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By Pat Lisi/Southern Utah Vets Aid

Back in the 60’s when I went through Marine Corps recruit training, we were taught very basic hand-to-hand fighting techniques.  The instructors had half of our group use short sections of cut-off garden hoses as ‘knives’, and the other half of the recruits were handed “pugil sticks” to simulate a rifle with bayonet attached.  We’d then form two lines at random and face off in mock fighting.  Sometimes it was ‘knife’ vs ‘rifle and bayonet’; sometimes is was ‘rifle vs rifle’; and at times the two combatants would both be armed with a ‘knife’.   The sparring matches would run all afternoon after a morning of technique training by highly qualified Marine martial artists.  If a recruit was really good at defending himself and got cocky about it, the instructors would throw a couple other ‘armed’ fighters into the ring to make the show-off fight two or three on one.

Things have changed since then.  A Marine recruit has the opportunity to actually earn a couple of colored belts in karate while they attend boot camp, depending on how well they do at the hand-to-hand combat training of today.  After boot camp they can go on to earn a black belt and degrees of black belt after that.  The new mantra of today’s martial arts program in the Marine Corps is “One Mind, Any Weapon.”  What it means is that when put into a self-defense situation it doesn’t matter what you have in your hand, you need to fight back.  Anything around you can be used as a weapon.

Modern day Marines also learn the “Use of Force Continuum,” which basically deals with the amount of force one is allowed to use against a particular attack upon their person or that of another.  In other words, it is not appropriate, say, to shoot someone to death just because they took a swing at you with an empty hand (no weapon).  Put a knife in that attacker’s hand, and now the fight has moved way up the use of force ladder and shooting back would be considered legitimate use of force.

In real combat, of course, the use of force continuum is greatly ignored as it should be.  When the you-know-what hits the fan it’s everyone firing back with everything they’ve got to stop the threat.  But, even in bloody battle where non-combatants may be involved or exposed, soldiers need to be aware of the kind of force they use.  Today’s warrior must be tougher than ever but be ready to control themselves as well.  Marines will always train hard and will answer the call to duty wherever they are needed.  And, true combat must be anticipated.  Marine Corps martial arts is part of that training.




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