September 30, 2007

by Cpl. Kamran Sadaghiani (31st Marine Expeditionary Unit)
OKINAWA, JAPAN – The Marine hits the ground, stares at the hot sun, and waits for a moment before sitting up. The instructor calls out, “Alright, your turn! Execute a hip throw!” With a devilish smile, the Marine thinks payback.

Groans and occasional smiles flourished as approximately 20 Marines and sailors from Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, honed their martial arts skills and warrior ethos during a Marine Corps, Martial Arts Program course at Camp Hansen here, August 3 to September 22.

The course trained the leathernecks to qualify for their green belt, the third belt in the Corps’ five-belt martial arts system.

Staff Sgt. Ronald Sampson, a Combined Anti-Armor Platoon section leader with Weapons Co., who led the course, explained that their goal was to have the company qualify for green belt before the Dec. 31, 2008 deadline set by the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway.

However, Marines and sailors of Weapons Co. view the training as something more important than meeting a deadline.

“It builds the fighting spirit,” said Cpl. John Cunningham, a machine gunner with Weapons Co. “It gets everyone in a combat mindset.”

The seven-week course combines existing and new hand-to-hand and close combat techniques, with morale and team-building functions in what the Marine Corps calls the “Warrior Ethos.” Some of the techniques the war-fighters trained on were unarmed combat, edged weapons, weapons of opportunity and rifle and bayonet maneuvers.

As war-fighters who are accustomed to engaging the enemy with heavy firepower, the MCMAP training made for an addition to their typical training, explained Sampson. The students would participate in the course around their daily schedule.

“It’s a fun way of doing (MCMAP), getting out there and sparring each other. Everyone wants to get out there and do it. As someone who has no background in martial arts, this is pretty interesting and a great learning experience,” said Cunningham, a native of El Segundo, Calif.

Meanwhile, Sampson agreed that this training is important because it continues to build the Marines’ morale, motivation and endurance while they are not in an operational environment.

Although a significant portion of the course covers martial arts techniques, the training also focuses on developing the mental, physical and character simultaneously, Sampson explained.