Are Bayonets Obsolete?

WWII Marines Training

Recently there has been a debate in the army whether or not to continue bayonet training.

As I see it, there are two reasons for bayonet training:

  1. Developing a warrior mindset
  2. Actual combat

Remember what I said about the big stick developing a mindset of crushing power? Each weapon has its own characteristics, and rather than try to make the weapon an extension of yourself, the proper goal is for you to become an extension of the weapon. A soldier with a bayonet takes on characteristics of aggression, relentless forward movement (a bayonet is not an evasive or retreating weapon), intimidation, and ferocity. Several have argued in favor of keeping the bayonet for just these reasons.

But believe it or not, the bayonet is still used in combat. Often you will encounter the sloppy thinker who argues that because guns exist in the world, that empty hand and armed self-defense are therefore useless. One counter to this lazy argument is that even on the modern battlefield, it still comes down to knives and bare hands. For example, the British successfully used a bayonet charge in the Falklands Islands war. One military officer pointed out that in house-to-house combat of the sort the US armed forces have seen in Iraq, that the ability to use bayonet techniques in a house-clearing scenario could be the difference between life and death, –not to mention the added intimidation factor.

In May 2004 British soldiers in the Iraqui city of Basra were ambushed on the road by a numerically superior force. When they found themselves running out of ammunition, the order was given to fix bayonets, and they charged 600 feet across open ground and into the teeth of a surprised bunch of terrorists. The British troops killed more than 20 terrorists without any significant casualties of their own!

By the way, when I first trained with the long stick, I was taught to hold the stick in staff grip, with both hands down, which is what the vast majority of those using the long stick do. However, GM Maranga opened my eyes to the advantages of rifle grip, in which you grip the stick like a rifle, with one hand palm up and the other palm down. This means that the transition to bayonet techniques is seamless. (I’m not going to pretend that Big Stick Combat applies to every weapon and unarmed situation, but in this case there is a clear transition.)

Bayonet techniques are not just applicable to rifles, but to weapons like the umbrella. You will be much effective thrusting with the umbrella rather than swinging it like a stick. A fireplace poker would also be effective with bayonet techniques.

The late GM Giron fought with a machete against a Japanese bayonet charge in WWII. I remember him saying that a counter to the bayonet was to force the point downward, because if the opponent’s blade got caught in the ground, that would give an edge in defeating him.

Army Combatives Bayonet Series

Read the army combatives manual on the bayonet and other weapons here.

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5 Responses to “Are Bayonets Obsolete?”

  1. […] made our systems look “country” and unsophisticated. Check out Big Stick Combat’s article on this weapon)  Doing this will really raise the esteem and respect of our native arts in the minds of […]

  2. Hola Darrin:

    Hace poco he empezado un Curso de Instructor de Defensa Personal para Fuerzas de Seguridad, que incluye Krav Maga y Kapap. Estos sistemas incluyen el uso de los fusiles de asalto y se entrena tambien con palo, sujetándolo con las dos manos.

    Saludos.

  3. Que bueno! Me mantenga informado.

    Se puede hacer tecnicas de bayoneta con muchas cosas, tal como un poker de chimenea.

  4. Hola Darrin:

    A continuación le mando un articulo que recibí hace poco en una newsletter, que le puede gustar:

    One from an old master:
    Or how a good old fashioned BAYONET CHARGE works
    as explained by the late Col. Lewis Millett to Peter Worthington… just may be the answer to keeping the Taliban on the run in Afghanistan!

    [ FROM: “He was freedom’s fearless fighter – Canadian Army taught American soldier the bayonet skills that helped him fight 3 wars with distinction” by PETER WORTHINGTON , Toronto Sun ]

    1oth carsonI first spotted him at a banquet and awards ceremony in Seoul, marking the 50th anniversary of the Korean War — a grizzled old colonel with a white handlebar moustache and the Medal of Honour around his neck.

    But what caught my attention were two Canadian war medals nestled among the 26 medal ribbons he wore — the Canadian Volunteer Medal with overseas clasp, and Victory Medal from the Second World War.

    “How come?” I asked him.

    A mischievous grin spread across his face. He introduced himself — Col. Lewis Lee Millett, a storied American fighting soldier, although I didn’t know it at the time.

    “I got the Medal of Honour thanks to the Canadian army,” he quipped. “The Canadians taught me bayonet fighting, and I led a bayonet charge in the Korean War.”

    He paused, waiting for inevitable questions.

    I was with my friend, Vince Courtenay, both of us Korean vets from the same battalion of the Princess Pats.

    Millett, then around 80 years old, told how he’d joined the U.S. Army at age 21 in the summer of 1941 — and then deserted, because the U.S. wasn’t yet in the war.

    He came to Canada and joined our army to go overseas. He wanted to fight Nazis.

    “As I recall, the Canadian infantry was always doing bayonet training — stabbing straw-filled dummies, parry, thrust, shouting. It made an impression on me.”

    After Pearl Harbor, when the Americans entered the war, he transferred back to the U.S. Army, served in North Africa and Italy, winning the Silver Star.

    When paperwork caught up with him that he had deserted in 1941, his commanding officer court-martialed him, fined him $50, and promptly promoted him to 2nd lieutenant.

    “I believe I am the only colonel in the regular army who was ever court-martialed and convicted of desertion,” he laughed.

    In Korea, he also won the Distinguished Service Cross, next to the Medal of Honour in prestige, but he seemed inordinately proud of his two Canadian medals.

    1oth carson

    In the ferocious fighting of early 1951, Millett recalled reading a document that said the Chinese believed American soldiers dreaded hand-to-hand combat, and were fearful of “cold steel”.

    “We’ll see about that, you sons of bitches,” he muttered.

    At Hill 180, under grenade and rifle fire, he led two platoons in a bayonet charge up the hill.

    “I always had my men fix bayonets,” he said. “I never forgot the Canadian training. We didn’t do much bayonet drill in those days, but I gotta say, those Chinese didn’t know what hit them when we charged.”

    Millett self portrait

    Millett led the way and routed the Chinese. His Medal of Honour citation reads: “His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder.”

    In the Vietnam war, Millett was involved in a clandestine intelligence program aimed at subverting and killing Viet Cong in the countryside.

    He retired in 1973 when he felt the U.S. was abandoning South Vietnam.

    He once told an interviewer: “I believe deeply in freedom. I’ve fought in three wars, and volunteered for all of them … I believe as a free man it is your duty to help those under the attack of tyranny. It’s as simple as that.”

    Lewis Millett, old soldier, died on Nov. 14[2009], age 89: A free man, a brave man, an American patriot.

  5. […] I’d like to thank Eskrimador Miguel Gutierrez for steering me to this hero. Miguel has posted another article on Sgt. Millet here. […]

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