History and Significance
Pugil sticks have been used in military training since the 1930s. Their length and size are similar to a rifle's. One end is usually designated as the butt end while another simulates the bayonet. Pugil stick training is used to simulate close combat battlefield situations, while remaining in a safe setting.
Since the battlefield situations a soldier may find himself in are too numerous to simulate, the ability to improvise is important. Most pugil stick techniques involve deflecting the blow of an attacker and countering with a downward strike--usually using the "bayonet" side--or a straight jab, usually with the butt end. Basic training does incorporate atypical situations such as fighting on a wooden bridge.
Perhaps the most important aspect to pugil stick training is the mental development that the soldiers undergo. Most soldiers are not accustomed to the life and death scenarios of warfare and pugil stick combat helps them become better prepared. The threat of being hit with a pugil stick motivates them to avoid contact and hit the other combatant, developing the aggressive spirit that will be needed on the battlefield.