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Station Marines fight way to gray

By Pfc. Mauro Sanchez | | May 15, 2006

A group of 25 station Marines will earn their Marine Corps Martial Arts Program gray belts Friday at Ramada Field here.

The Marines endured a two-week, 43-hour course that consisted of tan belt refreshment, gray belt teachings, combat conditioning exercises and analysis of the character traits of Medal of Honor recipients.

The Marines were divided into three groups and assigned two instructors per group, who had just completed the station MCMAP instructor course in April.

According to Marine Corps Order 1500.54A, MCMAP is an integrated martial art, consisting of 10 skill levels from tan to sixth-degree black belt, designed for and executed by Marines throughout their careers.

It is a combat martial art created from elements of many self-defense disciplines for Marines to use to further their education and reinforce the values of the Corps, said Staff Sgt. Marcos Martinez, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron squadron gunnery sergeant.

MCMAP focuses on building mental, physical and character discipline, said Martinez, a native of Holtville, Calif. Each belt level builds further on these traits and focuses on advancement of skill and the fundamentals learned in the previous skill level.

Sgt. Julio Vega, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 MCMAP instructor, said the Marines were doing very well during the training and combat-conditioning exercises -- functioning as a team and compensating for weaknesses within the groups.

Vega, a native of Las Vegas, said MCMAP pushes Marines to their limits and helps them prepare for what they may face in a combat situation.

By working together, the Marines will be able to see their flaws and improve upon them, and although the training can give the Marines physical and mental discipline, they must develop their own sense of character, said Martinez.

Character cannot be given to the Marines, they must find and earn it themselves, just as they must earn their MCMAP gray belts and the title Marine, added Martinez.

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