Marines run gauntlet of instructor training
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Two sweat covered warriors circle each other with gloved fists raised. Fatigue make their limbs heavy, yet they keep up their guard. With jerking steps forward, they search for any weakness in their opponent’s posture to land the blow that would leave them the victor.
Marines began a Martial Arts Instructor Course July 14 at McCutcheon Gym on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The class of 16 students was comprised of noncommissioned officers assigned to various units with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, who sought to earn tabs on their belts that would identify them as instructors in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
MCMAP is a combat system developed by the U.S. Marine Corps that was officially established in 2002, and has roots dating back to the creation of the Corps itself. As warfare evolved over the years, the training in armed and unarmed combat also had to adapt. Different martial arts styles were incorporated into what eventually became a standardized style of hand-to-hand combat.
The first day of instructor training began with a physical fitness test to gauge the overall fitness of the participating Marines. The rest of the morning was spent learning proper training and technique, as well as maintaining proper nutrition, identifying injuries, and being able to prepare and conduct a course of MCMAP training.
“They need to be able to do more than just teach the techniques,” said Staff Sgt. Eduardo Guzman, a Chicago, Illinois, native and aviation supply specialist with Marine Air Logistics Squadron 36, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW, III MEF. “We’re teaching them everything they will need to know to ensure a safe training environment and how to react when a situation such as an injury occurs.”
In the afternoon, the Marines trained in sustainment for the tan belt level techniques, filled and carried sandbags for combat conditioning training, and then moved to McCutcheon Gym for sparring practice.
“The training is pushing us to our limits and beyond, and we’ve only just started,” said Cpl. Terrance J. Slaughter, an air support operator with Marine Air Support Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st MAW, III MEF. “We experience the conditioning we will eventually put Marines through, and that helps us to understand how it works and what it helps to improve. It also shows us where we need to improve and how to do so. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks.”
The prerequisites necessary to qualify for the course are a first class score in both the physical fitness test and combat fitness test, being an NCO or above, and at least a gray belt level in MCMAP.
“MCMAP is a blend of mental, physical and character discipline,” said Gunnery Sgt. Leon S. Parker, a Tampa, Florida, native and radar technician with MACG-18, 1st MAW, III MEF. “The Marines need the physical fitness to complete the training, the mental awareness to be able to lead a class, and the character to want to help the Marines under them improve.”
Similar to many martial arts styles, MCMAP uses a colored belt system to indicate a Marine’s level of expertise. The belt levels progress from tan to gray, green, brown and black. When Marines becomes certified as instructor, a tan tab is added to their belts and they are able to train other Marines up to their current belt level.
“We’re doing something important,” said Slaughter, a Tomball, Texas, native. “Not only are we making it possible to train our junior Marines, but this is a part of our tradition and legacy, which we will eventually pass on to the next generation.”