An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Dec. 5, 2014

Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Instructor Course Tests Marines Endurance on Beaches of Okinawa

By Joey Holeman III Marine Expeditionary Force

In the summer of 1945, near the end of World War II, Marines stormed the beaches of Okinawa, which later became known as the bloodiest battle of the Pacific. Marines were ready to survive by all means necessary, which included hand-to-hand combat on the shores of Okinawa.

After World War II, the Marine Corps started to emphasize the importance of hand-to-hand combat, which later developed into the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program we have today. In order to teach MCMAP, Marines must obtain the job title of a Martial Arts Instructor, and the MAI course class 1-15 held true to the Marine Corps past.

Marine Corps Martial Art Instructor Course class 1-15’s culminating event took place Nov. 21 on the beach of Kin Blue, Okinawa, in which it tested what the students have learned during the course.

“One of the big reasons why I wanted to stop here for the culminating event is that we are in Okinawa, Japan,” said SSgt. Rafael Garcialopez. “These beaches here are prestigious to us. Marines who came before us who have fallen on these very beaches is in its self is a great experience for the students.”

Students participating in the class endured a long strenuous day starting with an endurance course and ending with shallow water grappling. The instructors wanted the students to grasp the history behind close quarter combat and Okinawa.

“For them to understand what Marines went through arriving on theses beaches, hitting the shores, running and having that hand-to-hand combat is an incredible realization for them,” said Garcialopez, who is a Chicago, Illinois, native.

The course was run by Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base, Camp Butler, Japan. It was open to all units throughout Okinawa, and also included a Navy Corpsman.

“I came here because when I went to field medical school the MCMAP program was mandatory for every corpsman, but they just recently took it out of the curriculum,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Rogers, a Toccoa, Georgia, native and a corpsman with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “I want to give corpsmen an opportunity to practice (MCMAP), and I would like to be the one to teach them.”

MCMAP has been instilled into the Marine Corps since 2001 and has five belt levels ranging from tan belt, which is mandatory for every Marine before completion of recruit training, to gray, green, brown and then black, which is the highest level.

“Once they are instructors they will be qualified to run combat conditioning drills, field exercise drills and deployed drills,” said Garcialopez. “They will be able to go back to their unit and give back what they learned, by making those usual belt levels, whether tan, gray or green go up in the ranks.”

Some of the challenges the Marines encountered was the ability to come together as a team. With the course being open to all units throughout Okinawa, the course was filled with a variety of military occupational specialties giving the students a broader view of the Marine Corps.

Marines from each base on Okinawa were in the class ranging from combative jobs, such as infantrymen, to non-combative jobs, such as administrative Marines, according to Garcialopez. The MAI course brought together all aspects of the Marine Corps emphasizing the importance of a warfighting mindset.

During the duration of the course, the seven instructors are focused on efficiently and effectively teaching the techniques and philosophies behind MCMAP.

“The martial arts instructor course is a three week evolution, said Garcialopez, the chief instructor for the class. “They arrive here understanding the basic fundamentals of Marine Corps Martial Arts. Then from there we make them understand the concept of MCMAP, which embodies the three synergies, which are character, physical and mental discipline.”

After graduating the course, non-commissioned officers will be able to head back to their unit and teach what they have learned during the course. They will wear a tan tab on their MCMAP belt, signifying that they are a MCMAP instructor.

“I’m glad to say we are producing 21 new martial arts instructors, that are going to be able to push out and effectively support their units with the martial arts program as a whole,” said Garcialopez.

Like Us
Follow Us



U.S., South Korea Want Peace in Indo-Pacific
Jan. 31, 2023 - Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III stressed that the goal of the U.S.-South Korean alliance is peace — not conflict — following meetings in Seoul, South Korea, today.The secretary made the remarks at a news conference...

U.S. Army Advisors Strengthen Partnership in Thailand
Sgt. 1st Class Justin Babb takes part in close quarters battle rehearsals with members of the Royal Thai Army. Babb is part of an SFAB Team assigned to Force Package 23-1, the 5th SFAB's forward-deployed element.
Jan. 31, 2023 - NAKHON NAYOK, Thailand – Three Advisor Teams from 2nd Battalion, 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade partnered with the Royal Thai Army across Thailand during a multi-month rotation into theater beginning in October 2022...

U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Travels to Papua New Guinea
Indo-Pacific Command, traveled to Papua New Guinea
Jan. 30, 2023 - PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea -- Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, traveled to Papua New Guinea January 29-30 to underscore the U.S. commitment to advance shared interests toward building a...

Austin Looks to Build on Strengths of Alliances With South Korea, the Philippines
In this file photo, an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the “Blue Diamonds” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146 approaches for an arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz is in 7th Fleet conducting routine operations. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Jan. 30, 2023 - WASHINGTON -- The security environment in the Indo-Pacific is growing more complex and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III will meet with allies in the Republic of Korea and the Philippines to continue efforts to...

Australia, Japan, U.S. Stand Up Multinational Task Force for Cope North
Jan. 30, 2023 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Air forces from Australia, Japan, and the United States have begun arriving in Guam to establish the command and control multinational task force for Cope North (CN) 2023, which runs...