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Combatives: Spreading the Gospel 
Army Spc. Jayme M. Besse applies a reverse bent arm bar. 
Army Spc. Jayme M. Besse, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation, Massachusetts Army National Guard applies a reverse bent arm bar during the Army Combatives Course at Camp Edwards, Mass., Nov. 2, 2009. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James C. Lally)
By Army Sgt. James C. Lally, Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs 

Somebody else’s forearm digs into your cheekbone; you try to hang onto their neck but your grip slips off and suddenly they are trying to bend your elbow the wrong way—welcome to the Army Combatives School.

Instructors from the U.S. Army Combatives School at Fort Benning, Ga., taught Guardsmen the fundamentals of hand-to-hand combat at the post gymnasium on Camp Edwards, Mass., during Nov. 2009.

The mission of the Army Combatives School is to train leaders and Soldiers in close quarters Combatives in order to instill the Warrior Ethos and prepare Soldiers to close with and defeat then enemy in hand-to-hand combat. Combatives is a term used to refer the Army hand-to-hand combat program. The goal is to have one certified trainer in every company level unit.    

The courses were designed to be physically challenging to prepare Soldiers for the reality of violent hand-to-hand combat. Throughout the courses students grappled for one hour per day which they referred to as “rolling.” “This course will improve your physical fitness -- physically demanding should be in bold type on the course advertisement,” said Army Spc. Jayme M. Besse, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation, Massachusetts Army National Guard.

During level one, the one-week initial phase of the course, Soldiers were introduced to the history of martial arts, learned warm-up drills and how to execute the basic fighting techniques. Through repetitive drills students developed muscle memory and learned to employ and escape from joint locks and choking techniques. At the end of the week students demonstrated their fighting proficiency and the ability to instruct the course material.

Members of the 126th should know that their instructor, Spc. Besse earned his certification spending day after day on the mats dishing out and receiving his fair share of pain. “I am absolutely confident in my ability to grapple. The training gives you muscle memory so you can recognize what to do when you are fighting,” said Besse.

The second phase, level two, was a two-week course that built off of the skills introduced in level one. The course was tailored to teach more advanced techniques and the philosophy and methodology of the program. Graduates of level two were certified to supervise level one instructors as well as run and referee unit level Combatives tournaments.

Altogether, the Combatives program has four levels. To attain level three and four certification Soldiers must attend training on an active-duty installation that is approved by the Warrior Training Center at Fort Benning, Ga. Eventually, the 101st Regional Training Institute on Camp Edwards intends to have an in-house level four certified instructor.

This year is the second year that the RTI has hosted Combatives training. To enhance the experience RTI purchased DVD’s and mats that are essential to the training. Thirty eight students graduated from this year’s level one course and 32 continued on to graduate the level two course.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Austin Randolph, Warrior Training Center, Fort Benning, Ga., is a level four certified trainer that travels to Army and National Guard installations that request the training. “I think it’s great that Massachusetts is getting behind the course,” said Randolph.  “The command has really gotten behind warrior training and is one of the few states that really support the program. I love teaching and spreading the Combatives gospel,” said Randolph.

Active duty and Reserve units wishing to receive the gospel can reach Sgt. 1st Class Randolph by calling 706-905-9496.