Sharp rocks and sleepless nights for Taiwan's frogmen

All that stands between 26-year-old Wu Yu-wei and joining Taiwan's navy elite is a one hundred meter path of jagged rocks known to soldiers as the 'Road to Heaven'.

But the only way to his dream - and the finish line - is to crawl.

It marks the end of what trainees call Hell Week, the last of ten weeks of a gruelling course that decides who becomes a 'Frogman', Taiwan's version of a U.S. Navy seal.

They're already soldiers- but frogman training is completely voluntary.

They're driven to train up for the unit out of patriotism and a desire to push their personal limits.

"The first three days (of Hell Week) are very exhausting, but during the last few days it will get better after your body gets used to it. But of course you have to rely on your willpower and determination."

Life as a frogman isn't for the faint of heart.

Neighbouring China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own, and has stepped up military and political pressure on the island.

Should a war break out, Taiwan's frogmen could be spirited across the strait in the middle of the night to scout enemy locations and call in attacks.

For hours at a time, frogman hopefuls have to endure everything from treading water in full combat gear, to taxing physical exercises.

Some fade in and out of consciousness.

Blasts of cold water from a hose jolts them back to their senses.

Drill Sergeant Chen Shou-lih says there is a method to the madness.

"The main reason for being so harsh on them is to train their will power. Because our unit belongs to the special forces, in times of war we need to have stronger willpower and be more physically capable than other units."

Less than half of this batch of trainees made it to the final stretch: the rocky Road to Heaven.

For days, they've barely slept.

But waiting on the other side are their families, and a badge that says these soldiers as the best of the best.

With his own badge in hand, 30-year-old Fu Yu says he is not afraid of death.

He says he would undoubtedly give up his life for Taiwan.

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