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thedrifter
08-11-06, 05:40 PM
Camp Fuji pushing the pace in its martial-arts program

By Vince Little, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, August 12, 2006

Camp Fuji is trying to put its Japan-based Marines on a faster track up the martial-arts belt chain.

Personnel with tan and gray belts are getting together once a week for sustainment training at Little Guns Gym. Marines and sailors wearing green, brown and black belts also are encouraged to attend a 5:30 a.m. session every Tuesday or Thursday. All have been issued logbooks in an effort to track hours and speed up promotions.

It’s part of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, a system that combines new and old hand-to-hand and close-combat techniques. The program, which began in 2001, trains Marines and attached U.S. Navy personnel in unarmed combat, edged weapons, weapons of opportunity, and rifle and bayonet techniques.

About 200 servicemembers assigned to Fuji’s Combined Arms Training Center are participating, according to Staff Sgt. Jon Willman, who schedules black- belt instructors to visit the base.

“You’re required to do so many hours of sustainment training before you test for belts,” said Willman, a green belt. “Sometimes, they’ll do combat-conditioning drills. It’s a real rigorous circuit course where they incorporate different moves, throws and strikes. A lot of repetition.

“ … The push is to get as many people as possible qualified up to highest belts while they’re here at Camp Fuji.”

MCMAP evolved from the Linear Infighting Neurological Override Engagement, or LINE, combat system, a martial-arts program used by the Marine Corps from 1980 to 2002. But it was found to be lacking in flexibility and techniques for use in situations that didn’t require deadly force, such as peacekeeping operations.

“It was a really rigid style of fighting,” Willman said. “We learned it when we went to boot camp. After that, if you didn’t keep up with that kind of training, you lost it real fast.

“MCMAP is for Marines with flak vests, packs and gear on, which LINE training wasn’t really designed for. It’s basically a bunch of mixed martial arts that the moves are tailored for. You’re not gonna strip down to your trousers and T-shirts to fight somebody, so they tweaked all the moves to make it easier and better to do in your gear itself.”

The program’s core unarmed combat system is based on 10 traditional martial arts.

“It’s a more fluid and flexible style of fighting,” he said. “We call it giving you a bigger toolbox. … It incorporates a lot more weapons than LINE training used to. … It pretty much teaches you can use anything for a weapon.”

Sgt. Brian Moody heads to Okinawa next week to get certified as a black-belt instructor-trainer. Upon his return, he’ll become the MCMAP chief instructor at Fuji and also be responsible for training Marines stationed at other bases on the Kanto Plain.

Willman said 99 percent of Fuji personnel have reached gray-belt status, the second-highest level.

“We’re trying to get everybody up to green belt, which is the third,” he added. “Sgt. Moody will be gone about six weeks. While he’s away, everybody will get the sustainment time they need to really push forward on this.”

Ellie