Appendix A - Pugil Stick Training



A pugil stick is a training device used to simulate a rifle bayonet so that effective, but safe, training can be conducted to build proficiency of rifle bayonet techniques. Pugil stick training builds on the techniques used to throw punches. Pugil stick training is the only “full contact” training provided to Marines in the Close Combat Program. Pugil stick training teaches Marines to function when faced with stress and violence, and it prepares them to deliver a blow and take a blow. It also provides them with the physical and mental skills vital to success on the battlefield.

1. Pugil Stick Training


A pugil stick consists of a stick wrapped in padding at both ends that can be gripped like a rifle. The pugil stick is approximately the same weight and length of an unloaded rifle with a bayonet attached.

Holding the Pugil Stick

The pugil stick is held in the same manner as the service rifle. All movements come from the basic warrior stance. To hold the pugil stick correctly, Marines—

  • Use the right hand to grasp the lower end of the pugil stick overhanded.
  • Use the left hand to grasp the upper end of the pugil stick underhanded.
  • Use the right forearm to lock the lower end of the pugil stick against the hip.
  • Orient the blade end of the pugil stick to ward the opponent.

Safety Equipment

The following safety equipment must be worn during any pugil stick bout.

Groin Protection. Groin protection protects the groin from an accidental blow. It should be pulled high around the waist to protect the groin area, with the concave portion against the body.

Flak Jacket. The flak jacket provides protection to the body. It is worn completely fastened.

Neck Roll. The neck roll prevents whiplash if Marines receive a blow to the head. The neck roll further supports the head and protects the neck from blows. The neck roll is worn above the flak jacket and below the helmet. The tied end of the neck roll faces the front.

Helmet. A regulation football helmet protects the face and head. The helmet must fit snugly and the chin straps must be adjusted and snapped.

Mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is worn on the upper teeth to protect the teeth.

Gloves. Marines wear gloves to protect the hands if pugil sticks do not have gloves built-in.

Pugil Stick Screening

Prior to pugil stick training, instructors must ask participating Marines the following questions. If a Marine answers “yes” to any question, he must see the corpsman or a competent medical authority who evaluates him and determines whether or not the he can participate in the training.

  • Are you on light duty?
  • Are you restricted to running shoes by a corpsman or a doctor?
  • Have you fought in a pugil stick bout within the last 7 days?
  • Have you received a blow to the head within the last 7 days?
  • Have you had a concussion within the last 6 months?
  • Have you had dental surgery within the last 24 hours?
  • Do you have stitches or staples on your body?
  • Have you had a shoulder or head injury within the last 5 years?
  • Are you taking a prescription drug?
  • Do you have an ear infection or current sinus infection?
  • Have you had a broken bone within the last 6 months?

Safety Personnel

The following safety personnel are required to conduct pugil stick training:

  • One close combat instructor must officiate the bout.
  • One close combat instructor trainer, commissioned officer, or staff noncommissioned officer must be in the training area to serve as range safety officer.
  • One corpsman must be in the training area.

Training Area

To prevent injury, Marines train on areas with soft footing (i.e., sand or grass). Training mats are not recommended because feet can stick to the mats, prohibiting movement or causing joint injuries by twisting a knee. Bouts should not take place on a hard surface area; e.g., a flight deck or parking lot. A boxing ring may be used to conduct pugil stick bouts; ring dimensions can vary as long as there is ample room to execute the techniques in the training area.

Second Impact Syndrome

Second Impact Syndrome occurs when a second blow to the head produces a second concussion that occurs within 1 week following a previous concussion (before recovery from the first concussion). Second Impact Syndrome causes rapid brain swelling and can cause death. Therefore, there must be 7 days between pugil stick bouts to reduce the risk of severe injury resulting from Second Impact Syndrome. The 7 day separation between pugil stick bouts significantly reduces the possibility of injury, particularly in someone who may have suffered a brain injury or concussion but shows no symptoms.

Any Marine who experiences headaches or the following symptoms after training must be examined by appropriate medical personnel:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Dilation of the pupils.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Bleeding from ears or mouth.
  • Swelling in head or neck area.
  • Any unnatural discoloration in head or neck area.

The Marine should not be allowed to participate in pugil stick training or any other activity where a heavy blow might be sustained for a minimum of 7 days after the headache or other symptoms have subsided.

Safety Measures

The following safety measures must be followed:

  • Gear must be worn properly throughout training.
  • Contact lenses or glasses will not be worn.
  • False teeth will be removed from the mouth.
  • Nothing will be worn around the neck except the neck roll.
  • Competition among groups of Marines is authorized as long as it does not overshadow training objectives or compromise safety procedures.
  • Safety and proper techniques are paramount.
  • Safety is more important than competition.

2. General Rules and Regulations Governing Pugil Stick Bouts

Instructors and Support Personnel Requirements

At a minimum, one close combat instructor observes a pugil stick bout. For safety purposes, it is better to have two instructors judging a bout because each instructor can fully observe each of the fighters. The best position for observation is to the right of a fighter. This allows the instructor to see the fighter’s facial expression and body movement. The instructor’s position must not interfere with the fight.

In addition, one commissioned or staff noncommissioned officer (to serve as range safety officer) and one corpsman will be in the training area.

Prior to the Bout

Prior to the bout, Marines—

Are paired according to height, weight, and gender.

Wear the proper safety equipment.

Once Marines have properly donned the safety equipment, they wait for instructions from the close combat instructor. On the command of the close combat instructor, a pair of Marines will enter the ring. Once in the ring, the close combat instructor inspects each Marine for the proper safety equipment.

Note: There should be enough gear so that when two Marines are training, two other Marines can be donning safety equipment for the next bout.

During the Bout

The bout begins when the close combat instructor blows the whistle. All strikes are directed above the waist. Upon hearing a whistle blast, all fighting immediately ceases.

Stopping a Bout

There are two reasons for stopping a bout: delivery of a scoring blow or an unsafe condition. The close combat instructor trainer, close combat instructor, or the range safety officer may stop the bout at any time an unsafe condition is observed.

Scoring Blow. A scoring blow is an offensive technique delivered to a vulnerable area of an opponent with sufficient force and precision to be considered as a disabling or killing blow. Scoring blows are not judged solely on the degree of force with which a blow is delivered, but on the accuracy and techniques employed. A scoring blow is defined as—

  • A straight thrust with the blade end of the weapon (red end of the pugil stick) to the opponent’s face mask or throat.
  • A slash to the side of the opponent’s helmet (below the ear) or neck with the red end of the pugil stick.\
  • A heavy blow to the opponent’s head with an authorized technique (i.e., buttstroke, smash) using the butt (black end) of the pugil stick.

When a scoring blow is delivered, the close combat instructor blows the whistle to stop the bout.

Unsafe Condition. The bout will be stopped as soon as an unsafe condition exists. An unsafe condition exists when a Marine is unable to defend himself, loses his balance and falls down on one or two knees or falls down completely, shows instability (e.g., buckling at the knees), loses muscular tension in his neck and his head snaps back or to one side, or appears disoriented. An unsafe condition also exists if a Marine lets go of one end of the pugil stick, the equipment (e.g., helmet, neck roll) falls off, or a Marine fails to use the proper techniques.

If any of these conditions occur—

The close combat instructor trainer, close combat instructor, range safety officer, or anyone supervising training stops the bout and separates the two Marines.

The corpsman evaluates the possibly injured Marine to determine if the fight can continue. The corpsman—

  • Ensures that he is alert and responsive, both verbally and physically.
  • Talks to him to see if he is coherent.
  • Makes certain he comprehends and replies to verbal questions.
  • Makes certain his speech is not slurred.
  • Checks his physical signs.
  • Ensures his eyes are focused and not dazed or glazed.
  • Ensures his legs are not wobbly or shaky.

The pugil stick is not used as a baseball bat. The use of unauthorized techniques will result in expulsion from the bout. Only techniques taught in bayonet training are authorized. These techniques include—

  • Straight thrust.
  • Buttstroke (horizontal and vertical).
  • Smash.
  • Slash.
  • Parry.
  • Blocks (low, high, left, right).

After the Bout

A third whistle blast is used prior to identifying the Marine who delivered the killing blow.

A fourth whistle blast is used prior to demonstrating the killing technique used by the Marine who won the bout.

3. Directions for Making Pugil Sticks

Close combat instructor trainers are taught to make pugil sticks to standard specifications at school. It is recommended that all pugil sticks be made under the supervision of a close combat instructor trainer. Until the Marine Corps acquires a standardized pugil stick that units can order through the supply system, instructors use the following information and instructions to make pugil sticks locally.


The following supplies are needed to make one pugil stick:

  • One 45" by 2" circular, oak, wood dowel.
  • Four 9" wide by 27" long foam pad pieces to make two inner handguards of double thickness.
  • Four 11" wide by 19" long foam pad pieces to make two outer handguards of double thickness.
  • Canvas material to cover inner and outer handguards.
  • One foam pad cut 1/4" thick by 7" wide by 13" long to make the centerguard.
  • One 8" wide by 14"long piece of canvas material to make a pugil stick sock.

Canvas material to make two pugil stick end caps. Ideally, two different color fabrics should be used to simulate the bayonet and buttstock ends of a rifle. Common colors for end caps are black and red. Each end cap is a different color to help the officiating certified close combat instructor determine the scoring blow during the pugil stick bout.

Two 1/4" thick by 11" wide by 54" long foam pad pieces to make two ends.

Two foam pads cut 1/4" thick by 3" wide by 14 1/2" long to make two end plug inserts.

One can of 3M Photo Mount spray adhesive (NSN 8040-01-120-4009)to adhere foam padding to the stick. (Spray adhesive is available from self-service.)

One roll of duct tape or riggers tape (NSN 7510-00-266-5016) to protect foam pad and canvas from wear and to reinforce gluing action of spray adhesive. (Duct tape or riggers tape is available from self-service.)

One roll para-cord or 5-50 cord to tie both the inner and outer handguards together.

One roll of thread strong enough to sew canvas material together.

Sixteen grommets, one for each of the four corners of the inner and outer handguards.

One foam sleeping mat (NSN 8465-01-1093369). Use unserviceable foam sleeping mats obtained from Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office.


The following tools are needed to make a pugil stick:

  • Tape measure, ruler, or yardstick.
  • Scissors.
  • Grommet machine.
  • Knife.
  • Sewing machine.


To make a pugil stick, Marines perform the following steps.

Preparing Materials
Step 1. Cut foam sleeping mat into the dimensions listed above. Cut mats to double thickness.

Step 2. Use spray adhesive to adhere the two 9" by 27" pieces of foam together. Use the spray adhesive to adhere the two 11" by 19" pieces of foam together. Let adhesive dry before using the double-thick foam for handguards.


Step 3. Cut canvas material to make two coverings for the inner handguards. Cut material to make two coverings for the outer handguards. Two inner handguards and two outer handguards are required for each pugil stick.



Step 4. Use a sewing machine to make a sleeve out of the 9" by 27" canvas. Sew down three sides. Insert foam pad inside the canvas sleeve and then sew down the fourth side. Use the grommet machine to create holes reinforced with metal grommets in each of the four corners. Once finished, the inner handguards are complete.

Note: It is recommended that the Fabric Repair Shop be used to sew canvas sleeves and apply grommets.

Step 5. Repeat step 4 to make the other inner handguard and both outer handguards.

Constructing Ends, End Plugs, and End Caps
Step 1. Apply spray adhesive on approximately 8 inches of one end of the dowel. This adhesive serves to glue the foam pad to the wooden dowel.



Step 5. Use duct tape or riggers tape to secure and reinforce the foam pad once the end plug is inserted in the end.


Step 6. Measure the dimensions of the ends (typically, the length of the cylinder should be 12 inch-

Step 2. Apply spray adhesive on one side of the 11" by 54" foam pad. This causes the foam pad to stick to itself when it is rolled around the end of the wooden dowel. Ensure 3 inches of the rolled foam pad extends past the wooden dowel for stability.

Step 3. Apply spray adhesive on one side of 3" by 14 1/2" foam pad. Roll pad into a tight cylinder.


Step 4. Apply spray adhesive on the exposed end of the dowel and fill the hole in the end with the end plug. The end plug prevents the wooden dowel from protruding beyond the edge of the rolled foam padding. This is an important safety precaution to prevent injury.




es long to allow for taping). Cut and sew canvas material in the shape of a cylinder with one open end. Once complete, this becomes the end cap. The end cap is a colored sleeve that covers the rolled and taped foam pad at each end of the pugil stick.

Note: It is recommended that the Fabric Repair Shop be used to make the end cap.

Step 7. Slide one of the end caps over the rolled foam pad and tape it to the dowel.



Building the Centerguard
Step 1. Spray one side of the 7" by 13" foam pad with spray adhesive and wrap it tightly around the center of the dowel.

Step 2. Wrap duct tape or riggers tape around the foam pad to secure.



Step 3. Use a sewing machine to make a tubular pugil stick sock out of the 8" by 14" piece of canvas. Slide the pugil stick sock over the rolled foam pad and secure it with the duct tape or riggers tape. Duct tape or riggers tape protects the edges of the centerguard and reinforces the gluing effects of the spray adhesive.



Note: It is recommended that the Fabric Repair Shop be used to make the pugil stick sock.

Finishing the Opposite End Cap
After one end cap is complete and the centerguard is finished, then repeat steps 1 through 7 in Constructing Ends, End Plugs, and End Caps for the other end of the pugil stick. Ensure that the opposite color end cap is used.

Fastening Handguards
Step 1. Place the inner handguards (longer piece) around the dowel. The inner handguard is placed on first because it protects the wrist. One inner handguard is needed for the left hand and one for the right hand.

Step 2. Fold the inner handguard around the pugil stick and run the para-cord or 5-50 cord through the metal grommets.

Step 3. Tighten down the corner ends of the inner handguards by pulling on the para-cord or 5-50 cord.

Step 4. Tie off the cord with a square knot above the metal grommets.

Step 5. Place the outer handguards (shorter piece) over the inner handguards (longer piece). Repeat steps 1-4 for the other handguard. The outer hand-guards provide additional protection to the knuckles and fingers and provides additional stability for the inner handguards.

Serviceability Inspection

Prior to any training, all pugil sticks are inspected to ensure they are fit for use. If any of the following conditions exist, the pugil stick is unsafe and will not be used:

  • Stick protrudes through the end caps.
  • Frayed or worn edges exist on canvas sur faces.
  • The stick can be felt through the pads or the padding is too soft.
  • End caps or handguards are not securely at tached.