordinance Disposal), an experienced fighter who competed in the event.
Command Sgt. Maj. Miles Wilson,
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, explained the importance of having a combatives program.
“The purpose behind today’s tournament is for fighters to compete for the spots on the Fort Carson team to compete at Fort Benning. The Modern Army Combatives Program was adopted by the U.S. Army to instill confidence in Soldiers. If something goes bad, and all else is gone, such as the use of weapons, Soldiers can rely on the skills they’ve learned in the program.”