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From tan to black: MCMAP marks four years under belts

15 Oct 2004 | Cpl. Micah Snead

Marines are still kicking, screaming and punching their way through the Corps’ martial arts program as it reaches its four-year anniversary.The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, which began in October 2000, changed the way Marines train and think about hand-to-hand combat. The program was heavily endorsed by then-Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. J. L. Jones, who described it as a revolutionary step in the development of martial arts skills for Marines.Jones laid out his vision and guidance for the program in All Marines Message 042/01. The policies, procedures and standards for MCMAP were described in Marine Corps Order 1500.54A.The program was designed to be another step in marinating the Corps’ reputation as the world’s premier fighting force, according to Jones.“(MCMAP) is a reflection of our warrior ethos that provides a vehicle for enhanced unit cohesion and increased self-worth,” Jones said. “Like marksmanship training, this program provides our Marines with additional tools that they can use on the battlefield.”The program is broken into five levels, represented by five colored belts worn with the combat utility uniform. The tan belt is the lowest level and is now earned by Marines during completion of basic training or officer candidate school. After the initial implementation of the program, active-duty Marines were given until the end of fiscal year 2004 to complete at least tan belt training.The belts and levels progress from tan to gray, green, brown and black. Tan through green belts emphasize individual combat techniques and concentrate on building character and developing leadership skills. Brown and black belt training emphasizes combat techniques against multiple opponents, strengthening character and expanding and reinforcing leadership skills. While the only prerequisites for tan, gray and green belts are to complete the lower levels first, brown and black belt training requires command recommendation. A Marine can advance six degrees through the black belt level.As a Marine advances through the levels, they are taught more moves and skills while continually practicing their previous MCMAP instruction. MCMAP is intended to train Marines to not only be better fighters, but better citizens as well, according to MCO 1500.54A.“MCMAP addresses the full spectrum of the force continuum of the battlefield and fulfills the need to build Marines with the mental and character traits required to succeed in the future,” Jones said. “The benefits of improved self-esteem, mental discipline and personal pride are worthy of the investment and provide substantial returns for our Corps.”The program is not intended to be a diversion from regular training for non-infantry units, but should be embraced and encouraged by all commanders, according to Jones.“To realize (the) benefits, we must embrace the concept as well as the training,” Jones said. “We must incorporate it into the daily lives of our Marines, much as we do physical training. We must assimilate this training until it is second nature and as much a part of our ethos as sit ups, pulls ups and a three-mile run."With the majority of Marines qualified at the initial MCMAP level and many moving above and beyond in the training and belts, Jones is seeing his vision come to fruition one kick, punch and hip toss at a time.“The Marine Corps’ reputation is the product of warrior culture steeped in the fundamentals of individual strengths that lead to unit capability,” Jones said. “We are committed to the principles of basic warrior training for all Marines.”For more information on advancing in MCMAP, contact your unit training office or see MCO 1500.54A.