How the Army Combative Program, SOCP, and BJJ Complement Each Other and a Little Backstory on These Programs

4 min read
Read how BJJ is implemented in many military combative programs and what changed the minds of some top level trainers to support BJJ

How the Army Combative Program, SOCP, and BJJ Complement Each Other and a Little Backstory on These Programs

Read how BJJ is implemented in many military combative programs and what changed the minds of some top level trainers to support BJJ

Location: Richmond Hill, Georgia

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

It should come as no shock to those of us who practice BJJ that it can be used for self-defense. Jiu-Jitsu has a real-world application, as has been proven time and time again. We can also look deeper at the Army Combatives Program and SOCP (Special Operations Combatives Program) and see that BJJ can be used very effectively in combat situations.

A Little Backstory
In fact, it was the SOCP program that actually helped me begin my BJJ journey. My husband, Joe, took a course with Ben Jackson, a Master Combatives Trainer and SOCP instructor. Ben had invited my husband, Joe, to a SOCP course, his very first, which is where he ended up meeting the owner of the gym we both work and train in. (But more on that another time.)

Ben has been a trainer in the Army for the last 16 years of his almost 20-year career. His original MOS (Military Occupation Code…we can just call it a job) was artillery, but his command saw the need for hand-to-hand combat knowledge and sent him to his first school.

Ben’s favorite thing about training others is seeing confidence build, watching people who have never faced conflict, and seeing that “light come on” often makes his day. He especially enjoys watching the females he trains learn that they can hold their own. He encounters this frequently as he teaches civilian courses as well. (I’ve taken one with him.)

Also, I should mention that Ben did have a background in BJJ and Filipino Martial Arts before his Army Combatives, so that was helpful when he went to school to become a trainer.

Ben is a full-time instructor for the US Army and divides his time between Ft. Stewart, GA and Hunter Army Airfield, GA. Classes for combatives constantly run with SOCP intro courses lasting for 1-2 days a month.

The Army Combatives Program began in 2002, founded by former Army Ranger Matt Larson. Ben said, “The idea behind it was to have a ground-based offense and defense, basic boxing combos for stand up, basic takedowns, and an intro into tactical weapons that would be applied to CQB” (or close quarter combat). There was a massive push for the Army Combatives Program from the onset.

BJJ: Effective or Not?
Ben also shared, “It was great for teaching aggression and being in uncomfortable positions while maintaining composure,” but what Joe had a hard time understanding (at least from a BJJ perspective) “Why would you do an armbar wearing 50 lbs of body armor?” So he was a little slower to recognize the importance of BJJ in combatives because he had never seen it taught the way Greg Thompson taught it.

Greg is the creator of the SOCP program and is a BJJ blackbelt under Royce Gracie. At Greg’s training, Joe began to see the value of BJJ as more than just sport (though there is nothing wrong with the sport, obviously) which led to him wanting to train more with it.

Joe spent the first eight years (of his over 20 year Army career) in the Special Operations community as an Airborne Ranger, so his perspective of combat and use of force was slightly different from some of the people taking the courses with him.

Until going through the SOCP course, he only understood brute force with no technique to guide, but he found that Jiu-Jitsu really complimented his other fighting skills by helping him “understand how to dominate positions and allow for control and utilization of tools we had on hand.”

When I asked Joe what his favorite aspect of BJJ was, it was that it “complements everything I do in other martial arts.” So, as you can see, BJJ is much more than just a sport. It can be literally lifesaving on the battlefield, and our soldiers need to learn as much as they can. Because we live in a military area, we constantly see soldiers training BJJ in the gym, which is so rewarding and amazing to see. BJJ is definitely a game-changer both on and off the mats.

Additionally, Ben and Joe both live in the Savannah, GA area and train on the civilian side at Pooler Karate. Ben is a blue belt in BJJ and a blue belt in Krav Maga. Joe is a white belt in BJJ and a black belt in Krav Maga.

(Side note: BJJ and Krav complement each other nicely as there is BJJ in most Krav curriculums.)

BJJ is an exceptional martial art that constantly proves itself time and time again on the mats, in the cage, or on the battlefield. Jiu-Jitsu is often something you have to experience to fully appreciate. If you’re active-duty military personnel or a veteran, we highly recommend that you give BJJ a shot in your training regimen and think you’ll be very happy that you did.

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