An Inside Look At Grappling In US Army & Their Competitions

An Inside Look At Grappling In US Army & Their Competitions

Guest post by Daniel Vaughan UCLA undergraduate, judo brown belt under Mike Verdugo and BJJ GF Team black belt under Master Julio Cesar Pereira. Daniel is an instructor at M3Fight Academy.


How much BJJ do you think American military personnel know?

“In 2001, Matt Larsen, then a Sergeant First Class, established the United States Army Combatives School at Fort Benning.”

There are 3 basic layers to the system laid out in the MACP (Modern Army Combatives Program):

  • One, disengage to regain projectile weapon range
  • Two, gain a controlling position and utilize a secondary weapon
  • Three, close the distance and gain control to finish the fight

We will be focusing on the third layer and how their ranking system (much like our belt system) is based and used for military competition.

There are four levels to the combatives course system:

  • Skill level 1: a 40-hour, one week course. Students learn to teach the techniques of basic combatives.
  • Skill level 2: an 80-hour, two-week course. Building on the skills introduced in the basic course.
  • Skill level 3: a 160-hour, four-week course. Building on the skills taught in the previous two courses. This is the integration stage of all the techniques.
  • Skill level 4: a 160-hour, four week course designed to provide master trainers.
    • Edit* Levels 3 and 4 have been combined recently into one course, Master Combatives Course.

There is a constant argument against competition by self defense practitioners in BJJ stating that the style becomes catered to rules and waters down BJJ. In order to avoid military personnel from catering to rule sets of competitions for MACP, Larsen set the competitions as such.

He created a system with “graduated rules combined with scenario based training so that soldiers train on all aspects of fighting.” There are four levels of competition.

BASIC – Grappling starts from the knees and no leg locks are allowed.

STANDARD – Competitors start from their feet. Straight leg and foot locks are allowed (sorry no heel hooks or twisting knees). Points are awarded in a scoring system based on collegiate wrestling takedowns and position from BJJ (mount, back, knee on belly etc).

Intermediate – Closed fist strikes to the body are allowed and open hand to the face. Kicks are allowed anywhere except to the groin while standing. Knee strikes are allowed to the body while standing and to the legs while on the ground (not to the head). Slamming from closed guard is allowed. Matches are 10 minute rounds.

Advanced – Standard MMA rules

Do you have any friends in the military with training and competing? What do you think about the MACP and their competitions? Let us know!

If you want to be un-submitable, you need to check out Tom DeBlass’ “Submission Escapes” BJJ 3 volume BJJ instructional from BJJFanatics.com . In this series, he shares multiple escapes from all of the hardest to escape positions. Soon your training partners and opponents will be calling you Houdini.