5th Engineers repeat as combatives champs

Courtesy Story and photos by Dawn Arden

Posted On: April 4 2016

The 5th Engineer Battalion Combatives Team poses with the 2016 Commander’s Cup Combatives Post Championship plaque at the conclusion of the finals at Davidson Fitness Center. The team earned 1,578 points over the three-day tournament.
The 5th Engineer Battalion Combatives Team poses with the 2016 Commander’s Cup Combatives Post Championship plaque at the conclusion of the finals at Davidson Fitness Center. The team earned 1,578 points over the three-day tournament.

Three days of modern Army combatives concluded Friday at Fort Leonard Wood’s Davidson Fitness Center, where competitors battled it out in the Commander’s Cup Combatives Tournament finals. 

Eighteen service men and women took to the cage on the final night in a bid to see who would be ultimately victorious in the nine weight classes.

At the end of the night, it was 5th Engineer Battalion that walked away with the Commander’s Cup trophy with a total of 1,578 points. 92nd Military Police Battalion came in second place with 638 points, followed by 14th Military Police Brigade in third place with 434 points.

In the days leading up to the final event, competitors were put to the test in grappling, followed by Pancrase and finally a mixed martial arts style.

“We started out first with just straight grappling on Wednesday, and then Thursday was Pancrase, which is kind of like a little bit of stand up:  a little bit of kicking; you can slap, you can go to the ground and submit, and then today is what you would classify as MMA where we’re allowed to punch, kick, knee, but no elbows. You can take them to the ground and do any type of submission holds that we can,” said Spc. Rebekah Klimt, Company B, 169th Engineer Battalion, and Flyweight champion.

Service members involved in the combatives program agree that the discipline and hard work it takes to be successful in the program makes for a better, stronger, military.

“This makes me a better Soldier because of the discipline that it takes: day after day training,” said Spc. John Suarez, 5th Engr. Bn., “It’s going through with it when you think that you can’t go any more, and just finding that will. This translates into my workplace or the battlefield in general. I’m very proud to represent my unit; they are very encouraging, very  supportive.”

Suarez added, “I think there’s no excuse for not trying it. You can start on your own level, you don’t go right into fighting people in the cage. You can start off with just a little bit of cardio kickboxing, and move on from there. They’re just going to fall in love with it as so many people do once they get started.”

This is only the second year that combatives have been included in the Commander’s Cup, and although it is a popular and welcomed addition, it does take more planning than the other sports in the program. Planning for this three-day tournament began after the finals last year.

“This one’s not self-sufficient; we need help from those that run the combatives,” said Danny Howell, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sports specialist. “We’re getting to the point now where we know our role in the combatives tournament, and they know their role, so it kind of works. This is the second time for this event, so a lot of the kinks from the first time are worked out. They take care of everything on the mat or inside the  cage, and I do the logistics on the outside of that.”

2016 Commander’s Cup Combatives
  • Winners by weight class:
  • Bantamweight: Ariel Espinoza-Levy, 14th MP Bde.
  • Flyweight: Rebekah Klimt, 169th Engr. Bn.
  • Lightweight: Daniel Bido, 92nd MP Bn.
  • Welterweight: Adrian Alonzo, 5th Engr. Bn.
  • Middleweight: Jason Powell, 1138th MP Co.
  • Cruiserweight: Marcus Knauft, 1st Engr. Bde.
  • Lt. Heavyweight: Javier Santos, 92nd MP Bn.
  • Heavyweight: Matthew Lansford, 5th Engr. Bn.
  • Super Heavyweight: Cory Lemeron, 5th Engr. Bn.