The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is one of the many requirements that every recruit aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego must go through in order to earn their Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.
They are put through mental and physical exhaustion for long, strenuous hours in the hot sun to perfect every technique, to instill a combat mindset and warrior mentality.
The recruits of Company B, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, went through the bayonet assault course and pugil sticks as part of MCMAP training Feb. 29.
MCMAP is a program developed by the Marine Corps that combines hand-to-hand and close quarter combat techniques with team-building functions. It also includes instruction in mental and physical discipline to prepare them for a combat situation. Recruits are taught MCMAP as self-defense in a combat situation and to also instill combat mindset through discipline.
“The recruits start with the basics here,” said Sgt. Garrett Griebenow, martial arts instructor trainer with the Instructional Training Company. “MCMAP and the bayonet techniques are some of the basic training that they are required to learn.”
Each recruit is issued their own M-16A4 service rifle in phase one of recruit training and taught from the very beginning how and why their rifle will become their best friend. They must know every function of a rifle and how to fully operate one when it comes to marksmanship, as well as how to defend themselves in worst-case scenarios when ammunition is no longer useful to them. Through the bayonet assault course, each recruit is taught how to properly execute bayonet techniques and are put in a simulated combat situation, said Griebenow, a 25-year-old Jackson, Mich. native. A bayonet is a knife designed to fit underneath the muzzle of a rifle effectively turning it into a spear. The recruits are taught thrusts, jabs, and slashes with bayonets. They then utilize them in a course with dummies designed to simulate a combat environment.
“The big mindset is to prepare and expose them to close combat situations,” said Staff Sgt. John A. Saracuy, chief drill instructor, Co. B, 1st RTBn. “In a worst-case scenario when they have to use the bayonet, they have the natural instinct of how to properly defend themselves.”
After the recruits go through the bayonet assault course, they suit up and are handed pugil sticks to practice one-on-one defense tactics with an opponent. Pugil sticks are a heavily padded pole-like training weapon used for training in rifle and bayonet combat.
“Pugil sticks show the recruits how to properly use the techniques,” said Saracuy. “Even when they’re tired and exhausted, they can still fight through it and execute the techniques.”
Recruits battle one another for the combat experience of exhaustion and learn how to use their skills on a moving target. Recruit Lawrence A. Short, Platoon 1029, Co. B, 1st RTBn., said pugil sticks are a great training tool and allows you the practice of the different techniques.
“It’s different when you’re actually doing it against an opponent,” Short said. “Instead of just hearing the instructor saying, ‘Execute, execute, execute,’ we really get to utilize the skills.”
Short, an 18-year-old from Casa Grande, Ariz. said MCMAP and bayonet techniques are important because if a Marine happens to be disarmed during battle, they’ll be able to get back into the fight and turn their body into a weapon.
“It’s all about mission accomplishment,” said Short. “You can definitely do more damage with a bayonet.” Short feels confident with the bayonet techniques and confidence is one of the many qualities that recruits gain in recruit training.
“These courses bring the recruits out of their comfort zone,” said Saracuy, a 28 year-old Los Angeles native. “We want them to feel confident and have the natural instinct to be able to turn on and off that combat mindset in certain situations.”
The recruits of Co. B will continue MCMAP training to receive their tan belts, the first of five belts that Marines can earn throughout their Marine Corps career.