Greetings fellow history buffs.  Much that I have read in the comments is quite interesting and informative, and I look forward to experiencing more.

I would like to contribute a bit of our American past that is not well known, and I hope you will find as interesting as I did.  It helps us to understand our roots and explain our affinity for violent contests that persists to this day.  

It is concerned with a form of personal combat known as "rough and tumble" that was commonly engaged in by our rustic forebears to settle disputes, gain notoriety and win back honor lost.   One of the primary goals was to gouge out an opponent's eyes.  

Here is a link to an article form the Journal of Manly Arts (2001) that covers the matter well and cites respectable sources on the subject:

This is an excerpt from the article:

"Rough-and-tumble fighting emerged from the confluence of economic conditions, social relationships, and culture in the southern back country. Primitive markets and the semi-subsistence basis of life threw men back on close ties to kin and community. Violence and poverty were part of daily existence, so endurance, even callousness, became functional values. Loyal to their localities, their occupations, and each other, men came together and found release from life's hardships in strong drink, tall talk, rude practical jokes, and cruel sports. They craved one another's recognition but rejected genteel, pious, or bourgeois values, awarding esteem on the basis of their own traditional standards. The glue that held men together was an intensely competitive status system in which the most prodigious drinker or strongest arm wrestler, the best tale teller, fiddle player, or log roller, the most daring gambler, original liar, skilled hunter, outrageous swearer, or accurate marksman was accorded respect by the others. Reputation was everything, and scars were badges of honor. Rough-and-tumble fighting demonstrated unflinching willingness to inflict pain while risking mutilation - all to defend one's standing among peers - and became a central expression of the all-male subculture."

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I think, pace Plato's Republic, that there isn't so strong an analogy between individual mores and national or state interests.

"Emasculation of our youth" is another silly trope that is pure fiction." - Vytautas

I invite you to read with unbiased eyes and a willingness to learn the commentaries that can be found on the subject at the following links"

Apparently you are a young man who has been brought up in our present society in which the worse sort of feminism has triumphed.  Women's rights is one thing, hatred for and degradation of all things male is quite another. 

Your comments on violence show an appalling ignorance of life as it really is.  I get the sense that you are one of the protected ones who has never had to face human wolves, having been sheltered from physical evil to the extent you feel yourself immune from it.  Either that or you are simply one of the sheep class and can't help yourself.  Too many of America’s males are, unfortunately, and the number is increasing in our western culture.  Much less so in underdeveloped countries where physical danger of roving predators - human and animal - and the harsh rigors of surviving each day tend to bring out the roles of men as protectors and women as nurturers as it has been for most of man’s existence.  

Violence certainly can be “might-makes-right.”  If you wish to be a slave, you can simply accept the threat, bow down and begin to lick boots; or you can refuse to accept, rediscover your testicles and become one of the sheep-dog class that wolves flee from.  Your choice. 

Those who disdain violence in any form become the servants of those who do not. 


*pops popcorn*

I have certainly met human wolves and dealt with them as needed, but that does not mean I had to become one. One can become proficient in defense without becoming another gang-banger. There is a difference between manly self defense and glorifying violence for its own sake. The latter is done and has always been done by the dregs, the two-legged animals who ultimately are just used as attack dogs by their masters.

Does your concept of "glorifying violence for its own sake" exclude MMA, boxing, Judo, etc.?  I certainly hold champions in those violent endeavors in high regard.  I don't see how becoming a "gang banger" has much to do with this discussion at all; also, defending against a human predator does not in any way suggest one might become one of them if willing and able to engage them in combat as may be required by the situation.  

In my opinion, manly contests that are violent in nature are part of mankind's entire history and will remain so. Let us recall the founding fathers lived in an age when most men were armed and ready and willing to engage in violence for their concept of honor.  Is an aristocrat's sense of honor any more so than the "lower" folks who engaged in a "rough and tumble" contest?

 Dueling has been a significant part of our past, and our founding fathers either engaged in it or were ever prepared to do so (Burr vs. Hamilton, Andrew Jackson).  The manly arts of shooting, horseback riding, fencing, etc., were held in high regard and at times vital to survival in those days.  

Are you arguing that such "primitive ways" are something that modern-day Americans should embrace?


There is a difference between reading and understanding history and embracing a way of life that is not your own. I don't understand this idea that you and Andrew are going on about with complaining about elites.


If it means that if you feel best to live a life such as these guys, who the article said rejected certain types of civility, so be it. That doesn't make one who doesn't liberal or elite.

Do you deny that a large percentage of liberals hold any form of violence in low-esteem?  I have known quite a few who consider persons willing to engage in any form of violence to be neanderthals and inferiors to the "enlightened" who do not.  

While doing Revolutionary War reenacting in NC I ran into the term "gouger" to describe the local version of sport wrestling in the 18th century.   Apparently the idea was that gouging eyeballs out convinced the betting spectators that the fight was not fake like modern wrastlin.  They seemed to have gotten surprisingly good at sticking gouged eyes back in and usually getting them to work again.  More or less. 

Several of our founding fathers had fled to the western frontier after having "gouging accidents" since choke holds and such were not excluded.  Governor John Sevier was rumored to have been a red coat deserter and gouger before fleeing to the backwater country where he rose to military and political fame.    General Daniel Morgan, the brilliant rifleman commander, was also apparently a gouger in his younger days:  

It is not well know that President Lincoln was a fighter of renown in his days before the presidency.  I couldn't find any reference to his having gouged, but he was challenged to rough-and-tumble-style fights and he responded.  He was apparently a champion wrestler of great repute. 

From the article "The Martial Chronicles - The Fighting Presidents" - By John S. Nash on Nov 5 2012,

"In 1831, Lincoln would engage in his most celebrated wrestling match against the local leader of the Clary Grove boys (a group of bullies who terrorized the residents of New Salem), named Jack Armstrong, and who was described by Daniel Green Burner as being "considered the best man in all this country for a scuffle", and by Lincoln himself as being as "strong as a Russian bear".

Offended that some had boasted Lincoln had no "equal at..." wrestling, or in "rough-and-tumble combat", Armstrong challenged him to a contest. After a brief skirmish, Lincoln took "the great bully by the throat and shook him like a rag..." before slamming him to the ground and rendering him unconscious."

I enjoy a good knock-down fight and the history but I cannot say that I feel like signing up for a gouging match. 

I have heard people claim that if we eliminated the two party system and/or electoral college US politics would be taken over by professional wrastlers. 

I like good knock-down fights as well.  Started with boxing when I was a kid.  I have no doubt I would not go for an all out fight with gouging, testicle ripping, etc., unless it was to save my life or that of loved ones.  

I like your sense of humor.  Professional wrestlers would probably do a better job than most members of congress right now. 

Thank you, I think.

Although I do not promote this level of violence I do believe that our youth need to at least be aware of what "fighting" can mean when different things are on the line.  This is an all too common example of when no fighting techniques are off limits:  Unfortunately predators are surprisingly skilled at approaching victims without alerting them and even being able to argue there way out of a police encounter if stopped in time. 


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