10 of the Craziest Military Training Exercises

1Playing a game of “hot potato” with a real grenade (People's Liberation Army of China)

Military training is an intense business, involving discipline, precision, and courage that can be called upon in the midst of battle. Soldiers undergoing training in the People's Liberation Army of China take those ideals to a whole different level, as one of their exercises involves a life-and-death game of "hot potato" with a live grenade.

This incredible video footage shows Chinese troops stationed in Hong Kong passing a live explosive from one soldier to another until the last one finally throws it in the hole. The soldiers then leap out of the way before it explodes, covering their heads for protection.

2Taking a shot to the chest (Russian Special Forces)

Larry Vickers, a retired U.S. Army 1st Special Forces operator and a Delta combat veteran, filmed the video below for a series called TAC-TV. These exercises are part of a specialized Russian confidence training course, and one of their training techniques includes shooting each other in the chest.

The idea behind the exercise is to prepare the troops for the moment when they might be shot. Some end up wounded while others just take hits to the vest. Whatever the outcome, the soldier must be able to return fire quickly and accurately.

Trainees then push people away while firing at the ground, shooting at targets just inches from the volunteers playing innocent bystanders to show how stress affects one's concentration. Despite these stressful surroundings, the trainee must be able to stay calm and carry out his task.

3Jumping through rings of fire (People's Liberation Army of China)

This incredible picture shows a daredevil soldier jumping through rings of fire. He is clad in his uniform and holding an assault rifle during this scary training exercise in China. His superior said the dangerous task would give him the same feelings and adrenaline rush he would experience in real combat.

4Drownproofing Training (U.S. Navy SEALs)

Practically every part of Navy SEAL training is crazy, but some drills are particularly out there.

Trainees endure surf torture, also called "cold water conditioning," while covered in mud. They then have their arms and legs bound as a part of "drownproofing." They must bob up and down twenty times, float for five minutes, swim to the shallow end of the pool, turn around without touching the bottom, swim back to the deep end, do a forward and backward somersault underwater, and retrieve a face mask from the bottom of the pool.

The craziness doesn't end there either – a BUD/S instructor attacks a trainee in the pool to simulate a combative drowning victim.

5Breaking slabs of concrete with their heads (South Korean and Chinese soldiers)

Many fighting forces have marching bands, singers, and performing groups to rally the troops. But China's military is known for soldiers who can break bamboo poles on their backs and smash bricks on their heads.

If combat were simply a matter of showmanship, then the People's Liberation Army of China would be near invincible. But military officials have acknowledged that such displays have few practical applications and are reconsidering the amount of time that troops spend on such training.

6Drinking cobra blood (U.S. Marines)

Gone are the days when a few push-ups and an assault course proved a soldier's worth. U.S. Marines now drink cobra blood and rip the heads off chickens with their bare teeth as part of their training.

After being taught how to kill venomous cobras by Thai naval instructors, Marines are encouraged to experience the local customs of drinking the animal's blood. Many of the soldiers happily oblige, tipping their heads back while the blood is squeezed out of the snake's body and into their mouths.

Other rituals included killing a chicken by biting off its head and eating a cobra's tail.

The 11-day exercise, called Cobra Gold 2014, involved around 13,000 soldiers from Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. It takes place in Thailand's Chon Buri province and covers amphibious assault, humanitarian relief and the evacuation of friendly forces, as well as jungle survival techniques.

7Testing balance by walking over fires (Belarus Red Berets)

Servicemen from the Belarus Interior Ministry's Special Unit are undoubtedly tough guys. To prove exactly how tough they are, and to be accepted into the ministry's elite Red Berets, they have to go through a battery of tests on an extreme course.

The test includes a 10k quick march, followed by an extreme assault course, hand-to-hand fighting, storming a high-rise building and acrobatics. Their superiors throw in extra challenges to make things even harder – they try to knock new recruits off the balance beam with car tires and gunfire.

On average, it takes five to six attempts to earn a spot in the coveted Red Berets – only the fittest manage to do so.

8Jumping from skyscrapers and rappelling down the side (Israeli Defense Forces)

If terrorists ever tried to take hostages in a Tel Aviv skyscraper, the last thing they'd expect is an anti-terror commando leaping in through the window.

But that's exactly what the Israel Defense Force anti-terror unit has been doing – jumping from the top of one of Tel Aviv's tallest buildings and rappelling down the side. Trainees must block out everything that's around them, focus only on the window and wait for the command to move.

Israel's Channel 2 cameras captured the moment recruits took turns jumping off the roof of the 49-story Azrieli Center. The exercise is aptly named “baptism by height.”

9Crawling along a path with jagged corals and rocks (Taiwan Marines)

The "Road to Heaven" test is the final stage of a nine-week intensive Amphibious Training Program in Zuoying, Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. It requires trainees to execute various exercises and crawl along a 50-meter long path littered with jagged corals and rocks.

10Riding horses through thick plumes of smoke (Dutch Royal Guard of Honour)

Soldiers are often asked to train with animals. The picture above shows members of the Dutch Royal Guard of Honour riding their horses through smoke bombs during a rehearsal ahead of the Dutch 2014 budget presentation in September 2013.