MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
Growing up in a rough East Texas neighborhood, Sgt. Adrian Moreno was fighting at a young age. He took the fighting from the street, to the boxing ring and later to the Marine Corps.
Moreno started his career in the Corps in 2003 as a supply clerk. After leaving his last duty station, he arrived at the air station in 2007 as a tan belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Less than two years later, Moreno has moved through the ranks and earned his black belt with instructor trainer’s tab.
Moreno now serves as the black belt instructor trainer, also known as a “red tab,” and the combat conditioning specialist for Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3.
“MCMAP was one of the first things that interested me about the Corps,” said Moreno. “I knew as soon as I got in the Corps I wanted to earn my black belt.”
However, Moreno’s first duty station didn’t allow much time for MCMAP training and he could not pursue his goal of earning his red tab until arriving at MCAS Miramar.
Moreno earned his grey belt aboard the air station, and then became a green belt instructor. Within a year, he traveled to the Martial Arts Center of Excellence in Quantico, Va., where he obtained his black belt instructor trainer’s belt.
Now, Moreno trains at local gyms almost every day. Some of the fighting styles he specializes in include Ju Jitsu, Muay Thai and Capoeira.
Moreno’s teaching style is unlike many instructors. He pulls no punches when it comes to physical fitness and combat conditioning, regardless of age or color of belt, explained Cpl. Carlos Taveras, a warehouse clerk for MWHS-3.
“He is very in your face,” said Taveras. “He wants to see you sweat before he teaches you something.”
The only difference between a black belt and a grey belt is the knowledge of the techniques, explained Moreno. The fitness level should be the same.
“I keep my classes going at a decent pace,” said Moreno. “I’m not trying to kill anyone; I’m trying to get them on the right path to physical fitness.”
This program gives Marines a strong sense of accomplishment. It will improve their physical and mental strength, as well as strengthen their character, explained Moreno.
“Sergeant Moreno ties a lot of fitness into his MCMAP training,” said Cpl. Elie Celestin, the adjutant noncommissioned officer for MWHS-3. “A lot of instructors only teach the moves, but he knows that you have to be physically fit to be able to fight.”
Moreno takes the phrase “train like you fight” literally. He understands that physical fitness and combat survival go hand-in-hand, and in order to properly train Marines they must be physically fatigued first, explained Taveras.
“I’m a fighter,” said Moreno. “I will always be a fighter and I will always be fighting.”