Suffolk native Waterfield trains Marine Corps martial arts instructors

Published 9:22 pm Monday, July 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Cpl. Arianna Lindheimer 

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

“Seeing the ability of the Marines from training day one all the way to training day 15 on graduation day is one of the most amazing feelings I have as an MAI/T (Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Trainer),” said U.S. Marine Corps GySgt. David A. Waterfield Jr., Marine Corps Aircraft Rescue and Firefighter Specialist Training Chief, Aircraft Rescue Firefighting, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay. 

Email newsletter signup

Waterfield, a native of Suffolk, is currently the lead trainer for Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Course 1-23, which graduated on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, June 12, following the successful completion of the course’s culminating event on June 9.

MCMAP is a synergy of mental, character and physical disciplines, and is in concert with Marine Corps leadership principles. Training in these three disciplines enhances Marines both on and off the battlefield. As an MAI Trainer, Waterfield prepares the future instructors through intense physical and mental training.

“My favorite part of the course is the culminating event,” Waterfield said. “It brings the entire class together and reiterates everything the instructors have been preaching daily over the last three weeks.”

Successful completion of an MAI course certifies Marines to instruct and monitor Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training and advance Marines in the program, distinguishing varied levels of experience with different colored belts.

Upon graduating, the students of class 1-23 earned the Military Occupational Specialty of 0916, Martial Arts Instructor. However, in order to become a Martial Arts Instructor Trainer, MOS 0917, Marines must attend the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Instructor Trainer course at the Martial Arts and Fitness Center of Excellence in Quantico. 

To become an MAI/T, Marines must demonstrate expertise in all areas encompassed within MCMAP, including physical, mental, and character disciplines. Applicants must have a passion for service in the Marine Corps as well as MCMAP, as it intends to challenge applicants both physically and mentally, making it essential for them to constantly remind themselves why they are there. 

“When I was an MAI the other instructors made a huge impact on me,” Waterfield said. “Every day training, they always had me eager to be successful with the tie-ins and warrior studies we do, and I wanted to emulate them.”

This impact is what drove Waterfield to want to become an MAI/T. However, there were many moments through the MAFCE course that pushed him to his mental and physical limits.

“When I went to the MAFCE I had to get my stamina back,” Waterfield said. “I was used to running all the time as a drill instructor, but this was a different challenge.”

However, with the three disciplines instilled through MCMAP he was able to push through even the toughest moments.

“The thing that made me not want to quit when things got tough was to train my mind to never want to give up and keep pushing,” Waterfield said. “If I could trick my mind to tell me I could keep going, I could push through anything.”

Since becoming an MAI/T two years ago, Waterfield has run five courses. He shares the most rewarding moment of each course is being able to hand the students their tab at the end of the culminating event and see them progress in their careers.

“If I could tell my students one thing, it is not about them anymore, it never has been,” Waterfield said. “Just like you learn as a recruit, and just like you learn as a Marine. It is not about a shirt and a cert; it is about going out there, developing, training, and properly mentoring the Marines to your left and right.”


Reprinted courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.