Mentoring Marines With Marital Arts
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Colton Nicks
August 20, 2021
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?
In Wolf’s 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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