Defenders sharpen the warrior heart

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Alexis Kula
  • 87th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

"Train smart, stay humble," echoes the mantra of Master Carlos Machado, a legend in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) renowned for both his competitive prowess and teaching expertise.

Defenders from the 87th Air Base Wing seized a unique opportunity to receive advanced BJJ instruction from Master Machado at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Jan. 17-18.

Master Machado, a Brazil native and pivotal figure in pioneering BJJ in the United States, brought decades of experience, having trained thousands, including U.S. Air Force Veteran and notable Defender, Chuck Norris.

"In life, it's about making the odds manageable," Machado said. "I want to ensure my students are prepared and successful if ever faced with danger, and ensure they have the skills necessary to survive and always put the odds in their favor."

Over two days, Master Machado intricately wove BJJ tactics with elements of honing their craft, mindfulness, and physical readiness, embodying the essence of the Warrior Heart culture.

The 87th Security Forces Squadron is charged with upholding the safety of more than 48,000 joint service personnel and securing property and resources spanning 42,000 acres. Additionally, they have an array of highly demanding missions such as the Special Reaction Team and the Phoenix Raven program.

The SRT responds during crisis situations, skilled in close combat marksmanship, breaching methods, and advanced building-clearing tactics. The Phoenix Raven program consists of specially trained Defenders dedicated to providing protection for mobility aircraft transiting through austere environments with potentially high terrorist and criminal threat levels.

"Training is everything. When the fight comes, you always fall back on your training," said Jerry Smith, 87th SFS training instructor. “Our Defenders receive various levels of hand-to-hand combat education, but it’s important that we hone our craft and build upon it. If we don’t, we never know when that will mean life or death on the job.”

The training aimed to not only enhance hand-to-hand combat skills, but to also fortify the Defenders' will to win, vital to their roles in safeguarding the base and executing critical missions.

"Master Carlos and his team of instructors are true warriors and experts at their craft," said Lt. Col. Nathaniel Lesher, 87th SFS commander. "With our profession there is no room for excessive force, yet at times we have to be violent in order to protect the innocent, defend the base and secure the steel on the ramp. I'm truly grateful he connected with our Defenders and gave them some extra tools to be successful in critical incidents."

In the quest to build a Warrior Heart culture, this training stands as a testament to the commitment of Defenders to excellence and readiness.