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History of the Marine Corps Martial Art Program

Mack Corbin

Caution:The contents of this article are for education purposes only. The principles described are extremely dangerous and are for military close combat training and operations only. Their application applies solely to the military.

USMC 1st Sgt Mack Corbin

The mission of the United States Marine Corps in combat is to close with, and destroy the enemy, by fire and maneuver, and assault by fire and close combat.

A Marine has always been feared by his aggressiveness and his lack of fear to everything around him, no matter the environment, the enemy, or the task.

Knife Disarming Technique

Knife Disarming Technique

Knife Disarming Technique

Knife Disarming Technique

Knife Disarming Technique

Knife Disarming Technique

All of this is instilled into a Marine the first day he or she steps foot on Parris Island or San Diego for Recruit Training, where they are introduced to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) along with other Marine Corps military subjects that will prepare them for future combat.

The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program has gone through many changes through the years. The Marine Corps was born during the battles that created this country upon the experiences of the first Marines. The Marines Corps has developed a martial arts program unrivaled in the world today. This legacy includes not only our fighting also the character and soul of what makes us unique as Marines.

Beginning with the Continental Marines who were renowned as sharpshooters in the rigging of Naval Ships, to their skills as boarding and landing parties where the rifle, sword, and bayonets were the tools of their trade. Marines have continued to develop and hone their skills through the years. Prior to and during World War I, the skill of the bayonet was supplemented with the first training in unarmed techniques to meet the challenges of trench Warfare. Marines such as Drexel Biddle developed and taught bayonet and close combat techniques based upon fencing, boxing and wrestling. During the inter-war years, Major Biddle and others such as Lieutenants Yeaton, Moore, and Taxis, Captains W.M. Greene and Samuel B. Griffith all trained Marines and worked on developing effective programs for their units. Many of these men were influenced by their experiences while stationed with China Marines in Shanghai. This influence included the techniques of Fairbairn and Sykes.

During these early years the leadership and core values training that are our hallmark today developed in concert with the martial skills. Guided by leaders, the Marine Corps developed a spirit that we know today as Honor, Courage, and, Commitment.

This Training continued to evolve up to World War II. Those who had taught the inter-war years were joined by Marines such as Captain Stephen Stavers and Corporal John J. Styers. As World War II burst upon the Corps, individuals and units were developing specialized training based upon the experiences of Marines from the inter-war years, this included exposure by Marines that were stationed overseas, who had the opportunity to study far eastern martial arts systems such as judo, karate, and jujitsu. Additionally, the techniques of Major Dermot O'Neill and Lieutenant Colonel Rex Applegate were introduced to Marine units and all of these were employed by Marines during the Island Hopping Campaigns. Additionally, the rapid expansion of the Marine Corps saw a refinement to our character and leadership programs.

After the Vietnam War the Marine Corps saw a need to make changes and develop a new martial arts system. 1980 the Marine Corps developed the LINE System (Linear Infighting Neurological Overriding Engagement). The Line System, developed MSgt Donvito was a response to a perceived need for a standardized close combat system, was an important step in the evolution of a Marine Corps specific martial art. The concept of the LINE system was that when attacked the defender would destroy the enemy's attack by manipulating joints, breaking joints, and damaging nerves. The pain that was inflicted on the enemy would cause his Central Nervous System to go into break down, disrupting all continuous thought process.

Chin Jab

Elbow Strike

The LINE and its descendants continue to grow and develop over the past 20 years. In 1996, a review of the LINE system was conducted on how effective it was from lessons learned and due to the mission of the Marine Corps constantly changing from high tempo combat operations to Missions Other Than War (MOTW), and peace keeping missions, there was need for a new system that would adapt to different situations. A Marine would not defuse a potential conflict in peacetime the same way that he would in a hostile combat environment. General Jones the Commandant of the Marine Corps at that time, gave specific orders on his vision of a Martial Art Combat Program, as well as other programs outside the Marine Corps that would best fit the needs of the Corps. General Jones wanted a martial art program that could be use in any environment, terrain, or situation. His vision was also was that he wanted something that would keep the Marine natural competitive nature fueled. His vision was to have Marines qualify for different belt rankings from Tan, Grey, Green, Brown, and Black. General Jones chose 10 subject matter experts from numerous martial arts disciplines to develop the Marine Corps Close Combat Program currently used by the Marine Corps. From this testing and evaluation is the result of the martial art program currently used by the Marine Corps today.

Mack the Knife, 2002, Thailand on a Specialist Combative course.

Mack the Knife, 2002, Thailand on a Specialist Combative course.

Tank and Mack the Knife.

Tank and Mack the Knife.

About The Author:

1stSgt Mack Corbin currently is assigned to II MEF, 8th Comm Bn, Bravo Company, forward deployed in Iraq. 1stSgt Corbin has been in the Marine over twenty years. 1Sgt Corbin attended Marine Corps Drill Instructor at Parris Island, after graduation was to 3rd Bn India Company as Drill Instructor, Senior Drill Instructor 1993 to 1995. During his tour on Parris Island attended Close Combat Instructor School, Quantico VA, where he graduated number 1. While assigned as a Close Combat Instructor, trained over 2000 recruits and trained various police departments Close Combat Skills. While stationed on Okinawa Japan, 2000 attended the Marine Corps Martial Art Instructor Course where he was certified as a Black Belt Martial Art Instructor, 2002 attended Special Forces Combatives Instructor held in Thailand, finishing number 1, with the fastest hands award. Has studied various other Martial Arts disciplines while stationed in Okinawa Japan a total of six years, Gojuru, Shoinru, Ishinru, and JuJitsu. Also while stationed in Okinawa trained and certified over 1000 Marines and sailors. While deployed in the Kingdom of Thailand, trained and certified Thai Marines in self defense tactics.

USMC 1st Sgt Mack Corbin

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