Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA --
As sweat leaked from the brows of 10 Marine Corps Martial
Arts Program (MCMAP) trainee instructors, a grit was being forged that could
not be replicated without the determination of brothers and sisters of the
Corps joining together to receive the imparted wisdom of Marines past and
The seminar was the second in a training and lecture series
designed by Headquarters and Service Battalion (H&S Bn.) at Yale Hall, in
which Marines were taught the basics of Muay Thai, also known as Thai
Leading the training exercise were civilians Miguel Marcano,
Muay Thai instructor and retired Marine Maj. Kelly Grissom, grappling
instructor of KOA Martial Arts of Stafford, Virginia.
Martial Arts Training Instructors Staff Sgt. Carlos Perez and
Staff Sgt. Rodrigo Davalos were also present helping their fellow Marines hone
their Muay Thai technique.
With the writ of approval from Col. Todd Oneto, commanding
officer of H&S Bn., and the vision of Capt. Matthew Skala, commanding
officer of Tenant Activities Company (TACo) and student of Kelly, the seminar
was held to help produce resiliently lethal and well-composed Marine leaders.
“These Marines need to learn about various styles of mixed
martial arts and use the many resources at their disposal if they wish to truly
create a positive influence on their fellow Marines,” Skala said.
Skala believes by inviting two experienced fighters, Kelly
and Marcano aboard base, that it would encourage the Marines to learn how to teach
and lead their units more effectively.
“How do you encourage Marines to move forward, to do better
and improve themselves?” asked Perez, martial arts training instructor. “This
is a leadership course and we are here to train well-rounded warriors to go out
and train their units in an effective manner, which will further emphasize the
warrior ethos—the building of mental and physical character developed through
leadership and teamwork.”
According to Perez, these classes are meant to produce a
combined sense of control, composure and character in Marines that can be taken
into potentially dangerous or unfamiliar combat and humanitarian efforts.
“It is by teaching leadership and tolerance through natural
physical discipline that the Corps can be strengthened,” Perez said.
recalled his time in the Marines and time spent in MCMAP and believes beyond
discipline, martial arts has the tendency to shape the Marines’ perspective of
their mission and enemy.
“There is nothing like martial arts as it is the highest
level of physicality that a person can experience,” Kelly said. “Whether it is
grappling or kickboxing, a fighter lays witness to a level of violence that
pushes a person outside of their comfort level and in many circumstances, be it
momentary or permanent, and forces the martial artist to face their mortality.”
According to Kelly, it is the feeling of air escaping the
lungs during a rear-naked-choke, the gradual extension of a joint nearing its
breaking point or even the contact of bare knuckles to flesh, in which a
fighter begins to enter an emotional space that makes them believe they can be
hurt or killed.
Kelly believes that it is this very fear—combat under stress–that
will determine the survival of the fittest.
It is H&S Bn.’s expectation to continue training an
elite, courageous and committed war-fighting regiment of Marines and sailors
ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.
With honor for their Corps and country, Kelly believes that
to truly achieve combat readiness, it requires a high level of commitment to
training for combat readiness through the use of the tools and mentorship at a
“Muay Thai is just one of many fighting styles practiced
across the world,” Kelly said. “If we want MCMAP to continue being a successful
program then we need to show our Marines new skills—especially those within the
Muay Thai Instructor Marcano, a friend and colleague of
Kelly, held a similar view in regard to training new skills as he was driven to
improve himself at any expense.
Marcano is the son of a Marine and wanted to follow in his
father’s footsteps by serving the Corps and country; however, his path ended up
Marcano honors his father’s legacy by traveling all around
the world learning and training in new martial arts styles in pursuit of
self-improvement and it was this wisdom that he wished to impart on the
“The Marines were really receptive to the art of Muay Thai
and it was a pleasure training America’s finest in new techniques that will
improve their capabilities as martial artists and leaders,” Marcano said. “It
is important that they find new ways to train to increase their success level,
so when they bring these styles back to their units they can use this knowledge
to build mentally and physically tougher Marines.”
According to Marcano, mixed martial arts are character
builders which drive a person to their limit and for the Marines he taught,
they were on a journey to their own self-improvement.
“My path has been a series of ups, downs, sideways and
circles, but I know this is what I want to be doing because I want to improve
myself by making myself and others better,” Marcano said. “If I can make
someone else better by welcoming them alongside my journey then it is
Nevertheless, while the seminars are in their trial period,
Capt. Skala hopes MCMAP will be able to host events quarterly to add additional
training to the existing hand-to-hand and close quarter’s combat standards,
thus creating more versatile Marines.