Mentoring Marines With Marital Arts
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Colton Nicks
There were two decisions tugging at U.S.
Marine Corps Cpl. Levi Wolf’s heart. Should he go the course that
would lead him to reminisce of memories with his father or a journey
that would reach and impact hundreds of Marines?
early years, his dad would hold him close while riding around his
neighborhood on a motorcycle. As Wolf was growing up, he and his
father didn’t always see eye to eye, but the love for motorcycles
was something that they could bond over.
“We had this this
big bucket helmet kind of thing,” said Wolf. “I’d put it on and it
would be like a space helmet.”
It was memories like this that
drove Wolf to begin the process of obtaining a motorcycle license.
However, after waiting months for the course, another opportunity
arose - the chance to become a Martial Arts Instructor. Wolf was
told he could start the MAI course almost immediately, and it was
something he wanted to do since recruit training.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Levi Wolf (left) a martial arts instructor (MAI) with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), assists a student with a
martial arts technique
on June 16, 2021. An MAI teaches Marines hand-to-hand combat techniques to defend against or incapacitate the enemy in combat situations. The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of the America Amphibious Ready Group in the 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Colton Nicks)
The courses overlapped; Wolf had already
been on the motorcycle license waiting list for several months, and
he didn’t want to have to restart the process. The conflicted Marine
would later seek guidance from a leader in his job field and decided
that the MAI course was the right decision.
After being an
MAI for only fourth months, Wolf has already instructed 12 courses
and trained approximately 150 Marines.
“The course was
really fun, but it was a challenge,” he said. “However, I knew my
guys back on land didn’t have the time go on a course because of
work schedules. Since being on ship, I can work around their
schedule. Although it’s a challenge for me to find the equipment and
corpsmen, it’s both fun putting it together and fun giving them that
training that otherwise they wouldn’t necessarily have the
opportunity to do.”
Wolf explains that prior to becoming an
MAI, he was not as skilled at connecting with people as he is now.
As an MAI, it has not only helped develop his character, but it has
strengthened his leadership capabilities to mentor Marines. Wolf
continues that the biggest reward is doing everything he can to help
his Marines succeed.
“The way he teaches makes me more
confident in my techniques,” said Lance Cpl. Frank Barnes, a former
student of Wolf’s. “He structures his sentences to make the
teachings more personal, and less like he is reading from a book,
which puts it in a better perspective so we understand it better.”
Barnes continues that Wolf does what he can to help his
students succeed. He provides sufficient sustainment time and pulls
those aside who don’t understand the techniques to help them one on
one. Additionally, if a Marine fails a technique on test day, Wolf
will run through it again and again until it’s understood.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Levi Wolf
(left), a martial arts instructor (MAI) with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), observes students practicing a
martial arts technique on June 16, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Colton Nicks)
Wolf’s journey in martial arts remains
unfinished. The young MAI wants to continue learning MCMAP as his
career progresses. When he is promoted to sergeant, he plans to
obtain his black belt and become a red tab instructor to teach
MAI’s. Each of his goals hold true to his desire to impact Marines
any way he can.
“I train Marines as a team and a unit,” said
Wolf. “It is important to building on their mental, physical, and
character disciplines to help develop them as an ethical warrior. I
must do everything I can to be there for them, and its rewarding to
see the development. It’s a constant reminder that I made the right
decision to become a Martial Arts Instructor.”
Cpl. Wolf is currently serving with the 31st Marine
Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS America (LHA-6). The 31st MEU is
operating aboard ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group in
the 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with
allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend
peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
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