PERSIAN GULF: Knife fighting, prison style


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For its program to teach Marines how to fight hand to hand, the Marine Corps studied all the classic martial arts disciplines and some new ones, like Israeli army tactics. It picked only the best and most lethal ways to dispatch an enemy when combat is to kill or be killed.

And for the best techniques in knife fighting, it chose the methods used by prisoners. A consultant had hundreds of hours of security tapes showing knife attacks in prison: stealthy, quick and deadly.


Now the Marines are teaching the same tactics in their McMap (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program), which starts in boot camp and continues throughout a Marine’s career.

Knife fighting starts with a rush toward an enemy and a hand to his face or chest, then quick swipes with the knife to either side of the neck. Be aggressive and unapologetic. In the joint, it’s called the ‘prison-yard rush’; in the Marine Corps, it’s called ‘bull-dogging.’

‘It’s a personal thing, if you’re using a knife,’ said Sgt. Andrew Mulder, 23, of Sioux Falls, S.D., one of the Marines learning knife fighting and other skills while aboard the amphibious assault ship Tarawa in the Persian Gulf.

Tony Perry on the Tarawa