Oct. 7 , 2010

Warriors from Virginia compete in All-Army Combatives 

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs       

FORT BENNING, Ga. — The Virginia Army National Guard sent six Soldiers from the Fort Pickett-based 1st Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute to compete for the top spot at the 2010 All Army Combatives Tournament at Fort Benning Oct.1-4. Although the Soldiers did not bring home the title, they will bring back the experience and the lessons they learned at the tournament and will apply them to their own training programs, and they will certainly be able to improve the RTI’s current combatives program for future warriors attending the courses taught there.


Sgt. 1st Class John Rothmann attmepts to break free from his opponent at the 2010 U.S. Army Combatives Tournament at Fort Benning, Ga., Oct 1. Rothmann and five other Virginia Guardsmen travelled to Georgia to compete in the tournament. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

The RTI instructors will take back the lessons they learned in Georgia to the new RTI building at Fort Pickett scheduled to open later this year and incorporate them into their training programs, according to Sgt. 1st Class Robert Homer, a competitor and RTI instructor. Homer explained the new building will have an area dedicated to combatives with a weight room and a cardio room for the Soldiers to train in.

“Hopefully, next year we will have more time to devote twice as much effort as we put in to this year,” said Homer. “I think as a team we did pretty good, the rest is up to us. Hopefully, next year we can bring down 12 more to compete.”

Homer hopes that other units from Virginia will see how hard the team from the RTI worked and will want to send Soldiers to the RTI to train and go down to Georgia for the 2011 tournament and represent the commonwealth.

“I know there are other individuals out there that can represent Virginia and that want to compete, whether they’re deployed, or they’re at a school, or their civilian jobs couldn’t let them go,” Homer said. “The battalions and companies are going to want to send individual which will give a better showing for the National Guard.”

Four of the Soldiers from the Virginia team went in to the tournament with little experience in the Modern Army Combatives Program.  The Soldiers had just completed level two of the Army program, and decided the only way they would gain any real world experience, and to keep up with the training, was to enter the competition. The Soldiers had the opportunity to take the lessons they learned in the course taught by the 183rd and apply in a real-life scenario.

“We had some people with very little experience, but by being in the situations here, they learned from it,” said Staff Sgt. Matt Stemmler, an instructor at the 183rd and 2010 All National Guard Combatives Lightweight Champion. “The more experience you have, the better you’re going to be, so just keep practicing, keep training and it will all come together.

Homer won his first match with a well-timed leaning choke. In his second bout, he won by applying another devastating leaning choke. Homer's third fight was a near draw, with his opponent inching out victory in the final seconds by scoring two points with a takedown. Homer was eliminated from the competition in his fourth skirmish when the officials ended the fight with Homer down in the points, seven to five.

Sgt.1st Class Grady Hyatt started the competition with a loss in the first round. The 236-pound Hyatt was given a bye in the second round, but was taken out in the third match by a massive 311-pound opponent.

Sgt. 1st Class John Rothmann was eliminated from the competition after his two opponents were able to narrowly succumb the 185-pounder with well-executed submission moves.

Staff Sgt. James Smith finished the day .500, but unfortunately .500 was not enough to move on to the semifinals. Smith was given a bye for two rounds, but was forced into submission by his opponents in the remaining two matches.

Staff Sgt. Matt Stemmler started slow with a loss in the first round, but rallied quicklywith a bye in the second and two sequential wins, both by an arm triangle. Going strong with another bye in the fifth, Stemmler was eliminated through a loss by submission during a rematch with the contender from the first-round loss.

Sgt. Joshua Bridwell, in a valiant attempt, came up short of victory in spite of two byes. The lightweight fighter was eliminated after being caught in an arm triangle on two separate occasions.

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