Marines spar, wrestle to earn instructor designation

Marines spar, wrestle to earn instructor designation

by Lance Cpl. Stephen D. Himes, Marine Corps Installations Pacific
U.S. Marine Corps

CAMP HANSEN - Marines ran in a small circle to loosen their muscles while Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor-Trainers were off to the side, wrapping their hands in tape, preparing for the upcoming training events.

In the last week of their Martial Arts Instructor course, the class performed a supervised, student-led free-sparring event March 5 at the House of Pain North on Camp Hansen.

“I’m at the point where they can’t really surprise me with anything,” said Sgt. Ivan Sandoval, an instructor course student and an administrative specialist with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “I’m a little nervous because free sparring is not something that is fun. You really have to dig deep and find a way to push yourself to keep going after being hit.”

Students took turns sparring with an MAIT while classmates performed a series of various exercises. Each student continued to free spar with the instructor-trainer until the rest of the class properly completed the exercises.

“Students can expect that the next 15 training days will not be a walk through a park,” said Sgt. Daniel J. Keil, the lead instructor and an imagery analyst specialist with 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “The students are going to be pushed beyond their normal limits. They will be forced to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about the Marines to their left and right.”

Once the exercises were completed, the student fighter became the referee and the rest of the class rotated to a new station. This changeover challenged each student to transition from a physically and mentally exhausted competitor to an attentive referee who maintained safety for both fighters.

“Since we are getting close to the end of the class, we needed to find an event that pushes students to their limits,” said Staff Sgt. Rafael Chacon, an MAIT and electronics maintenance technician with 3rd Intel. Bn. “We need to ensure they are adhering to safety precautions and that safety is paramount throughout the (training). By putting them through this type of event, they are tired, exhausted and probably mentally stressed. Then they have to take on that position as an MAI, where they have to observe safety and ensure that a free-sparring event is not getting out of hand.”

While becoming an MAI assists in ensuring combat readiness throughout the Marine Corps, the three-week course teaches students to be more than just instructors.

“While the students are attending the instructor’s course, they are not only learning how to become instructors, but how to be better leaders,” said Keil. “Once they arrive back to their units, they will be looked upon to train their Marines, ensure each Marine is trained in the best manner possible, and (leave an) everlasting impression on each Marine (with whom) they come in contact.”

With their shirts soaked in sweat, each student had a look of accomplishment in their eyes.

“It’s easy to say you’re prepared and nothing will surprise you because you’ve done so much already,” said Sandoval. “(The event) was challenging. We had to push each other and work with each other to dig deep and complete it.”

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