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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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Recruits pummel away in pugil sticks training

By Lance Cpl. Dorian Gardner | | May 19, 2006

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO -- With a helmet, some pads and a cushioned stick, recruits from B Company battled one another as they honed their skills to be named the victors of pugil sticks.

Every Marine in boot camp undergoes this exercise. During this event, which simulates fighting with an M-16A2 service rifle with fixed bayonets, recruits were shown proper techniques and execution with the weapon.

Though this combat simulation is a part of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, it serves a different purpose.

“It is a designed inoculation of violence,” said Sgt. Sergio Esquivel, martial arts instructor. “A lot of recruits have never been put in a situation where people try to attack them. This introduces them to a different spectrum of violence.”

Before the fight began, recruits were given safety gear to avoid injury. Their safety gear included a helmet with full face mask, groin protection and flak jacket with a neck roll. The stick they used was also padded around their hands to circumvent broken phalanges.

To ensure the recruits executed moves properly, a Martial Arts Instructor was present.

For the recruits to pass this intense training, they must demonstrate proficient skill in three stages, which takes place over the last three weeks of first phase.

During the first stage, B Company, drill instructors and Instructional Training Company instructors demonstrated fighting techniques and then had recruits practice it on a flat dirt surface near the depot’s war-fighting infiltration course, which is included in bayonet training. In the course, recruits low-crawl under barbed wire and through tunnels, jump walls and cross ropes in firing teams of four.

Once recruits showed instructors they knew what they were doing, they were given their first opportunity to fight. 

“I liked it,” said Recruit Jeremy Jones, E Company. “The feel of fighting and having the other recruits screaming for you. Even if you are scared, the recruits around you make you want to win.”

The thought of defeating another recruit from a different platoon in a pugil stick bout intensified the combat, especially when the drill instructors watched and encouraged the fierce battles, according to Jones.

After the first fight, a third man was thrown into the mix. Between the three recruits, each took a turn defending against two recruits and then teaming up to attack one recruit.

The final stage of combat is fought in the Thunder Dome. Already fatigued from completing an infiltration course, recruits geared up and screamed down a path leading into a padded room. In this dome, recruits fought the final bout with drill instructors and company staff motivating them.

The purpose of this training went beyond bragging rights and platoon rivalry.

“It trains Marines to function when faced with stress and violence,” according to pugil Sticks training guide, MA–1.05. “It prepares Marines to deliver a blow and take a blow.”

Loud cheers and hard blows kept recruits fighting in the ring. Now experienced with their simulated rifle and bayonet, recruits are able to fight their enemies at a close range.

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