CASA BLANCA, MOROCCO -- Fists flew and kicks followed through on the flight deck aboard the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) landing platform dock (LPD) HNLMS Rotterdam (L800) August 4, 2013. Marines with Africa Partnership Station 13 came together with Spanish Marines in the spirit of brotherhood to trade off and learn each other’s mixed martial arts.
Marines of all ranks take pride in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The program, established in 2001, is a form of mixed martial arts with a focus on physical, mental and character discipline. This time, however, MCMAP was used as an international language to build camaraderie with the more than 20 Spanish Marines aboard the Rotterdam. One Spanish Marine said the engagement was an “awesome” experience. “It’s always something great to work with [U.S. Marines] because we can learn different things…and build relationships, and I think that’s awesome,” said Spanish Pvt. Victor Gonzalez, a driver with 3rd Mechanized Battalion.
The training began with Marines of each country circled around the martial arts instructors. The instructors took turns demonstrating each move, and had the Marines work together to mirror what they learned. The international warriors learned simple moves such as lead and rear hand punches, knee strikes, arm manipulations and more. Interaction between the two military forces grew more and more as the training advanced. “It was great. Those guys are just as motivated as we are,” said MCMAP instructor trainer Staff Sgt. Michael McConnell. “It’s good to see that our allies in the world share the same passion that we do for martial arts and being ethical warriors.” The White River Junction, Vt., native with APS 13, said the Marines plan on doing this more often throughout the deployment to continue to build a closer bond between the two ally nations. “We plan on training with the Spanish Marines every other day and continue to build that brotherhood, start learning more about their military systems and just keep it going,” concluded McConnell. Africa Partnership Station (APS) is U.S. Naval Forces Africa’s (NAVAF) flagship maritime security cooperation program. The focus of APS is to build maritime safety and security by increasing maritime awareness, response capabilities and infrastructure.