As the old saying goes, “failure to prepare is preparing to fail” and nobody takes this adage more seriously than the elite Special Forces and police units of the world. Along with more traditional skills like shooting and martial arts, many special operations units learn and perfect things that are only really useful in the kind of exceptional circumstances they’ll uniquely be more predisposed to encountering. Things like…
10. Tactical skiing, sniping bad guys with a revolver – GIGN
Hailing from France, the GIGN are amongst the most elite counter terrorism squad on Earth, as evidenced by the fact 40% of people reading this probably recognize the name from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and more recently, Rainbow Six: Siege. Trained how to use most every weapon they could conceivably find on a modern battlefield, individual GIGN operatives are largely free to choose whichever gun and equipment they want for a mission.
As a result of this almost unprecedented amount of freedom in how they operate, GIGN operatives are well-versed in the use of somewhat unorthodox weaponry, most notably, the MR 73, a French-made revolver than can be customized to sport, get this, a sniper scope and bipod.
As if being trained to use a revolver as a sniper rifle wasn’t hardcore enough, due to the fact they’re required to operate everywhere from urban environments to the mountains, every single GIGN operative is also trained how to ski, tactically. Exactly what this entails isn’t clear as the GIGN is understandably secretive about how it trains people, leaving us to imagine that it involves an unnecessary amount of flips and a wholly necessary guitar solo to accompany it.
9. Knife fighting, on ice – South Korean Special Forces
If the film V For Vendetta has taught us anything, it’s that a man who is really good at stabbing people with knives is a pretty terrifying thing and while most every military unit on Earth trains its soldiers in the basics of knife fighting, South Korean Special Forces go one step further by teaching their commandos to fight using a knife, on ice.
As part of their training, all South Korean Special Forces troops, including commandos from their awesomely named “White Tiger” Battalion, train extensively in sub-zero temperatures and snow, usually naked or without thermal protection to teach them to better ignore pain. To teach them to maintain their fine motor skills, even in bitingly cold temperatures or while suffering extreme discomfort, commandos are also required to perform knife fighting exercises, in the snow, while standing on frozen ground and their opponent is actively trying to stab them. But it’s not all bad though, because after a long day of sub-freezing knife fighting classes, commandos get to cool off, literally, by throwing handfuls of snow into their own faces while shirtless in -20 degrees weather.
8. Tactical Randy Savage Style Elbow Drops – South Korean Special Forces, again
Teukgong Moosool, which is pronounced, well however you want because we sure aren’t going to correct you, is the official martial art practiced by South Korean Special Forces, based primarily on Taekwondo. Invented as a response to North Korean commandos whupping their asses in one-on-one fist fights along the Korean border and blending together elements of numerous other martial arts, experts in Teukgong Moosool are able to utilize almost any part of their body to snap a human neck.
Owing to the fact it was created to kill or otherwise incapacitate another human being as quickly and efficiently as possible, Teukgong Moosool places a particular emphasis on crushing throat strikes, usually delivered from the air by means of an elbow drop. Videos of the martial art in action show that along with breaking bricks with their elbows and fists, commandos can also shatter bricks (and by extension a human jaw bone) with their heads. This seems unnecessary, but hey, we don’t know the kind of situations South Korean Special Forces operatives find themselves in on a daily basis.
7. Firing (and reloading) a gun, one handed – Korean National Police SWAT
We promise we’ll talk about a place other than Korea soon, but we couldn’t not talk about how baller the South Korean SWAT is.
Like many other SWAT units from around the globe, KNP SWAT is trained extensively in the use of small arms like pistols and submachine guns to the point they can, quite literally, use them one handed. The reasoning behind this being that if an individual SWAT officer loses the use of one of their arms, either through injury or because they’re dragging someone to safety, they might still need to put down a suspect using the other arm.
Other tactics taught include shooting at a target trying to sneak up behind you, which rather awesomely involved firing the gun sideways, over your own shoulder and most impressively, utilizing the recoil of a shotgun to hurl it over your shoulder and switch to your sidearm like you’re using the sleight of hand perk in real life.
6. Punching bricks in half – People’s Liberation Army of China
When it comes to military grandstanding, few countries can hold a candle to China, whose military demonstrations are so excessively extravagant that their own generals were forced to admit that they spent so long training for them that they barely had time to teach their soldiers actually useful skills.
For example, for many years almost every soldier in the PLA was required to learn how to shatter a brick with their fist for no other reason than to make them look tough during military demonstrations and possible destroy a building by all punching one part of the foundations at once. The PLA stopped training soldiers to do this in 2014 as part of a modernization effort when Chinese officials realized that punching concrete to dust had few, if any “practical applications” on a modern battlefield.
Other things the PLA stopped teaching soldiers that year, along with how to properly punch a brick to death, included leaping through a burning window feet first, which means we can finally put to bed our irrational fear of being drop-kicked into a burning building by a Chinese spy.
5. Tactical backflips – Spetsnaz GRU
Spetsnaz GRU is a Special Forces unit so secretive that their actual official logo is the Batman symbol (and so badass that DC has never had the cojones to sue them). Officially comprised of several brigades of elite soldiers, Spetsnaz training is infamously brutal to the point much of what we know about it sounds like someone ran the lyrics to a death metal song through the Wu-Tang name generator.
Hopeful Spetsnaz troops are hit with sledgehammers, forced to wade through hallways filled with several feet of blood while being chased by dogs and are routinely set on fire, all in the hopes of making them immune to pain, fear and fire, we guess? Though trained in all aspects of warfare, Spetsnaz commandos have something of an affinity and flair for acrobatics. While it may seem unnecessary to teach its men to throw hatchets while flipping through the air, dropkick their way through windshields or take down suspects by leaping onto their shoulders and punching them in the neck, it is a remarkably effective way to demoralize or surprise a potential enemy who has never been trained specifically how to counter back flips, so like, 99% of all the world’s soldiers. You may think this sounds stupid, but I think we can all admit if we were ever in a fight and our opponent’s opening gambit was to do a back flip towards us while throwing a knife, upside down, we’d probably fall for it.
4. Shooting two revolvers – Soviet Counter Intelligence, SMERSH
SMERSH is a now defunct aspect of the Soviet Government that operated during WW2 between 1943 and 1946 tasked essentially with tracking down and murdering spies. Before we continue, to stress how much SMERSH hated spies, its name in Russian literally translates to an acronym of “death to spies.”
As they existed in a time before the widespread proliferation of submachine guns and other such guns capable of putting 30-40 bullets into a person’s torso in the time it takes to sneeze, operatives for SMERSH were taught a decidedly more awesome way to fire way more bullets than they needed: firing two pistols at once.
As described in this translation of a SMERSH manual, the technique is known as “Macedonian shooting” and involves locking both hands together (so that you can aim using one gun’s site) and firing both guns in roughly the same direction, so it sadly doesn’t involve some Equilibrium style gun-fu, but it does roughly double a user’s rate of fire. Although the skill has now almost entirely fallen out of use because of the existence of things like machine pistols, it still periodically appears in video games like The Darkness 2 where the protagonist uses the technique in tandem with two giant demonic arms composed of dark energy. Cool, huh?
3. Rope combos: Japanese Riot Police
The Japanese riot police, particularly those in Tokyo, are amongst the best trained in the world, thanks in part to the emphasis they place on teaching officers how to restrain suspects using sick combos. As part of their training, all riot police are taught Taiho Jutsu, which roughly translates to “the art of arresting,” teaching them skills such as how to properly apply a joint lock, slap someone in the neck and restrain them with a length of rope.
Just to be clear, we’re not making that last one up. The Japanese police really are taught to hogtie and whup someone’s ass with a piece of rope and it’s generally required for most hopeful riot or special police officer trainees in Japan to have at least a black belt on one martial art. As a result of the latter, the various police forces of Japan often hold competitions, which means we can share this video of a tiny Japanese police woman deflecting knife blows to her sternum by applying a 13 hit wristlock combo from Tekken 5.
2. How to use a car as a weapon – Delta Force
If researching this article taught us anything, it’s that there’s almost nothing a trained expert can’t use as a weapon if they’re angry enough, like a car. No really, some Special Forces operatives like the ones in Delta Force are trained how to beat people up, using cars.
While the exact nature of the training is understandably secretive, we can go into a little more detail about the specifics of what operatives learn how to do behind the wheel during their “Dynamic driving course.” Along with learning how to take out other cars, drive straight through roadblocks and drift like a pro, agents also learn how to properly drive at high-speed and control their vehicle while being shot at or doing handbrake turns through the front of a McDonald’s. Okay so we made that last bit up, but you know someone from Delta Force could probably totally still do that.
1. Strangling people with piano wire – JW GROM
Recognized as Poland’s “elite counter-terrorism unit,” GROM is a highly efficient fighting force that specializes in capturing and killing suspects using a variety of methods and unconventional warfare. Most infamously, GROM agents are well-versed in what they refer to as “cold killing.” When asked to define exactly what “cold killing” was by a reporter in 2003, the founder of GROM, General Slawomir Petelicki, tersely responded that a GROM agent can “create a weapon from . . . well . . . many things.”
When asked if this happened to include things like piano wire, Petelicki coldly responded “yes.” Meaning that there is a group of highly trained elite soldiers out there right now who are literally trained to sneak into people’s homes and Agent 47 them to death wearing night vision goggles and kick-ass camouflage pants.
Oh and if you don’t think that they’d do that, just remember that the GROM’s nickname in Poland is “The Silent and Unseen.” How terrifyingly awesome is that?