Army Basic Hand-to-Hand Combat Training


The U.S. Army teaches all recruits basic hand-to-hand combat during basic training. A recruit must pass this training to be called a soldier. Hand-to-hand combat training begins at basic training, but progresses throughout a soldier's entire military career.

Body Sections

  • In hand-to-hand combat training, the U.S. Army divides the body into three sections: high, middle, and low. Each section contains what are referred to as vital targets. The high part of the body consists of the head and the neck. The middle part of the body consists of the area from the shoulders to just above the hips. The low part of the body consists of the area from the groin to the feet.

The Body as Weapon

  • The Army teaches the recruits to use their body as a weapon against the opponent's vital points. To be effective in hand-to-hand combat, a soldier must understand the effects of a blow to each vital target. Striking the opponent effectively also requires a soldier to know the proper technique for delivering the blows and which bodily weapon, such as a fist, forearm or knee, to use on that specific vital target.

Principles of Striking

  • Using the weapons of the body against an opponent requires effective striking in order to emerge victorious. It is important to have a good mental attitude in a hand-to-hand combat struggle. To deliver the most impact, each strike to the opponent should include the weapon remaining on the site of impact for at least one tenth of a second. Soldiers should know their target selection before engaging in combat. Each strike should be to one of the vital points or nerve points of the opponent's body.

Learning Moves

  • During basic training, a recruit's drill sergeant, or drill instructor, will show the recruit effective hand-to-hand combat moves. The moves will be demonstrated by various drill sergeants before a recruit will be allowed to try the techniques himself. When it is time for a recruit to try the moves, he will face another recruit, not a skilled drill sergeant. Strict rules are in place during basic training so that no one is seriously injured. Many moves are completed in slow motion, or while kneeling, in efforts to prevent any serious injuries.


  • For a soldier to be effective in hand-to-hand combat, it is essential to understand what the target is, where the target is, what hitting the target with each of the weapons of the body will do, and where the nerve points are located. Civilians and military personnel that are off duty should never engage in fighting. Hand-to-hand combat is dangerous; using military hand-to-hand combat moves may result in criminal charges against you.

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