Jody Scott; the Domino Effect of his MCMAP on Okinawa Marines

by Lance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb
U.S. Marine Corps

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- “I would rather hobble down the stairs at 4:30 in the morning than quit on my Marines,” said Cpl. Jody Scott, a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan, slamming his hand on the table as he ranted about being a martial art instructors on Okinawa. “I can’t just stop. They appreciate what I do. This is a lifestyle. This is what I live, breathe, sleep, and eat. This is what I do.”

Scott is a Harrison Township, Michigan, native, whose unselfishness makes him one of the most sought out martial arts instructors on Okinawa. Marines who seek out his notorious MCMAP class leave both stronger physically, as better fighters, and mentally with sharpened minds. Scott teaches two to three separate MCMAP classes a month working around other Marine’s schedules, despite the toll it takes on his own battered body.

MCMAP is a continuously developing combat system that combines hand-to-hand and close quarter techniques with lessons on warrior ethos, leadership and teamwork. MCMAP is physically draining on the Marines who attend the classes, but even more so on the instructors, who grapple and train with each individual student. MAIs endure a grueling 15 day course in order to earn the instructor tab on their belt and their right to train Marines.

Scott’s compact body is usually littered with bruises from the unforgiving blows of his students. He makes a point to teach all Marines how to conduct themselves under duress and how to grapple while also stressing the importance of teamwork, and mental fortitude.

Yet Scott was not always toppling Marines, his contagious passion began with his burly best friend, and childhood bully, Dylan Thomas.

“I tell this story to every class,” Scott began his blueish-gray eyes glinting humorously. “I had this classic middle school bully when I was little. I was five foot nothing maybe less. There was this kid who pushed me around, bullied me, all of the time. He ended up moving two houses down from me. One day I finally swung at him, and then I ran away. That was the day he became my best friend. When I come home, that is the man that picks me up from the airport, I stay at his house, and I’ll call him when I need something. That is my best friend. One day when we were little, we were at his house and watching UFC, I said it looked awesome and I wanted to do it and he said, ‘yeah you should, you hit like a [expletive].’ After that I started to beg my parents to fight.”

Scott has always been a lean athlete, playing soccer for 12 years but mixed martial arts fighting was a different ball game. After consistent pestering, his mother caved and signed him up at the East Side MMA gym on his 14th birthday. Scott fought every single day from then until he joined the Marine Corps.

“I lost all of the time,” said Scott his mouth twisting into a smile as he recalled the long nights after school. “I would come home with black eyes, busted lips, bruised everything, limping but that’s why I loved to do it. I had days I didn’t want to go because it hurt, but I never wanted to quit. I got my butt kicked all of the time. There wasn’t a day where I didn’t lose but that’s what happens when you are fighting. You have to get beat up. You have to fight to get better. You can only get better, you cannot get worse. Somebody is going to teach you, they’ll show you what they did to you. No matter how big, how small, how anything. There is always something to learn. So now when I fight these big 200-pound Marines I can roll with them and I can make them tap out.”

Yet, despite his previous fighting experience, Scott’s path to becoming an MAI was not always smooth.

“When I came into the Marine Corps I didn’t know what motivation really was and because of that I didn’t like [Sgt. Kendrick W. Powdrill] at all,” said Scott. “He was a sergeant of Marines to the fullest extent. He got his tab just so he could take care of his Marines at the chow hall, helping us belt up when it wasn’t really an option before. He could do anything and everything. He taught me life lessons, man-to-man stuff. He always had my back and I always had his. Good, bad, right or wrong. I do the same for my Marines. I will help anyone that comes to my MCMAP class, even though some people don’t like asking for help.”

At the time Powdrill was the chief cook at the Camp Foster Chow Hall and Scott’s mentor. Scott took Powdrill’s life lessons to heart, consistently sacrificing his own time and energy to help shift workers, people on other bases with lack of transportation and Marines with hectic schedules.

Scott is notorious for his unparalleled flexibility, and understanding. Unlike many other instructors who teach the basics of MCMAP, Scott ensures that each Marine is well-versed in the techniques and grappling.

Marines like Cpl. Sara Lopez, an administrative specialist with H&S Bn., have sought out Scott’s mentorship. Lopez came looking for Scott to help her with earning a 300 CFT and her black belt.

Even as a brown belt she was caught off guard by the intense grappling and stand up fighting that Scott leads, according to Lopez. She believes his dedication to getting to know his Marines helped her push through the strenuous course.

“He is going to put you first, it doesn’t matter who you are, what your rank is or what you’ve done in the past,” said Lopez. “He doesn’t care about any of that. He is that one person who genuinely cares about you and will guide you to get out of whatever rut you are in. His course was that for me, it got me out of my rut. Even if he has 50 Marines at a time, he will grow a relationship with every single one.”

You will never truly have an impact if you do not care about your Marines, according to Scott. When they look good, they feel good. He watches his students begin to carry themselves better, rolling their shoulders back and puffing out their chests. They don’t want to lose that, so they do better at PT and at MCMAP. They begin to roll their sleeves tighter, squaring themselves away and in turn, their own Marines. Above all, they are happy.

As Scott shares his anecdotes after class, he harps on making the most of their time in the Marine Corps. His students take it to heart, and many begin volunteering with the local and military community more often.

“Once they put that pride into how they look, into their uniform, it transfers into everything that they do,” said Scott. “They earn their belt and they have that sense of accomplishment that they haven’t had since they earned their eagle, globe and anchor at boot camp. It puts that tingle in their body and they can’t stop. They won’t stop. Every single time someone earns their belt I get that tingle in my own body. I love seeing the progression of what they were to what they are now.”

Scott intends to continue to selflessly dedicate his time to teaching MCMAP, making elite warfighters, and better-rounded Marines and citizens.

“I’m never going to hold anything back,” said Scott. “If they want to learn something they are going to earn it. I want to get them to where I am at, I don’t mind if they surpass me. I want them to surpass me. I want them to be the best.”

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