Wednesday, August 06, 2008

USMC Martial Arts Not Just For Marines

Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST) Company Europe, at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota, continued their green belt training in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) which began July 23. MCMAP trains Marines and Sailors attached to Marine units in unarmed combat, edged weapons, weapons of opportunity, and rifle and bayonet techniques. The training also stresses mental and character development, including the responsible use of force, leadership and teamwork. Recently, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway, realeased an instruction requiring all infantrymen to complete MCMAP up to green belt by October 2008. A Marine must become proficient before attaining the next belt level, with a green belt consisting of about 128 hours of training. "Some people think only Marines can do it. I've had Navy, Army, Air Force and civilians," said Sgt. Alfredo Alvarez, a black belt MCMAP instructor for NAVSTA Rota. "I want to let everyone know that if they have a week or two, I can teach them how to defend themselves. Not only that, but it can be a team-building experience." MCMAP teaches students to act instinctively and decisively in hand-to-hand combat by dominating opponents quickly. It is designed to balance mental, character and combative disciplines with the primary emphasis on mental and character development. It also builds character discipline, built around the Corps' core values of honor, courage, and commitment, and it stresses the role of the warrior on and off the battlefield."This training is important because it applies to combat and out in the real world," said Pfc. Francis Gonzalez, a MCMAP participant who is testing for his grey belt, which is an important step toward earning a green belt. "One day, I might have to use it to save myself or save someone else." For civilians, it can build confidence in their abilities and prepare them mentally to deal with situations where they might need to defend themselves. "Everyone thinks the training is just for combat, you can go out and someone can mug you. We can teach you how to defend yourself, which is the best benefit anyone can think of. The confidence of knowing you can handle yourself in that type of situation should be incentive enough." Alvarez said MCMAP requires a lot of hard work and takes a great deal of dedication and sweat. "This isn't given to you, this is earned," said Alvarez. "Trust me, at the end; you are going to feel you have earned it. Marines, anybody, will tell you the same, 'I know that I have earned the right to wear this belt and you know what, I have put my time and effort into it and I strive to do better.' It's an excellent opportunity."

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