MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Moving beyond the physical into the mental and character disciplines of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, MCMAP instructors and instructor-trainers underwent a second degree advancement and re-certification workshop held by a mobile training team from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 11 to 15, 2011.
The team of top-level MACE instructors, coming to Hawaii from the Marine Corps’ MCMAP hub in Quantico, Va., offered more than 40 Hawaii-based Marines the opportunity to renew their three-year certifications as MCMAP instructors and instructor-trainers, and advance their belts to the second degree during the week-long workshop.
“The MACE exists to train Marines, but we recognize that commands often can’t afford to send their Marines on temporary additional duty for extended periods of time,” Lt. Col. Patrick A. Beckett, the center’s director, said. “We bring the MACE to you, rather than having to send a bunch of Marines to the MACE.”
Since part of the MACE’s charter is to be an agent of standardization for MCMAP across the Fleet Marine Force, the mobile training team dedicates time to traveling to installations Corpswide, holding workshops to refresh instructors’ skills and ensure they are correctly applying MCMAP’s fundamentals and techniques.
“MCMAP is no different than any other warrior skill,” Beckett, from Coxsackie, N.Y., said. “Marines have to learn it and practice it, or over time it will atrophy. We’re here to help them get bore sighted and recalibrated back to center line.”
In a large circle on Dewey Square, pairs of Marines practiced advanced skills and sustained basic techniques such as hip throws, chokes and leg sweeps. The MACE instructors kept a close eye on their students as they applied the fundamentals, offering them tips and criticisms on their performance.
“This workshop is beneficial for the Marines because the guidance we provide comes straight from the source,” Sgt. Steven Richardson, a second-degree black belt MAIT with the MACE, said.
“This gives the Marines definitive answers to their questions, ensures the techniques from all the belt syllabi are on point, and allows them to build a higher level of proficiency with a more advanced training package,” Richardson, from Broken Arrow, Okla., said.
Before they progressed to the next technique, the MACE instructors called the students together in a circle around them, demonstrating the technique’s proper movement and execution. But they didn’t speak solely about the physical discipline these movements required.
Master Sgt. Tony Polzin, the MACE’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, said the varied disciplines of MCMAP reinforces strong character in Marines.
“A lot of Marines only think about the physical aspects of MCMAP, but the mental and physical disciplines of the program are equally important,” Polzin, from Durand, Mich., said. “When the same instructor who taught these Marines how to knife fight talks to them about a core value like honor, it helps them embrace our warrior ethos and become ethical warriors.”
After Marine Corps leadership received a wide array of feedback on MCMAP from subject matter experts, operational commanders and the supporting establishments, they streamlined the program last November in Marine Corps Order 1500.59 and MARADMIN 219/11.
The new guidance responds to the requirements of units’ predeployment training programs by nearly cutting in half the number of training and sustainment hours required to attain gray through black belts. It also updates injury reporting guidelines and requirements, and includes the testing of value-based subjects.
“Efforts were made to reduce and align hours so they can reasonably be executed within a typical PTP without diluting the effectiveness of MCMAP,” Beckett said. “The program has matured over the years and we were able to move certain hours around, combine lethal and non-lethal techniques, and shorten teaching techniques without diminishing the value of the program.”
The changes reflect the Marine Corps’ commitment to adapting to the ever-changing needs of the operating forces, and reemphasize the importance of developing Marines in accordance with the Corps’ leadership principles, and values of honor, courage and commitment, Beckett said.
“Character development is the linchpin of the program,” he said. “The Marine Corps is not going to win engagements through the application of physical MCMAP techniques. We’re building Marines who think and act based on our core values — this helps us win battles.”