Marines take a stab at sword training

Marines practicing with ceremonial swords / Romney Smith

Marines are known to use heavy equipment and guns, but did you know they still use swords?

Sword training, also called "sword manual" is all about Marine customs and traditions. Gunnery Sergeant Oliver Schiess says around thirty marines participated in the training to make sure they have all the motions and movements right for ceremonial purposes. "The main thing is ceremonies, changes of command, Marine Corps ball, weddings - that's also a big one" says Schiess.

Since the Marines are all about precision and detail, they practice the same movements dozens of times during one practice. "Repetition is everything. That's how you build your muscle memory...everything is repetition. Repetition is so you can do it without thinking about it, so you don't have to think about coming up having the palm be six inches from your face. You don't have to think about it because your muscle automatically gets you there" says Schiess.

If you're wondering if they ever get nicked or cut when training with swords â" the answer is yes! "The ceremonial swords are not sharp, but some Marines like to be extra motivated and get the sharp ones, but yeah you can get scratched. I've gotten scratched a few times, but nothing worse than a nick shaving" says Schiess.

Keeping in mind that in the Marine Corps tradition is everything along with the customs and courtesies, Marines say there's one other intangible that factors in when they get to use swords in ceremonies "It just looks cool" says Schiess!