Infantry: Now Mandatory For Marines To Master Martial Arts


July 23, 2007: The U.S. Marine Corps now requires all its troops qualify for the lowest level belt (tan) of its six year old martial arts program. That goal was to have been achieved three years ago, but proved more difficult than anticipated.

The marine martial arts effort is a program of well, street fighting. The Martial Arts Training Program is taught like most other martial arts, allowing for degrees of proficiency, and colored belts to indicate how far a marine has gone from tan (the lowest level) to grey, green, brown and black (the highest.) The marine program is notable for elements that accurately represent actual combat conditions. For example, before doing the actual combat fighting, trainers wear the marines out with vigorous physical exercise. In combat you are likely to encounter the enemy face to face only after a lot of running around. Another realism element is the random introduction into the training area of items that could be used as weapons (a knife, pipe, piece of lumber). These realism touches make the Marine Corps Martial Arts Training Program popular and effective.

The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has reinforced the importance of this program. So all marine infantry must achieve the green belt by the end of 2008. All combat support marines must get the grey belt by early 2009. The first (tan) belt only requires about 28 hours of training, but the others need more (from 47 to 72 hours for each level). And, you have to be in very good shape to even get started on the tan belt. But the skills obtained have proved to be lifesavers, especially in raids and search operations, where a nearby civilian often turns into an armed hostile on very short notice.


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