Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Forged from Fire

Marine Corps Base Hawaii – Kaneohe Bay

Story by Lance Cpl. Jacob Barber

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii - For decades Marines have fought with whatever they had, no matter the situation. Whether it’s a weapon of opportunity or nothing at all, the commitment to mission accomplishment has always been the main focus.

Now, Marines are taught to use their bodies as weapons in case a rifle or pistol is in case they find themselves in a situation where hand-to-hand combat may be their only defense.

The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, or MCMAP, has been in effect for more than 10 years now, and several Marines here with different belts have stepped up to participate in the program to become Marine Corps Martial Arts instructors.

The MCMAI Course is three weeks long and it teaches students everything from combat conditioning to values vital to character building.

“We provide the students the tools to instill the physical, mental, and character disciplines into their Marines for when they return to their units,” said Staff Sgt. Gilberto O. Castillo, a second degree black belt martial arts instructor-trainer with Communications Platoon, 3rd Marine Regiment. “They learn how to teach lessons in the delivery of martial arts techniques with tie-ins, how to conduct and supervise free sparring events and most importantly, operational risk management.”

The course is made to be challenging for the students with many evaluated events and physical training to during a three-week period. “Every day is a challenge for them because they never know what’s coming,” Castillo said. “The students have a general idea, because of what they see in their schedules, but they actually have no clue.”

Castillo’s current class graduates July 29 after the students finish their final evaluations. Wednesday students completed what is known as an obstacle course WEF (warm-up exercise and flexibility). The students had to execute a different technique 10 times after completing each obstacle. When done with the techniques, the students started at the first obstacle again and continued on.

“You have to think about all the Marines that went through this before you,” said Sgt. Guillermo Fargas, a machine gunner with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment who is a student in the course. “You mentally push yourself and you find that bubble that’s blocking you and just push past it.”

Along with the help of Sgt. Adam Morrison, a first degree black belt martial arts instructor-trainer with 2/3, Castillo relates the MCMAP criteria with real life scenarios.

“You can always encounter a chance to use these techniques,” Morrison said. “The Continental and Revolutionary War Marines used bayonet techniques. In World War I, we used trench warfare. Vietnam had hand-to-hand combat. It’s very important to know these things.”

Like other students, Fargas now has a newfound respect and appreciation for MCMAP.

“If you’re a Marine, you have nothing to prove to anybody but yourself,” Fargas said. “Take pride in being a Marine and as Marines we accept any and all challenges in front of us, big or small.”


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