Today marks the 234th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, the finest fighting force in the history of the world.
The Marine Corps Birthday makes me nostalgic for the good ol‚ . . . well, maybe good is too strong a word. In fact, I can’t say that I miss being on active duty; but I do miss being with my fellow Marines.
To give you an idea of what the life of a Marine is like (and why I don’t miss it), here is a blog entry I wrote in 2004 that outlines a typical day in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program:
0550 — Wake up — Instantly regret having joined the Marine Corps.
0720 — Arrive at the base — Think to myself, “What other job would pay you to learn martial arts. I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”
0730 — Pull up to training site — Think to myself (while watching my fellow Marines put on their body armor and helmets), ‘What kind of job requires you to wear this stuff. I don’t get paid enough for this.”
0740 — Warm up (2 mile run and conditioning exercises) — After running while wearing body armor and a helmet I realize why Nike doesn’t produce athletic clothing made from Kevlar.
0755 — Body hardening drills — There is no greater compliment you can give a Marine than to say that they are ‘hard.’ Hard is a mysterious, intangible personality trait that belies definition. Hard, however, also has a physical component. In order to become hardened physically we go through a series of drills in which we: slam our femur bones together, kick each other on the side of the thigh, kick each other in the inner thighs , and punch each other in the abs . I realize, to my dismay, that I am neither hard nor hard.
0810 — Hip throws (see photo) — Imagine being lifted three feet into the air, put in a horizontal position (with your feet slightly higher than your head), and then dropped onto a slab of concrete. That’s what happens during a hip throw. You‘re picked up and slammed to the ground. Hard. Extremely hard. ‘Oh-I‘m-gonna-feel-that-tomorrow” hard. The throwing part is easy; falling is the more difficult task. After lots of practice, however, I was able to master the art of being thrown to the ground. Now I’m almost always able to do it without crying like a little girl.
0955 — Knife fighting techniques — After almost two hours of being body slammed, practicing knife fighting techniques was a welcome reprieve. I was motivated to learn such skill in case anyone ever attempts to use a hip throw on me again. I’d have no qualms about stabbing somebody over that.
1100 — Lunch — Go to Burger King. Reconsider my career choice. Ask for an application.
1305 — Front choke — We learn techniques for the blood choke which cuts off the carotid artery. Once the blood supply to the brain is cut off your opponent passes out. For some reason the only part I remember is my partner saying, ‘Let me know if this is too tight . . .
1400— Counters to chokes and holds — During this period of instruction we’re taught how to break out of a front choke, a front head lock, and a front bear hug. Now if I’m every attacked by a wrestler from the WWE I’ll know exactly what to do.
1445 — Unarmed manipulations — When I first went to Boot Camp in the late ‘80s, our close combat instruction was comprised almost entirely of ways to deliver a ‘killing blow.” In the new program the majority of the techniques consist of non-lethal ways to immobilize our opponent . The U.S. has the most lethal military in the history of the world and yet we go out of our way to reduce the number of casualties that we inflict. That’s just one more reason I love my country.
1515 — Weapons of opportunity — The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program’s slogan is “one mind, any weapon.” If we don’t have a rifle, bayonet, or knife handy we can always pick up a stick and put a whooping on the enemy.
1545 — Bull in the Ring — Our class consists of eighteen Marines ranging in age from 18 to 45. For the final event of the day we form a circle with one Marine in the center. One by one, a Marine runs toward the man in the center who uses a hip throw to toss them aside. This is repeated until he throws every man in the circle. We each take our turn, throwing and being thrown. We toss seventeen men and seventeen men toss us. By the end I’m wondering why I didn’t join the Air Force.
1630 — Prepare to Leave I cringe after hearing my instructor say, ‘Be prepared for tomorrow. It won’t be as easy as it was today.”
1700 . . . 5 p.m. — Conversation with my wife:
My wife: ‘How was your day.”
Me: “It was fine.”
My wife: “Anything interesting happen.”
Me: (pause) “Nah, not really . . . ”