Too Deadly Fighting Techniques in the 18th Century South
Recently I came across an interesting article and decided to share it and get everyone’s opinion.
The article was Elliott J. Gorn’s "Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch:" The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry.” It was published in The American Historical Review Vol. 90, No. 1 (February 1985) pages 18-43.
In short, the article documents what we would consider “too deadly” fighting techniques that included biting, eye gouging, and groin attacks.
In my opinion, some of what the author documented probably took place. However, I think that Elliott J. Gorn put to much faith in the recollections of travelers in the southern backcountry. It was common for locals to tell “tall tails” to visitors/outsiders and they might have exaggerated how widespread such fights were as well as their violence and ferocity.
Here is a copy of the article; I believe it is a complete version.
Here is the original citation if anyone wants to look it up.
Gorn, Elliott J. "Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch: The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry.” American Historical Review Vol. 90, No. 1 (February 1985): 18-43.
So what do you think? Is this an example of “too deadly fighting techniques” in action or has Elliot Gorn taken too literally “tall tails” told by locals to travelers?
Last edited by Olorin; 2/18/2006 11:43pm at .
It's reasonably well-documented, including legislation outlawing the practices, which is a pretty telling point- you don't normally have something banned by the legislature if it's just rumors in foreign-published travel accounts. From what I remember, even the travelers' accounts tended to be firsthand, but it's been awhile since I read the article. I've also seen 19th century newspaper accounts that are consistent.
While the prevalence of missing eyes and the like may be up for debate, I don't think there's any real question that that style of fighting took place.
Just for full disclosure, I've communicated with Gorn and found him to be a pretty nice guy, so maybe that colors my judgment. I had heard a rumor of the article and he told me where it had been published before EJMAS picked it up. That said, although Gorn has an interest in combat sport, he's not a martial artist to the best of my knowledge, so the "too deadly" (which I don't really recall anyway) might just be unfortunate wording. Too vicious maybe, but the whole point was that you saw survivors walking around with eyeballs out, noses missing, lips torn, and missing genitals, so I don't know that I agree with "too deadly."
The reference “too deadly” was not said by Gorn but is a term that is used on Bullshido when we get into debates between Sport Fighters and people who practice a martial art for the street and not for the mat. Therefore, it is not Gorn’s term…sorry if I gave the impression that he used it. However, you are right in that the article is well documented, peer reviewed, and written by a professional historian.
Sounds like Saturday night at the Front Porch in Troy Alabama.
People don't just want blood, they want a good fight.
Or is it the other way around?
That article is rad.
Just . . . rad.
I mean, an NHB deathmatch over calling a guy a Scotsman? That's *rad*.
Perhaps even 'mondo.' I think I might go as a far as 'boss.'
Originally Posted by JohnnyCache
****, maybe i should actually read this....
edit: FRAT. I read part of the first paragraph.
What i got out of it is, back in the day, americans fought real dirty.
Last edited by Neildo; 3/01/2006 1:51am at .
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