The Little Honor Guard Members

I have been scouring the internet for many years learning about the differences in military drill around the world. One thing that isn’t different is the interest that many young men and women enjoy in the hours of work it takes to present a superior drill team (called an “honor guard” in Asia) performance and in some cases, age does not matter.

2010071500341This little boy, Ryan, in the picture at right, lives in Taiwan. This picture is from 2011 when he was just three-years old.

He loves honor guard in Taiwan, so the Taiwan military has allowed him to perform with their drill teams for several years now. This video is from 2012.

Ryan even changes uniforms! A video from 2015.

One question that I posed was, why does Ryan do everything in the opposite (opposite shoulder, Port to the right) from the members of the drill team? The answer I received was that he learns by watching and mirrors what he sees. I don’t think it will be that difficult to have Ryan switch when the time comes- who knows, he may very well be Taiwan’s greatest exhibition Driller in the coming years.

Click here to see Ryan’s Facebook page.

 

 

If I remember correctly, this little boy back in the early 2000s, loved what his uncle did at an Air Force Base in Southern California so his mother made him a tiny Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial uniform.

Little Boy in USAF Ceremonials

Just like children taking an interest in music or other arts, this is a positive influence on these very young men. If you would like to encourage the children you know in military drill or even marching band color guard, you make your own rifle out of wood: go to the Downloads page and find the DrillMaster iDrill Rifle and also the iDrill Rifle Jr!

Create Goals, not Dreams

A speedometer with red needle pointing to Reach Goal, encouraging people to get motivatedBut not just goals, SMART Goals
The difference between a goal and a SMART goal is your goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. SMART goals give you a much better avenue to reach your goals. Your dreams are the fuel that drives the high-performance goal engine.

Specific
Broad, general terms are not going to help. What, specifically, do you want to accomplish? “I want to be a better Driller”, is too broad. “I want to improve my footwork”, is much more solid and descriptive.

Measurable
How will you know how much you have improved? What will you use as your scale to determine your improvement? It is just fine to use a professional to give you feedback and rely on that as your tool for measurement.

Attainable
“I want to my footwork to be just like a professional tap dancer.” Probably not going to happen by your next competition or over the summer. Small steps are just fine.

Relevant
Does your goal strictly pertain to what you want? Make sure.

Time-bound
“A year from now, I want to be able to…” While a year is not an impossible timeline, it is quite a long time and there is a great possibility that you will get distracted. “In the next three hours I want to…” is also not impossible, but we need to find a happy medium. Give yourself a week or two, or even a month or six.

While we are on the subject:

Write it down
Successful people say it all the time, “Put it in writing.” In the Air Force I also learned, “If it isn’t written down, it never happened.” While professionally we may do this, sometimes we may overlook applying this to our personal lives. Goals in writing become real, it’s like making a contract with yourself. The contract then requires discipline on your part.

Sacrifice now for great dividends later
Practice, read and study. My articles and books and your service drill and ceremonies manual need to be at the top of your reading list. Wake up early to practice on your own. Carry the command list for the unarmed squad you will command for this year’s competitions. Read it when you are waiting in line. Put a copy of it up in your bathroom and read it three times while you brush your teeth.

Remind yourself why
People who are truly successful never let short-term pain override long-term goals. They know that the only difference between success and failure is where on the timeline they decide to quit. Even so, they constantly remind themselves of “why” they are doing what they do. Find an image that represents your goals and put it everywhere: your computer screensaver, refrigerator door, office desk and your bathroom wall at home. Think it, say it and repeat it. Never forget “WHY.”

While you may not have the power to predict and control the future, you most certainly have the power to shape and guide your future as you see fit. By following these six steps, you can begin to build your new future today, and take positive steps to make 2015 your most awesome year on record.

 

Exhibition Drill Injuries

Before we begin: I am not a medical doctor. This article is not a substitute for obtaining professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Minor InjuryNow, on to the article.

Many exhibition Drillers (you are not an “exhibitionist” unless you remove your clothing while spinning the rifle) have spent some time dealing with an injury or six.

At your JROTC unit, it is a very good idea to have a first aid kit available during practice. At home, it would be a good to have the same thing or something similar.

Repetitive Use Strains
Doing the same move over and over is the way to finally get it perfected and the best way to strain certain muscles and tendons.

When you have a strain, remember “RICE”: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Ibuprofen or natural supplements to reduce swelling is also a good step to take.

Click here to read a great article about Repetitive Strain Injury. At the site, Clay Scott, explains everything you need to know, including pictures of two very helpful stretches.

Cuts
Prevention is the key here, but you will still receive an abrasion or cut eventually. Removing both sights and the stacking swivel from your rifle is going to help to significantly reduce opportunities for the rifle parts to cut you.

Cuts still may happen, especially if you drill bladed (Got Bayonet?). If receive a minor cut, clean the wound and cover it with a bandage that has a small amount of tea tree oil or honey (must be real, not the processed junk) on it.

Click here to read about some excellent natural methods to treat cuts and abrasions.

The JROTC Instructor and The DrillMaster

DSCN0479I have heard at times from cadets that I say the same thing as their JROTC instructors. That is a good thing. It shows that the JROTC instructors are on the right track of creating a solid educational foundation for their teams (color guard and drill team). The instructors may not teach just like me, but different approaches offer fresh training experiences. But, what if the instructor does  not say the same thing that I do when teaching?

Not everyone in the military knows drill and ceremonies inside and out. As a matter of fact, that is the norm. Most JROTC instructors are senior NCOs who have been away from the marching scene for ten or even fifteen years or more. They were managers in their career field and were not anywhere close to a military formation- for the most part. There are exceptions, most definitely, as evidenced by several JROTC teams that are top-notch for drill.

Civil Air Patrol, US Navy Sea Cadets and the Army-based cadet programs that are across our nation are sometimes better than JROTC units at drill and ceremonies, however, in my experience, all cadet programs are about the same.

Problems? Go back to Competitive Regulation Drill
Many issues can be eliminated by revisiting Competitive Regulation Drill (CRD) training and

Competitive RD is very different from the standard RD that one learns in Basic Training for each service. Regulation Drill moves a military formation from point A to Point B; it teaches teamwork, leadership, etc. Competitive RD goes much beyond that helping the team understand the mechanics behind taking the first step, each subsequent step and how to apply the principles of CRD in the exhibition drill program.

Herein lies the issue: most adults who work with cadets, including JROTC instructors, do not understand what goes into creating a training program that encompasses CRD. In walks The DrillMaster.

What does the DrillMaster offer?
A fresh perspective at training cadets for those units that already have a top-notch team. Basic, intermediate and advanced training information and techniques for everyone else. Books on every aspect of military drill: RD, XD and CD (Exhibition Drill and Ceremonial Drill).

I visit JROTC and other cadet programs for a minimal tuition fee depending on the length of training and help with transportation and lodging. I teach for an afternoon, a weekend or even a week or two.

DrillMaster University
This is the umbrella under which I offer the following courses:

  • DrillUp! (for cadets and instructors)
  • Drill Team Improvement Seminar (for instructors)
  • Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard (click here for more information– offered every summer)
  • Certification programs for instructors/coaches and

Visit the Downloads page to download information sheets about the above-mentioned courses.

Follow The DrillMaster on Periscope!

I teach in various locations around the United States of America and with the advent of Periscope, the application for smart phones, I can now share live training moments when working with law enforcement, firefighters, EMS and cadets!

Download the free app from your phone’s store and start watching. Broadcasts begin the first week of August 2015 at the Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy!

DrillMaster Periscope

The Firefighter’s Ceremonial Axe Manual

See also the article, Resistance to Change: Betrayal?, for some insight that may help dealing with this sometimes rather touchy issue.
Fire-Axe-Nomenclature

Why an axe manual in the first place?
Firefighter honor guard units use two of their tools as ceremonial equipment that are normally used to fight fires. When I first began writing my book, The Honor Guard Manual, I wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible and thought that I should include law enforcement and firefighters. Law enforcement units use rifles the same as that military honor guard units. They also use shotguns sometimes. But firefighters- hold the phone!

The conversation I had with myself when something like this: “What in the world? Let me zoom in on that picture of the firefighter color team. Hey, they’re holding shiny axes! And what are those staffs with point and a little hook?” Time to visit a fire station and get some hands-on training. I went to the Spangdahlem Air Base (my wife was stationed there- I had already retired but was an active member of the Base Honor Guard, probably the only retiree to do that) fire station and was given a tour and explanation of the ax and pike pole and the loan of a real fire ax. The Airmen there were great and I so appreciated the time they took with me, from the Senior Master Sgt to the Senior Airman, they could not have been more pleased to have someone take an interest in the tools of their trade.

I took the fire ax home and began creating a manual of arms that I hoped would mirror the honor guard manual of arms for the rifle for a color team. I took pictures of myself with a timer on my camera setting it up on the back porch of our home in Germany. I also asked my wife to sit in the middle of our hallway and take many pictures while I posed in several different positions of the developing manual with the fire ax. In steps difficulty at this point.

The issues that I encountered were 1) Safety, there is a pike on the opposite end of the blade (the blade is dull on ceremonial axes, but the pike still comes to a four-sided point) and, 2) Creating a series of “strong” positions.

Right/Left Shoulder
Safety: Port is the position most teams use when marching and it can make the ax guards wish for interchangeable arms during long parades. To my knowledge at that point (2009) no team had used an ax like a rifle and put it on their shoulder. (I have since found one or two pictures of firefighter color teams with axes on their shoulders- the same way I created, which gave me validation.) I really wanted to use a shoulder position to provide a relatively restful position, especially when using a real fire ax with a heavy head. To do this and to maintain a safe and ceremonial image, I could not put the ax handle on my shoulder with the ax head next to my ear. That position looked “weak” and actually, a little dorky. It also created the problem of moving the pick near my head, about which I was not all that enthused.

Port and Present Arms
Weakness“: My second concern was positions that may look “weak” or “non-ceremonial” even in transition. When you bring a rifle from Order to Port, the movements are straight forward: you bring the rifle across the torso and then move the right hand to the small of the stock. When trying to mimic this movement for the fire ax, keep in mind that the hand is on top of the ax head and as you bring it across the torso, you must bend the right wrist creating a “weak” movement/position. Or, when at Present Arms and both hands are flared to the front with just the thumbs holding the handle- it does not present a “strong” image.

Rejection!
I have seen firefighters perform several of the positions of an ax manual of arms, positions that I eventually flat rejected for the reasons stated above. I didn’t just play around with an ax for a few minutes and settle on whatever came to mind, the ceremonial manual that I created took weeks of hard work of hands-on time with the ax, bouncing ideas off of my wife and then also firefighter Mark Zamora who played an integral part in the revision of the manual that I first developed with which I was not happy. Mark’s expertise as a firefighter and a member of his department’s honor guard was crucial in the manual positions that are in my book and in the video at the bottom of this article.

Here is the manual that I created which is explained extensively in my book:

 

The JROTC “Feeder” Program

Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy

If your JROTC unit does not have a plan on how to recruit at the local elementary schools that feed your high school, then you need to implement a strategy this school year!

JROTC programs need cadets, that we know. If 8th-grade students are unaware of the benefits of JROTC (leadership, organization skills, drill team, etc.), then those students will probably not sign up for JROTC. One of my favorite sayings is, “Education is key!” Applying that phrase to this situation means that you, as a cadet, can help ensure that 8th-graders are aware of JROTC and how it can impact their life whether they join the military or not. But, how do you do this? I’m glad you asked.

Self-promotion is a leadership and political skill that is critical to master in order to navigate the realities of the workplace and position you for success.”
― Bonnie Marcus

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion
I am not talking about telling everyone how wonderful you are or how amazing your units is. That is not the point. The point is to help students understand how much fun they can have and all of the different things they can learn just by being in the program.

Create a team that has can visit different places (schools, community events) that sets up a table with flyers with information and a tri-fold display board complete with pictures of cadets in all of the different activities.

During the high school open house, ensure that the PT, drill and rocketry teams all get a chance to show off their skills. Have the color guard present the colors to begin the night.

  • Raiders– run to the elementary school and do PT with the students.
  • Drill Team and Color Guard– perform at the school. March in as many parades as possible.
  • Reveille or Retreat– perform for the cadets in all of the different ways that you can.

Note: You must ensure students and their parents are fully aware that JROTC does not come with a commitment to the military. Junior ROTC is a citizen building program only, about 14% (it varies slightly by service) of cadets join the military either by directly enlisting or by attending college and commissioning.

Your JROTC unit needs to be prepared and the Public Affairs cadet(s) should put all of this into motion in conjunction with the team commanders. Educate the incoming students and the people living near the school by putting your best foot forward.

Saint Louis High AJROTC in Trouble?

Yes, another JROTC unit is in serious trouble. This time it seems to be a burocratic position with a financial excuse, but no one really knows exactly . (Also read: The Hatred of JROTC.)

Cadets who attended JROTC units around the world can provide anecdotal evidence as to how the program and moreover, the instructors, played a key role in learning life lessons. We, in the Military Drill World, know what it’s all about: citizenship, leadership, followership, accountability, teamwork and a myriad of other qualities that cadets learn from just attending classes or stepping up and volunteering for the extra-curricular activities: drill team, color guard, Raiders, rocketry, PT, academics, etc. Just like the music programs under attack, JROTC is irreplaceable.

Saint Louis CrusadersWhile Mission High Schools AJROTC unit had a problem with finding instructors, the Saint Louis Crusader Battalion of Honolulu, Hawaii is in danger of closing supposedly due to funds. Two former cadets set up a Facebook page to help organize the fight against the shutdown and are urging everyone to use the hashtag, ‪#‎SaveSLSBattion‬.

SaintLouis High AJROTC instructors, First Sergeant Akuna and Chief Warrant Officer Philips, have been taking freshman kids and turning them into young men and women for many years now.

The following is what I have been able to obtain from one of the cadets (C/SFC Dillon Wong):

“The cadets were informed of the cut on July 8th by Chief Philips when he sent out an email of our newest [school board] president’s, Dr. Glen Mederios, letter. The letter informed us that the JROTC program was being replaced by a Civil Air Patrol program because it was significantly cheaper. The next day, July 9, some of the cadets from the ranger platoon went to the school to see if we could save the program. When we arrived, 1SG was already starting to clean out the battalion of all of its contents. He explained to us what had happened and that he would be forced to retire. Our cadet commander, Jared Castaneda was able to arrange a meeting with Dr. Mederios that day so, Jared, our S5 assistant, Aaron Hasimoto, and I went to meet with our president.

“In the meeting we asked several questions. The most important was Jared asking why we were informed so late in the summer. The response of Dr. Mederios shocked us all. His exact words were, ‘Well, the reason for the late notice is that, if I informed the parents and the teachers of this cut earlier, it would give hope to trying to raise the money. When looking at these numbers, you can see it is a hopeless effort.’ Naturally our next question was how much money did the program cost. At first, he told us that the JROTC program costs over $200,000 dollars. Then he changed it to $175,000. He then said CAP would costmuch less, just $25,000. The only concern I have about this is that CAP is a government-funded cadet program with volunteers as instructors. This came straight from our Dr. Mederios and told us that he is only paying them so that they come to Saint Louis every day after school with no exceptions.

“After our meeting we informed the rest of the cadets who came and most of them were worried about joining CAP or joining the Punahou Battalion. I thought that this is the wrong way to go and that saving the battalion is possible. Cadet Captain Erica Bantolina and Cadet Sergeant Maybelle Lee, my two good friends, shared my thoughts and together we started this cause. Our first action was creating the Facebook page to first see if people would be interested in helping us. After about 200 likes, we decided to go through with this. We originally posted that the cost of saving the program was $175,000 but then removed it after being called by Chief Philips saying that the amount was incorrect.

“Our next action was finding a person who would be our financial advisor and see if they could talk to Dr. Mederios. We were able to contact the father of an alumni from the JROTC program who is another good friend of ours. Without hesitation, he agreed and worked vigorously to set up a meeting. We also contacted the former board president, Judge Kirimitsu, since he encouraged and supported our program throughout his years. They met with Dr. Mederios yesterday, July 10th, and were able to get the go-ahead to collect the money. We also found out that the actual cost to keep the program alive was $90,000.

“We have two major donors ready to give us money once we have an account set up so that we do not run into any legal problems. Our first donor is a 2010 alumni named Dee Soliman who was the BC (Battalion Commander, a cadet) for the JROTC program. He has created an account on gofundme.com to collect money. I contacted him and he has given us his full consent of overseeing the account and receiving the money once he has reached his quota of 10,000 dollars. Our second donor is Eugene Hong who was also a program alumnus. The reason he is so passionate of saving this program is because his senior year was 1SG Akuna’s first year of service at the school. I have already informed him that we cannot accept any money until we have an account set up. I plan on contacting the Saint Louis Alumni Association and another major donor, Clarence TC Ching, who recently gave a generous donation to construct our new schol gym.

“This is where we stand now and plan on collecting the money by next week. We do not want to post anything on our page about the actual amount of 90,000 dollars and that we were given the right to collect the money because we do not want people asking us where to send the money. Once we set up a money collecting account, we will release the information.

“Thank you again for giving us the time out of you day to listen to our situation, Mr. Marshall, you do not know how much this means to us.”

#drillstrong, the Fundraising Competition

#drillstrong, the Fundraising Competition

DrillStrongFollowing For the Art (FTA) Clothing Company’s lead.

A member of the Military Drill World (MDW) is in serious need. Constantine Wilson created New Guard America many years ago with the goal of having the first professional civilian-based exhibition drill team that performs with bayonets. He did it and NGA has toured the world with performances all over the USA, Europe and Africa.

Constantine and I met at New Mexico Military Institute in the mid 80s. After we left the school, we lost touch only to have exhibition drill bring us back together in 2006 when I began my groundwork for The DrillMaster. We eventually worked on Pro America together creating some great competitions. And there are all kinds of stories that many, many Drillers can share about how he has impacted their life, either directly or indirectly.

New Guard AMerica 2013

Constantine needs help. Diagnosed with cancer in 2013, he has been fighting it with unconventional therapies that have worked- until now. He is going to begin conventional therapy soon, if he has not already, and that is where you and I come in. FTA started the ball rolling with the sale of the really cool glow-in-the-dark #drillstrong rubber wrist bands and that is a great beginning. We can do more and we will. What do we, in the MDW, do best? Compete!

#drillstrong is the competition. It will be similar to Pro America, but with additions. No entry fee, but donations will be accepted by competitors and audience members. I hope to enlist help from others in the MDW and make this a spectacular annual fundraising event. When Constantine heals, we can turn our focus onto other needs for a fellow MDW member. Right now, all I have is ideas and will make phone calls and send emails to those whom I think can help in certain ways. I want to record the competition, create a DVD and offer it for sale with 100% of the profit going to the cause.

If you have something to offer for the competition (video or audio setup skills, DVD creation knowledge, etc.) please contact me by clicking here and sending me a message. Let’s get started.

God bless you, Constantine. #drillstrong

The Terror of the Dropped Rifle

See these related articles: How Drops Affect Scoring & Learning to Drop.

woman-screamingSalute!
Imagine this: you are a judge at a JROTC competition assigned to judge one of the exhibition drill categories. During a performance, a cadet drops his rifle, comes to attention, salutes the rifle, picks it up and continues on with the performance. The “Face-Palm” action would be inappropriate in this situation.

Saluting a dropped rifle has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. There is no reason for it and, to me, makes the Driller look less than intelligent.

It was started decades ago as a way to make a cadet who dropped, look silly. The embarrassment was meant to help you not drop- which it never did. It’s absolutely ridiculous to salute a dropped rifle. When you do, you are telling everyone, “Hey, I just dropped the rifle and I’m not going to try to minimize the effect that the drop has on my performance. I’m going to look stupid and salute an inanimate object.”

IMG_2386What if (see the picture at right) the cadet picks up the rifle, brings it to the Order position and brings his left hand across for a salute? No, this isn’t any good either! This is not a salute for the rifle it is a salute that the Marine Corps and Navy still execute when at Order. It is one of three different salutes rendered between individuals when at Order or either Shoulder position. The Army ceased performing these salutes many years ago.

“Mutual respect”
Between the rifle and the Driller. [Buzzer sound] Wrong- thanks for playing! Respect is between people, respect from a rifle is impossible.

You will not find any kind of guidance like what you have read here in any military manual. Yes, you will be taught to fully respect your equipment, including your rifle, when in the military- that is a must. Your life and the lives of others depends on how well you take care of your equipment at personal and unit level. That is a completely different context, one that is not applicable to JROTC. After all the rifle with which you drill will not save your life- even if it is a Demil.

Lastly, it doesn’t matter whether you are practicing or performing, never salute a dropped rifle.

Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

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