CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Four mixed martial arts fighters, commonly known as the MMA Cage Crusaders, joined with Armed Forces Entertainment and Marine Corps Community Services Entertainment to hold a clinic to help Marines prepare to fight and win battles at the House of Pain Sept. 6 aboard Camp Hansen.
Gray Maynard, Jorge Rivera, Mari Muniz and C.B. Dollaway have been touring across the Pacific, giving back to the military community through MMA clinics. MMA is a full-contact combat sport that allows both striking and grappling, while standing and on the ground, utilizing techniques from different forms of martial arts and combat sports. The clinic allowed Marines to refresh and learn new fighting techniques, bettering them as warriors.
The MMA fighters made a point to meet with Marines aboard different bases throughout Okinawa, spending time learning about the unique lifestyle of the Marine Corps.
“The Marines aboard Camp Foster and Camp Kinser got to share what they do on a day-to-day basis [with] the MMA fighters,” said Rileigh M. Head, the MCCS entertainment coordinator. “Then the MMA fighters showed the Marines what they do on a day-to-day basis, teaching fighting fundamentals and sharing knowledge about training.”
The MMA fighters mixed wrestling and jujitsu techniques demonstrating and teaching a total of six fighting moves throughout the hour-and-a-half clinic.
“Our military does so much for us, I just wanted to give back,” said Gray Maynard, an American mixed martial arts fighter, currently in the Featherweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “We are here to roll with them, give hands on experience and make them better warfighters.”
This clinic taught Marines new techniques that could give them a leg up against the enemy and each other, according to Head. In addition to the regular training Marines receive in unarmed combat, weapons of opportunity, and rifle and bayonet techniques, this clinic allowed Marine’s to hone their skills in various fighting techniques.
“It is important for the Marines to be warfighters, always training and always ready for the mission at hand, but I think that this opportunity also lets them have fun, release pent up stress, and do something a little different in their down time,” said Head. “It balances work and play.”
After each period of demonstration, the Marines were encouraged to practice the new moves. Many Marines found the MMA techniques to be challenging and needed to practice multiple times in order to efficiently execute the various chokes.
“Practices like this ensure that you can protect yourself and stop the threat,” said Cpl. Jacob H. Camacho, an infantry assault Marine and demolition specialist with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment which is currently assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “I respect anyone who comes out and gives their time but I especially respected the hands on learning. People learn all different ways. In my opinion, when someone shows you it’s always better, I like doing it myself it helps with muscle memory.”
They taught chokes such as: the guillotine choke, darce choke, triangle choke and a Peruvian necktie choke. The fighters ensured the Marines had enough time to practice with each move making them more confident in their abilities.
“For Marines this helps keep them stay on their toes,” said Maynard. “Confidence is everything. Understanding who you are and what you can take and give is vital. The confidence carries over into work and into warfighting. I’m honored to take a couple days out of my life to help share what I know.”