The shrill sound of a whistle breaks the silence. In one quick, decisive movement Rct. Michael Bridges thrusts his bayonet through his imaginary opponent.
Bridges, from Platoon 1025, Delta Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, was just one of more than 150 recruits taking the next step in earning their Marine Corps Martial Arts belt.
After more than 27 hours of MCMAP training, recruits are ready to put the skills they’ve learned to the test to receive their belt.
“We teach them the basic fundamentals of MCMAP when we teach them belt,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Delgadillo, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Leatherneck Square. “We want them to learn all of the basics, so it motivates them to want to learn more martial arts. That’s the brilliance of the basics – they’re a building block.”
He said the techniques taught from the belt syllabus set recruits up for success once they go to the operational forces.
“We want to give them the confidence to progress in belts, so they don’t settle on staying a belt,” said Delgadillo, of Los Angeles.
During their MCMAP training, recruits are drilled repetitively on the movements the Martial Arts Instructors teach.
“Repeating the techniques gives them muscle memory,” Delgadillo explained. “They do it over and over, that way if they are put in a threatening or a close-combat situation, they are able to react quickly to that situation.”
He said MCMAP does more than prepare Marines for close-combat.
“Say you’re out in town, and someone tries to mug you, the basic fundamentals of MCMAP will help you defend yourself.”
Along with learning defensive techniques, MCMAP teaches mental, physical and character disciplines.
“Mental and character discipline teaches recruits and Marines when it’s an appropriate time to use MCMAP,” he said.
He said physical discipline focuses on strength and endurance.
After recruits complete the test for their tan belt, they have learned the basic techniques to defend themselves.
“The bayonet techniques and the counter to chokes and holds are probably the most important movements they learn here,” said Staff Sgt. Peter Ramos, the senior drill instructor for Plt. 10026, Delta Co., 2nd RTBn. “If they run out of Ammo in combat, they’ll know how to utilize their weapon in a close-combat situation,” said Ramos, of Patterson, N.J.
The tan belt classes also teach recruits movements such as arm manipulations and chokes, which they practice on each other.
“I like working with a partner because using the moves on them teaches me how to control my opponent,” said Bridges, of Clayton, N.C.
He said that before coming through recruit training, he knew very little about martial arts.
“It taught me how to defend myself, and I think everyone needs to know how to do that,” Bridges said. “It makes me feel more confident about defending myself.”