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Feature | April 7, 2010

Airmen dive into Army combative training

By Senior Airman Sylvia Olson 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Fifty nine Langley Airmen and one Fort Eustis Soldier participated for the first time together in a weeklong Modern Army Combatives level one instructor course April 5-9 at the Shellbank Fitness Center.

Senior Master Sgt. Bryan Shipman, 633d Force Support Squadron sports and fitness section chief, teamed up with Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Craig, Fort Eustis senior combatives instructor, to bring MACP to Langley and Eustis together and embrace joint-base effort.

"The lines are blurred downrange," Shipman said. "Airmen are sometimes deployed in an Army role, surrounded by Army elements--so it only makes sense to prepare them and have them train with the Army."

Developed in 1995 by the Army, the grappling-based program includes a mixture of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and Muay Thai kick boxing. The class is taught by MAC instructor John Simons III, owner and operator of the Odyssey Martial Arts Academy, which is an official Modern Army Combatives School certified by the U.S Army Combatives School.

Simons offers the course free to servicemembers, as his way of giving back to his country. "I don't feel I should double-charge military members; they've already paid with their service," he said.

The 40-hour course teaches basic ground grappling, founded in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Craig said. These skills can be used in any hand-to-hand combat situation, on or off-duty. Students are required to wear mouth guards, and males are advised to wear athletic supporters.

"The MACP course is not only a good way to stay healthy and fit, but build confidence and instill the warrior ethos," Craig said. "Airmen learn how to close the distance with a combative opponent, and are desensitized from being hit for the first time."

Staff Sgt. Susan Carver, Air Combat Command Headquarters A8S knowledge operations manager, and physical training leader, saw the course as an opportunity to learn a new training tool to share with her unit.

"The combative techniques learned in the level one MACP course taught basic survival and submission skills, and also showed us what we are capable of--to fight and win," Carver said.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. instructors explained and demonstrated techniques, then allowed students to practice while giving them feedback along the way. They performed practice drills, which enhanced different aspects of the techniques.

"The instructors were knowledgeable and professional," Carver said. "They answered all questions and ensured we performed each move correctly. Safety was always top priority."

With techniques such as "guillotine choke" and "pummel drill," it is not a surprise students suffered sore muscles and bruises. To control sanitation, students performed barefoot on the mats, and many taped their feet to support and protect them.

"You don't pick the fight, the fight picks you," Simons said. "Most fights start on foot and end up on the ground. The MACP opens an individual's range to all aspects of combat."

The course also gives Airmen and Soldiers the opportunity to work together and get to know their sister service better, Carver said.

"We've all heard stereotypes of our sister services," Carver said. "Working and training side-by-side proved that although we have differences when it comes to rank, military jargon etc., our core values are the same."

"We're a team," said Army Spc. Gary McKoy, unit supply specialist. "Langley-Eustis is one team, one fight."

Shipman plans to continue working with Simons and Craig to offer the course again in the future. For more information, call the Shellbank Fitness Center at 225-8165.