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2nd Marine Logistics Group

Camp Lejeune, N.C.

One mind, any weapon: Marines become martial arts instructors

By Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie | | July 10, 2013

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Staff Sgt. Jason P. Sweno, a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, speaks to Marines with 8th ESB and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division about the guiding principles of MCMAP during a martial arts instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The program was designed to enhance physical, mental and character discipline within the Marine Corps and improve close quarters combat skills.

Staff Sgt. Jason P. Sweno, a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, speaks to Marines with 8th ESB and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division about the guiding principles of MCMAP during a martial arts instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The program was designed to enhance physical, mental and character discipline within the Marine Corps and improve close quarters combat skills. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)


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Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division wait for a chance to practice fighting each other during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The Marines underwent a 15-day training program, which integrated physical, mental, and character disciplines into a close combat system.

Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division wait for a chance to practice fighting each other during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The Marines underwent a 15-day training program, which integrated physical, mental, and character disciplines into a close combat system. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)


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Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division grapple with weapons of opportunity during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The Marines who endured the three-week course reviewed martial arts techniques and learned to supervise fighting bouts and administer exams on the course material.

Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division grapple with weapons of opportunity during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The Marines who endured the three-week course reviewed martial arts techniques and learned to supervise fighting bouts and administer exams on the course material. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)


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A Marine dodges a strike aimed at his head during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course held for Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 28, 2013. The service members trained with a number of fighting styles, which included bayonet fighting, using weapons of opportunity and ground fighting.

A Marine dodges a strike aimed at his head during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course held for Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 28, 2013. The service members trained with a number of fighting styles, which included bayonet fighting, using weapons of opportunity and ground fighting. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)


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Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division practice ground fighting during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. MCMAP was introduced in 2002 as a replacement for all other close quarters combat systems within the Marine Corps.

Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division practice ground fighting during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. MCMAP was introduced in 2002 as a replacement for all other close quarters combat systems within the Marine Corps. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)


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Cpl. Andrew R. Santander (left), an engineering equipment operator with 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division attacks a Marine with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group from behind during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 28, 2013. MCMAP was designed to enhance the Marine Corps’ capabilities as an elite fighting force, provide combat skills for all Marines and strengthen the Marine Corps warrior ethos.

Cpl. Andrew R. Santander (left), an engineering equipment operator with 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division attacks a Marine with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group from behind during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 28, 2013. MCMAP was designed to enhance the Marine Corps’ capabilities as an elite fighting force, provide combat skills for all Marines and strengthen the Marine Corps warrior ethos. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)


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Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group practice body throws during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The Marines trained to become martial arts instructors and teach MCMAP techniques, which incorporated multiple forms of martial arts such as karate, Judo, and Jujutsu.

Marines with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group practice body throws during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The Marines trained to become martial arts instructors and teach MCMAP techniques, which incorporated multiple forms of martial arts such as karate, Judo, and Jujutsu. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)


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CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- In 2000, Gen. James L. Jones, the commandant of the Marine Corps, sought a replacement for the Linear Infighting Neural Override Engagement system, a form of close quarters combat derived from multiple forms of martial arts.
The publication of Marine Corps Order 1500.54 officially introduced the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, or MCMAP, in 2002 to enhance the combat readiness of Marines.
In order to train service members in MCMAP, the Marine Corps needed martial arts instructors to spread its required knowledge and skill sets, but Marines first had to face many physical and mental challenges to become those instructors.
“We call it combat conditioning,” said Staff Sgt. Jason P. Sweno, a heavy equipment operator and MCMAP instructor with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “We have four hours a day of warm ups, martial arts drills and deployment drills, so the Marines learn a wide array of ways to train their Marines and get them ready for combat.”
The program uses a belt system similar to other martial arts. There are five belts: tan belt, gray belt, green belt, brown belt and six black belt degrees. Service members with green, brown or black belts may also become MCMAP instructors and receive brown tabs on their belts when they become qualified as instructors or red tabs if they become black belt instructor trainers.
Marines learn about the origins of MCMAP and study warrior cultures, which include the Spartans, to assist in understanding how cultures can focus on discipline and create better warriors based on constant practice.
“You could take a Marine who has perfect scores on the physical fitness test and combat fitness test and throw him into a martial arts instructor course, and on the third day he says this isn’t for him,” said Sweno. “He can show up to a PFT and CFT and have a perfect score, but in reality, when we go to combat, we aren’t running PFTs or CFTs. If he has a combat conditioning program, he’s got a mindset where he doesn’t know what every enemy or challenge is, and that can help him succeed.”
The Marines perform a wide variety of exercises, such as physically intense workouts, squad runs carrying logs and hikes in full combat gear to improve physical strength, but they need more than strong bodies to make it through the course.
“This definitely isn’t like sergeant’s course,” said Sgt. Shaun R. Finch, a bulk fuel specialist with 8th ESB. “It really tests your willpower and drive, physical and mental strength and your character. This is all about teamwork – no one is an individual here.”
Each Marine in the course is expected to remember the MCMAP techniques and knowledge, but also has to be comfortable leading and building proficiency in other service members’ MCMAP skills.
“We’re reviewing techniques we’ve already learned, but the focus here is on learning how to instruct Marines,” said Finch, a native of Dunlap, Tenn. “It’s not just the usual ‘let’s get through this technique’ mindset. We’ll be the ones with stopwatches and evaluating how other Marines are advancing through [MCMAP].”
The Marines learn to instruct and assess up to their belt levels, which includes speaking in front of their classes, administering written and practical application tests and passing on the stories and skills they learned during training.
“The course itself was really tough,” said Sgt. Joseph L. Pass, a generator mechanic with 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “I didn’t buy into it until the end when all the principles they taught us started setting in. Once I started learning about myself, how much I could push myself and how much I could retain mentally, I really started believing in this.”
The sizes of the classes vary, but each class usually shrinks throughout the course and leaves only the most determined participants, said Sweno.
“I see in their eyes when they graduate what this program means to them and how much they want to bring this back to the Marines they work with,” said Sweno. “This isn’t for everyone. Not everyone can be a martial arts instructor just like not everyone can be a United States Marine.”


2 Comments


  • Kim 1 years 17 days ago
    If all goes well,

    I plan my comeback in the martial arts world by January next year.


    I want to be worthy of my Zodiac again as I have given proof of in the past. My reputation was well known back then. I intend to make it count again.
  • Kim 1 years 17 days ago
    You're right: I can't (yet).

    With a gap of almost 3 years I'll have to retrieve my basic martial arts skills which literally were buried during that gap.

    I'll have to relearn and reacquire my martial arts skills all over again.

    I can teach myself for the most part by memory and still present martial arts technical moves and artistic valuable skills I got in me naturally but to advance in belt grade for the purpose of one day being qualified to instruct martial arts skills myself onto others, whoah: that's way in the far future for me if I decide to advance progressively if I start now.

    I plan to teach myself, or rather: retake, my martial arts skills which stick on me and which I can improve and inhibit gradually as I plan to integrate martial arts training this fall/winter season to be ready for karate class (maybe even jiu jitsu, depending on my financial situation) by the beginning of next year.

    All that I acquired over the years from 1994 to 2010 in karate and jiu jitsu (and even some judo and boxing) isn't entirely lost but definitely so badly neglected that I'll have to regain them by constant daily practice.

    As said: will start with that from September 1st this year, build it into my daily training program by then.

    I lack the ambition to advance to higher belt grades but I have the determination and discipline to advance in proficiency in my martial arts skills. To me, the training results count, not the color of my belts...

    Will keep you posted on this.

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