Articles

When bayonet fighting was an Olympic sport

The Olympics we know today began with the first meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Paris in Jun. 1984. The first official games were held in 1896 in Athens. Before that there were a number of Olympic games and festivals hosted by national and international athletic clubs.


The National Olympic Association held an Olympic Festival in 1866 that drew 10,000 people and featured a sport most people wouldn't recognize today: bayonet fencing.

Instructions and guides for bayonet fencing were aimed more at the military than most fencing guides, specifically calling for simplified instructions that even the "dullest recruit" could comprehend.

The experts of the day recommended that someone fencing with the bayonet aim for one of five prescribed cuts:

1. Striking and drawing the blade along the left side of the enemy's head.

2. Striking diagonally downward on the right side of the head while drawing back to ensure a "deep" cut.

3. Striking upward against the outside of the left knee.

4. Striking the inside of the knee with an upwards cut.

5. Cutting the enemy's head with a perpendicular slash, parallel to the marching surface.

Photo: Wikipedia

Today, bayonet fencing continues as a niche sport, but it has never been embraced by the International Olympic Committee. Some military forces still require bayonet training, including the U.S. Marine Corps, which also trains recruits on the use of fighting sticks.