Watch Drill Instructors From The Past 50 Years Compete In The Ultimate Cadence Calling Competition

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Staff Sgt. Antonio J. Curry, a drill instructor aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, barks out instructions to align his platoon of fresh recruits Aug 30, 2012.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kuande Hall

In Marine Corps boot camp recruits learn two things very quickly. The first: If a drill instructor looks happy, you’re fucked. Second: These guys go ape-shit for cadence.


But, really, who can blame them? Before they earn their campaign cover, drill instructors spend untold hours learning the finer points of marching, screaming at people, and calling cadence. It’s in their blood.

So when they finally get a chance to belt it out, some of them do it with style, especially at the "Best Damn Cadence Calling Contest in the West," an annual competition hosted by the West Coast Drill Instructor Association.

A recent YouTube video posted to the Marine Corps’ official page shows a highlight reel from this year’s competition, which took place in September at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California.

In the video, current and former drill instructors from the 1960’s to now compete, calling cadence from their time training recruits. Each drill instructor had three minutes to impress the panel, who were drill masters at Recruit Depot San Diego. This year’s winner was Shafi McCants, who served as a drill instructor from 1991 to 1993.

Related: All The Ways Drill Sergeants Call Cadence In One Video »

Marines from all generations will instantly recognize some of the songs — one instructor sings the Marines' Hymn. However, a few cadences channeled rhythm and blues, while others were a bit more old school. At one point, an instructor corrects an imaginary formation: “Forward — who told you to move?”

The contest was clearly more lighthearted than serious, which is a trip because it’s rarely a good sign when this many drill instructors look this happy (if they are, it’s usually because some sad recruit is running around sweeping sunshine or trying to catch his shadow).

Fortunately, as far as we know, no recruits were humiliated (more than usual) in the making of this two minute video. Check it out.

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