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Photo Information

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (July 25, 2012) - Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to conduct a sparring match during a Marine Corps Marital Arts Program, or MCMAP, instructor trainer course in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, July 25, 2012. The 24th MEU is deployed with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein)

Photo by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

U.S Marines train to become martial arts instructors in Kuwait

28 Jul 2012 | Sgt. Richard Blumenstein 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Fourteen Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit have volunteered their time in Kuwait to learn something profound – how to train warriors in the Marine Corps brand of martial arts.

Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 24 and Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, are currently punching, kicking and grappling their way through a two-week Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, or MCMAP, instructor course.

According to Marine Corps Order 1500.54A, MCMAP is an integrated martial art designed for and executed by all Marines throughout their career and a revolutionary step in the development of martial skills for Marines, replacing all other close combat-related systems preceding its introduction. It addresses the full spectrum of the force continuum of the battlefield and fulfills the need to build Marines with the mental and character traits required to succeed in the future.

MCMAP contains a similar belt system as civilian martial arts; it begins with tan belt and continues up through several degrees of black belt.
Instructor trainers are the Marines responsible for teaching the necessary skills to Marines.

The course is taking place because a handful of MCMAP instructor trainers, the Marines who train and certify instructors, realized the MEU would be spending more than a month conducting sustainment training in Kuwait, and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to run an instructor course, said Sgt. Jose Alvarez, a Bronx, N.Y., native and 2nd degree martial arts instructor trainer with BLT 1/2.

“The fact that we are going to be here for this long a period of time created a great opportunity for us to do the training,” he said.

Marines volunteered for the course immediately.

“I’m very excited about it, it’s a great course,” said Cpl. Charles McDonald, a Van Buren, Ark., native and squad leader with Charlie Company, BLT 1/2.

Those Marines are now engaged in a course curriculum that focuses on improving their martial arts abilities, developing their warrior ethos, and teaching them how to instruct.

“We teach them the synergy of MCMAP,” Alvarez said. “When you create an instructor, you want to make sure they are mentally strong, have a good will and strong character, and also are able perform physically.”

In the training, the Marines assume the role of both instructor and student. They lead each other in various MCMAP training sessions ranging from striking and grappling matches to small group discussion about warrior ethos.

The first few days of the course serve as an introduction. The Marines conduct a physical fitness test and combat fitness test to ensure they are able to handle the challenges of the course. Their skills in MCMAP are also evaluated by the course instructors.

“We want to make sure they overcome any stage fright they may have,” Alvarez said. 

They lead each other in various MCMAP training sessions ranging from striking and grappling matches to small group discussions about warrior ethos.

“It’s not about just being a warrior; it’s about being a responsible warrior,” McDonald said.

The course has no shortage of physical challenges and is designed to push the Marines to their limit so they can learn to instruct while exhausted, Alvarez said.

“You can never really judge someone until they are tired,” he said. “Once they are tired, that is when their true self will come out. That’s when you can see who the real person is, and we look for that.”

The Marines are constantly under the evaluation of the instructors to make sure they are able to handle the difficulties associated with teaching MCMAP. They receive written tests and practical application evaluations throughout the course, said Alvarez.

Once the Marines complete the course, they will be able to teach and certify Marines in MCMAP up to their level of proficiency. More importantly – they will better be able to train warriors how to fight.