By Cpl. Kristin E. Moreno, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan " The Marine Corps strives to remain a constant force in readiness and to stand prepared to meet any and all mission requirements.
To uphold those standards, Combat Logistics Company 36 here has made it a personal goal to train and advance each Marine in the company to a green belt or higher in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
Marine Corps Martial Arts Program was initiated in 2001 by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, at the time, Gen. James L. Jones.
Ever since, the curriculum has developed and expanded to fit the needs of today's combat warriors.
"The purpose of MCMAP is to give tools to someone who has never gotten into a fight so they're able to defend themselves and protect themselves if a situation was ever to get to that point," said Sgt. Hermilo Del Angel, a MCMAP 1st degree black belt instructor and disbursing clerk with Combat Logistics Regiment 37 out of Okinawa, Japan.
The MCMAP curriculum consists of the fundamentals of fighting, bayonet and baton training, upper and lower body strikes, chokes and holds, throws, unarmed restraints and joint manipulations, armed manipulations, knife techniques, weapons of opportunity, ground fighting, retaining and disarming firearms, and also how to counter each physical discipline.
Each year, a board composed of several subject matter experts, selected for their unique knowledge in the field of martial arts, discusses course development and revision, supplementary training materials and other aspects as required.
"(MCMAP) gives you a couple of tools to be able to engage an opponent at different positions. It gives you options. Whether someone tries to come over and take your rifle, it gives you several different options to retain your weapon, or if someone pulls a pistol, you'll know how to take away that weapon from him, disarm him, disengage him, then use the continuum of force to deescalate the situation," said Del Angel.
Given the nature of today's combat zones, martial arts and hand-to-hand combat training is an important part of mission accomplishment.
"In today's world, we aren't fighting a normal war. We are fighting a three-block war. At one point we will be fighting in combat with weapons, the next fight could be stopping a local riot and at other times we might be doing a humanitarian mission. In all three of these situations MCMAP can be applicable," said Sgt. Curtis Krueger, a MCMAP brown-belt instructor and data chief for CLC-36.
Marines must display expertise in the mental, physical and character disciplines of MCMAP before advancing to the next belt.
To prepare the Marines mentally, warrior studies are incorporated into the curriculum. A warrior study tells about individuals who have shown commendable service on the battlefield and analyzes different combat situations.
Marine Corps values and ethics are also talked about during courses to encourage good character, as well as the continuum of force, which instructs Marines to responsibly use the minimum amount of force necessary to deescalate a situation.
Marines' strength is continuously put to the test throughout MCMAP. Ground fighting, pugil-stick fights and bayonet dummies are some of the ways Marines are taught to familiarize them with the techniques.
They oftentimes must run with full gear while carrying logs or ammo cans to improve their physical fitness.
To simulate combat stress, techniques may also be practiced in water or in low-light conditions.
In addition to character, strength and mentality, rank and time in grade, as well as the Marine's senior leader's recommendation, is sometimes required before progressing.
A lance corporal can only advance up to the green belt. You must be a corporal or above to earn a brown belt and a sergeant or above to earn a black belt.
The purpose of the restriction is to ensure all Marines possess maturity, good judgment and good moral character before they are able to learn the more advanced skills, said Del Angel.
After earning a green belt, Marines are eligible to attend the instructor course.
After becoming a black belt, a Marine is eligible to attend the instructor-trainer course.
MCMAP better prepares Marines for combat. If you find yourself in a fight, it is better to know MCMAP techniques than nothing at all.
The Marine Corps has standards for everything. MCMAP is just a way of measuring our warriors' readiness, said Krueger.
For more information about the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, refer to Marine Corps Order 1500.54B or visit the Martial Arts Center of Excellence Web site at http://www.tecom.usmc.mil/mace/.
For information about taking an upcoming course, contact your unit's training section.