News: Marines hone leadership, fighting skills at course
Story by Pfc. Codey Underwood
OKINAWA, Japan - The thunderous impact of gloves hitting opponents filled the room. Weaving back and forth, Marines tried diligently to dodge the onslaught of punches. For these Marines the mantra “one mind — any weapon” is not just a saying, it is a way of life.
Marines hardened their martial arts skills and learned instructional techniques while participating in a martial arts instructor course at Camp Hansen May 30 through June 20.
The instructors were with 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, while the students were with various units within III MEF.
“The MAI course is more important than belt-level training because we are teaching Marines to become instructors,” said Staff Sgt. Danilo L. Dean, an instructor-trainer for the MAI Course with III MHG, III MEF. “We are also building (their) physical, mental and character strength, whether it is through physical fitness or (instruction) with warrior case studies or character-building classes.”
Though there is plenty of classroom instruction, Marines also build their physical ability through group exercises.
“When doing martial arts they have to be physically fit, and we do this by making our warm-up, exercise and flexibility training team based,” said Dean.
Students cannot complete warm-up, exercise and flexibility training without working with their teammate because it is intended to be a group effort and no individual can stand out from the group, according to Cpl. Brian D. Raney, a student in the MAI course and radio repairman with 7th Comm. Bn.
The course focused on teaching Marines how to instruct others rather than individual MCMAP advancement.
“Our (classes) included giving a history on Marines who received prestigious awards by reading off their citations and then studying their actions,” said Dean. “We use that to reinforce that (the students’) struggle or adversity during the course is only temporary.”
The Marine Corps martial arts program is not all about throwing punches and kicks, according to Staff Sgt. Darell W. Ignelzi, an operations chief with 7th Comm. Bn. Marines learn about their past and build their character as instructors and Marines.
Reinforcing the discipline to know when it is appropriate to fight, speak up, or walk away is difficult, according to Ignelzi.
“Like they say, ‘no better friend, no worse enemy,’” Ignelzi said.
Marines have their own ethos, code and rules that set them apart from the average person.
“The MCMAP warrior’s creed is by Robert L. Humphrey, a Marine who served on Iwo Jima,” said Dean. “(It reads) ‘Wherever I go, everyone is a little bit safer because I am there. Wherever I am, anyone in need has a friend. Whenever I return home, everyone is happy I am there. It’s a better life.’”