In the modern world, most nations cultivate a variety of martial arts disciplines within their borders, not as a formal effort of the government, but rather as a byproduct of public interest.
In the United States, motivated students can find places to study anything from Japanese Karate to Israeli Krav Maga at their local strip mall, so it should come as no surprise that the military has also come to adopt a variety of disciplines into its own approach to martial arts-based combat.
The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, as one example, borrows from no fewer than 17 distinct martial arts disciplines, ranging from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to Kung Fu, to ensure Marines are as capable in hand-to-hand combat as they are with their rifles.
Iran has also placed an emphasis on martial arts for the sake of defense, though like the nation’s military apparatus itself, their approach has been heavily informed by their culture, internal politics, and unusual military hierarchy, resulting in less than stellar results.
According to a cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Azerbaijan’s Baku Mission that was revealed by WikiLeaks, the Iranian government expects martial arts schools and clubs to serve in the role of “enforcers” when it comes to stemming public dissent, but that’s far from the worst that’s been pressed upon martial arts instructors.
Women in Iran may not enjoy the same rights or parity that can be found in Western nations like the United States, but that’s not to say that the Iranian government doesn’t occasionally recognize a woman’s ability to kick ass for their benefit.
Most women may not be allowed to travel outside of their homes without a male escort, but some are trained in Japanese Ninjutsu to become stealthy assassins for their government.
In 2012, 3,500 women were registered to begin their training to become ninjas, according to a segment produced for Iran’s state-run media.
Some in the United States have opined that Iran permits this training as a means to appease their stifled female population, but it seems more likely that Iran’s government believes it has a use for women that can fight. : Airbender.