Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: military traditions include martial arts

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Donald Milliman
  • 2nd Weather Squadron Detachment 2
When many people think of martial arts, they think of entertainers like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Outside of the movie world, however, the martial arts have been key components of military organizations for thousands of years; Chinese Soldiers trained in unarmed combat as early as the Zhou Dynasty, which lasted from 1022 to 256 B.C.

In modern times, martial arts -- including bayonet and sword thrusts and unarmed close combat techniques -- have been included in U.S. Marine Corps training since the agency's inception during the Revolutionary War. 

During World War II, U.S., U.K. and Canadian special operations forces recruited William E. Fairbairn, a Shanghai policeman, to teach them a form of jujitsu, which Mr. Fairbairn sometimes called "gutter fighting." This type of hand-to-hand training would later be called Defendu. 

Today, close combat techniques are taught in all branches of the military, from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program to the Army's Modern Army Combatives program, which the U.S. Air Force adopted as its hand-to-hand combat system in early 2008. 

Even with weaponry advancements, in warfare, troops can be forced to put these skills to the test. That is why they are taught in most military branches around the world. Each branch might have its own style and technique, but there is one common theme: know how to defend yourself and survive. 

The Hanscom Martial Arts Club will conduct a demo at the Asian Pacific American Heritage Food Tasting, which will be held in the Base Chapel Annex on May 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. All are welcome to attend. 

Individuals interested in learning martial arts can attend Taekwondo classes at the Fitness and Sports Center. Classes are held Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and are free to all with a valid ID card. For more information e-mail or