Monthly Archives: June 2013

U.S. Army Combatives, Level One: Day One

U.S. Army Combatives, Level One: Day One

I was invited to Level One about two months ago, after I helped run some pistol training for Task Force Warloard. They had two soldiers preparing for a competition. I also did a private carbine course for them a few months before.  I find it funny how I took the course as a civilian and not when I was in the Arkansas National Guard.  This is an instructor course. Every soldier who passes this course will become a combatives instructor for their unit back home.  The context of this course is primarily for the battlefield. Also, the U.S. Army Comabtives system is a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu system.

The class began with a short safety brief and overview of what to expect for the next few days. After the brief, we went over the foundation of the movement needed all week. They went over the following: shrimps, forward rolls, and other movements.  This turned into an hour of conditioning. I asked one of the instructors to really see what the hour session was really about. He told me they teach the fundamental movements, weed out anyone who doesn’t want to be there and evaluate the soldiers to see if they are able to make it through the week.  I could tell there were many soldiers there who were not good in physical condition. I felt they did not deserve to be there.  If you are going to teach a subject this physical, you should be in top shape.

I know I am a little biased on this subject. I did MMA for a little while, certified Personal Defense Readiness™ Instructor and Crossfit five or more days a week now. My body is used to the physical demand this course requires. For many of these soldiers, this was the first time they really had to push themselves this hard for that long at one time.  There was one female soldier in my mind was one of the toughest there. I will be talking about her a little later on in this series of blogs. On the opposite end, there was NCO there with a horrible attitude and was in terrible shape. At one point, other lower enlisted were trying to encourage him. He lost his cool and told them to shut up. SSG Grant came back out when I saw that. I told him how it was. His attitude changed a little after that.

After the conditioning session, we signed a memorandum stating we want to be in the class.  This is another method to weed out anyone who truly does not want to be there. From there, we filled out a medical screening forum. You could have a few things wrong with you and they would let you stay. The instructors made that pretty clear.

The memorandum.

The memorandum.

 

Fighter Stance

Feet Placement

Feet Placement

Hand Placement

Hand Placement

This stance reminded me of a kickboxing stance. They went into the depth of the angle of feet placement.  They need to realize everyone’s anatomy is a little different and those angles are not right for everyone.

Sitting as a Fighter

How to base when beating approached.

How to base when being approached.

Protecting in while basing when in contact.

Protecting in while basing when in contact.

This was very similar to what I learned in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and what I teach in Close Quarters Defensive Concepts (CQDC). We called it Combat Base. This would be useful if you get knocked down to the ground.

 

Stand as a Fighter

Kicking to create space to base up.

Kicking to create space to base up.

In a somewhat of a protective base.

In a somewhat of a protective base.

Again, this was similar to what I learned in BJJ and what I teach in CQDC. They do teach you to step really far back with the leg you are bringing back to stand up. I believe due to human anatomy and when wearing kit for armed professionals; it will be easier to bring back the leg a little less back. Also, possibly to even go on the knee you are when getting up. This allows you to be solid base without your head being out of alignment with your body.

After they had us do these movements a few times each, the instructors went over the four dominate positions. They are the following:

Rear Mount

Setting your hooks gives you control.

Setting your hooks gives you control.

One arm over and under for the seatbelt.

One arm over and under for the seatbelt.

 

Full Mount

Second best position to be in on the ground.

Second best position to be in on the ground.

Basing out mitigates from being swept.

Basing out mitigates from being swept.

 

 

Side Control

 

SSG Sliger showing the side control.

SSG Sliger showing the side control.

 

Guard

Legs around waist and feet locked.

Legs around waist and feet locked.

 

I did not have too much to complain about with the four positions accept for guard. Yes, having your legs around your attacker does give you options. You must remember the context of what this is being used for. I do not think any type of guard is a dominate position. You are on the ground for starters. Second, if your legs are closed as they teach you cannot get up. What I teach in CQDC is you only close your guard if you have been knocked almost to unconscious and need time to recover. Closing your legs will aid you in controlling your attacker if you need to. I believe you should get your guard open because this allows you to sweep easier and ultimately get up.  You never want to be on the ground in a real fight, no matter how much training you have received.

With these fundamental positions covered, they went into Drill One. This was very similar to a flow drill in BJJ. It included Arm Trap and Roll to defend when mounted, Pass to Guard and Side Control to Mount. This is a good way for students to see what I may feel like during a roll session.

At the end of the day, we did a few roll sessions. I could see most of the soldiers were nervous and did not understand the concept of rolling. We were limited to positions. We could not attempt any submissions. I really tried to keep my cool with a few of them being really rough. They wanted to win. I wanted to flow and work with them. I got dirty with a few of them and told them to calm down. I started to tell them within the first few seconds to calm down. Also, told them I was going to work with them.

I felt a little better with what the U.S. Army Combatives program but it can be so much better. This a step I in the right direction. Stay tune for the two through four.

 

By Tyler Grant.