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AQUATIC TACTICS: Equalizing Pressure-The “Pinch” Series by Mark Hatmaker

[This article is best consumed in series with the prior offerings regarding Aquatic Tactics.]
If we have developed the skill to swim, possess a reasonable breath-holding capacity [a comfortable one-minute is sufficient across many cultures], and have a willingness to work our aquatic tactics fully, the limiter at this point is often pain in the ears.
Many a good warrior feels limited or excluded from aquatic tactics because of ear trouble, but, again, a look to the wisdom of indigenous diving cultures and how they have coped with the malady is most instructive.
Along the way we will use a bit of science to interpret some of these tactics.
First…
Ears & Submersion: Diving to depth is often accompanied by pain in the ears. This is due to the middle ear being an air-filled chamber that does not freely exchange air with the outer ear.
As we descend the air within the middle ear chamber contracts and exerts pressure on the eardrum which bows inward—this bowing inward results in discomfort,…

Attacking the “Buckler” from Heenan to Louis by Mark Hatmaker

[This is excerpted from our upcoming book Boxing Like the Champs, Round Two. I have been asked to excise the 6-rounds of drilling but...wink...RAW Subscribers can find them on RAW 186. To join the RAW Crew or for more info have a look.]


First, what’s a buckler?
A buckler is a small round-shield wielded by swordsmen or spearmen, it is worn on the defensive forearm or held in the defensive hand.
While the weapon-hand went to work the buckler was used to deflect blows and at times used as a weapon itself.
OK, so what does a buckler have to do with boxing?
In the early days of the sport, boxing was thought of as an auxiliary activity to other forms of combat. Early boxing academies were not purely establishments for boxing training. They often offered a myriad of disciplines that were taught in tandem with one another.
There are numerous records of bouts where the participants not only boxed but also might engage in fencing, wrestling, and singlestick matches [essentially “sword-dueling” with …

The Theory of "The Mountain Code" by Mark Hatmaker

Jim Webb, in his history Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America offers an interesting [if unprovable] premise on the foundations of the clannish honor, rebelliousness, and ornery combativeness of the people of early Appalachia and the Ozarks. It is a book well-worth reading and discussing [another day, perhaps.]


If we accept Webb’s premise there is much explanatory power behind why we had so many rough and ready folks willing to risk all for westward expansion. I’m hard-pressed to find other cogent explanations for “what happened after.” By that I mean, if we look to those around us today, can we easily imagine a large number of people uprooting and risking life, limb, property, and fellow family members to head off into uncharted and known dangers? It’s hard enough to get people off their phones and out of the house for a day-hike, how much more so to hack out the Wilderness Road, hit the Oregon Trail, float a rickety flatboat down the Missouri all with the high probability…

AQUATIC TACTICS: MYTH-BUSTING EDITION by Mark Hatmaker

Action films and cartoons share a common idea, well, many ideas, but I will call your attention to this familiar situation.
Our hero be he Bugs Bunny evading Elmer Fudd or a warrior on the run encounters a river. To thwart pursuers, he plucks a reed from the surrounding vegetation and submerges himself with only the reed protruding above the surface. He remains stealthily submerged until the pursuers have passed.
There are also more than a few accounts in legend of various feats of escape that utilized this same breathing-though-a-reed trick.
Our surface interpretation of this feat is that it is plausible, after all, the reed is operating as a snorkel and snorkels do a fine job of allowing one to breath while submerged.
But, let’s look at the bare-bones physics behind this.
First-The deeper we submerge the pressure change prohibits us from being able to breathe non-pressurized air—scuba tanks contain pressurized air. When we use a reed, we are attempting to draw directly from the atmosphe…

Aquatic Ability: Diving Lessons from the Ama by Mark Hatmaker

[Note: This offering is best if preceded with the information presented in Indigenous Aquatic Ability: The “Bends”]
Continuing our theme of increased tactical ability on or beneath the waves let’s look to one of the most well-known of indigenous diving cultures, that of the Ama of Japan.
The Ama diving culture has existed for over 2000 years and this longevity provides excellent utilitarian lessons for the modern student of aquatic tactics.
The Ama are sea-harvesters, both above and below the waves. Below the waves the sea-floor is reaped for shellfish, sea slugs, octopus, sea urchins and seaweed. They also dive for Akoya-gai, a mother-of-pearl shell used for pearl cultivation.
In the woodblock prints of Ukioy-e artists we see young women, nude to the waists, harvesting the sea. Flash-forward to the 21st-cetury and we see that this is the exact same practice. The Ama divers [by tradition all women] young and old bare the upper-body and perform their amazing task just as it has been done f…

Lessons On Tracking & Observational Prowess from Mary H. Austin by Mark Hatmaker

The Land of Little Rain is a 1903 work from Mary Hunter Austin that can be thought of as a South-westerner’s poetic agreement with Thoreau. In a series of observational walks Austin reveals the beauty of the desert that she sees so ably. She offers evocative expressions of the landscape, insightful commentary regarding the flora and fauna and how to “see” as the animals do and ends the volume with a few choice comments on the difference between those who live on or close to the land and those who don’t.
This slim volume is chockful of wisdom. I’ll admit the poetic style may slow the progress of some, for others [myself being one] I find that the poetry of the prose adds emotional color to the information being offered. It smacks of heartfeltness and deep appreciation as opposed to simply rote advice-observation.
Here is Austin on our propensity to blunder through our environments.
Man is a great blunderer going about in the woods, and there is no other except the bear makes so much nois…

Indigenous Aquatic Ability: The “Bends” by Mark Hatmaker

Continuing our theme of exploring warrior facility in the aquatic environment, talk must be made of the “bends,” the intense dangers of this malady, and how a simple tribal method of timing thwarts this dire condition.
First, what exactly are the “bends”?
The “bends” have also been known as diver’s disease, and caisson disease. [Caisson disease being named for the watertight structures placed at depth to allow laborers to work on the foundations of bridges, dams, and tunnels.]
These slang terms are all referring to decompression sickness [DCS from here on out.] When working at depth or altitude [DCS can afflict those flying at altitude in non-pressurized flight suits or extravehicular activity-EVA-outside of spacecraft] the human body experiences extreme changes in pressure: water or air pressure depending on the medium.
If the human returns to standard pressure too quickly, dissolved gases, in particular nitrogen, comes out of solution and can form bubbles inside the body. Depending on …

Ancient Hellene Frogmen & Combat Breath-Holding Tactics by Mark Hatmaker

A recent series of water-related tragedies reminds us of, at the very least, the vital importance of the ability to swim, and for the ready-warriors of the world an ability that goes a bit beyond that.
The mere ability to swim goes a long way in dire circumstances, not to mention the copious scientific evidence demonstrating the surprising ways human/water-interaction is not just exercise or fun [which it is] it is also therapeutic at a deep visceral level that is not yet well understood. [More on this fascinating research another day.]

Our ready warriors of the world might wisely embrace taking water-interaction a bit further. An idea we addressed at some depth in “Aquatic Evasion.
The ability to swim and the ability to swim under task load or under stress are two different things. Things well understood by our modern Navy SEALs and by all of the water-warriors that preceded them.
The ancient Greeks have numerous mentions of water warriorship in contemporary accounts as early as 400 B.…