News | Sept. 27, 2015

U.S. to grapple with Iran, China and former Soviet nations next week

By Gary Sheftick Armed Forces Sports

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. -- Iranian and Chinese troops will be among those fighting American service members next week as the U.S. Armed Forces Judo Team competes in the Military World Games.

More than 6,000 athletes from 103 nations are now scheduled to participate in the 6th Conseil International du Sport Militaire, or CISM World Games, in Mungyeong, South Korea, Oct. 2-11. Another 13 nations will send observers. The U.S. will field 16 teams in sports that range from track and field to soccer, basketball and martial arts.

"Generally, judo has the most number of nations competing," said USA coach Lt. Col. Benjamin Ring.

Judo is a popular sport in many of the smaller nations, Ring explained, adding that its the most popular sport in many of the former Soviet states as well.

It's not too expensive to field a judo team, Ring said, so many smaller countries jump on the bandwagon. Not much equipment is needed to launch a judo program, and just a handful of elite athletes can make a big impact.

The United States only has three athletes competing this year in judo:

-- Army Capt. Anna Feygina
-- Petty Officer 2nd Class Bob Yamashiita
-- Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Turnquest

All three are nationally ranked athletes of international caliber, Ring said.

Yamashita took silver at the Senior Nationals in Dallas during May.

Feygina has been competing for more than 10 years, but this is her first CISM competition.

Turnquest competed in the last CISM World Games in Brazil four years ago. Both he and Yamashita also competed in India eight years ago. In fact, this is Turnquest's fifth CISM event and Yamashita's fourth.

Turnquest is a mixed martial arts professional who has competed in Ultimate Fighting Championships. Mixed Martial Arts is a full-contact sport that combines striking with judo techniques.

The U.S Armed Forces Judo Team has been practicing at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, since Sept. 19. They have used both the gym and a combatives training facility.

They've been sparring with the Harrisburg Brazilian Jujitsu and Judo Team and also training with the West Point Judo Team. Ring was judo coach at the academy a few years ago.

Now he's leading the U.S. Armed Forces Judo Team to South Korea for the opening ceremony of the CISM Military World Games, held every four years -- one year before the Olympic Summer Games.

CISM is the largest military organization in the world and second-largest sporting organization, surpassed in its number of member nations only by the International Olympic Committee.

In the U.S., service members must balance their military duties with their training, Ring said. "Other countries don't see it that way," he added. "They're athletes with a uniform."

The USA will field teams at the CISM Military World Games in:

• Archery
• Soccer (Women)
• Modern Pentathlon
• Taekwondo
• Basketball
• Golf
• Parachuting
• Triathlon
• Cycling
• Judo
• Sailing
• Track & Field
• Soccer (Men)
• Marathon
• Shooting
• Wrestling