To Prove They’re Fit For Combat, Military Women Take to Cage Matches Against Military Men
Rights of Passage
It’s 2012, we are still at war in the Middle East, and women are still not allowed to fight in Army combat roles. And women who are in the Army and being denied the chance to serve to the same extent as their male counterparts have found a new way to prove that they can fight on par with men: MMA-inspired cage matches. With men.
Originally just another way for Army men to blow off some steam and practice their weaponless, non-lethal combat skills (as well as entertain a crowd of family, civilians, and other servicemembers), these cage matches now give women the chance to practice their own hand-to-hand skills in a flashy setting fit for cable. But they’re also doing it to prove a point: that they can fight with the best of them. And if they can go head-to-head with their fellow soldiers, then why not put them on the front lines so they can fight side-by-side?
Right now, 300 men and 25 women fight in the Army’s championship bouts, one woman getting as far as the finals. Some modifications are made for competitions that include women; for example, women are always classified in the lightest of weight classes — bantamweight and flyweight — and they are allowed to weight 10 pounds more than the men they’re fighting. And fight they do:
Army Staff Sgt. Jackelyn Walker is snapping left jabs at Pfc. Greg Langarica’s head. She doesn’t like his smirk.
She lunges for his midsection, slams him down and locks him in a chokehold. Langarica’s face goes crimson. His smirk is gone.
The 1,000 or so spectators in the Army gym howl with glee.
Walker, pictured above with Langarica, is the aforementioned woman who made it into the finals, by the way.
While women are more than proving themselves in the ring, it’s not always a guarantee of respect when men fight women. If a woman beats a man, he, um, “hears about it” from other men. And if a man beats a woman, it’s not seen as that big of a victory. Despite that, many men in the Army do believe that the ban on women in combat is outdated.
The end of the fight between Walker and Langarica ended with the former being carried out on a stretcher after a series of blows that sucked the energy out of her. But Langarica didn’t say he’d just beat a woman: “It was a warrior.”
(via Stars and Stripes)
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