Recruits train for hand-to-hand combat

Recruits train for hand-to-hand combat

Sgt Milton D. Zavala, Platoon 2169 drill instructor, observes and loudly encourages Company H recruits to apply proper technique as they progress through chokeholds during a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training session. Recruits must learn to properly execute each exercise to earn tan belts in MCMAP; a graduation requirement. Photo by LCpl Jericho Crutcher.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego (March 3, 2014) - Recruits of Company H, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, learned Marine Corps Martial Arts Program chokes and counter techniques aboard the depot, Feb. 10.

The purpose of MCMAP is to teach the basic fundamentals of hand-to-hand combat while instilling warrior ethos in recruits.

"These MCMAP sessions help recruits familiarize with weapon offense and defense," said Sgt Erik G. Covington, drill instructor. "Every Marine is a rifleman, and Marines must know how to fight in hand-to-hand combat situations as well."

Throughout the MCMAP session, recruits learned two different chokes as well as how to defend them. The first choke taught was the blood choke, which constricts blood from entering the brain. Following the blood choke recruits were shown how to properly execute an air choke, which is used to suppress oxygen from reaching the brain. Once the MCMAP instructor felt recruits could perform the chokes, they were given a lesson on how to defend them.

After the MCMAP instructor demonstrated the techniques, recruits were ordered to file off in a formation where they were given a partner to practice the techniques with. Once recruits were partnered up, they started applying the chokes. As a safety precaution, recruits were instructed to tap out when they felt the choke was being applied correctly from their partner.  

As a training requirement, recruits must earn their tan belts in MCMAP in order to graduate. Once recruits have earned the title Marine and sent to the Fleet Marine Force they will be able to advance their belts to the next level. Belt levels include, tan, gray, green, brown and black.

To earn each belt, Marines are tested on different MCMAP moves that apply to that particular belt level. Marines will not only be tested for the belt they are attempting to obtain, but also they will be tested on their prior belts to assure they still know the techniques. Knowledge on warrior ethos is a part of the test along with showing confidence with every MCMAP move they perform.

"Marines are put in combat situations, so it is important for us to know the fundamentals of hand-to-hand combat," said Recruit Leon R. Agosto, Platoon 3210. "If I have to be in this situation on a deployment during my time in the Marine Corps, I want to be well-round trained for it."

A Marine must always have an advantage over their enemies and MCMAP is something Marines are trained in to ensure they are ready to fight, explained 19-year-old Agosto, a Denver native.

Marines of Co. H walked away from their MCMAP session with a better understanding of warrior ethos and hand-to-hand combat. is the official website of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by the Marine Corps' Division of Public Affairs.