Face of Defense: Soldier Takes Fight From Cage to Army
By Chris Rasmussen
Fort Jackson Leader
FORT JACKSON, S.C., Jul. 30, 2010 Army Pvt. Hannah Grossman appears to be a typical soldier in training: young, determined and focused. But before donning an Army combat uniform, the human resource information management specialist student was a professional cage fighter.
Grossman, who hails from Lexington, Mo., and fought under her maiden name, Hannah Doak, is assigned to Company A, 369th Adjutant Battalion.
"Cage fighting is not about beating people up," she said. "It is a mentally and physically challenging sport that is the longest three minutes of your life."
Cage fighting, also referred to as mixed martial arts, is a combination of several fighting disciplines that involves several striking and grappling techniques. Opponents compete in a caged ring for three three-minute rounds.
"There are a lot of parallels between MMA and the Army," Grossman said. "You have to stay focused. If you don't put 100 percent into it, someone is going to get hurt -- just like if you don't focus 100 percent during training, when you get downrange, someone is going to get hurt or worse."
Grossman, who has won three of her five professional matches, said she began the sport as a way to channel her anger that stemmed from a bout with skin cancer.
"I was angry at the world, and wanted to channel it somewhere positive," she said. "I started professional arm wrestling, but broke my arm. Three months after that, I began training for cage fighting."
Army Capt. Miguel Santana, her company commander, said he was impressed with Grossman's skills after viewing a video clip on the Internet.
"Eighteen seconds into the fight, she got her opponent into a rear-naked choke hold and won," Santana said. "You could tell how focused she was going into the cage. It is definitely an honor to have her in my company, because she embodies the Warrior Ethos and what a soldier is."
In addition to maintaining a strict diet, Grossman said, she spent three hours in the gym five days a week training to become a professional mixed martial artist.
"More people get hurt training than fighting, because you do so much," she said. "You develop a family-like relationship with the people you train with. You need that support, because it is very intimidating going into a cage with someone that knows how to fight."
Grossman joined the Army five years ago, but had to leave training when she discovered doctors failed to determine she was pregnant. Now that she’s back in uniform, she hopes for an opportunity to put her skills to work in hand-to-hand combat, a skill known as “combatives” in the Army.
"I always wanted to come back," she said. "I initially wanted to become a soldier because my grandfather was a World War II vet. I want to serve my country. I also want to do combatives for the Army. That is my goal."