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Officers duke it out

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — Student officers in Company A at The Basic School conducted martial arts-based training Nov. 18 on Landing Zone 7.


11/19/2009 By Lance Cpl. Lucas G. Lowe, Marine Corps Base Quantico

Referred to as “LZ drills” in the TBS training matrix, the day consisted of body sparring, ground fighting using Marine Corps Martial Arts Program techniques, combat conditioning exercises and, of course, pugil sticks.

Instructors from the Martial Arts Center for Excellence instructed the officers in each training area and supervised their performance.

“The purpose of LZ drills is to allow the lieutenants to meet their training requirement hours for pugil sticks,” said Sgt. Matthew D. Lankenau, a martial arts instructor trainer at the MACE. “They train in groups of different MCMAP belt levels. For some, they’re working on getting their tan belts.”

Whether the lieutenants were getting their first taste of MCMAP or sustaining their skills, all six platoons in the company got an equal dose of combat conditioning.

The team-building exercises forced the Marines to work in unison toward a common goal.

“Here the officers learn to work together as a team,” said Lankenau. “Each event has its own underlying purpose.”

The officers in training are used to overcast conditions and low temperatures by now. Morale is not hard to maintain for them.

“We keep ourselves motivated by relying on each other,” said 2nd Lt. Chris Norgren, a student officer with sixth platoon. “If we all go through it together, it’s not so bad. Today is our final sparring sessions before some of us test out for the first time. It’s a good time, really.”

The lieutenants’ motivation took the form of loud chanting as they gathered around the octagonal pit where Marines went one-on-one with the pugil sticks. Many considered their time in the octagon the main event of LZ drills. Officers roared with approval each time someone was struck to the ground by a fatal head blow.

“We’re getting an understanding of the combat mindset Marines are expected to have on the battlefield,” said 2nd Lt. Thomas Flinn, a student officer with third platoon. “It’s a competitive atmosphere where we go up against our peers. This is necessary, because, regardless of MOS, we’re all Marines, which means we’re all warfighters.”