MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Service members gathered at the Ironworks sports courts to learn basic strikes, kicks and grappling techniques from professional mixed martial arts fighters in an MMA Clinic, May 22, 2013.
Professional MMA fighters Anthony Njokuani, Todd Duffee, Matthew Brown and Kurt W. Shrout came to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, as part of the Armed Forces Entertainment Tour.
Shrout, a former enlisted Marine, 41 years old and native of Denver, Colo., started boxing at the age of 11, which led him to furthering his fighting knowledge in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“I was a really aggressive kid,” said Shrout. “My dad, who was an international Judoka (a Judo participant), tried to find something that appealed to me, and that was boxing.”
Shrout is now an MMA instructor and a competitive Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter and also has fought professional bouts in Muay Thai.
Being a former enlisted Marine, Shrout said he knows what it’s like being overseas and wants to give back to his brothers.
“When I was in, it didn’t matter who it was that came to visit us, it was exciting,” said Shrout. “Now I’m in a position where I can provide some of that back, so anytime I get invited or asked to do a tour, I always do it.”
Shrout has one main goal to get across when doing MMA tours for service members.
“The big thing is just for people to know that, we miss you guys, love you guys, and we’re excited for when you come home,” said Shrout.
Marines take pride in doing things bigger than themselves and Shrout understands this and said he wants to continue that as a civilian.
“There are very few times in life where you get to do things bigger than yourself,” said Shrout. “The military has a ton of missions that are based off of doing things bigger than one’s own self.”
Sergeant Justin T. Perez, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 administrative clerk, was a former boxer on the Marine Corps All-Star Boxing Team in 2004 and attended the MMA grappling session.
Although Perez’s fighting experience comes from boxing, he participated in the grappling session for a specific reason.
“I wanted to come see where I was at physically when it came to fighting an (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighter,” said Perez.
Marines are a combat ready force and Perez believes it’s important for Marines to attend events like this because it can help with combat readiness.
“It’s a base of fighting and it establishes a group of people that can be physically fit,” said Perez. “It provides situations for close quarter combat that can help you out.”
In the Marine Corps, teamwork and unit cohesion are essential. In MMA, the same aspects come into play when it comes down to training.
“The environment around it brings people together,” said Perez.
Throughout the training, sweating, and hard work the MMA fighters were here to show their support to the military and left service members with memories and stories to tell.