News: New martial arts training facility offers new training opportunities for Barstow Marines
Story by Cpl. Thomas Bricker
BARSTOW, Calif. — To storm the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944, thousands of United States service members had to be trained to assault the beaches without fear.
On the 68th anniversary of the monumental amphibious battle, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow opened a martial arts training facility for Marines so they can continue to be the nation’s ‘force in readiness.’
The facility contains numerous stations to work out; each element is designed to physically condition different areas of the body, and several fighting pits to allow sparring sessions during workout.
“I wanted to have a facility that focused on different areas of the Marines physical performance,” said Shelley Hines, the Semper Fit division head. “We have stations that train them in athleticism, reaction speed and balance, push-pull drills, and kinesthetic awareness so it’s not just ground fighting; the Marines are getting an all-around training session,” she further explained.
The fighting pit was a thought, Hines had years ago and was always thinking of ways she could help train Marines of MCLB Barstow while helping them build camaraderie. Funding for the project was approved last year and the $600,000 facility was completed just in time for summer.
“We wanted this to be a place Marines wanted to train at,” said Hines. “We’ve installed lights for night training and misters and a new canopy for the daytime.”
Present for the grand opening was the base commanding officer and sergeant major, who each spoke before the demonstrations.
“The facility we have here is state of the art and the quality of it is a testament to the hard work of the people responsible for getting it constructed,” explained Col. Daniel P. Ermer, the base commander. “I’ve seen different facilities around the Marine Corps that were already standing and then tailored to train Marines in martial arts, but this is the first I’ve seen built strictly for that purpose,” he added.
During the grand opening of the training facility, Marines stationed aboard MCLB Barstow demonstrated the uses for each of the stations and became familiar with the opportunities it offered.
“It’s an awesome place for us to train here on base,” said Sgt. Anthony Villalobos, assistant chief for S-3 and S-4, who was one of the first to utilize the Marine Corps Marital Arts Fight Pit. “It’s great that the Marines on base have a place designated so they can further their training in MCMAP now,” the Los Angeles native added.
The fighting pit offers Marines aboard the base many opportunities that weren’t available before.
“It’s great that we have all this stuff brought together into one. We have the opportunity to do so much more now,” explained Sgt. Maj. Richard Charron, the base sergeant major.
“What matters though, is what Marines do with these opportunities. I challenge every Marine here on base to utilize this place to its fullest,” he added.
Along with training for combat, the new facility offers other advantages.
“Now that we have this fighting pit facility, it’s going to be a lot easier for Marines to progress in their careers. The Marine Corps wants the best of the best,” said Charron, a Lodi, N.J., native. “They want Marines to bring their A-game and this is going to help them do it,” he concluded.
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