BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Anywhere there could be trouble, it’s crucial for military members to be able to defend themselves. That's why one airman teaches a combatives class here. U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Yamil Roman-Rivera of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron uses his knowledge and skills in martial arts to conduct self-defense training with service members assigned here. He offers classes to interested individuals and teaches skills that may come in handy in the deployed environment or back at home station. “Before I joined the military, I was a martial arts instructor for five years," Roman-Rivera said. "I taught kids from the ages of 3 years to adults in basic self-defense, as well as traditional Chinese martial arts and even cardio kick boxing." He said he's been through Air Force and Army combatives courses and has taught it for the past three years. His course here at Bagram helps students learn how to defend themselves in numerous situations. So-called "green on blue" attacks -- attacks by Afghan partners on coalition members -- are still possible in today’s combat zone, as is facing an enemy combatant in close quarters. Helpful in Multiple Situations The class also aids in sexual assault prevention. Participants are taught how to escape if they find themselves in an assault. Regardless of the situation, it’s important for members to know how to react if they find themselves fighting for their own safety. “I teach basic strikes like punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and more complicated moves like rear-naked choke, guillotine choke, arm bars and triangle chokes,” he said. “I also teach escaping from these moves. All of these moves are important. With knowledge comes power, as well as confidence that you have the tools and knowledge to defeat an adversary, because you may be attacked prior to you having the opportunity to get to your weapon system.” With combatives perceived as being hard to grasp, Roman-Rivera said he gets mostly male participants, but having taught small children and individuals with little to no martial arts background, he said he is patient and open to teaching anyone who is willing to learn. Defend the Base “I’ve never done a combatives class before and Roman-Rivera was very helpful and patient when teaching me the moves,” said Army Spc. Cody Hougnon, Task Force-Solid personal security detachment team member. “He made everything really easy to learn. I encourage my fellow soldiers, especially the females, to take the class.” Roman-Rivera said he enjoys teaching combatives to airmen and soldiers and encourages individuals or units to schedule organized classes. “What I enjoy most about teaching combatives is that I’m giving individuals the tools to protect themselves, especially when they’re unarmed,” Roman-Rivera said. “You never know where you will be when a threat will present itself here in the AOR, traveling on leave or back at home station in your everyday life.” Roman-Rivera will continue to offer the class as it fits into the basic “Defend the Base” concept under U.S. Air Forces Central's stated priorities. “There are many martial arts classes here at Bagram and back at home station," Roman-Rivera said. "I encourage all to get at least a basic course of self-defense to give you the tools necessary to be resilient. Active shooter incidents are on the rise, as well as other random acts of violence. Make yourself a hard target 24/7.”
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