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173rd SFS trains in combatives

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brandan Stroh, a combatives training instructor with the 173rd Security Forces Squadron, instructs Staff Sgt. Nathan Gifford, 173rd SFS,  on how protect himself and subdue an assailant during a hand-to-hand altercation, Jan. 13, 2017. Staff Sgt. Cody Broussard (bottom) an experienced combatives practitioner plays the role of the aggressor. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brandan Stroh, a combatives training instructor with the 173rd Security Forces Squadron, instructs Staff Sgt. Nathan Gifford, 173rd SFS, on how protect himself and subdue an assailant during a hand-to-hand altercation, Jan. 13, 2017. Staff Sgt. Cody Broussard (bottom) an experienced combatives practitioner plays the role of the aggressor. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Broussard, 173rd Security Forces Squadron, works against his assailant Master Sgt. Ross Hawkins, 173rd SFS, in a demonstration of Air Force Security Forces Combatives where an officer works to extract themselves from a choke hold, Jan. 13, 2017 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Combatives training helps security forces members protect themselves in a hand-to-hand situation by using leverage to extract themselves from a bad situation or to quickly subdue an attacker without causing harm. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Broussard, 173rd Security Forces Squadron, works against his assailant Master Sgt. Ross Hawkins, 173rd SFS, in a demonstration of Air Force Security Forces Combatives where an officer works to extract themselves from a choke hold, Jan. 13, 2017 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Combatives training helps security forces members protect themselves in a hand-to-hand situation by using leverage to extract themselves from a bad situation or to quickly subdue an attacker without causing harm. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

KINGSLEY FIELD -- Regardless of age or gender, when an individual joins the ranks of Air Force Security Forces, they will spend some time on a mat learning how to protect themselves from an assailant with just their hands--using leverage to mitigate the advantage a larger and stronger attacker may have. 

It’s called combatives, and all security forces members receive this training.  Tech. Sgt. Brandan Stroh, the lead instructor for the recent training, points out that it’s not designed to help someone mount an attack on an assailant, and so there is not striking or counter striking. Its purpose is to quickly subdue an attacker without harming them—but with the possibility of pain compliance.

“For those of us in law enforcement, it allows us to survive a fight,” said Stroh. “It's not about starting one or ending one, it's important for us to be able to defend ourselves in the fastest way possible.”

Judging from the red faces and the fact that each drill starts with everyone putting in a mouth guard, one can guess that the training is strenuous. There are a lot of choke holds both to cut off the wind and the blood flow to the brain and there is a lot of tapping—the accepted method of communicating, “yeah, you got that just right, and it’s really starting to smart…”

“Combatives can possibly a be life or death situation, so we strive to be the best we can, work as hard as we can, even if it means we are a little tired at the end,” said Airman 1st Class Dallas Schoggins, a recent graduate of security force technical training.

One member of the day’s session is very new to security forces, but he’s not new to this type of training. 

“The big majority of it, most of the controlling positions, weapons defense, and apprehension is Jiu Jitsu,” said Senior Airman Anthony Morehead, a blue belt in Jiu Jitsu and a recent security forces augmentee. “The thing that I think is the most valuable is it teaches controlling an individual, not going out of your way to cause damage, but to control and apprehend them.”

He went on to say that its application goes beyond law enforcement and he encourages people outside of security forces to practice it whether for “self-defense, humility, or just good exercise.”

In any case, if any of these members find themselves in a situation where they need to defend themselves, there’s little doubt that training like this will help do so, as quickly and with as little harm done to themselves or their attacker.