Marine Corps Martial Arts Tan Belt - Upper Body Strikes

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Marine Corps Martial Arts Tan Belt - Upper Body Strikes

This section focuses on tan belt techniques used by the Marine Corps martial arts program. This page examines the upper body strikes used in the Marine Corps martial arts program. Information from Public Domain Document, MCRP 3-02B, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP).

For more Marine Corps techniques, please visit the main Marine Corps Martial Arts Program section.

Upper Body Strikes

The purpose of upper body strikes is to stun the aggressor or to set him up for a follow up finishing technique. Strikes are unarmed individual striking techniques that are performed with the arms and legs as personal weapons. The hands, forearms, and elbows are individual weapons of the arms and can be used to execute strikes including the hammer fist, knife hand, chin jab, eye gouge, and elbow strikes. These strikes provide a variety of techniques that can be used in any type of close combat encounter.


Regardless of the strike, there are several principles of execution that ensure its effectiveness.

Generating Power

In executing an effective strike, it is important to generate maximum power through weight transfer:

  • Rotate the hips and shoulders into the attack.
  • Move your body mass straight forward or backwards in a straight line.
  • Drop your body weight into an aggressor. Body mass can be transferred into an attack from high to low or from low to high.

Muscular Tension

There should be muscular tension in the hand and forearm at the moment of impact to maximize damage to the aggressor and to avoid injury to your hand. The arms are relaxed until the moment of impact.

Follow Through

A strike should be delivered so that the weapon such as the hand, or the elbow, hits and remains on the impact target and follows through the target. This technique will inflict maximum damage to the aggressor:

  • Strikes with the arms are executed with heavy hands, which means that the strike is executed by driving through with the strike to allow the weight of the hand to go through the primary target area of the body.
  • Contact on an aggressor should be made with the arm slightly bent, the arm extends as it moves through the target.
  • Using this technique, strikes do not have to be executed at full force to be effective.


Your movement will put you in the proper position for launching an attack against your aggressor as well as to help protect yourself. Movement is initiated from the basic warrior stance and ends with returning to the basic warrior stance. Each strike can be performed with either the left or right arm depending upon—

  • Your angle of attack.
  • The position of the aggressor.
  • The available vulnerable target areas exposed on the aggressor.

Target Areas of the Body

For each strike, there are target areas on the body: abdominals, ribs, kidneys, chest, and head. A strike to these areas can cause maximum damage to an aggressor. Strikes use gross motor skills as opposed to fine motor skills. The target areas of the body are just that, areas. pinpoint accuracy on a specific nerve is not needed for the strike to be effective.

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  1. Information from Public Domain Document, MCRP 3-02B, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP),, Added - 02/18/15

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