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Combatives’ Warrior Women

By MC2 Elliott Fabrizio

Around the early 80s, Saturday Night Live Comedian Andy Kaufman wrestled women as part of a performance comedy routine, offering $1,000 to any woman who could pin him.

The wrestling was phony. The referee was comically biased. The whole thing was simply a joke.

This stunt was around the time women had just begun to integrate into non-combative roles in the regular Army. In today’s military and the world of Modern Army Combatives, no one is laughing at the concept of women fighting men.

In the 2010 U.S. Army championship Combatives Tournament there was no gender segregation. Twelve women were counted among this year’s 462 fighters.

Setting the tone for the rest of the tournament, the first match on the first day of competition featured a female fighter against a male. She won.

Watch the full match raw and unedited below.



YouTube DoDLive

Toni Vermiglio, from 4thPsychological Operations Group, struck fear in her male competitors and was the only female to fight her way into the semi-finals, a feat requiring at least four victories.    

Another female to defeat her male opponent was Kelly Fowler, from Fort Polk, La. She said, form is more important than size and strength, and form doesn’t favor either gender.

Kelly Fowler struggles to gain dominate position over her opponent during the first round of competition in the 2010 U.S. Army Championship Combatives Tournament in Fort Benning, Ga. Photo by MC2 Elliott Fabrizio.

“Whenever I fight a person, I just try to figure out their style, whether it’s a wrestling background or a martial arts background or something else,” said Fowler. “It’s all about finding out how they fight so you can take them down.”

She submitted her opponent with a straight arm bar, when he left his wrist open.

“It always feels good to submit somebody,” said Fowler.

Her victory instigated an eruption of female cheers. 

“The other females, even if you don’t know them, are really really supportive, because they want to see more girls doing combatives,” added Fowler.

Real combat isn’t segregated by gender or weight class, so a male Soldier could face a larger, stronger opponent just as easily as could a female. Form over power is one of the main principals of combatives training.

When combatives instructors emphasize that point in their lesson plans, one female’s chokehold during training bout is brought up so often it’s practicaly a legend.

“We had a female captain that choked out the starting quarterback of West Point,” said Capt. Aaron Doutt, commanding officer of the U.S. Army Combatives School. “She just had better technique and was quick.”

That female was 1st Lt. Christine Van Fleet. She weighed about 145 pounds and the quarterback weighed around 225 pounds.

“That’s evidence the program works,” said Matt Larsen, the director of the Modern Army Combatives Program.

Larsen said that in the program’s entire history there has never been a sexual harassment issue.

“Most people aren’t thinking about that type of thing when they’re pummeling each other,” he added.

Modern Army Combatives features nearly every type of fighting, except the battle of the sexes–males and females are both granted equal opportunity to have their faces ground into a mat.  

Hollee Proctor, from Fort Benning, Ga., faces off against another female fighter in the first round of the 2010 U.S. Army Championship Combatives Tournament.

Posted in Close Combat.

Read Comments

  • I. Likeher

    I wanna marry her

  • Wayne Underwood

    The unnamed female fighter vs Hollee Proctor in bottom photois CW3 Tobi Underwood from Fort Knox, my wife.

  • Oleg

    I wanna marry her too….

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