Friday, February 13, 2015

Army National Guard Soldier embraces martial arts as part of his career

Above: Oregon Army National Guard Lt. Col. Ed Winkler submits (taps out) to classmate Chase Warren as the two practice a choke maneuver while instructor Jared George watches their technique in Tigard, Oregon, during his Brazilian Jui Jitsu training, February 5.  Martial Arts training has become a passion of Winkler’s as part of his military career and personal discipline.  (Photo by Christopher L. Ingersoll, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

By Christopher L. Ingersoll, Public Affairs Specialist, Oregon Military Department.

TIGARD, Oregon. -- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a well-known fighting style to many martial arts fans, has become one of the more popular disciplines according to mixed martial artists.  Recently, an Oregon Army National Guard infantry officer earned a bronze medal in his division at the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation’s World Masters Tournament in Long Beach, California on Nov. 2.

Lt. Col. Ed Winkler, executive officer for Joint Force Headquarters, became interested in hand-to-hand combatives after his first deployment to Iraq in 2003.

“I realized very quickly that our fight was not at 300 meters, but more like three meters or less,” Winkler said.  “For example, when an unarmed Iraqi approaches a checkpoint operation, shouting in anger and frustration, we need to have the skills to take him down using the right amount of force.”

Over the next few years, Winkler enrolled in the levels one and two Army Combatives courses at Fort Benning, Georgia, for a total of 120 hours of instruction.  After the course, he began to pursue martial arts privately.  In 2007, he found a local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy to where he now trains.

Winkler said he chose Brazilian Jiu Jistu as the combat art he wished to study and pursue because the art form enhances not only his specific mission as an infantryman, but also his overall military career and lifestyle.
“Jiu Jitsu is a non-striking form of martial arts,” Winkler said.  “The goal is to submit your opponent with attacks that threaten the joints in the body such as fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, toes, ankles, knees, neck or to render your opponent unconscious through the application of a choke that cuts the blood supply off to the brain.  Because it is non-striking it is called the ‘Gentle Art’.  

He said one advantage of Jiu Jitsu is that a smaller, weaker person who is well-trained can use leverage and balance against a stronger, heavier opponent.  Once they gain a dominant body position, they can use a variety of techniques to incapacitate their opponent. 

“As an infantryman, our overarching mission is to destroy the enemy in close combat,” Winkler said. “Competitions provide a relatively safe platform to test ones mental and physical mettle against a fully resistant opponent while engaging in a combat sport.”

While the Army Combatives program is Jiu Jitsu-based, Winkler said the sport of Jiu Jitsu leaves a number of large gaps in the need for hand-to-hand combat skills on the battlefield. 

“For starters, there is no striking or weapons, but I can't imagine a combat situation that would not include strikes and/or weapons:  Handgun, knife, stick, rock ... pretty much anything one could get into their hands to increase the odds of survival,” said Winkler. “That being said, the Army's philosophy explained at the Combatives School at Fort Benning when I attended is the person who wins the hand-to-hand combat fight on the battlefield is the person who's buddy shows up first with a gun.”

He said the Warrior Tasks regarding Combatives underscore the philosophy in which Soldiers are required to be proficient in gaining dominant positions over an opponent, allowing time for their buddy to show up with a weapon.

Winkler said Brazilian Jiu Jitsu also enhances his ability to command as well.

Right: Oregon Army National Guard Lt. Col. Ed Winkler is taught a choking technique from Brazilian Jui Jitsu instructor Jared George in Tigard, Oregon, during his Brazilian Jui Jitsu training, February 5. Martial Arts training has become a passion of Winkler’s as part of his military career and personal discipline.  (Photo by Christopher L. Ingersoll, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs) 

“Every Soldier I have met in my more than 30-year military career, including myself, has a natural respect for those who exhibit the Warrior Spirit and who take training and their combat role seriously,” Winkler said.  “Jiu-Jitsu is one way that I demonstrate both leadership and the Warrior Spirit.  It is also one of many ways a leader can earn respect both up and down the chain of command.”

Outside of his military career, Winkler says that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been a boost to his health and his family interactions as well. 

“Training in Jiu-Jitsu not only provides a tremendous workout, but it also provides a mechanism for mental sharpness through continual learning,” he said.  “After eight years of training, I still see things I have never seen before in terms of new techniques.  It also adds a level of confidence to my day-to-day interactions, whether it is work related or family related.”

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