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Retired Lt. Col. Joe Shusko, deputy director of Martial Arts Center of Excellence, tells war stories to remind Marines about the importance of character following physical training during a three-week Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor’s course July 22 in Raider Hall at The Basic School.

Photo by Ida Irby

Art of Lethal Hands and Sound Minds

30 Jul 2015 | Ida Irby Marine Corps Base Quantico

The Marine Corps Marital Arts Program (MCMAP) is the primary school for close quarters defense in the Marine Corps, where service members of all branches to include international servicemembers have trained and grown as leaders.

A unique and disciplined group of Marines recently attended the three-week MCMAP Instructors Course at the Martial Arts Center of Excellence (MACE) starting July 13, where they earned the qualification to instruct up to their belt level.

“Developing synergy as a Marine is the main concept taught here,” said Sgt. Carey Edwards, an instructor trainer.

“Remaining physically fit, mentally strong and of good moral character are the tools that our graduates leave with which will help them to be leaders of Marines in their career.”

Marines acquire training in MCMAP which can be lethal; but it’s not only about fighting, instead each session gives a lesson in character and responsibly.

“We want the Marines here to learn to do the right things for the right reasons,” said Staff Sgt. Lawanda Ruiz, an instructor trainer.

According to 2nd Lt. Matthew C. Newhouse, a student in the course, toughness and moral courage are part of his daily life as a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles.

“This course is the most challenging thing I’ve ever been though; and I love it,” said Newhouse, Marine Corps reservist.

“Each time you learn a technique you do a tie in of the core values — honor, courage and commitment. The course is great because not only do you grow physically stronger, but you also learn to be a better Marine and a better person in life.”

Many techniques become outdated and are improved upon each cycle to make them safer and more effective so they can be utilized in real life situations.

One such tool is the obstacle course. More than 40 years ago, the obstacle course was developed for integrated full body sustainment training; today it remains an essential tool for combat conditioning and building team comradely for MCMAP. Each Marine relentlessly surged through the course at battle speed, although a fatigue body may possibly will them to quit or slow down.

“The mind often weakens under fatigue,” said Ruiz. “We help [Marines] push past mental barriers to accomplish the mission to develop ethical warriors and strong leaders.”

Under a shaded tree, the group gathered while being mentored by retired Lt. Col. Joe Shusko, deputy director of the MACE, who used the old folk tale of a mule being buried alive to tie in the theme — never quit.

Marine Corps Base Quantico