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Subject: Marine Corps Martial Arts Program--Intensity & Discipline
SCCOMarine    2/16/2008 10:58:25 AM
Articles on MCMAP for those interested.
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SCCOMarine       2/16/2008 11:10:24 AM
Marines go to the mat              link

By Daniel Rosenbaum
December 18, 2005

QUANTICO, Va.--Lt. Col. Joseph C. Shusko tempers his fighting instruction with character-building lessons as he forges a new breed of warrior at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence here.

The 49-year-old native of Long Branch, N.J. -- known as "Cyborg" -- demonstrates the effectiveness of the Corps' new fighting style as he throws a trainee to the grass, climbs over him and clamps a chokehold during a drill.

Three seconds pass. Four seconds. Five.

The black-belt trainee -- a staff sergeant 14 years Cyborg's junior -- struggles, pulls, scrapes. His face turns red, then purple.

He sputters and spits and finally taps his opponent's arm. The hold is released. The trainee coughs and sucks in a deep breath.

He and Cyborg smile and shake hands.

Then it's someone else's turn.

If Col. Shusko has his way, every Marine -- and everyone near them -- will benefit from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). Unlike men and women in the other branches of the armed forces, every Marine is taught how to fight hand-to-hand, up close and personal.

"Every Marine is a rifleman. Every Marine is a martial artist," Col. Shusko says.

For the first time in the U.S. military, an effort has been made to combine the most effective techniques of martial-arts disciplines from around the world into a single course of study -- MCMAP.

Among the fighting styles appropriated for MCMAP, Col. Shusko demonstrates the grappling techniques of Brazilian jujitsu, which mostly consists of ground-fighting submission holds and joint locks that he likes to call "wristy twisties."

These techniques are designed to control the enemy, to break bones and, if necessary, to kill.

Col. Shusko also teaches throwing techniques according to the Japanese art of judo and kicking skills from the Korean style of self-defense known as tae kwon do.

In addition, Thai boxing -- with its emphasis on elbow and knee strikes to inflict damage -- figures into the MCMAP curriculum.

"We did not invent anything," Col. Shusko says, "Just took the best and put it into our program."

Since lethal force is not always needed in defensive situations, the colonel schools his trainees in techniques similar to those used by U.S. police officers to make arrests or subdue suspects.

But MCMAP training involves more than merely learning how to fight. It's about learning how to be a modern-day warrior -- tough, confident and able without the ego-gratifying need to prove it.

It's about entering a bar and knowing you can handle any situation that may occur, not sizing up the competition and picking a fight, Col. Shusko says.

He and his staff recently trained a seasoned group of Marines aiming to become black-belt instructors. The instructors' course is one of the most grueling regimens in the military, and this class, which started with 34 trainees, has been reduced to 28.

Seven grueling weeks

For seven weeks, beginning at 6:30 every morning, they are put through their paces on obstacle courses and forced marches, in the swimming pool and in the classroom, on wrestling mats and in trenches.

Trainees must employ teamwork to help each other through the grueling course work -- sometimes carrying, pushing and pulling each other -- to make sure no one is left behind. Together, they often tote a 10-foot-long, 400-pound tree trunk on their shoulders throughout their training.

In classroom instruction, they learn about risk management, decision making, tactics and Marine Corps history.
Lugging 60-pound packs on their backs, they negotiate an obstacle course by climbing up 20-foot ropes and fording muddy ditches. Confidence and endurance come through tackling the 100-yard-long course five times without rest.

Through adversity, his students build character, Col. Shusko says, and MCMAP takes them to the point where their bodies do not have time to recover and heal before they are up and at it again.

"We push them just past their limit," says Staff Sg
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SCCOMarine    Training Intesity on Ship   2/18/2008 1:19:16 PM

BHR 'Dungeon' Hosts 13th MEU Brutality

ABOARD THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD (Nov. 8, 2007) -- There's nothing like a good punch in the face. For 13th MEU Marines tangled in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, the doses come frequently and in generous proportion.

Below the waterline, in the hot steel bowels of USS Bonhomme Richard, MEU Marines, including Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines and Combat Logistics Battalion 13, can be found punching, kicking and gouging literally twenty-four hours a day. Currently, there are several course levels in progress as WESTPAC 07-1 nears an end.

If you're not surrounded by fighters in the hangar bay or "lower V" (a.k.a. "the Dungeon"), they're on the mess deck feeding bruised faces, or the flight line with flak jackets. There is no place to hide anymore, every inch of available space is claimed battle ground.

"These are Marines that want to train, so you have the best here," said Sgt. Benjamin Price, brown belt instructor. Even though Price trains from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., he still commits to training Gray and Green Belt students. Over the past few months, Price has upgraded more than five dozen Marines to the next belt level. The demand for MCMAP courses, says Price, is contagious.

"I started with Bravo Battery (1/11) guys, and once they had their gray belts, I think their friends saw those belts and all of a sudden everyone wanted to train."

Sergeant Maj. Enrique X. Hines, 13th MEU sergeant major and Black Belt instructor-trainer, is known around the unit as a MCMAP maniac. Hines has his hands, whether instructing or striking, in every course conducted aboard ship. When he isn?t on scene in one of the make-shift "dojo's," he watches the brutality on closed circuit television through the ship?s security system. Constantly critiquing students and instructors, Hines said the unit?s focus on quality MCMAP is in keeping with the standards of the program manual.

"(MCMAP) is full force, intense and paying attention to the details," he said. With a constant watchful eye on training, Hines said the MEU is avoiding "Designer Belts," or belts issued without much effort put into earning the next level.

"There is a standard set, and we're not 'raising' the bar, we're keeping that standard," he said. Holding instructors responsible for the intensity of their classes (not to mention never knowing where the sergeant major is watching from), he said, automatically takes MCMAP to a higher level.

Hines also stressed the MEU's focus on well-rounded training, including physical, spiritual and mental aspects of warrior life.

These disciplines sprawl into Marines' daily lives and do not go unnoticed. In the MEU personnel section (S-1), Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Fontillas said he noticed a marked change in his Marines since they began a Green Belt course.

"Before the course, it seemed like I was always saying 'You need to pay attention' or something like that," he said. ?But now ? I'm seeing all kinds of attention to detail. They have more 'mental discipline' and it's the kind of discipline they teach in (MCMAP)."

The high level of training could also be attributed to gear availability. Even though MEU units share batons, striking pads and rifles, high-tech sparring gear is also available. With boxing masks and sparring gloves, the danger of full-force intensity melts away, allowing for face and head strikes ? an element Sgt. Price says usually makes for more confident warriors. Also in use are "lipstick knives," metal blades with velvet edges coated with lipstick. The training effect is marking an opponent with a bright red slash. After a full contact knife fight (mandatory in Price?s Green Belt course), a valuable lesson is learned.

"If you?re in a knife fight, you're gonna get cut," Price said.

With only days left on deployment, Marines are still getting "cut." They?re still punching each other's p
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SCCOMarine       2/23/2008 6:17:21 PM

CCX: Combat Conditioning Exercises prepare Company D for battle

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (Jan. 11, 2008) -- Equipped with a load-bearing vest and two canteens, Company D recruits battled fatigue through rain, mud and sweat to conquer the Combat Conditioning Exercise course Dec. 19.

The CCX is designed to give recruits a combat mindset by incorporating Marine Corps martial arts techniques while they are exhausted, said Sgt. Mauricio Ramirez, drill instructor, Instructional Training Company.

The course is composed of 10 stations, with transitional exercises such as fireman carries and buddy drags in between each one.

Amid leg sweeps, break falls and counters to chokes and holds, recruits faced numerous standing and ground techniques that tested their proficiency in the movements.

The course targets several sets of muscle groups by featuring techniques from the tan belt syllabus of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

Originally run in the first phase of training, the CCX was recently moved to the third phase because recruits are more proficient with MCMAP after their field training during second phase, said Ramirez.

"There's an old saying, 'There's an eight-hour movement for a 30-second fight,'" said Ramirez. "This course definitely defines that statement when the recruits get tired from the transition exercises and have to move on to the next station without a break."

The recruits began the course with a war cry — a yell of aggression and sign of the intensity they were exerting. They tackled the first few stations with ease before the challenging tasks began to wear them out.

"This was by far the most intense workout we have done in boot camp," said Recruit Joseph A. Helmick, Platoon 1073, Company D. "I liked it because it was really team-oriented and I actually felt like I accomplished something when we were done."

Helmick, a native of Hebron, Ill., said he was drained by the end of the course and that it started to show on the last obstacle when he had trouble high-crawling — a crawling movement used to keep a low-profile while moving.

"(If) the recruits put out during the course, they should feel exhausted by the end," said Ramirez, a Soledad, Calif., native. "The course is designed to exhaust them."

Although the recruits run the CCX only one time during training, its purpose is to challenge them. Helmick said that if the recruits will themselves to perform to their full potential, they will feel that this was the most strenuous physical training session thus far in boot camp.

While no training can truly simulate battle, the CCX is a good starting point to teach future Marines to put mind over matter, Ramirez said. By requiring them to keep pushing, even when their bodies tell them to stop, they learn a great lesson in perseverance that can help them in a combat situation.

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SCCOMarine    Martial Arts Side of MCMAP; Mastering Yourself   3/7/2008 5:03:54 PM
Marine earns second-degree black belt

Combat is an integral part of the Marine Corps, but the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is more than just throwing punches. It's a culture of fighting, knowing when to use force and how much is needed.

Marines take all of their training seriously, but to one Marine, the culture and mindset of MCMAP have become an important part of his life.

Capt. Robert Thomas, II Marine Expeditionary Force staff secretary, began MCMAP training in April of 2001, progressing to green belt instructor later that year. Thomas' hard work, constant training and dedication continue to pay off.

Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, commanding general, II MEF, presented Thomas his second-degree black belt here Jan. 7.

The Martial Arts Center of Excellence at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., lists only 30 active second-degree black belt instructors.

The requirements to become a second-degree black belt instructor extend well beyond fighting techniques. According to MACE's website, , the candidate must be an instructor and serve 18 months time in grade as a first degree black belt, complete 156 hours of instruction and 156 sustainment training hours in tan through black belt techniques, attend a workshop on combat engagement patterns, write a report on a book from the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program reading list, write an essay on a civilian martial art discipline and complete 40 hours of community service.

In order to attain his black belt, Thomas also attended an intense five-week course at MACE testing both his physical and mental limits.

"I've been to 14 formal schools and that was by far the hardest school including the swim instructor school," Thomas said. "The constant demand for both your mental capacity and your physical ability is amazing. (The demand) is from sun up to sun down moving from one area to the next."

Thomas said he noticed an immediate change in his method of conflict resolution, thanks to his martial arts training.

"Before my training, it was easier to just grab a hold of someone and start wrestling," he said. "Now the mindset is there to assess the situation."

Thomas went on to say his passion for teaching sprang from the changes he saw within himself.

"My favorite part of teaching is watching the students improve in their combat mindset," he said. "The improvements are in their confidence and in their ability to assess the situation. You see the impact; they're able to be a stronger war fighter. They are stronger in both mind and body."

Gunnery Sgt. Steven Whalen, an administration chief with II MEF, who earned his green belt from Thomas, is now working to attain his brown belt and said he feels lucky to have Thomas as his instructor.

"When he first came to our office he was really about the MCMAP," Whalen said. "We weren't so sure, but he's a really awesome instructor. He's really amazing; he wants to teach us the whole mentality of it. He goes way beyond basic fighting into the warrior culture."

Thomas said he owes his great success through MCMAP to his family.

"My wife and family have sacrificed a tremendous amount for the program," Thomas said. "Many of my classes, especially during the summer months, are taught at night. I've spent a lot of time away from them, but they understand it's to make better fighters, better warriors."

Thomas went on to say he teaches his students the ability to take the moves and apply them in any real-life situation.

"I spent 31 months in Iraq, so I've seen the difference it makes when people know their abilities," Thomas said. "That is my main driving force, making sure I train as many Marines as I can because, unfortunately, I've seen what happens when they don't have confidence."

Thomas offers MCMAP training for Marines, who want to progress in belt levels and have authorization from their command, everyday from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. behind the 2nd Air/Naval, Gunfire Liason Company headquarters building.
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