Close Combat That Forged An Empire By Chris Pizzo

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Land of the Free
Close Combat That Forged An Empire
By Chris Pizzo

When you look into military history, some armies stand out
well above the rest. The ancient of warriors of Rome are among those elite few that did everything right.

They were organized, well equipped, well trained, and had
the attitude that they deserved to win. Rome did not
collapse because of its fighting men, but because of
corruption and the lack of strength of its policy makers.
The Romans understood the warrior principles of always
taking ground, and to never to stop fighting. They fought
as a team and used superior tactics and strategies to
overcome their enemy's superior numbers and size.

Rome did not start out the war machine that we know today.
Rome was a small city-state in Italy with a military for
self-defense. Like many ancient militaries, Rome's male
citizens served in the army part-time and wars were only
fought in the warmer months. Like many untested warriors,
they were confident that they could they could defend their
city. But that belief would be shattered when the Celts
crossed the Alps into the Italy.

The Celts must have seemed like nightmarish monsters to the
Romans. While the average Roman male was around five feet
tall, the Celts averaged well over six feet. In their
warrior culture, every Celtic warrior tried to outdo his
kinsmen and kill and maim as many enemy warriors as
possible. They wore little armor and often fought naked,
covered in war paint and tattoos, and ran screaming at the
enemy. They were a force to be reckoned with and had taken
lands all over ancient Europe.

The Romans marched to the North to aid their neighbors
against the Celts in a preemptive defensive maneuver, but
they were little help. The Celts destroyed the Roman force.
The Celts used their size and strength to break Roman lines
and their long swords shattered Roman shields. The
hand-to-hand combat was fierce but one-sided, as the bigger
Celts beat on the smaller Romans.

Those who weren't killed outright drowned in a nearby
river. Few survived, and if the leadership of Rome had not
bribed the Celts to leave, they would have burnt Rome to
the ground. Those who remained knew if their culture was to
survive, they needed to fight better then any of their

In the following centuries, the Romans began designing an
army that would defeat the Celts. First new weapons were
made to deal with the huge savage warriors. The Hasta, the
traditional spear, was replaced with the Pilum, a throwing
javelin to take the enemy down at distance.

But because the Romans knew close combat won and lost
battles, they adopted the Gladius (short sword) and Scutum
shield that would block the long swords of the Celts. Riot
police around the world still use the same shield design
and formations today (the best martial arts always last).

Along with new weapons and armor, most importantly the
Romans changed their attitude.

Before, the Celts were basically telling the Romans "screw
you little men" and took what they wanted. The new Roman
outlook was "screw you, you big dumb morons. Come try and
take it".

Training was designed to toughen soldiers while teaching
them the discipline and teamwork that Rome's barbarian
enemies lacked. Centurions, the noncommissioned officers of
their day, ran recruits through obstacle courses and other
drills using gear that was heavier then what they used in

Sport martial arts like boxing and wrestling were
encouraged to give the troops combat conditioning. Awards
and promotions were given for valor in battle and as the
empire expanded, veterans were given land for their
service. The troops worshipped Mars the Roman god of war.

If there wasn't a war, troops would be assigned to cities
and work as police and break up street fights as well as
take part in firefighting. Even the entertainment was
brutal. On their free time, soldiers would watch gladiators
battle to death in the arena.

Rome's new army struck across all of Italy and began
consolidating territory.

Though many years had passed, the Celts still felt
confident that they could defeat the Romans and had not
improved their tactics. And when the Romans clashed with
the Celts in close combat, they obliterated them.

The armor and weapons helped, but what really made the
difference was that the Romans didn't fear the Celt any
longer and fought like lions. So powerful was this
offensive mindset, that during Caesar's invasion of Gaul,
his warriors often stood up to the larger Celts man-to-man
instead of in formation and still decimated their bigger,
stronger adversaries.

The smaller men were able to beat their larger opponents
simply because they knew that they had better training.

For more information on Chris "Lt. X" Pizzo former soldier, cancer survivor, mercenary, barroom bouncer, educator, and hand-to-hand combat instructor, and his incredible FREE Accelerated Battlefield Combatives close-combat learning system, visit

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