Friday, December 28, 2007

Marines teach martial arts to Maldivians

Six Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructors and one instructor trainer from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) recently trained soldiers from the 20th Special Task Force, Maldives National Defence Force, here.

The MNDF soldiers from the island nation got a rare opportunity to build their martial arts skills and warrior ethos by learning from Marine martial arts instructors Dec. 15-22.
Sgt. Gustavo Terrazas, a MCMAP instructor trainer and Santa Ana, Calif. native, was tasked with tailoring an intensive martial arts course for 60 MNDF soldiers.

“I had to design a training schedule that would give them the most tools in the least amount of time,” he said.

Terrazas said he started with a tan belt base and added selected gray and green belt techniques throughout. To train their mental discipline, Terrazas taught MNDF instructors how to build a soldier’s warrior ethos.

“One thing that makes MCMAP successful is the three disciplines it contains,” Terrazas said. “They are mental, character and physical discipline, also called the MCMAP synergy. The only way to build a complete warrior is to practice all three disciplines.”
In addition to basic throws, punches and kicks, the students were introduced to boxing, pugil sticks and a cohesion room, an intense circuit training course that focuses on team work and unit cohesion.

“It was a new experience fighting the way (Marines) do,” said Sgt. Yoosuf Rasheed, a 20th STF instructor who attended the course. “The intensity of the fighting adds a different dimension to the training. The students said they found the fights realistic and gained confidence in themselves.”

The Marine instructors also threw some drills at the soldiers to challenge their abilities and push their mental and physical limits. One such drill was the cohesion room.

“The purpose of the cohesion room was to build unity within a squad and for the soldiers to be able to fight in a combat engagement when completely fatigued,” Terrazas said.
Working as a team, each individual squad had to complete a certain amount of time in the room before they could leave. If one member did not complete a specific exercise, more time was added.

“The cohesion room was a great experience and really built our mental strength,” Rasheed said. “The room worked and we really came together to do our best.”
Terrazas said he received positive feedback from the instructors at the conclusion of the training and that he is confident that they gained valuable knowledge for future MNDF soldiers.

“I know this training is going to help them,” Terrazas said. “All the NCO’s I’ve talked to already have plans to implement things we have taught them into their training.”

**For more information about the 11th MEU (SOC) visit their website at