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MCMAP 101: What is Marine Corps Martial Arts? (2023 Guide)

Did you know that the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) is not just about self-defense, but also about discipline, mental strength, and physical fitness? If you’ve ever been curious about learning self-defense techniques or want to challenge yourself both mentally and physically, MCMAP might be the perfect hobby for you.

In this article, we will explore the history, training, and benefits of MCMAP, as well as provide tips on how to get started.

A man demonstrating Marine Corps Martial Arts in front of a group, MCMAP

History of MCMAP

The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, also known as MCMAP, was developed by the United States Marine Corps to combine various martial arts techniques into a comprehensive self-defense system. It was officially introduced in 2001 and has since become an integral part of Marine Corps training.

Over the years, MCMAP has evolved to incorporate techniques from different martial arts disciplines, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, wrestling, and more. This evolution has made MCMAP a versatile and effective self-defense system.

Today, MCMAP is not only taught to Marines but is also available to civilians who want to learn self-defense and improve their physical fitness.

MCMAP has gained popularity beyond the military community, with many civilians embracing it as a way to learn self-defense and improve their overall fitness. There are now MCMAP training centers and classes available for civilians in various locations.

Additionally, MCMAP has become a popular choice for individuals looking to challenge themselves mentally and physically. The discipline and focus required in MCMAP training can have a positive impact on personal growth and self-confidence.

A painting of a man in a military uniform highlighting Marine Corps, MCMAP

Equipment Needed

Basic MCMAP training requires minimal equipment, typically just a uniform and a training mat. More advanced techniques may require additional gear such as boxing gloves or grappling dummies.

The cost for these items can range from $50 to $200.

Essential Equipment

  • MCMAP Uniform: A durable and comfortable uniform designed specifically for MCMAP training.
  • Mouthguard: Protects your teeth and jaw during sparring sessions.
  • Groin Protection: Essential for both male and female practitioners to ensure safety during training.
  • Hand Wraps: Provides support and protection for your hands and wrists during striking techniques.
  • Training Gloves: Cushioned gloves that allow you to practice striking techniques without causing injury.
  • Training Knife: A rubber or plastic knife used for practicing knife defense techniques.

Additional Accessories

While not mandatory, the following accessories can enhance your MCMAP training experience:

  • Focus Mitts: Padded targets held by a training partner to practice striking techniques.
  • Heavy Bag: A sturdy bag filled with sand or other materials for practicing strikes and kicks.
  • Training Dummy: A human-shaped dummy used for practicing throws, takedowns, and ground techniques.

Budget Considerations

MCMAP equipment can vary in price, depending on the brand and quality. If you’re on a tight budget, consider purchasing affordable options or looking for second-hand equipment.

Remember, the most important aspect is to ensure that the equipment is safe and suitable for training.

Where to Buy

You can find MCMAP equipment at martial arts supply stores, online retailers, and even military surplus stores.

Some popular online platforms for purchasing MCMAP equipment include Amazon, eBay, and specialized martial arts websites.

Why MCMAP a Good Hobby to Try

MCMAP offers numerous personal benefits, making it a worthwhile hobby to try:

  • Self-Defense: Learning MCMAP techniques equips you with the skills to protect yourself and others in potentially dangerous situations.
  • Physical Fitness: MCMAP training is physically demanding and can help improve strength, endurance, and overall fitness.
  • Mental Discipline: MCMAP requires focus, discipline, and mental toughness, helping you develop resilience and self-control.
  • Community: Engaging in MCMAP allows you to connect with like-minded individuals who share a passion for self-defense and personal growth.
  • Confidence: Mastering MCMAP techniques and achieving higher belt ranks can boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Two men engaged in martial arts combat in front of a dark background, MCMAP

How to Get Started

If you’re interested in getting started with MCMAP, here are some steps to guide you:

  1. Research: Start by researching MCMAP to understand its principles, techniques, and training requirements. The official Marine Corps website and reputable martial arts resources can provide valuable information.
  2. Basic Training: Consider enrolling in a basic MCMAP training course or finding a certified instructor who can teach you the fundamentals.
  3. Joining Communities: Connect with other MCMAP enthusiasts by joining online forums or local communities. These platforms can provide support, guidance, and opportunities for practice.
  4. Setting Up: Acquire the necessary equipment and create a suitable training space. Ensure you have enough room to practice techniques safely.
  5. Practical Tips: Start slowly and focus on mastering the basics before progressing to more advanced techniques. Practice regularly and listen to your body to avoid injuries.
  6. Seeking Help: If you encounter challenges or have questions, don’t hesitate to seek help from experienced practitioners or online communities dedicated to MCMAP.

DIY Tips and Tricks

If you’re looking to enhance your MCMAP experience, here are some DIY tips and tricks:

  • Cost-Saving Tips: Consider making your own training equipment, such as focus mitts or a heavy bag, to save costs.
  • Creative Ideas: Explore creative ways to practice MCMAP techniques, such as incorporating everyday objects into your training routines.
  • Tutorial Resources: Look for online tutorials or guides that provide step-by-step instructions for DIY projects related to MCMAP training.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

As with any hobby, beginners may face certain challenges when starting with MCMAP. Here are some common challenges and tips to overcome them:

Challenge 1: Physical Fitness: MCMAP training can be physically demanding, especially for beginners. Start with a proper warm-up routine, gradually increase intensity, and listen to your body to avoid overexertion.

Challenge 2: Technique Mastery: Learning MCMAP techniques requires practice and patience. Break down complex techniques into smaller components, focus on mastering each component, and gradually integrate them into full techniques.

Challenge 3: Overcoming Fear & Building Confidence

Learning self-defense techniques can be intimidating, especially for beginners. Remember that everyone starts somewhere, and it’s natural to feel nervous. Embrace the learning process, trust in your training, and gradually build your confidence through consistent practice and positive reinforcement.

Remember, challenges are part of the learning process.

Embrace them as opportunities for growth and improvement.


Here are some frequently asked questions about MCMAP:

  1. Can civilians learn MCMAP? Yes, many civilian martial arts schools offer MCMAP training.
  2. How long does it take to earn a black belt in MCMAP? It typically takes several years of dedicated training.
  3. Is MCMAP effective for self-defense? Yes, MCMAP techniques are designed to be practical and effective in real-world situations.
  4. What is the philosophy behind MCMAP? MCMAP emphasizes the development of character and mental strength, in addition to physical skills.
  5. Do I need to be in good shape to start MCMAP? While MCMAP is physically demanding, beginners of all fitness levels can start training and improve over time.

Comparisons to Other Similar Hobbies and Activities

When comparing MCMAP to other similar hobbies and activities, several factors come into play:

MCMAP vs. Traditional Martial Arts

MCMAP differs from traditional martial arts in its focus on real-world self-defense techniques and its integration of various martial arts disciplines. While traditional martial arts often emphasize forms and rituals, MCMAP prioritizes practical combat skills.

MCMAP vs. Combat Sports

Unlike combat sports such as boxing or MMA, MCMAP is not primarily focused on competitive fighting. While combat sports are centered around defeating opponents in a controlled environment, MCMAP focuses on self-defense and personal protection in real-life situations.

It’s important to consider your personal goals and preferences when choosing between MCMAP and other similar hobbies or activities.

Similar Activity

Key Features

How It Differs


Focuses on punches and footwork

Lacks the grappling and weapon techniques of MCMAP


Emphasizes throws and grappling

Does not include the striking techniques found in MCMAP

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Specializes in ground fighting and submissions

Does not include the standing techniques or weapon training of MCMAP

Muay Thai

Thai martial art known for its powerful kicks and knee strikes

Does not include the grappling or weapon techniques of MCMAP


MCMAP offers a unique blend of self-defense, physical fitness, mental discipline, and personal growth. By learning MCMAP techniques and engaging in its training, you can develop valuable skills, improve your fitness, and gain confidence. Whether you’re looking for self-defense skills or a challenging hobby, MCMAP is worth exploring.

Take the first step, join a community, or find a local training center to embark on this exciting journey.

A painting of a man in a military uniform highlighting Marine Corps