Eighth Army holds combatives tournament

by CPL Koh, Chang-woo
U.S. Army

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- Soldiers took to the mat to compete in the Eighth Army Combatives Tournament at Collier Field House, U.S. Army Garrison, Yongsan, Jun 16-17.

In a day filled with blood, sweat and extreme effort, Soldiers from U.S. Army formations around the Korean Peninsula fought to see who would emerge victorious and who would tap out.

In the team competitions, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade took first place, well ahead of the 2nd place 2nd Infantry Division by fifty-five points. The 1st Signal Brigade took third place.

Designed from lessons learned on the battlefield, Army Combatives incorporates striking and grappling techniques from many martial arts.

Early matches in the event consisted entirely of ground fighting and grappling techniques. Final rounds incorporated striking into the fights.

Spc. Versean Ponds, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, who tookfirst place in welterweight division, described his win as the accomplishment of a long-held goal.

"Winning this tournament was … one of the reasons for me re-enlisting to come to Korea." Said Spc. Ponds. "The tournament was great I had some stacked competition in the welterweight division. It really didn't come easy."

Event organizers said the tournament showed how well different units within Eighth Army work together.

"I could feel the camaraderie of different major subordinate commands who cooperated in this competition," said Sgt. Bryan A. Granger, Eighth Army, organizer of the combatives tournament. "Events like this can really build up the unity and strength of soldiers."

The individual winners were:

1st Sgt. Jonathan Mejil - 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade

Sgt. Chris Leggett - 2nd Infantry Division

Spc. Versean Ponds - 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade

Sgt. Paul Rivas - 2nd Infantry Division

Pfc. James Sauer - 2nd Infantry Division

Light Heavy Weight
Pfc. Alejandro Peralez - 2nd Infantry Division

Heavy Weight
Spc. Benethmae Akalelfu - 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade

MSC winners / point totals
1. 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade / 150
2. 2nd Infantry Division / 95
3. 1st Signal Brigade / 70

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