MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -Joining the Marine Corps in 2006, Sgt. Tai Tran experienced Marine Corps Martial Arts for the first time as a recruit at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. Learning the basics and earning a tan belt during boot camp, Tran found a passion that he carries today – a passion for leading and training Marines while spreading his martial skills.
“What I really liked about MCMAP when I first joined is that it is exactly what they said it would be,” said Tran, an instructor for Cherry Point’s command-sponsored Corporals Course. “It’s a combination of many fighting techniques, ranging from judo to kick-boxing.”
MCMAP is a hand-to-hand fighting system implemented by the Marine Corps in 2001, combining martial arts techniques from several disciplines, including jujitsu, mu tai and kemp, with a belt rating system, starting at tan and ending with black. Inspired to mentor and train other Marines, Tran sought higher levels of proficiency and belts, becoming a martial arts instructor in 2011.
“I didn't take the instructor course just to have the billet,” said Tran. “I took it to better myself, teach Marines, and to better the Corps altogether.”
Tran, a Concord, Calif. native, said it took him seven and a half years to earn a black belt, the highest belt available in MCMAP. To become an instructor, Tran went through the Martial Arts Instructor Training Course at Camp Geiger, N.C., where he learned how to teach classes and lead Marines through each step in the program. With his leadership style and drive, he hopes to inspire Marines through MCMAP courses and during Corporals Course.
“When I first found out Sgt. Tran was going to be my MCMAP instructor, I was really excited,” said Cpl. Kyle James, one of Tran’s students. “He was my instructor when I took Corporals Course and he was one of the most motivating and inspiring instructors to us all.”
Applying MCMAP fundamentals to his everyday duties helps Tran remained focused on his individual mission as an instructor. Tran uses his knowledge of MCMAP while training, leading and mentoring the junior noncommissioned officers attending Corporals Course, said Tran.
“I notice that I can apply a lot more patience and discipline in my job as an instructor,” said Tran. The discipline instilled as a MCMAP instructor helps him keep an even keel, a key trait for all Marine leaders.
Tran’s leadership is unique amongst his peers, according to Gunnery Sgt. Scott Hamilton, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Corporals Course.
“Tran is a phenomenal instructor who sets the example for the corporals under him,” said Hamilton. “He keeps his standards high and doesn't lose pace when he is teaching.”
Getting to know his students is the most fulfilling aspect of his duties, said Tran.
“I love building relationships with Marines because it makes me feel good and accomplished when I finish teaching them,” he said. “I get to see them learn and grow and just better themselves. It’s just great to give back to the Corps.”