3 - Hand-held Weapons

CHAPTER 3

HAND-HELD WEAPONS

This chapter describes all techniques for a right-handed person. However, all techniques can be executed from either side.

In drawings, the Marine is depicted in woodland camouflage utilities; the opponent is depicted without camouflage. In photographs, the Marine is depicted in woodland camouflage utilities; the opponent is depicted in desert camouflage utilities.

Marines must know how to defend against attacks when an opponent is either unarmed or armed with a held-held weapon. This chapter addresses the combative use of knives, specific weapons of opportunity, and sticks. However, virtually anything can be used as a hand-held weapon.

1. Fundamentals of Knife Fighting

Marines must be trained in knife fighting techniques. Marines experienced in offensive knife techniques can cause enough damage and massive trauma to stop an opponent. When engaged against each other, experienced knife fighters employ various maneuvers and techniques that are specific to knife fighting. Seldom, if ever, will Marines engage an opponent in a classical knife fight.

Note: When armed with a rifle, Marines are issued a bayonet. When armed with a pistol, Marine are issued a combat knife.

  • Angles of Attack
  • There are six angles from which an attack with a knife can be launched:
  • Vertical strike coming straight down on an opponent.
  • Forward diagonal strike coming in at a 45degree angle to the opponent.
  • Reverse diagonal strike coming in at a 45degree angle to the opponent.
  • Forward horizontal strike coming in parallel to the ground.
  • Reverse horizontal strike coming in parallel to the ground.
  • Forward thrust coming in a straight line to the opponent.

Target Areas of the Body

During any confrontation, the parts of the opponent’s body that are exposed or readily accessible will vary. The goal in a knife fight is to attack the body’s soft, vital target areas that are readily accessible (e.g, the face, the sides and front of the neck, the lower abdomen [or groin]).

Neck. Carotid arteries, located on either side of the neck, are good target areas because they are not covered by body armor or natural protection.

Lower Abdomen (or Groin). The lower abdomen (or groin region) is a good target area because it is not covered by body armor.

Heart. The heart, if not covered by body armor, is an excellent target which, if struck, can prove fatal in a matter of seconds or minutes.

Secondary Targets. There are secondary target areas that will cause substantial bleeding if an artery is severed. These target areas are not immediately fatal, but can become fatal if left unattended. Attacks to—

  • The legs can cause a great deal of trauma and prove fatal. For example, the femoral artery located on the inside of the thigh is a large artery which, if cut, will cause exten sive blood loss.
  • The brachial artery, located between the biceps and triceps on the inside of the arm, can cause extensive bleeding and damage.

The arm’s radial and ulnar nerves can cause extensive bleeding and damage.

Movement

Marines can move anywhere within a 360-degree circle around the opponent. This allows accessibility to different target areas of the opponent’s body. Marines should avoid being directly in front of an opponent because the opponent can rely on his forward momentum to seize the tactical advantage. If Marines face an opponent, movement is made in a 45-degree angle to either side of the opponent. This angle avoids an opponent’s strike and places Marines in the best position to attack an opponent.

Wearing the Combat Knife

Marines must wear the combat knife where it is easily accessible and where it can best be retained. It is recommended the combat knife be worn on the weak side hip, blade down, sharp edge facing forward. Marines can place it behind the magazine pouch where it is easily accessible to them, but not easily grabbed by an opponent.

Grip

The grip on the knife should be natural. Marines

grasp the knife’s grip with the fingers wrapped around the grip naturally as it is pulled out of its sheath. This is commonly known as a hammer grip. The blade end of the knife is always facing the opponent.


Stance

Marines use the basic warrior stance as the foun

dation for knife techniques. The left hand is a vertical shield that protects either the ribs or the head and neck. The right elbow is bent with the blade pointing forward toward the opponent’s head. This position serves as an index point, where all techniques are initiated.


Principles of Knife Fighting

The following are key principles of knife fighting:

  • Execute movements with the knife blade within a box, shoulder-width across from the neck down to the waistline. The opponent has a greater chance of blocking an attack if the blade is brought in a wide, sweeping movement to the opponent.
  • Close with the opponent, coming straight to the target.
  • Move with the knife in straight lines.
  • Point the knife’s blade tip forward and toward the opponent.
  • Apply full body weight and power in each of the knife techniques. Full body weight should be put into the attack in the direction of the blade’s movement (slash or thrust).
  • Apply constant forward pressure with the body and blade to keep the opponent off-balanced.

2. Knife Fighting Techniques

Slashing Techniques

Marines use slashing techniques to close with an enemy. Slashing techniques distract the opponent or damage the opponent so Marines can close in. Typically, Marines target the opponent’s limbs, but any portion of the body that is presented can become a target.

Vertical Slash Technique. The vertical slash follows a vertical line straight down through the target. To execute the vertical slash, Marines—

  • Thrust the right hand out and bring the weapon straight down on the opponent, continuing to drag the knife down through the opponent’s body.
  • Maintain contact on the opponent’s body with the blade of the knife.


Forward Slash Technique. The forward slash follows a straight line in a forehand stroke, across the target areas of either the neck (high diagonal slash) or abdominal region (low horizontal slash). To execute the forward slash, Marines—

Extend the right hand while simultaneously rotating the palm up until the knife blade makes contact with the opponent.


Snap or rotate the wrist through the slashing motion to maximize blade’s contact with the opponent.


Drag the knife across the opponent’s body, from right to left, in a forehand stroke. The movement ends with the forearm against the body and the knife at the left hip with its blade oriented toward the opponent.

Reverse Slash Technique. The reverse slash is a follow-up technique to a forward attack. It allows Marines both a secondary attack and the ability to resume the basic warrior stance. The reverse slash follows a straight line in a backhand stroke, across the target areas of either the neck (high diagonal slash) or abdominal region (low horizontal slash). To execute the reverse slash, Marines—

  • Extend the right hand while simultaneously rotating the palm down until the knife blade makes contact with the opponent.
  • Snap or rotate the wrist through the slashing motion to maximize the blade’s contact with the opponent.
  • Drag the knife across the opponent’s body, from left to right, in a backhand stroke. Maintain contact on the opponent’s body with the blade of the knife.

Thrusting Techniques

The primary objective of knife fighting is to insert the blade into an opponent to cause extensive damage and trauma. This is done with a thrusting technique. Thrusting techniques are more effective than slashing techniques because of the damage they can inflict. However, Marines use slashing techniques to close with the enemy so that they are closer to the opponent, which allows them to use the thrusting technique.

Vertical Thrust. The thrusting motion follows a vertical line straight up through the target (low into the abdomen region or high into the neck). To execute the vertical thrust, Marines—

  • Thrust the right hand toward the target, inserting the knife blade straight into the opponent.
  • Pull the knife out of the opponent.

Forward Thrust. The forward thrust follows a straight line straight into the opponent’s neck (high thrust) or abdominal region (low thrust). To execute the forward thrust, Marines—

  • Thrust the right hand, palm down, toward the target, inserting the knife blade straight into the opponent.
  • Rotate the palm up once the knife is inserted to twist the blade.
  • Drop the right elbow and bring the knife to the opposite side of the opponent’s body from where it was inserted. At the same time, rotate the hips and shoulders downward to bring body weight to bear on the attack.

Reverse Thrust. The reverse thrust is a follow-up technique to a forward attack. It allows Marines both a secondary attack and the ability to resume the basic warrior stance. The reverse thrust follows a horizontal line straight into the opponent’s neck (high thrust) or abdominal region (low thrust). To execute the reverse thrust, Marines—

  • Bend the right arm, crossing the arm to the left side of the body.
  • Thrust the right hand, palm up, toward the target, inserting the knife blade straight into the opponent.
  • Rotate the palm down to twist the blade once the knife is inserted.


Bring the knife to the opposite side of the opponent’s body from where it was inserted.


3. Weapons of Opportunity

During an unarmed close combat situation, Marines use their bodies as weapons, but they should be ready and able to use anything around them as a weapon. For example, Marines could throw sand or liquid in an opponent’s eyes to temporarily impair his vision or smash the opponent’s head with a rock or helmet. Marines must use whatever means are available and do whatever it takes to take control of the situation and to win, or they face the possibility of losing their lives. Some weapons of opportunity are discussed in the following subparagraphs.

Entrenching Tool

An entrenching tool (E-tool) is commonly carried by Marines. It can be an excellent weapon, especially when sharpened. Marines can use the E-tool to block, slash, and thrust at an opponent.

Tent Pole and Pins

Marines can use tent poles and pins to block, strike, or thrust at an opponent.

Web Belt

Marines can stretch a web belt between their hands to block attacks by an opponent.

Battlefield Debris

Marines can use debris on the battlefield (e.g., sticks, glass, a sharp piece of metal) to cut, slash, or stab an opponent. They can also use other types of debris such as shovel or ax handles, boards, metal pipes, or broken rifles to strike an opponent or apply a choke.

Helmet

A helmet can be used to strike an opponent on an unprotected area like the head and face. Grasp the rim of the helmet and thrust the arms forward, striking the opponent with the top of the helmet.

4. Fundamentals of Combative Stick

On the battlefield, Marines must be ready and able to use anything as a weapon. They must learn and be able to use techniques that can be employed with most weapons of opportunity. Among these techniques are combative stick techniques. Combative stick techniques can be used with a stick, a club, a broken rifle, an E-tool, or even a web belt.

Angles of Attack

There are six angles from which an attack with a hand-held weapon can be launched:

  • Vertical strike coming straight down on an opponent.
  • Forward diagonal strike coming in at a 45degree angle to the opponent.
  • Reverse diagonal strike coming in at a 45degree angle to the opponent.
  • Forward horizontal strike coming in parallel to the ground.
  • Reverse horizontal strike coming in parallel to the ground.
  • Forward thrust coming in a straight line to the opponent.

Grip

Grasp the stick about 2 inches from its base.

Stance

The basic warrior stance serves as the foundation for combative stick techniques. The left hand becomes a vertical shield that protects the ribs or the head and neck. Depending on how heavy the weapon is, it should be held at a level approximately shoulder height.

Movement

Movement during combative stick techniques is the same as it is for other close combat techniques. Marines can move anywhere within a 360-degree circle around the opponent. This allows accessibility to different target areas of the opponent’s body and gains a tactical advantage.


Marines should avoid being directly in front of an opponent because the opponent can rely on his forward momentum to seize the tactical advantage. If Marines face an opponent, movement is made in a 45-degree angle to either side of the opponent. This angle avoids an opponent’s strike and places Marines in the best position to attack an opponent.

5. Combative Stick Techniques

Strikes

Strikes are intended to inflict as much damage on an opponent as possible. Striking techniques apply to a weapon of opportunity such as a stick, a tent pole, a club, a broken rifle, an E-tool, or a pipe.

Vertical Strike. To execute the vertical strike, Marines—


  • Bend the right arm, extending the weapon over the back of the right shoulder.
  • Rotate the forearm straight down off the elbow to bring the weapon down on the opponent.
  • Rotate the hips and shoulders forcefully toward Rotate the forearm to the right of the elbow to
  • the opponent. bring the weapon down onto the opponent. At the same time, forcefully rotate the hips and shoulders toward the opponent.
  • Follow through with the strike by allowing the weight of the weapon to go through the target area of the body.



Forward Strike. To execute a forward strike, Marines—


  • Step forward with the left foot in the direction of the strike.
  • Bend the right arm with the elbow extending out to the right and the weapon extended over the right shoulder.
  • Follow through with the strike by allowing the weight of the weapon to go through the target area of the body.
Reverse Strike. The reverse strike is a follow-up technique to a forward strike. It allows Marines both a secondary attack and the ability to resume the basic warrior stance.To execute a reverse strike, Marines—
  • Step forward with the right foot in the direction of the strike.
  • Bend the right arm with the hand near the left shoulder. The weapon is extended over the left shoulder.
  • Rotate the forearm to the right of the elbow to Lift the left leg and lunge forward off the ball of bring the weapon down onto the opponent. At the the right foot. At the same time, thrust the end of same time, forcefully rotate the hips and shoul-the weapon directly toward the opponent by ders toward the opponent. thrusting both hands forward in a straight line.
  • Follow through with the strike by allowing the weight of the weapon to go through the target area of the body.


Forward Thrust. To execute the forward thrust, Marines—

Grasp the stick with the left hand, palm up, in a position where the stick can be controlled with two hands.

6. Blocking Techniques

A block is meant to deter or deflect an attack by an opponent. A block sets up Marines for a follow-on attack against the opponent. Blocks are executed by deflecting, rather than hitting or following through like a strike.

Blocks Against Unarmed Attacks

To block against an unarmed attack, Marines—


  • Step forward at a 45-degree angle with either the right or left foot. This moves the body out of the line of attack.
  • Raise the left arm and block the strike with the meaty portion of the forearm.



Employ the stick by one of two techniques:

  • Strike the opponent with the stick.
  • Use the stick to block on two points of contact. When the stick is used to block, it serves as an incidental strike. This technique is only used if Marines have closed with the opponent and are inside his strike.


Blocks Against Armed Attacks Block for a Vertical Strike. To execute the block for a vertical strike, Marines—


  • Step forward with the left foot at a 45-degree angle to the left. This moves the body out of the line of attack. 
  • Block on two points of contact to disperse the impact of the attack:
  • Block the opponent’s stick by positioning the stick so it is perpendicular to the opponent’s stick. If the stick is not perpendicular to the opponent’s stick, the stick can slide through and make contact on the Marine.
  • Block the opponent’s wrist or forearm with the back of the left forearm.



Note: Use the stick to block the opponent’s arm if closer to the opponent. It is the same movement as blocking with the arm, except the opponent’s arm is blocked with both the stick and the arm.

Block for a Forward Strike. To execute the block for a forward strike, Marines—


  • Step forward with the left foot at a 45-degree angle to the left. This moves the body out of the line of attack and inside the opponent’s strike.
  • Block on two points of contact to disperse the impact of the attack:
  • Block the opponent’s wrist or forearm with the meaty portion of the back of the left forearm.
  • Strike the opponent’s attacking biceps with the stick.


Block for a Reverse Strike. To execute the block for a reverse strike, Marines—


  • Step forward at a 45-degree angle with the right foot to the right. This moves the body out of the line of attack and inside the opponent’s strike.
  • Block on two points of contact to disperse the impact of the attack:
  • Block the opponent’s stick by positioning the stick so it is perpendicular to the opponent’s stick.



Block the opponent’s forearm with the meaty portion of the left forearm.

Note: If closer to the opponent, block his triceps with the back of the left forearm and strike his forearm with the stick.


7. Unarmed Against Hand-Held Weapons

If Marines are engaged against an opponent with a knife, a stick, or some other weapon of opportunity, they must establish and maintain an offensive mindset, not a defensive mindset. Their survival depends on it. They cannot afford to think about getting cut or hurt.

Angles of Attack

Before Marines can learn to block or counter an attack with a hand-held weapon (e.g., knife, stick), they must know from what angle the opponent is attacking. There are six angles from which an opponent will typically attack with a hand-held weapon:


  • Vertical strike coming in straight down on the Marine.
  • Forward diagonal strike coming in at a 45degree angle to the Marine.
  • Reverse diagonal strike coming in at a 45degree angle to the Marine.
  • Forward horizontal strike coming in parallel to the ground.
  • Reverse horizontal strike coming in parallel to the ground.
  • Forward thrust coming in a straight line to the Marine.


Blocks

If the opponent has a hand-held weapon (e.g., knife or stick), Marines parry the opponent’s hand or arm to block the attack.

Basic Block. To execute the basic block technique, Marines—


  • Step forward at a 45-degree angle to move out of the line of the attack. Always step in the direction of the strike.
  • Thrust the forearms forward, hands up, against Block the attack with both arms bent so the fore- the opponent’s attacking arm. Contact is made on arms make contact with the opponent’s biceps the opponent’s arm with the backs of the fore-and forearm. arms.



Block for a Vertical Strike. To execute the block against a vertical strike, Marines—


  • Step forward with the left foot at a 45-degree angle to the left to move out of the line of attack.
  • Thrust the forearms forward, hands up, against the outside of the opponent’s attacking arm.


Block for a Reverse Strike. To execute the block against a reverse diagonal or reverse horizontal strike, Marines—


  • Step forward with the right foot to the outside of the opponent’s attacking arm.
  • Block the attack with both arms bent so the forearms make contact with the opponent’s triceps and forearm.



Block for a Forward Strike. To execute the block against a forward diagonal or forward horizontal strike, Marines—

Step forward with the left foot inside the opponent’s attacking arm.

Block for a Forward Thrust. To execute the block against a forward thrust, Marines—

Bend at the waist, move the hips backward, and jump backward with both feet to move away from the attack. This action is known as "hollowing out."

Hollow out and block the attack with the arms bent and hands together on top of the attacking arm.


Overlap the hands slightly so one thumb is on top of the other hand’s index finger. The other thumb should be under the other hand’s index finger.


8. Counters to Hand-Held Weapon Attacks

Principles of Counters

A counter is used to control the situation to regain the tactical advantage and end the fight. Regardless of the type of weapon or angle of attack, the following principles apply to countering the attack with a hand-held weapon:

Move out of the line of attack. Movement is executed in a 45-degree angle forward to the left or right.

Block the attack.

Note: The first two actions are taken simultaneously.

Take control of the weapon by controlling the hand or arm that is holding the weapon. Never attempt to grab the opponent’s weapon.

Execute the appropriate follow-up to end the fight; e.g., strikes, joint manipulations, throws, or takedowns (see chap. 8). Marines should continue to attack the opponent until the fight ends.

Counter Techniques

There are two techniques that can be used to counter any armed attack: forward armbar counter and reverse armbar counter. These techniques can be used to counter a vertical attack, a forward diagonal strike, or a forward horizontal strike. With minor variations, the same techniques are used to counter reverse strikes. A third technique, the bent armbar counter, is used to counter a vertical attack.

Forward Armbar Counter. To execute the forward armbar counter to an attack coming from a forward strike, Marines—

Step forward with the left foot inside the opponent’s attacking arm.

Block the attack with both arms bent so the forearms make contact with the opponent’s biceps and forearm.


Slide the left arm over the opponent’s forearm and wrap the arm tightly around his arm, trapping the opponent’s attacking arm between the biceps and torso.

Place the right hand on the opponent’s shoulder or upper arm to further control his arm and to effect an armbar.

Execute an armbar and continue to exert steady pressure against the arm.


Reverse Armbar Counter. To execute the reverse armbar counter to an attack coming from a forward strike, Marines—

Step forward with the left foot inside the opponent’s attacking arm.

Block the attack with both arms bent so the forearms make contact with the opponent’s biceps and forearm.


Control the opponent’s arm with the left hand and pivot to the right so the back is against the opponent’s side. Immediately slide the right arm over the opponent’s biceps and wrap the arm tightly around his arm, trapping the opponent’s attacking arm between the biceps and torso.

Grasp the opponent’s wrist with the left hand and twist his thumb away from the body.


Take the opponent to the ground with an armbar takedown if he does not drop the weapon from the wristlock.


Bent Armbar Counter. This counter is particularly effective against a vertical attack. To execute the bent armbar counter, Marines—

Step forward with the left foot inside the opponent’s attacking arm.

Block the attack with both arms bent so the fore-Apply downward pressure with the hands against arms make contact with the opponent’s biceps the opponent’s forearm to off-balance the oppoand forearm. nent.


Grasp the opponent’s forearm with the left hand. At the same time, slide the right arm underneath the opponent’s triceps and grasp the opponent’s forearm or wrist with the right hand.