Marine Corps Pugil Sticks

A short video from the USMC's mandatory gender-integrated training.

Some thoughts about this.

1) The cadre jump in angrily and immediately to pull the male off her. You can tell they are mad because he tried to hurt her, but in this context that's exactly what he is supposed to do. The whole point of pugil stick training is to teach aggression in killing with the rifle and/or bayonet.

2) Now he's being asked to train as if his opponent needs to be protected and treated somewhat gently. It is a basic principle of combat training that you will fight as you train (because you won't have time to think carefully while in contact with the enemy), so you should train as you intend to fight. He is being trained to be less aggressive in hand-to-hand combat. That creates the danger of failure in the field, when his life and his unit's will be on the line.

3) If training is altered so that she is on a more even footing, meanwhile, she will also be being trained wrong. She will be being led to believe in a fraud: that she has been given the right training and tools to succeed in a real war against a male opponent. Belief in this fraud can only hurt her if she is ever called to serve in combat. It will set up similar danger to her life and to the survival of her unit. She needs to be taught to realize that she is at an incredible disadvantage if circumstances like these ever occur in the field, because she is. Her survival, already unlikely, depends on her fully grasping how dangerous the situation is.

4) Anyone who might later attain command over women in an infantry unit also needs to understand this limitation of some of the Marines under their command, just as they understand other tactical limits. The future leaders who will emerge from this training also need to see what happens if they should order female Marines under their command into situations in which this kind of combat is likely to occur. The success and even the survival of their units depends in large part on commanders fully understanding the limitations under which they and their units operate.

5) Thus, the cadre need to be trained out of their protectiveness if this is to continue. Pugil sticks are heavily padded, and combatants are in armor. Women Marines should be beaten as viciously as their opponents are able to beat them. That is the only way in which the training can teach the right lessons about how to survive and attain victory at war.

6) That fact alone ought to be reason to reconsider this whole enterprise. I don't think anything good will come of encouraging young men who excel in testosterone and strength to think of women as acceptable targets for their full strength. Such training will give us the most effective gender-integrated infantry units we could have, but they will still be less effective than all-male units -- and at the potentially substantial social cost of weakening our cultural norm against men using physical violence on women.

I cannot imagine the tradeoff is worth it, and least of all as part of a strategy for making American society better and more decent for women. This is hugely counterproductive for both the military's ends and the social aims allegedly justifying it.

7) What is sometimes called the paradox of equality is on fullest display here. By creating a formal legal equality, we have created a massive actual inequality. You can repair the inequality of outcomes only by creating a new inequality -- for example, allowing the women paintball guns so that they can "win" against a pugil-stick wielding opponent by shooting him from a distance. That would potentially be decent training for both the man and the woman as it would teach the woman a workable way of surviving a situation like this one. It would also require the man to push even harder in order to succeed given the disability -- as he would have to if he were out of ammunition and facing someone with a rifle.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would recommend different training, with emphasis on cheating and teamwork.

Valerie

annlee said...

Or teach her to take advantage of her lower center of mass, avoid and counter. Much like the soft-style Asian martial arts.

Homefront Six said...

My thought was similar to annlee's - drop low, avoid the onslaught, and counter.

Grim said...

Do you understand that you are suggesting now training Marines to survive close combat? Until the day before yesterday, we were training them to crush and destroy in close combat. Shifting focus to defense is a substantial change that would have major consequences.

raven said...

I hate imagine what this would look like with the favored implements of close combat. The E-tool, the bayonet, the Kabar.

E Hines said...

Until the day before yesterday, we were training them to crush and destroy in close combat. Shifting focus to defense....

You're misconstruing the relationship between defense and offense and their roles in offensive combat.

There's nothing at all defensive about soft-style karate.

Eric Hines

annlee said...

What Eric said (perish the thought) - note I said defend and counter. In fact, I'd probably go in as hard as he did, then drop low and a little to the side, swipe at his knees, and pivot to stab (bayonet) his back.

If he jumped over my swipe, he might learn something, too.

Grim said...

I'm not misconstruing anything. I have for years -- decades, I suppose -- studied and taught both Western and Eastern martial arts.

The whole point of this particular exercise is training in aggression. It's the mindset that you're teaching far more than the techniques. If you change the game from 'go out there and crush your enemy' to 'go out there and try to hold your ground, taking shots as they become available,' you've changed the mindset you are inculcating in a substantial way.

That's going to play out in the field, because you do fight as you train.

Grim said...

The E-tool, the bayonet, the Kabar.

I mean, my sense is that this is going to get ugly. Maybe it will be a good learning experience, and people will finally abandon the idea that this is a smart, enlightened thing to do. But I read the jokes in the comments -- many of the people watching the clip on FB are Marines or otherwise -- and I think that what we're really doing is watching our taboo against using physical violence on women evaporating.

E Hines said...

If you change the game from 'go out there and crush your enemy' to 'go out there and try to hold your ground, taking shots as they become available,'

And therein is a demonstration of your misconstruing.

You might want to review Scipio's defeat of Hannibal's elephants and of Hannibal in Africa.

That's going to play out in the field, because you do fight as you train.

Indeed.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Strategy is not tactics, my friend.

When we speak of pugil sticks, we are talking about training for tactical aggression. You might want to review Brian Chontosh's performance in Iraq. That's the mindset you're no longer training to inculcate.

Eric Blair said...

Have to say, an old NCO told us that "If you're in hand to hand, you're wrong".

Win by fire.

Grim said...

That's the point, though. Chontosh used fire -- it's the mindset you're training for with the pugil sticks.

Or not.

Kat said...

Judging by one vid of one encounter. Excuse me while I object and suggest that a) there are many a young male recruit who were equally and easily knocked on their asses the first time by the same tactic and b) all recruits then learn from the "demise" of that first and c) there are spme dudes who don't fare any better the second or third time out. Let"s not pretend that an all male force of any branch of the military are all superjocks. Some dudes end up in support units for a reason.

Grim said...

Judging by one vid of one encounter, plus the USMC's lengthy study, plus the British tri-force longitudinal study, plus my own decades of experience training with both men and women, rather.

But it doesn't matter what I think -- the military is going to do this now because the elected officials want them to do it. There will be plenty of examples from which to judge.

In the meantime, what I notice immediately is that the reaction of the cadre needs to change. They're on the Marine like we would ordinarily be should a boy really go after and try to hurt a girl. That's not the lesson pugil stick fighting exists to send.

Now the response here has been, "Well, change the training so that it's more focused on defense and countering." Wasn't the idea that we wouldn't be changing the standards, though? Integrating women was supposed to be done without altering the way we trained a force that has proven excellent in combat.

In fact, the standard has changed just by the presence of the gender-integrated units. If nothing changes with the cadre, the shift has been from "Go out there and crush that guy" to "Go out there and crush that guy, unless it's a woman, in which case don't be too rough with her." You're now training male Marines not for that mindset of aggression, but for a very different mindset of discretion.

And you're training the female Marines to think they're readier to encounter this kind of thing in the field than they really are -- a serious problem with martial arts training in general. Very often people think what they've learned in the studio will translate to easy victories in the street. But they've been training with people who are doing what they expect, and in a way that is designed to allow them to practice.

So, day one, standards of training have been changed by gender neutrality. I would suggest they have been altered in a way that is fundamentally hostile to the mission of the Marine Corps.

But, again, it doesn't matter what I think. We'll be able to judge from the results in the fullness of time.

annlee said...

Grim, I failed to be clear in my earlier response. My apologies.

Assuming perhaps 10% of the Marines are female (a naive assumption, used only for illustration): 9 out of 10 of the male's opponents will fight just like he does, from which he will learn. Also 1 out of 10 will of necessity use very different tactics. Against which he still needs aggression, but a very different implementation of that aggression.

Likewise, those females are exposed to fighting now, and have been - and, barring an all-male force, will continue to be. They must learn how to deal with it, including what may seem to them like facing a berserker rage. Both sides need to learn because this is the way the world is going - note the YPJ as well as the YPK. Both sets of the Peshmerga, by the way, believe in saving the last bullet for themselves. That is the far more likely type of combat we will face going forward, and we must prepare all our forces for it.

As for the cadre - the only thing I can say is that the bout was clearly done, so the male needed to dial it back immediately. Just because it was a grrl should not enter into it. Aggression - absolutely. Controlled aggression - even more so. Leaving it uncontrolled, allowing it to be reveled in, leads to very bad places. How the cadre handled it looks a bit suspect to me, but I haven't been there. You have, and I acknowledge that.

My 9 years were a different environment. But I also knew that, if the balloon went up, my last field operation was a Spetznaz target, and as the Ops crew commander and an officer, I would be treated with their field interrogation techniques. So this problem has been growing for at least 35 years. Better we train all members to deal - the women more realistically than against another woman, and the men for the occasional competent different kind of fighter.

Anonymous said...


There seems to be a bit of misunderstanding by some of what they are seeing. Pugil stick training is not about technique or advanced personal combat moves, its about aggression, aggression, aggression. Just like the bayonet course that, thankfully, the Marines continue to have in boot camp, its about teaching modern city boys how to be violent and become a weapon.

Boys that grow up not even able to play dodge ball in school, unable to play tag on the playground, and now can't use harsh language without being labelled in some way. Boot Camp begins the process of de-programming the virtual gelding that society produces in young men. Getting their blood pumping, smelling the cold steel of the bayonet, facing an opponent one-on-one and focusing on destroying him, these are the things we NEED in boot camp to produce warriors of out modern urbanites that won't wilt in combat.

For the naysayers that will object, I only point to the Marine Navy Cross recipient that beat his Taliban enemy to death with his own LMG after the Marine's weapon went dry. Bloody hand to hand combat happens in war, and every Marine needs to be prepared for it. If females can't handle it, they shouldn't be there.

Corporal Wooldridge's story:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-crazy-story-of-cpl-wooldridge-2013-12

-Krag

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Adjusting to different possible encounters in an evolving world might also be a useful lesson for Marines.

But it would not be the same lesson. If this lesson in aggression still needs to be learned, then reworking it runs the risk that it will not be learned.

raven said...

Using the Armed forces as a social studies experiment is nuts.

The people pushing this are either stupid, or deliberately trying to degrade our combat capacity.

If you want a "civilian force as strong as the military", there are two ways to go about it.



Ymar Sakar said...

Don't try to meet force against force, especially when you aren't faster, bigger, or stronger than the target.

Use 4 ounces of force to deflect 400 pounds of incoming pressure, off to the side.

Or just flip them over using a throw, without receiving their charge completely.

The US Army couldn't teach women to defend themselves from rapists. I see no reason to believe the rest of the military is capable of making these DC corruptocrat orders work for "gender" evaluation purposes. Besides, the powers that be and DC don't want an effective US military. That's not the End Game.


It's the mindset that you're teaching far more than the techniques. If you change the game from 'go out there and crush your enemy' to 'go out there and try to hold your ground, taking shots as they become available,' you've changed the mindset you are inculcating in a substantial way.

True, which is why the powers that be want the sexes integrated at this scale, to break the US military in a way that Bush II could never have done via blooding the Iraq veterans and improving military combat effectiveness (not on paper).

There's no way to tactically combine tank tactics for a M1A1 Abrams main battle tank, with its front armor undamaged and guidance adjusted main cannon, with the Sherman M4 in WWII. The size and speed and mass differences are too great, even if you equalized the technology. Although to adjust a bit, a full on charge by a Panzer unit might work, but if some M4s tried that, they would get slaughtered. So the M4s have to use combined arms, to support the infantry, and not try to take on enemy tanks head on. Cause the M4s are smaller, they pack a smaller punch, they have less mass and armor to sustain the hit.

Wasn't the idea that we wouldn't be changing the standards, though?

They were lying though, meaning the DC corrupt traitors. The people here I suspect actually want to improve US military training, even if that means throwing the old book out. But that's different from the traitors in DC, of course. Intentional sabotage is not due to a mistake via ignorance.

If this was a conflict between patriots who want to improve training vs other patriots who disagreed about how to improve training, it wouldn't be a life and death struggle. Since the actual struggle involves traitors, something different is at work.

Ymar Sakar said...

The aggression training isn't nearly as necessary. In WWII and pre Vietnam even, citizens had an ingrained habit of not using violence against their fellow patriots and an ingrained social chain preventing them from harming targets.

Those social shackles still exist, of course, but it is much less of an issue with modern training that programs a soldier to shoot on demand, irregardless of their feelings for the target.

The stick training still has ulterior benefits. It's just that having less than 50% of your unit being capable of firing a weapon in battle at all, vs over 90% is a major difference due to modern training methods. MOstly marksmanship, but strangely enough the H2H stuff is pretty obsolete. The firearms instruction has advanced to produce shooters on demand, but the H2H stuff hasn't quite kept up. Although advanced training makes up for some of it.