View Mobile Site
Posted: March 1, 2018 9:20 a.m.
  • Bookmark and Share

Ready for battle

3rd ID heads to invitational

Sgt. Arjenis Nunez/

Sgt. Charles Yarborough Unit: HHB DIVARTY Hometown: Ocala, Florida Height: 5’6" Weight: 170 lbs

View Larger
View More »

The 3rd Infantry Division finalized its combatives team roster on Feb. 16 with five fighters from various units across Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield. 

Closing out the final training week at the Spartan Combatives Facility, the team readied its participants for the Combatives Tournament Invitational taking place Feb. 28-Mar. 3 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

"The concept of Army combatives is not mixed martial arts," said Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Housewright, combatives coach, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID. "You take some of the fundamentals of MMA and apply tactical uses, with and without weapons. That is what you get with combatives."

He added it's tactical extreme-close-quarters combat in a controlled environment.

Housewright has always been a fighter. Hailing from Gloucester City, New Jersey, he felt his surroundings growing up bred him to be the fighter he considers himself today.

 It was an amateur match against one of his former Soldiers that humbled and motivated him to learn combatives and eventually compete in Army tournaments.

"He was really into MMA," Housewright said of his competitor. "He kicked my behind, but I didn't take it lying down. I couldn't accept losing, so I had to learn combatives to prevent myself from losing again."

Housewright stated he was determined to improve and maximize his skill level, so he attended the Tactical Army Combatives Instructor Course located in Fort Benning.

 Competing in numerous tournaments and being a combatives instructor at both Fort Drum, New York and in Germany, led him to develop a Marne combatives program for Dog Face Soldiers.

Pfc. Michael Roberts, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd ABCT and a Houston, Texas native, said he jumped at the chance to join the team when his first sergeant asked if he was interested.

"Two years ago, when I first arrived at Stewart, I learned a bit more about combatives and tried out for the team because it was something I felt passionate about," Roberts said. "When I heard about Staff Sgt. Housewright's program, I immediately made it known that I wanted to be on the team."

Roberts said his down time is training time. Stretching to keep his body limber, cardio workouts to increase endurance and meditation to rid himself of any jitters are all a part of his regimen to be a stronger competitor at the tournament, he added.

"I'm working to be the best version of myself that I can be, plain and simple," Roberts said. "I have to push past my limits and outdo my fellow competitors."

Roberts was referring to Pfc. Jordan Dunn, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment. Dunn also considers his biggest competition and rival to be Roberts.

"Roberts and I are in the same unit, so I want to be the best fighter coming out of H Co.," said Dunn. "It's healthy competition and pushes both of us to be better Soldiers altogether."

Dunn said his approach to the training led him to discover his flaws, ways to improve and strengths he can refine to use throughout the competition.

"There's no way you're always going to win," he said. "You have to learn what you can as you go, and having little experience in something like this makes me more determined to go and show everyone my efforts."

While managing to recruit five fighters for the team, Housewright is still struggling to fill slots due to misconceptions about the training.

"There is this fear amongst some leaders that their Soldiers will get injured and miss duty at a critical time if they join the combatives team," Housewright said. "I can honestly tell you that the training is done in a controlled environment where the basics and fundamentals are drilled into each fighter, which helps prevent injury."

He wants 3rd ID leadership to feel confident their Soldiers are in good hands - learning how to be tactful and aware of what they can do to mitigate serious injury.

For Housewright's program to draw in more members, he needs leadership across Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield to communicate to their Soldiers that 3rd ID has a combatives team and all are welcome to try out.

"The most important thing for me outside of getting my team ready to compete at Bragg is getting the leadership to understand that this is not a fight-house system. This isn't MMA," Housewright said. "These are Soldiers training for the tactical application of subduing a threat nonlethally in an austere environment. Use it as a chance to encourage esprit de corps, physical readiness and boost unit morale."

Soldiers interested in joining the 3rd ID combatives team should email Staff Sgt. Housewright at or call him at 912-321-1095.Soldiers interested in joining the 3rd Infantry Division combatives team should email Staff Sgt. Housewright at or call him at 912-321-1095.

Please wait ...