Marine Corps Martial Arts:

There's obviously been a change in focus since I last looked into military martial arts. I mean, who ever expected to hear a Marine sergeant say something like this:

I am proud to be part of a program that teaches people of all ages and backgrounds how to protect themselves in a non-lethal way from the enemy.
Nonlethal? I thought that meant you were doing it wrong.

It's not just the Marines -- the army has switched to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as its martial arts form, in order to cut down on training injuries. The reason it cuts down on training injuries is that it's a form of jujitsu that was redesigned for tournament fighting. It is, in other words, safe -- for your opponent as well as yourself.

There might be reasons, of course, why you'd want to take someone alive -- particularly in COIN warfare. I understand that.


Master Ken Caton, formerly USMC Sergeant Ken Caton, was my teacher of jujitsu; he studied under Wally Jay, who turns 90 this year. I remember clearly something he told his students, who eventually became my students:

"What we're doing here is shorthand," he would say. "We can't do everything in the dojo that you need to do in real life. This art was designed by samurai, though, who never intended to leave an enemy alive.

"If you're ever out there and you get someone in an armbar lock, break their arm. If you get them in a wrist lock, break the wrist. That won't be enough, though -- it's just to buy a second to finish them. Break the arm, then go for their throat, for here or here. And remember: everything striking technique we do with the hands was originally designed to be done with a knife or a sword. If you have one, use one."

There is a philosophy underlying this, a moral ethic. You should not fight except to kill, because you should never fight except when killing is justified. If it is not, you should not fight at all.

If it is, if it truly is, fall on like a thunderbolt.

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