By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – To hear Brig. Gen. William Grimsley describe it, the sport of combatives is the quintessential Army event.
While soaking up the first day of action at the 2009 Fort Hood Combatives Tournament, the III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commander was invigorated by what he saw Monday afternoon at the Abrams Field House.
"What I really love about this program, and have for all the years I've been doing it – and I fight, too – is that the soldiers will get out there and they'll fight to the death, but in the end, they realize they're both warriors out there and you'll see the hugs and the high-fives," Grimsley said. "... It's electric."
With soldiers from seven different installations joining the fray, the come-one, come-all tournament is meant to whittle out the best from the rest in order to narrow down the seven III Corps representatives that will compete in the All-Army Championship Combatives Tournament Sept. 17-20 at Fort Benning, Ga.
"The beauty of modern Army combatives is it's a direct warrior-related task," Grimsley said. "So while the competitors out here are fighting in a competition to try and represent Fort Hood for the All-Army (tournament), everything they are doing here is directly related to their go-to-war skills too."
Also in attendance were competitors from posts throughout the country, including Fort Bliss; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Lewis, Wash.; Fort Polk, La.; and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
"This is exciting. It's just great seeing soldiers out doing soldier things and that they're excited about it and proud of what they do," Grimsley said. "These guys are poster kids for Army recruiting – they're fit, they're motivated, they're excited. They're doing what they came into the Army to do."
Through a joint effort between the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and representatives from the All-Army combatives program from Fort Benning, the event will run through Thursday, with the finals set to begin at 5 p.m., and is open to the public.
While Grimsley admitted many of the competitors in attendance Monday were slightly below his age bracket, the general said he enjoyed getting into the occasional scrape.
"During the week – during PT (physical training) – I'll find somebody fighting and I'll go roll with them," Grimsley said, adding with a smile, "... The trick is, they have to win. I only have to survive."
There were plenty of survivors following the first day of action, which involved only standard wrestling/grappling moves. Intermediate bouts will start with today's afternoon session beginning at 1 p.m. and will include more hand-to-hand and mixed martial arts forms of combat.
With more than 250 competitors entered Monday, Grimsley believes this might be the year Fort Hood takes the All-Army title.
"I've got to tell you, Fort Hood is going to win All-Army this year. We have the talent and we have the excitement here," he said. "I really think it's going to happen."
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or at (254) 501-7566.