The Marine Corps Martial Arts program is creating more than just troops, but ethical fighters who are prepared to command both in battle and at home as first-class citizens.
Martial arts instructor trainers at Edson Range hold several three week Martial Arts Instructor Courses each year to build a cadre of instructors to teach Marines the unique blend of physical techniques and character building discussions of MCMAP.
During the course, students are challenged with full contact sparring and classes in combat training, instructional methods, the proper application of force and Marine Corps history, said Sgt. Erik A. Christianson, martial arts instructor trainer, Weapons Field Training Battalion. The instruction concentrates on the aspects of physical and mental health, and character, in the soldiers.
Future trainers study how to lead a class with clear communication, well-organized signals and recurrent communication with learners. The trainers assess pupils by having them teach classes and martial arts techniques, as well as pass a written test and martial arts examination.
“I came into the course expecting to be pushed physically,” said Sgt. Carlos Camachorojas, parachute rigger and delivery specialist, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. “But when I was asked to perform academically immediately following our morning routine, it was definitely the hardest part for me. I’m not usually strong with academics, so the course challenged me a lot.”
Christianson, a native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, said martial arts instructors must focus equally on all three disciplines to develop Marines into ethical warriors who know how to responsibly use the techniques they are taught. He compared MCMAP to a three-legged stool that cannot stand if one of the legs is removed.
“If you don’t have equal focus on all three disciplines, you’re not going to be a well-rounded martial arts instructor,” said Christianson. “A warrior should be somebody who not only can overcome any sort of adversity, but should also be more mature and be the one that everyone should follow.”
Leadership is an essential characteristic of martial arts instructors because they function as the example of MCMAP for the Marines they teach, said Owen, a native of Arroyo Grande, Calif.
“The martial arts instructor needs to be a poster boy Marine,” he said. “He needs to be physically fit at all times because the Marines are going to look to him for advice about combat conditioning and nutrition. He needs to be living that lifestyle and not just preaching it. He needs to make sound ethical decisions.”