Get the latest military news and headlines delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.
CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Leg sweeps and hip and shoulder throws are not the first things to come to mind when one hears the job title logistics chief, but Master Sgt. Kenneth A. Roberts dedicates much of his time to teaching those techniques.
When Roberts is not working as the logistics chief for G-4, supply and logistics, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, he is committed to teaching Marine Corps martial arts.
“I have been a Marine Corps martial arts program instructor since 2003,” said Roberts.
Roberts’ face lights up as he reminisces about his past and the beginning of his time as a MCMAP instructor.
“When I was a sergeant, I asked my gunnery sergeant to train me to be a tan belt because I did not want to go to the sergeants course with a web belt,” Roberts said. “That gunnery sergeant had just come back from the drill field, and he inspired me. While he was training me, I realized that I wanted to be like him, and that is what I aspire to do.”
After earning his gray belt, Roberts continued on his path to be an instructor and then to become an instructor-trainer.
“The requirements to become an instructor are to be trained to gray belt, achieve a 1st class physical fitness test, and have the rank of at least corporal,” said Roberts. “Once you meet those requirements, you attend a three-week course, that covers MCMAP techniques, teaching styles and combat conditioning.”
Roberts is a great instructor because of his dedication, motivation and pure love of the program, according to Master Sgt. Fernando Llanos, the operations chief for Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“I have known (Roberts) since 2010,” said Llanos. “We worked together at the MEF and did martial arts together. His courses are outstanding. They are well planned and coordinated, and he is knowledgeable about what he does. As a martial arts instructor-trainer myself, it is great to be able to take things away from him to teach in my own courses.”
Giving back to his Marines is the best part of being an instructor, according to Roberts.
“When I was younger, I wanted to do it because it meant that I could do more than just normal physical training,” said Roberts. “Now that I am older, I know that it is much more than that. In my eyes, MCMAP keeps the warrior ethos alive, is a way to maintain and earn your eagle globe and anchor every day and, if you train them correctly, you can keep the fire in your Marines alive.”
The most important thing Marines can take away from MCMAP courses is to think outside the box, according to Roberts. MCMAP is not just about fighting techniques, but also growing as a person. MCMAP is a synergy of mind, character and physical discipline.
“The best advice I can give someone who wishes to become an instructor is not to work for yourself,” said Roberts. “You work for your commander, and you work for the Marines you are training. The Marine Corps sends you to a course for three weeks, but you are committing to a three-year obligation to teach what you learn to others. Remember not to focus on what you are given during the course, but on what you can give back.”