Infantry: Soldier's Street Fighter SmackDown Results


September 27, 2009: The U.S. Army recently held its fifth annual Army Combatives Tournament. There were 318 soldiers competing, organized into 48 teams (organized by units or bases worldwide). The top scoring ten teams were; Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, Fort Lewis, Washington, 75th Ranger Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Hood, Texas, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, Colorado.

There were seven women soldiers this year, compared to five last year. Because the actual fights are one-on-one, in six weight classes (like boxing), there will eventually be a women winner in one of the lighter weight classes. Thus the larger, and more successful, teams were from bases with lots of combat units (that are not overseas in combat). Most of the winning army bases are home to major combat units. Fort Campbell is home of the 101st Airborne Division and the 5th Special Forces Group. Ft Hood is the home of III Corps, and over half a dozen combat brigades and regiments.

Over the last few decades, the U.S. military has developed a form of combat "street fighting" as a necessary combat technique. Both the U.S. Army and Marines hold competitions, where troops can determine who is the best practitioner of "combatives" (as the military likes to call this amalgam of martial arts and brawling.)

Even the air force has joined in. The Air Force Combatives program is a 20 hour version of the 40 hour U.S. Army Combatives Program. The army began its Combatives program seven years ago, and it proved so popular that it evolved into a competitive sport. Two years ago, the marines began requiring that everyone qualify for the lowest level belt (tan) of the martial arts program it began in 2001. That goal has proved more difficult than anticipated, but has got marines more focused on hand-to-hand combat. The skills obtained through combatives training have proved to be lifesavers, especially in raids and search operations, where a nearby civilian often turns into an armed hostile on very short notice.



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