Tritons grappling team hosts first Royal Canadian Navy tournament

The Royal Canadian Navy’s grappling team from Canadian Forces Bases Esquimalt and Edmonton poses for a photo after the June 25 tournament at the Naden Athletic Centre. Photo supplied

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer

For the first time in history, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) hosted a Military Combatives Tournament. Combatives is a hand-to-hand training mixed with grappling techniques.

The June 25 tournament saw 25 grapplers from Canadian Forces Bases Esquimalt and Edmonton at the Naden Athletic Centre. Petty Officer Second Class (PO2) Lee Thibault, Organizer and Tritons team captain, said the event was well-received by all participants.

“This event gave them a chance to develop their grappling skills and gain some valuable competitive experience while also making a little bit of sports history,” he said.

Grappling is a form of submission wrestling involving holds and takedowns without striking or punches. Every takedown is achieved by controlling the partner into submission to score points. The Personnel Support Programs (PSP) did not officially sanction the sport until 2019, after which the Tritons Grappling Team was formed. Other grappling teams have also been formed in CFB Edmonton, CFB Gagetown and 12 Wing Shearwater.

PO2 Thibault is a small Arms Instructor at Naval Fleet School Pacific and is a life-long mixed martial arts enthusiast. He says the sport of grappling is relatively new to the navy.

As a five-time Canadian Armed Forces Combatives champion, he says he lets his actions promote the sport. During his latest competition in Esquimalt he claimed the tournament’s heavyweight and overall titles.

He says having his teammates crowded around his wrestling mat was a pure thrill.

“I could care less about the medals and titles. The biggest thing for me is to lead by example, teaching these guys all the finer points and techniques of grappling,” he said. “I am hoping my mission success will inspire my team for future success.”

He says the Tritons have a grand learning journey ahead of them. The team holds practices three times per week at the Naden Athletic Centre. For more information about the sport and how to join the Tritons Grappling Team, contact PO2 Thibault at

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