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Self Defense/Is formations enough to overcome no skills in martial arts? Or is some skill in individual fighting needed in battle?


Its such a long topic so I'll just post a link I made elsewhere.

FIRST read this LINK I made because I'm not going to post all the details due to being too big.

Its a follow up to my Katana bouncing of plate armor quetion I made months ago. As I stated in a few other questions I asked but you responded you couldn't answer, I already have been reading various Osprey Books.

Now the above thread is something I'm honestly disturbed about.

We both already know how weapons and TACTICS are of the utmost importance in winning battle. In fact I cannot emphasize how many times the Osprey Books point out to some single formation like a  simple spearwall could easily fend off the elites of the elites who are armed to the teeth and have the best training.

However some of the few Osprey books I read listed incidents where- ARMIES should have been wiped out because they  pinned themselves in hopeless situations (being outflanked from all sides,  starving, etc).

They SHOULD have lost. However the outcome was victory; I know we're going to assume   taht the warriors involved her ein some brilliant tactical formation or planned some strategy that saved the hell from their asses getting mowed by spears or the such.

But-to my shock-the Osprey Books actually stated the defeated side had the SUPERIOR formation and strategy. Many cases of this impossible wins the victors were even starving and already exhausted.

The Osprey Book credits some o these battles outcome being a slap across the face is because the TRAINED force was far superior man for man in their individual fighting prowress and physical conditioning.

Now more details.

In the historical re-enactment community, I cannot tell you how hilariously out of shape many practitioners are. Some areeven too fat to wear the made armor and atually had to reenact with their civilian clothing!

I went into an argument saying that this is not a good idea of trying to explor battles because INDIVIDUAL soldier stats such as how good they are at using a spear and how physically strong they are could play just as important an outcome as tactics and formations and I go tmocked and laughed upon by the historical re-enactment community for saying this. In their eyes formations and other more "brainy" team work concepts ALWAYS PREVAIL no matter what.

Of course since we are talking about so many variables. Already I quoted some source in my link where in formation to formation battles, armies both trained in formation but one having proper training with swordsmanship or whatever other weapons will more than likely be the winner of a formation push as Victor Hanson stated in his "The Western Way of War" why some city states such as Sparta easily trounced other disciplined armies utilizing Phalanx.

So lets just take a scenario where both armies come fro toilsome background. Both armies  are using the same equipment. Both armies are relative disciplined and brave enough not to flee when things get rough and stick as a team no matter how many casualties their respective armies get. However one army fights using the stereotypical shieldwall Phalanx that the Greeks and Romans used while the other army fights like scattered individual fighters who lack firm formations.

However the shieldwall ARMY lacks ANY SKILL at all in using their arms; they JUST spent their entire time drilling in formations assuming that with their discipline and as long as their force doesn't break, their shield wall will tire the enemy and force them to retreat; they don't even KNOW how to properly wield a spear in sheild wall formation to form a  row of sharp spears pointing at the enemy. They literally just stand with their shield expecting their formation to eventually overhwelm the enemy simply because they are in formation.

But the opposing side TRAINED completely in the opposite direction; they have mastered using their swords, spears, daggers, hell even shield and parts of their armor to kill an enemy using elements; to the point they know which  part of their armored gloves has sharp parts to punch your kneck and cause a puncture wound,etc.

Who would win?

I'm going to sleep tonight but I'll pos tmore details about my questions and pointers I learned both from the Osprey Books and other historical sources.

I am asking the basic question to you for the simple fact you are both a HISTORY MAJOR and a LONG TIME practitioner of the martial arts as well as someone who has experience in cutting someone's organs out with hand to hand weapons.

Very few history professors, re-enactors, and college graduates who earned a BS in history have ever taken a single martial arts class let alone get a blackbelt in BJJ or whatever, and I'm pretty sure the amount of history enthusiasts who ever been to prison or had to fight off a Blood and Crips gang member with a knife is close to 0%.

At the same time most martial artists, RBSD instructors, and MMA fans who emphasize skill and technique to overcome multiple opponents, opponents using their heads to attack from the flanks or create shield wall or some other body protection are  ILLITERATE in basic history; the vast majority of these fight enthusiasts DON'T even know the basic history of their "badass" fighting style such as how TKD was developed from many karate dojos in Korea.

So I ask you who is in a unique position of being so well-versed in both subjects about this topic;I'll post the rest of what I typed in a  word document tomorrow or some other time after you responded.

Is just forming say a  hedgehog defense but never having a drilled how to hold a pole arm properly enough to fend off some angry biker gang about to smash their motorcyles into you? NO LYING I saw such a comment in a history board where one guy thinks fighting off a horde or motorcycle gangs is easy because wll you would need is to formm anti-cavalry tactics!

Who would win... history proves it.

I know of only two incidents where a single individual held off greater numbers -- until they were eventually killed. Both incidents involved bridges. (Notice the outcome.)

The fact that the Greeks held off Xeres at Thermopolae as long as they did is such an anomaly that it has gone down in legend. But remember in the end, they were defeated. (Oh yeah and although the Spartans get the credit, there were originally 7,000, but knowing they were being flanked, Leonidas sent all but about 1400 away.)  

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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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