Greco Roman wrestling has its place as a martial art firmly secured. Just going by the indisputable success Greco wrestlers have experienced at the highest levels of MMA, it is easy to see the style’s effectiveness when pitted against other fighting systems. Therefore, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the country’s most elite military service members might be interested in incorporating it into their own skill-sets.
This week, United States Greco Roman coaches and athletes worked with representatives from the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group based out of Fort Carson, Colorado. National Team head coach Matt Lindland along with assistant coach Momir Petković, 2016 Olympian and two-time World medalist Andy Bisek, RaVaughn Perkins, Cheney Haight, Patrick Martinez and a host of other wrestlers from the Olympic Training Center helped foster a curriculum of Greco Roman techniques and positions customized for the hand-to-hand combat principles requested by those in attendance.
Techniques for a variety of scenarios were demonstrated by Greco coaches and drilled by the participants. There were certainly a number of positions that might appear familiar to the everyday wrestler. Sessions included pummeling, pull carries, stance drills, and more. However, instead of practicing for competition on the mat, the objective of the joint-training was to provide tools which could be employed in real-life combat situations. A completely different and infinitely more serious set of circumstances.
“This is real stuff,” concedes US Greco Roman National Team head coach Matt Lindland. “They had a lot of fun in the training situations but when they go out into the field, they have those skills to know how to protect themselves and win a mission. I love that.” All of the service members got the chance to test out the adaptability of specific Greco moves for given situations, be them standing up or on the ground. The US Army does already have its own Combatives Course that is predicated upon teaching self-defense concepts, so this presented a new way to expand on their already considerable arsenals.
Another aspect which made this co-opted training experience so unique was that it allowed for the soldiers to be able to work directly with World-caliber wrestlers who could instantly supply feedback. The Greco guys are used to the moves and motions, which gives them the ability to tweak their workout partners’ positions to improve on the finer points. “When you’re wrestling with these guys, you can feel what he is doing and help him make those adjustments,” says Lindland. “Lower your base, get your legs a little wider, pressure in with your shoulders. Just little things you need to feel to help somebody else who might not be experienced in those areas.”
At the end of the day, it was bigger than wrestling itself. The US Greco Roman team has often been involved with various community outreach projects in the past, be it speaking at elementary schools or volunteering for the DARE program. But there is something about lending a hand to the US armed forces that sticks out to the coach.
“Besides this being a fun opportunity for myself and the athletes, for crying out loud, we’re helping the Special Forces teams with their training. Something they learn may save their lives or someone else’s. It might help win a mission overseas, so just being a part of that is a true honor for myself and all of the athletes and coaches who went with us.”