How Would Today's Martial Artist Stack Up in a True Warrior Society?

DamianRoss

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Not long ago the public was reintroduced to the Spartans and their warrior culture thanks to the film 300 based off of Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name. This latest retelling of events that happen in Greece in 480 BC shouldn't be considered historically accurate; it was never intended to be that way. None the less, the real Spartans even without their "Hollywood Personas" still remain impressive to this day. They were truly a martial society. They understood that in order to remain free you must always be ready to fight. Love of country and each other along with disciplined training made them an unstoppable force. They claimed to be descended from Hercules, but they didn't just talk the talk they walked the walk. Ancient Sparta had no need for walls; it relied on its fighting men alone to protect her.

The historical Spartans descended from the Dorian tribe who were one of the founding tribes of Greece (the great general Alexander the Great shares the same tribal heritage). Strategically located in Southern Greece Sparta was a local power and bitter rival to the city state of Athens. In Spartan society, military service was treated as a privilege and was only open to citizens.

From their first day of life, a Spartans faced a life or death situation. When a child was born, it was examined by city elders to ensure it was strong and healthy. If the child was determined to be unhealthy it would be thrown in a nearby gorge. A Spartan boy would be primarily raised by his mother until the age of seven. She would prepare him for the tough road ahead. Spartan women's reputation for child rearing was known throughout ancient Greece and to the point that many wealthy families sought after them as nannies to their own children. The Spartan mother had to be strict and demanding to prepare her child for what came next.

At the age of seven the Spartan boy would enter in the "Agoge", a state run military school. There he would learn how to be a man and a warrior in environment that can only be described as a twelve-year Boy Scout camp from hell. Here he would learn social skills, military training and hunting along with other necessary survival skills. He would also learn the importance of loyalty and team work. The boys were divided up into troops or "Ageles" and supervised by an "Eirena", thirteen year old Spartan. The young recruits were given little in the way of supplies and food. They were expected to endure pain. Hardship, hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue and lack of sleep forced them to become resourceful, self reliant and live off the land. No blankets were issued and each child was given one piece of clothing for a year. All training was done barefoot and if you wanted a bath it would be in freezing cold water.

Every aspect of the training was designed to test your physical and mental toughness. Everything was a challenge. The young recruits were only given broth to eat while the instructors would encourage them to try to steal their food. If you were a success and stole the food undetected it was yours to enjoy, but if you were caught, you could expect a whipping. Then when you were in your teens, you would be left in the wilderness in the winter without weapons or even proper clothing. This was your final exam. If you survived great, if not it was your own fault and there would be no rescue.

In addition to tough training the Spartan's also understood the importance of good tactics in a close combat situation. Because teamwork was emphasized from day one of training they were able to form the phalanx, a tightly packed formation of spearmen with interlocking shields. The spears would stop any advancing cavalry, and the shields would protect the troops from arrows and other missile weapons.

Every warrior was expected to hold his own in personal combat as well so he would train relentlessly in various forms of martial arts. Boxing, wrestling, and "fencing" with swords, each soldier had to become proficient. Each Spartan was expected to give his all and do everything possible to support your comrades in arms.

Then on his 20th birthday, the Spartan would officially begin his military career. As part of your service, he had to join a mess or club with fifteen other men. These men would become his friends, comrades, and training partners for the rest of his life. During this time he would be allowed to marry, though you probably spend most of your time at the barracks. Spartan males were on active duty until the age of thirty when they became full citizens. At that time, you could choose to remain in active service or join the reserves and remain on call until you were sixty.

On active duty during peacetime a Spartan warrior's service largely consisted of constant training, patrolling of Sparta's borders and keeping a vigilant watch over Sparta's serfs or Helots. Other units worked as police officers or personal protection of government officials. In the reserves you were expected to stay in shape and maintain your equipment. For the Spartan, every day was a day to train and prepare.

Though Spartan women saw it as their duty to give birth to more Spartan warriors if you were a woman in ancient Sparta you would enjoy many rights and privileges more so than any other woman in all of Greece. The Spartans were extremely progressive in this manner. As a woman of Sparta you would have the same educational opportunities as the men and you would also train as an athlete as well. You could own property and you could even divorce your spouse! Since the men could be called into action at any moment, women often took control and made sure the city state continued to run during wartime.

A Spartan warrior aspired to die in battle fighting among his friends and family. Prior to the invasion of Greece, Xerxes King of the Persians asked a Spartan exile named Demaratos if the Greeks would submit to his will. Demaratos replied "Yes, all but Sparta." Xerxes asked why and Demaratos replied that the Spartans only fear the law and the law says no retreat no surrender. At the Battle of Thermopylae and many other battles to follow, the Spartans showed how a few can defeat many with the right mindset, the right training, love of country and love of family.

http://www.theselfdefenseco.com/martial_arts_articles/How_Would_Today's_Martial_Artist_Stack_Up.asp
 

punisher73

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That was one of their many downfalls. Spartans looked at combat as a test of manhood. They never developed archers because long distance combat was a cowards way of battle. Even though they were probably the best warriors in the history of man, they didn't adapt their training and strategies to keep up with those around them.
 

Sukerkin

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Ad Break :D

Those interested in gaining a good flavour of the history of the Spartans could do worse than this excellent series by my favourite televisual historian:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spartans-REGION-1-NTSC/dp/B0001KNHTA/ref=cm_cr_pr_sims_i

As to how modern martial artists would 'stack up', I have to say that it would fundamentally depend on the person.

I was saying just the other week whilst at iai, that altho' we love our art and practise with diligence, it is not vital to our survival. Compared to those who learned the same art as part of their role in society, we would most likely be very pale imitations.
 

MA-Caver

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Chuck Norris wouldn't need to stack up to a True Warrior Society, a true warrior society would have to stack up to Chuck Norris. :D
 

jarrod

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i think it depends on which warrior society you are talking about. a book i read a while back mentioned something to the effect that the celts of gaul made much better warriors than they did soldiers. meaning that their culture emphasized individual combat & personal honor so much that it was difficult for a gaul to follow orders & function in a military unit on the roman model. so i think in a duelling warrior culture, a modern martial artist could stack up fairly well, especially considering the size difference that exists between modern man & ancient/medieval man. as for a militaristic warrior culture like the spartans...well, that would obviously be more challenging for a modern person.

jf
 

seasoned

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It is definitely in the mind set, and your attitude toward your training. In the first part of your training, your Sensei has control over the direction of the above mentioned paths. Some of the modern day training is not geared toward survival, and you can see it in some of the techniques taught. I believe traditional DoJos teach traditional strikes geared toward vital targets, and some modern DoJos gear toward a more general target, like they do in boxing. I may be wrong, and it is only my observation, but what keeps us safe in sparring is what is detrimental to our training, and that is the gloved hand and foot. It allows us to hit while sparring, and add realism, but does not teach us proper hand and foot positioning. I believe we all know the first two knuckles need to make contact for penetration in a punch, but with a glove on, it is lost. It also takes away most open hand techniques, not to mention proper hand positioning again. It is hard with a glove on, so a hit is just a hit, and not a precise penetrating strike. With a conditioned hand from working a makawara board it will afford us a weapon at our disposal, that will not fracture easily in the heat of battle. So I guess to sum up my thoughts on traditional versus modern, I would say more makawara, and less bag work. More kata, and less sparring. And above all respect for your DoJo and all of the follow students that train with you. Traditionalist will say, this sounds like the way and perhaps the modern will say no way. Obviously we are all on a path, and that is what makes the world go around. This forum is a great place to state that path and I thank the creator of this site as well as the moderators for the opportunity for all of us to do just that. As my instructor always told us, and I teach it as well, it is not how hard you hit, but where you hit that counts.
 

SensibleManiac

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I think alot of what we read about warriors of the past today is romantisized, aside from that, yes, I think we would stack up poorly.
 

CoryKS

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It's comparing apples to oranges. If you were to pluck someone from the present day and drop them into 480 BC a la Survivor, they're probably not going to make it very long. On the other hand, a Greek hoplite isn't going to fare very well in our world either. (Would make an interesting movie, though. "That's not a knife! This is a knife!")

But if a person were whisked away back through time as a baby to be raised and conditioned in the same circumstances as the ancient Greeks, they would fare as well as their fellow Greeks. Human behavior is incredibly malleable, if you start working on it early enough.
 

Xue Sheng

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It's comparing apples to oranges. If you were to pluck someone from the present day and drop them into 480 BC a la Survivor, they're probably not going to make it very long. On the other hand, a Greek hoplite isn't going to fare very well in our world either. (Would make an interesting movie, though. "That's not a knife! This is a knife!")

But if a person were whisked away back through time as a baby to be raised and conditioned in the same circumstances as the ancient Greeks, they would fare as well as their fellow Greeks. Human behavior is incredibly malleable, if you start working on it early enough.

You mean Survivor The Battle of Thermopylae.

Me thinkest voting out others would not be necessary
 

wade

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To me comparing the Spartans to a modern martial artist is like comparing apples and oranges.

To begin with, as bad *** as the Spartans were they were soldiers first and warriors second. It would be like calling a marine or a ranger a warrior, they might be really nasty in a fight but still they are soldiers first and foremost and it has to do with the way fight, not with the way they train.

Warrior: some one who fights by him self. Example, when the Samurai would meet in battle, before the main event, the individual fighters would come out and challenge the other side just to show everyone else what bad asses they really were.

Martial Artist are the modern day warriors, even with rules and regulations they go out by them selves and fight alone.

Soldiers: when the Roman Legions went into battle they went as a group and fought as a group. Only during a m礙l矇e did they actually engage in individual combat.

Marines, Rangers, 3rd Infantry, these are the modern day Spartans, they train hard but they fight as a group to accomplish their missions.

So, like I said, apples and oranges. IMHO.
 

jarrod

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keep in mind that most modern people would be absolutely huge compared to a spartan or most other ancients.

jf
 

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