Ft. Benning, Ga. (WRBL) – One of the most intense competitions during Infantry Week at Fort Benning in the Lacerda Cup. A three day tournament that features soldiers fighting using Army Combatives, the hand to hand martial art taught to soldiers. The back-to-back days of fighting will pusht the soldiers both mentally and physically.
“This is the toughest type of competition there is. It’s grappling tournament. It’s a Pancrease tournament. Then it’s an MMA tournament at the end really. To be victorious you not only have to have skills across the board and fight multiple over the course of several days,” said Matt Larsen the Director of Hand To Hand Combat at West Point.
One competitor, Sgt. Nicholas Vane, won his match on Tuesday after slamming his opponent on the ground during a tough fight. He said the Lacerda Cup is one of the most difficult competitions.
“It’s probably the hardest grappling event you can do, or MMA event. It’s three days long. A lot of us train for competitions out of season. But this one after the other. Literally like Jean-Claude Van Damme’s ‘Bloodsport’ one after the other,” said Sgt. Vane.
Soldiers are trained to be skilled with a wide range of weapons, but being proficient in hand to hand combat is still essential. Military leaders still stress the importance of troops to be ready in any situation.
“So imagine the Army is all about dominating the enemy. To be able to do that across the spectrum of combat you have to be able to have all kinds of skills. If we can kill everyone in the building than we would send a cruise missile. We send soldiers because we’re not going to do that. And those soldiers need to be able to dominate whoever happens to be there,” said Larsen.
Each of the units train in Army Combatives on their own, but a competition like the Lacerda Cup pushes these soldiers to another level.
“When you say hey we’re going to have a fighting championships, people are starting to be the best fighter. So they drive each other you know, the whole idea of having a competition. So that’s what it’s all about,” said Larsen.
When the competition wraps up on Thursday , April 13th the winner will win the Lacerda Cup trophy and have a new reputation.
“Every soldier in the Army should know this is the toughest person in my squad. This is the toughest person in my platoon. This is the toughest person in the Army, and that’s what we’re doing today,” said Larsen.
The Lacerda Cup was named after Staff Sgt. Pedro Lacerda, a Brazilian native, who was dedicated to always improve the Army Combatives as a martial art.