Strathcona’s Join the “Carwin Army”
When the CO challenged the soldiers of the Regiment to develop training initiatives and recommendations that would benefit the Regiment as a part or as a whole, he followed up with a promise to send the pairing of soldiers who put forth the most creative, well developed, and immediately implementable suggestion to the Ultimate Fighting Championship 131 which featured Junior Dos Santos fighting Shane Carwin. Even more unbelievable was the announcement one month following the UFC 131 fights that the CO had secured one of those fighters to hold a seminar at the Regiment, exclusively for the soldiers of the Regiment. On 17 August 2011, the leadership of the Regiment and members of the Strathcona’s Martial Arts Team welcomed Shane Carwin to Edmonton with dinner at The Lux.
Although Shane lost the fight to Dos Santos, LCol Trevor Cadieu summed up his performance as “showing a never quite attitude and in short, he epitomized out motto, which is Perseverance.” In no small part due to the heart and determination that Shane showed during that fight, the Regiment decided that he was the ‘right’ fighter to conduct a mixed martial arts seminar for our soldiers. With the assistance of Brad Foster from Kamikaze Punishment, all of the pieces fell into place. For those unfamiliar with the UFC, Shane Carwin was the one-time interim UFC Heavy Weight Champion who entered the Dos Santos fight with a UFC record of 11 wins and 1 loss and was an amateur wrestler who held the Division 2 Heavyweight Championship in 1999.
On the morning of 18 August, the first of three seminars began. Shane instructed soldiers in both boxing and wrestling techniques while Paulo and Vitor (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialists from Brazil) from Kamikaze Punishment instructed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves including disarming an aggressor attacking with a knife or pistol. The highlight of the ground game was when soldiers grappled with the instructors or a member of the Regiments Martial Arts team (Capt Alexandre Bazinet, Cpl Brennan Dunbar, Cpl Andrew Elms, and MCpl Deschambault). The most watched though were Paulo and Vitor challenging the team members to ‘roll’. Cpl Brent Thompson was able to submit Vitor while Cpl Nick Norman still wears the scars of his match with the same instructor. MCpl Peddle (46 years old) was able to fight to a draw with this young BJJ Purple Belt.
What struck our soldiers the most was the realization that Shane Carwin was not just one of the most dangerous men on the planet but that he was a family man who was simply one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. He also holds two bachelor degrees in the Mechanical Engineering field. In his own words he was humbled by our soldiers and their willingness to put their lives on the line to ensure the freedom of their countrymen. “You are the true heroes” was a common theme in each of the three seminars lead by Shane and given to over 100 members of the Regiment.
Each seminar started with a warm up and inspirational video presented by Brad Foster, transitioned into stand-up and ground fighting techniques, and ended with a question and answer session with Shane. Each soldier was also given the opportunity to have a picture taken with Shane Carwin in front of a Leopard C2 and received an autographed picture. In true Strathcona fashion, the Regiment looked to demonstrate our appreciation to Shane and the entire Kamikaze team, treating them to a ‘Soldier for a Day’ experience that would be etched into their memories forever. The highlight was when Shane was given the opportunity to drive a Leopard C2 tank. You would have needed a shovel to wipe the smile off his face. The day ended with the presentation of 105mm casings to Shane and Brad.
40 soldiers were given the opportunity to attend a farewell banquet with Shane and his wife Loni, where the Multiple Sclerosis Society was presented with a donation of over $12,000 by Brad Foster and Kamikaze Punishment.
Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) was the first Canadian Forces unit to host a training session with a UFC fighter. Our competitive fighters and soldiers in general benefited greatly from the experience. The common theme amongst all who were in attendance (close to 150 soldiers from the Regiment over the two days) was that it was a once in a lifetime experience that they are still in disbelief of its occurrence. A very sincere ‘thank-you’ goes out to all that were responsible for the arrangements, the planning and preparation, and the execution.