CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan --
Navigating the natural environment of the island, weary warriors rush to the site of their next battle. Armed and armored for close combat, the exhausted fighters collide in a blur of violent motion meant to train the mind and body.
More than 40 Marines from numerous units throughout Okinawa converged to participate in a grueling Martial Arts Instructor (MAI) Course organized by instructor trainers of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The three week course ended with a graduation ceremony at the West Chapel here, May 17.
The MAI students, ranging in Marine Corps Martial Arts Program belt levels from intermediate (green) to advanced (black), completed more than 100 hours of training to earn the tan tab, which is sewn on their belts to denote them as instructors. The syllabus included combat conditioning, martial arts techniques through green belt, sustainment and integration training, instructional methodology, and written and performance evaluations.
The course was designed to increase the students’ knowledge of the MCMAP program, highlight the importance of maintaining synergy (physical, mental and character discipline) and increase the students’ abilities to teach. Despite the very physical nature of the course, development as a fighter was not a focus.
“The MAI course is physically and mentally demanding, but is not designed to create (mixed martial arts) fighters,” said Capt. Tyson J. Scott, the course’s officer in charge, MCMAP instructor trainer with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and a native of Atchison, Kan. “Our goal as instructors is to instill the synergy of MCMAP and the warrior ethos which influences unit cohesion and esprit de corps.”
The training combined classroom instruction with rigorous physical exercises to continually test the students. A typical morning would start with a 90-minute martial arts drill, where students clad in camouflage utilities would navigate team-oriented exercises utilizing 25-pound sandbags and tractor tires to increase their combat conditioning and practice techniques while fatigued. The rest of the day would consist of learning and sustaining techniques, and receiving classroom instruction on everything from the effects of fatigue to the proper conduct of a warrior study.
“During the MAI course, we were taught how to instill and maintain the warrior ethos in our future students,” said Sgt. Sean J. Mucaria, the honor graduate of the MAI class, and a native of Seattle, Wash. “We learned to strengthen our Marines conditioning, cohesion and conduct as warriors.”
The course graduated instructors to units including: the 31st MEU Command Element; 1st Battalion, 5th Marines; Combat Logistics Battalion-31; 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion; 3rd Radio Battalion, and more. The newly appointed instructors rejoin their units with the purpose of improving the quality of their Marines by instructing them to their belt level.
"With the things we taught [the MAI students], those physical, mental and character disciplines, they can show others how to become better Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Cyrus S. Nator, chief instructor trainer for the course, and a native of Newark, N.J.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.