Topic: Drill and Training
Boxing Useful Training for Bayonet Fighting
The Toronto World, 24 September 1918
Published articles to the effect that boxing does not give a useful training as a basis for bayonet fighting and that the two have no common relationship have been emphatically denied in a formal statement that has been issued by Dr. Joseph E. Raycroft, head of the athl;etic division of the war department commission on training camp activities, which directs the athletic activities in the military training camps throughout the country. The statement follows:—
"Several more or less uninformed critics have published articles to the effect that boxing does not give useful training as a basis for bayonet fighting. Such criticisms are based upon ignorance of both bayonet fighting and military boxing. The experience of the past year in the training camps shops that boxing has great value as a preparation for bayonet fighting, and in the development of those physical and spiritual qualities that are characteristic of the aggressive fighting man.
"The great majority of our young men who make up the army have had little or no experience in physical contact games that develop self-reliance, courage, quick thinking, and quick decisions under fire. Bayonet training at its best is a drill in which speed, endurance, and skill in handling the weapon are developed, but in the nature of things, there can be no practice contests with the bayonets. Boxing supplies this important contest factor and furnishes a means of training men to keep their heads and to carry out an effective plan of attack, even though they are being punished by their opponents. In this way, qualities needed in the makeup of a bayonet fighter are developed by practice in boxing to an extent and with a rapidity that is impossible in any other plan of training thus far tried.
"The commanding officers of the training camps in this country have almost universally testified to the value of boxing as a part of military training. In many of the principal camps it has been made a regular and definite part of the daily routine.
"The primary object of boxing, as taught in the army, is to make skillful, self-reliant, hard-hitting men, rather than expert boxers. An efficient soldier must not only be trained in the technique of offence and defence, but he must be charged with the proper fighting spirit. Experience in boxing develops that spirit. It develops a willingness and ability to fight at close quarters and to give and take punishment.
"Practice in boxing has an additional value, many of the blows and movements taught the men in boxing class have their close counterparts in bayonet fighting. For example, a left lead to the head is very similar to a long point to the throat; a right hook to the jaw or the body is like the blows with the butt of the rifle. Of course, there are thrusts and parries in bayonet fighting that are different from any lead, block or counter in boxing, but the principle is the same, and the sequence of action, the body balance, and the ability to take advantage of the openings in the opponent's defence developed in boxing are fundamentally important for the bayonet fighter.
"In the final analysis all physical training in the army must have a practical military significance; boxing possesses this significance to an unusual extent, so that particular stress has been laid upon the instruction of all the soldiers, rather than upon the development of a few experts."