PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- Thirteen Marines graduated the Martial Arts Instructor course Thursday at Leatherneck Square, earning their tan instructor tab and the title MAI.
The three-week course is designed to train Marines to a level of exemplary proficiency in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and give them the tools they need to teach their skills to others.
“It’s a very physically demanding course – but it’s definitely more mentally demanding,” said Sgt. Kyle Christian, an MAI trainer for the course. “You have to push yourself in order to get through the physical attributes.”
Aside from the intense daily combat conditioning, the Marines’ training included reviewing the tan, grey and green belt MCMAP syllabi. They also learned how to give classes, lead discussions known as “tie-ins” and teach warrior studies to accompany MCMAP training.
“Each technique has a tie-in or warrior study,” Christian said. “It pairs basic Marine knowledge with the MCMAP training program.”
The MAI students completed, two written exams and three Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate and Practice sessions, which is how they will instruct their classes.
As much studying and training as the students have to complete individually, their most difficult and essential task comes from building their abilities to work as a team, Christian said. In the beginning of the course, they were distributed into two squads during their physical training sessions.
“Sometimes, there are instances where a Marine gets dropped from the course and the squad loses a Marine. We don’t just re-do squads,” he said. “You still have to adapt and overcome, just like that combat situation – you don’t just get resupplied with Marines.”
“With the kinds of (exercises) that they make you do, you don’t think that you can keep pushing,” said Cpl. Philip Sullivan, one of the graduates. “But you have to find it inside you, which is one of the main things they’re trying to teach.”
The Marines must work together as a team and push beyond those mental aspects to help motivate their fellow squad members. It takes them out of their bubble and pushes them to think.
“The stuff [the instructors] come up with in their heads … they want to push us past our limits,” Sullivan said. “Anything physical they can think to do, they’ve had us do.”
Besides the instructor tab and title, Sullivan said he learned better leadership skills. All-in-all, he said the experience of going through the course was definitely worth the effort it required.