7/22/2013 -- CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Throughout history, warriors have lived who pursued both military and scholarly disciplines. These balanced warriors exist today in the form of Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructors, and the course to become one of them is tough and rigorous.
Eighteen Marines sat exhausted after intense physical training at the obstacle course. Their martial arts instructor, Staff Sgt. Randy Camacho, paced around with the demeanor of a warrior but taught with the wisdom of classical philosophers.
“Some people live with anxiety about the future and some want to return to the past,” said Camacho, chief martial arts instructor with 9th Communications Battalion, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. “Be in this moment, live for this moment and work hard for this moment. After the moment is done, that’s when you’ll find yourself.”
The philosophy behind martial arts is a crucial part of the MCMAP instructor program. During the three-week course, Marines conducted rigorous physical activities such as free sparring while learning a variety of lessons such as techniques, philosophy and history of MCMAP, combat conditioning, nutrition and anatomy.
Marines from 7th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, and 9th Communications Bn. participated in the course. The Marines are in their second week of becoming MCMAP instructors and none have dropped out despite the physical strain of the course.
“By the second week one or two Marines get dropped due to medical reasons,” said Camacho, a native of Yigo, Guam. “A lot of the times they aggravate pre-existing injuries due to how physically rigorous the course is.”
The instructor course is a way for Marines with a passion for martial arts to grow in the field.
“I’ve always been involved in martial arts as a kid like traditional karate and taekwondo as well as mixed martial arts,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan H. Smith, MCMAP instructor trainer with 7th ESB. “That was why I wanted to become an instructor.”
Smith, a native of Apple Valley, Minn., has been practicing MCMAP for more than a decade now and is still learning. For some instructors, the unique opportunity to learn from many students drives them to teach.
“I’m always learning,” said Sgt. Jose A. Tellez, chief martial arts instructor with 7th ESB. “It doesn’t matter if I’m an instructor and you’re a student. We have students that come in as boxers and Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners and we can always learn from them. The instructor course helps you as a teacher become an even better martial artist. “
Furthermore, the instructor course provides many career opportunities to Marines who can pass it.
“We teach them so many different things that they can apply to their units like nutrition planning, and knowledge of anatomy and physiology,” said Tellez, a native of Miami. “They also receive the Military Occupational Specialty of 0916, martial arts instructor, which allows them to certify other Marines as belt users.”
Most importantly, the MCMAP instructor course focuses on character, mental and physical discipline and how to enforce those disciplines into future students, said Tellez.
“I feel MCMAP is important because it doesn’t just teach you martial arts and it doesn’t just teach you how to be a good Marine,” said Camacho. “It teaches you how to be a good person in general. When it comes to martial arts, you have to think about what it takes to be a student of life. Everything you do in martial arts is about the quality of life.”
As Tellez took to the stage, his students, weary but eager to learn, looked up for any wisdom he had to add.
“Stand by,” said Tellez. “It’s only week two.”