Army's toughest face off in nationwide combat tournament
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Hundreds of soldiers from units around the country took the fight to the mats Wednesday at Fort Hood.
The U.S. Army post played host to a tournament of combatives, the Army equivalent of mixed martial arts, drawing more than 300 soldiers from military posts across the country.
The match pits soldiers in eight different weight classes against each other in hand-to-hand combat skills.
"As a soldier it's your job to protect your country,” Spc. Jeremiah Rice of Fort Bragg said. “So being taught this, it's preparing you for further situations."
Soldiers say that on the mat, rank and gender don’t matter. Female soldiers will face off against their male counterparts.
"There's not that many females that do this, so just to get out there and give it all you've got, it can be intimidating, especially when they're weight cutting, but you can't think about that," Spc. Heather Gonzalez of Fort Eustis said. "You just have to think about it as training."
The popularity of the Fort Hood event has grown over the years.
"The chain of command has decided that this is something soldiers need to do. Once they got behind the soldiers, the soldiers were able to perform at their maximum ability," III Corps Combatives Director Kristopher Perkins said.
The combatives competition will run through Saturday, before ending with a finale to name the winner of each weight class.
The team from Fort Hood is trying to defend its title of winning two straight years.