How to Write a Combat Training Scene


Part One

  1. Decide whether the character(s) is already in the training or is about to go to the combat training.

»A. What are the beginning emotions for this scene. Then compare it to the ending emotions.

I.     What does the character bring?

  • 3 days worth of plain white undies, socks, t shirts, shirts, extra pair of pants, toothbrush, deodorant, $100, coat, pen, paper, envelopes, stamps.

Does the character say goodbye to their loved ones? Is the character so nervous they are about to pass out? How about calm because the training is with a fellow friend.

  • Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.  Training only lasts 4-9 weeks. But it will be rough. Not only physically, but mentally. The worst part is missing family and friends and being able to be lazy.

II.   What does the place look like when the character arrives? Describe the obstacle course, the place where the loo is, the cafeteria. Describe the area of rest and how the character may or may not miss home already.

Example 1: 

It looked exactly like I imagined: clothing, including underwear neatly folded on the beds. The sheets were freshly washed and the blanket had been tucked neatly under the bedframe. “Get use to it,” my buddy Josh said. “You’re going to have to do that with your stuff.”
I shook my head, wondering what I got myself into. The loo was just around corner, and I didn’t smell piss so I guess that’s good. However, I didn’t find it too thrilling that the cafeteria was located a mile away.

I hadn’t even been here that long and I already miss my mom. How ungrateful I became; treating her like a maid. Now I have to do this on my own. Great. Not even the most of my worries, either. As I stepped outside to see the obstacle course my eyes became watery. I may have just peed in my pants.
“Is….is,” my words seem to stick together.
“Yup,” Josh said. “That’s your worse nightmare.”

There were loops and turns in places where it shouldn’t be. Mud galore, swings, caves, strings the size of Mount Rushmore that we’d have to climb on the daily, walls, balancing beams. You name it, the course had it. And guess who would fall on his face every-single-time. It is I, the most graceless lump of a man the world has ever encountered. Thanks, Dad and genetics.

Write a(n): Resurrection Scene      Funeral Scene     Sword Fight Scene


»B. Leaving the Old for the New Combat Life.

Note: Combat is used-

  • To protect soldiers against threats without using firearms
  • To provide a non-lethal response to situations on the battlefield 
  • To provide the necessary aggression to meet the enemy with warrior instinct.

I.      What is different for the character now that they are in training? Do they resort to old habits or throw them away to prevent from getting in trouble. Ex: eating candy, obsessive texter, someone who talks back. These qualities are prohibited in the training. (Most training at least). The cell phone would be thrown out, the person who talks back would have to do 100 pushups and the candy either has to be hidden or eaten a.s.a.p. Give your character a habit that they must learn to overcome while in training. If not, give their friend a habit that may get both the characters into trouble. A few other habits or qualities would be: asthma which can slow a runner down. Maybe the friend holds back the main character from completing the 5k run in time. Or swearing. Just by association, the sergeant may make the friend and main character scub the floors with sponges because of the constant swearing. Uncontrollable twitches or gestures can be taken the wrong way. It could start fights if other soldiers are offended. You decide.

II.    The food during combat training isn’t always… ideal. Nor is the living arrangement or the people one has to be around 24/7. In the early stages of the scene, clearly lay out any difficulties the character has to adjust to. This way, towards the middle of the scene or even the end, you will be able to show that without having to go in great detail. For example: the main character is not happy with being around a fellow soldier. Talk about their arguments and interactions. Later on in the scene you can describe how that rival soldier threw the main character’s clothes into the toilet or when they are in practice combat the rival soldier does a move “against the rules” to try and injure the main character.

Example 2:

That afternoon I met my worse nightmare just like Josh said I would. “Listen up,” the sergeant exclaimed. “Whoever cannot finish this course in a timely manner will have to do everyone’s laundry, scrub the floors with a toothbrush and clean the loos. Understood?”
“FUC..dgeeee,” I said, clearly trying to change my wording. The sergeant marched over to me and in the corner of my eye I saw Josh scoot over a little as if he didn’t want to be near me.
“You say something, soldier?” the sergeant yelled, his spit flying onto my face.
I tried very hard to prevent myself from wiping it away. “No sir, sorry, sir.”
Yeah, nope, apologizing did nothing. He insulting me left and right, told me how pathetic I was before making me and Josh do 100 pushups. By the time the sergeant walked away I could see the steam coming out of Josh’s head. “Dude, not cool!” he said. “You owe me.”
I nodded, realizing I needed to bite my tongue around here or otherwise I’d be a lonely loser with no friends and buff arms from all the pushups I may have to do.

When the whistle blew all soldiers ran toward the obstacle course. Josh second behind the leader and I’m way in the back. Never a surprise. I manage to make my way to the first obstacle: the wall. How in the hel– I mean world was I suppose to climb this thing?
“Move it,” a guy about 6’3 said as he shoved me to the ground. Mud splashed up in places I’d rather not discuss, making me feel kind of crappy. “Seriously?” I said.
The man turned back and said in a mocking tone, “Yeah, seriously. And I hope you like the smell of old beans because you’re going to be smelling them for the next few weeks.”
“What are you talking about.” I tried to pick myself up from the mud.
“We share a bunk bed. You sleep under me, pal. And I sure do fart a lot at night.” Then he pushed me back on the ground and laughed before disappearing behind the enormous wall.

Write a(n): Zombie Scene      Crowning Scene     Starving Scene


»C.Emotions Running Haywire!

I.       Your character is most likely human. Humans have needs…. do you see where I’m going with this? We need to vent, love, breath, etc. Allow everything that is going on around your character to show not only through them but through their environment/surroundings. For example: the main character initially always made up their bed during the first three weeks. But let’s say the rival soldier, the bad food, and missing home has taken a  toll on the soldier. Of course you can show the character moping or not wanting to talk to anyone, even yelling. But also show how they are probably not making their bed up on time and might get in trouble for that. They may not be as cordial to their fellow soldiers anymore such as purposely locking them out of the cabin. Maybe they become more messy or their attitude changes those around them as well. Like a ripple effect. Show this over the course of the scene if that is your main direction.

II.     Take a few moments to write about the character writing to their loved ones. Soldiers need that to pretty much remain sane. Then show what keeps them motivated. Did their mom send them grandpa’s old army badge? Did their significant other write a compelling letter stating “You better not give up; you’ve come way too far!” Describe what is keeping the character motivated. The reader needs to know that the character can be broken but will not be. Give them reasons.

  • Training can be very stressful both physically and mentally and letters from loved ones can give the soldier that break he needs. Soldiers cherish these letters, and although the have to do push ups for them, they think it’s worth it. Its basically the only contact they have with their loved ones.

III.    What type of gossip and/or romance is going on? It may be forbidden given the circumstances but how does the character maintain secrecy. If at all. What if their romance is caught? Is there a punishment? Also, sometimes soldiers get bored. And with no technology around this leads to gossip. Gossip among the soldiers is a great way to reveal important story information and so on. Maybe one of the gossip topics is: “Billy got Jessica pregnant! Jessica is being sent home and Billy has to do 500 push-ups with a 5lb pack of rice on his back.”


Example 3: 

By a stroke of faith I managed to get through the obstacle course. Not too proud of coming in last though. While walking over to the group who were heading to the cafeteria, I noticed Josh speaking to one of the women in charge. Hold up, he wasn’t simply talking to her he had been flirting. I’ve known him since gradeschool. Whenever he puts a hand through his red hair at a 90 degree angle it means he’s smitten.
“Huh, how funny,” I said to myself. Promptly after their conversation finished, I dragged him to a corner and told him to spit it out. “You like her, don’t you?”
“Keep your mouth shut.” Josh folded his arms. “I know how you are.”
“How long has it been going on? Are you two official? Where can I get me one?”
Josh hit his fist on top of my head.
“Fuc…ouch,” I said, holding my nogging like a precious egg.
“It’s been awhile. Now, I don’t want to hear this repeated. I mean it, Greg.” Josh became dead serious; I knew not to bother him when he got in that mood.
“Alright.” I walked away like a scared puppy who had no tail.
“I overhead,” the 6’3 guy that injured me earlier, said. “By gee whiz, I wonder what would happen if Sergeant Mike found out your friend is having a love affair.”
“Really?” I said. “Oh, come on!” I bite my toungue. “What do you want to keep your pipe shut?”
The man chuckled. “You are now my personal servant. Anything I say goes.”
For goodness sake. I’m sure one curse word wouldn’t hurt right about now.



Part Two

    1. Now for the actual combat in detail. You can always move this up a little if you want, however establishing a connection with the character, fellow soldiers, and the environment will make the combat training more emotionally intense for the reader.

»A. What does the drill Sergeant Make Them Do?

Note: The soldiers go through phrases. IN the united states– red phrase, white and blue before graduation.

I.  Drills were designed to rapidly teach core concepts. The first drill teaches several techniques like escaping blows, maintaining and escaping the mount, maintaining and passing the guard, assuming and maintaining side control. To maximize training benefits the drill can be done repeatedly with varying levels of resistance.

Subsequent courses adds throws and takedowns from wrestling and Judo, striking skills from boxing and Muay Thai, weapons fighting from Eskrima and the western martial arts.

Mountone combatant sits on the other combatants torso with the face pointing towards the opponent’s head

Drill One is as follows:

  • Student A starts in the mount on student B
  • B escapes from the mount by trapping one of A’s arms and rolling him to his back
  • A holds B in his guard
  • B passes A’s guard to side control
  • B achieves the mount
  • B is now in the same position that A was in the beginning of the drill
  • The drill is repeated, with the roles reversed

II. How is the drill sergeant responding to his soldiers as a whole during the training, especially the main character? What does he make them do and does he constantly point out flaws about the main character? Like have inspections where the sergeant will bust a soldiers’ chops over one little speck of dust, or one little thread out of place on his uniform.

III.     Be specific, even if it’s brief, about a combat or obstacle course the main character does. Be sure to get in their head.  A few combat moves that are popular:

  • Choke-holds– The most beneficial category of submission technique. Soldiers are taught several different chokes and how a properly applied choke feels so that they know the difference between a choke that they must break or submit to immediately and one that they can safely ignore if they have an opening for a submission hold of their own.


  • Joint locks– are not the preferred method for attacking an enemy, because they do not completely disable the enemy. However, they do inflict large amounts of pain and can secure compliance from the enemy.

IV.   Does the character or anyone else do anything significant during the actually training? How does that affect the overall group if at all? And what happens directly after the training? Is there a round two? Does someone faint or die from exhaustion? Is the group all of a sudden called out to war (think Mulan Movie)? Does the group sing which builds a great bond:

They say that in the Army
The Chow is mighty fine
A biscuit rolled off the table
And killed a friend of mine

They say that in the Army
The Coffee’s mighty fine
It looks like muddy water
And tastes like turpentine.

They say that in the Army
The chickens mighty fine.
One jumped up on the table
And started marking time….

You decide.

Example 4:

It had only been three hours later before I found Joe, the 6’3 bully or might I say beast, mounted on top of me in a spar. Everyone stood around cheering and watching the fight as my guts seemingly spilled out to the floor. Okay, more like my lunch.
“Yea!” he said in a joyous tone. Usually, a soldier would fight back ya know. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. But now I was a personal servant and had to endure this embarrassing brawl. Hmmm, I wonder what Josh is doing? Probably something all of us guys want right about now. Kissing a chick…I’d even take the older lunch lady if it’d get me out of here.


“What is going on in here?” the Sergeant burst through the door. Uh oh. “Atten-tion!” Everyone man ran to their bed, stood straight and saluted the Sergeant. Except me who tried to get up but my legs and arms were butter. You try having a tall dude on your back for forty minutes straight. I didn’t sign up for this.

Sergeant Mike came over and looked down at me. Not once did he offer a hand for me to stand. Not mad, though.
“So, it’s the same scrawny boy that could barely finish the obstacle course. What are you doing on the ground!!!”
I moaned. “I can’t get up, sir.”
“Do you want to do everyone’s chores for the next five days?!!”
I needn’t hear anything else. Somehow the strength to get up came in an intense burst. I stood though my knees wobbled.

“What were you doing on the ground. Answer me.”
“Sir, yes, sir. Joe and I were having a brawl, sir.” My gaze remained to the floor but I stood in a somewhat straight posture.
“A brawl, eh?” He thought out loud.
I felt stupid for coming out and saying it. Probably was the fear that spoke.
“Then finish it. This time outside.” Sergeant Mike pointed to the door.
Dang. It had been raining intensely and no one wanted to be out there.
Joe and I walked side by side outside in silence as the other men followed us. Soon a ground of soldiers from all their cabins stood outside as if it was a paid show.
“Fight till you can’t fight anymore,” Sergeant Mike said as he blew the whistle.

At first, Joe had the upper hand, putting me in a headlock, making a pretzel out of my arms and legs. Not cool. His extra meat around his stomach made it even more difficult to breath and the rain made me nearly lose my mind. Why me, I thought.
Somehow we had made our way to a puddle of mud. He had the upper hand and I felt hopeless until he said, “When I kill you, I’m going to tell everyone about your friend’s romance.” Then he farted in my face.
“NEVER!” I shouted, pushing Joe to the mud and getting him in a tight choke-hold. Joe tapped out in a matter of seconds. The whistle blew and I heard a rush of applause from my fellow soldiers. Joe remained in the mud, rain pouring down him as if he were a thirsty plant.

I realized in the moment, I may not have the most muscles or the greatest height but I did have some skillful hands. It may one day save me in war. Two soldiers gave their shoulders for me to rest on as the helped guide me to the cabin. No one helped Joe.



Part Three

    1. This is the time to describe how the character is changing for better or worse. Most likely better.

»A. Compare the emotions from the beginning to now.

I.         From part one to part three a course of several weeks could have already happened and the final training is almost complete. But only if you want. If the entire book is about the training then you can still compare the emotions mid-way. Has the character grown up if they were a young lad that left their mother’s home? Is he more of a man in terms of muscles, maturity and such? Has the character become patient or more respectful? What has changed for the better?

The soldiers will exercise and run until they are exhausted, but that only makes them stronger and be able to run farther. They will do endless rifle drills, but that makes them quicker and sharper. All of the skills they learn will not only help the main character to be the best soldier they can be, it will help them to be a better person and give them skills that he/she will have for the rest of his/her life.

II.    When there is good there is usually some type of bad. With that said, how has the character changed for the worse? Are they less talkative, less emotional in terms or feeling anything at all, less passionate, hyper aware, overly-sensitive, PTSD from close calls of guns being fired over his head during training, etc? Did he just lose a girlfriend through a letter? Has his father or mother past away and he is notified right before graduation? Is he not graduating at all? Has he accidentally killed or injure someone during combat? Did he get dismissed? There is endless options. Be sure to balance it out with the good.

Ex: The character has become more of a man since leaving his mother’s home and is about to graduate. But when he sends out the letter to invite his mother to his graduation, the Sergeant calls him into the office to tell him she past away. Heart broken and depressed, the soldier volunteers to go into a dangerous war with minimum experience, and because he can’t stop thinking about his mother passing away, he’s reckless and gets killed. Or it can be the opposite! The main character was at the brink of quitting when he receives a letter from his father that his mother past away. And now, instead of quitting,  he continues the training because he wanted to make his deceased mother proud. He ends up becoming one of the greatest Sergeants ever.

III.    How has the people around the character changed because of their actions, whether good or bad? Has someone who was suicidal now at the top of the training because of the main character’s encouragement? Did the main character prevent two people from making a major mistake that would cost them big time? How is the character rewarded by his/her actions? Do they become popular as a direct result? Does the Sergeant recommend them to a higher rank? Were they the underdog and now superior? Did that rival soldier from the beginning come up to the character and say “Sorry, man. I was wrong. Didn’t think you had it in ya.”? Show the interactions with the environment as well. If the character stopped making up his bed does he start it up again all of a sudden? Does the character, who may have never written a letter, start to write to his loved ones?

Example 6:

Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks. I had grown an inch or two and from all the push ups my arms were huge. Since the day I wrestled Joe and him threatening to tell on my friend Josh, I have learned to keep my mouth shut and the pushups were not done because of my language.

Reading the letters from my family and how much they missed me has greatly affected my effort on this journey. Josh and I became closer and I can say with pride that I am no longer a boy, but a man.

This all came at a price nonetheless. Our country has gone into war and every soldier must go into battle. I’ll be in the front lines along with Josh and Joe by my side. We need to trust each other as we’ve built that here. I joined the military to get the paycheck, honestly but I must man up to what I signed up for. Graduation is in two weeks. Right after they will be shipping soldiers off.

I went to my room and wrote a letter to my family. For all I know it may be the first and only letter I will send to them. Joe came in after I sealed the envelope. “Are you ready, pal?” He said offering a hand. I grabbed it and stood. “Of course.” I felt afraid but I wouldn’t have asked for any other obnoxious, tall dude to be by my side during battle.



Part Four

    1. Now for graduation and leaving the training field.

»A. When all is said and done, the soldiers must leave. Do they call it quits after that or continue on with their army journey?

I.    What traditions do they have during graduation? Maybe there is a march done, a drill, or a chant? How about the top students are awarded with honors and badges.

II.     Describe the character packing away their things and saying goodbye to the trainee life. Emphasis their thoughts for this part. What exactly is going through their head. Are they too tough to cry now? What does the character feel like they are leaving behind? If anything at all.

III.     Pranks have to be pulled. It’s human nature. As long as they don’t get caught. Think of senior year pranks in high school. Is your main character a part of it or does he/she advise against it? Does this prank end up making the entire trainee group do a last minute drill?

IV.      Lastly, does the character leave in a pack or alone? Where do they go afterwards? Back home? With their new army girlfriend/boyfriend?

Example 7:  

My name was called by Sergeant Mike promptly after Josh had walked across the stage. I looked to the crowd and waved to my parents. I was 5th in rank out of fifty men.
“Well done,” Sergeant said when giving me an honor badge. The soldiers then chanted our war promise when all was said and done.

“It is our time to shine, old friend,” Josh said. Mrs. Julia, his ex-girlfriend and now fiance, stood behind us, cheering with the rest of the crowd.
I nodded, leaned over to him and said, “Agreed, and it is my duty to return you safe and sound bro. I won’t let my unborn goddaughter grow up without her father.” He kindly squeezed my hand as a gesture of ‘thank you’ before letting it go. And with one last salute to the Sargeant, we were on our way to pack for battle. No celebration parties, no time to mingle. We needed to help fight for our country.



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