Better than the Ancients?

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby Steve James on Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:42 pm

Well, body builders don't necessarily make the best fighters. Fedor ain't streamlined. But, I'm sure Roman runners looked more like today's elite runners than not.
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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby Bill on Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:48 pm

Roman Training according to Wiki....

According to Vegetius, during the four-month initial training of a Roman legionary, marching skills were taught before recruits ever handled a weapon; since any formation would be split up by stragglers at the back or soldiers trundling along at differing speeds. Standards varied over time, but normally recruits were first required to complete 20 Roman miles (29.62 km or 18.405 modern miles) with 20.5 kg in five summer hours (the Roman day was divided into 12 hours regardless of season), which was known as "the regular step" or "military pace". They then progressed to the "faster step" or "full pace" and were required to complete 24 Roman miles (35.544 km or 22.086 modern miles) in five summer hours loaded with 20.5 kilograms (45 lb). The typical conditioning regime also included gymnastics and swimming to build physical strength and fitness.

After conditioning, the recruits underwent weapons training; this was deemed of such importance that weapons instructors generally received double rations. Legionaries were trained to thrust with their gladii because they could defend themselves behind their large shields (scuta) while stabbing the enemy. These training exercises began with thrusting a wooden gladius and throwing wooden pila into a quintain (wooden dummy or stake) while wearing full armor. Their wooden swords and pila were designed to be twice as heavy as their metal counterparts so that the soldiers could wield a true gladius with ease. Next, soldiers progressed to armatura, a term for sparring that was also used to describe the similar one-on-one training of gladiators. Unlike earlier training, the wooden weapons used for armatura were the same weight as the weapons they emulated. Vegetius notes that roofed halls were built to allow for these drills to continue throughout the winter.

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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby MaartenSFS on Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:15 pm

Wow, this sure took off overnight..

1) Bao, as usual makes his entrance. Yes, everyone is naive and you know everything. We've already established this a long time ago.

2) I wasn't comparing my skill level with elite-level warriors of the past, just pointing out that it is possible to do a lot more full-contact weapon sparring with modern equipment and still go to work the next day.

3) Fencing with wooden or metal swords without full-body protection of a good quality is not the same as fencing full-contact with safer training swords, just as lightly sparring without safety equipment is totally different than full-contact with gloves. Both are practical, but we'd be kidding ourselves if we didn't admit that the latter prepares one for battle better (though not as good as... actual battle).

4) My main conclusion was that with modern day equipment and medicine and drawing on all of the information and science we have available now, plus several generations of experimenting, I think that we would have the upper hand these days, if the world was suddenly plunged back into chaos.

5) One point that I totally forgot to mention (and someone already kind of beat me to it) is that whilst modern [first world] men live longer lives, we are much weaker due to our easy lives. We can still regain much of that strength through training, though it will be hard, unless we start from a very young age. I think that is what has improved my fighting the most over these last five years of full-time traditional training.

6) I was thinking just one or two hundred years ago, plus a little medieval.. I hadn't even considered the Romans and gladiators!

7) Good point about gladiators' body build not being the same as many other types of athletes. This was true for all warriors throughout the ages.
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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby oragami_itto on Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:31 pm

I agree, we've got better technology, all around, and can produce more effective fighters more efficiently using modern training methods. Diet, exercise, tactics. We simply know far more than they did about teaching meatheads how to crush each other.

But there's no way to know, may as well argue about whether batman can beat superman.
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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby Strange on Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:20 pm

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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby wiesiek on Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:29 am

nobody mention meditation yet, :)
wonder, if there is any sign of it from the Gladiators side ?
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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby cloudz on Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:54 am

wiesiek wrote:nobody mention meditation yet, :)


I recall reading about this in the past, but it's been a long time.. not strictly "meditation" but:
Claims are made that; The ancient greek pankration fighters beleived in 'ayion pnevma' - divine breath/current, had their own breathing exercises, and had dances containing training moves.. I also recall an episode of human weapon (or similar) where they tried to recreate certain "rituals".
Last edited by cloudz on Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:24 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby cloudz on Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:05 am

Following on from the above,

The following is written and posted on MAP by Gurjot Singh in a thread I engaged with him on around 8 years ago now.
https://www.martialartsplanet.com/index ... ism.92363/


What these two Chinese Masters have interpreted for us from the Ancient forms are how to harness, through arduous Kung Fu (hard work), the basic energies of internal martial arts and to appreciate the power applied Taijitu strategies in body mechanics, mental attitude, combative encounters and overall health. They also give us the foundation for preferring to remain standing in a no-holds-barred combative match when equal peers engage each other. But in the West we must search hard for the training form to accomplish this feat. Perhaps the facts can be found in Greek combative history.

Our modern interpretation of Greek Pankration is also steeped in ancient tradition but the forms are lost to all but the most researched and dilligent. The coreographers of the movie Troy are the most notable Martial Artists who give us some possibilities of the capabilities of the Greek Warrior through the exploits of Achillies. In the West we have salvaged through recorded Greek accounts of great Olympians as far back as 648 BC, the taxtics and techniques of alledgedly unbeatable Illusive Pugilists namely Arrhichion, Dioxippus, Polydamas of Skotoussa and Theagenes. From the mythical ancestry of Herecles and Theseus these warriors who integrated, what we in modernity call, Boxing, Kickboxing and Wrestling give the Modern Western Warrior the foundation and legitimacy of no-holds combative skills that is truely fearsome. But what is very interesting is that the forms that teach how they became so prodigious is missing even as these tactics and techniques and even some strategies have survived. The fall of Rome probably had something to do with it.

Still after researching the biographes of some of the warriors mentioned it seems that the observer of their exploits and the study of the rules of their competitions there are indications that these fighters had knowledge of Yin and Yang and the philosophies of Lao. The exploits of Alexander the Great, Merchant Trade and the application of a slave class produced in part by conquering peoples would have facilitated such knowledge. Pankration flourished through its transference from Greek to Roman culture until well into the beginning of Byzantium Rome. Perhaps the West and East melded Tatics and Strategy in those times concerning unarmed and single combat.

Perhaps what we are discussing and doing now in modern times is a recreation, due to the volitile and interconnected world we live in at present, of ancient civilization. Perhaps what and how we inegrate now is what and how things were integrated then but on a larger scale.

I have read that, although knowledge of grappling was essential, the idea of going to the ground in ancient Pankration was discouraged when combatants were of high-level but equal skill. So mostly, Pankration Warriors were Strikers even as the Pankration situations, Ano for standing and Kato for Ground, were classified which indicates differences in training regimines. A wikipedia source is necessary here:

Remaining standing versus going to the ground
The decision to remain standing or go to the ground obviously depended on the relative strengths of the athlete, and differed between anō and katō pankration. However, there are indications that staying on one's feet was generally considered a positive thing, while touching the knee(s) to the ground or being put to the ground was overall considered disadvantageous. In fact, in antiquity as today, falling to one's knee(s) was a metaphor for coming to a disadvantage and putting oneself at risk of losing the fight, as argued persuasively by Michael B. Poliakoff.,[10]

This factoid is an interesting point when the student of the recent evolution of MMA has begun to exemplify the same conclusions as our ancient ancestors. Tai Chi strategies like the ones mentioned above are now becoming more of an attractive model to study, if not for the Eastern tactics (style) then for the application of strategy to the efficiency of Western (Styles) tactics of Boxing, Kickboxing and Grappling. Lets just say for cultural reasons of familiarzation... lol...

Still how training was conducted in Pankration, especially concerning an internal Martial Art Slant and the forms necessary to reach the level of skill necessary to fight as the ancient Pankrationists did has eluded me. Perhaps I need more study of Greek and Roman literature and ceramic art; however, it is clear at present that the classics of combative Taijitu knowledge is available and applicable to the current vacuum of Form training in modern Pankration which we call MMA Competition. I will keep researching the western sources and wonder if you all will do the same given the thread.
Last edited by cloudz on Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby marvin8 on Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:56 am

Human Weapon: Episode 6, August 24, 2007.

Kareem Martin
Published on Jul 2, 2016:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFtLpB5-mCM
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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby Steve James on Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:38 am

Do you think the physiques of the pankration athletes pictured are idealistic or realistic? Iow, I'd say that the human body has developed similarly given the same work loads. I think the work loads for ordinary people of ancient times were higher, and were only exceeded by people who had the leisure to train.
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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby grzegorz on Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:31 pm

I expressed pretty much the same views on it about a year ago here when Greg brought it up:

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=25377&p=439337&hilit=hagakure&sid=42fd98ce8b999449d21ba619df9eaae5#p439337


Talk about bringing out the dead.

Nothing like history debates betweem history buffs.

I have no desire to resurrect the past but my view is that the source was putting down into words what he was taught at the time. Much as when I was in the military I was taught a bunch of things that others were being taught yet I wrote none of it down and whatever I did before, during or after the military would not change the fact that I recorded what I was taught in the military.

I don't live my life by Hagakure or any other writings so for me all me these writings are sources of information that give us a glimpse of what was happening at a moment in time and nothing more.

Saying that I do think the Stoics got it right and this guy.

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Re: Better than the Ancients?

Postby grzegorz on Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:45 pm

Maarten,

Back was I was in uni, I wrote a paper of the evolution of BJJ. I remember it clearly because I quickly became schooled on using reliable sources. My teacher was Chinese American and told me that the problem with marital arts history as that they are usually written by people promoting their martial art (which we have all seen and heard). I wrote the paper a few times to make it fact based and in the end what I came away with was that judo and eventually what would be called bjj had advantages over older systems because they could train at full resistance without the risk of injury. I believe it is fair enough that sports allow more people to reach a high level in a martial art than in non sport traditions. But better than the ancients? I don't know how it would be possible to prove that.

OTOH, a friend who was very high up in California state prison gangs tells me that Krav Magav was the only martial art he believed was useful and pretty much the same types of things he used to survive in prison riots and there is nothing sportive about it. But to your argument they do use face cages.

Also not to dis BJJ, but since it is a sport there are a lot of things in it which have developed which were not in the BJJ back when Royce Gracie was dominating the UFC like 5050 etc...
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