HIROSHIMA, Japan -- U.S. Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, traveled to the TK Training Center to participate in the Duamau Tournament, a jiu jitsu competition, in Hiroshima, Japan, Feb. 5, 2017.
Jiu jitsu is an art of weaponless fighting which employs holds and throws to subdue or disable an opponent.
The Marines displayed their hard work and dedication to the sport through competition in their respective weight classes against Japanese locals who they have formed bonds with.
“This was to test all our hard work and time we put in on the mat,” said U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Marcos Martinez, expeditionary fire rescue staff noncommissioned officer in charge with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “We do this as a recreational sport, and the competitions are our test to see development.”
While testing progression, the Marines also get a chance to experience and familiarize themselves with the Japanese culture.
"It’s different,” said Martinez. “It’s great to get out and immerse yourself into the Japanese culture through a sport that has its own language. You don’t need to speak Japanese to compete and train with the Japanese. You learn a lot about people and their character through this sport.”
Even through the competitive bouts, Marines and locals give recognition to each other’s efforts and create ties that carry past their matches.
“When you join a jiu jitsu family it's more than being a part of a gym,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Arial Fitzner, postal clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “It becomes a brother or sisterhood. Training and competing with the locals brings us closer together. We shed blood, sweat and tears together, and we develop a special bond that people who don't train would not understand.”
Jiu jitsu is a sport that teaches competitors to respect their opponents and build on the differences.
“I’ve gained a lot of friends,” said Martinez. “Some of the guys I’ve trained with in Hiroshima happen to be part of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. They’ve taught me a lot about the culture and have been very hospitable when inviting me to their homes for family events.”
The Marines train hard to win and be the best but keep an open mind in applying jiu jitsu where they can.
“Our mission is to teach life lessons,” said Martinez. “In jiu jitsu you face times where you are put in positions that you have to fight through, which may seem impossible. You find that if you push hard enough you can get past it. In life there are always obstacles stopping us, and taking what you’ve learned through jiu jitsu and applying it to life can help you see past the struggles.”