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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Martial arts molds Marine

By Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | December 01, 2011

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif, -- When one Marine began wrestling in grade school, he never thought one day he would take his mat skills into the Marine Corps.

Corporal Chris Galliher, from Spokane, Wash., earned a place on the Marine Corps Fight Team with those skills and now aspires to become a black belt instructor trainer.

To help prepare himself for the seven-week instructor trainer course in Quantico, Va., Galliher trains at an on-base gym every day during lunch and after work before attending daily jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts classes at a gym in town. 

Galliher continues to better himself in every aspect of fighting, from technique repetition to cardio training despite his coach’s belief that he is over-training.

“Your brute strength will only take you so far,” said Galliher. “You have to be well rounded.”

In July 2010, he was introduced to the varsity grappling coach of the Marine Corps Fight Team. With six years of wrestling under his belt, Galliher headed to the training facility in San Mateo, Calif., where he received orders to spend the next six months as part of the Marine Corps Fight Team.

The team unofficially started back in 2005, but didn’t receive official endorsement until May 2006 from Marine Corps Community Services.

With intense daily training and competitions scheduled every weekend, Galliher compared those six months of Marine Corps training to two years of training in a civilian gym.

The Marine Corps helped Galliher to hone his MMA skills, as well as introduce him to a new style of fighting: Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

MCMAP is a combat system developed by the United States Marine Corps to combine existing and new hand-to-hand and close-quarter combat techniques with morale and team-building functions and instruction in what the Marine Corps calls the “Warrior Ethos.”

Forming unit cohesion and combat efficiency are two main goals of MCMAP, but increasing confidence and leadership abilities in Marines are large factors as well.

“You sweat and bleed with the Marines you train with,” said Galliher. “There’s a strong bond built from that, and I know these guys have my back.”

Whether competing in grappling or pankration tournaments, the fight team took Galliher all over California, and even to Las Vegas.

“That was one of the best things I’ve gotten to do for the Marine Corps,” said Galliher. “It boosts your skill level so much.”

It’s been five months since Galliher’s time with the fight team ended. He now works as a postal clerk with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Camp Pendleton.

As a corporal of Marines, Galliher must have the necessary leadership skills to not only lead his junior Marines, but to lead his peers and friends by example.

“Advancing in martial arts inspired him to push himself to do bigger and better things,” said Brandon Collins, fellow martial artist who has trained with Galliher for the past year.

After returning from his upcoming deployment in March to Afghanistan, Galliher hopes to attend the MCMAP Instructor Course in Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

Completing the black belt course will not only increase his MMA skills, but also provide him with the ultimate skill set should he ever redeploy and engage in hand-to-hand combat, said Galliher.

“When you’re in country, it doesn’t matter if you know MMA or MCMAP,” said Galliher. “If you run out of ammo, you just have to be ready to utilize ground combat skills.”

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