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Self Defense/Would having a fat body (or more precisely having several layers of fat) protect your body from bladed objects?


This is an INCREDIBLY STUPID question. I KNOW. In fact I was incredibly hesitant about asking.

But for years (more precisely the last two decades) there has been an accepted dogma in academia, written by academics who never had to fend off knife attacks to survive nor have they ever wielded bladed weapons of war and street violence (FUCK I can guarantee 99.9% of them never used a knife to cut huge chunks of meat for cooking or never even got wounded by a bladed weapon), that Gladiators were generally fat rather than the muscular buffs you see in movies. Hell I seen several archaeologists and historians state objectively that Gladiators were often obese, with several layers of thick fat in their stomach areas!

Academics have tried to justify their conclusions of Gladiators being so obese by stating that the extra layers of fat would protect the Gladiators and prevent swords from hitting vital organs.

As someone who used knives on people and experienced knife wounds, how true is this notion that fat and excess skin and flesh from obesity would serve as a layer of armor from swords and knives?

I'm just sticking with bladed weapons because I even seen historians write that having a fat stomach and flabby skin would even protect against other weapons like spears and war clubs!

I don't have much experience with knives but from the thick pieces of uncooked pork and beef (we're talking about LONG LONG PIECES that haven't even been packaged) that I've been given as gift from nearby farmers, I can tell you any kitchen knife-even a  mediocre aged one with damages such as chipped parts- CAN definitely cut thick fatty animal parts quite easily.

However I do admit I lack experience actually cutting a live boar or even a pig who just recently died.

But the notion that body fat would protect you just comes off as ludicrous especially since even damaged kitchen knives I own have cut thick large pig fat and experiments by other experts of history beyond ancient Rome have often used incredibly large thick meat (that are much harder to cut through than human flesh according to what the scientists said)  and these large pieces of meat got decapitated in half in a single blow.

So I ask about this nonsense if its true or not? If its BS, why is it the currently accepted narrative in academia?

Sorry for the delay, I've been trying to get a new book done and it's the Chinese Hell of Endless edits.

The argument that they were fat... wow, never heard that one.

However, our muscles come in layers. Fat tends to collect between the layers of muscles and skin. So one one hand, there is a solid argument to be made that the extra inches of fat keep the blade from slicing into the intestines. This also applies to extra distance that may keep a knife from reaching a vital organ.

However, fat compresses and the Roman Gladius were between a foot and a half and two feet. As the Roman general said "You wound with the edge, you kill with the point." The length of the blade being thrust would be long enough to reach vital organs. The same goes for the weapons of other gladiator types

The downside of that argument is that extra fat could slow down and impede the gladiator. So like the modern issue of body armor the more protection, the less mobility.

Also there is the difference between slicing and hacking. Hacks do tend to cut through the meat until they run out of steam. Slices continue to slice until they run out of blade or flesh. So there's really no way to tell.

But the idea that they were fat to save themselves? Hint, if the crowd calls for death, there's places to stab, hack, thrust on a downed opponent that will kill them no matter how fat or not they are

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

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