CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), completed a seven-week Martial Arts Instructor Course at Camp Leatherneck, July 14.
The 16 graduates received a secondary military occupational specialty of Martial Arts Instructor for completing the course and became certified to teach the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program up to the green-belt level.
“The MAI course has over 125 hours of combat conditioning, MCMAP sustainment, classroom sessions, graded exams and many, many hours of technique training and review,” said Sgt. Cody R. McKinney, MAI Course instructor, Support Company, CLB-4.
Due to the time constraints present in a forward deployed environment, the MAI course instructors adapted the class schedule to make it possible for the Marines to complete the rigorous training during their free time.
“An unbroken MAI course is three weeks of all-day classes Monday through Friday,” said McKinney. “We did seven weeks of classes, three hours a day. The Marines had to learn all the materials and techniques while completing the mission [in their] primary billets.”
The course, which began with 36 participants, tested and strengthened the Marines’ character by challenging them and pushing them to come together and work as a team.
“At the beginning, the Marines had a mindset of just making it through the course and getting it over with,” said McKinney. “[As the course progressed] the motivation became more, ‘we need to finish’ instead of ‘I need to finish.’ They wanted to succeed together.”
According to McKinney, the challenging weather conditions and grueling combat conditioning sessions complemented the character building aspects of the course and fostered a realistic training environment.
“We try to offer the most realistic training environment possible and with the heat in the 105 to 110 degree range, along with the occasional dust storm that blew through, I think we accomplished that,” said McKinney.
The physical training sessions were also used as an opportunity to reinforce the Marines’ leadership skills.
“What made the [physical training] really effective was that we designed our own [warm-up, exercise and flexibility session] and then led the exercises. This way, we got a feel for planning and leading your own MCMAP PT session or a general PT session,” said Cpl. Joshua K. Naylor, watch chief, Headquarters and Service Company, CLB-4. “We had to take the initiative … and show that we could lead.”
However, the core of the physical training sessions centered on MCMAP techniques.
“As far as learning techniques, it was more fine-tuning the techniques we already knew to make sure that we can teach them properly,” said Naylor. “The sessions improved our ability to lead, but even more than that, they improved our ability to teach and improved our communications skills.”
The Marines were not just tested on their knowledge of techniques and training methods, but also on their knowledge of martial arts history, explained Staff Sgt. Christopher B. Milam, MAI Course instructor, Bravo Company, CLB-4.
“They conducted martial [arts] culture studies during the classes they got, and had to take two exams,” said Milam. “The other mental aspect of the course was pushing through the pain even when their body was telling them to quit. That is how the exercises were designed, even if you were in great shape, you were going be pushed.”
Despite the extended training schedule and rugged conditions, the MAI Course proved to be difficult but worthwhile for the Marines.
“It was very challenging,” said Naylor. “It wasn’t something you looked forward to going to every day, but it made us better leaders."