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Sgt. Paul Rozsa, left, 23, an instructor-trainer, makes sure Cpl. Brandon J. Nierhoff, 22, a student, is OK to continue sparring during a combat conditioning exercise on training day three for Class 1-07 of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors Course at Camp Courtney, Okinawa. Nierhoff graduated from the course Friday.

Sgt. Paul Rozsa, left, 23, an instructor-trainer, makes sure Cpl. Brandon J. Nierhoff, 22, a student, is OK to continue sparring during a combat conditioning exercise on training day three for Class 1-07 of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors Course at Camp Courtney, Okinawa. Nierhoff graduated from the course Friday. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Sgt. Paul Rozsa, left, 23, an instructor-trainer, makes sure Cpl. Brandon J. Nierhoff, 22, a student, is OK to continue sparring during a combat conditioning exercise on training day three for Class 1-07 of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors Course at Camp Courtney, Okinawa. Nierhoff graduated from the course Friday.

Sgt. Paul Rozsa, left, 23, an instructor-trainer, makes sure Cpl. Brandon J. Nierhoff, 22, a student, is OK to continue sparring during a combat conditioning exercise on training day three for Class 1-07 of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors Course at Camp Courtney, Okinawa. Nierhoff graduated from the course Friday. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Staff Sgt. Mark P. Hansen, 29, holds the “Superman pose” during a combat conditioning exercise. He had to hold this pose for three minutes.

Staff Sgt. Mark P. Hansen, 29, holds the “Superman pose” during a combat conditioning exercise. He had to hold this pose for three minutes. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa — The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is here to stay, instructors at Division Schools on Camp Courtney say.

When the program was introduced in 2000, Marines treated it like a check in the box for their annual training requirements. But just like physical conditioning, it it has evolved into an integral part of weekly training, said Gunnery Sgt. Tony Polzin, a teacher for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors Course.

One of the keys to success of the program is having Marines pass on their knowledge to fellow Marines. The instructors’ course packs 122 hours of training into 15 days of stress and sweat.

The program is about more than just martial arts moves, Polzin said. It also focuses on building character and mental and physical disciplines.

“MCMAP is not only a battlefield application; it helps build Marines self-confidence,” Polzin said.

It also teaches graduates how to safely hold training sessions, allowing them to teach up to their belt level and promote Marines at lower levels, Polzin said.

The course ensures that “you are indoctrinated into the methodology of MCMAP,” said Cpl. David E. Garitano, who graduated with 13 other Marines from Class 1-07 on Friday. “Now that I fully understand it, I can go back and pass it on.”

But the training is not easy and students are evaluated up to the last minute, Garitano said. The day before graduation, one of his classmates was dropped for not meeting standards.

Instructor-trainer Sgt. Joseph Walling offered advice for Marines interested in attending the course: Know all the moves and techniques for your belt level and be physically fit — and try training in boots and uniform.

“Train hard and practice,” he said.

Become an instructor

To attend the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors Course, you must be:

Able to complete a Marine Corps obstacle course three times in 30 minutes.A corporal or above.A gray belt or above.Score 225 or better on a physical fitness test.Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Belt chart in increasing competency order:

TanGrayGreenBrownBlack (has six degrees)— Cindy Fisher


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