Jumping through a ring of fire. Breaking bricks with your head. Drinking cobra blood.
Those are some examples of what troops from around the world go through as part of military training.
Check out more intense exercises in the following gallery.
The Japanese martial art of tameshiwari involves breaking bricks or wooden planks. South Korean special forces do it with heavy rocks …
A soldier from the South Korean special forces during an anti-terror exercise in Incheon, west of Seoul, on June 13, 2013.
… while Chinese SWATs do it with their heads.
An instructor and his students, members of Iran’s Basij militia, during martial-arts training at a mosque in central Tehran in 2010.
Other parts of the training might include knife fighting …
Shiite volunteers during a graduation ceremony after completing their field training in Najaf in 2014.
… or sliding across an iron rope, as in this case.
A Mexican marine during training at a military base in Chetumal in 2012.
Psychological training is also important for military forces.
Paramilitary Chinese police officers during a psychological training programme aimed at relieving anxiety, in Chuzhou, Anhui province, in 2013.
Yoga is another psychological training technique.
Soldiers at a yoga class during their training period at 11 Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre, on a foggy day in the northern Indian city of Lucknow in 2008.
Covering themselves with snow helps soldiers to strengthen both physical power and psychological fortitude.
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
South Korean special warfare forces during winter mountain training exercises in 2007 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Taiwanese marines have to crawl through a rocky pathway in front of their fellow recruits to finish their training course.
A trainee undertaking the frogmen “Road to Heaven” test in Zuoying, Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, in 2011. The “Road to Heaven” test, which is the final stage of a nine-week intensive Amphibious Training Program, requires trainees to execute various exercises and leopard crawl along a 50-metre-long path that is littered with jagged corals and rocks.
Jumping through a ring of fire is another part of training.
A frontier soldier from the People’s Liberation Army during training in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, in 2014.
This military exercise is not very sophisticated, but it is brutal: Stand up or get beaten.
Shi’ite fighters during field training in the desert in Najaf, south of Baghdad, on February 1.
These special forces in Belarus are training for chemical warfare.
Servicemen from the Interior Ministry’s special unit during a test near the village of Gorany, some 32 kilometers (20 miles) west of Minsk, in 2012. Servicemen have to pass several tough tests before being awarded entry to the ministry’s elite “Red Beret” unit, according to the ministry.
Colombian policemen train in camouflage in the jungle, preparing to battle FARC, one of the most fearsome guerrilla forces in the world.
Policemen training on the Jungla International Course, in Chicoral near Ibague, in 2013. Every year the Colombian police force invites elite law enforcement and military personnel from across Central and South America to participle in this training course.
Elite forces from Nicaragua also train for jungle fighting.
Soldiers from the special-forces unit “COE” participating in a military training exercise at the military base, about 17 kilometers (11 miles) west from Managua in 2007.
Learning to fight in a jungle is part of what is called hostile-environment training. Alpine warfare falls under this category. Believe it or not, this is Israel.
Israeli soldiers from the Alpine Unit during a demonstration of their skills for the media on Mount Hermon, near the Israel-Syria border, in 2012. The Golan Heights form a strategic plateau between Israel and Syria of about 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles). Israel captured it in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.
Thai navy sailors are trained to survive in the tropical jungle. In a joint military exercise in 2013, they taught US Marines to drink cobra blood.
A US Marine drinking the blood of a cobra during a jungle survival exercise with the Thai Navy as part of the “Cobra Gold 2013” joint military exercise, at a military base in Chon Buri province in 2013. About 13,000 soldiers from seven countries, Thailand, US, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia participated in the 11-day military exercise.
As well as cobra blood, you might be required to eat bugs from a bamboo stick if you join the Thai navy. Or in this case the US Marines.
A US Marine during a jungle survival exercise with the Thai Navy as part of the “Cobra Gold 2012” (CG12) joint military exercise, at a military base in Chon Buri Province in 2012.
Australia North West Mobile Force employs Aboriginal skills to patrol the desert of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. For this reason, its soldiers learn survival skills like spear fishing.
Lance-corporal Vinnie Rami, an indigenous soldier from Australia’s North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) unit, after hunting on Astell Island, part of the English Company Islands, located inside Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, in 2013. NORFORCE is a surveillance unit that employs ancient Aboriginal skills to help in the seemingly impossible task of patrolling the country’s vast northwest coast. NORFORCE’s area of operations is about 1.8 million square km (700,000 square miles), covering the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia. Aboriginal reservists make up a large proportion of the 600-strong unit, and bring to bear their knowledge of the land and the food it can provide. Fish, shellfish, turtle eggs, and even insects supplement rations during the patrol, which is on the lookout for illegal foreign fishing vessels and drug smugglers, as well as people smugglers from neighbouring Indonesia.
Maintaining posture and balance is another part of a soldier’s formation. These Philippines recruits have to hold a banana on their heads while eating lunch. If the banana falls, they have to eat it. Peel included.
Newly recruited female marines taking lunch with fellow soldiers after undergoing drills inside the marine headquarters in the town of Ternate, Cavite city, south of Manila, in 2013. An estimated 350 women combatants in the 10,000-member Philippine marines go through the same rigid physical and mental training as their male counterparts. Since 2006, female marine officers of the Marine Corps have been performing in the field of assault armor, field artillery, airborne, and other combat duties, a marine officer said. The women have bananas placed on top of their heads to maintain their posture. If the banana falls, the new recruit must eat the whole banana, including the peel.
A similar drill involves marching with a cross tied to your back. It is all part of reaching a military posture.
New recruits of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army during training to adjust their standing postures in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in 2013.
Another Belarusian special-forces member tests his balance walking over smoke bombs and fires.
Servicemen of a special unit from the Interior Ministry taking part in a test near the village of Volovshchina, 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of Minsk in 2009. Servicemen have to pass several tough tests before being awarded entry to the ministry’s elite “Red Beret” unit.
Often soldiers are asked to train with animals. These Dutch gendarmes ride their horses through smoke bombs.
REUTERS/United Photos/Toussaint Kluiters
Members of the Dutch Royal Guard of Honour during a rehearsal ahead of the Dutch 2014 budget presentation, at the beach of Scheveningen, in 2013.
In this case, a US soldier jumps from an airplane with his dog, Cara, breaking the record for “highest man/dog parachute deployment.” They jumped 9,174 metres.
REUTERS/K9 Storm Inc./Handout
US Military Member Mike Forsythe and his dog, Cara.
German special forces have to be able to mount a gun underwater. Holding their breath.
German policemen, aspirants for Berlin´s special police force SEK (Spezialeinsatzkommando) assembling a gun during an underwater drill in a Berlin police barracks in 2005.
BONUS: Military training is not always so daring. These Lebanese soldiers use a virtual-reality game to practice their shooting skills without the risk of getting injured.
Lebanese soldiers during a training session on the “Engagement Skills Trainer” program provided by the US embassy in Lebanon to the Lebanese Armed Forces at the Engineering Regiment Base in Warwar, near Beirut, in 2010. The EST 2000 program provides the LAF with the capability to train soldiers virtually on all aspects of firearms training without the expense or potential danger of using live ammunition.