Combatives CTA Experience

By: Cadet James Inkrott, Class of 2012

Although the system may have changed from my experience, I attended a two-week combatives training course at Maxwell AFB during the summer of 2011. The first four days consisted of the trainee portion where our class of fifteen cadets and a few Active Duty Airmen learned several sequences of standing and ground combat drills and how to teach them. At eight hours per day, these four days were undeniably the most physically demanding portion of the training experience. We woke up each morning at 0600 feeling like someone had taken a baseball bat to our entire bodies only to endure the same beating we had taken the day before. However, our instructors had no pity for us and we were learning a lot of information at a fast pace, so there was little room for complaints. At the end of the week, we took a final test in front of the senior instructors in order to demonstrate that we were competent in performing and instructing the drills we had learned. Afterwards, we were awarded our black instructor shirts and certificates of training for completing the U.S. Air Force Module I Combatives course. Over the weekend we performed other duties required for Field Training, such as instructing cadets in obstacle and courses.

The second week consisted of the trainer portion of the course where the cadet instructors taught Field Training cadets a portion of the combat drills that they learned the week before. Although these four days were not nearly as physically rigorous, they were much longer and less flexible due to the strict time schedule that cycled about 400 cadets through the program. During this phase, days began at 0400 at Maxwell’s artificial field that we lovingly called, “the Dojo.” Instructors were split into groups of five and we would teach multiple rotations of flights throughout the day. We usually finished around 1700. There was usually a decent amount of free time, most of which was spent sleeping and watching movies. We were too tired to do anything else.

Although it is unlikely that a majority of Airmen will ever be in a situation where they will need to utilize ground-fighting maneuvers, the training helps to develop a sense of mental toughness and confidence that is applicable to any career in the Air Force and life in general. Moreover, good leaders know how to direct their people, but great leaders know how to make more leaders. Through this experience, I further developed my ability to teach others what I know, which is an essential skill in developing the leadership ability of other airmen. This professional development has played a significantly positive role in my mentality as a cadet that will eventually carry over to my profession as an officer. I highly recommend this opportunity to anyone who may be interested, but I warn you that it is not easy. However, once you finish, I think you will agree with me that the rewards are worth the discomfort.