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Marine shows warrior spirit on, off duty

Date Posted: 2005-09-26

CHATAN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Spending late nights burning up keyboards with lighting fast keystrokes is the scenario many Marines may think of when the title data network specialist comes up in conversation. For one of these information warriors, his battles are not only fought in the virtual world, but also in a dimly lit and humid dojo here in Okinawa.

Lance Cpl. German Reyes, a data network specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, is one Marine with a warrior mentality who's nights are spent in a very different scene. Reyes takes full advantage of being stationed overseas by immersing himself in martial arts.

"The competition is what draws me to martial arts," the 190-pound Reyes said. "It's not barbaric at all; it's about skill and discipline. I love fighting because it's like a chess game between two men."

After wrestling in high school Reyes studied Brazilian ju-jitsu while attending the Illinois Institute of Art for graphic design in Chicago. At 20, he started his martial arts training before entering the Marine Corps.

"After wrestling in high school there is really no other route to take but to start either fighting full contact or ju-jitsu," said the windy city native. "I just happened to know someone who was into ju-jitsu, so I started going to tournaments and matches. I lost a lot at first, but then I started to get the hang of it."

Upon arriving at Okinawa, Reyes found the Kamikaze Fighting Gym near Camp Foster and began training in kickboxing as well as submission wrestling, which is similar to ju-jitsu.

Training for approximately two hours, four or five times a week, consumes a considerable amount of free time, but training so much has its benefits, explained Reyes.

"Coming to the gym is something that is relaxing and keeps me in good shape," Reyes said. "It gets me out of the barracks and gives me an opportunity to interact with the Okinawan people."

A positive and respectful personality is something that is important for a fighter, explained Hiromitsu Okunishi, Reyes' trainer.

"Reyes is a really good person inside," Okunishi said. "His aura comes out when you meet him. He is very friendly and respects and cares about others; this is very important for a person to be a good fighter."

There is added responsibility to be respectful and good-natured while living and working, as well as competitively fighting while in a host country, explained Reyes.

"It's very important that we keep a good relationship with the Okinawan people," Reyes said. "Many times, we are the only Americans they meet, so their view of America is a direct reflection of our actions."

Reyes' outgoing personality is something that not only helps him succeed while fighting inside the ring, but also at work, explained Lance Cpl. Chris Garrow, Reyes' training partner and coworker.

"He has a 'get things done' attitude," Garrow said. "He takes a leadership role in whatever he does. He just sets things up. If we are planning to go on a trip to explore something new, he is the one planning it."

Some could consider Reyes to be a fine example of the way a Marine should handle himself. By getting out and participating in activities outside the gates, he becomes an even greater asset to the Marine Corps by setting a good example in Okinawa.

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