Are Bayonets Obsolete?
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:
- Developing a warrior mindset
- 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.
Read the army combatives manual on the bayonet and other weapons here.