Marines earn tab, gain leadership

28 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. Michael A. Bianco

Since 2000 the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program has been strengthening the mind, body and spirit of Marines Corps wide. Recently Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, began a course focused not only on improving the color of their MCMAP belts, but on giving them the skills to upgrade belt colors of other Marines.

Forty Marines came together with four MCMAP instructor trainers to conduct a Green Belt Instructor’s Course May 18 to June 5.

Throughout the three week course the Marines are participating in a plethora of classes and activities. Aside from typical MCMAP events such as combat conditioning and grappling, Marines attend classes every morning on topics ranging from roles a martial arts instructor plays to physical trainer classes, which focus on teaching others ways of maintaining weight and achieving physical goals.

Before and after the classes, Marines grapple using proper technique. According to course instructors, the goal of grappling is not just to beat the opponent but to beat him using the correct technique. Instructors must be able to convey to students what they are doing right and wrong in order to improve their proficiency in each move.

According to Gunnery Sgt. Willy Carrion, company gunnery sergeant for Company I, 3/5 and chief instructor for the Green Belt Instructor’s Course, training future instructors is placed on a completely different level than training Marines for their next belt.

“Just because you can fight doesn’t mean you can train people to fight,” said Carrion, a fourth degree black belt. “There is a lot more to take into consideration when earning your instructor tab than when earning the next belt.”

Before receiving their tab, students of the course must pass a series of exams which test them both physically and mentally. Marines take three written exams, based on the information they acquire from the daily classes. The future instructors also, must complete the Explain Demonstrate Imitate Practice portion which they will conduct in front of their classmates. EDIP tests a combination of teaching skills critical to ensuring future MCMAP students get the most from their instruction.

With the written and practical application exams complete, students will be tested physically. The first test they’ll face is to complete the Obstacle Course three times in less than 30 minutes. During the final portion Marines must demonstrate all techniques from the tan belt level to the green belt level.

Cpl. Austin Ayres, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 3/5, said as a non-commissioned officer it is necessary to go through this vigorous training in order to better one’s self.

“Everyone out here is an NCO or above, and as NCOs we must always be in the best condition to help out our Marines,” Ayres said. “This course forces so much knowledge into your head that when it is done and over with you have way more than just a tab to bring back to your Marines.”


31st Marine Expeditionary Unit