Skip to main content


Running the Gauntlet by Mark Hatmaker

Any serious survey of battle-preparation amongst warrior cultures will find a similar practice reoccurring that we will blanketly term “Running the Gauntlet.”
Running the Gauntlet has manifested in many forms with the running theme [apologies for that verb use] being the warrior [or captive in many cases] being tested/tortured/trained [depending on circumstances] to either:
A] Run/move through a dual row of warriors who are punching, kicking, slapping, abusing the runner as they move from one end of the gauntlet to the other or…
B] The weaponless runner is given a small head-start after which weapons-wielding pursuers follow in waves [sometimes en masse] to hunt down the prey.
Cinephiles can see two film representations of the B-form of the practice in Samuel Fuller’s Western Run of the Arrow, where Rod Steiger is pursued by the Sioux, or in Cornel Wilde’s grittier The Naked Prey where the star/director is subjected to a grueling chase in Zimbabwe.
[Trivia Time: Although the second film i…
Recent posts

Static Stances Kill by Mark Hatmaker

[The below is excerpted from our book Boxing for MMA.]

Any discussion of stance worth its salt has to use Good Athletic Position (GAP) as the default starting base. For the uninitiated, GAP is the fundamental good mechanical position that the body assumes when it is expected to perform optimally across a variety of stressors. These stressors can be a sudden vertical jump, a quick explosive lift, a preparation to move to either direction laterally, to transition to back-pedaling, et cetera. The key to GAP is that it is a preparation for variety, a start point for options if you will.
Task Specific Positions (TSP) begin with the end in mind. That is, the sprinter knows which direction the body must move, the batter knows the approximate plane he must swing into, the fighter setting up the spin kick knows where and how she must set the hips to facilitate the smooth pirouette. Still, even with TSP there are, usually, only minor adjustments from GAP, and this close adherence is for good rea…

The Returning Champion from Virgil's The Aeneid

I offer this lengthy but still relevant boxing scene from Virgil’s The Aeneid [the John Dryden translation.] It comes in Book Five and takes place on the island of Sicily.
Aeneas has ordered a series of games on the anniversary of his father’s death and amongst the celebratory activities are a boat race, a foot race and this boxing sequence where we find the familiar tale of an aging champion urged to come back one last time.

The race thus ended, and rewards bestow'd,
Once more the princes bespeaks th' attentive crowd:
"If there he here whose dauntless courage dare
In gauntlet-fight, with limbs and body bare,
His opposite sustain in open view,
Stand forth the champion, and the games renew.
Two prizes I propose, and thus divide:
A bull with gilded horns, and fillets tied,
Shall be the portion of the conqu'ring chief;
A sword and helm shall cheer the loser's grief."
Then haughty Dares in the lists appears;
Stalking he strides, his head erected bears:…

Random Tips & Hacks on Indigenous Awareness, Stalking & Scoutcraft by Mark Hatmaker

The following are some Random Quotes from our Upcoming Book on Indigenous Awareness & Stalking. For release dates and further info see this blog or our free newsletter. Members of our RAW Crew will get early access to the information. Information on joining the RAW crew here.]

Keep this in mind, when you make a decision to be an animal observer, whether that be birdwatching, looking for deer in the forest, or a fisherman looking for signs of fish-- you are late to the game. The animals all see/sense youwaaay before you sense them. They never decide to tune you out. Look to your own home, I wager your dog is far more aware of your activities than you are of theirs. We decide to interact and then notice, they were noticing all along.Giraffes in Botswana love the leaves of the acacia tree. The trees “desire” not to be eaten so once they are being eaten the tree begins to release tannins that deter the giraffes. Is this a sign of tree “…

Shark Attacks, Car Wrecks, & a Stiff Jab by Mark Hatmaker

Let’s talk shark attacks for a few moments. Me, you, the media love shark attacks.
No, not because we wish any of the victims harm, but we do love the “Oh, my God” moments, the brief titillating fascination of pondering the fact that there are still a few beasts out there capable and willing to feast on us occasionally (beyond microbes and insects, that is). Each time we hear one of these shark attack reports, and that’s pretty seldom according to the mighty Wikipedia the US average is 16 per year with an approximate death every two years; still, after hearing of an attack either we ourselves, or someone we know says “You won’t get me into the water.”
Now, looking at these numbers in no way diminishes the impact on the victims and/or their families, not at all. But I would like to point out to those who reason that there being man-eating fish in the sea and deciding not to enter the sea is not quite as wise at it may seem. Sure, any of us who have stood on a crowded shore for merely a…

Resistance is Never Futile by Mark Hatmaker

Should you always fight back? Yes. “But what if…”

Over the course of many years teaching survival-based strategies and tactics the above-exchange has taken place more than a few times. The “but what if…” question is usually posed by well-meaning individuals who haven’t quite grasped the seriousness of physical violence. These are people whose own humanity, whose sense of civility is so strong that they are caught vacillating between fight or flight decisions. It is a shame that these good qualities can sometimes stand in the way of grasping the essential facts of just how dire the threat can be.

The “but what if…” is usually followed by any number of justifications or pie-in-the-sky hopeful mitigations. These “but what if…” objections are based on unfounded trust and an incorrect grasp of probability. The first objection, unfounded trust, is usually based on the following scenario.

Predator: Do what I say and I won’t hurt you.

Or, some other such promise to the victim.

Now, these sorts of …

"Scouts," Frontier Awareness, & Hands-On In All Things by Mark Hatmaker

In the course of researching and preparing material for the historical Frontier Rough & Tumble Combat Program I have also been compiling copious notes on indigenous methods of tracking, stalking, skulking, reading sign, reading water, sensory enhancement, elevated environmental interaction et cetera.
These notes [200+ pages thus far] read as a sort of situational awareness bible/survival hacking handbook all 100% sourced from historical resources. We will be offering drills and exercises from these fascinating methods in an upcoming book and side-offering to the RAW Program as an adjunct to the pure combat-tactics side of things.
And I can assure you, just as with the combat side of things, all are tested first for veracity and applicability. I have been kayak-rolling in rivers and learning to sail not simply for fun [it is much of that] but also to get a better handle on “water-reading,” “Iroquois crawls,” norsaq rolls [a Greenland Inuit method to accelerate harpoon thrusts], and…