AT TAQADDUM, Iraq --
All it takes for a Marine to take down an attacker twice his or her size is a bit of confidence, proper technique and joint manipulation.
Marines with Marine Unmanned Vehicle Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 28, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), took the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program to a whole new level, upgrading more than 100 Marines in the three months they’ve been in theater.
So far this deployment, 21 Marines earned their black belts, 21 Marines advanced to brown belt, 25 earned green belts, and 36 advanced to gray belt.
“Every day there is a class going on,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey Martin, the operations chief and martial arts instructor. “At least one hour a day, Marines in the squadron are doing MCMAP.”
The desert environment and the strict physical requirements of the training are a challenge the Marines of the squadron have embraced. They can be found pounding their fists into punching pads and sparring with training partners in temperatures well over 100 degrees.
“I think it helps make us better war fighters,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Diggs, the squadron sergeant major. “You always hope in the time of war or any conflict, resorting to martial arts would not be necessary. However, it’s something that’s great to know.”
MCMAP sharpens a combat mindset and maintains mission readiness, explained Diggs, who earned his black belt after training with Martin during their last deployment.
“If you find yourself in that situation where there’s no other choice, Marines are confident to get the job done,” said Diggs.
Along with helping hone Marines’ skills as fighters, the program includes discussions about ethics and Marine Corps policy. The Corps integrated these discussions into MCMAP to help develop Marines as “ethical warriors.” As a group, the Marines develop character, discipline and a combat mindset through training and studying the Marine Corp’s core values.
In the words of Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, “MCMAP provides leaders at every level with a method for developing all Marines as riflemen and ethical warriors - Marines who keep their honor clean and always stand for something good,”
“Not only was it fun, but I learned more mental and physical discipline than I previously had,” said Cpl. Richard Larkin, an unmanned aerial vehicle operator.
Martin, who has spearheaded the initiative to make one of the Corps’ most deployed squadrons also one of its most comprehensively MCMAP-trained squadrons, said the command’s support of the training has been integral to its success.
He describes a feeling of achievement when witnessing a Marine’s expression when “it finally clicks” and the moves are properly executed.
“The best part of being a martial arts instructor is having the chance to get out and get dirty with the Marines,” said Martin. “My favorite part is seeing when smaller females can take down bigger males by applying the proper techniques,” said Martin.