AF instructors learn modern Army combatives skills

  • Published
  • By Mike Joseph
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Public Affairs
After spending five days in a joint combatives "train the trainer" course, Air Force participants gained a valuable benefit in becoming certified to teach both Modern Army Combatives and Basic Air Force Combatives:

"Confidence," said Lt. Col. Tim Thurston, the 322nd Training Squadron commander -- This was a reaction echoed by others who participated in the Modern Army Combatives Program Level I course last week here.
Instilling self-assurance in those who teach combatives in Air Force Basic Military Training and security forces technical training was a top priority for the course instructors. They anticipate self-confidence to become a byproduct of the technique teaching process.

"It's all about confidence -- that's the end goal," said Tech. Sgt. William Rider, of the 319th TRS, who oversees the basic training combatives program. "We have a limited (three-hour)combatives program right now in BMT. We're establishing an expanded program in the future so when Airmen go to technical school or a base with a combatives program, they already have the knowledge of basic body positioning and grappling."

Army Staff Sgt. Torrey Spence, the Army III Corps combatives program assistant NCO in charge at Fort Hood, Texas, was one of two Army instructors who taught the course. He, too, emphasized the self-confidence Airmen will gain when the newly certified instructors begin implementing the program.

"The main thing we stress about the basic combatives course, whether it's Air Force or Army, is the Airman or Soldier has to have confidence to do these techniques," Spence said. "This course gives them that. We call it reality-based training -- train like you fight.

"Along with the confidence, it builds the warrior ethos," he said. "The definition of a warrior is the willingness to go the distance in a fight. We want every Airman or Soldier to have that."

A majority of the 17 participants in the course were military training instructors as basic training prepares to expand its combatives course.

"Col. (Glenn) Palmer's) intent is to have a realistic and safe combatives program," Rider said, referring the 737th Training Group commander. "He wants something for Airmen because we teach warrior ethos and because of the joint mission. We'd like a program in place to give them physical conditioning and the grappling experience, which creates unnatural and uncomfortable positions."

The Army program teaches how to control the range between fighters, gain and maintain a dominant body position, and to finish the fight when a dominant body position has been established. Participants were taught hand-to-hand techniques to create space and engage with a primary weapon, how to maintain space and employ a secondary weapon, and how to achieve a dominant clinch position.

"After taking this course, you not only have confidence in your teammates, you have self-confidence to defend yourself," Thurston said. "We are the best fighting force in the world because we believe we are. What we've learned in this training, we can pass down. It will make us a better fighting force."

Staff Sgt. Jesse Armstrong, one of three 343rd TRS instructors who took the course, said it will be beneficial to students in security forces technical training.

"It gives me the confidence to know I'm teaching students the right way, to help them not just learn the moves, but if it happens to them they will know how to react," Armstrong said. "It's given me a boost of confidence to know I can go into a hand-to-hand fight and win or come out on top.

"By starting this training at tech school, I think, as it spreads out, it's going to help every security forces squadron," she said.