An awarding-winning modern combatives program offered at K-State for two and a half years has been cancelled due to lack of funding. The program was offered as a two-credit hours undergraduate class.
“We were the first university at the time to offer modern combative in a mixed martial arts form,” said Art Degroat, former program director. “It was very innovative and highly successful.”
Soldiers from Fort Riley took the course and used it to prepare for the national military combative tournament. The team placed in the top three for three consecutive years and took first at one point, Degroat said.
The program began under the Wefald administration. It ran under the department of Arts and Sciences.
Some of the students who participated in the program had a background in fighting, Degroat said. The program incorporated select techniques from wrestling, boxing and martial arts.
“In the end, we’ve proven it is a very worthwhile discipline for students to learn,” Degroat said. “We had very special instructors.”
He said due to the close proximity of Fort Riley, the program was able to attract nationally prominent military combative instructors. The program was so successful that Degroat had inquiries from other institutions about developing a similar program, he said.
Josh Martin, senior in horticulture, became certified in modern combatives after he went through all three levels of the program while it was offered. He had a background in cage fighting before entering the program and said the program made him a better fighter.
“It’s one of the best programs I’ve been a part of at K-State,” Martin said. “I’ve seen more positive changes in this program than any other program at K-State.”
The course taught him full self-control and how to keep his calm, Martin said. Since going through the program, he has been able to end the fights he has been involved in quickly and without permanent injury to either party.
But Martin said most people only think of martial arts in a negative way, as a violent sport. In reality, he said, the program brought him closer to people and he made more friends through it.
The program was also valuable to women and those seeking a method of self-defense.
“It has been proven that an 80-pound woman can defeat or repel a 200-pound man because of the skills learned in the program,” Degroat said. “It also helped develop confidence internally.”
While the program was cancelled due to recent budget cuts, most of the equipment is still accessible to students.
Steve Martini, director of the Peters Recreational Services, said they plan to use some of the equipment in the new combatives room that will be added onto the Rec Center as part of an expansion plan. Some of the gloves and headgear went to the military science division.
“Everyone’s worked really well together as far as distribution of equipment,” Martini said.
Degroat said when the program was cancelled, the Arts and Sciences department could have sold the equipment, but they wanted to keep it in the hands of the students.
Beth Montelone, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was crucial to helping transfer the ownership of the equipment to other departments and organizations. The Arts and Sciences department gave the program a chance to sustain itself, Degroat said, but canceling it was a responsible decision in the difficult economic time.
If the university ever decides to offer the program in the future, he says he will be more than happy to help.
“There’s opportunities in the future,” Degroat said. “We’ve kept all doors open.”