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So You Want to Train in Iraq?

    Thu, 2004-10-14 22:32 — SGT Adam L. Wilson

    Here is a story from the front directly from a soldier there who is using his love of Jiu Jitsu and MMA to make a difference. Find out what YOU can do!

    SGT Adam Wilson is currently in Iraq, training Iraqi soldiers who will be put in charge of defending their homes. Whatever your politics and feelings on the war happen to be, please be aware that there are heroic individuals over there who are trying to the best they can, and we think this is a really inspirational story of how one person is using his love of Jiu Jitsu and MMA to try to make a difference. This is also a call to action, and at the end of the article you are moved as we are there is an opportunity that you can help make a difference as well.

    We leave this article as summary of excerpts from letters SGT Wilson has sent from Iraq, so you can read in his own words what`s going on and what`s needed to be done.

    It`s tough to explain how hard it`s been trying to teach Iraqi soldiers grappling and groundfighting. Unlike most country's that have a native fighting style...Japan and judo, Brazil and BJJ, Thailand and muay thai, Iraq really doesn`t have a system for fighting. So I`m not just teaching technique,but also theory, why a fighter who`s on his back in the guard isn`t defeated....should have seen the confusion on my students faces the first time I took a soldier from the closed guard to a triangle! They just figured I was pinned and had lost the fight. Besides having to work past that I also cant get the supportIi need from contacts here, I ask the army who do I talk to about buying mats, gloves, mouthpieces, training pads so I can actually teach these soldiers how to defend themselves. Honestly a major problem we have is our Iraqi soldiers getting assaulted while on duty by other Iraqi's trying to stab or shoot them, because they feel the Iraqi National Guard (ING) are betraying their country and are just pawns of the Americans. So all I want is to be able to get these guys to defend themselves and the army says, "well don`t the Iraqi's have to pay for that since its for them to use," and the Iraqi's say "we cannot buy this you Americans must." No one wants to buy the equipment and soldiers just keep getting assaulted. I just got brought in as an instructor about a month ago and in that time I`ve done what I can training them on the dirt with no pads, yeah its been interesting.

    As far as the Gi's wow...I mean thanks so much. As funny as it sounds teaching class and rolling every time in my uniform takes a real big toll. Over here we joke that life's easy since you don`t have to pick what your gonna`s the same everyday. That`s why the army gives you 4 sets of desert combat uniforms. But I don`t think they planned on having someone like me constantly tearing buttons off or using the sleeves to demonstrate chokes, and the blood spots are a nice topic of conversation also...usually goes like..."SGT Wilson whats that stain on your unifrom?" "Well thats blood sir." "SGT Wilson why exactly do you have blood on your uniform?" But I havent wanted to use the shorts I brought and go strictly NO GI because ...well my boys aren`t out on duty in shorts. They`re in uniforms that act a lot like a Gi does in a fight, so we train in what we fight in. Just means I`ve had to spend a lot of time sewing stuff back on and washing clothes.

    For equipment any little thing would help. Until now I`ve been banging my head against a wall, teaching soldiers out in the dirt in 120 degree heat trying to get equipment so we can move to another level of training. Mats so we can work takedowns, pad's so they can train striking, and gloves so I can get them used to getting hit in the face and working past it. These soldiers aren`t professionals, they`re kids, some of them 17 and 18 who have only weeks of training and then go out and do whatever they can to keep there country free. Imagine if I took 30 high school seniors and gave them weapons and said "ok now I`m gonna train you to be an army....but I don`t have a lot of time. Your country needs you!" I know when I joined the army at 17 it was hard for me....and no one was trying to kill me or kill my family. So every time I see one of my guys get hit or come back talking about how he got harrassed by his own people, it just makes me train them harder. But without the right equipment, its just rough, really rough. I know everyone in the MMA community is working hard, and I`m not asking for handouts from any of them, I had accepted the fact that if it was gonna happen I was going to have to make it happen and supply the gear out of my pocket. Thats why I brought my thai pads and gloves with me from the states in the beginning, so I could train to fight even over here. My wife understood that I was going to be ordering and paying for a lot of gear myself, because I believe in what we`re doing here and I think its worth it. Its not so much that the army wont pay for equipment, it`s that no one can tell me who's going to pay for it. Its llways "well talk to him", or "they should be the ones to pay for it we don`t handle that." So any help anyone can offer in any way is much appreciated, and I promise to anyone who does lend a hand I will push as long as I have to, to get as much publicity for them and to see that they get thanks from the US ARMY, the IRAQI NATIONAL GUARD, and myself.

    Here`s the pictures and videos I`ve been promising you for so long. The photo gallery contains pictures of

    SGT Haydar- Lead Iraqi National Guard Instructor

    SFC Sayfe- 1st Platoon Sergeant

    SGT Martin- 1st CAV DIVISION Iraqi National Liaison / Instructor

    SSG Hayman- 1st CAV DIVISION Iraqi National Liaison / Instructor 302nd Infantry Iraqi National Guard (I.N.G.) soldiers and trainees

    SGT Wilson- 1st CAV DIVISION Iraqi National Liaison / Combatives Instructor

    These pictures represent hours of instruction on basic hand to hand combat techniques in the hopes of giving the soldiers of C co. 302nd an alternate means of defense and offense. Comabtives gives these soldiers a way to defend themselves when they are working on checkpoints or on patrol and are unable to use deadly force due to the Rules of Engagement. The effects of the training can also be seen in the increased sense of pride, self-esteem and confidence. These soldiers are mostly young, uneducated, and poor, having the chance to teach them the sport has been one of the greatest experiences I`ve had in the military. In America we`ve seen the revolution, seen how hand to hand combat has moved from striking to groundfighting to the current state of the complete fighter. Being able to show these men what Japan, Brazil, and America know and seeing how they love the concepts and techniques. Seeing the way they struggle to learn faster, to get better has proven to me that even if all I was able to do was bring the sport to this country. Then regardless of what happens if and when we leave Iraq, I have been able to directly influence these men for the better. I have done my job and left the country better.

    Thank you for all the support and everything you have done helping to give me the chance to accomplish the mission here in Iraq.

    Adam L. Wilson

    We need your help! Here`s what you can do!

    This is a threefold request. First off, anyone that has an old gi that you don't need or use anymore, we are requesting that you send it to us. These gi's can be well worn, have holes in them, but need to be "wearable". We will box all the gi's up and send them to him in Baghdad. We will do the same with used gear and equipment. The address to send them to is:

    613 Durrett Drive
    Nashville, TN 37211

    Second request, any vendor who wants to contribute any products, (fight shorts, rashguards, shin pads, gloves, etc.) please send them to us and we will make sure they get to Baghdad. Of course they will know who they came from because your logo will be on them.

    Third request, if you don't have any used equipment but want to help out with giving a few dollars for us to get them new stuff, please give us a call at 615-834-7927.

    Many thanks to Regina Clay of /
    for caring so much and for first organizing this gear drive!

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