ABOARD THE USS ESSEX --
Marine 1st Sgt. Charles H. Hutto first took an interest in martial arts as a child, watching it on television and admiring its discipline, unknowing of the fact that he would one day become a master of multiple styles of martial arts and become an instructor of instructors for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
The Headquarters and Service Company first sergeant for 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, which currently serves as the Battalion Landing Team for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit manages to aggressively spread his expertise as a 2nd degree Black Belt Instructor Trainer.
Hutto’s passion for martial arts began at the age of 13 with the study of Tae-Kwon Do and later branching out into Shoin Ryu Karate, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, combat Karate, Jiu-jitsu, Kendo and eventually, MCMAP. The 16-year veteran of the Corps has been deployed to Iraq and has had no regrets in having enlisted in the Marines.
"I joined the Marine Corps to make a better life for me, my wife and my future family," said Hutto, a Noblesville, Ind., native. "I didn't want to stay in my same home town, doing same job as everyone having an average life. I wanted to make a difference in my life and the lives of others."
The road to Black Belt Instructor for Hutto was surprisingly a short one. The last time he wore his khaki web belt was in May of 2001 after becoming a Green Belt Instructor while stationed in Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego as a Drill Instructor. At that time, according to Hutto, MCMAP was in its infancy and instructors were a necessity.
"By November 2001, I earned my black belt instructor status," Hutto added. "In the span of about 10 months I went from a Tan belt to a Black Belt Instructor Trainer. This was in large part to having a civilian martial arts background."
There are many prerequisites, sacrifices and a lot of hard work that comes with becoming a Black Belt Instructor Trainer in the Marine Corps, according to Hutto.
According to Hutto, the training time requirements alone are as follows: tan-27.5 hours, gray=40 hours, green=50 hours, brown=60 hours and black=65 hours. Once one has received a new belt, their hours start over at 0. In order to become a Black Belt Instructor Trainer a Marine must go to Marine Corps Martial Arts School in Quantico, Va., for 7 weeks and must be a minimum of a Green Belt Instructor to attend the school.
As a MCMAP Black Belt Instructor Trainer, the most important thing he ensures is that the proper training is passed down the line.
"I teach instructors so that they can teach the up and coming Marines and Sailors," Hutto said." I want to make sure the Marine Corps continues to train Marines in MCMAP the right way and uphold its traditions."
Hutto’s students can speak on his behalf in that he is great mentor and teacher.
"He is by the book and he cares about the caliber of his students," said Sgt. Isaac Perez, a legal chief with the BLT 2/4. "He always puts those around him before himself and shows great attention to detail when he teaches. I learned a lot from him while assisting him with a green belt instructor course. He kept all the Marines motivated and no one dropped out."
Hutto’s family actively and happily participates in martial arts with him and they understand how it can impact someone’s character.
"I liked being taught martial arts. It is more than just kicking and punching," said Logan Hutto one of Hutto’s three daughters. "It’s about learning your strengths and weaknesses. I like learning martial arts with my dad because he will always be there to help me train and I think it’s a great way to bond."
The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program doesn’t just teach you about self defense or hand-to-hand and close quarter combat, it teaches Marines and Sailors about MCMAP’s foundation of Mental, Physical and Character disciplines, according to Hutto.
"Not only does MCMAP try to build you up mentally and physically, but it builds up the Marine's and Sailor's character," Hutto said. "MCMAP builds the character of a person so they may make the correct decision in any situation, not just a fight. That is what I give back to MCMAP; I ensure every Marine and Sailor that is a student of mine, receives the character growth and not just the mental and physical discipline. Tying the three together is what makes you not only a better Marine or Sailor, but a better person all together."
Along with teaching Marines martial arts, Hutto has also instructed young aspiring martial artists in the civilian world.
"The most unique place I have taught was at the Boys and Girls Club in Vista, Calif., for the underprivileged children of the area," Hutto said. "They didn’t have any money for classes so I taught them free of charge. It was very rewarding and it made me feel good to help teach the kids how to properly defend and protect their selves."
While his volunteer efforts within the San Diego community have proven to be positive, being deployed has brought a little regret.
"It was very hard bringing kids up from nothing, leaving on a deployment and then coming back to watch them win competitions," Hutto said. "I missed them growing as children and martial artists."
Hutto has evidently proven his worth in the Marine Corps. As a civilian martial artist, Hutto has been involved in many competitions throughout his life.
"I’ve been successful in many competitions involving form, weapons and sparring," Hutto said. "A couple of years ago I won two out of three events at the Oceanside International Martial Arts Competition in California."
Despite his off-duty accolades, Hutto believes that the Marine Corps has given him a great opportunity while in return giving his time and skill to the Corps.
"The Marine Corps has hooked me up," Hutto said. "It has given me the opportunity to pursue on and off duty martial arts education. I've been fortunate enough to attend five or six different types of civilian classes on martial arts and the Marine Corps has paid for them. I would like to say that the Marine Corps and I have done each other well."
It isn’t the end though for Hutto and his love for martial arts. He is contemplating opportunities to spread his martial arts knowledge, skill and experience.
"I want to possibly open up my own dojo in California one day," Hutto said. "My aspirations would be to continue to learn, grow, and teach others what I have gained through my experiences. Gaining knowledge of something and not passing it along to others is a waste. I will continue to learn all aspects (physical, mental, and character) of martial arts as long as I can so that I might be able to apply them to my daily life as a man and a Marine."
In the end Hutto has a great sense of pride in martial arts and believes that it is a very important skill that should continue to be taught, especially as a Marine.
"You can't beat that, teaching people how to defend them selves in all situations, whether it's in combat or back home."