Anyone who has been part of a military force around the world knows that there is no easy day of training. You are being prepared to endure some of the harshest and most inhumane conditions a person could go through. So, it is only fair that your commanding officers would put you through exercises that would get you ready to face any adversity you might come up against.
With that in mind, it is a given that most of the top militaries in the world would have ridiculous training exercises that would seem, for a regular person, to be something beyond our comprehension. And let us just be glad that this is beyond most people’s comprehension because if everyone had to go through what these brave soldiers do, we cannot imagine what the world would actually look like today.
But, in order to pay some tribute to what these courageous men and women have to go through in order to be part of the defensive force that protects their respective countries against outside threats, we decided to put together a little list of the 15 most insane military training exercises around the globe. We seriously hope you are not eating right now or have at least had some time to digest your lunch before reading this article because a few of the entries you will read from here on out could very well turn your stomach upside down. So, take a little time and a few deep breaths and get ready to feel glad that you are not a soldier.
15 The Taiwanese Crawl
You will find out that the militaries in Asia have some of the most mind-blowing training exercises we have come across. So, why not start with one of the most painful of Oriental training exercises? Many people think the psychological warfare that soldiers have to go through in literally every single military around the world has to be the worst part of training. But while in many places that could indeed be the side of training that takes the heaviest toll on a soldier, we cannot leave aside the physical damage these guys have to take in order to complete their training.
An excellent example of that physical toll can be found in Taiwan. There, they have a little exercise called “The Road to Heaven.” Sounds nice, right?
Unfortunately, the name does not fit the exercise. Instead of a calm road to heaven, Taiwanese soldiers have to crawl 50 meters through a path filled with corals and rocks. Oh yes, and it seems that they have to do it without using their hands.
14 Taking A Bullet For You
Depending on how old you are, at some point in your life, you probably heard somebody saying they would take a bullet for you if push came to shove. If you are a resident of a nation that is currently at war, a soldier from your country probably has already taken a bullet fighting for your protection or your freedom. Still, most would think that soldiers would only take a bullet for their country once they were in actual live combat, fighting with their lives on the line while trying to destroy a common enemy.
Well, it turns out that the Russian military does not think that that should be how things are done. In Russia, they have something called confidence training. It seems to be a particular set of exercises used to prepare Russian personnel to be confident that they could deal with getting injured in the line of duty. The way they do that is by getting two aspiring soldiers and making them shoot each other in the chest.
13 Circus Antics
A lot of the training exercises we approached on this list are terrifying and brutal. But there was one particular training regimen that, although it might have made a few Chinese soldiers soil themselves, could also end up being one of the most entertaining exercises for the adrenaline junkies who decided to join the Chinese army.
We are talking about an activity in which the Chinese soldiers are forced to jump through rings of fire. Yes, this is not a circus performance. It is an actual military training exercise and one that makes a lot of sense after you watch one or two war movies. In any battle fought ever since people started using gunpowder, there has been a presence of fire and things burning all around the battleground. So, it is not surprising that an army commander would want the majority of his soldiers not to be afraid of trekking through a field in those conditions. It is still scary as hell, though.
12 Another Circus Performance
Since we are talking about fire, let’s talk about another interesting exercise that involves fire and also reminds us of a circus performance. In the former Soviet nation of Belarus, soldiers are constantly trained in the arts of maintaining their balance and cool through the thick of combat. By that, we mean that the military personnel are trained to run what is perhaps the most ridiculous obstacle course in the history of the world.
In order to become a Red Beret, the aspiring soldiers have to fight their way through a course filled with burning tires, maintain their balance while running on a pipe, getting shot at by their superiors, and last but not least, crossing a narrow plank without falling while veteran soldiers throw large tires at them. And you thought the obstacle course you and the rest of the people from your CrossFit gym decided to take on was tough, huh?
11 A Classic
While the exercises might be different, there is one thing that is a constant in armies around the world. As a matter of fact, this has been a constant ever since mankind started using armies to fight their wars. Once you put on the uniform, you can completely forget about the life you had before, especially the part that involved people forgiving you with kindness for doing something wrong. In the military, doing something wrong can get somebody killed. That, in turn, means that officers training new soldiers have to instill the mindset that those soldiers cannot make mistakes under whatever circumstances.
The Iraqi military is a classic, but perfect example to explain how training officers most often instill this mindset into their soldiers. During a physical training exercise in which a soldier has to stay in the “chair” position, he has an extra motivation not to mess up because if he does screw up the chair, he is going to get smashed with the butt of that AK-47.
10 Balance The Banana
There are a lot of gruesome and physically painful exercises on this list, so we thought it would be a good idea to give you a funny one to lighten the mood for the storm still to come. In the Philippines, the Army is not just about learning how to fight or survive in the jungle. It is also about balance and posture. At least, that is what we assume the Philippine officers had in mind when they created this exercise. Seeming more like a game middle schoolers would enjoy, these Philippine soldiers have to balance a banana on top of their heads while they’re eating lunch.
Taking a closer look at it, it does seem like something that would require a good deal of balance and psychological fortitude. Just grab a banana and put it on top of your head, then try to read the rest of this list without getting distracted and letting it fall. Oh yeah, if you let it fall, you have to do the same as the Philippine soldiers—eat the banana (the peel too).
9 Sniper Training
Out of all the positions in an army, sniper training has to be the easiest of them all, right? After all, these are the guys who stay mostly away from the action, taking one shot at a time while hidden from the enemy forces. If you are one of the unfortunate souls who believe something like this, we have to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong.
While it might seem like snipers are not in the thick of the action as other infantry troops, that assertion is not true. If one enemy spots you, you are as good as gone. That is exactly why sniper training involves some of the most insane practices in the world.
Staying in camouflage is a vital part of a sniper’s job. It is so vital that the United States Marine Scout snipers have to wear their ghillie suits and bathe themselves in a pool of rotting vegetation and stagnant water. Yeah, it does not smell or feel nice. But the worst part is that they repeat the process and also have to perform other exercises in those stinky suits for almost a month.
8 Real-Life Mission Impossible
We have seen Tom Cruise do incredible things using a rappel rope or any other kind of rope he had in hand during the Mission Impossible movies. Nevertheless, it is tough to fathom that this skill Mr. Cruise introduced to the world would be one that actual members of the armed forces would have to train and use on a regular basis. It turns out that the Israel Defense Forces actually have their soldiers doing similar stunts.
Terrorism is a common problem in Israel, and as it is necessary, the personnel of the Israel Defense Forces have to prepare for any kind of terrorist plot or attack. One of the possible scenarios, apparently, is that terrorists could make hostages in a skyscraper. How to train for that? Well, how about making actual soldiers rappel down from the roof of a Tel Aviv skyscraper and perform a mock rescue of people being held hostage by terrorists? Does that sound nice? It better do because it is what actually happens.
7 Bruce Lee Got Nothing On These Guys
Japan is notorious for having several cultural traits that might seem incomprehensible for most Westerners. Still, one of them has become widely appreciated by people around the world because of karate movies. That is the practice of breaking wooden planks and bricks with your bare hands. The Japanese had been doing that for centuries before it became a trope in Hollywood martial arts movies. But while the Japanese can perform that art with the experience of a people who have been doing it for millennia, the South Korean Special Forces have taken this particular method of showing strength to a whole new level.
In South Korea, Special Forces soldiers go through a training in which they are asked to do the same exact thing the Japanese karate martial artists have been doing for a long time. However, instead of breaking bricks and wooden planks, the South Koreans have to break heavy rocks with their bare hands. So yeah, getting into a fist fight with one of these guys might not be the best of ideas.
6 Again With South Korea
Over the past few years, we have become accustomed to thinking about South Korea as that one nation that is always in danger of being bombed by Kim Jong-un and North Korea’s ever-expanding nuclear arsenal. That assumption, however, could not be farther from the truth. Researching military training exercises is all one needs to do to realize that what the South Korean soldiers have to endure in order to complete their training is something out of this world. We have talked about them breaking heavy rocks with their bare hands, but that does not even come close to the psychological and body strengthening they have to develop to support their training.
You have probably gone outside in the freezing cold without a coat once or twice, right? You lasted maybe a few minutes at best. Well, these soldiers constantly have to go through an exercise where they go out shirtless in the freezing cold and have to cover themselves with snow to increase their mental fortitude.
5 One Upping South Korea
Let’s leave South Korea, jump over North Korea, and land in China. The Chinese have one of the largest armies in the world as well as one of the largest police forces on the globe. The training to maintain such a large force and keep their soldiers following a program of excellence cannot be easy. But taking a look at the military and police training exercises folks have to go through in China, we can confidently say that the Chinese know what they’re doing when it comes to developing physical and mental fortitude.
You have heard about how the South Korean Special Forces have to break heavy rocks with their bare hands. Now, let’s just show you how the Chinese police one upped the Korea military. Instead of using their hands to break rocks, the Chinese go one step further and use their heads to break bricks. And those are just the SWAT police officers. Can you imagine what they probably make the military Special Forces break with their heads?
4 Daredevil Training
We already know that they are capable of breaking bricks with their own heads, but how well can the Chinese military officers control their temper in, let’s say, “daring” situations. Our bet is they can do it better than anyone else.
If you consider the training these guys have to go through, it is not tough to guess that they would be able to stay calm and collected in the direst of situations amid a war zone. That picture depicts one of the exercises used by the Chinese military to relieve anxiety. Yes, you heard it correctly, to relieve anxiety.
Please don’t try to do this at home or you will probably fall flat on your face on the floor, and your friend, who was supposed to be holding you by the ankles, will just laugh at you. But while you should not do it, you should try to imagine what it would be like to spend an hour in a position where you have to stand still while one slight lack of concentration from a comrade could result in you breaking your neck.
Imagine you just joined the United States Navy. What is the thing that could happen at sea that terrifies you the most about being a Navy man or woman?
We can say with fair certainty that a good number of you said being aboard a sinking ship. Anyone who has ever been aboard a ship on the high seas could very well agree that the worst thing that could happen to them right there would be for the ship to smash into an iceberg and sink. Of course, we all hope to avoid the subsequent part of dying because the woman you “loved” did not love you enough to share the floating door that could totally keep both of you alive.
But all that Titanic talk is beside the point. Actually, not all of it. Just the part about Kate (Rose) letting Leonardo (Jack) die. The other part is true because apparently, Navy recruits have to survive a period of 12 hours inside a sinking ship. Of course, it is a simulation. But by the way people talk about it, that simulation is one of the most terrifying experiences a soldier can go through.
2 SEAL Training
It is no mystery to anyone that Navy SEALs are some of the most bada*s soldiers in the world. These are the guys the United States military throws in the line of fire when things of the utmost value are at stake. Hence, these special soldiers have to go through a ridiculous amount of training. But out of all the insane exercises the Navy SEALs have to go through, perhaps the most terrifying is something they have to go through during the basic conditioning part of their training. Yes, keep in mind that this is basic conditioning to be a Navy SEAL.
What we’re talking about is a training regimen devoted to “drown-proofing” the soon-to-be SEALs. If the mere name of the exercise was not enough to terrify you, here is what it consists of: bob for 5 minutes, float for 5 minutes, swim 100 meters, bob for 2 minutes, do some forward and backward flips, swim to the bottom of the pool and retrieve an object with their teeth, return to the surface, and bob five more times. They have to do all of that with their hands and feet tied.
1 Hot Potato
By now, you probably have come to the conclusion that in order to become a part of one of the top militaries in the world, an aspiring soldier needs, for lack of a better expression, a large set of balls. And in case you are one of the few who might not have come to that conclusion yet or even disagree with it, we ask the Chinese military to prove you wrong.
This is something most of us probably have seen at some point in a movie or read in a fiction novel. But apparently, members of the Chinese military actually have to go through training in which they play “hot potato” with a live grenade. Yes, someone had the bright idea of making these servicemen passed around a live grenade until one of them reckons it is about time for the thing to explode and throws it inside a hole. We can hardly imagine a training exercise that would be more dangerous than this hot potato game.
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