140311-N-LM312-312 EAST CHINA SEA (March 11, 2014) - A Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) enters the well deck of the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48). Ashland is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU), is conducting joint force operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam D. Wainwright/Released)
Aboard Ashland, MCMAP Builds Better Marines 
EAST CHINA SEA - Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) participated in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) March 14.

The purpose of MCMAP is to teach Marines the basic fundamentals of hand-to-hand combat while instilling in them the warrior ethos. MCMAP combines combat-tested martial arts and close-combat training with Marine Corps core values and leadership training.

"MCMAP is essentially a warrior, moral, and ethics building program so that Marines, through the training of martial arts, can be hand-to-hand combat ready," said Marine Cpl. Steven Stroud, MCMAP instructor assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 31.

The course consists of a five-level belt ranking system including tan, gray, green, brown, and black. Black is the highest level belt.

"Marine recruits in boot camp are all required to earn their tan belt," said Stroud. "That's the basic level of positioning and movement throughout the course and is a baseline for the rest of MCMAP."

Marines go through combat conditioning training, martial arts integration drills, sparring, and technique sustainment exercises during the program.

"Some of the areas covered in the program are the basics of the warrior stance, executing correct front punches, kicks, counters, and strikes," said Stroud. "It's basic close combat martial arts."

The motto of MCMAP is 'One mind, any weapon' and emphasizes that every Marine is always armed, even without a weapon.

"MCMAP starts with your hands and gradually works up to the higher levels of the belt system with rifles, pistols, knives, and full armor for a battle environment," said Stroud. "It teaches them to react through muscle memory if they ever do lose their rifle or pistol in combat."

Three formal components of MCMAP are physical, mental and character discipline. The program is designed to increase the warfighting capabilities of Marines and their units, self-confidence and esprit de corps, and foster the warrior ethos.

"The program is also a good character builder," said Stroud. "We teach structure and history of the Marine Corps, warrior ethos, and the definition of honor, courage and commitment. It offers a more defined explanation than what a lot of these Marines usually get."

MCMAP is more than a course for learning how to fight but an outlet for Marines to learn and grow mentally.

"Martial Arts is great for each human being, not because you are learning how to fight, but because you are learning how to control your own body and mind," said Stroud. "I think what I do here is a benefit to the Marines on board."

Ashland, with embarked elements of the 31st MEU, is a part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, and is conducting routine operations in the 7th Fleet area of operations.

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