GULFPORT, Miss (NNS) -- Marines from Martial Arts Center of Excellence (MACE) based in Quantico, Va. traveled to Gulfport to train Seabees from three Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB) March 24 through April 18.
This is the first time Navy personnel have received training in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP).
"We came down here to train these Seabees to become Marine Corps martial arts instructors," said Marine Cpl. George Lockhart, a MACE instructor. "They are the tip of the spear and the first non-Marine personnel to receive this kind of instruction."
"This is a good learning experience for us," said Builder 3rd Class Raymond Ratcliff, a Seabee assigned to NMCB 7. "We're the first Navy personnel to be taught to be MCMAP instructors. This course really builds you up physically and mentally. It's painful, but definitely worth it in the end."
The MCMAP course includes various levels and areas of instruction, ranging from field exercises to daily discussions.
"This course trains in three ways: physical, mental and character," said Lockhart. "Every aspect of these three things is important. You need all three to survive. You might be physically strong, but if you're mentally weak, you can't adapt or withstand the rigors of this course and we'd have to drop you. It's a very tough course and we set the standards high with each class."
Part of the four-week MCMAP course is obtaining the various belts associated with the Marine martial arts.
"The usual course is only three weeks, but the participants generally have their grey belts already," explained Lockhart. "These Seabees are being trained from the beginning. First, they have to acquire their tan belt, then their grey belt. From there, we train them to the green belt level."
Following the green belt achievement, the Seabees will aim for their tan stripe on the green belt.
"The tan stripe on the green belt symbolizes that they can be instructors up to that level," described Lockhart.
The Seabees originally had 23 participants in the program with 17 expected to graduate.
"This group has far exceeded our expectations. We set the bar high and told them that the first day. They met our challenge head on. These guys normally don't work together, yet they came united and worked together as a team the whole way. That's why they're succeeding so well. We have a lot of confidence in these guys," said Lockhart.
"This has been a great program," said Utilitiesman 3rd Class Jonathan Cox, a Seabee from NMCB 133. "I've learned a great deal about not only the physical material, but also the mental and character aspects associated with the training. We see what each of us have and don't have, while learning how to put it all together. When we're pushed to the physical limit, our mind kicks in to push us further than we've gone before. That, coupled with our teamwork, brings us closer together and teaches us how to tap into the resources each of us has."
The MCMAP participants are scheduled to graduate April 18 at Naval Construction Battalion Center located in Gulfport.
"It's been a pleasure training the Seabees," said Lockhart. "It's a good thing to see the Navy and Marine Corps training one another and building close-knit ties with each other. Good things come from such partnerships."
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb7/.