History And Structure Of Marine Corps Martial Arts Program

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1. GAIN ATTENTION. From the beginning of civilization the warrior has exemplified and espoused the higher ideals of the martial arts. His strength of character and mental discipline rivaled his strength of arms. Never the mercenary or bully, instead he was the defender of others.

At the moment of our nation's birth a new warrior emerged to inherit this ancient lineage, the United States Marine. For over 225 years Marines have remained true to the warrior principles, defending the tenets of freedom and the citizens of our great nation. Even today, as we move into the twenty-first Century, we as Marines need to continue to hone our warrior skills.

Our Thirty Second Commandant, General James L. Jones envisioned a program to enable every Marine to realize their full potential as a warrior. Drawing upon our rich legacy of leadership and heritage of innovation, the Marine Corps developed the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The Marine Warrior skill is a martial art; the roots of which reach back to the boarding parties of the Continental Marines, extend through the Raiders of World War II, and include the modern complexities of the three block war.

2. OVERVIEW. This lesson will cover an introduction to the history of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, as well as an overview of the programs structure and requirements.

3. LESSON PURPOSE. This lesson covers the history and development of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The purpose of this lesson is to inform the Marine of structure, prerequisites, and requirements of the Martial Arts Belt System.

4. METHOD/MEDIA. This class will be taught by lecture, with the aid of a power point projector.

5. EVALUATION. Topics from this lesson will not be evaluated.


The Marine Corps was born during the battles that created this country. Drawing upon the experiences of the first Marines we have developed a martial culture unrivaled in the world today. This legacy includes not only our fighting prowess but also the character and soul of what makes us unique as Marines.

Beginning with the Continental Marines who were renowned as sharpshooters in the rigging of Navy ships, to their skill as boarding and landing parties where the sword and bayonet were the tools of their trade, Marines have continued to develop and hone their martial skills up to the twentieth century. During World War I the skill of the bayonet was supplemented with the first training in unarmed techniques to meet the challenges of trench warfare. This training continued to evolve up to World War II. During these early years the leadership and core values training that are our hallmark today developed in concert with the martial skills. Guided by visionary leaders, the Marine Corps developed a spirit that we know today as honor, courage and commitment.

As World War II burst upon the Corps, individuals and units were developing specialized training based upon the experiences of Marines from the inter-war years. This included exposure of Marines to far eastern martial arts systems such as judo and karate. These various systems such as Combat Hittings Skills, the O'Niel System and those of the Marines Raiders were employed by Marines during the island hopping campaigns. Additionally, the rapid expansion of the Marine Corps saw a refinement of our character and leadership development programs.

This trend continued after World War II through the post Vietnam war period. Marines tested and refined new techniques. We adapted to the technologies and the innovation of a new generation of Marines. During the 1970's and 1980's in response to changes in society after Vietnam, focus was on professional military education and structured leadership training. The 1980's saw the development of the Linear Infighting Neural Override Engagement (LINE) system. The LINE system, developed in response to a perceived need for a standardized close combat system, was an important step in the evolution of a Marine Corps specific martial arts program. The LINE and it's descendents continued to grow and develop over the past 20 years. In 1996, a review of the LINE system, combat hitting skills, pugil stick training and lessons learned from past programs were combined with the input of 10 subject matter experts (SMEs) from numerous martial arts disciplines to develop the Marine Corps Close Combat Program. This program combined all aspects of close combat into one program. This parralled a similar process in 1996 which saw the formalized development of a Core Values training program.

Upon assuming the Commandancy in June 1999, General James L. Jones detailed his vision of a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. With the Commandant's guidance the Close Combat program, as well as avialable programs outside the Marines Corps, underwent a period of testing and review. From this testing and evaluation came the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program evolved into its present day form by combining the best combat-tested martial arts skills, time-honored Close Combat training techniques, with proven Marine Corps Core Values and Leadership training. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is like Marines, unique.


a. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program consists of three components; mental discipline, character discipline, and physical discipline. Each discipline is divided into blocks and presented systematically to Marines at each belt level. Those disciplines taught at lower belt levels are then reviewed and reinforced during follow-on training and at the next belt level. Many skills specific to one discipline reinforce the strengths of the other disciplines. This creates a synergistic effect, whereby the program as a whole is stronger than its individual parts. For example, martial culture studies strengthen the mental character of Marines through the the historical study of war, at the same time reinforcing the importance of character to a warrior and a martial society.

(1) The mental discipline has two main components, warfighting and professional military education (PME). This encompasses the study of the art of war, the professional reading program, Marine Corps Common Skills Training (MBST), decision making training, the historical study of war, the tactics and techniques of maneuver warfare, risk management assessment, force protection, and the study of Marine Corps history, customs, courtesies and traditions. The mental discipline creates a smarter Marine, capable of understanding and handling the complexity of modern warfare - a Marine who is tactically and technically proficient, and one who is capable of decision making under any condition from combat to liberty. This training, which begins with the transformation of recruit training, serves as the foundation of the "strategic corporal" and the future leadership of our Corps.

(2) Character discipline has two main components, the Marine Corps Core Values program and the Marine Corps , Leadership Program. It encompasses Troop Information training as well as the study of the human dimensions of combat. Designed to instill the Mrine Corps Ethos into every Marine, character discipline is the spiritual aspect of each Marine and the collective spirit of the Corps. The components of character discipline instill in every Marine the warrior spirit we all share, and emphasizes the best of our traditions for developing esprit de corps, camaraderie and a warrior mindset. By building the character of a Marine, we develop the Marine as a warrior-defender, one who embodies our core values, one who is self-disciplined, confident, and capable of making the right decision under any condition from combat to liberty.

(3) The physical discipline consists of three main components; fighting techniques, combat conditioning and combat sports. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is a weapons based system beginning at assault fire and moving to the four elements of the fighting compnent; rifle and bayonet, edged weapons, weapons of opportunity, and unarmed combat; with unarmed combat having a role across the entire spectrum of combat. The various armed and unarmed combat techniques are combined as part of the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Program to produce the combat conditioning component. It is the sinew of what every Marine must be prepared to execute; to seek out, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and movement or repel his assault by fire and close combat. This is how we win our nation's battles, fight the three block war, and what ensures success during the final 300 meters of combat. It is battlefield oriented, combat equipment based and develops in the Marine the ability to overcome physical hardship and physical obstacles (water survival, assault climber, cold weather training) under any climatic condition. It is designed on the philosophy that there are no time limits, level playing fields, or second chances in combat. It develops a physical toughness in every Marine that will translate into mental toughness. It produces a Marine who possesses combat fitness and the ability to handle any situation that confronts them. The combat sports program is designed to enhance unit cohesion and esprit de corps, reinforce competition and confidence, while practicing provedn techniques.

(4) What makes this a complete program is the synergy of all three disciplines. All three components are inextricably linked to each other, and to the advancement process within the belt ranking system. Comanders are required to certify that the Marine meets annual training requirements, the prerequisites of each specific belt level, and possesses the maturity, judgment and moral character required by their recommendation. This ensures that as a Marine develops the physical skills to make him a lethal warrior, he also develops a commensurate level of maturity and self-discipline.

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  • Tom
    How usmc mcmap started raiders ww2?
    2 months ago

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