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Face of Defense: Marine Describes Route to Becoming Martial Arts Instructor

December 26, 2017

OKINAWA, Japan, Dec. 26, 2017 — Marine Corps Cpl. Javier Carpintero, a native of El Paso, Texas, has earned instructor status in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

Carpintero, a motor vehicle operator with Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3d Marine Division here, didn’t start off with an interest in teaching martial arts.

“When I first got into the Marine Corps, I had no interest in MCMAP. I didn’t really have a background in the fighting techniques, so I didn’t even want to look into it,” he said.

Then, one of Carpintero’s noncommissioned officers, Cpl. Maira Ramirez, peaked his interest in the martial arts instructor program. “She led a gray belt course which I had to attend, and I ended up failing it the first time,” he said. “Failing made me want to study the gray belt techniques that much more, and I also wanted to make Ramirez proud because she didn’t give up on me.”

Gaining Experience

Eventually, Ramirez taught Carpintero up to the brown belt level, he said.

Carpintero was then promoted to lance corporal, and he went onto earn his black belt in February 2017.

“I remember the exact moment I earned my black belt; we had been doing MCMAP for over 2 hours,” he said. “I kept pushing, and just when I thought I wouldn’t make it, my instructor put my black belt on my chest and told me congratulations, I had earned it.”

Carpintero said MCMAP courses are rigorous and demand 100-percent focus from each individual. “I remember going through all of the courses; seeing and hearing all of the other students around me,” he said. “They were so happy to be there, even when we had been training for hours. They never gave up on their instructors and that’s what motivated me to become an instructor. I wanted to be around the constant spirit of dedication and motivation, I wanted Marines to look up to me.”

Another Promotion

Carpintero was promoted to corporal on Oct. 1, 2017. “I had been waiting on that since I was a lance corporal. Not just because it’s the next rank, not just because I would be an NCO, but because I could be a MCMAP instructor,” he said. “The very next day, I asked my leadership when the next course was and requested to be put on it.”

Carpintero was placed on the next instructor course in October 2017.

The MCMAP instructor course is a 15-day course, which includes all skills from tan belt to black belt, and then a little extra. On top of the belt techniques, the Marines perform physical training that puts them under the stress of a combat environment, such as carrying a casualty.

“The instructor course was challenging, but it really helped me become a better Marine and leader,” Carpintero said. “I felt fully prepared to be responsible for passing on the Marines’ knowledge of MCMAP techniques.”

Carpintero now spends 25 hours a week teaching Marines MCMAP skills.

“It’s tough, balancing work, personal life and being an instructor,” he said. “I sacrifice a lot of my time for the Marines in my courses, but I love it.”