Maintaining the warrior spirit
Lance Cpl. Noel Gonzalez

(July 26, 2007) -- “The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is integral to the development and sustainment of our warrior ethos and it continues to be updated based on lessons learned to better prepare Marines for the challenges of current and future battlefields,” wrote General James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps in ALMAR 034/07.

“Marines are warriors and should have a combat mind-set at all times. That’s what MCMAP does for Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jerald W. Cleveland, installation logistics chief, Headquarters and Service Battalion, and black belt instructor.

The combat mind-set is sustained in MCMAP through a combination of three disciplines: mental, physical and character, which build the Marine in all aspects of himself.

* Mental- hones in on a combat mind-set, study of the art of war, decision making, tactics and techniques of maneuver warfare.
* Physical- teaches close-in fighting techniques, armed and unarmed combat, combined with traditional physical fitness.
* Character- sustains corps values, warrior ethos, ethics, respect, and participation in Marine Corps traditions.

“It’s not just pushing, punching and fighting. It’s an art, and if taught correctly will make better Marines,” said Cleveland. “Without the teachings of these disciplines, MCMAP becomes just another martial arts program.”

“As commanders develop and implement their MCMAP training programs, all must emphasize the importance of the character tie-ins and discussions. MCMAP provides leaders at every level with a method for developing all Marines as rifleman, ethical warriors and Marines who keep their honor clean,” said Conway.

Included is combat conditioning, which tests all three disciplines of the program. It mentally challenges Marines by testing their ability to think and fight while fatigued and challenges character by a Marine’s choice to quit or continue during a tough scenario. At that point the Marine either flees or follows the core values of honor, courage and commitment.

During MCMAP, Marines realize training their mind is as important as their body,” said Sgt. Jason B. Clark, martial arts instructor trainer, Leatherneck Square. “

“In order to have a combat mind-set, you have to be physically conditioned. If you get tired within the first two minutes of an encounter, you’re no good, no matter what skills you possess,” said Cleveland.

In addition, it includes eastern culture disciplines such as, judo, karate, tae kwon do and grappling and like traditional martial arts, MCMAP uses a belt rating system, adding new skills and sustaining what was learned from previous belts.

“You can’t have one without the other,” according to Cleveland. “If you don’t sustain the skills taught in the past, then you won’t progress to the next belt.”

According to the Commandant, “MCMAP is a key asset in developing both war fighting skills and character. All commanders should be utilizing it to its fullest.”

Encouraging Marines to participate in MCMAP is necessary and important to help make better Marines and a better Marine Corps, said Cleveland.