The Man Show, c. 1870

While using it to help one of my cow-orkers discover the fate of a colony of bats in her hometown, Google led me to an interesting and amusing site called The Journal of Manly Arts. No, this is not a sex magazine; rather a collection of articles about “European and Colonial Combatives, 1776 – 1914”; the supposition there being that fighting (as opposed to dueling) became a Gentlemanly thing around the time of the American Revolution, and became, well, kind of beside the point once Europe began to eat itself 140 years later.

Most of what I read was not new to me. All of the arts – quarterstaffs, various forms of boxing, Savate , I have heard of, if not actually seen in person. There was one, however, which stopped me for a moment: purring . Two contestants stand facing one another and, not to overcomplicate things, kick the bajeezus out of each others’ shins. Last one to give up wins. Apparently this fine tradition was abandoned in the late 1800s, although it is still seen today in schoolyards throughout the country.

Oh: And should the opportunity arise, never get in a fight in pre-Revolutionary Virginia :

I would advise you when You do fight Not to act like Tygers and Bears as these Virginians do – Biting one anothers Lips and Noses off, and gowging one another – that is, thrusting out one anothers Eyes, and kicking one another on the Cods, to the Great damage of many a Poor Woman…

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