New NCOIC to compete for spot on III Corps Combatives team
Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports EditorAt U.S. Army Combatives Championships over the past four years, Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Farris could be seen wearing a simple black polo with the Maneuver Center of Excellence patch on his chest rather than dressed in the full traditional Army Combat Uniform. He wore a tan belt instead of the blue or red belt worn by the competitors.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
As Soldiers displayed the Warrior Ethos on the mat, or sometimes in a cage, Farris often times was the one deciding their fate or ensuring the safety of the competitors as a referee.
The training used by those Soldiers in preparation for the tournament or in preparation for a deployment had been overseen by Farris.
For the past four years, Farris was stationed at the U.S. Army Combatives School as part of the 197th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga., working his way up from instructor to master trainer and eventually to the noncommissioned officer-in-charge. As the NCOIC, Farris maintained the combatives field manual, among other duties, while also aiding in the behind-the-scenes tasks of operating a combatives tournament.
“When I was there at the combatives school, you’re running the tournament,” Farris said. “You don’t get to compete; you have to be a neutral party, because we’re the ones officiating. So none of the guys that work at the combatives school at Fort Benning get to compete.
“You watch these guys every year, and they’re such great competitors and such great Soldiers. It’s nice seeing the Soldiers be successful, become champions and really have that Warrior Ethos set in,” he said. “You see them in there doing the things that you’ve taught them, and you’d like to get in there and show your skill, as well.”
Transitioning to Fort Hood as the incoming NCOIC of the post’s combatives program, Farris will get a shot at competing in his first All-Army tournament. While members of the III Corps team have been training since the beginning of May for one of the 16 select spots on the roster, Farris arrived less than a month ago.
“I came into the game a little bit late, but I’m going to give it a try,” he said.
Kris Perkins, the director of the Fort Hood Combatives Program, said Farris told him he wanted to earn his spot on the team the right way, without cutting any corners.
“He told me, ‘I only want to honestly make it. If I honestly make it, I’ll do the best I can for you there, and if I don’t make the cut, as soon I don’t make the cut, how can I help you run the tournament?’” Perkins said.
Farris joined the Army in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2004 that he began to dabble in mixed martial arts.
“They came down and did a Level 1 and Level 2 Course at Fort Lewis, Wash., while I was stationed there. I didn’t know what it was, and they said it was some kind of wrestling,” Farris said of the combatives training. “It was still fairly new at the time.”
Farris volunteered for the course. At the end of the Level 2 Course, Farris said he won a little tournament, which ended up garnering him an invitation to Level 3.
“From there, I went to the very first Level 4 Course ever,” he said. “And then I started training in the civilian world, doing jiu-jitsu and kickboxing and things like that.”
While earning a spot on the team is a short-term goal for Farris, he said his long-term objective as the new NCOIC will take place after the tournament has come and gone.
“There’s a sporting aspect to combatives, and then there’s the tactical application part,” he said. “We are really focused on that tactical application part and pushing it down to the unit level, so that it looks right, sounds right, and guys are out there training in full kit.
“The competition aspect is still a big part of it, but now we’re really wanting to focus on the tactical
portion of it, getting the good training down to the Soldier level, so that they can use it in combat.”
Perkins said that over the next year and through 2013, he and Farris will try to steer the program that way.
“Right now, units on Fort Hood know how to grapple and wrestle,” Perkins said. “Now they need to know how to clear a room and do it. That’s where we’re headed. Some of the rooms are going to be remodeled so that Soldiers can practice clearing and fighting with gear.
“Soldiers aren’t learning this so that we can find the best UFC (Ultimate Fighter Championship) fighter in the Army,” he added. “They’re learning this so that when they come into any hand-to-hand situation, they own that situation.
Perkins recognized Farris’ recent time at Fort Benning as a great connection to the proponency.
“Even though we’ve been doing well, they (Fort Benning) feel like they have one of their own that is telling them about the classes,” Perkins said of Farris’ presence at Fort Hood.
“They’ll give us even more support now with him here,” said Perkins, noting that it will add to the growth of the combatives program at Fort Hood.
“It helps show that we’re not trying to run our own craziness – we’re not trying to break off from the program,” he said. “We’re exactly what they wanted posts to do. In some places, you have drift from the original curriculum.”
Taking over for Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Thorton, the outgoing NCOIC,
Farris was quick to compliment the work already being done with the program. At its core, the Fort Hood program offers the Basic Combatives Course and the Tactical Combatives Course – formerly known as the Level 1 Course and the Level 2 Course, respectively – but
Farris pointed out the program has a greater reach.
“They’re very proactive in what’s going on within Fort Hood and the surrounding community, so they’re trying to get everyone involved,” Farris said. “They never say no; it’s an open door here. If someone wants good training, they come to the Fort Hood Combatives Training Facility.
“What I’m looking to bring here is just some of the instructor certification that we do at Benning,” Farris said, pointing out that Fort Benning is where the Level 3 Basic Combatives Instructor Course and Level 4 Tactical Combatives Instructor Course are held. “So any new updates, I still have that direct link to Benning. Sometimes information comes down slowly, and now I’ll be able to push that information
out right away and get the units training on what they need to train before they go down range into combat.”
With the All-Army tournament rapidly approaching, Farris said he sees a III Corps team that’s not slacking off or feeling content with back-to-back championships.
“They really put in the work at Fort Hood,” he said. “I’ve been everywhere, and there are no other teams that put in the work like these guys do. They have a really good coach in Jarrod Clontz, who makes sure they’re well-conditioned and well-trained.”
He added, “They’re preparing like no other team is preparing.”
Tomorrow, Farris, a Level 4-certified combatives instructor, with a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, will have his go at making the team.
Thorton, the outgoing NCOIC, gave him a vote of confidence.
“Sgt. 1st Class Farris will excel well above his peers, training and competing while being the go-to for the entire installation.”
For Farris, the opportunity is a win-win.
“There’s a bunch of great competitors here at Fort Hood. I’ll do the tryouts, and if I make it, great. If not, I’m going to be a good coach,” he said. “So either way, it’s all about the team.”