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Showing posts from 2018

Pankration: Myth-Busting Edition by Mark Hatmaker

Pankration, or sometimes pancratium, the Ancient-Hellene version of 21st-century MMA is often touted [rightly] as a forerunner of a sport so many of us enjoy today. Careful studies of the past can allow us to glean wisdom, both tactical and strategical, to be applied to our own game in the present.
It has been said many times, and in many versions, that there is nothing new under the sun, or that often our “newest discoveries” are but re-discoveries.
Or as two ancient texts would present an idea that was already ancient at the time of their writing:
The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”- Ecclesiastes 1:9
Truly it has been said that there is nothing new under the sun, for knowledge is revealed and is submerged again, even as a nation rises and falls.”-Paracelsus
Past is forerunner et cetera et cetera…
But…if we are to learn from the past it is wise to make sure we are certain of our…

Cognitive Preparation vs. Physical Preparation by Mark Hatmaker

As we so often do, let’s start with a quote:
“Chance favors the trained mind.”-Louis Pasteur
Oh, that’s a good one, one so worthy of repeating that we all have heard/encountered some version or variation of it in this or that business office or sundry Facebook status update. The truth of it is so obvious that it needs no explaining, but…I’m going to all the same; let’s make sure we make a distinction here, one that adheres to what Dr. Pasteur intended.
In his domain(s) of chemistry and bacteriology his “training” was not simply his “book learning” so to speak. His training was his use of the experimental method to continually refine, confirm, and most importantly disconfirm any and all ideas pertinent to his field of study
Pasteur’s training lies in what he did via experiment and experience (mighty close words, huh?) and not what was read or pontificated upon in the classroom or textbook. Yes, book learning and lectures can act as aids/assists but if we do not act upon what we encounter i…

A Rough & Tumble Duel by Mark Hatmaker

The following is from The Sioux City Journal circa 1880s regarding a “Rough & Tumble Duel” that took place between two farmers, Duggan Points and Will Moss. At the heart of the duel, the charms of one, Miss Sallie Craig.
The vicious character of the duel is part and parcel of the rough and tumble tradition. I warn, the account is violent and the character of even witnessing such spectated murder is questionable.
Keep in mind, this was a planned for rough and tumble duel, the accounts of impromptu duels are far more dire.
“The place of the fight was agreed upon as halfway between the respective residents. A man from Loveland seconded Moss, and Point’s brother acted as his second. The fight was not to be conducted to any specified rules, but in the most approved rough-and-tumble style. About sixty people were on the ground, among whom was the girl over whom the contest was caused, to witness the brutal affair. The seconds stood with cocked revolvers in hand and warned no one to interfe…

In Reality, Heroes [Wisely] Opt for Flight Over Fight by Mark Hatmaker

[This essay is excerpted from our book No Second Chance: A Reality Based Guide to Self-Defense.]

You wanna be a hero and help others facing a violent predator? Then run away.

You and a friend are walking down a street and are suddenly confronted by a gun-wielding assailant, what do you do to help them? Wrestle the weapon from the attacker? Leap in front of your friend shielding them with your own body? No, you simply run away.

You are attending a lecture in an auditorium, suddenly shots are fired, do you stop to formulate a plan with the other attendees on how to best gang-up on the attacker? Hide behind a row of seats? Again, no, you run.

If the behavior I am describing strikes you as not quite heroic, please consider the herd mentality of human beings. Human beings are social animals and though we like to think of ourselves as individuals, in certain situations we behave as a single entity. Studies of crowds/mobs show that individuals, in certain circumstances, begin to behave as one, …


I compose these brief notes while the unfortunateness of Florence takes aim at the East Coast. I offer it in the hopes that we may have it at the fingertips of our minds for as Seneca reminds us “What has befallen one man may happen to all” or as the Boy Scouts would say “Be Prepared.”
The following ideas are gleaned from naturalist studies in river-dynamics, the frontier scout tradition, and an American Indian tactic or two. Keep in mind when we discuss river-fluid mechanics these same mechanics will hold for “concrete rivers,” that is, streets turned to river by flood.
Rivers basically have two broad aspects to their composition Upland & Lowland. In the Upland portion the land is steeper and we find more energetic water. In the Lowland phase, it flattens out and at times we may see only a yard drop in elevation in a ½ mile of travel. The idea to keep in mind is that the faster or more energetic the flow the closer to the source we are, and the more care we must exercise when enter…

A Brief Rough & Tumble Lexicon by Mark Hatmaker

A few choice tidbits from George, W. Matsell’s, Vocabulum, or The Rogue’s Lexicon (1859.) Keep in mind these are underworld terms from the New York area, we see a different vocabulary in other areas of the US of A.

Anointed-Flogged or beaten. “I anointed that Addle-cove.” “I beat the hell out of that ‘foolish-man.’
Fibbing-Punch or strike with the fist in general.
Flimp-To wrestle or grapple, all-in, not the sportsman version.
Gigg-Nose. “Snitchel the bloke’s gig.” “Bust the man’s nose.”
Gutter lane-The Throat. “Slice gutter-lane.” That means exactly what you think it does.
Hackum-One who specializes in slashing assaults with knife or razor.
Nope-Any blow be it punch, kick, elbows, knee, head-butt.
Rabbit-A tough athletic man who can take care of himself in a melee.
[For Old School training practices subscribe to thisblog, the RAW Subscription Service and our upcoming book Rough & TumbleConditioning.]

Profile in Situational Awareness: Jim Bridger by Mark Hatmaker

The following is an account regarding the observational prowess and situational awareness of the legendary frontiersman, Jim Bridger. Keep in mind, this is not legend, this account comes to us from a military man, Captain H. E. Palmer, of the Eleventh Kansas Calvary. This account is found in another work by a military man, Biographical Sketch of James Bridger: Mountaineer, Trapper, and Guide (1905) by General Grenville M. Dodge.
After you have a read I’ll ask a few self-assessment questions. Again, ponder long and hard, these are pragmatic military men relating what they saw as observable fact and not some campfire tale or jejune super-hero story.
Captain H. E. Palmer, Eleventh Kansas Cavalry, Acting Asst. Adjt. Genl. to General P. E. Conner, gives this description of the Indian Camp on Tongue River, August 26, 1865. "Left Piney Fork at 6.45 a. m. Traveled north over a beautiful country until about 8 a.m., when our advance reached the top of the ridge dividing the waters of the P…

AQUATIC TACTICS: Safe Ascents & Dry-Land Drills by Mark Hatmaker

In prior articles in this series we have dealt exclusively with descending, preparing to descend, and how to manage comfortably while at depth. Now, let’s talk ascents as there are some dangers here as well, but, again, a marriage of science and indigenous diving wisdom renders these dangers negligible.
As we have discussed, when the human body descends to even shallow depths we experience great pressure changes, so great that even if we had a snorkel one meter long we would lack the muscular ability to intake a breath of air to survive.
At a depth of 10 meters [approximately 30 feet] we are already experiencing twice the pressure at the surface. The pressure at even greater depths is so extreme that deep sea fish brought to the surface often evert their viscera as the gas in their swim bladders expands and forces their guts out though their mouths.
Now, we are not deep-sea animals and seldom traipse along at such depths without extreme mechanical measures, but can we be subject to the s…

“The Kid’s Last Fight” Mark Hatmaker

This offering is a bit of music-hall doggerel with the sweet science as its subject that has been in existence for well over a century.
The original author cannot be named for certain.
It was an oft recited/performed bit in bars and vaudeville and an altered version was put to song by balladeer Frankie Laine of Rawhide TV theme fame.
Readers might also find echoes of a certain Oscar-winning boxing flick within the stanzas as well.
Nothing new under the sun.

Us two was pals, the Kid and me: 'Twould cut no ice if some gayzee, As tough as hell jumped either one, We'd both light in and hand him some.
Both of a size, the Kid and me, We tipped the scales at thirty-three; And when we'd spar 'twas give and take, I wouldn't slug for any stake.
One day we worked out at the gym, Some swell guy hangin' round called "Slim," Watched us and got stuck on the Kid, Then signed him up, that's what he did. This guy called "Slim" he owned a string Of lightweights, welters…