Joint services clinch teamwork with combatives

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Holly Mansfield
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Picture yourself in a deployed location, out on patrol and running out of ammunition. The enemy is closing in and now you must use hand-to-hand fighting techniques to close the gap and come out on top.

The Modern Army Combatives program, held at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center crossfit gym, helps members of all branches learn mixed martial arts techniques to better prepare them for hand-to-hand combat situations.

"This is the level-one course where we build confidence in our Soldiers on and off the battlefield," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Eccles, Public Health Command Region-Europe.

Knowing the techniques and having the confidence to execute can mean the difference between getting out of a sticky situation or not. For students, the 40-hour class helps build something stronger than the muscles in their bodies.

"It makes me feel great seeing them progress," said Eccles. "Hearing them say that regardless of what service they are in, this is my battle buddy and with the confidence they get they will be able to take care of each other. We are one team."

Using methods introduced to the Army in 1995 from regions around the world, members learned ground movements such as joint locks, arm bars, roll movements and mounts. Learning these different moves may tire even the most athletic person.

"The physical endurance in this course is hard," said Eccles. "You will get some bumps and bruises and your stamina will be tested. It's all about how much you want it. A lot of the classes you get now are a lot of power points and reading material but this class is all hands on."

Using the correct safety procedures is important while learning hand-to-hand fighting skills and having skilled and experienced instructors by the trainees' sides helps prevent them from getting seriously injured during the class.

"This is my first class teaching in Landstuhl," said Eccles. "I did quite a few classes in California when I was stationed there and I've been a level three instructor since 2005."

Along with fighting techniques, the skillful trainers of the course instill teamwork abilities into the students. Demonstrating they might someday use these skills when deployed or working at their home station with members of another branch gives the students an added benefit.

"I deployed in 2009 and had Marines, Navy and Air Force all standing next to me," said Eccles. "Everyone here gets along fine and I believe that everyone here feels that we are all on the same team."

Coming into the class with no experience, the students were molded into skilled fighters to present warrior's spirit.

"Everyone comes in as a universal fighter, where you just throw wild punches, and we take that away, define and reform it," said Eccles. "I've seen Soldiers, Airmen and (Sailors) come in not knowing anything about fighting and leave feeling confident. It's something that builds the warrior ethos that will help in the deployed status."

On the last day of the class, students will take a written exam and participate in an end-of-class tournament to see who the best in the class is and once the students graduate the level-one course they have the option of moving on to the next level. During each level, students learn more about the art of fighting while still gaining confidence and poise.

"I'm just happy to graduate," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Valdez, 603rd Air and Space Communications Squadron RF transmissions supervisor and end-of-course tournament champion. "It's a good feeling. The level-two class is two weeks long so if I can take the time away from work to go, I will go on to the next level."

For more information about the Modern Army Combatives program contact Sgt. 1st Class Jason Eccles at 486-5110 or email at