4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

The Marine Corps is always training to become smarter, stronger, and more lethal than those who threaten to destroy our way of life. Marines are outside dogs who thrive on the hunt, however, when not forward deployed, they train the next generation to fight.

The fundamentals used to build up a puppy into a war-dog may seem asinine at first, but they are either proving a concept, developing a character trait, or conditioning muscle memory.

1. Break falls

A break fall is one, if not the first, thing you’ll learn in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. This exercise focuses on muscle memory: tucking the chin or looking up, not reaching out, and dispersing the energy from impact so you can get back on your feet unharmed and continue the fight.

Break falling can take years to perfect (good thing you signed that contract), but it will make you a better sparring partner and will come in handy for those “oh sh*t” moments, like getting in a fight or slipping on an icy sidewalk.

useless training exercises

“After chow we will learn how to use an ISO mat as a weapon.”

2. Grass Week

Not every Marine is an infantryman, but every Marine is a rifleman. Generally speaking, it’s probably a good idea to have all personnel achieve proficiency with the metal object they have to carry for months on end while deployed.

Grass Week is when Marines develop muscle memory of shooting positions while aiming at an object (usually a barrel) while coaches fix their posture.

Proper bone support is a fundamental of marksmanship that will help you attain that Expert Rifleman Badge (and bragging rights over your peers). Unfortunately for the Marine, this means staring at the same barrel from dawn to dusk for five days straight.

useless training exercises

“Now stay like this forever.”

3. Fighting Holes

Offense and Defense, also known as O&D, is when Marines have to defend their position against an advancing enemy, conduct patrols, and other combat operations. This also means hours or days of digging with a tiny shovel.

There are set measurements for fighting holes, but their command may take certain liberties contingent on the environment, time, and resources. Dig, fill, relocate, repeat.

useless training exercises

“I should have been farmer like my father wanted.”

4. Speed Reloads

Speed and tactical reloads make you look and feel like the operator bad ass you imagined yourself to be when signing that contract. The concept is simple: Develop muscle memory to the point that you can reload your weapon in pitch black darkness or blind-folded.

It’s a perishable skill that must be continually honed in the infantry community and it’s a great way to look busy if your staff sergeant is on the prowl for a working party.

As we all know, one must walk before they can run, which translates to many magazines being dropped prematurely.

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