By NATHAN DEEN
The 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga., combatives team surprised people at the 2011 U.S. Army Combatives Championship, but with a third-place finish, it won’t be flying under anyone’s radar, head coach and trainer Monte Massey said.
“We want to build off last year’s momentum,” Massey said. “We seemed to gather a lot of interest from the chain of command … because of our success.”
The 2012 tournament will once again be at Fort Hood, Texas, home of two-time defending champion III Corps. The 3rd ID and the Maneuver Center of Excellence look to potentially bring the tournament back to Georgia, where it was held from 2005-2010. The winning unit has the option of hosting the next championship, and with a majority of 3rd ID stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., and the MCoE at Benning, next year’s home-field advantage will be at stake.
“The current convention is that it’s the Army vs. III Corps,” Massey said. “I think we do (have what it takes). It just depends on who’s the best that day. If (3rd ID) is on their game that day and doing their best, they’re going to be tough to beat.”
Each team is allowed 16 Soldiers to compete in eight different weight classes.
The 3rd ID will have four returning members from last year, and 10 Soldiers on the team stem from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team on Kelley Hill, Massey said.
“It’s a different team,” he said. “There’s never a better or worse when you get Soldiers who want to fight. We have some young talent on the team and I expect them all to do their best. They all have the potential to get it done if they’re mentally ready.”
Massey said the highest expectations are on Hanlin Liu, who finished runner-up in the lightweight division in 2011 and got a standing ovation for his efforts. Liu never submitted despite taking blow after blow to the head from Joseph Sandstrom, who beat him in the final.
“He was just tough as nails. He would not go down,” Sandstrom said in an article published on the Army News website.
While striking proved to be his undoing last year, Liu said he has been taking boxing classes since and will accept no less than first place this time around.
“I only want to improve my position in the combatives world, and there’s only one place I can go,” Liu said. “I’ve trained harder this past year and I’m mentally prepared.”
Massey, the team’s second-year coach said his philosophy hasn’t changed—it’s still an emphasis on “mental strength, physical conditioning and technical skill set; in that order.”
“The biggest point is how combatives carries over to your daily activities, how the discipline to get up and fight every day isn’t easy,” he said about the mental aspect of training. “There’s a lot of guys who choose to see combatives as not something they want to do every day.”
The U.S. Army Combatives Championships ends Saturday, and final rounds will be broadcast on www.dvidshub.net and www.forthoodradio.com.