Brutal training, flogging, body conditioning and modifications are everywhere in old school martial arts. I myself went through some body conditioning of the Japanese flavor and hand & leg conditioning through my Thai Boxing days.

It is nothing relegated to any one system or group. There are elements of it in physical rights of passages in some of the chicano gang initiations where several beat one for example. Religious cults like Santa Muerte or some of the Santeria and Vudoo have forms of scarification and mutilation attached to the ways they initiate people in to their ranks.

You see it in the Philippines martial culture and in the Japanese and Okinawan schools. All of them differ as far as what the perceived objective is. Some want to condition fighters to be unflinching during combat, using the adrenaline dump and dulling the pain receptors with hours of flogging. Others look to harden bone and skin.

There is also an element of showmanship that I have observed in some of these traditions. When I was put through some of it, it was treated as something intimate and guarded not to be seen or talked about outside the group. Every now and then you see it publicly done or in videos on YouTube. The shock and awe factor is definitely pushed when these are put on for an audience.

During my travels and self-development I have seen some people apply this type of conditioning in a very dangerous manner. I have learned enough about the body, its physiology and the irrational need to belong that some of us have to know when someone is being a gimp and not seeking self understanding. Be wary of this.


Author – Ed is a security specialist and combatives instructor with over 10 years experience in public safety along the northern border area of Mexico. He runs seminars and private training specific to anti-abduction, escapology, free hand and unconventional edged weapons work. He is also director of Libre Fighting Systems in Mexico.

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