USA Combat Wrestling Hosts First National Training Camp
by Stephen Koepfer
Only 2 months into 2016 and it is shaping up to be a pivotal year for USA Combat Wrestling.
In January, just a little over a year since its creation, the organization has been formally incorporated and received not-for-profit status. Only a month later, on February 18 – 21, Colorado Springs Judo Center hosted the first U.S. National Combat Wrestling Training Camp at which the first crop of USACW referees was trained, the first official board meeting was held and athletes & coaches from across the United States came to train, build bridges and continue to spread the word about Combat Wrestling. Attendees from Arkansas, Kansas, New York, California and Colorado gathered together to train and help build USA Combat Wrestling!
The camp was launched with a USACW Official’s certification course, taught by FICW Class A Referee and 2015 U.S. Team Coach Stephen Koepfer. During the span of the five hour course, students went through an exhaustive presentation and review of the FICW/USACW rules & regulations; components of running an organized, safe & successful tournament; referee expectations behaviors & actions (including video review and physical practice); and had to pass a final written exam with a score of 75 or higher. At the end of the course the following persons passed to become USACW’s inaugural group of Combat Wrestling officials: Reilly Bodycomb, Morgan Bracken (2015 World Bronze Medalist), Timothy Kuth, Chris Metzgar, Anthony Pastorello and Kacy Simonsen.
That same evening USACW’s first board meeting was held. Founding board members include President Timothy Kuth (who was also a coach on the 2015 world team), Vice President and Treasurer Micah Thompson, and Secretary Stephen Koepfer. Among key items discussed were funding strategies for the organization and 2016 National Team (with the goal of providing 100% funding of expenses for the team), website and social media development, public relations strategies, identification of nominees for additional board and organizational positions, and planning for the US nationals & team trial – which will take place in Lowell, Arkansas on April 9.
Items identified for the agenda of the next board meeting on April 8 include a debrief and assessment of the training camp, the possibility of a second national camp once the 2016 national team is selected in April, funding progress, term length for elected positions, and voting on new board and organizational positions including a Public Relations Director.
During the meeting the following persons were elected to the following positions:
Reilly Bodycomb – Board Member for U.S. development;
Timothy Kuth – U.S. representative to the FICW Coach Committee;
Stephen Koepfer – 2016 U.S. National Coach, USACW Chief Official and U.S. representative to the FICW Referee Committee.
With the referee course and board meeting complete, the following three days of the camp were dedicated to technical training. The all star cast of coaches included:
Matt Lindland is our U.S. National Greco-Roman Coach and currently in residence at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. His home gym, Team Quest in Portland, is legendary as is Matt’s own wrestling, Olympic and MMA career. Matt taught an incredible session on point of contact and clinch fighting for wrestling, as well as transitioning standing clinch strategies to the mat.
Roli is a 2nd degree BJJ Black Belt with GFTeam out of Westside MMA in Little Rock, Arkansas. He began cross training in other grappling arts just after receiving his Black Belt in BJJ. Roli is a level 5 in Gokor Chivichyan’s Hayastan System. Additionally, Roli had the pleasure of training with Billy Robinson for 5 years at Westside MMA. He is known as a specialist on applying Catch Wrestling style finishing moves in BJJ; he has taught leg locks to Cyborg, Rodrigo Cavaca and several other world champions. In MMA, Roli was a contestant on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter and is a veteran of the UFC and Bellator. Since 2011 he has focused primarily on grappling competition; winning many smaller tournaments, placing in 3 Black Belt IBJJF events and winning a super fight in the Respect Professional Grappling show. In 2015 Roli won the U.S. Combat Wrestling Team Trial and took home a Silver Medal from the Combat Wrestling World Championships. At the camp, Roli taught a fantastic session on half mount strategies as well as co-taught a leg lock session with Reilly Bodycomb.
Reilly is a longtime Sambo stylist, a BJJ Brown Belt, and has built a reputation as an avid athlete and coach known for his mastery of fast and technical leg locks for nogi competition. He currently coaches out of Bay Jiu Jitsu in California. He has massed victories in Sambo, Combat Sambo, No-Gi Grappling, MMA and San Da. Some of his accomplishments include: Polaris Pro and Ultimate Absolute Competitor; ADCC America Pro Division Gold medalist; Gold Medals at the Arnold Classic Sambo Open, Dutch Sambo Open and NAGA Expert divisions. Reilly has also placed at the USA Sambo Nationals (silver and bronze) & British Sambo Open (Bronze). Reilly was a member of the U.S. World Sambo Team in 2008. Reilly is the coach of 2015 World Combat Wrestling Gold Medalist for the U.S. Denny Lenormand. For the camp Reilly taught a session on throw counters to shots and co-taught a leg lock session with Roli Delgado.
Stephen was U.S. National Combat Wrestling Team Coach in 2015. He is a lifelong martial artist with black belts in Tae Kwon Do, Judo, a Master of Sport in Combat Sambo and competition experience in various combat sports. In addition to running New York Combat Sambo, which he founded in 2003, Stephen is an Association of Boxing Commissions approved MMA referee & judge, former chief official for the American Sambo Association and Class A International Referee for the International Combat Wrestling Federation. Stephen has coached his NYCS team to numerous victories in both national and international combat sports. At this camp, he taught a session on nogi throws and their transition to pins for combat wrestling.
In addition to these incredible coaching sessions, two addition sessions for coach Q&A, live sparring and referee practice took place.
At the conclusion of the camp, attendees (coach and athlete alike) universally felt as if they had been immersed in a four day master class. Everyone left the experience feeling excited to see what USA Combat Wrestling will achieve in 2016. If this camp is any indication, 2016 will be a great year for USA Combat Wrestling!