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FM 21-150
This field manual contains information and guidance pertaining to rifle-bayonet
fighting and hand-to-hand combat. The hand-to-hand combat portion of this manual
is divided into basic and advanced training. The techniques are applied as intuitive
patterns of natural movement but are initially studied according to range. Therefore,
the basic principles for fighting in each range are discussed. However, for ease of
learning they are studied in reverse order as they would be encountered in a combat
engagement. This manual serves as a guide for instructors, trainers, and soldiers in the
art of instinctive rifle-bayonet fighting.
The proponent for this publication is the United States Army Infantry School.
Comments and recommendations must be submitted on DA Form 2028
(Recommended Changes to Publications and Blank Forms) directly to Commandant,
United States Army Infantry School, ATTN: ATSH-RB, Fort Benning, GA,
Unless this publication states otherwise, masculine nouns and pronouns do
not refer exclusively to men.
Hand-to-hand combat is an engagement between two or more persons in an
empty-handed struggle or with handheld weapons such as knives, sticks, and
rifles with bayonets. These fighting arts are essential military skills. Projectile
weapons may be lost or broken, or they may fail to fire. When friendly and
enemy forces become so intermingled that firearms and grenades are not
practical, hand-to-hand combat skills become vital assets.
Today’s battlefield scenarios may require silent elimination of the enemy.
Unarmed combat and expedient-weapons training should not be limited to
forward units. With rapid mechanized/motorized, airborne, and air assault
abilities, units throughout the battle area could be faced with close-quarter
or unarmed fighting situations. With low-intensity conflict scenarios and
guerrilla warfare conditions, any soldier is apt to face an unarmed
confrontation with the enemy, and hand-to-hand combative training can save
lives. The many practical battlefield benefits of combative training are not
its only advantage. It can also—
a. Contribute to individual and unit strength, flexibility, balance, and
cardiorespiratory fitness.
b. Build courage, confidence, self-discipline, and esprit de corps.
There are basic principles that the hand-to-hand fighter must know and apply
to successfully defeat an opponent. The principles mentioned are only a few
of the basic guidelines that are essential knowledge for hand-to-hand combat.
There are many others, which through years of study become intuitive to a
highly skilled fighter.
a. Physical Balance. Balance refers to the ability to maintain equilibrium
and to remain in a stable, upright position. A hand-to-hand fighter must
maintain his balance both to defend himself and to launch an effective attack.
FM 21-150
Without balance, the fighter has no stability with which to defend himself, nor
does he have a base of power for an attack. The fighter must understand two
aspects of balance in a struggle:
(1) How to move his body to keep or regain his own balance. A fighter
develops balance through experience, but usually he keeps his feet about
shoulder-width apart and his knees flexed. He lowers his center of gravity to
increase stability.
(2) How to exploit weaknesses in his opponent's balance. Experience also
gives the hand-to-hand fighter a sense of how to move his body in a fight to
maintain his balance while exposing the enemy’s weak points.
b. Mental Balance. The successful fighter must also maintain a mental
balance. He must not allow fear or anger to overcome his ability to
concentrate or to react instinctively in hand-to-hand combat.
c. Position. Position refers to the location of the fighter (defender) in
relation to his opponent. A vital principle when being attacked is for the
defender to move his body to a safe position —that is, where the attack cannot
continue unless the enemy moves his whole body. To position for a
counterattack, a fighter should move his whole body off the opponent’s line
of attack. Then, the opponent has to change his position to continue the
attack. It is usually safe to move off the line of attack at a 45-degree angle,
either toward the opponent or away from him, whichever is appropriate. This
position affords the fighter safety and allows him to exploit weaknesses in the
enemy’s counterattack position. Movement to an advantageous position
requires accurate timing and distance perception.
d. Timing. A fighter must be able to perceive the best time to move to
an advantageous position in an attack. If he moves too soon, the enemy will
anticipate his movement and adjust the attack. If the fighter moves too late,
the enemy will strike him. Similarly, the fighter must launch his attack or
counterattack at the critical instant when the opponent is the most vulnerable.
e. Distance. Distance is the relative distance between the positions of
opponents. A fighter positions himself where distance is to his advantage.
The hand-to-hand fighter must adjust his distance by changing position and
developing attacks or counterattacks. He does this according to the range at
which he and his opponent are engaged. (For a more detailed discussion of
the concepts of distance and range, see Chapter 6.)
f. Momentum. Momentum is the tendency of a body in motion to
continue in the direction of motion unless acted on by another force. Body
mass in motion develops momentum. The greater the body mass or speed of
movement, the greater the momentum. Therefore, a fighter must
understand the effects of this principle and apply it to his advantage.
FM 21-120
(1) The fighter can use his opponent’s momentum to his
advantage—that is, he can place the opponent in a vulnerable position by
using his momentum against him.
(a) The opponent’s balance can be taken away by using his own
(b) The opponent can be forced to extend farther than he expected,
causing him to stop and change his direction of motion to continue his attack.
(c) An opponent’s momentum can be used to add power to a fighter’s
own attack or counterattack by combining body masses in motion.
(2) The fighter must be aware that the enemy can also take advantage of
the principle of momentum. Therefore, the fighter must avoid placing
himself in an awkward or vulnerable position, and he must not allow himself
to extend too far.
g. Leverage. A fighter uses leverage in hand-to-hand combat by using the
natural movement of his body to place his opponent in a position of unnatural
movement. The fighter uses his body or parts of his body to create a natural
mechanical advantage over parts of the enemy’s body. He should never
oppose the enemy in a direct test of strength; however, by using leverage, he
can defeat a larger or stronger opponent.
This chapter discusses the trainer’s role in teaching and sustaining effective
hand-to-hand combat. It also discusses unit training training areas, teaching
techniques, and safety precautions that must be considered before conducting
combatives training.
Section I
Professional instruction is the key to success in combative training.
Instructors must be physically fit and highly proficient in the
demonstration and practical application of the skills described in this
manual. Confidence, enthusiasm, and technical expertise are
essential for success in teaching hand-to-hand combat. Assistant
instructors must also be properly trained to help supervise and
demonstrate maneuvers. Highly trained assistant instructors under
supervision may also provide supplementary combative training
during off-duty hours.
Diligent effort is needed to perfect the various hand-to-hand combat
techniques, to apply them instinctively, and to teach others to safely master
them. The following instructor responsibilities are the core of planning and
executing combative training.
a. Seek maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Continually strive to
reduce all unnecessary explanations, movement, and activity. Streamline the
training without compromising content, efficiency, or safety.
b. Stress cooperation and technical mastery. Minimize hostile behavior
but promote aggressiveness and power.
c. Reinforce the details of each technique, and provide positive feedback
when warranted. Use occasional humor to motivate soldiers, but avoid
degrading or insulting them.
FM 21-150
d. Ensure serviceable training aids are present to use in sufficient
quantities for all soldiers being trained. Ensure training areas are well
maintained and free from dangerous obstructions.
e. Ensure instructors and assistant instructors are well rehearsed and
prepared before all training sessions. Conduct instructor training at least five
hours weekly to maintain a high skill level.
f. Develop as many skilled combative instructors for each unit as
possible. Instructor-to-soldier ratios should not be less than 1 instructor for
20 soldiers. Encourage after-duty training and education for instructors.
g. Require strict discipline of all soldiers.
To prevent injuries, the instructor must consider the following safety
precautions before conducting combative training.
a. Supervise all practical work closely and constantly. Never leave a
group unsupervised.
b. Familiarize the soldiers with each maneuver by a complete explanation
and demonstration before they try the moves.
c. Do not allow the soldiers to get ahead of the instruction.
d. Ensure the training partner offers no resistance, but allows the
maneuver to be freely executed during the learning stages and while
perfecting the techniques.
e. Ensure there is adequate space between soldiers during all practical
work—for example, allow at least an 8-foot square for each pair of soldiers.
f. Ensure that soldiers empty their pockets, and remove their jewelry,
identification tags, and glasses before training.
g. Stress that only simulated strikes to vital points, such as the head, neck,
and groin area, are executed. Soldiers may use light blows to other vulnerable
areas; however, they must exercise caution at all times.
h. Establish a signal to indicate to the partner when to stop the pressure
in grappling and choking techniques. Two handclaps or tapping the training
partner with a free hand are examples.
i. Make sure soldiers warmup and stretch properly before practical work.
j. Teach and practice falls before conducting throws.
k. Ensure protective eye wear is available when executing training with
practice bayonets, knives, or any sharp weapons.
l. Ensure that the soldier to be disarmed does not place his finger in
the trigger guard during rifle and bayonet disarming.
m. Make sure soldiers keep scabbards on knives and bayonets firmly
attached to rifles while learning bayonet disarming methods.
n. Use bayonet scabbards or rubber knives during knife disarming training.
FM 21-150
0. Inspect all sandbags on retaining walls before conduct of instruction so
that all bags are serviceable with at least 75 percent fill and that entire retainer
wall is covered with sandbags. Any bag placed where personnel are likely to fall
will be filled with the same consistency filler as the sawdust in the pit and will also
provide a minimum of 6 inches of sawdust.
p. Maintain a buffer zone of 6 feet from retainer wall and demonstration area
during all training, especially training requiring throws and takedowns by students.
q. Rake the training pit to loosen sawdust and remove all sharp objects.
Properly inspect the pit so that all safety hazards are removed before
instruction/demonstrations are executed.
r. Perform inspections on training pits two days before use to ensure that
there is at least 6 inches of sawdust throughout the training pit area. This will
allow time to acquire sawdust to resurface pit area if there is not 6 inches of
surface sawdust.
Section II
Although combative are not likely to become part of a unit’s
mission-essential task list, commanders cannot overlook the
importance of soldiers’ skills in hand-to-hand combat. Hand-to-hand
fighting is a possibility in any conflict, and a basic proficiency in
combative may save soldiers’ lives. Entry-level soldiers receive a
training base in combative during basic training and in OSUT.
Advanced individual training commanders should consider using
hand-to-hand combat as part of the physical training program. They
should review the training presented during basic training and, as time
permits, expand into the more advanced techniques discussed in this
field manual. Regular units must incorporate combative into an
organized training program for soldiers to achieve and sustain
proficiency levels.
FM 21-150
Combative training in the basic or one-station unit training program is based on
10 hours of available training time, divided into five periods of 2 hours each. The
following is a suggested POI for introductory-level combative training.
a. Period 1 - 2 Hours.
(1) Introduction to combatives—safety.
(2) Combat demonstration performed by instructors or trainers to gain
attention and to motivate soldiers.
(3) Vital points and vulnerable points.
(4) Warm-ups.
(5) Stretches.
(6) Stances.
(7) Elbows and knees.
(8) Short punches and strikes.
(9) Kicks.
(10) Drills. Twenty-five repetitions for each strike—that is, elbows,
knees, punches, and kicks-using vital and vulnerable points.
(11) Combinations of strikes.
b. Period 2 - 2 Hours.
(1) Warm-ups and stretches.
(2) Review of strikes.
(3) Falls.
(4) Throws.
(5) Proficiency development of falls and throws through repetition.
c. Period 3 - 2 Hours.
(1) Warm-ups and stretches.
(2) Review of falls.
(3) Grappling.
(4) Chokes.
d. Period 4 - 2 Hours.
(1) Warm-ups and stretches.
(2) Defense and counters against weapons.
Angles of attack and defenses of each angle.
Knife defense.
Knife attacks.
Three-foot stick defense.
Three-foot stick attacks.
Drills. Twenty-five repetitions of defenses against each
angle of attack, knife attacks, and 3-foot stick attacks.
FM 21-150
e. Period 5 - 2 Hours.
(1) Warm-ups and stretches.
(2) Overall review.
Unit combative training is best done at company and platoon level. It is
difficult for commanders to find time to conduct hand-to-hand combat
training in typical training schedules. Combative training can be conducted
during the times allotted for unit physical readiness training. Most units have
at least one day a week when organized athletics are conducted for PT; this
is a good time to train in hand-to-hand combat.
a. When the unit begins combative training, it starts with the basic
training/OSUT program. After each soldier in the unit has attained the same
basic skill level, the training can then progress to more advanced techniques
and drills. If conducted once a week, this program takes 10 weeks to
complete. A typical progression might be as follows:
Defense and counters against weapons: 3 hours
Field-expedient weapons: 3 hours.
Sentry removal, silent kills, and quick kills: 2 hours.
Advanced knife drills: 3 hours.
b. Once the unit has basic proficiency of the topics in Chapters 3 through 7,
the commanders can easily plan future combative training. Unit trainers will
know where emphasis should be placed in the unit’s hand-to-hand training,
and they can also create more advanced training exercises and drills based on
soldier skill levels.
Section III
An advantage of combative training is that it can be conducted almost
anywhere with little preparation of the training area. (See Appendix A.)
Physical training formations may be used for combative training.
(See FM 21-20.) If the extended rectangular formation is used, the first and
third ranks should face the second and fourth ranks so that each soldier has
a partner directly across from him.
a. When practicing throws or disarming techniques, soldiers need twice
the normal interval between ranks. Instructors also try to pair soldiers
according to height and weight.
FM 21-150
b. A large, grassy outdoor area free of obstructions is suitable for training.
Each pair of soldiers should have an 8-foot square training space. Indoor
areas, such as gymnasiums, are also appropriate; however, sharp or hard
weapons are not used on gymnasium floors or on mats.
The most common area for teaching hand-to-hand combat is a sawdust pit.
Figure 2-1, shows a training area for 200 soldiers with a sawdust pit
surrounding an instructor and demonstrator platform.
a. To construct the pit, dig out and level an area 50 meters wide and build
a retaining wall at least 24 inches high. The wall can be cinder blocks,
sandbags, or dirt if other materials are not available. To prevent injuries from
a cinder block retaining wall, cover the wall and the top of the wall with
sandbags. Place a layer of plastic sheeting on the ground to prevent the
growth of grass and weeds, and place a sand base up to 12 inches deep on top
of the plastic. Then, place a layer of sawdust at least 6 inches deep on top of
the sand.
b. Build a 14-foot square demonstration area (Figure 2-1) in the center
of the pit with the same type of retaining wall described in paragraph a. This
area is large enough for two demonstrators and the primary instructor.
The bayonet assault course provides the commander a unique training
opportunity. It allows his soldiers to employ rifle-bayonet fighting skills under
simulated combat conditions. The course can be built and negotiated so that
demands placed on the soldiers’ abilities and on their endurance approach
those experienced under combat conditions. Realistic sights and sounds of
battle—fire, smoke, confusion, and pyrotechnics--can also be created to
enhance realism. (See Appendix B.) The training objectives of the bayonet
assault course include:
Improving rifle-bayonet fighting skills.
Improving physical fitness and soldier aggressiveness.
Improving speed, strength, coordination, and accuracy.
Providing realistic rifle-bayonet fighting under near combat
Challenging the soldiers’ determination and stamina, which are
needed in combat.
Providing an opportunity for team and squad leaders to develop
their leadership and control measures.
FM 21-150
a. Safety. The safety of the soldiers should be a constant concern of the
instructor and his assistants. The best safety aids are constant control and
supervision. In addition, instructors should brief soldiers at the beginning of
each class on the requirements for safety during rifle-bayonet training.
Instructors use the following safety measures:
FM 21-150
(1) Bayonets must be fixed and unfixed only on command.
(2) Rifles should be grounded near the targets when the soldiers are ordered
to move to the instructor’s platform for explanations or demonstrations.
(3) A level surface that does not become slippery when wet should be
provided for the training court.
(4) Left-handed soldiers should be positioned so that they are opposite
another left-handed soldier when working against the targets. This type of
arrangement prevents possible injury when executing a series of movements.
(5) When using the M16 rifle against a target, the force of contact during
the thrust movement may drive the hand, gripping the small of the stock, into
the forward assist assembly (on the right-hand side of the weapon near the
stock). To prevent injury to the hand, the soldier must maintain a firm grip
on the small of the stock; gloves should be worn as part of the training uniform
when weather dictates.
b. Layout. The 300-meter-long course consists of a series of targets to
attack and obstacles to negotiate. Lay it out over natural terrain, preferably
rough and wooded areas. Include natural obstacles, such as streams, ravines,
ridges, and thick vegetation. Build artificial obstacles, such as entanglements,
fences, log walls, hurdles, and horizontal ladders (Figure 2-2).
c. Targets. Use a variety of targets to provide experience in different
attacks. The local TSC can build the targets. Those composed of old tires
are appropriate as well as the ivan-type targets used by range control—that
is, the E-type silhouette, three-dimensional personnel target (large),
FSN 6920-01-164-9625 or the F-type silhouette, three-dimensional personnel
target (small), FSN 6920-OO-T33-8777. Targets should be durable but should
not damage weapons. Place a sign near each target to indicate the type of
attack to be used.
d. Usage. An example of how to conduct the bayonet assault course is as
(1) Task. Negotiate the bayonet assault course.
(2) Conditions. Given nine lanes on a 300-meter bayonet assault course
over irregular terrain with four types of targets: thrust; parry thrust target;
parry, butt stroke to the groin target; and parry, butt stroke to head target
(Figure 2-3, page 2-10). The targets are marked with a sign to indicate the
required attack. Given seven types of obstacles as shown in Figures 2-4
through 2-10, pages 2-11 through 2-14. Given a soldier in battle dress uniform
with load-carrying equipment and a rifle with a fixed bayonet.
FM 21-150
FM 21-150
FM 21-150
FM 21-150
FM 21-150
FM 21-150
(3) Standards. The course must be successfully negotiated by all soldiers
in the class with each soldier obtaining kills on 75 percent of the total targets
in his lane. The course must be negotiated in 5 minutes or less (about
30 seconds for each 50 meters and time to attack and negotiate obstacles).
Section IV
This section discusses a variety of effective teaching techniques to use
while conducting combative training.
FM 21-150
Before combative training, the soldier must be prepared for the upcoming
physical stress. A warm-up period gradually increases the internal
temperature of the body and the heart rate. Stretching prepares the
ligaments, tendons, muscles, and heart for a workout, decreasing the chances
of injury.
a. Warm-up Exercises. To begin warm-up exercises, rotate the major
joints—neck, shoulders, hips, and knees. The warm-up should at least
include 7 to 10 minutes of stretching, running in place or jogging around the
training area, and calisthenics. Grass drills and guerrilla exercises are a good
approach as a warm-up for combative training. They condition the body
through motion in all ranges, accustom the soldiers to contact with the ground,
and promote aggressiveness.
b. Stretching Exercises. Any of the stretching exercises in FM 21-20 are
recommended for hand-to-hand combat training. Five other exercises that
increase flexibility in areas of the body that benefit hand-to-hand combat
movements are as follows:
(1) Backroll stretch.
(a) Position: Lay on ground on back with legs extended and arms by
sides, palms down.
(b) Action: Raise legs over head and roll back as far as possible, trying
to place toes on the ground behind head. Keep knees locked and feet and
knees together; hold for 20 seconds (Figure 2-11). Gradually, return to
starting position. Repeat two or three times.
FM 21-150
(2) Buddy-assisted splits (leg spreader).
(a) Position: Sit on ground facing buddy with legs extended and spread
as far as possible. Position feet inside ankles.
(b) Action: Interlock hands with buddy and alternate pulling one toward
the other, causing the buddy to bend forward over the hips until a stretch is
felt (Figure 2-12). Hold this position for 20 seconds, then alternate and have
him pull you into a stretch. Do sequence two or three times each.
FM 21-150
(3) Buddy-assisted hamstring stretch.
(a) Position: Sit on ground with right leg extended to front and foot
pointing up. Bend left leg with sole touching to inside of right thigh. Have
buddy kneel behind you with his hands on your shoulders (Figure 2-13).
(b) Action: Slowly bend forward from hips over the right leg and reach
your hands toward ankles until stretch is felt (Figure 2-l3). Hold this for 10
to 15 seconds. The buddy then applies downward pressure and allows you to
adjust your stretch. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat. Alternate legs and
positions after two or three sequences.
FM 21-150
(4) Buddy-assisted groin (butterfly) stretch.
(a) Position: Sit on ground with the soles of your feet together, close to
the torso. Hold ankles with hands. Have buddy kneel behind you with his
hands on your knees.
(b) Action: The buddy places his hands on top of your thighs at the knees.
The buddy’s weight is supported by your shoulders while little weight is placed
on the thighs. Then, the buddy increases downward pressure on your thighs
until stretch is felt (Figure 2-14). Hold for 20 seconds, then alternate
FM 21-150
(5) Buddy-assisted back stretch.
(a) Position: Stand back-to-back with buddy and interlock arms at your
(b) Action: Bend forward at the waist and pull buddy up on your back
over your hips. The buddy allows his back to arch and tells you when an
adequate stretch is felt (Figure 2- 15). Hold this position for 20 seconds, then,
change places.
FM 21-150
A fighter’s stance (Figure 2-16)
is the position he takes in
readiness for an unarmed fight.
He may launch an attack or
defend from this stance.
a. A fighter’s stance not only
places his body in a good position
from which to attack or defend,
but it influences his mental
attitude and aggressiveness.
b. He holds his hands high
to protect his head and face.
His fists are clenched, but
relaxed. His elbows are close
to his body and his weight is
evenly distributed on both feet,
creating a stable base. He is
light on his feet with his knees
slightly flexed to allow quick
movement in any direction.
2-10. FALLS
A soldier must learn how to fall to the ground without getting hurt, both during
training and during combat. If he loses his balance or is thrown during a fight,
his use of basic fall techniques enables him to escape injury or to quickly
recover to protect himself.
a. Laying Side Fall. The laying side fall is a training exercise that teaches
the basic movements for executing a side fall. To be safe, the fall is learned
from the squatting position until soldiers can fall properly. From the
FM 21-150
squatting position (Figure 2-17, Step 1), the soldier extends one leg across the
front of the body and raises his arm on the same side across his face
(Figure 2-17, Step 2).
Then he rolls onto the exposed side, allowing the extended leg and side to
absorb the shock of the fall. He slowly lowers his arm to stabilize his body.
He raises his other hand to guard against future strikes (Figure 2-17, Step 3).
FM 21-150
b. Standing Side Fall. The soldier starts the fall from the standing
position (Figure 2-18, Step 1).
He lowers his weight on the supporting leg and extends the other leg across
the body (Figure 2-18, Step 2).
He then distributes his body weight by rolling along the exposed side from the
ankle of the extended leg to the back muscle. The arm on the ground is used
to stabilize himself; the other hand is used to guard the body (Figure 2-l8, Step 3).
FM 21-150
c. Forward Rolling Fall. The soldier starts the fall from the standing
position (Figure 2-19, Step 1). He raises one arm to expose his entire side,
places both hands on the ground, and bends both knees.
He rolls forward across the body along the hand, arm, and back to the opposite
hip (Figure 2-19, Step 2) and ends in a good side fall position (Figure 2-19, Step 3).
He keeps his left leg flat on the ground, knee slightly bent. His right knee
points upward and bends inward to help protect the groin. He keeps his right
heel and sole flat on the ground behind the left leg.
FM 21-150
d. Rear Fall. The soldier starts the fall from the standing position and keeps
his head fonward to reduce the chance of head and neck injuries (Figure 2-20, Step 1).
He then falls backward and lowers his center of gravity by bending both knees.
As his buttocks touch the ground, he rolls backward to absorb the momentum
of the fall (Figure 2-20, Step 2).
He keeps his hands cupped and slaps his hands and arms down to help absorb
the shock of impact and to stabilize his body (Figure 2-20, Step 3). He keeps
his chin tucked on his chest.
Then, his legs come down slowly with knees bent and make contact with the
ground (Figure 2-20, Step 4). He raises his hand to protect his face from kicks
or blows. The soldier can kick his opponent from this position.
FM 21-150
Training can be conducted using the crawl, walk, and run techniques, which
may be applied on two levels.
a. First Level. The instructors use these techniques during each initial
training session.
(1) Crawl phase. New techniques should be introduced, taught,
demonstrated, and executed by the numbers.
(2) Walk phase. During this phase, soldiers practice the new techniques
by the numbers, but with more fluid movement and less instructor guidance.
(3) Run phase. Soldiers execute the techniques at combat speed with no
b. Second Level. The instructors use these techniques when developing
unit combatives programs. Before conducting combatives training, the
instructor considers the abilities and experience level of the soldiers to be
trained. During training, those soldiers with prior martial arts experience can
be a great asset; they may be used as demonstrators or as assistant instructors.
The crawl, walk, run approach to unit training ensures a high skill level
throughout the unit and minimizes the risk of training injuries.
(1) Crawl phase. During the crawl phase, the instructor introduces
combatives to the unit. Here, the basic skills that set the standards for
advancement to other levels are mastered. Emphasis is placed on proper
technique when executing stances, falls, and hand-and-foot strikes. Studying
the new techniques in this method ensures that the movements are correctly
programmed into the soldiers’ subconscious after a few repetitions. It also
develops the flexibility of soldiers.
(2) Walk phase. Once a unit has developed a sufficient proficiency level
in basic skills, begin the walk phase. Instructors introduce soldiers to throws,
combination strikes with body weapons, reaction drills, knife/bayonet
fighting, grappling, and expedient-weapons training.
(3) Run phase. In the run phase, unit soldiers engage in full sparring,
advanced-weapons fighting, and sentry removal.
A well-coordinated demonstration and professional demonstrators are
crucial for successful learning by soldiers. Unrehearsed presentations or
inadequately trained demonstrators can immediately destroy the credibility of the
training. There are two methods appropriate for the demonstration of combative
techniques to soldiers. These are based on the size of the group to be taught.
a. Company-Size Formation or Larger. The instructor or demonstrator
uses the talk-through method. The primary instructor talks the
FM 21-150
demonstrators through the techniques by the numbers, and then the
demonstrators execute at combat speed. The soldiers can see how to apply
the move being taught in relation to the instructor or demonstrator. The
primary instructor is free to control the rate of the demonstration and to stress
key teaching points. The demonstrators must be skilled in properly applying
the techniques so soldiers can adequately grasp the intended concepts.
b. Platoon-Size Formation or Smaller. A good method for
demonstrating to a smaller formation is for the primary instructor to apply
the technique being taught to an assistant instructor. The primary instructor
talks himself through the demonstration. He stresses correct body movement
and key teaching points as he does them.
Instructors use execution by the numbers to break down techniques into
step-by-step phases so soldiers can see clearly how the movements are
developed from start to finish. Execution by the numbers also provides
soldiers away to see the mechanics of each technique. This teaching method
allows the instructor to explain in detail the sequence of each movement. For
example: on the command PHASE ONE, MOVE, the attacker throws a
right-hand punch to the defender’s face. At the same time, the defender steps
to the inside of the attacker off the line of attack and moves into position for
the right-hip throw. Assistant instructors are able to move freely throughout
the training formation and make on-the-spot corrections.
When the instructor is confident that the soldiers being trained are skilled at
executing a technique by the numbers, he is ready to have them execute it at
combat speed. Executing movements at combat speed enables soldiers to
see how effective a technique is. This builds the soldier’s confidence in the
techniques, allows him to develop a clear mental picture of the principles
behind the technique, and gives him confidence in his ability to perform the
technique during an actual attack. The command is, THE RIGHT-HIP
THROW AT COMBAT SPEED, MOVE. The soldiers then execute this
technique from start to finish.
2-15. DRILLS
Drills are used to maintain soldiers’ skills in executing techniques through
repetition. During these drills, techniques or phases of techniques are
repeated as often as necessary to ensure programmed learning by the soldiers.
Subconscious programming usually occurs after 25 repetitions of movement.
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Technique drills help soldiers retain their skills, and they are a good tool for
reviewing techniques already learned.
Foam pads (Figure 2-21) are highly recommended to enhance training. The
pads allow full-forced strikes by soldiers and protect their training partners.
The pads enable soldiers to feel the effectiveness of striking techniques and
to develop power in their striking. Instructors should encourage spirited
aggressiveness. Pads can be tackle dummy pads or martial arts striking pads.
a. The use of pads is especially recommended for knee-strike practice
drills, kicking drills, and 3-foot-stick striking drills. The pad is ideally placed
on the outside of the training partner’s thigh, protecting the common peroneal
nerve. Pads can also be held against the forearms in front of the head and
face to allow practice knee/elbow strikes to this area.
b. Training pads can be requisitioned through supply channels or
purchased locally.
In close-range combatives, two opponents have closed the gap between them
so they can grab one another in hand-to-hand combat. The principles of
balance, leverage, timing, and body positioning are applied. Throws and
takedown techniques are used to upset the opponent’s balance and to gain
control of the fight by forcing him to the ground. Chokes can be applied to
quickly render an opponent unconscious. The soldier should also know counters
to choking techniques to protect himself. Grappling involves skillful fighting
against an opponent in close-range combat so that a soldier can win through
superior body movement or grappling skills. Pain can be used to disable an
opponent. A soldier can use painful eye gouges and strikes to soft, vital areas to
gain an advantage over his opponent.
Throws and takedowns enable a hand-to-hand fighter to take an opponent to
the ground where he can be controlled or disabled with further techniques.
Throws and takedowns make use of the principles involved in taking the
opponent’s balance. The fighter uses his momentum against the attacker; he
also uses leverage or body position to gain an opportunity to throw the
a. It is important for a fighter to control his opponent throughout a throw
to the ground to keep the opponent from countering the throw or escaping
after he is thrown to the ground. One way to do this is to control the
opponent’s fall so that he lands on his head. It is also imperative that a fighter
maintain control of his own balance when executing throws and takedowns.
b. After executing a throw or takedown and while the opponent is on the
ground, the fighter must control the opponent by any means available. He
can drop his weight onto exposed areas of the opponent’s body, using his
elbows and knees. He can control the downed opponent’s limbs by stepping
on them or by placing his knees and body weight on them. Joint locks, chokes,
and kicks to vital areas are also good control measures. Without endangering
FM 21-150
himself, the fighter must maintain the advantage and disable his opponent
after throwing him (Figures 3-1 through 3-5).
NOTE: Although the five techniques shown in Figures 3-1 through 3-5
may be done while wearing LCE—for training purposes, it is safer to
conduct all throws and takedowns without any equipment.
(1) Hip throw. The opponent throws a right punch. The defender steps
in with his left foot; at the same time, he blocks the punch with his left forearm
and delivers a reverse punch to the face, throat, or other vulnerable area
(Figure 3-1, Step 1). (For training, deliver punches to the solar plexus.)
The defender pivots 180 degrees on the ball of his lead foot, wraps his right
arm around his opponent’s waist, and grasps his belt or pants (Figure 3-1,
Step 2). (If opponent is wearing LCE, grasp by the pistol belt or webbing.)
The defender thrusts his hips into his opponent and maintains a grip on his
opponent’s right elbow. He keeps his knees shoulder-width apart and slightly
bent (Figure 3-1, Step 3). He locks his knees, pulls his opponent well over his
right hip, and slams him to the ground. (For training, soldier being thrown
should land in a good side fall.)
By maintaining control of his opponent’s arm, the defender now has the
option of kicking or stomping him in the neck, face, or ribs (Figure 3-1,
Step 4).
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FM 21-150
(2) Over-the-shoulder throw. The opponent lunges at the defender with a
straight punch (Figure 3-2, Step 1).
The defender blocks the punch with his left forearm, pivots 180 degrees on
the ball of his lead foot (Figure 3-2, Step 2), and gets well inside his opponent’s
right armpit with his right shoulder.
He reaches well back under his opponent’s right armpit and grasps him by
the collar or hair (Figure 3-2, Step 3).
The defender maintains good back-to-chest, buttock-to-groin contact,
keeping his knees slightly bent and shoulder-width apart. He maintains
control of his opponent’s right arm by grasping the wrist or sleeve (Figure 3-2,
Step 4).
The defender bends forward at the waist and holds his opponent tightly
against his body. He locks his knees, thrusts his opponent over his shoulder,
and slams him to the ground (Figure 3-2, Step 5). He then has the option of
disabling his opponent with kicks or stomps to vital areas.
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(3) Throw from rear choke. The opponent attacks the defender with a rear
strangle choke. The defender quickly bends his knees and spreads his feet
shoulder-width apart (Figure 3-3, Step 1). (Knees are bent quickly to put
distance between you and your opponent.)
The defender reaches as far back as possible and uses his right hand to grab
his opponent by the collar or hair. He then forces his chin into the vee of the
opponent’s arm that is around his neck. With his left hand, he grasps the
opponent’s clothing at the tricep and bends forward at the waist (Figure 3-3,
Step 2).
The defender locks his knees and, at the same time, pulls his opponent over
his shoulder and slams him to the ground (Figure 3-3, Step 3).
He then has the option of spinning around and straddling his opponent or
disabling him with punches to vital areas (Figure 3-3, Step 4). (It is important
to grip the opponent tightly when executing this move.)
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(4) Head butt. The head butt can be applied from the front or the rear.
It is repeated until the opponent either releases his grip or becomes
(a) The opponent grabs the defender in a bear hug from the front
(A,Figure 3-4, Step 1).
The defender uses his forehead to smash into his opponent’s nose or cheek
(A,Figure 3-4, Step 2) and stuns him.
The opponent releases the defender who then follows up with a kick or knee
strike to the groin (A, Figure 3-4, Step 3).
(b) The opponent grabs the defender in a bear hug from the rear
(B, Figure 3-4, Step 1).
The defender cocks his head forward and smashes the back of his head into
the opponent’s nose or cheek area (B, Figure 3-4, Step 2).
The defender turns to face his opponent and follows up with a spinning elbow
strike to the head (B, Figure 3-4, Step 3).
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(5) Rear strangle takedown. The defender strikes the opponent from the
rear with a forearm strike to the neck (carotid artery) (Figure 3-5, Step 1).
The defender wraps his right arm around his opponent’s neck, making sure
he locks the throat and windpipe in the vee formed by the his elbow. He
grasps his left bicep and wraps his left hand around the back of the opponent’s
head. He pulls his right arm in and flexes it, pushing his opponent’s head
forward (Figure 3-5, Step 2).
The defender kicks his legs out and back, maintains a choke on his opponent’s
neck, and pulls his opponent backward until his neck breaks (Figure 3-5,
Step 3).
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FM 21-150
Strangulation is a most effective method of disabling an opponent. The throat’s
vulnerability is widely known and should be a primary target in close-range
fighting. Your goal may be to break the opponent’s neck, to crush his trachea, to
block the air supply to his lungs, or to block the blood supply to his brain.
a. Strangulation by Crushing. Crushing the trachea just below the voice
box is probably one of the fastest, easiest, most lethal means of strangulation.
The trachea is crushed between the thumb and first two or three fingers.
b. Respiratory Strangulation. Compressing the windpipe to obstruct air
flow to the lungs is most effectively applied by pressure on the cartilage of the
windpipe. Unconsciousness can take place within one to two minutes.
However, the technique is not always effective on a strong opponent or an
opponent with a large neck. It is better to block the blood supply to weaken
the opponent first.
c. Sanguineous Strangulation. Cutting off the blood supply to the brain
by applying pressure to the carotid arteries results in rapid unconsciousness
of the victim. The victim can be rendered unconscious within 3 to 8 seconds,
and death can result within 30 to 40 seconds.
There are several choking techniques that a soldier can use to defeat his
opponent in hand-to-hand combat.
a. Cross-Collar Choke. With crossed hands, the fighter reaches as far as
possible around his opponent’s neck and grabs his collar (Figure 3-6, Step 1).
The backs of his hands should be against the neck.
The fighter keeps his elbows bent and close to the body (as in opening a tightly
sealed jar), pulls outward with both hands, and chokes the sides of the
opponent’s neck by rotating the knuckles into the neck (Figure 3-6, Step 2).
The forearm can also be used.
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b. Collar Grab Choke. The
fighter grabs his opponent’s collar
with both hands straight-on
(Figure 3-7). He then rotates the
knuckles inward against the neck to
quickly produce a good choke. He
also keeps the elbows in front and
close to the body where the greatest
strength is maintained.
c. Carotid Choke. The fighter
grabs the sides of the opponent’s
throat by the muscle and sticks his
thumbs into the carotids, closing
them off (Figure 3-8). This is a fast
and painful choke.
d. Trachea Choke. The fighter
grabs the opponent’s trachea
(Figure 3-9) by sticking three fingers
behind the voice box on one side and
the thumb behind the other. He
then crushes the fingers together
and twists, applying pressure until
the opponent is disabled.
FM 21-150
A soldier must know how to defend against being choked. Incapacitation and
unconsciousness can occur within three seconds; therefore, it is crucial for the
defender to know all possible counters to chokes.
a. Eye Gouge. The opponent
attacks the defender with a
frontal choke. The defender has
the option of going over or under
the opponent’s arms. To disable
the opponent, the defender
inserts both thumbs into his
opponent’s eyes and tries to
gouge them (Figure 3-10). The
defender is prepared to follow-up
with an attack to the vital regions.
b. Shoulder Dislocation. If the opponent applies a choke from the rear,
the defender places the back of his hand against the inside of the opponent’s
forearm (Figure 3-11, Step 1).
Then, he brings the other hand over the crook of the opponent’s elbow and
clasps hands, keeping his hands close to his body as he moves his entire body
around the opponent (Figure 3-11, Step 2).
He positions his body so that the opponent’s upper arm is aligned with the
opponent’s shoulders (Figure 3-11, Step 3). The opponent’s arm should be
bent at a 90-degree angle.
By pulling up on the opponent’s elbow and down on the wrist, the opponent’s
balance is taken and his shoulder is easily dislocated (Figure 3-11, Step 4).
The defender must use his body movement to properly position the
opponent—upper body strength will not work.
He drops his body weight by bending his knees to help get the proper bend
in the opponent’s elbow. The defender must also keep his own hands and
elbows close to his body to prevent the opponent’s escape (Figure 3-11,
Step 5).
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c. Weight Shift. To counter being choked from above while lying on the
ground (Figure 3-12, Step 1), the defender places his arms against his
opponent’s elbows and locks the joints.
At the same time, he shifts his hips so that his weight rests painfully on the
opponent’s ankle (Figure 3-12, Step 2).
The defender can easily shift his body weight to gain control by turning the
opponent toward his weak side (Figure 3-12, Step 3).
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d. Counterstrikes to Rear Choke and Frontal Choke. As the opponent
tries a rear choke (A,Figure 3-13, Step 1), the defender can break the
opponent’s grip with a strong rear-elbow strike into the solar plexus
(A,Figure 3-13, Step 2).
He can follow with a shin scrape down along the opponent’s leg and stomp
the foot (A, Figure 3-13, Step 3).
He may wish to continue by striking the groin of the opponent (A,Figure 3-13,
Step 4).
As the opponent begins a frontal choke (B, Figure 3-13, Step 1), the defender
turns his body and drops one arm between the opponent’s arms
(B, Figure 3-13, Step 2).
He sinks his body weight and drives his own hand to the ground, and then
explodes upward with an elbow strike (B, Figure 3-13, Step 3) into the
opponent’s chin, stomach, or groin.
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e. Headlock Escape. If a defender is in a headlock, he first turns his chin
in toward his opponent’s body to prevent choking (Figure 3-14, Step 1).
Next, he slides one hand up along the opponent’s back, around to the face,
and finds the sensitive nerve under the nose. He must avoid placing his
fingers near his opponent’s mouth, or he will be bitten (Figure 3-14, Step 2).
The defender can now force his opponent back and then down across his own
knee to the ground and maintain control by keeping pressure under the nose
(Figure 3-14, Step 3). He can finish the technique with a hammer fist to the
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FM 21-150
Grappling is when two or more fighters engage in close-range, hand-to-hand
combat. They may be armed or unarmed. To win, the fighter must be aware
of how to move his body to maintain the upper hand, and he must know the
mechanical strengths and weaknesses of the human body. The situation
becomes a struggle of strength pitted against strength unless the fighter can
remain in control of his opponent by using skilled movements to gain an
advantage in leverage and balance. Knowledge of the following basic
movement techniques may give the fighter a way to apply and gain the
advantage in grappling situations.
a. Wristlock From a Collar or Lapel Grab. When an opponent grabs the
defender by the collar or by the lapel, the defender reaches up and grabs the
opponent’s hand (to prevent him from withdrawing it) while stepping back to
pull him off balance (Figure 3-15, Step 1).
The defender peels off the opponent’s grabbing hand by crushing his thumb
and bending it back on itself toward the palm in a straight line (Figure 3-15,
Step 2). To keep his grip on the opponent’s thumb, the defender keeps his
hands close to his body where his control is strongest.
He then turns his body so that he has a wristlock on his opponent. The
wristlock is produced by turning his wrist outward at a 45-degree angle and
by bending it toward the elbow (Figure 3-15, Step 3). The opponent can be
driven to the ground by putting his palm on the ground.
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FM 21-150
b. Wristlock From an Arm Grab. When an opponent grabs a defender’s
arm, the defender rotates his arm to grab the opponent’s forearm
(Figure 3-16, Step 1).
At the same time, he secures his other hand on the gripping hand of the
opponent to prevent his escape (Figure 3-16, Step 2).
As the defender steps in toward the opponent and maintains his grip on the
hand and forearm, a zee shape is formed by the opponent’s arm; this is an
effective wristlock (Figure 3-16, Step 3). More pain can be induced by trying
to put the opponent’s fingers in his own eyes.
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c. Prisoner Escort. The
escort secures the prisoner’s
arm with the wrist bent
straight back upon itself,
palm toward the elbow. The
prisoner’s elbow can be
secured in the crook of the
escort’s elbow, firmly against
the escort’s body for the most
control (Figure 3-17). This
technique is most effective
with two escorts, each holding
a wrist of the prisoner. Use
this technique to secure the
opponent only if rope, flex
cuffs, or handcuffs are
d. Elbow Lock Against
the Body. The opponent’s
elbow can be locked against
the side of the body
(Figure 3-18) by the defender. The defender turns his
body to force the elbow into a
position in which it was not
designed to move. He can
apply leverage on the
opponent’s wrist to gain
control since the lock causes
intense pain. The elbow can
easily be broken to make the
arm ineffective. This movement must be executed with
maximum speed and force.
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e. Elbow Lock Against the Knee. While grappling on the ground, a
defender can gain control of the situation if he can use an elbow lock
(Figure 3-19) against the opponent. He uses his knee as a fulcrum for
leverage to break his opponent’s arm at the elbow. Once the arm breaks, the
defender must be prepared with a follow-up technique.
FM 21-150
f. Elbow Lock Against the Shoulder. An elbow lock can be applied by
locking the elbow joint against the shoulder (Figure 3-20) and pulling down
on the wrist. Leverage is produced by using the shoulder as a fulcrum, by
applying force, and by straightening the knees to push upward. This uses the
defender’s body mass and ensures more positive control. The opponent’s
arm must be kept straight so he cannot drive his elbow down into the
defender’s shoulder.
FM 21-150
g. Shoulder Dislocation. A defender can maneuver into position to
dislocate a shoulder by moving inside when an opponent launches a punch
(Figure 3-21, Step 1). The defenderholds his hand nearest the punching arm
high to protect the head.
The defender continues to move in and places his other arm behind the
punching arm (Figure 3-21, Step 2). He strikes downward into the crook of
the opponent’s elbow to create a bend.
Then he clasps his hands and moves to the opponent’s outside until the
opponent’s upper arm is in alignment with his shoulders and bent 90 degrees
at the elbow. As he steps, the defender pulls up on the opponent’s elbow and
directs the wrist downward. This motion twists the shoulder joint so it is easily
dislocated and the opponent loses his balance (Figure 3-21, Step 3).
NOTE: The defender must keep his clasped hands close to the body and
properly align the opponent’s arm by maneuvering his entire body. This
technique will not succeed by using upper-body strength only, the
opponent will escape.
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(1) Straight-arm shoulder dislocation. The shoulder can also be dislocated
(Figure 3-22) by keeping the elbow straight and forcing the opponent’s arm
backward toward the opposite shoulder at about 45 degrees. The initial
movement must take the arm down and alongside the opponent’s body.
Bending the wrist toward the elbow helps to lock out the elbow. The
dislocation also forces the opponent’s head down- ward where a knee strike
can be readily made. This dislocation technique should be practiced to get
the feel of the correct direction in which to move the joint.
FM 21-150
(2) Shoulder dislocation using the elbow. While grappling, the defender can
snake his hand over the crook in the opponent’s elbow and move his body to the
outside, trapping one arm of the opponent against his side (Figure 3-23, Step 1).
The defender can then clasp his hands in front of his body and use his body
mass in motion to align the opponent’s upper arm with the line between the
shoulders (Figure 3-23, Step 2).
By dipping his weight and then pulling upward on the opponent’s elbow, the
shoulder is dislocated, and the opponent loses his balance (Figure 3-23,
Step 3). If the opponent’s elbow locks rather than bends to allow the shoulder
dislocation, the defender can use the elbow lock to keep control.
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h. Knee Lock/Break. The opponent’s knee joint can be attacked to
produce knee locks or breaks(Figure 3-24)by forcingthe knee in a direction
opposite to which it was designed to move. The knee can be attacked with
the body’s mass behind the defender’s knee or with his entire body by falling
on the opponent’s knee, causing it to hyperextend.
In medium-range combatives, two opponents are already within touching
distance. The arsenal of possible body weapons includes short punches and
strikes with elbows, knees, and hands. Head butts are also effective; do not forget
them during medium-range combat. A soldier uses his peripheral vision to
evaluate the targets presented by the opponent and choose his target. He should
be aggressive and concentrate his attack on the opponent's vital points to end the
fight as soon as possible.
The body is divided into three sections: high, middle, and low. Each
section contains vital targets (Figure 4-1, pages 4-5 and 4-6). The effects of
striking these targets follow:
a. High Section. The high section includes the head and neck; it is the most
dangerous target area.
(1) Top of the head. The skull is weak where the frontal cranial bones join.
A forceful strike causes trauma to the cranial cavity, resulting in
unconsciousness and hemorrhage. A severe strike can result in death.
(2) Forehead. A forceful blow can cause whiplash; a severe blow can
cause cerebral hemorrhage and death.
(3) Temple. The bones of the skull are weak at the temple, and an artery
and large nerve lie close to the skin. A powerful strike can cause
unconsciousness and brain concussion. If the artery is severed, the resulting
massive hemorrhage compresses the brain, causing coma and or death.
(4) Eyes. A slight jab in the eyes causes uncontrollable watering and
blurred vision. A forceful jab or poke can cause temporary blindness, or the
eyes can be gouged out. Death can result if the fingers penetrate through the
thin bone behind the eyes and into the brain.
(5) Ears. A strike to the ear with cupped hands can rupture the eardrum
and may cause a brain concussion.
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(6) Nose. Any blow can easily break the thin bones of the nose, causing
extreme pain and eye watering.
(7) Under the nose. A blow to the nerve center, which is close to the
surface under the nose, can cause great pain and watery eyes.
(8) Jaw. A blow to the jaw can break or dislocate it. If the facial nerve is
pinched against the lower jaw, one side of the face will be paralyzed.
(9) Chin. A blow to the chin can cause paralysis, mild concussion, and
unconsciousness. The jawbone acts as a lever that can transmit the force of
a blow to the back of the brain where the cardiac and respiratory mechanisms
are controlled.
(10) Back of ears and base of skull. A moderate blow to the back of the
ears or the base of the skull can cause unconsciousness by the jarring effect
on the back of the brain. However, a powerful blow can cause a concussion
or brain hemorrhage and death.
(11) Throat. A powerful blow to the front of the throat can cause death
by crushing the windpipe. A forceful blow causes extreme pain and gagging
or vomiting.
(12) Side of neck. A sharp blow to the side of the neck causes
unconsciousness by shock to the carotid artery, jugular vein, and vagus nerve.
For maximum effect, the blow should be focused below and slightly in front
of the ear. A less powerful blow causes involuntary muscle spasms and
intense pain. The side of the neck is one of the best targets to use to drop an
opponent immediately or to disable him temporarily to finish him later.
(13) Back of neck. A powerful blow to the back of one’s neck can cause
whiplash, concussion, or even a broken neck and death.
b. Middle Section. The middle section extends from the shoulders to the
area just above the hips. Most blows to vital points in this region are not fatal
but can have serious, long-term complications that range from trauma to
internal organs to spinal cord injuries.
(1) Front of shoulder muscle. A large bundle of nerves passes in front of
the shoulder joint. A forceful blow causes extreme pain and can make the
whole arm ineffective if the nerves are struck just right.
(2) Collarbone. A blow to the collarbone can fracture it, causing intense
pain and rendering the arm on the side of the fracture ineffective. The
fracture can also sever the brachial nerve or subclavian artery.
(3) Armpit. A large nerve lies close to the skin in each armpit. A blow to
this nerve causes severe pain and partial paralysis. A knife inserted into the
armpit is fatal as it severs a major artery leading from the heart.
(4) Spine. A blow to the spinal column can sever the spinal cord, resulting
in paralysis or in death.
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(5) Nipples. A large network of nerves passes near the skin at the nipples.
A blow here can cause extreme pain and hemorrhage to the many blood
vessels beneath.
(6) Heart. A jolting blow to the heart can stun the opponent and allow
time for follow-up or finishing techniques.
(7) Solar plexus. The solar plexus is a center for nerves that control the
cardiorespiratory system. A blow to this location is painful and can take the
breath from the opponent. A powerful blow causes unconsciousness by
shock to the nerve center. A penetrating blow can also damage internal
(8) Diaphragm. A blow to the lower front of the ribs can cause the
diaphragm and the other muscles that control breathing to relax. This causes
loss of breath and can result in unconsciousness due to respiratory failure.
(9) Floating ribs. A blow to the floating ribs can easily fracture them
because they are not attached to the rib cage. Fractured ribs on the right side
can cause internal injury to the liver; fractured ribs on either side can possibly
puncture or collapse a lung.
(10) Kidneys. A powerful blow to the kidneys can induce shock and can
possibly cause internal injury to these organs. A stab to the kidneys induces
instant shock and can cause death from severe internal bleeding.
(11) Abdomen below navel. A powerful blow to the area below the navel
and above the groin can cause shock, unconsciousness, and internal bleeding.
(12) Biceps. A strike to the biceps is most painful and renders the arm
ineffective. The biceps is an especially good target when an opponent holds
a weapon.
(13) Forearm muscle. The radial nerve, which controls much of the
movement in the hand, passes over the forearm bone just below the elbow.
A strike to the radial nerve renders the hand and arm ineffective. An
opponent can be disarmed by a strike to the forearm; if the strike is powerful
enough, he can be knocked unconscious.
(14) Back of hand. The backs of the hands are sensitive. Since the nerves
pass over the bones in the hand, a strike to this area is intensely painful. The
small bones on the back of the hand are easily broken and such a strike can
also render the hand ineffective.
c. Low Section. The low section of the body includes everything from the
groin area to the feet. Strikes to these areas are seldom fatal, but they can be
(1) Groin. A moderate blow to the groin can incapacitate an opponent
and cause intense pain. A powerful blow can result in unconsciousness and
FM 21-150
(2) Outside of thigh. A large nerve passes near the surface on the outside
of the thigh about four finger-widths above the knee. A powerful strike to
this region can render the entire leg ineffective, causing an opponent to drop.
This target is especially suitable for knee strikes and shin kicks.
(3) Inside of thigh. A large nerve passes over the bone about in the middle
of the inner thigh. A blow to this area also incapacitates the leg and can cause
the opponent to drop. Knee strikes and heel kicks are the weapons of choice
for this target.
(4) Hamstring. A severe strike to the hamstring can cause muscle spasms
and inhibit mobility. If the hamstring is cut, the leg is useless.
(5) Knee. Because the knee is a major supporting structure of the body,
damage to this joint is especially detrimental to an opponent. The knee is
easily dislocated when struck at an opposing angle to the joint’s normal range
of motion, especially when it is bearing the opponent’s weight. The knee can
be dislocated or hyperextended by kicks and strikes with the entire body.
(6) Calf. A powerful blow to the top of the calf causes painful muscle
spasms and also inhibits mobility.
(7) Shin. A moderate blow to the shin produces great pain, especially a
blow with a hard object. A powerful blow can possibly fracture the bone that
supports most of the body weight.
(8) Achilles tendon. A powerful strike to the Achilles tendon on the back
of the heel can cause ankle sprain and dislocation of the foot. If the tendon
is torn, the opponent is incapacitated. The Achilles tendon is a good target
to cut with a knife.
(9) Ankle. A blow to the ankle causes pain; if a forceful blow is delivered,
the ankle can be sprained or broken.
(10) Instep. The small bones on the top of the foot are easily broken. A
strike here will hinder the opponent’s mobility.
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Effective striking with the weapons of the body to the opponent’s vital points
is essential for a victorious outcome in a hand-to-hand struggle. A soldier
must be able to employ the principles of effective striking if he is to emerge
as the survivor in a fight to the death.
a. Attitude. Proper mental attitude is of primary importance in the
soldier’s ability to strike an opponent. In hand-to-hand combat, the soldier
must have the attitude that he will defeat the enemy and complete the mission,
no matter what. In a fight to the death, the soldier must have the frame of
mind to survive above all else; the prospect of losing cannot enter his mind.
He must commit himself to hit the opponent continuously with whatever it
takes to drive him to the ground or end his resistance. A memory aid is,
“Thump him and dump him!”
b. Fluid Shock Wave. A strike should be delivered so that the target is hit
and the weapon remains on the impact site for at least a tenth of a second. This
imparts all of the kinetic energy of the strike into the target area, producing
a fluid shock wave that travels into the affected tissue and causes maximum
damage. It is imperative that all strikes to vital points and nerve motor points are
delivered with this principle in mind. The memory aid is, “Hit and stick!”
c. Target Selection. Strikes should be targeted at the opponent’s vital
points and nerve motor points. The results of effective strikes to vital points
are discussed in paragraph 4-1. Strikes to nerve motor points cause
temporary mental stunning and muscle motor dysfunction to the affected
areas of the body. Mental stunning results when the brain is momentarily
disoriented by overstimulation from too much input—for example, a strike
to a major nerve. The stunning completely disables an opponent for three to
seven seconds and allows the soldier to finish off the opponent, gain total
control of the situation, or make his escape. Sometimes, such a strike causes
unconsciousness. A successful strike to a nerve motor center also renders the
affected body part immovable by causing muscle spasms and dysfunction due
to nerve overload. (Readily available nerve motor points are shown in
Figure 4-1, pages 4-5 and 4-6.)
(1) Jugular notch pressure point. Located at the base of the neck just
above the breastbone; pressure to this notch can distract and take away his
balance. Pressure from fingers jabbed into the notch incurs intense pain that
causes an the opponent to withdraw from the pressure involuntarily.
(2) Suprascapular nerve motor point. This nerve is located where the
trapezius muscle joins the side of the neck. A strike to this point causes
intense pain, temporary dysfunction of the affected arm and hand, and mental
stunning for three to seven seconds. The strike should be a downward
knife-hand or hammer-fist strike from behind.
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(3) Brachial plexus origin. This nerve motor center is on the side of the
neck. It is probably the most reliable place to strike someone to stun them.
Any part of the hand or arm may be applied—the palm heel, back of the hand,
knife hand, ridge hand, hammer fist, thumb tip, or the forearm. A proper
strike to the brachial plexus origin causes—
Intense pain.
Complete cessation of motor activity.
Temporary dysfunction of the affected arm.
Mental stunning for three to seven seconds.
Possible unconsciousness.
(4) Brachial plexus clavicle notch pressure point. This center is behind the
collarbone in a hollow about halfway between the breastbone and the
shoulder joint. The strike should be delivered with a small-impact weapon
or the tip of the thumb to create high-level mental stunning and dysfunction
of the affected arm.
(5) Brachial plexus tie-in motor point. Located on the front of the shoulder
joint, a strike to this point can cause the arm to be ineffective. Multiple strikes
may be necessary to ensure total dysfunction of the arm and hand.
(6) Stellate ganglion. The ganglion is at the top of the pectoral muscle
centered above the nipple. A severe strike to this center can cause high-level
stunning, respiratory dysfunction, and possible unconsciousness. A straight
punch or hammer fist should be used to cause spasms in the nerves affecting
the heart and respiratory systems.
(7) Cervical vertebrae. Located at the base of the skull, a strike to this
particular vertebrae can cause unconsciousness or possibly death. The
harder the strike, the more likely death will occur.
(8) Radial nerve motor point. This nerve motor point is on top of the
forearm just below the elbow. Strikes to this point can create dysfunction of
the affected arm and hand. The radial nerve should be struck with the
hammer fist or the forearm bones or with an impact weapon, if available.
Striking the radial nerve can be especially useful when disarming an opponent
armed with a knife or other weapon.
(9) Median nerve motor point. This nerve motor point is on the inside of
the forearm at the base of the wrist, just above the heel of the hand. Striking
this center produces similar effects to striking the radial nerve, although it is
not as accessible as the radial nerve.
(10) Sciatic nerve. A sciatic nerve is just above each buttock, but below
the belt line. A substantial strike to this nerve can disable both legs and
possibly cause respiratory failure. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the
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body besides the spinal cord. Striking it can affect the entire body, especially
if an impact weapon is used.
(11) Femoral nerve. This nerve is in the center of the inside of the thigh;
striking the femoral nerve can cause temporary motor dysfunction of the
affected leg, high-intensity pain, and mental stunning for three to seven
seconds. The knee is best to use to strike the femoral nerve.
(12) Common peroneal nerve motor point. The peroneal nerve is on the
outside of the thigh about four fingers above the knee. A severe strike to this
center can cause collapse of the affected leg and high-intensity pain, as well
as mental stunning for three to seven seconds. This highly accessible point is
an effective way to drop an opponent quickly. This point should be struck
with a knee, shin kick, or impact weapon.
During medium-range combat, punches and strikes are usually short because
of the close distance between fighters. Power is generated by using the entire
body mass in motion behind all punches and strikes.
a. Hands as Weapons. A knowledge of hand-to-hand combat fighting
provides the fighter another means to accomplish his mission. Hands can
become deadly weapons when used by a skilled fighter.
(1) Punch to solar plexus. The
defender uses this punch for
close-in fighting when the
opponent rushes or tries to grab
him. The defender puts his full
weight and force behind the
punch and strikes his opponent in
the solar plexus (Figure 4-2),
knocking the breath out of his
lungs. The defender can then
follow-up with a knee to the groin,
or he can use other disabling
blows to vital areas.
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(2) Thumb strike to throat.
The defender uses the thumb
strike to the throat (Figure 4-3) as
an effective technique when an
opponent is rushing him or trying
to grab him. The defender thrusts
his right arm and thumb out and
strikes his opponent in the
throat-larynx area while holding
his left hand high for protection.
He can follow up with a disabling
blow to his opponent’s vital areas.
(3) Thumb strike to shoulder
joint. The opponent rushes the
defender and tries to grab him.
The defender strikes the
opponent’s shoulder joint or
upper pectoral muscle with his fist
or thumb (Figure 4-4). This
technique is painful and renders
the opponent’s arm numb. The
defender then follows up with a
disabling movement.
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(4) Hammer-fit strike to face.
The opponent rushes the
defender. The defender counters
by rotating his body in the
direction of his opponent and by
striking him in the temple, ear, or
face (Figure 4-5). The defender
follows up with kicks to the groin
or hand strikes to his opponent’s
other vital areas.
(5) Hammer-fist strike to side
of neck. The defender catches his
opponent off guard, rotates at the
waist to generate power, and
strikes his opponent on the side of
the neck (carotid artery)
(Figure 4-6) with his hand
clenched into a fist. This strike
can cause muscle spasms at the
least and may knock his opponent
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(6) Hammer fist to pectoral
muscle. When the opponent tries
to grapple with the defender, the
defender counters by forcefully
striking his opponent in the
pectoral muscle (Figure 4-7).
This blow stuns the opponent, and
the defender immediately follows
up with a disabling blow to a vital
area of his opponent’s body.
(7) Hook punch to solar plexus
or floating ribs. The opponent
tries to wrestle the defender to the
ground. The defender counters
with a short hook punch to his
opponent’s solar plexus or floating
ribs (Figure 4-8). A sharply
delivered blow can puncture or
collapse a lung. The defender
then follows up with a combination
of blows to his opponent’s vital
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(8) Uppercut to chin. The
defender steps between his
opponent’s arms and strikes with an
uppercut punch (Figure 4-9) to the
chin or jaw. The defender then
follows up with blows to his
opponent’s vital areas.
(9) Knife-hand strike to side of
neck. The defender executes a
knife-hand strike to the side of his
opponent’s neck (Figure 4-10) the
same way as the hammer-fist strike
(Figure 4-6, page 4-11) except he
uses the edge of his striking hand.
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(10) Knife-hand strike to radial nerve. The opponent tries to strike the
defender with a punch. The defender counters by striking his opponent on
the top of the forearm just below the elbow (radial nerve) (Figure 4-11) and
uses a follow-up technique to disable his opponent.
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(11) Palm-heel strike to chin. The opponent tries to surprise the defender
by lunging at him. The defender quickly counters by striking his opponent
with a palm-heel strike to the chin (Figure 4-12), using maximum force.
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(12) Palm-heel strike to solar plexus. The defender meets his opponent’s
rush by striking him with a palm-heel strike to the solar plexus (Figure 4-13).
The defender then executes a follow-up technique to his opponent’s vital
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(13) Palm-heel strike to kidneys. The defender grasps his opponent from
behind by the collar and pulls him off balance. He quickly follows up with a
hard palm-heel strike to the opponent’s kidney (Figure 4-14). The defender
can then take down his opponent with a follow-up technique to the back of
his knee.
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b. Elbows as Weapons. The elbows are also formidable weapons;
tremendous striking power can be generated from them. The point of the
elbow should be the point of impact. The elbows are strongest when kept in
front of the body and in alignment with the shoulder joint; that is, never strike
with the elbow out to the side of the body.
(1) Elbow strikes. When properly executed, elbow strikes (Figures 4-15
through 4-21, pages 4-18 through 4-22) render an opponent ineffective.
When using elbow strikes, execute them quickly, powerfully, and repetitively
until the opponent is disabled.
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(2) Repetitive elbow strikes. The attacker on the right throws a punch
(Figure 4-22, Step 1).
The defender counters with an elbow strike to the biceps (Figure 4-22,
Step 2). The attacker follows with a punch from his other arm.
The defender again counters with an elbow strike to the shoulder joint
(Figure 4-22, Step 3). He next strikes with an elbow from the opposite side
to the throat.
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c. Knees as Weapons. When the knees are used to strike opponents, they
are especially potent weapons and are hard to defend or protect against.
Great power is generated by thrusting the hips in with a knee strike; however,
use the point of the knee as the impact surface. All knee strikes should be
executed repetitively until the opponent is disabled. The following
techniques are the most effective way to overpower or disable the opponent.
(1) Front knee strike. When an opponent tries to grapple with the
defender, the defender strikes his opponent in the stomach or solar plexus
with his knee (Figure 4-23). This stuns the opponent and the defender can
follow up with another technique.
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(2) Knee strike to outside of thigh. The defender delivers a knee strike to
the outside of his opponent’s thigh (common peroneal nerve) (Figure 4-24).
This strike causes intense pain and renders the opponent’s leg ineffective.
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(3) knee strike to inside of thigh. An effective technique for close-in
grappling is when the defender delivers a knee strike to the inside of his
opponent’s thigh (peroneal nerve) (Figure 4-25). The defender then
executes a follow-up technique to a vital point.
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(4) Knee strike to groin. The knee strike to the groin is effective during
close-in grappling. The defender gains control by grabbing his opponent’s
head, hair, ears, or shoulders and strikes him in the groin with his knee
(Figure 4-26).
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(5) Knee strike to face. The defender controls his opponent by grabbing
behind his head with both hands and forcefully pushing his head down. At
the same time, the defender brings his knee up and smashes the opponent in
the face (Figure 4-27). When properly executed, the knee strike to the face
is a devastating technique that can cause serious injury to the opponent.
In long-range combatives, the distance between opponents is such that the
combatants can engage one another with fully extended punches and kicks or
with handheld weapons, such as rifles with fixed bayonets and clubs. As in
medium-range combatives, a fighter must continuously monitor his available
body weapons and opportunities for attack, as well as possible defense measures.
He must know when to increase the distance from an opponent and when to
close the gap. The spheres of influence that surround each fighter come into
contact in long-range combatives. (See Chapter 6 for interval gaps and spheres
of influence.)
Section 1
The most dangerous natural weapons a soldier posseses are his hands
and feet. This section describes natural weapon techniques of various
punches, strikes, and kicks and stresses aggressive tactics with which
to subdue an opponent.
Extended arm punches and strikes in long-range combatives, like those in
medium-range combatives, should be directed at vital points and nerve motor
points. It is essential to put the entire body mass in motion behind long-range
strikes. Closing the distance to the target gives the fighter an opportunity to
take advantage of this principle.
a. In extended punches, the body weapon is usually the fist, although the
fingers may be used—for example, eye gouging. When punching, hold the
fist vertically or horizontally. Keep the wrist straight to prevent injury and
use the first two knuckles in striking.
b. Another useful variation of the fist is to place the thumb on top of the
vertical fist so that the tip protrudes beyond the curled index finger that
supports it. The thumb strike is especially effective against soft targets.
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Do not fully lock out the arm when punching; keep a slight bend in the elbow
to prevent hyperextension if the intended target is missed.
5-2. KICKS
Kicks during hand-to-hand combat are best directed to low targets and should
be simple but effective. Combat soldiers are usually burdened with combat
boots and LCE. His flexibility level is usually low during combat, and if
engaged in hand-to-hand combat, he will be under high stress. He must rely
on gross motor skills and kicks that do not require complicated movement or
much training and practice to execute.
a. Side Knee Kick. When an opponent launches an attack—for example,
with a knife (Figure 5-1, Step 1), it is most important for the defender to first
move his entire body off the line of attack as the attacker moves in.
As the defender steps off at 45 degrees to the outside and toward the
opponent, he strikes with a short punch to the floating ribs (Figure 5-1,
Step 2).
Then the defender turns his body by rotating on the leading, outside foot and
raises the knee of his kicking leg to his chest. He then drives his kick into the
side of the attacker’s knee with his foot turned 45 degrees outward
(Figure 5-1, Step 3). This angle makes the most of the striking surface and
reduces his chances of missing the target.
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b. Front Knee Kick. As the attacker moves in, the defender immediately
shifts off the line of attack and drives his kicking foot straight into the knee of
the attacker (Figure 5-2). He turns his foot 45 degrees to make the most of
the striking surface and to reduce the chances of missing the target. If the
kick is done right, the attacker’s advance will stop abruptly, and the knee joint
will break.
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c. Heel Kick to Inside of Thigh. The defender steps 45 degrees outside
and toward the attacker to get off the line of attack. He is now in a position
where he can drive his heel into the inside of the opponent’s thigh (femoral
nerve) (Figure 5-3, Steps 1 and 2). Either thigh can be targeted because the
kick can still be executed if the defender moves to the inside of the opponent
rather than to the outside when getting off the line of attack.
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d. Heel Kick to Groin. The defender drives a heel kick into the attacker’s
groin (Figure 5-4) with his full body mass behind it. Since the groin is a soft
target, the toe can also be used when striking it.
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e. Shin Kick. The shin kick is a powerful kick, and it is easily performed
with little training. When the legs are targeted, the kick is hard to defend
against (Figure 5-5), and an opponent can be dropped by it.
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The calves and common peroneal
nerve (Figure 5-6) are the best
striking points.
The shin kick can also be used
to attack the floating ribs
(Figure 5-7).
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f. Stepping Side Kick. A soldier starts a stepping side kick (Figure 5-8,
Step 1) by stepping either behind or in front of his other foot to close the
distance between him and his opponent. The movement is like that in a skip.
The soldier now brings the knee of his kicking foot up and thrusts out a side
kick (Figure 5-8, Step 2). Tremendous power and momentum can be
developed in this kick.
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g. Counter to Front Kick. When the attacker tries a front kick, the
defender traps the kicking foot by meeting it with his own (Figure 5-9, Step 1).
The defender turns his foot 45 degrees outward to increase the likelihood of
striking the opponent’s kicking foot. This counter requires good timing by
the defender, but not necessarily speed. Do not look at the feet; use your
peripheral vision.
When an attacker tries a front kick (Figure 5-9, Step 2), the defender steps
off the line of attack of the incoming foot to the outside.
As the attacker’s kicking leg begins to drop, the defender kicks upward into
the calf of the attacker’s leg (Figure 5-9, Step 3). This kick is extremely
painful and will probably render the leg ineffective. This technique does not
rely on the defender’s speed, but on proper timing.
The defender can also kick to an opponent’s kicking leg by moving off the line
of attack to the inside and by using the heel kick to the inside of the thigh or
groin (Figure 5-9, Step 4).
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h. Counter to Roundhouse-Type Kick. When an opponent prepares to
attack with a roundhouse-type kick (Figure 5-10, Step 1), the defender moves
off the line of attack by stepping to the inside of the knee of the kicking leg.
He then turns his body to receive the momentum of the leg (Figure 5-10,
Step 2). By moving to the inside of the knee, the defender lessens the power
of the attacker’s kicking leg. The harder the attacker kicks, the more likely
he is to hyperextend his own knee against the body of the defender, but the
defender will not be harmed. However, the defender must get to the inside
of the knee, or an experienced opponent can change his roundhouse kick into
a knee strike. The defender receives the energy of the kicking leg and
continues turning with the momentum of the kick.
The attacker will be taken down by the defender’s other leg with no effort
(Figure 5-10, Step 3).
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i. Kick as a Defense Against Punch. As the opponent on the left throws
a punch (Figure 5-11, Step 1), the defender steps off the line of attack to the
He then turns toward the opponent, brings his knee to his chest, and launches
a heel kick to the outside of the opponent’s thigh (Figure 5-11, Step 2). He
keeps his foot turned 45 degrees to ensure striking the target and to maintain
FM 21-150
Section II
A knife (or bayonet), properly employed, is a deadly weapon;
however, using defensive techniques, such as maintaining separation,
will greatly enhance the soldier’s ability to fight and win.
An unarmed defender is always at a distinct disadvantage facing an armed
opponent. It is imperative therefore that the unarmed defender understand
and use the following principles to survive:
a. Separation. Maintain a separation of at least 10 feet plus the length
of the weapon from the attacker. This distance gives the defender time to
react to any attempt by the attacker to close the gap and be upon the defender.
The defender should also try to place stationary objects between himself and
the attacker.
b. Unarmed Defense. Unarmed defense against an armed opponent
should be a last resort. If it is necessary, the defender’s course of action includes:
(1) Move the body out of the line of attack of the weapon. Step off the line
of attack or redirect the attack of the weapon so that it clears the body.
(2) Control the weapon. Maintain control of the attacking arm by securing
the weapon, hand, wrist, elbow, or arm by using joint locks, if possible.
(3) Stun the attacker with an effective counterattack. Counterattack should
be swift and devastating. Take the vigor out of the attacker with a low,
unexpected kick, or break a locked joint of the attacking arm. Strikes to
motor nerve centers are effective stuns, as are skin tearing, eye gouging, and
attacking of the throat. The defender can also take away the attacker’s
(4) Ground the attacker. Take the attacker to the ground where the
defender can continue to disarm or further disable him.
(5) Disarm the attacker. Break the attacker’s locked joints. Use leverage
or induce pain to disarm the attacker and finish him or to maintain physical
c. Precaution. Do not focus full attention on the weapon because the
attacker has other body weapons to use. There may even be other attackers
that you have not seen.
d. Expedient Aids. Anything available can become an expedient aid to
defend against an armed attack. The kevlar helmet can be used as a shield;
similarly, the LCE and shirt jacket can be used to protect the defender against
a weapon. The defender can also throw dirt in the attacker’s eyes as a
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Any attack, regardless of the type weapon, can be directed along one of nine
angles (Figure 5-12). The defense must be oriented for each angle of attack.
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a. No. 1 Angle of Attack. A downward diagonal slash, stab, or strike
toward the left side of the defender’s head, neck, or torso.
b. No. 2 Angle of Attack. A downward diagonal slash, stab, or strike
toward the right side of the defender’s head, neck, or torso.
c. No. 3 Angle of Attack A horizontal attack to the left side of the
defender’s torso in the ribs, side, or hip region.
d. No. 4 Angle of Attack. The same as No. 3 angle, but to the right side.
e. No. 5 Angle of Attack. A jabbing, lunging, or punching attack directed
straight toward the defender’s front.
f. No. 6 Angle of Attack. An attack directed straight down upon the
g. No. 7 Angle of Attack. An upward diagonal attack toward the
defender’s lower-left side.
h. No. 8 Angle of Attack. An upward diagonal attack toward the
defender’s lower-right side.
i. No. 9 Angle of Attack. An attack directed straight up—for example, to
the defender’s groin.
When an unarmed soldier is faced with an enemy armed with a knife, he must
be mentally prepared to be cut. The likelihood of being cut severely is less if
the fighter is well trained in knife defense and if the principles of weapon
defense are followed. A slash wound is not usually lethal or shock inducing;
however, a stab wound risks injury to vital organs, arteries, and veins and may
also cause instant shock or unconsciousness.
a. Types of Knife Attacks. The first line of defense against an opponent
armed with a knife is to avoid close contact. The different types of knife
attacks follow:
(1) Thrust. The thrust is the most common and most dangerous type of
knife attack. It is a strike directed straight into the target by jabbing or lunging.
(2) Slash. The slash is a sweeping surface cut or circular slash. The
wound is usually a long cut, varying from a slight surface cut to a deep gash.
(3) Flick. This attack is delivered by flicking the wrist and knife to
extended limbs, inflicting numerous cuts. The flick is very distractive to the
defender since he is bleeding from several cuts if the attacker is successful.
(4) Tear. The tear is a cut made by dragging the tip of the blade across
the body to create a ripping-type cut.
(5) Hack. The hack is delivered by using the knife to block or chop with.
(6) Butt. The butt is a strike with the knife handle.
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b. Knife Defense Drills. Knife defense drills are used to familiarize
soldiers with defense movement techniques for various angles of attack. For
training, the soldiers should be paired off; one partner is named as the
attacker and one is the defender. It is important that the attacker make his
attack realistic in terms of distance and angling during training. His strikes
must be accurate in hitting the defender at the intended target if the defender
does not defend himself or move off the line of attack. For safety, the attacks
are delivered first at one-quarter and one-half speed, and then at
three-quarter speed as the defender becomes more skilled. Variations can
be added by changing grips, stances, and attacks.
(1) No. 1 angle of defense—heck and lift. The attacker delivers a slash
along the No. 1 angle of attack. The defender meets and checks the
movement with his left forearm bone, striking the inside forearm of the
attacker (Figure 5-13, Step 1).
The defender’s right hand immediately follows behind the strike to lift,
redirect, and take control of the attacker’s knife arm (Figure 5-13, Step 2).
The defender brings the attacking arm around to his right side where he can
use an arm bar, wrist lock, and so forth, to disarm the attacker (Figure 5-13,
Step 3).
He will have better control by keeping the knife hand as close to his body as
possible (Figure 5-13, Step 4).
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(2) No. 2 angle of defense—check and ride. The attacker slashes with a
No. 2 angle of attack. The defender meets the attacking arm with a strike
from both forearms against the outside forearm, his bone against the
attacker’s muscle tissue (Figure 5-14, Step 1).
The strike checks the forward momentum of the attacking arm. The
defender’s right hand is then used to ride the attacking arm clear of his body
(Figure 5-14, Step 2).
He redirects the attacker’s energy with strength starting from the right elbow
(Figure 5-14, Step 3).
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(3) No. 3 angle of defense—check and lift. The attacker delivers a
horizontal slash to the defender’s ribs, kidneys, or hip on the left side
(Figure 5-15, Step 1). The defender meets and checks the attacking arm on
the left side of his body with a downward circular motion across the front of
his own body.
At the same time, he moves his body off the line of attack. He should meet
the attacker’s forearm with a strike forceful enough to check its momentum
(Figure 5-15, Step 2). The defender then rides the energy of the attacking
arm by wiping downward along the outside of his own left forearm with his
right hand.
He then redirects the knife hand around to his right side where he can control
or disarm the weapon (Figure 5-15, Step 3).
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(4) No. 4 angle of defense—check. The attacker slashes the defender with
a backhand slashing motion to the right side at the ribs, kidneys, or hips. The
defender moves his right arm in a downward circular motion and strikes the
attacking arm on the outside of the body (Figure 5-16, Step 1).
At the same time, he moves off the line of attack (Figure 5-16, Step 2). The
strike must be forceful enough to check the attack.
The left arm is held in a higher guard position to protect from a redirected
attack or to assist in checking (Figure 5-16, Step 3).
The defender moves his body to a position where he can choose a proper
disarming maneuver (Figure 5-16, Step 4).
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(5) Low No. 5 angle of defense–parry. A lunging thrust to the stomach is
made by the attacker along the No. 5 angle of attack (Figure 5-17, Step 1).
The defender moves his body off the line of attack and deflects the attacking
arm by parrying with his left hand (Figure 5-17, Step 2). He deflects the
attacking hand toward his right side by redirecting it with his right hand.
As he does this, the defender can strike downward with the left forearm or
the wrist onto the forearm or wrist of the attacker (Figure 5-17, Step 3).
The defender ends up in a position to lock the elbow of the attacking arm
across his body if he steps off the line of attack properly (Figure 5-17, Step 4).
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(6) High No. 5 angle of defense. The attacker lunges with a thrust to the
face, throat, or solar plexus (Figure 5-18, Step 1).
The defender moves his body off the line of attack while parrying with either
hand. He redirects the attacking arm so that the knife clears his body
(Figure 5-18, Step 2).
He maintains control of the weapon hand or arm and gouges the eyes of the
attacker, driving him backward and off balance (Figure 5-18, Step 3). If the
attacker is much taller than the defender, it may be a more natural movement
for the defender to raise his left hand to strike and deflect the attacking arm.
He can then gouge his thumb or fingers into the jugular notch of the attacker
and force him to the ground.
Still another possibility for a high No. 5 angle of attack is for the defender to
move his body off the line of attack while parrying. He can then turn his body,
rotate his shoulder under the elbow joint of the attacker, and lock it out
(Figure 5-18, Step 4).
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(7) No. 6 angle of defense. The attacker strikes straight downward onto
the defender with a stab (Figure 5-19, Step 1).
The defender reacts by moving his body out of the weapon’s path and by
parrying or checking and redirecting the attacking arm, as the movement in
the high No. 5 angle of defense (Figure 5-19, Step 2). The reactions may vary
as to what is natural for the defender.
The defender then takes control of the weapon and disarms the attacker
(Figure 5-19, Step 3).
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c. Follow-Up Techniques. Once the instructor believes the soldiers are
skilled in these basic reactions to attack, follow-up techniques may be
introduced and practiced. These drills make up the defense possibilities
against the various angles of attack. They also enable the soldier to apply the
principles of defense against weapons and allow him to feel the movements.
Through repetition, the reactions become natural, and the soldier
instinctively reacts to a knife attack with the proper defense. It is important
not to associate specific movements or techniques with certain types of attack.
The knife fighter must rely on his knowledge of principles and his training
experience in reacting to a knife attack. No two attacks or reactions will be
the same; thus, memorizing techniques will not ensure a soldier’s survival.
(1) Defend and clear. When the defender has performed a defensive
maneuver and avoided an attack, he can push the attacker away and move
out of the attacker’s reach.
(2) Defend and stun. After the defender performs his first defensive
maneuver to a safer position, he can deliver a stunning blow as an immediate
counterattack. Strikes to motor nerve points or attacker’s limbs, low kicks,
and elbow strikes are especially effective stunning techniques.
(3) Defend and disarm. The defender also follows up his first defensive
maneuver by maintaining control of the attacker’s weapon arm, executing a
stunning technique, and disarming the attacker. The stun distracts the
attacker and also gives the defender some time to gain possession of the
weapon and to execute his disarming technique.
Defense against a rifle with a fixed bayonet involves the same principles as
knife defense. The soldier considers the same angles of attack and the proper
response for any attack along each angle.
a. Regardless of the type weapon used by the enemy, his attack will always
be along one of the nine angles of attack at any one time. The soldier must
get his entire body off the line of attack by moving to a safe position. A rifle
with a fixed bayonet has two weapons: a knife at one end and a butt stock at
the other end. The soldier will be safe as long as he is not in a position where
he can be struck by either end during the attack.
b. Usually, he is in a more advantageous position if he moves inside the
length of the weapon. He can then counterattack to gain control of the
situation as soon as possible. The following counterattacks can be used as
defenses against a rifle with a fixed bayonet; they also provide a good basis
for training.
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(1) Unarmed defense against No. 1 angle of attack. The attacker prepares
to slash along the No. 1 angle of attack (Figure 5-20, Step 1).
The defender waits until the last possible moment before moving so he is
certain of the angle along which the attack is directed (Figure 5-20, Step 2).
This way, the attacker cannot change his attack in response to movement by
the defender.
When the defender is certain that the attack is committed along a specific
angle (No. 1, in this case), he moves to the inside of the attacker and gouges
his eyes (Figure 5-20, Step 2) while the other hand redirects and controls the
weapon. He maintains control of the weapon and lunges his entire body
weight into the eye gouge to drive the attacker backward and off balance. The
defender now ends up with the weapon, and the attacker is in a poor recovery
position (Figure 5-20, Step 3).
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(2) Unarmed defense against No. 2 angle of attack. The attacker makes a
diagonal slash along the No. 2 angle of attack (Figure 5-21, Step 1). Again,
the defender waits until he is sure of the attack before moving.
The defender then moves to the outside of the attacker and counterattacks
with a thumb jab into the right armpit (Figure 5-21, Step 2). He receives the
momentum of the attacking weapon and controls it with his free hand.
He uses the attacker’s momentum against him by pulling the weapon in the
direction it is going with one hand and pushing with his thumb of the other
hand (Figure 5-21, Step 3). The attacker is completely off balance, and the
defender can gain control of the weapon.
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(3) Unarmed defense against No. 3 angle of attack. The attacker directs a
horizontal slash along the No. 3 angle of attack (Figure 5-22, Step 1).
The defender turns and moves to the inside of the attacker; he then strikes
with his thumb into the jugular notch (Figure 5-22, Step 2).
His entire body mass is behind the thumb strike and, coupled with the
incoming momentum of the attacker, the strike drives the attacker’s head
backward and takes his balance (Figure 5-22, Step 3).
The defender turns his body with the momentum of the weapon’s attack to
strip the weapon from the attacker’s grip (Figure 5-22, Step 4).
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(4) Unarmed defense against No. 4 angle of attack. The attack is a
horizontal slash along the No. 4 angle of attack (Figure 5-23, Step 1).
The defender moves into the outside of the attacker (Figure 5-23, Step 2).
He then turns with the attack, delivering an elbow strike to the throat
(Figure 5-23, Step 3). At the same time, the defender’s free hand controls
the weapon and pulls it from the attacker as he is knocked off balance from
the elbow strike.
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(5) Unarmed defense against low No. 5 angle of attack. The attacker thrusts
the bayonet at the stomach of the defender (Figure 5-24, Step 1).
The defender shifts his body to the side to avoid the attack and to gouge the
eyes of the attacker (Figure 5-24, Step 2).
The defender’s free hand maintains control of and strips the weapon from the
attacker as he is driven backward with the eye gouge (Figure 5-24, Step 3).
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(6) Unarmed defense against high No. 5 angle of attack. The attacker
delivers a thrust to the throat of the defender (Figure 5-25, Step 1).
The defender then shifts to the side to avoid the attack, parries the thrust, and
controls the weapon with his trail hand (Figure 5-25, Step 2).
He then shifts his entire body mass forward over the lead foot, slamming a
forearm strike into the attacker’s throat (Figure 5-25, Step 3).
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(7) Unarmed defense against No 6 angle of attack. The attacker delivers a
downward stroke along the No. 6 angle of attack (Figure 5-26, Step 1).
The defender shifts to the outside to get off the line of attack and he grabs
the weapon. Then, he pulls the attacker off balance by causing him to
overextend himself (Figure 2-26, Step 2).
The defender shifts his weight backward and causes the attacker to fall, as he
strips the weapon from him (Figure 5-26, Step 3).
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For advanced training in weapons techniques, training partners should have
the same skill level. Attackers can execute attacks along multiple angles of
attack in combinations. The attacker must attack with a speed that offers the
defender a challenge, but does not overwhelm him. It should not be a contest
to see who can win, but a training exercise for both individuals.
a. Continued training in weapons techniques will lead to the partners’
ability to engage in free-response fighting or sparring—that is, the individuals
become adept enough to understand the principles of weapons attacks,
defense, and movements so they can respond freely when attacking or
defending from any angle.
b. Instructors must closely monitor training partners to ensure that the
speed and control of the individuals does not become dangerous during
advanced training practice. Proper eye protection and padding should be
used, when applicable. The instructor should stress the golden rule in
free-response fighting—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Section III
At ranges of 10 meters or more in most combat situations, small arms
and grenades are the weapons of choice. However, in some scenarios,
today’s combat soldier must engage the enemy in confined areas, such
as trench clearing or room clearing where noncombatants are present
or when silence is necessary. In these instances, the bayonet or knife
may be the ideal weapon to dispatch the enemy. Other than the side
arm, the knife is the most lethal weapon in close-quarter combat.
As the bayonet is an integral part of the combat soldier’s equipment, it is
readily available for use as a multipurpose weapon. The bayonet produces a
terrifying mental effect on the enemy when in the hands of a well-trained and
confident soldier. The soldier skilled in the use of the knife also increases his
ability to defend against larger opponents and multiple attackers. Both these
skills increase his chances of surviving and accomplishing the mission.
(Although the following paragraphs say “knife,” the information also applies
to bayonets.)
a. Grips. The best way to hold the knife is either with the straight grip or
the reverse grip.
(1) Straight Grip. Grip the knife in the strong hand by forming a vee
and by allowing the knife to fit naturally, as in gripping for a handshake.
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The handle should lay diagonally across the palm. Point the blade toward the
enemy, usually with the cutting edge down. The cutting edge can also be held
vertically or horizontally to the ground. Use the straight grip when thrusting
and slashing.
(2) Reverse Grip. Grip the knife with the blade held parallel with the
forearm, cutting edge facing outward. This grip conceals the knife from the
enemy’s view. The reverse grip also affords the most power for lethal
insertion. Use this grip for slashing, stabbing, and tearing.
b. Stances. The primary stances are the knife fighter’s stance and the
modified stance.
(1) Knife fighter’s
stance. In this stance, the
fighter stands with his feet
about shoulder-width
apart, dominant foot
toward the rear. About
70 percent of his weight is
on the front foot and 30
percent on the rear foot.
He stands on the balls of
both feet and holds the
knife with the straight grip.
The other hand is held
close to his body where
it is ready to use, but
protected (Figure 5-27).
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(2) Modified stance. The
difference in the modified
stance is the knife is held close
to the body with the other
hand held close over the knife
hand to help conceal it
(Figure 5-28).
c. Range. The two primary
ranges in knife fighting are
long range and medium range.
In long-range knife fighting,
attacks consist of figure-eight
slashes along the No. 1, No. 2,
No. 7, and No. 8 angles of
attack; horizontal slashes
along the No. 3 and No. 4
angles of attack; and lunging
thrusts to vital areas on the
No. 5 angle of attack. Usually,
the straight grip is used. In
medium-range knife fighting,
the reverse grip provides
greater power. It is used to
thrust, slash, and tear along all
angles of attack.
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The knife fighter must learn to use all available weapons of his body and not
limit himself to the knife. The free hand can be used to trap the enemy’s
hands to create openings in his defense. The enemy’s attention will be
focused on the weapon; therefore, low kicks and knee strikes will seemingly
come from nowhere. The knife fighter’s priority of targets are the eyes,
throat, abdominal region, and extended limbs. Some knife attack sequences
that can be used in training to help develop soldiers’ knowledge of
movements, principles, and techniques in knife fighting follow.
a. Nos. 1 and 4 Angles. Two opponents assume the knife fighter’s stance
(Figure 5-29, Step 1).
The attacker starts with a diagonal slash along the No. 1 angle of attack to the
throat (Figure 5-29, Step 2).
He then follows through with a slash and continues with a horizontal slash
back across the abdomen along the No. 4 angle of attack (Figure 5-29, Step 3).
He finishes the attack by using his entire body mass behind a lunging stab into
the opponent’s solar plexus (Figure 5-29, Step 4).
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b. Nos. 5, 3, and 2 Angles. In this sequence, one opponent (attacker)
starts an attack with a lunge along the No. 5 angle of attack. At the same time,
the other opponent (defender) on the left moves his body off the line of attack,
parries the attacking arm, and slices the biceps of his opponent (Figure 5-30,
Step 1).
The defender slashes back across the groin along the No. 3 angle of attack
(Figure 5-30, Step 2).
He finishes the attacker by continuing with an upward stroke into the armpit
or throat along the No. 2 angle of attack (Figure 5-30, Step 3). Throughout
this sequence, the attacker’s weapon hand is controlled with the defender’s
left hand as he attacks with his own knife hand.
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FM 21-150
c. Low No. 5 Angle. In the next sequence, the attacker on the right lunges
to the stomach along a low No. 5 angle of attack.
The defender on the left moves his body off the line of attack while parrying
and slashing the wrist of the attacking knife hand as he redirects the arm
(Figure 5-31, Step 1).
After he slashes the wrist of his attacker, the defender continues to move
around the outside and stabs the attacker’s armpit (Figure 5-31, Step 2).
He retracts his knife from the armpit, continues his movement around the
attacker, and slices his hamstring (Figure 5-31, Step 3).
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d. Optional Low No. 5 Angle. The attacker on the right lunges to the
stomach of his opponent (the defender) along the low No. 5 angle of attack.
The defender moves his body off the line of attack of the knife. Then he turns
and, at the same time, delivers a slash to the attacker’s throat along the No. 1
angle of attack (Figure 5-32, Step 1).
The defender immediately follows with another slash to the opposite side of
the attacker’s throat along the No. 2 angle of attack (Figure 5-32, Step 2).
The attacker is finished as the opponent on the left (defender) continues to
slice across the abdomen with a stroke along the No. 3 angle (Figure 5-32,
Step 3).
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The principles used in fighting with the rifle and fixed bayonet are the same
as when knife fighting. Use the same angles of attack and similar body
movements. The principles of timing and distance remain paramount; the
main difference is the extended distance provided by the length of the
weapon. It is imperative that the soldier fighting with rifle and fixed bayonet
use the movement of his entire body behind all of his fighting techniques—not
just upper-body strength. Unit trainers should be especially conscious of
stressing full body mass in motion for power and correcting all deficiencies
during training. Whether the enemy is armed or unarmed, a soldier fighting
with rifle and fixed bayonet must develop the mental attitude that he will
survive the fight. He must continuously evaluate each moment in a fight to
determine his advantages or options, as well as the enemy’s. He should base
his defenses on keeping his body moving and off the line of any attacks from
his opponent. The soldier seeks openings in the enemy’s defenses and starts
his own attacks, using all available bodyweapons and angles of attack. The angles
of attack with rifle and fixed bayonet are shown in Figures 5-33 through 5-39.
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a. Fighting Techniques. New weapons, improved equipment, and new
tactics are always being introduced; however, firepower alone will not always
drive a determined enemy from his position. He will often remain in
defensive emplacements until driven out by close combat. The role of the
soldier, particularly in the final phase of the assault, remains relatively
unchanged: His mission is to close with and disable or capture the enemy.
This mission remains the ultimate goal of all individual training. The rifle with
fixed bayonet is one of the final means of defeating an opponent in an assault.
(1) During infiltration missions at night or when secrecy must be
maintained, the bayonet is an excellent silent weapon.
(2) When close-in fighting determines the use of small-arms fire or
grenades to be impractical, or when the situation does not permit the loading
or reloading of the rifle, the bayonet is still the weapon available to the soldier.
(3) The bayonet serves as a secondary weapon should the rifle develop a
(4) In hand-to-hand encounters, the detached bayonet may be used as a
handheld weapon.
(5) The bayonet has many nonfighting uses, such as to probe for mines, to
cut vegetation, and to use for other tasks where a pointed or cutting tool is needed.
b. Development. To become a successful rifle-bayonet fighter, a soldier
must be physically fit and mentally alert. A well-rounded physical training
program will increase his chances of survival in a bayonet encounter. Mental
alertness entails being able to quickly detect and meet an opponent’s attack
from any direction. Aggressiveness, accuracy, balance, and speed are essential
in training as well as in combat situations. These traits lead to confidence,
coordination, strength, and endurance, which characterize the rifle-bayonet
fighter. Differences in individual body physique may require slight changes
from the described rifle-bayonet techniques. These variations will be allowed
if the individual’s attack is effective.
c. Principles. The bayonet is an effective weapon to be used
aggressively; hesitation may mean sudden death. The soldier must attack in
a relentless assault until his opponent is disabled or captured. He should be
alert to take advantage of any opening. If the opponent fails to present an
opening, the bayonet fighter must make one by parrying his opponent’s
weapon and driving his blade or rifle butt into the opponent with force.
(1) The attack should be made to a vulnerable part of the body: face,
throat, chest, abdomen, or groin.
(2) In both training and combat, the rifle-bayonet fighter displays spirit
by sounding off with a low and aggressive growl. This instills a feeling of
confidence in his ability to close with and disable or capture the enemy.
FM 21-150
(3) The instinctive rifle-bayonet fighting system is designed to capitalize
on the natural agility and combatives movements of the soldier. It must be
emphasized that precise learned movements will NOT be stressed during
d. Positions. The soldier holds the rifle firmly but not rigidly. He relaxes
all muscles not used in a specific position; tense muscles cause fatigue and
may slow him down. After proper training and thorough practice, the soldier
instinctively assumes the basic positions. All positions and movements
described in this manual are for right-handed men. A left-handed man, or a
man who desires to learn left-handed techniques, must use the opposite hand
and foot for each phase of the movement described. All positions and
movements can be executed with or without the magazine and with or without
the sling attached.
(1) Attack position. This is the basic starting position (A and B,
Figure 5-40) from which all attack movements originate. It generally
parallels a boxer’s stance. The soldier assumes this position when running or
hurdling obstacles. The instructor explains and demonstrates each move.
FM 21-150
(a) Take a step forward and to the side with your left foot so that your
feet are a comfortable distance apart.
(b) Hold your body erect or bend slightly forward at the waist. Flex your
knees and balance your body weight on the balls of your feet. Your right
forearm is roughly parallel to the ground. Hold the left arm high, generally
in front of the left shoulder. Maintain eye-to-eye contact with your opponent,
watching his weapon and body through peripheral vision.
(c) Hold your rifle diagonally across your body at a sufficient distance
from the body to add balance and protect you from enemy blows. Grasp the
weapon in your left hand just below the upper sling swivel, and place the right
hand at the small of the stock. Keep the sling facing outward and the cutting
edge of the bayonet toward your opponent. The command is, ATTACK
POSITION, MOVE. The instructor gives the command, and the soldiers
perform the movement.
(2) Relaxed position. The
relaxed position (Figure 5-41)
gives the soldier a chance to
rest during training. It also
allows him to direct his
attention toward the instructor
as he discusses and demonstrates the positions and
movements. To assume the
relaxed position from the
attack position, straighten the
waist and knees and lower the
rifle across the front of your
body by extending the arms
downward. The command is,
RELAX. The instructor gives
the command, and the soldiers
perform the movement.
e. Movements. The soldier
will instinctively strike at
openings and become
aggressive in his attack once he
has learned to relax and has
developed instinctive reflexes.
His movements do not have to
be executed in any prescribed
order. He will achieve balance
FM 21-150
in his movements, be ready to strike in any direction, and keep striking until
he has disabled his opponent. There are two basic movements used
throughout bayonet instruction: the whirl and the crossover. These
movements develop instant reaction to commands and afford the instructor
maximum control of the training formation while on the training field.
(1) Whirl movement. The whirl (Figure 5-42, Steps 1,2, and 3), properly
executed, allows the rifle-bayonet fighter to meet a challenge from an
opponent attacking him from the rear. At the completion of a whirl, the rifle
remains in the attack position. The instructor explains and demonstrates how
to spin your body around by pivoting on the ball of the leading foot in the
direction of the leading foot, thus facing completely about. The command is,
WHIRL. The instructor gives the command, and the soldiers perform the
(2) Crossover movement. While performing certain movements in
rifle-bayonet training, two ranks will be moving toward each other. When the
soldiers in ranks come too close to each other to safely execute additional
movements, the crossover is used to separate the ranks a safe distance apart.
The instructor explains and demonstrates how to move straight forward and
FM 21-150
pass your opponent so that your right shoulder passes his right shoulder,
continue moving forward about six steps, halt, and without command, execute
the whirl. Remain in the attack position and wait for further commands. The
command is, CROSSOVER. The instructor gives the command, and the
soldiers perform the movement.
NOTE: Left-handed personnel cross left shoulder to left shoulder.
(3) Attack movements. There are four attack movements designed to
disable or capture the opponent: thrust, butt stroke, slash, and smash. Each
of these movements may be used for the initial attack or as a follow-up should
the initial movement fail to find its mark. The soldiers learn these movements
separately. They will learn to execute these movements in a swift and
continuous series during subsequent training. During all training, the
emphasis will be on conducting natural, balanced movements to effectively
damage the target. Precise, learned movements will not be stressed.
(a) Thrust. The objective is to disable or capture an opponent by
thrusting the bayonet blade into a vulnerable part of his body. The thrust is
especially effective in areas where movement is restricted—for example,
trenches, wooded areas, or built-up areas. It is also effective when an
opponent is lying on the ground or in a fighting position. The instructor
explains and demonstrates how to lunge forward on your leading foot without
losing your balance (Figure 5-43, Step 1) and, at the same time, drive the
bayonet with great force into any unguarded part of your opponent’s body.
To accomplish this, grasp the rifle firmly with both hands and pull the stock
in close to the right hip; partially extend the left arm, guiding the point of the
bayonet in the general direction of the opponent’s body (Figure 5-43, Step 2).
Quickly complete the extension of the arms and body as the leading foot
strikes the ground so that the bayonet penetrates the target (Figure 5-43,
Step 3).
To withdraw the bayonet, keep your feet in place, shift your body weight to the
rear, and pull rearward along the same line of penetration (Figure 5-43, Step 4).
Next, assume the attack position in preparation to continue the assault
(Figure 5-43, Step 5).
This movement is taught by the numbers in three phases:
FM 21-150
At combat speed, the command is, THRUST SERIES, MOVE. Training
emphasis will be placed on movement at combat speed. The instructor gives
the commands, and the soldiers perform the movements.
FM 21-150
(b) Butt stroke. The objective is to disable or capture an opponent by
delivering a forceful blow to his body with the rifle butt (Figure 5-44, Steps 1,
2,3, and 4, and Figure 5-45, Steps 1,2,3, and 4). The aim of the butt stroke
may be the opponent’s weapon or a vulnerable portion of his body. The butt
stroke may be vertical, horizontal, or somewhere between the two planes.
The instructor explains and demonstrates how to step forward with your
trailing foot and, at the same time using your left hand as a pivot, swing the
rifle in an arc and drive the rifle butt into your opponent. To recover, bring
your trailing foot forward and assume the attack position. The movement is
taught by the numbers in two phases:
1. BUTT STROKE TO THE (head, groin, kidney) AND HOLD, MOVE.
At combat speed, the command is, BUTT STROKE TO THE (head, groin,
kidney) SERIES, MOVE. Training emphasis will be placed on movement at
combat speed. The instructor gives the commands, and the soldiers perform
the movement.
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(c) Slash. The objective is to disable or capture the opponent by cutting
him with the blade of the bayonet. The instructor explains and demonstrates
how to step forward with your lead foot (Figure 5-46, Step 1).
At the same time, extend your left arm and swing the knife edge of your
bayonet forward and down in a slashing arc (Figure 5-46, Steps 2 and 3).
To recover, bring your trailing foot forward and assume the attack position
(Figure 5-46, Step 4).
This movement is taught by the number in two phases:
At combat speed, the command is, SLASH SERIES, MOVE. Training
emphasis will be placed on movement at combat speed. The instructor gives
the commands, and the soldiers perform the movements.
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FM 21-150
(d) Smash. The objective is to disable or capture an opponent by
smashing the rifle butt into a vulnerable part of his body. The smash is often
used as a follow-up to a butt stroke and is also effective in wooded areas and
trenches when movement is restricted. The instructor explains and
demonstrates how to push the butt of the rifle upward until horizontal
(Figure 5-47, Step 1) and above the left shoulder with the bayonet pointing
to the rear, sling up (Figure 5-47, Step 2). The weapon is almost horizontal
to the ground at this time.
Step forward with the trailing foot, as in the butt stroke, and forcefully extend
both arms, slamming the rifle butt into the opponent (Figure 5-47, Step 3).
To recover, bring your trailing foot forward (Figure 5-47, Step 4) and assume
the attack position (Figure 5-47, Step 5).
This movement is taught by the numbers in two phases:
At combat speed, the command is, SMASH SERIES, MOVE. Training
emphasis will be placed on movement at combat speed. The instructor gives
the commands, and the soldiers perform the movements.
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(4) Defensive movements. At times, the soldier may lose the initiative and
be forced to defend himself. He may also meet an opponent who does not
present a vulnerable area to attack. Therefore, he must make an opening by
initiating a parry or block movement, then follow up with a vicious attack.
The follow-up attack is immediate and violent.
(a) Parry movement. The objective is to counter a thrust, throw the
opponent off balance, and hit a vulnerable area of his body. Timing, speed,
and judgment are essential factors in these movements. The instructor
explains and demonstrates how to—
Parry right. If your opponent carries his weapon on his left hip
(left-handed), you will parry it to your right. In execution, step
forward with your leading foot (Figure 5-48, Step 1), strike the
opponent’s rifle (Figure 5-48, Step 2), deflecting it to your right
(Figure 5-48, Step 3), and follow up with a thrust, slash, or butt
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Parry left. If your opponent carries his weapon on his right hip
(right-handed), you will parry it to your left. In execution, step
forward with your leading foot (Figure 5-49, Step 1), strike the
opponent’s rifle (Figure 5-49, Step 2), deflecting it to your left
(Figure 5-49, Step 3), and follow up with a thrust, slash, or butt
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FM 21-150
A supplementary parry left is the follow-up attack (Figure 5-50, Steps 1,2,3,
4, and 5).
Recovery. Immediately return to the attack position after completing
each parry and follow-up attack.
The movement is taught by the numbers in three phases:
At combat speed, the command is, PARRY RIGHT (LEFT) or PARRY
the commands, and the soldiers perform the movements.
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(b) Block. When surprised by an opponent, the block is used to cut off
the path of his attack by making weapon-to-weapon contact. A block must
always be followed immediately with a vicious attack. The instructor explains
and demonstrates how to extend your arms using the center part of your rifle
as the strike area, and cut off the opponent’s attack by making
weapon-to-weapon contact. Strike the opponent’s weapon with enough
power to throw him off balance.
High block (Figure 5-51, Steps 1,2, and 3). Extend your arms
upward and forward at a 45-degree angle. This action deflects an
opponent’s slash movement by causing his bayonet or upper part of
his rifle to strike against the center part of your rifle.
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Low block (Figure 5-52, Steps 1,2, and 3). Extend your arms
downward and forward about 15 degrees from your body. This
action deflects an opponent’s butt stroke aimed at the groin by
causing the lower part of his rifle stock to strike against the center
part of your rifle.
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Side block (Figure 5-53, Steps 1 and 2). Extend your arms with the
left hand high and right hand low, thus holding the rifle vertical.
This block is designed to stop a butt stroke aimed at your upper
body or head. Push the rifle to your left to cause the butt of the
opponent’s rifle to strike the center portion of your rifle.
Recovery. Counterattack each block with a thrust, butt stroke, smash,
or slash.
Blocks are taught by the numbers in two phases:
At combat speed, the command is the same. The instructor gives the
commands, and the soldiers perform the movement.
FM 21-150
(5) Modified movements. Two attack movements have been modified to
allow the rifle-bayonet fighter to slash or thrust an opponent without
removing his hand from the pistol grip of the M16 rifle should the situation
(a) The modified thrust (Figure 5-54, Steps 1 and 2) is identical to the
thrust (as described in paragraph (3)(a)) with the exception of the right hand
grasping the pistol grip.
FM 21-150
(b) The modified slash (Figure 5-55, Steps 1,2,3, and 4) is identical to
the slash (as described in paragraph (3)(c)) with the exception of the right
hand grasping the pistol grip.
(6) Follow-up movements. Follow-up movements are attack movements
that naturally follow from the completed position of the previous movement.
If the initial thrust, butt stroke, smash, or slash fails to make contact with the
opponent’s body, the soldier should instinctively follow up with additional
movements until he has disabled or captured the opponent. It is important
to follow-up the initial attack with another aggressive action so the initiative
is not lost. The instructor explains and demonstrates how instinct should
govern your selection of a specific follow-up movement. For example—
Two examples of commands using follow-up movements are—
PARRY LEFT (soldier executes), THRUST (soldier executes),
BUTT STROKE TO THE HEAD (soldier executes), SMASH
(soldier executes), SLASH (soldier executes), ATTACK POSITION
(soldier assumes the attack position).
THRUST (soldier executes), THRUST (soldier executes), THRUST
(soldier executes), BUTT STROKE TO THE GROIN (soldier
executes), SLASH (soldier executes), ATTACK POSITION (soldier
assumes the attack position).
All training will stress damage to the target and violent action, using natural
movements as opposed to precise, stereotyped movements. Instinctive,
aggressive action and balance are the keys to offense with the rifle and
NOTE: For training purposes, the instructor may and should mix up the
series of movements.
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Section IV
To survive, the soldier in combat must be able to deal with any situation
that develops. His ability to adapt any nearby object for use as a
weapon in a win-or-die situation is limited only by his ingenuity and
resourcefulness. Possible weapons, although not discussed herein,
include ink pens or pencils; canteens tied to string to be swung; snap
links at the end of sections of rope; kevlar helmets; sand, rocks, or
liquids thrown into the enemy’s eyes; or radio antennas. The following
techniques demonstrate a few expedient weapons that are readily
available to most soldiers for defense and counterattack against the
bayonet and rifle with fixed bayonet.
Almost all soldiers carry the entrenching tool. It is a versatile and formidable
weapon when used by a soldier with some training. It can be used in its
straight position—locked out and fully extended-or with its blade bent in a
90-degree configuration.
a. To use the entrenching tool against a rifle with fixed bayonet, the
attacker lunges with a thrust to the stomach of the defender along a low No. 5
angle of attack (Figure 5-56, Step 1).
The defender moves just outside to avoid the lunge and meets the attacker’s
arm with the blade of the fully extended entrenching tool (Figure 5-56,
Step 2).
The defender gashes all the way up the attacker’s arm with the force of both
body masses coming together. The hand gripping the entrenching tool is
given natural protection from the shape of the handle. The defender
continues pushing the blade of the entrenching tool up and into the throat of
the attacker, driving him backward and downward (Figure 5-56, Step 3).
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b. An optional use of entrenching tool against a rifle with fixed bayonet
is for the attacker to lunge to the stomach of the defender (Figure 5-57,
Step 1).
The defender steps to the outside of the line of attack at 45 degrees to avoid
the weapon. He then turns his body and strikes downward onto the attacking
arm (on the radial nerve) with the blade of the entrenching tool (Figure 5-57,
Step 2).
He drops his full body weight down with the strike, and the force causes the
attacker to collapse forward. The defender then strikes the point of the
entrenching tool into the jugular notch, driving it deeply into the attacker
(Figure 5-57, Step 3).
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c. In the next two sequences, the entrenching tool is used in the bent
configuration—that is, the blade is bent 90 degrees to the handle and locked
into place.
(1) The attacker tries to stick the bayonet into the chest of the defender
(Figure 5-58, Step 1).
When the attack comes, the defender moves his body off the line of attack by
stepping to the outside. He allows his weight to shift forward and uses the
blade of the entrenching tool to drag along the length of the weapon, scraping
the attacker’s arm and hand (Figure 5-58, Step 2). The defender’s hand is
protected by the handle’s natural design.
He continues to move forward into the attacker, strikes the point of the blade
into the jugular notch, and drives it downward (Figure 5-58, Step 3).
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(2) The attacker lunges with a fixed bayonet along the No. 5 angle of
attack (Figure 5-59, Step 1).
The defender then steps to the outside to move off the line of attack and turns;
he strikes the point of the blade of the entrenching tool into the side of the
attacker’s throat (Figure 5-59, Step 2).
FM 21-150
Since a stick can be found almost anywhere, a soldier should know its uses as
a field-expedient weapon. The stick is a versatile weapon; its capability
ranges from simple prisoner control to lethal combat.
a. Use a stick about 3 feet long and grip it by placing it in the vee formed
between the thumb and index finger, as in a handshake. It may also be
grasped by two hands and used in an unlimited number of techniques. The
stick is not held at the end, but at a comfortable distance from the butt end.
b. When striking with the stick, achieve maximum power by using the
entire body weight behind each blow. The desired point of contact of the
weapon is the last 2 inches at the tip of the stick. The primary targets for
striking with the stick are the vital body points in Chapter 4. Effective
striking points are usually the wrist, hand, knees, and other bony
protuberances. Soft targets include the side of the neck, jugular notch, solar
plexus, and various nerve motor points. Attack soft targets by striking or
thrusting the tip of the stick into the area. Three basic methods of striking
(1) Thrusting. Grip the stick with both hands and thrust straight into a
target with the full body mass behind it.
(2) Whipping. Hold the stick in one hand and whip it in a circular motion;
use the whole body mass in motion to generate power.
(3) Snapping. Snap the stick in short, shocking blows, again with the body
mass behind each strike.
FM 21-150
c. When the attacker thrusts with a knife to the stomach of the defender
with a low No. 5 angle of attack, the defender moves off the line of attack to
the outside and strikes vigorously downward onto the attacking wrist, hand,
or arm (Figure 5-60, Step 1).
The defender then moves forward, thrusts the tip of the stick into the jugular
notch of the attacker (Figure 5-60, Step 2), and drives him to the ground with
his body weight—not his upper body strength (Figure 5-60, Step 3).
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d. When using a three-foot stick against a rifle with fixed bayonet, the
defender grasps the stick with two hands, one at each end, as the attacker
thrusts forward to the chest (Figure 5-61, Step 1).
He steps off the line of attack to the outside and redirects the weapon with
the stick (Figure 5-61, Step 2).
He then strikes forward with the forearm into the attacker’s throat
(Figure 5-61, Step 3). The force of the two body weights coming together is
devastating. The attacker’s neck is trapped in the notch formed by the stick
and the defender’s forearm.
Using the free end of the stick as a lever, the defender steps back and uses his
body weight to drive the attacker to the ground. The leverage provided by
the stick against the neck creates a tremendous choke with the forearm, and
the attacker loses control completely (Figure 5-61, Step 4).
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FM 21-150
A section of rope about 3 feet long can provide a useful means of self-defense
for the unarmed combat soldier in a hand-to-hand fight. Examples of
field-expedient ropes are a web belt, boot laces, a portion of a 120-foot nylon
rope or sling rope, or a cravat rolled up to form a rope. Hold the rope at the
ends so the middle section is rigid enough to almost serve as a stick-like
weapon, or the rope can be held with the middle section relaxed, and then
snapped by vigorously pulling the hands apart to strike parts of the enemy’s
body, such as the head or elbow joint, to cause serious damage. It can also be
used to entangle limbs or weapons held by the opponent, or to strangle him.
a. When the attacker lunges with a knife to the stomach (Figure 5-62,
Step 1), the defender moves off the line of attack 45 degrees to the outside.
He snaps the rope downward onto the attacking wrist, redirecting the knife
(Figure 5-62, Step 2).
Then, he steps forward, allowing the rope to encircle the attacker’s neck
(Figure 5-62, Step 3).
He continues to turn his body and sinks his weight to drop the attacker over
his hip (Figure 5-62, Step 4).
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b. When the attacker thrusts with a fixed bayonet (Figure 5-63, Step 1),
the defender moves off the line of attack and uses the rope to redirect the
weapon (Figure 5-63, Step 2).
Then, he moves forward and encircles the attacker’s throat with the rope
(Figure 5-63, Step 3).
He continues moving to unbalance the attacker and strangles him with the rope
(Figure 5-63, Step 4).
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FM 21-150
c. The 3-foot rope can also be a useful tool against an unarmed opponent.
The defender on the left prepares for an attack by gripping the rope between
his hands (Figure 5-64, Step 1).
When the opponent on the right attacks, the defender steps completely off
the line of attack and raises the rope to strike the attacker’s face (Figure 5-64,
Step 2).
He then snaps the rope to strike the attacker either across the forehead, just
under the nose, or under the chin by jerking his hands forcefully apart. The
incoming momentum of the attacker against the rope will snap his head
backward, will probably break his neck, or will at least knock him off his feet
(Figure 5-64, Step 3).
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FM 21-150
Another field-expedient weapon that can mean the difference between life
and death for a soldier in an unarmed conflict is a pole about 6 feet long.
Examples of poles suitable for use are mop handles, pry bars, track tools, tent
poles, and small trees or limbs cut to form a pole. A soldier skilled in the use
of a pole as a weapon is a formidable opponent. The size and weight of the
pole requires him to move his whole body to use it effectively. Its length gives
the soldier an advantage of distance in most unarmed situations. There are
two methods usually used in striking with a pole:
a. Swinging. Becoming effective in swinging the pole requires skilled
body movement and practice. The greatest power is developed by striking
with the last 2 inches of the pole.
b. Thrusting. The pole is thrust straight along its axis with the user’s body
mass firmly behind it.
(1) An attacker tries to thrust forward with a fixed bayonet (Figure 5-65,
Step 1).
The defender moves his body off the line of attack; he holds the tip of the pole
so that the attacker runs into it from his own momentum. He then aims for
the jugular notch and anchors his body firmly in place so that the full force of
the attack is felt at the attacker’s throat (Figure 5-65, Step 2).
(2) The defender then shifts his entire body weight forward over his lead
foot and drives the attacker off his feet (Figure 5-65, Step 3).
NOTE: During high stress, small targets, such as the throat, may be
difficult to hit. Good, large targets include the solar plexus and hip/thigh
FM 21-150
In battle, when a combat soldier closes with the enemy to within small-arms
and grenade range, and he has exhausted his ammunition or his weapon fails to
fire, the fluidity of the battle may dictate that he will become engaged in
hand-to-hand combat.
In some combat scenarios, innocent noncombatants may be present. Firing
of small arms, grenades, and so on, would needlessly endanger them.
Therefore, the soldier may need to engage the enemy in hand-to-hand combat
in such situations. In other scenarios, the enemy may make a surprise attack
at close quarters or confront the soldier in an area where firearms are either
out of reach or impractical to use.
An imaginary sphere of defense extends all-round a soldier and spans the
length of his arms. In hand-to-hand combat, the space and distance between
opponents, known as the interval gap, is the primary factor in the soldier’s
ability to interpret and react to the enemy’s movement. Within the interval
gap is a zone of safety, the reactionary gap, which allows time for the soldier’s
reaction to the enemy’s movement.
a. The average reactionary gap to an unarmed attacker is 6 feet—that is,
the zone of safety that allows him time to observe and to react to an attack
from an unarmed opponent. The average reactionary gap to an attacker
armed with a weapon is 10 feet, plus the length of the weapon.
b. A soldier must be able to maintain constant control of his sphere of
defense by interpreting the timing and rhythm of the enemy’s movements and
the interval gap during the attack. Having control gives him an opportunity
to bridge the gap and enter the enemy’s sphere of defense at will. Timing and
distance are the keys to controlling the situation.
FM 21-150
c. In hand-to-hand combat, an attacking enemy has only one intent—to
kill his opponent. To survive, the combat soldier must not allow the enemy
to penetrate his sphere of defense. He must stay mentally alert and be aware
of an all-round perimeter of defense. He must visualize the nine basic angles
of attack. His best reaction to the enemy is to strike first or counterattack
before the enemy has a chance to develop his offensive. Surprise increases
the chances of success. The soldier must be physically mobile, react to the
enemy’s movement with the proper response, and counterattack according
to the enemy’s rhythm, timing, and distance. He must also control the tempo
of the fight with consecutive and successful attacks, seizing the momentum
and winning. A memory aid is, “Win or Die!”
d. When the enemy bridges the soldier’s interval gap, the soldier must
defend his personal perimeter. He has six options.
(1) Avoid the attack. This option calls for the soldier to disengage by
increasing the separation and by staying out of range.
(a) He can retreat to influence the enemy to pursue, then counterattack
when his position is more favorable.
(b) He can move his body out of the line of attack of the enemy or his
weapon. A simple, economical, and effective reaction to a straight-line attack
is to sidestep off the angle of attack at a 45-degree angle. Then, the soldier
can penetrate the enemy’s sphere of defense at an offset angle. He is now in
a position where he is both safe and strong, but the enemy’s vital targets are
exposed and his balance is weakened.
(2) Lead the force of the attack. This option involves receiving the enemy’s
attack and making him extend or travel farther than he intended. To take
control of the attack, the soldier uses his own weight and body mass and the
enemy’s onrushing weight to cause the enemy to lose his balance.
(3) Redirect the force. The soldier changes the enemy’s direction of attack
by directing it off its original line or angle. This causes openings in the
enemy’s defense so the soldier can counterattack.
(4) Absorb the force. In this option, the soldier receives the enemy attack,
but he absorbs the impact so that the effect is harmless. The enemy is
deceived into thinking his attack is successful, and his momentary lapse in
defense allows the soldier to react with the right counterattack.
(5) Meet force with force. The soldier can meet the incoming attack and
burst through the enemy’s defense by sheer brute force. When using this
option, an effective reaction is to step off the line of attack just enough to
avoid being struck and meet the enemy with a suitable body weapon (or other
weapon if available). The two forces meet with combined body masses in
motion, but the enemy is damaged. A superior mental attitude (the will to
survive) is essential for the soldier to accomplish this option.
FM 21-150
(6) Use the momentum of the force against the attacker. With this option,
the hand-to-hand fighter uses the attacker’s momentum against him to gain
control of his balance or to expose weaknesses in his defense. The soldier
can add his own force to that of the attacker to increase the power and damage
e. A soldier must develop the intuitive ability to change counterattack
techniques according to his range from the enemy—that is, long, medium, or
close range. He is then more likely to sense weaknesses in the defensive
sphere of his opponent and to respond instinctively with the most effective
body movement and weapon for the range—moment by moment. The
soldier using any of these six options, or combinations of them, to react to an
attack with proper timing and distance, as well as swift counterattack will
emerge victorious in a hand-to-hand confrontation.
Careful planning rehearsal, and execution are vital to the success of a
mission that requires the removal of a sentry. This task may be necessary to gain
access to an enemy location or to escape confinement.
A detailed schematic of the layout of the area guarded by sentries must be available.
Mark known and suspected locations of all sentries. It will be necessary—
a. To learn the schedule for the changing of the guards and the checking
of the posts.
b. To learn the guard’s meal times. It may be best to attack a sentry soon
after he has eaten when his guard is lowered. Another good time to attack
the sentry is when he is going to the latrine.
c. To post continuous security.
d. To develop a contingency plan.
e. To plan infiltration and exfiltration routes.
f. To carefully select personnel to accomplish the task.
g. To carry the least equipment necessary to accomplish the mission
because silence, stealth, and ease of movement are essential.
h. To conceal or dispose of killed sentries.
Reproduce and rehearse the scenario of the mission as closely as possible to
the execution phase. Conduct the rehearsal on similar terrain, using sentries,
the time schedule, and the contingency plan. Use all possible infiltration and
exfiltration routes to determine which may be the best.
When removing a sentry, the soldier uses his stalking skills to approach the
enemy undetected. He must use all available concealment and keep his
silhouette as low as possible.
FM 21-150
a. When stepping, the soldier places the ball of his lead foot down first
and checks for stability and silence of the surface to be crossed. He then
lightly touches the heel of his lead foot. Next, he transfers his body weight to
his lead foot by shifting his body forward in a relaxed manner. With the weight
on the lead foot, he can bring his rear foot forward in a similar manner.
b. When approaching the sentry, the soldier synchronizes his steps and
movement with the enemy’s, masking any sounds. He also uses background
noises to mask his sounds. He can even follow the sentry through locked
doors this way. He is always ready to strike immediately if he is discovered.
He focuses his attention on the sentry’s head since that is where the sentry
generates all of his movement and attention. However, it is important not to
stare at the enemy because he may sense the stalker’s presence through a
sixth sense. He focuses on the sentry’s movements with his peripheral vision.
He gets to within 3 or 4 feet and at the proper moment makes the kill as
quickly and silently as possible.
c. The attacker’s primary focus is to summon all of his mental and physical
power to suddenly explode onto the target. He maintains an attitude of
complete confidence throughout the execution. He must control fear and
hesitation because one instant of hesitation could cause his defeat and
compromise the entire mission.
Killing a sentry is completely different than killing an enemy soldier while
engaged in a firefight. It is a cold and calculated attack on a specific target.
After observing a sentry for hours, watching him eat or look at his wife’s photo,
an attachment is made between the stalker and the sentry. Nonetheless, the
stalker must accomplish his task efficiently and brutally. At such close
quarters, the soldier literally feels the sentry fight for his life. The sights,
sounds, and smells of this act are imprinted in the soldier’s mind; it is an
intensely personal experience. A soldier who has removed a sentry should be
observed for signs of unusual behavior for four to seven days after the act.
The following techniques are proven and effective ways to remove sentries.
A soldier with moderate training can execute the proper technique for his
situation, when he needs to.
a. Brachial Stun, Throat Cut. This technique relies on complete mental
stunning to enable the soldier to cut the sentry’s throat, severing the trachea
and carotid arteries. Death results within 5 to 20 seconds. Some sounds are
emitted from the exposed trachea, but the throat can be cut before the sentry
can recover from the effect of the stunning strike and cry out. The soldier
FM 21-150
silently approaches to within striking range of the sentry (Figure 7-1, Step 1).
The soldier strikes the side of the sentry’s neck with the knife butt or a hammer
fist strike (Figure 7-1, Step 2), which completely stuns the sentry for three to
seven seconds. He then uses his body weight to direct the sentry’s body to
sink in one direction and uses his other hand to twist the sentry’s head to the
side, deeply cutting the throat across the front in the opposite direction
(Figure 7-1, Step 3). He executes the entire length of the blade in a slicing
motion. The sentry’s sinking body provides most of the force—not the
soldier’s upper-arm strength (Figure 7-1, Step 4).
FM 21-150
b. Kidney Stab, Throat Cut. This technique relies on a stab to the kidney
(Figure 7-2, Step 1) to induce immediate shock. The kidney is relatively
accessible and by inducing shock with such a stab, the soldier has the time to
cut the sentry’s throat. The soldier completes his stalk and stabs the kidney
by pulling the sentry’s balance backward and downward and inserts the knife
upward against his weight. The sentry will possibly gasp at this point, but
shock immediately follows. By using the sentry’s body weight that is falling
downward and turning, the soldier executes a cut across the front of the throat
(Figure 7-2, Step 2). This completely severs the trachea and carotid arteries.
FM 21-150
c. Pectoral Muscle Strike, Throat Cut. The stun in this technique is
produced by a vigorous strike to the stellate ganglia nerve center at the top
of the pectoral muscle (Figure 7-3, Step 1). The strike is delivered downward
with the attacker’s body weight. Use the handle of the knife for impact. Care
should be taken to avoid any equipment worn by the sentry that could obstruct
the strike. Do not try this technique if the sentry is wearing a ballistic vest or
bulky LCE. The sentry is unable to make a sound or move if the stun is
properly delivered. The throat is then cut with a vertical stab downward into the
subclavian artery at the junction of the neck and clavicle (Figure 7-3, Step 2).
Death comes within 3 to 10 seconds, and the sentry is lowered to the ground.
FM 21-150
d. Nose Pinch, Mouth Grab,
Throat Cut. In this technique,
completely pinch off the sentry’s
mouth and nose to prevent any outcry.
Then cut his throat or stab his
subclavian artery (Figure 7-4). The
danger with this technique is that the
sentry can resist until he is killed,
although he cannot make a sound.
e. Crush Larynx, Subclavian
Artery Stab. Crush the sentry’s larynx
by inserting the thumb and two or
three fingers behind his larynx, then
twisting and crushing it. The
subclavian artery can be stabbed at the
same time with the other hand
(Figure 7-5).
FM 21-150
f. Belgian Takedown. In the Belgian take down technique, the unsuspecting sentry is knocked to the ground and kicked in the groin, inducing shock.
The soldier can then kill the sentry by any proper means. Since surprise is
the essential element of this technique, the soldier must use effective stalking
techniques (Figure 7-6, Step 1). To initiate his attack, he grabs both of the
sentry’s ankles (Figure 7-6, Step 2). Then he heaves his body weight into the
hips of the sentry while pulling up on the ankles. This technique slams the
sentry to the ground on his face. Then, the soldier follows with a kick to the
groin (Figure 7-6, Step 3).
FM 21-150
g. Neck Break With Sentry Helmet. The soldier can break the sentry’s
neck by vigorously snatching back and down on the sentry’s helmet
(Figure 7-7, Step 1) while forcing the sentry’s body weight forward with a knee
strike (Figure 7-7, Step 2). The chin strap of the helmet must be fastened for
this technique to work.
FM 21-150
h. Knockout With Helmet. The sentry’s helmet is stripped from his head
and used by the soldier to knock him out (Figure 7-8, Step 1). The soldier
uses his free hand to stabilize the sentry during the attack. This technique
can only be used when the sentry’s chin strap is loose. The preferred target
area for striking with the helmet is at the base of the skull or on the temple
(Figure 7-8, Step 2).
FM 21-150
i. The Garrote. In this technique, use a length of wire, cord, rope, or
webbed belt to takeout a sentry. Silence is not guaranteed, but the technique
is effective if the soldier is unarmed and must escape from a guarded area.
The soldier carefully stalks the sentry from behind with his garrote ready
(Figure 7-9, Step 1). He loops the garrote over the sentry’s head across the
throat (Figure 7-9, Step 2) and forcefully pulls him backward as he turns his
own body to place his hips in low against the hips of the sentry. The sentry’s
balance is already taken at this point, and the garrote becomes crossed around
the sentry’s throat when the turn is made. The sentry is thrown over the
soldier’s shoulder and killed by strangling or breaking his neck (Figure 7-9,
Step 3).
FM 21-150
Training in pugil techniques prepares the soldier to confidently and
aggressively use the rifle-bayonet. It furnishes the rifle-bayonet fighter with an
opponent who can think, move, evade, fight back, and (most important) make
corrections. It provides realism.
Section I
Pugil equipment consists of the pugil stick and protective gear that is
especially designed to protect the soldier during training. It allows the
soldier to participate in pugil training without incurring or fearing
injury. Participation with no fear of injury helps the soldier to develop
an individual style of fighting and improve his ability to fight with the
rifle and bayonet. Pugil equipment (Figure A-1) is designed to
prevent injuries to the head and face, chest, groin, and hands.
FM 21-150
Units can construct pugil sticks or obtain them from the Training Support
Center. The helmets with attached face masks, gloves, chest protectors, and
boxers’ protective cups are nonstock-type commercial items. Locally used
nonstandard stock numbers identify these commercial items, which are
obtained through TSC or local purchase.
Headgear consists of a
regulation football helmet
with a face mask attached
(Figure A-2). When purchasing these helmets, you
should consider the varying
head sizes of individuals. For
each 100 helmets purchased,
it is recommended that
10 percent be 6 1/2 to 6 3/4 in
size, 80 percent be 6 7/8 to 7 1/8
in size, and 10 percent be 7 1/4
to 7 1/2 in size. Adjust helmets
that are too large for an
individual by adding foam
rubber to the inside of the
helmet. To secure the helmet to
the head, use a chin strap made
of vinyl plastic and foam
A boxer’s protective cup of the
variety used in athletic
competition protects the groin
(Figure A-3).
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Gloves are required in pugil
training. Hockey gloves
(Figure A-4) provide maximum
protection for the fingers and
joints of the hands and wrist and
aid in controlling the stick.
Soldiers must use chest
protectors (Figure A-5) during
pugil training to prevent
injuries. Baseball catchers’
chest protectors or martial arts
protectors are recommended.
If chest protectors are unavailable, substitute flak vests.
FM 21-150
Pugil sticks (Figure A-6) may be obtained from the local TSC or call Devices
Section, TSC, Ft Benning, GA, DSN 835-1407.
Section II
Pugil training is a way to teach the soldier to use the rifle-bayonet with
confidence and aggression. After the soldier becomes skilled in the
basic positions and movements with the rifle-bayonet, he should be
introduced to pugil training techniques.
Since pugil fighting is a rugged contact activity, the soldiers must remain alert.
They act and react from instinct, thus affording an opportunity to develop
their individual rifle-bayonet fighting skills. Little effort is required by the
instructor to motivate the soldiers—the pugil stick is the motivating force.
Soldiers derive much physical benefit from pugil training, and they develop
an aggressive mental spirit that is so essential if the rifle-bayonet fighter is to
be successful in combat (Figure A-7).
FM 21-150
a. The instructor must consider several factors to gain maximum
effectiveness from pugil training. These include training, control,
supervision, safety, and protective equipment.
b. The instructor should teach the rifle-bayonet fighter the basic positions
and movements, as well as the series of follow-up movements, with the
rifle-bayonet before beginning pugil training.
FM 21-150
c. The pugil stick should
approximate the length and
weight of the M16 rifle with
bayonet attached for
maximum training benefit.
Substitution of the pugil stick
for the rifle provides an
opportunity to improve skill
and test each soldier’s ability
to perform against a realistic,
evasive target. All the
positions and movements
with the pugil stick are the
same as with the rifle and
bayonet (Figure A-8).
Instructors supervising pugil
training must understand its
values and limitations. The
instructor maintains control
of the bout at all times; his
best method of control is by
blowing a whistle to start and
stop action. He is alert to
prevent wild swinging of the
pugil sticks, and he ensures
that the soldiers keep their
eyes on each other. For
safety reasons, he should
pair soldiers who are about
the same height and weight.
a. Soldiers use only the positions and movements that they have been
taught in rifle-bayonet training. They must hold the stick and deliver blows
as if using the rifle-bayonet.
b. One instructor is necessary for each bout; however, he needs assistance
to supervise the fitting and exchanging of equipment. The instructor makes
sure the equipment fits properly and watches constantly for any loose or
broken equipment. As soon as he sees any insecure equipment, he stops the
FM 21-150
bout to prevent possible injuries. After deficiencies have been corrected, the
round is resumed.
c. The instructor insists that the soldiers growl during the bouts; this adds
to their aggressiveness and tends to reduce tension.
d. Soldiers with medical problems, such as hernias, frequent headaches,
previous brain concussions, recent tooth extractions, or lacerations with
stitches, must be excluded from pugil training for safety reasons. Therefore,
before conducting pugil training, it is necessary to determine if anyone should
be eliminated from participation. Finally, instructors should always be alert for
the unexpected and, if in doubt, stop the bout immediately to prevent injury.
In the early stages of pugil training, maximum benefit is gained by working
with platoon-size groups (or smaller) in a circular formation. Two soldiers
engage in a pugil bout in the center of the circle. An instructor critiques them
so all soldiers can learn from observed mistakes. The soldiers assume the
attack position 12 steps from each other. In the first round, the instructor
allows them freedom of movement to prove to soldiers that the equipment
provides ample protection from a hard blow. Everyone should take part in as
many bouts as necessary to gain skill before going on to more advanced training.
Immediately after the warm-up round, the soldiers engage in graded bouts.
During graded bouts (Figure A-9, page A-8), the opponents face each other,
12 steps apart. The instructor should be in a position where he can best
control the bout. Each bout consists of three rounds. To score a point or
win a round, a soldier must score a solid blow with either end of the pugil
stick to a vulnerable point—the head, throat, chest, stomach, or groin region.
a. To start a bout or a round, the instructor blows the whistle, and the
soldiers move toward each other in the attack. The instructor awards one
point to the soldier striking the first disabling blow. A disabling blow is any
blow that is delivered to a vulnerable part of the opponent’s body. When a
soldier strikes such a blow, the instructor uses a whistle to stop the round. At
the end of the round, soldiers move back to their respective lines, assume the
attack position, and wait for the signal to start the next round. The soldier
who wins two out of three rounds wins the bout.
b. The instructor should encourage soldiers to move in aggressively and
to attack violently, using any of the attack movements learned during
rifle-bayonet training. If the soldier misses or his opponent sidesteps, he
should immediately follow up until he has landed a blow to a vulnerable spot.
FM 21-150
c. The soldier who hesitates to strike his opponent realizes that defeat
can be quick; therefore, he tries to be aggressive and overcome his opponent
in the shortest possible time.
d. Because training is done in two-man bouts, a squad, platoon, and finally
a company champion may be selected. The instructor should encourage
competition throughout the pugil training program.
After several two-man bouts, the rifle-bayonet fighter is ready for the human
thrusting target course and the human thrusting assault course.
a. Human Thrusting Target Course. Eight to ten soldiers are lined up in
file formation, 12 steps apart. The instructor selects each soldier to act as a
specific-type target. The rifle-bayonet fighter, also in pugil gear, walks to
each human target, moving with the pugil stick at the attack position. As the
rifle-bayonet fighter approaches an opponent, the opponent shouts the
movement that the rifle-bayonet fighter is to execute—for example, thrust,
FM 21-150
slash, butt stroke. After executing the movement, the rifle-bayonet fighter
pauses long enough for the instructor to make corrections, then he moves to
the next target. The number of walk-throughs depends on each soldier’s
ability to execute the movements correctly. Next, he runs through the course
at full speed, growling and executing the called movements with maximum
force against his opponents. The duties are rotated so that all soldiers get to
act as fighters and as human targets.
b. Human Thrusting Assault Course. A qualification-type course can be
conducted to measure each soldier’s skill. This course should approximate
an obstacle course in length, obstacles, and terrain. The course layout should
take advantage of natural obstacles, such as streams, ditches, hills, and thickly
wooded areas. Soldiers in pugil equipment can be placed among the
obstacles to act as human targets. The rest of the unit, in pugil equipment,
can negotiate all obstacles and human targets, using instinctive rifle-bayonet
fighting movements.
After instruction on a bayonet training court, soldiers train on a bayonet
assault course, if available, to improve their skills as rifle-bayonet fighters
Instructors grade all previously learned techniques on the qualification course,
which places demands on the soldier that approach near-combat situations.
Before training on the assault course, instructors may use the bayonet training
court (Figure B-1, page B-2) for preliminary training to teach soldiers how to
attack while moving rapidly toward an enemy. To use the course in this way,
soldiers are lined up behind each of the 10 files of targets (two files are
blocked by the instructor’s platform). The instructor/assistant instructor
must designate the movement to be executed against each target. On
command, the soldiers negotiate the course in waves of 10 soldiers abreast.
As they complete the course, they should clear the last target and again line
up in their respective files at that end of the course. After all soldiers have
completed the course, it may be run again in the opposite direction.
FM 21-150
FM 21-150
A bayonet assault course has a series of lanes to accommodate several soldiers
negotiating the course at the same time. The course has targets to attack and
obstacles to overcome; it should be laid out on rough, preferably wooded
terrain. The length of the course should be 300 meters; however, less space
is acceptable if terrain dictates. (See paragraph 2-7.) Natural obstacles
(such as stream, ravines, ridges, and thickly wooded areas) and artificial
obstacles (such as dirt mounds, craters, wire entanglements, fences, log wall,
hurdles, and horizontal ladders) should all be a part of the course.
a. Objectives. Instructors may also use the bayonet assault course as a
qualification course to test the rifle-bayonet fighter’s degree of skill. When
used as a part of rifle-bayonet training, the course—
(1) Aids in developing speed, strength, endurance, coordination, and
(2) Provides rifle-bayonet fighting under combat-like conditions.
(3) Offers a challenge to the soldier’s determination and will power that
is so essential in combat.
(4) Provides a means for establishing good habits in group action and
(5) Measures skill in rifle-bayonet fighting.
(6) Provides a means for maintaining skill by continued training and
b. Negotiation. Instructors should explain and demonstrate the method
of negotiating the assault course before the soldiers are required to run the
course. Instructors should emphasize the importance of swift and continuous
bayonet attack. Soldiers run the course with their rifles in the attack position,
and they attack without hesitation.
(1) Practice running. While practicing, soldiers first negotiate the course
at a moderate pace and then increase their speed as technique and physical
condition improve. The instructor must maintain discipline and organized
control. He and his assistants station themselves along the course to observe
the methods of attack and to make corrections when necessary.
(2) Targets. The unit running the course should construct different types
of targets. Soldiers should gain experience on four basic targets before
running the qualification course. These targets are the thrust, parry thrust,
parry butt stroke to the groin, and parry butt stroke to the head (Figure 2-3).
These targets are durable and, if used properly, will not damage rifles. If
substitution must be made, the unit should not use hard objects or materials
for butt stroke heads or target faces that will cause rifle damage.
FM 21-150
The qualification course gives the unit commander a means to measure the
skill of his soldiers in the technique of rifle-bayonet fighting. This course
increases esprit de corps within a unit by creating a competitive attitude and
by offering special recognition to soldiers who qualify. Instructors can use the
same course for both practice and qualification. They can also determine
qualification on any assault course.
a. The assault qualification course contains at least four types of targets
(Figure 2-3) to include thrust, parry thrust, parry butt stroke to the groin,
parry butt stroke to the head, or prone target in crater (Figure B-2). It also
has seven types of obstacles as shown in Figures 2-4 through 2-10.
b. The course contains a minimum number of lanes to permit one-half of
a squad to run at the same time under the squad leader, assistant squad leader,
or other designated leader.
FM 21-150
c. For qualification, the soldier takes up the prone position in the rear of
the starting line. At the command, UP, he springs to his feet with his weapon
at the attack position and runs toward the first target. He then negotiates
each obstacle and attacks each target in turn, running the course in the
shortest possible time. The instructor or assistant instructor scores each
soldier individually.
d. To conduct qualification runs of the assault course, the instructor and
the NCOIC or OIC must provide the following:
(1) Supervisory personnel. To ensure impartial scoring and to maintain
high standards for qualification, the instructor details soldiers who are not
members of the unit being tested to act as scorers. He should select scorers
well in advance so the NCOIC or OIC can refresh himself on the subject and,
if necessary, train the scorers. The unit should detail an NCOIC or OIC
experienced in rifle-bayonet training to administer the course. His primary
duty is to assign a scorer to each target and to ensure that the scorer is qualified
to grade soldiers on the execution of the movements for that target. The
NCOIC or OIC has overall supervisory responsibility for the scoring. He
provides each scorer with scoresheets, then totals each soldier’s score for the
entire course.
(2) Scoring standards. Since assault courses at different installations may
vary as to length and number of targets, it is not practical to prescribe a
standard time limit or an invariable number of points for qualification. As a
guide, the NCOIC or OIC can use 30 seconds for each 50 meters of a course
to establish a time limit. However, the total distance covered should be
300 meters. On short courses, it is necessary to rerun parts of the course to
cover the required distance and to attack the recommended eight targets. To
qualify, the soldier must score at least 75 percent of the total possible points
and negotiate the course within the specified time limit. The NCOIC or OIC
should orient each man thoroughly on all requirements for the qualification
course, including the maximum time allowed and the minimum number of
points needed to qualify.
(3) Awards. A basic qualification badge, as specified in AR 672-5-1, with
the bayonet bar to indicate expert qualification is awarded to participants who
attain the qualifying score of 75 percent.
The NCOIC or OIC uses three scoresheets to record the score of soldiers who
complete the bayonet assault course.
a. Bayonet Target Scoresheet. Target scores are recorded on
DA Form 1770-R (Bayonet Target Scoresheet) (Figure B-3). A blank copy
of this form is located in the back of this publication for local reproduction on
FM 21-150
8 l/2-inch by ll-inch paper. The scoresheet is used to ensure a standard
scoring system for each of the eight fixed targets on any bayonet assault
course. The form contains the five standard criteria for scoring each soldier
on any of the targets. One of these scoresheets must be scored for each
soldier at each different target; therefore, each soldier requires eight
scoresheets. The maximum score for each fixed target is 25 points.
FM 21-150
b. Bayonet Course Qualification Scoresheet. Scores are recorded on
DA Form 3751-R (Bayonet Course Qualification Scoresheet) (Figure B-4).
A blank copy of this form is located in the back of this publication for local
reproduction on 8 l/2-inch by 1l-inch paper. The scoresheet is used to
consolidate the eight separate scores awarded on the course. The scores of
each soldier are totaled on this scoresheet, and the total points are recorded.
His total score (out of a possible total of 200 points) is then converted to a
percentage score, and this percentage is also recorded on the scoresheet.
FM 21-150
c. Lane Scorer’s Record for Bayonet Test. Scores are recorded on
DA Form 3752-R (Lane Scorer’s Record for Bayonet Test) (Figure B-5).
A blank copy of this form is located in the back of this publication for local
reproduction on 8 l/2-inch by 1l-inch paper. This scoresheet may be used to
consolidate scores. The scorer at each target scores each soldier on the
bayonet target scoresheet (Figure B-3). The NCOIC or OIC then transfers
each soldier’s score to the lane scorer’s record. The use of this record
simplifies the completion of bayonet qualification course scoresheets
(Figure B-4), following the administration of the qualification course.
Achilles tendon—the strong tendon joining
the calf muscles to the heel bone.
API-assistant primary instructor.
AR-Army regulation.
brachial plexus—a network of nerves in the
armpits, supplying nerves to the chest,
shoulders, and arms.
Cardiorespiratory—pertains to the heart and
lung system.
carotid artery—the pair of main arteries that
supply blood to the brain via the neck.
cervical vertebrae—neck and upper spine
common peroneal—having two or more
branches and located between the knee
and ankle.
cranial—the skull.
DA—Department of the Army.
DSN—defense switched network.
dysfunction—impaired or abnormal function.
femoral nerve—the chief artery in the front
part of the inner thigh.
FM—field manual.
FSN—federal stock number.
garrote—strangulation with a rope or wire.
IAW—in accordance with.
LCE—load-carrying equipment.
METL—mission-essential task list.
NSN—national stock number.
OIC—officer in charge.
OSUT—one-station unit training.
pectoral muscle—muscles that connect the
ventral walls of the chest with the bones
of the upper arms and shoulders.
peroneal nerve—a nerve located near the fibula.
PI—primaty instructor.
POI—program(s) of instruction.
PT—physical training.
PVC—polyvinyl chloride
S3—perations and training officer.
sanguineous strangulation—a violent,
bloodthirsty strangulation.
sciatic nerves-a pair of large nerves that pass
out of the pelvis and down the back of the
solar plexus—the pit of the stomach.
stellate ganglion—a star-shaped mass of
nerve tissue external to the brain or spinal
subclavian artery—part of the main artery of
the arm or forelimb.
suprascapular nerve-a nerve on top of the
TC—training circular.
trachea—the main trunk of the system of
tubes by which air passes to and from the
trapezius—a large, flat, triangular muscle on
each side of the back.
TSC—Ttaining Support Center.
US—United States.
vagus nerve—cranial nerves that supply the
heart and lungs with sensory and motor
FM 21-150
FM 21-150
FM 21-150
By order of the Secretary of the Army
General, United States Army
Chief of Staff
Administrative Assistant to the
Secretary of the Army
Active Army, USAR and ARNG: To be distributed in accordance with DA Form 12llE, requirements for FM 21-150, Combative, (Qty rqr block no. 0176).
* U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1994-300-769/22260
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