Fifty-six service members from across the military are currently enrolled in the Basic Combatives Instructor Course taught by 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment. When they graduate Sept. 23, they’ll be able to certify Level 1 combatives.
“Our program is a ‘train the trainer’ program,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Farris, NCOIC of the U.S. Army Combatives School.
The 160-hour class is four weeks long.
During the first week, students review Level 1 and learn “five fundamental punching combinations” in boxing, Farris said. “Basically, this sets the foundation for striking.” In week two, they review Level 2 and cover kickboxing, integrating the punching combinations into their attacks.
The third week focuses on wrestling, judo and an overall tie-in of all techniques previously learned.
“The fourth week is tactical week,” Farris said. “They know how to fight at this point. We add all the equipment into the fighting, so they do vehicle extractions, traffic control points, room clearing — all with scenario-based training. Any type of situation they might find themselves in, no matter what their job, we try to add that scenario in.”
Farris said the school certifies on average 800 instructors a year. The Level 3 course is in high demand, he said, because graduates can take their training to installations across the globe and certify service members for Level 1.
“As much as you learn in such a short period of time, it’s pretty phenomenal,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Norris, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, one of the students in the course. “You’re talking about taking somebody who’s never done any kind of martial arts fighting professionally and then all the sudden going — within in a matter of weeks — to actually being able to effectively take someone to the ground and submit them. The way the modern Army combatives has incorporated everything into one really is a great melting pot. They’ve structured it to let people pick up and run with it.”
Norris said he boxed as a teenager, but the kickboxing techniques were completely new to him. He said he appreciates the total body fitness aspect of combatives, but the ability to certify Level 1 was a big incentive to attend the instructor course.
“I’ve been teaching it in my unit, but I can’t certify them,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to come to this place for about the last six years. The opportunity finally came up, and I jumped on it.”
Senior Airman Eric Maertens, a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape specialist from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., said he was glad the instructors focused on not only teaching the techniques but also showing the students how to pass on their training.
“They teach you how to teach Level 1,” he said. “I like that the instructors really harp on the fundamentals. The fundamentals are what stick with you.”
Maertens said he hopes to go to Level 4 combatives in the future.
“I think (combatives) develops a confidence base,” he said. “As soon as you start doing this, you realize there’s always somebody stronger, but it teaches you that mental aspect of fighting. A big muscular dude, if he isn’t trained in fighting, can lose to a guy who’s trained.”
Part of that mental aspect is the “willingness to close with the enemy,” a term often used in combatives, Farris said.
“It’s hard to be a warrior if you can’t fight,” he said. “Once Soldiers are able to fight, it instills confidence in them, so in any situation they find themselves in, they’re able to fight out of it with their weapon, with their hands, with whatever tool they have on them. The confidence builds courage and warrior ethos for the Soldier to finish the fight in combat.”