- We got an inside look at how United States Marine Corps recruits are trained to fight with bayonets in basic training.
- Senior video correspondent Graham Flanagan spent five days at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, SC, where he observed various stages of training.
- Recruits train with real bayonets, which consist of a blade mounted onto the barrel of an M16 rifle.
- To safely simulate hand-to-hand combat using bayonet techniques, recruits fight each other with padded “pugil sticks.”
- Separated by weight class, the recruits aim to land a “killing blow” on their opponent by striking them with the red side of the pugil stick.
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Following is a transcript of the video.Narrator: These Marine Corps recruits are fighting with pugil sticks used to simulate hand-to-hand combat with bayonets.Martial arts instructor: You suck! Strip and go to the penalty box now. That’s what I’m talking about!Recruit: Aye, aye, sir!Instructor: That’s what I’m talking about!Recruit: Aye, aye, sir!Instructor: Run away!Narrator: Here at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island South Carolina, recruits train with real bayonets comprised of a blade mounted on the barrel of an M16 rifle.Drill instructor: Next station!SSgt Darrin Hill: A bayonet’s used in close combat situations with the enemy if they’re too close for you to actually fire or you have to engage them quick, or you actually run out of ammunition.Recruit: Marine Corps! Marine Corps! Marine Corps! Marine Corps!Hill: Pugil sticks is a way for them to implement those techniques that they learned for bayonet without actually causing permanent damage to the opponent.Narrator: Before they suit up to fight, a martial arts instructor briefs the recruits on the objectives of the training. Recruits: Aye, sir.Martial arts instructor: The first thing we want to see is that straight thrust, you understand?Recruits: Yes, sir!Hill: Here in the Marine Corps we have kind of a little ditty that means, “red is dead.” So, that red side is supposed to emulate the actual knife portion of the actual bayonet. If you cut somebody or stab someone with that side on an actual bayonet, 9 times of 10 are either gonna be incapacitated or laid to rest.Narrator: Before the recruits match up, two instructors provide an example. Recruits are separated by weight class.Drill instructor: I’m gonna call out weights. When I call out your weight you’re gonna get in one formation. 225 and above, run right now.Drill instructor: Run!Drill instructor: 195.Drill instructor: Put it on. Recruit: Aye, sir!Narrator: Along with mouth guards, recruits wear helmets, protective gloves, and padding for the upper and lower body.Hill: A Pugil stick is just comprised of either a wood or a plastic log that’s about five to six feet long. It has padding on either end of the pugil stick as well as in the centre. It’s just a big Q-tip if you will. The objective is actually to get well aimed, purposeful shots in on the opponent. We usually try to blow the whistle after a killing blow which is identified by that red side striking the opponent. You get that killing blow, you win the bout.Narrator: Each contest has a winner and a loser.Martial arts instructor: That’s what I’m talking about.Recruit: Aye, aye, sir!Martial arts instructor: That’s what I’m talking about.Recruit: Aye, aye, sir!Instructor: Run away!Narrator: While the winner is praised, the loser must pay an additional price, which drill instructors describe as going to the penalty box.Drill instructor: Your still not screaming!Recruits: Aye, sir.Drill instructor: I said open up your mouth!Hill: That’s just basically a series of planking positions that they will hold for no longer than 30 seconds.Drill instructor: We’ll stay here all day then!Recruits: Aye, sir.Drill instructor: We don’t want to scream!Recruits: Aye, sir.Hill: There’s nothing wrong with a little extra PT to strengthen your core, whatever the case may be. We motivate ’em, get ’em back to where the need to be.Narrator: Although each fight starts on the bridge, it doesn’t always end there.Hill: Not every fight is gonna be on flat or level ground. Could be on slope, you could be on a hill, you could be in water. So if they’re only used to fighting on a level playing field and not have to worry about levels, then they’re gonna be used to that. You only build those good habits if you actually do it. The takeaway that I really want them to get is just be prepared in any situation. Just because there’s an M16 or a gun doesn’t mean that the only way you can take your enemy out is by firing a round. It’s probably one of the highlights of recruit training for them. They’re out there, they’re actually doing what they feel like they signed up to do, which is learn how to combat the enemy.