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    No Better Dojo – The Amphibious Assault Ship

    No Better Dojo – The Amphibious Assault Ship

    Photo By Gunnery Sgt. Joseph DiGirolamo | U.S. Marine Cpl. Derek J. Gary demonstrates a joint manipulation takedown technique on...... read more read more

    USS BONHOMME RICHARD, USPACOM, AT SEA

    02.06.2015

    Story by Staff Sgt. Joseph DiGirolamo 

    31st Marine Expeditionary Unit   

    USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At sea - A gymnasium, a boxing ring, a wrestling mat, an octagon, an indoor padded garage or an outdoor spot on the grass - there are many different types of places to practice and learn martial arts. The Japanese call it a Dojo. They are everywhere on Okinawa. But a U.S. Marine will likely tell you there is no better place to train in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program than inside the hull of an amphibious assault ship.

    “This is a unique experience for me and it’s my first time teaching on a ship,” said Sgt. Evan M. Hughlett, a Brown Belt MCMAP Instructor. “It provides that ‘amphibious warfighter’ aspect and it is part of our nature. It’s what defines us.”
    Hughlett, a native of Minneapolis, is one of six instructors teaching MCMAP to more than 85 students from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit while embarked on the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in support of the Spring Patrol of the Asia-Pacific region.

    Large military aircraft, vehicles and equipment surround the Marines as they train. They fight on mats placed between UH-1Y Huey and AH-1Z Cobra helicopters staged in the hangar bay. Or they lay a mat between two Amphibious Assault Vehicles parked inside the well deck.

    “We are in the middle of the ocean reaching back to our amphibious roots,” said Capt. German Alicea, a 1st Degree Black belt MCMAP instructor. “With all the equipment here, it’s a reminder that we have a job to do and that is to be able to respond at a moment’s notice.”

    While teaching in this environment, an instructor’s voice can get drowned out by the sound of large chains clanging, bells ringing, whistles blowing or the occasional thundering roar of an AV-8B Harrier taking off from the flight deck above.

    “Although we fight with limitations, we adapt,” said Hughlett, who has taught MCMAP for a year.

    Each training session lasts approximately two hours. Students start with a conditioning workout, which usually consists of bodyweight exercises like burpees or lunges. If the students are lucky, an approaching MV-22B Osprey will kick up enough ocean water from its rotor wash to spray mist on their sweat-drenched utility uniforms.

    Talk about an unusual way to cool down!

    Then, instructors demonstrate how to execute a chokehold, wristlock takedowns or knife techniques to finish a fight. Simultaneously, in the background, Marines are loading up in full combat gear to execute another mission while Navy sailors work tirelessly to support ship operations.

    “Working in close quarters is just a reminder that every day is a day we should develop ourselves and continue to train for any situation that may occur,” said Alicea, a disbursing officer with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st MEU, and a native of Miami Beach, Florida. “At the end of the day that’s what we are - we are crisis response-ready Marines.”

    Finally, each session concludes with a group discussion and tie-in to improve the students’ character discipline. Instructors lead conversations covering the history of the Corps, leadership, or moral and ethical dilemmas.

    “I think this is one of the best ways to get in front of Marines and teach values,” said Cpl. Derek J. Gary, a field radio operator with CLB-31, 31st MEU, and a Green Belt Instructor. “MCMAP is not (only) about fighting, it is about becoming a better person.”

    MCMAP was introduced in 2001. Since then it has produced hundreds of thousands of combat-ready Marines to serve all over the world. Its simple design allows for combat training on anything from grassy parade decks or wrestling mat covered well decks; but sometimes it takes the belly of a Navy ship for a Marine to really appreciate the truest form of this martial art.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.06.2015
    Date Posted: 02.07.2015 08:25
    Story ID: 153882
    Location: USS BONHOMME RICHARD, USPACOM, AT SEA
    Hometown: LANDOVER, MD, US
    Hometown: MIAMI BEACH, FL, US
    Hometown: MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US

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