FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. --
After 15 days training through sweat, blood, mud and tears, students of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Course finally achieved what they had been striving for — their instructor tab.
The course, which took place at Fort George G. Meade, Md., from March 14 to April 4, consisted of Marines from surrounding commands who attended to better themselves as Marines.
“My goal in general is to be the best Marine I can be,” Sgt. Forrest Holden, the course honor graduate and now a green belt MAI, said. “Because of that I have to take a step here, a step there and take as many steps as I can in the right direction.”
Holden received the award by having the highest grade point average in the class. This is calculated by combining the scores of multiple practical exams, two written tests, homework and the three belt levels finding the final grades for each student.
The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program was introduced in 2001. The program was created by combining different martial arts disciplines to meet the requirements of the Marine Corps’ mission.
“You have all these skills and techniques and all this knowledge, you need to be able to go forth and apply it in the right way,” Sgt. Jordon VanHoy, a Martial Arts Instructor Trainer for the course, said.
Through the five-belt syllabus, Marines not only learn the ability to defend or go on the offensive if need be, but they also receive classes that are designed to help them become better leaders and people.
“We have the three disciplines for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program — mental, physical and character,” Master Sgt. Jason Whitesel, a Martial Arts Instructor Trainer, said.
The students’ mental discipline was sharpened through classwork, lectures and studying the same material they will pass to their students.
“We have quite a bit of classroom time because MCMAP is not just about the physical activity that we do during combat conditioning or sustainment and integration,” Whitesel said.
The physical discipline was earned with sweat during daily physical training and perfecting their MCMAP techniques.
“We actually start physical training on training day three,” VanHoy said. “It’s a 15-day training cycle, and each week and each day get progressively harder. These Marines are out here to earn their tab because nothing is given, it has to be earned.
“We come in around [7 a.m.]. Normally the workout is the first thing in the morning — we have a WEF, which is warm up, exercise, and flexibility. We normally have classes for the rest of the day. Sometimes we have fighting drills, it just depends really on the day.”
Through the course, the students learn to teach sparring, and ran the Marine Corps obstacle course and the NATO obstacle course.
The students focused on the character discipline by studying tie-ins, which are lessons that reinforce core values, way of life and traditions. These are lessons they will share and teach to their future students.
“I think it is probably the most important thing we can pass on to them is they now have this newfound responsibility,” Whitesel said. “They have to be willing to sacrifice their own time and leisure in order to train Marines because you are not always going to have time during the work day. A lot of times you have to come in at [5 a.m.] or come in at [5 or 6 p.m.] to train.”
Combining the mental, physical and character disciplines fosters a combat mindset. Martial Arts Instructors are charged with passing on their knowledge and instilling these values in all Marines.
“That’s what we are all about, taking care of each other,” VanHoy said. “As soon as I put on this red stripe, it’s my job to take care of Marines — to train them, to mentor them. Really I’m just doing my job, and my job is taking care of Marines.”