DVIDS – News – 30 Marines across Okinawa molded into Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors upon completion of MAI Course
OKINAWA, Japan – U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Aaliyah Aguallo and 29 more Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations Pacific walked into the dark early morning, weighed down by military gear, prepared to face the next six hours of their Martial Arts Instructor Course on Camp Hansen, Dec. 14.
Before the sunrise, the impact of her squad’s boots meeting the asphalt echoed throughout the streets of Camp Hansen. Disordered yelling behind her was cut short as the instructors directed everyone to veer off into the grass.
About 400 meters from the starting point, each squad peeled off into a patch of grass and quickly stripped down all their extra gear. The squads lined up to begin their first station of the day.
Anxious but poised, Aguallo dropped to the push-up position and immediately jumped up after. Rinse and repeat. After some time, each squad lined up and began doing repetitions of different exercises: burpees, dive bomber push-ups, low crawls, and an assortment of partnered carries.
The instructors pulled aside Squads 1 and 2, while members of Squad 3 were still going through exercises. Squad 2 hid out of sight from Squad 1 around the corner and up a hill. Both squads were instructed to hide among trees and shrubs and were given protective gear for the hands, head, and body.
With the aid of her squad members, Aguallo quickly put on her gear for combat. Once she got the greenlight, she moved toward the hill, where a member of Squad 2 approached. Equipped with a training knife, Aguallo waited as her opponent came into view.
The proverbial bell rang as she engaged her fighter. Both fighters unleashed quick swings and jabs. The wired mask of the helmets hindered the vision of both fighters, but critical hits still landed.
The bout concluded, and both fighters returned to their squads for the next round.
This was the formula for the next six hours. Exercise and combat. Each station involved repetitions of exercises followed by sparring or grappling with hiking in between.
“There were definitely lots of moments where I was in the black, and far beyond the black,” said Aguallo, a native of Chicago, Ill., with Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “This is for sure the most I’ve ever been tested while in the military so far.”
The class was divided into three squads, with one instructor each: Sgt. Levi Wolf, Squad 1; Sgt. Angel CruzOchoa, Squad 2; Sgt. Abdoukarim Sy, Squad 3. From one station to the next, the squads were responsible for carrying a log that required the manpower of three –to four Marines.
The MAI course is a three-week course that implements physical training and academic instruction for instructor trainees. The demanding physical intensity prepares trainees to perform Marine Corps Martial Arts Program techniques through the different elements of war. Coursework evaluations ensure that all newly graduated instructors have more than enough knowledge to carefully supervise and instruct Marines who are looking to make MCMAP belt advancements.
“To become a MAI, you need to find something inside of yourself to allow you to do the things that you never knew you had the capacity for,” said Wolf, the lead instructor of MAI Course Class 28-24. “Understand that it’s not going to be for everyone; it’s for Marines who want to push above and beyond because it takes a special type of Marine to endure the physical and mental challenges through a course like this.”
According to Wolf, the biggest difference between a regular belt advancement course and an instructor course is the level of combat conditioning and knowledge retention for all techniques and exercises.
“The whole team fails if you’re not there mentally, everyone in your team is hurting just as much as you are,” said Aguallo. “One of the hardest parts was getting along with people in your squad, because everyone’s different.”
Throughout the course, Marines in each squad were instructed to complete their repetitions as a squad. When an individual Marine was called out, the squad had to restart their total number of repetitions. Combat conditioning also helps these Marines develop leadership and camaraderie. Very quickly, these Marines had utilized communication and teamwork to move through the culminating event.
The in-depth instruction ensures that when these Marines graduate, they are more than capable of leading new Marines through every technique.
“I’ve been wanting to do this since I was a lance corporal, but I hated MCMAP, originally it was just something to get my promotion score up,” said Aguallo. “But then it changed, I wanted to test out my leadership skills beyond my own job and network with other Marines and different types of students.”
Wolf, also a native of Chicago, was also looking to make a belt advancement when he was a lance corporal. Lance Cpl. Wolf began diving deeper into MCMAP after finally obtaining his grey belt.
His career took a different type of leadership role after his meritorious promotion. Cpl. Wolf went after the role of a MAI and received his instructor tab the same month after promoting to the rank of corporal. As an instructor of regular belt advancements, he trained any Marine who wanted it.
Once again, he was meritoriously promoted to his current rank of Sergeant. He then made another advancement in his MCMAP career becoming a Martial Arts Instructor Trainer and receiving a red tab.
“What impacts can I make as an instructor that will transfer to the entire Marine Corps? What can I leave in the next generation?” said Wolf. “It’s a matter of spreading your wings to make an impact in waves as opposed to small ripples.”
After Marines of Class 28-24 made their way back to the end of the event, they dropped their gear for the final time. Instructors announced that the Marines would individually file into a room one last time.
One by one each graduate exited the room receiving their new belts, indicating that they were now Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructors.
Congratulations to Okinawa’s newest MAIs.
1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Sgt. Daniel Gonzalez, Cpl. Jordan Camilo, Cpl. Adoni JimenezThen, Cpl. Benjamin Toro, Cpl. Mario Aguilar, Cpl. Edgar Deavila, Cpl. Jefferson Sidabutar, Cpl. James Hanks, Cpl. Neilon Parsons.
Marine Corps Installations Pacific
Sgt. Tyler Wallace, Sgt. Alex Stark, Cpl. Alex Fairchild, Cpl. Jonathan Beauchamp, Cpl. Aaliyah Aguallo, Cpl. Dawyne Johnson II.
III Marine Expeditionary Unit Information Group
Sgt. Esdras AlvarengaOrdonez, Sgt. Rubens Guillaume, Sgt. Ramsey Ransaw Jr. Cpl. Austin Chunn, Cpl. David Garcia, Cpl. Valentin Tellez III.
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
Cpl. John Goodman, Cpl. Luis Eliza Jr., Cpl. Marc Lues.
3rd Marine Division
Cpl. George Okyne, Cpl. Hunter Harris, Cpl. Osiel CarrascoRodriguez.
3rd Marine Logistics Group
Cpl. Joseph Roberts.
1st Marine Division
Cpl. Axel Calvo.
|CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, JP
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