Marines teach self-protection
The crowd of students from the Ryukyu Rehabilitation Academy sat mesmerized as Marines demonstrated several martial arts techniques in an intense display of proficiency. Soon, they would have the opportunity to try out the techniques themselves with the Marines’ assistance.
Marines with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, came out to perform and share martial arts techniques at a festival held at Ryukyu Rehabilitation Academy Nov. 4.
“Bruce Lee once said ‘the art of fighting is not to fight,’” said Chief Warrant Officer John W. Crandall, the camp operations officer for Camp Hansen. “We are here at the Ryukyu Rehabilitation Academy not to teach the students how to fight, but to teach them how to avoid fights or to engage an attacker and defend themselves in case they are put in that situation.”
The academy is a sports rehabilitation facility which uses the martial art judo as part of its rehabilitation techniques, according to Col. Stephen B. Lewallen, the camp commander for Camp Hansen.
“We are out here sharing a little bit of our martial arts techniques with the local community,” said Lewallen. “As guests in their country, positive engagements like this are a good way to exchange cultural ideas and help create a stronger relationship between military service members and the surrounding community.”
Both Crandall and Lance Cpl. William B. Goudreau, a military policeman with 3rd LE Bn., demonstrated different martial arts techniques, including several to be utilized on attackers in self-defense.
After the demonstration, academy students were offered a chance to execute the martial arts techniques with Marine volunteers.
“This experience was really exciting for me,” said Ayano Oshiro, a student at the academy. “This is the first time I have been able to do something like this and I enjoyed it a lot.”
While the students learned some martial arts techniques, the Marines were able to integrate themselves further into Okinawa’s culture by working with them.
“I think the Marines on Camp Hansen are good people, so I wanted to have some interactions with them and would like for this to continue,” said Satoru Gima, chairman of the board of directors for Ryukyu Rehabilitation Academy. “For example: they can use our school facility or our therapists could exchange ideas with the therapists on Camp Hansen.”
As the festival and martial arts exchange came to an end, the students and Marines concluded with a friendly competition of Kendo, the art of sword fighting with bamboo swords. The Marines and students used foam swords to engage each other in teams of three.
After an eventful day, both the Marines and students left with new friends and skills.
“We are so close to each other, so it is good to have interactions,” said Tomohide Taira, vice chair of the board of directors for the academy. “Normally, we don’t get a chance to talk to each other even though we are neighbors. This kind of event is a good chance to start interactions and we hope to build on it in the future.”