Tag Archives: frontier rough and tumble

Crop Circles: Martial Arts Training Involution #195










This training involution is called “Crop Circles” because (a) you go in circles and (b) it contains exercises that can are based on real chores one might do on a farm growing crops.

Real-world fitness is built in to Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble martial arts and is central to Cabal Fang as well.

This particular involution was created using Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble Dice © available here.

Crop Circles: Martial Arts Training Involution #195

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes. I generally do 8 minutes of MBF or either 2-3 minutes each of (a) something aerobic, like jogging of jumping rope (b) some light calisthenics like Half Squats, Push-ups on knees, Touching toes, Arm Swings etc. and (c) shadowboxing or light heavy bag work.
  • A Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble pyramid.  Get yourself a weight — a sandbag, large bucket full of rocks, or even a dumbbell if that’s all you have.  Suggested weights beg/sm #40, int/med #60, adv/lg #80.  Set up a bench, shelf, truck bed, etc. to load onto.  Beg/sm 3′ high, int/med 4′, adv/lg 5′.  Mark off an 8′ – 10′  diameter  circle.  Cabal Fang folks, and others who fight unarmed, go empty-handed.  FRT folks, stick a sheathed tomahawk in your belt.  Others who train armed, select your dull weapon of choice.  Pick up the weight in one hand and Suitcase Carry it around the circle once.  Then pick it up and load it onto your bench/shelf, release, then pick it up and put it back on the ground.  Deploy your weapon and pursue an imaginary enemy around the circle one time with maximum malice.  Next, with weapon in hand, complete one shoulder roll.  Then walk 2 circles, load your weight 2 times, pursue the enemy around the circle 2 times and do 2 shoulder rolls.  Then 3 of each, 4 of each, and 5 of each, then go back down to 1 of each.  Take as few 12-second breaks as needed to finish.  Your goal should be to complete this in 20 minutes or less.
  • 10 minutes of eyes open contemplation.  Set a timer for 10 minutes, have a seat in your posture of choice, and regulate your breathing.  Remain completely motionless.  Do not fidget, wiggle or scratch and do not think in words.  Simply sit and experience reality in stillness.  

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books and other products.  Why not check them out?


Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble Home Training Program is Live!

How would like to learn to fight the way your ancestors did, using Bowie knife, tomahawk, fisticuffs and wrasslin’?  Would you like to get active, lose some weight, get fit, and build a closer connection to the great outdoors?  Well, we’ve got a program for you!


Make no mistake — this isn’t just historical reenactment material.  This is real self-defense, real martial arts, and real frontier skills and lifeways  that are as effective today as they were in the old days.


What is Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble?  Frontier Rough ‘n’ Tumble is an American martial art that encompasses the fighting arts, survival skills, lifeways and ethos of the colonial and indigenous peoples of North American during the frontier period — from the founding of the first permanent American settlement at Jamestown in 1607 through the annexation of Arizona as the 48th state in 1912.

Sign up for just $19.99/month.  No contracts. Cancel any time.

When you sign up you get:

  • Bobcat Martial Arts hat and t-shirt ($29.98 value)

  • White bandanna and membership certificate ($9.99 value)

  • Paperback copy of The Wildwood Workbook ($7.99 value).

  • Your first training module ($9.99 value)

You’ll receive a monthly module, book, assignment, etc.  Do the work and keep a training journal.

If you have any questions, schedule a coaching call. One monthly 30-minute coaching call included with tuition.

When ready to test for rank, send in scans, pdfs or pictures of your training journal for review.  Video testing also required for Red Bandanna and up. For Black Bandanna your videos will need to include videos of you training with others. All tests for rank advancement are included in monthly tuition.

Program does not include equipment such as heavy bags, gloves, dull training weapons, etc. But we will provide direction on DIY options, cheap alternatives, and substitution suggestions if needed.

The program is now live.  Click here to enroll!

Pull and Hit: Martial Arts Training Involution #194

This is the last involution in the striking series for this month.  In the video below you can see my son Robert experimenting with a Rough ‘n’ Tumble, Hatmaker-styled pulling towel for street-ready fighting combos.

Obviously this approach assumes clothing, which means that it wouldn’t work in a shirtless MMA environment.  But in the real world there’s almost always a shirt of some kind, and this time of year there’s often a coat — even better.

By all means at least try putting a towel on your heavy bag.  Mine went on and never came off.

Pull and Hit: Martial Arts Training Involution #194

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes.  I like to do 2 minutes each of jump rope, light calisthenics, shadowboxing, and dynamic stretching — or I just do 8 minutes of MBF.
  • 3 x 3:00/1:00 on the heavy bag with the towel.  Experiment with both one and two-handed pulls.  Which do you like best?  Make sure when you give the bag a yank that you pull down as much as you do inward.  You want your opponent to get off balance and, if possible, for his head to come down so you can clobber him with a rabbit punch to the back of the head.
  • 3 x 3:00/1:00 sparring with the pulling technique.  Obviously you never want to strike your training partners with a rabbit punch!  But what you can do is put shirts you don’t care about and practice your quick grabs and yanks.  If you do get your partner’s head down, substitute a hammer strike to the bicep or lats.  Really get after it — this is the great thing about grappling and wrestling: you can go really hard without too much risk of injury.  It’s the striking, and risks of concussion, that present the highest risks.  Play safe, modify, adapt, and overcome.
  • 10 minutes of meditation on why you’re doing martial arts.  Set a timer for 10 minutes, have a seat in your meditative posture of choice, and regulate your breathing.  Spend the time meditating on your reason for practicing martial arts.  Do not think in words.   Step back.  Imagine that you are watching your martial arts highlight reel playing on television,  It plays backwards from the moment you shut your eyes all the way back to the moment you first started your martial journey.  Experience the mental images without linguistic thinking until the timer beeps.  Pick up your training journal, write down what you saw and learned, and then begin to explore in words why you’re doing martial arts.  The answer may be different than you think!

If you enjoyed his training involution you’d probably enjoy my books and other products.  Why not check them out?


Frontier Martial Arts Research Continues

Research for my Frontier Rough & Tumble (FRT) martial arts program continues hot and heavy.  Here’s a rundown of what I’ve been doing over the last month or so along with some pictures.

Onward and upward!

Field Research

  • This weekend I will be attending the 68th Annual Chickahominy Indian Pow-Wow.  I hope to learn more about indigenous culture and connect with fellow locals interested in both FRT and Powhatan Indian language revival.  Wingapo!
  • Last weekend I visited the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton Virginia (see photo set below).  I took numerous notes and photos and spoke with management about FRT teaching opportunities at the property.  Ms. Vaughn showed interest and we are going to try and put some demonstrations together.
  • Back in August I visited Crockett Tavern in Morristown, TN.  More about that trip here.
  • Camping.  Making an effort to get as much outdoor adventure time worked into my busy schedule as possible.

Books Read

Physical and experimental Studies

  • Movement experimentation, both armed and unarmed.  Including but not limited to obstacle clearing, safety rolling, vaulting, scrambling, running, and quad running.
  • Applications of traditional chores for strength building.  Repetitive hauling, lifting, digging, ramming, chopping, hammering, etc.
  • Meditation, contemplation and prayer practice.  Increased time commitment and added new emphasis on practical postures, less-than-ideal conditions, and lack of predictability.
  • Practical spirituality studies.  Exploring the places where Christian ideas, indigenous myths and stories, prehistoric art, and practical hunting, fighting, and observation skills all overlap.  Big discoveries here folks — big, Big, BIG.
  • Mark Hatmaker’s RAW Program.  And of course I am enrolled in Hatmaker’s distance learning program which includes, boxing, wrestling and FRT.  Mark is the man.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Nine Lives of the Bobcat!

The Nine Lives of the Bobcat is jam-packed the essential self-defense and prevention advice — and drills! — you need to avoid trouble and stay safe.  Contains 9 prevention skills, the 3 warning signs everyone should heed, 4 de-escalation tricks, 6 mindset drills, 3 ways to regain control when things start to get pear-shaped, 4 ways to leave breadcrumbs if you’re about to be abducted, and more! 17 pages, 3,500 words.


Introducing Frontier Martial Arts

This is the logo for my new Frontier Rough & Tumble Club. Currently we meet Sundays at 3 PM.

Mostly I blog about Cabal Fang martial arts.  But starting today I’m going to be more talkative about my other love —  Frontier Rough & Tumble.

Introducing Frontier Rough & Tumble Martial Arts

Frontier Rough & Tumble is a rustic martial art that incorporates the fighting methods, mindset and lifeways of North America, settler and native alike, between the years 1607 (the arrival of settlers in Jamestown) and 1912 (the year the last continental state was admitted to the Unites States, thereby meaning there was no longer a “frontier”).

Frontier Rough & Tumble training Material

Fisticuffs.  The way everyday people struck with their hands before the introduction of the padded boxing glove.  Kicking, especially purring and shinning.  Wrestling, tussling, grappling, clinching and throwing.  Reality-based Bowie knife and Tomahawk training.  Fitness.  Practical exercises that resemble frontier chores, such as swinging hammers, digging, hauling and lifting loads, running, etc. Survival skills, including the settler folkways and indigenous abilities.†

What makes Frontier Rough & Tumble great is…

In the frontier there were no excuses.  Often there were no police to save you, no doctor to patch you up, and no court to arbitrate your disputes if you caused trouble.  Check out the Bobcat Code we use at my club.  

Frontier Rough & Tumble is based on self-reliance.  When Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his famous essay on the subject he chose to open it with a poem he wrote called “Power” which I’ve shared below.

My Time-Life encyclopedia of the Old West in 26 volumes. You can’t teach Frontier Rough & Tumble without knowing the historical milieu.

If you’re interested in Frontier Rough & Tumble martial arts, as far as I know there are only two instructors — Mark Hatmaker and myself.  Mark the genius behind it.  He got me hooked, and I’m studying from him.  You can too by subscribing to his RAW program.  Or, if you’re in Richmond, VA you can come train with me at Bobcat Martial Arts.

Cast the bantling on the rocks,
Suckle him with the she-wolf’s teat,
Wintered with the hawk and fox,
Power and speed be hands and feet.

[Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “May-Day and Other Pieces”, 1867]

My first Frontier Martial Arts-related book. Click here to download!

† Yes, the Ancient Greeks used calisthenics for war (I know this because I literally wrote the book on calisthenics) as well as a form of stone hand weight to build strength.  And they used a form of boxing glove, as did the Egyptians.    People have, for millennia, mostly understood that (a) linear training works and (b) if you hit hard things with a balled fist your hand will break.  That said, the modern idea of “physical fitness” didn’t exist in the frontier period.  Back then your “workout” was putting food on the table and “boxing” was bareknuckled.  Padded gloves, calisthenics and weights (barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.) weren’t widely used until the late 1800s — at the tail end of the frontier period.



Weapon Command, Mastery and Retention in Martial Arts

If weapons are a part of your martial art your regime must incorporate command, mastery and retention exercises with realistically weighted training weapons.

Once your retention and command of the weapon are sufficient to insure safety, regular sessions with live weapons are essential.

In short, you need to be out there hacking stuff to bits, not pretending to hack stuff to bits.

Here’s a short video on command, mastery and retention for beginners. I made this for my Bobcat Martial Arts program where I teach Frontier Rough and Tumble, which includes Bowie and tomahawk, but it’s useful regardless of what weapon you use.

If you are training only with lightweight weapons and/or not actually hitting things you are doing interpretive dance, not martial arts.