SCOTTISH troops heading to Afghanistan to battle the Taleban have been given life-saving lessons in an ultra-violent Israeli martial art.
Soldiers were taught how to gouge and bite enemies during the “kill or be killed” training in Krav Maga at Dreghorn Barracks, Edinburgh.
The no-holds barred fighting technique was developed by the Israelis and has been used to deadly effect by the country’s troops and agents.
Soldiers from 1 Scots hope the savage, close quarters combat training could save their lives as they head for the bloody battlefields of Afghanistan.
Fifty soldiers from a casualty replacement platoon took part in the Krav Maga training last week. Since then, five have already been sent to Afghanistan and another 10 are on standby.
Krav Maga instructor Marcus Houston said the new technique would help men fight without their weapons.
He said: ““They often think guns, guns, guns, but if someone wants to hurt you and they have a knife, you need to control them. It’s not all just like Call of Duty like some people think.
“The guys are moving through housing and lanes and if you get your guns taken off of you, what do you do? You need this unarmed response to make it as safe as possible for them.”
“It’s all about controlled aggression and giving them skills to think fast and act faster.”
Mr Houston added: “We are trying to teach them about the vulnerable parts, the eyes and the neck, the exposed parts.
“If someone is wearing pads on their knees, elbows, legs and a vest then you need to think, ‘most people have eyes – and go’.”
At one stage during the session, a soldier was forced to the ground by his instructor who then told the group: “You can get particularly nasty now and bite off his nose and ears. If you bite him on the back of the neck there’s a part where you can kill him.”
Krav Maga – roughly translated from Hebrew as “contact combat” – has been used by intelligence organisations such as Mossad and Shin Bet.
Combining boxing, grappling and wrestling, it originated from street fighting skills and was developed by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld.
Private Mark Alexander was at the session last week and said his new skills “could potentially save his life” in Afghanistan.
The 21-year-old said: “We learn how to fight with a gun at say 800m. You shoot to kill but here you learn how to handle hand-to-hand combat, a much more fair fight.
“I feel a lot more confident knowing with these skills now for when I go out to serve.”
“It could potentially save your life. If someone tries to attack you with a bayonet or a knife, you have the skills to defend yourself.”
Former Sergeant Eddie Scott, who left the army in March this year after serving for 16 years, helped organise the training.
“They know how to take someone to the ground and finish them off. That’s fundamental,” he said.
“This will help the guys out in Afghanistan. It gives them up close and personal combat involving knives which before they wouldn’t be able to do.
“They can now disarm, strike and defend themselves. They have a great chance out there.
“Five of the guys are already out there now and ten are waiting to leave this week.”