MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Since its inception in 2001, the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program has seen many changes and advances to further improve a Marine’s ability to perform in combat. Instilling the techniques Corps-wide means more and more instructors are needed so all Marines can have the opportunity to excel in the program’s belt system.
Fortunately, Marines and sailors here at Fightertown can earn their instructors tab by taking the Green Belt Instructors Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
“The purpose of the Instructors Course is to make more instructors for the Marine Corps,” said Gunnery Sgt. Willie Gresham III, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the martial arts program at MCRD Parris Island. “We get students from (Drill Instructor) school and the Air Station because they don't have enough instructors to train everyone. They give us their Marines and we return trained instructors who can train a Marine up to standards.”
The course requires students to be a corporal or above, a first class on the physical fitness test and have already earned a gray belt - the second of five belts that can be earned in MCMAP. Lance corporals are permitted to take the course; however, a waiver is needed and preferences for class spaces are given to senior lance corporals. Navy corpsmen and other naval personnel assigned with Marines are authorized to participate in the Martial Arts program, as well.
MCMAP is a culmination of different martial arts styles and disciplines, and remains available to Marines in the fleet who desire to upgrade their belts and become more knowledgeable and proficient in the varied fighting style.
“The martial arts program instills three disciplines - character, mental and physical,” said Sgt. Michael Marie, the chief instructor of the Green Belt Instructors Course. “This course isn’t designed for Marines who want to advance their belts, this course teaches Marines how to be the instructor.”
The course is comprised of multiple, thorough lessons. Students in the course are constantly tested on their knowledge of MCMAP. Instructors for the course must ensure each Marine who leaves the course is proficient enough to execute and teach proper techniques to fellow Marines, before students receive their instructor’s certification. Their certificate will allow them to teach other Marines martial arts so they can upgrade their belts as they progress through the belt system.
“The course entails a lot of training,” Gresham said. “The first day we start off with a (physical fitness test) to make sure everyone has a first class and then right after the PFT they run the O-Course twice. Throughout the course they get instruction from tan to gray mixed in with integrated combat drills. We do different things to make the course hard such as running with weapons, packs and doing a series of exercises. The training culminates with the Battle Course which involves running around the base, hitting every obstacle and also doing many sustainment drills.”
Both students and instructors agree that the course isn't easy, but they all know the end result is well worth the temporary sacrifices.
“I don’t think the pain I’m going to go through as a drill instructor will compare to the pain I’m feeling right now,” said Sgt. Zhivonnie Edwards, a drill instructor with Company P, 4th Recruit Training Battalion. “I'm a gray belt right now and I don't feel like I've worked this hard to get it. I actually feel like I've earned this and I feel like I've gained more tools to better myself as a Marine.”
Marines and sailors who are interested in taking the Green Belt Instructors Course should contact their squadron’s training representative.
“This course is about keeping the MCMAP program alive,” Marie said. “Every Marine is a martial arts student.”