By FIGHT! contributor Eric Killelea
Fort Knox, Ken. is now hosting its 4th Annual Combatives Tournament – over sixty hardened U.S. soldiers at the Army Armor Center seperated into six weight classes, fighting to prove themselves elite combatants.
“You’re freakin’ tough if you’re Combative Champion,” says Modern Army Combatives instructor Jason Keaton. “It takes a lot of heart to win this event. It’s a true test of a warrior.”
Keaton, a Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt, says the tournament is the toughest Fort Knox has hosted. According to Keaton the level of competition has improved exponentially year- over-year since the first tournament and that the number of competitors has more than doubled since last year.
The tournament is a two day event. It began at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 21; doors open to the public today, Aug. 22, at noon. The tournament is broken down into three rounds, all having a different set of rules. The first round practices what Keaton calls “Standard Rules,” similiar to those of Jiu-Jitsu competitions. The second adheres to “Intermediate Rules;” which, as the instructor says, reflect the regulations of Pankration. Keaton says stand-up striking exists, but that there is no ground and pound. As for the finals, so-called “MMA rules” are enforced with the exception that no knees to the body are allowed. The soldiers standing in each weight class at the end will receive belts donated by Combat Sports International.
The goal of the tournament? Scenario training. “We want our soldiers to use the skills they learn from MMA and put them into use when they’re doing their jobs,” says Keaton. He says the training works, that ongoing training has picked up, and that Fort Knox has become the home of hundreds of Combative Certified soldiers.
In mid-September, Fort Benning in Georgia will host the U.S. Army Championships. Fort Knox plans to bring their first and second ranked fighters from each weight class but first they have to determine who those fighters are.
“This is the best example of Army competition,” says Keaton.