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Marine Martial Arts, Desert-Style

Over several years of covering the U.S. military, I have sometimes encountered a particular breed of exercise enthusiast I have come to call “the scorchers.” These individuals can be spotted performing strenuous workouts at the most sweltering times of day at military bases in garden spots from Baghdad and Kandahar to Djibouti. Some jog swiftly around remote perimeters of the base, others do calisthenics in the dust and sand.

This week at Camp Leatherneck, a stretch of barbed wire, tents, concrete walls and sand-filled barriers carved out of the Desert of Death in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, I came across a new variant.

Standing in a small, sandy plot under the blistering sun, Marine 1st Lt. Matthew Frick, 25, of St. Charles, Mo., was teaching a group of Navy Seabees martial arts. “Let’s try the next move,” Frick called out cheerily. First rapidly and then in slow motion, he demonstrated with a partner how to grab, knee and toss someone who attempts to throw a punch. “Any questions?”

It was 110 degrees, and elsewhere in Helmand, Marines in combat were suffering heat casualties, but the “scorchers” were unfazed.

In T-shirts, boots and fatigues, the Seabees, working on their brown belts under the Marine Corps martial arts program, practiced enthusiastically, occasionally flipping their partner just for fun.

“These Seabees do convoy security, so they have to be able to defend themselves if something terrible happens,” Frick explained. “Fighting and sparring brings out a lot of confidence,” said Frick, who has a black belt in Marine martial arts — a mixture of judo, boxing, jujitsu, and knife fighting.

Asked about the weather, Frick only grinned. “It’s a scorching, 100-plus degree day. Beautiful, though ... ” He wasn’t even sweating.

By Ann Scott Tyson  |  July 16, 2009; 10:37 AM ET
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Thank the Lord for the United States Marines (and their brothers and sisters in the other branches of the armed forces) who defend us everyday!

Posted by: mjwies11 | July 16, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

This is the same stuff I train in. Going to be standard training in Nilitary and Armed Services.

These Marines are beginners yet see good foundation being taught. The real training will be with full gear, tossing, falling and trying to stay balanced.

Then they will do it again with a Knife..

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | July 16, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

If I needed amateurs to "defend" me, I would have been dead long ago. And as to "the Lord":

Posted by: beowulf3 | July 16, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

all these guys need is a john murtha replica stuffed with hot air for practice. or even the real thing!

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | July 16, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Whatever your politics, you gotta love the Marines like Lt. Frick who just love the Corps, their job and just being a happy warrior. This country asks so much of them; we should remember every day to see that they are taken care of while on duty, and more importantly, when their duty is over.

Posted by: bklyndan22 | July 16, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Semper Fi!

Posted by: RWalter2 | July 16, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Please, America, please please understand as this video/article demonstrate, that warfighting is strictly a MAN'S job and that a real warrior is by definition...

Posted by: JarHeadForever | July 16, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

What dictionary do you use that defines warrior by gender?


"How do you kill a jarhead?"

Glue some sand to a wall and tell him to hit the beach.

Posted by: Bush--notrelated | July 16, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Impressive and inspirational, but not much different than when I was an active Marine during the Korean era over 50 years ago. Still good to know the Corps is hard at it, still the best of the best. Semper Fi!

Posted by: bigforkj1 | July 16, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Bush--notrelated --> before you make insensitive comments like that maybe you should step back and realize that some of those "Jarheads" you are referring to are married, with families. As a Marine wife whose husband is currently serving in Helmand I find your comment highly offensive and disrespectful.

Posted by: eringarcia1 | July 16, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

WOW! We are so proud of our military! They do what most of us can't or wouldn't be willing to do. They Stand in the Gap, for us over here, so we can enjoy freedom and liberty. Awesome to be able to see them on your site - thanks.
How is it (ie;bush-nonrelated) that some see this and are angry? I don't get it...

Posted by: kcfrick | July 16, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

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