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Marines duke it out in the desert for MCMAP training

21 Apr 2004 | Lance Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr. and Sgt. Jose L. Garcia

Pfc. Joseph M. De Pew dusted off his bruised and battered body.  He was soaked in sweat, fresh from a fight that left him wore out.  And it wasn't even against a bad guy.

De Pew was among a dozen Marines at Regimental Combat Team 7 who took advantage of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Training Program here.  But this one is a little tougher than the rest. 

Instead of training and testing for a belt, taking time off and healing up, these Marines are going straight through.  Bumps, bruises and all.

"We're training straight through from tan to green belt," said the 19-year-old from East Pointe, Mich., and a radio operator with Communications Company, RCT-7.  "It really helps keep the previous training from the other belts in our minds as we test."

The Marines began their training session with remedial tan belt training, polishing up skills some haven't used in a while.

"It's a bit difficult with some of these guys," said Sgt. Jesus Delgado Jr., a wire supervisor for the company and Marine in charge of MCMAP training.  "Most of them haven't done any training since boot camp."

The Dallas Marine said he volunteered to teach the MCMAP course because he enjoyed martial arts.  He said the Marine martial arts doesn't differ too much of that of traditional fighting styles.  It's just a matter of practice.

"Like anything, it's only as good as you make it," Delgado said.  "If you don't put any effort into it, it probably won't do you much good.  The system isn't a very difficult one.  It's basically a stepping stone, a basic foundation."

Still, many here feel the skills learned will be valuable for situations Marines face in Iraq.

"I was a boxer before," De Pew.  "So, this has been a bit difficult for me, but very helpful.  A lot of these guys have never had any sort of training, and in situations like ours - being in Iraq - this will help us defend ourselves if needed."

One of the difficulties in the Marines' training was breaking habits learned from other martial arts.

"I think really the hardest thing I learned about teaching so far has been their experience with other forms of martial arts," Delgado said.  "Like De Pew... he was a boxer before so I had to pay closer attention to him.  This system is a lot different then others."

The training is more than a sacrifice of strength, though.  Marines still perform daily duties, stand posts and work extended shifts.  The course is being completed with what little spare time the Marines have.

"We don't have much time over here, but enough to train and earn the next belt," said Lance Cpl. Temitope R. Olowos, 20, from Mesquite, Texas and a multi-channel operator with Communication Company, RCT-7.  "There is always time for training... helps pass the time."

The Marines will spend weeks learning their new skills, testing for the gray belt and then green a few short days later.

"This way is so much better," De Pew added.  "The pain is all at once instead of being spread out."