Thursday, November 15, 2007

swift punch to the face

Last night, we did the clinch drill. The clinch drill is the culminating exercise of level one combatives certification. Technically, this means I am now allowed to teach combatives to other people. Combatives is something I first did at West Point. When I was at basic training, we were still doing the old hand to hand combat stuff where we'd line up and punch the air and kick the air and then fight one another with pugilsticks. Combatives, however, is something new where they teach you how to fight one another more like what you see in UFC. No, I am by no means anyone who would fight in UFC, nor do I claim to be. It's an Army school just like any other.

The point...the clinch drill basically involves being hit in the face for four rounds. The goal is to stop the aggressor from hitting you. You have head protection (in the form that you'd wear in an amateur boxing match) and they wear gloves. The first round, they come at you with 25% and they escalate it from there up to 100% in the last two rounds. You can't hit back and simply try to "clinch" their arms to their body so they can't hit you any longer. In essence, you eat a few punches to the face from people who make a living out of fighting in order to stop them from hitting you.

What's the point? Well, primarily it's to see if you're learned to clinch, however, it's also obvious that clinching someones arms in a real fight isn't the most practical solution, especially in combat. The clinch is a basic level one's not an end in itself, so please don't take it as such. So, why test it? To get hit in the face. Yes, the Army is fond of such exercises, designed less to teach you how to do something than simply to get you to face a fear or experience you've not had.

Prior to the first bout, you're nervous. I've been hit in the face before (plebe boxing) and I know what it felt like...but, that was also against people in my own weight class and I could hit back. Now I was facing someone over 200 lbs and couldn't hit back. I was so damn nervous that I was going to get my nose broken or get knocked out my lips went chap and I felt like I could piss for a year. I went out, took a few good shots to the face, and eventually achieved the clinch. Second bout? I got a strong uppercut to the stomach which drove all the air out of my chest. I wanted to stop, to hold up a hand and say, "one second man..." but before I could even think that, another couple of blows rained in on my head. Again, I eventually achieved the clinch. The third bout, I missed the clinch and almost ended up two feet from the striker...not where you wanted to be since it's basically at his full arm extension and where he throws the most powerful blows. By the time my fourth fight came, the nervousness was gone and an aggression had set in. I charged into him more quickly than the other three despite the fact the blows were coming harder and faster. He fought the clinch harder than the first three bouts and made it more difficult for me to attain it. I was second to last in line so the rest of my classmates were now watching and, when I achieved the clinch, I had the benefit of a crowd cheering for me (mainly because it meant they were one more bout closer to going home themselves, but that's besides the point).

Something about being forced to do something you don't want to do, even something as seemingly unnecessary as being punched in the face, really does build your character I think. Sure, I'd been hit in the face before, but every time you do something you don't want to do, something that makes you scared or nervous, you gain a better understanding of yourself...of what you can do when pushed. As for this drill, I don't want to get hit in the face ever again if possible, and I'll avoid it. But, if it least now I know I can take least for four minutes.


Blogger moville said...

My father makes the same comment about football, i.e. getting hit hard and then going on to make another play. He was afraid of being hit, but managed to conquer that fear by playing on.

My grad adviser used to identify what us grad students were afraid of and make us do whatever that was, e.g. speaking in public. he always said, "always do what you are afraid to do."

But aren't you in military intelligence? why would you be doing hand-to-hand combat, ground-pounder stuff, if you are a linguist or analyst or intelligence-gatherer? You said somewhere else you were once at DLI, so I naturally thought you weren't in the infantry.

12:17 PM  

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