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The Martial Chronicles, In the Trenches - Nov 17. 2012

The Martial Chronicles, In the Trenches - Nov 17. 2012

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Published by Chris Gordon
The Martial Arts of The First World War.
The Martial Arts of The First World War.

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Published by: Chris Gordon on Jan 20, 2014
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03/04/2014

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The Martial Chronicles: In the Trenches
 By  John S. Nash on Nov 17 2012, 10:02a 
+
"Life in the Trenches" - French 87th Regiment Cote 34 Verdun 1916 - via WikiMedia Commons 
Cageside Features Guest Columnist John S.  Nash, brings us another feature edition of his  fascinating series chronicling the origins of
 
 MMA. With Veterans Day having been recently commemorated here in the States, this time he takes a look back at the hand-to-hand combat of World War I.
 REC 3
 
This is an edited version of an article which was originally cross-posted at our fellow SBNation Blog, 
 by Cageside Features Guest Columnist  
, on 
 [†] 
  Editor's Note: Oftentimes, the media blitzes readers on such days as Veterans Day with so much material, that something truly fascinating and informative, such as this long form historical piece, can get lost in the mix. We hope now that about a week has passed, you can find time on a lazy Saturday to enjoy these words and reflect upon the images they evoke.
 ______________________________________
 
 ___
 
"I crawled up the trench a few feet and came upon two men trying to strangle each other. I thought then, of motion  pictures I had watched back home. Here was a more terrible drama than ever the movie camera showed. A bayonet charge is a street fight magnified and made ten thousand times more fierce. It becomes on close range, almost impossible to use your bayonets. So we fought with  fists and feet, and used our guns, when possible, as clubs."
 
-- "  Boys' Book of Battles", by Chelsea Curtis Fraser (1919
 )
 Veterans Day 2012, marked the 94th year since the signing of the Armistice, which on "the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month" silenced the guns of the First  World War. That conflict is famous for having ushered in modern  warfare, introducing an industrial level of carnage, thanks to the use of such advanced weaponry as the machine gun, the flamethrower, poison gas, the airplane, and the tank. Less known, is how it resurrected the ancient battlefield arts of hand-to-hand combat, and gave birth to what would eventually be known as
"combatives" 
. The early days of the war quickly revealed how limited 19th century military tactics were against the new weapons of the 20th century. Entire armies of charging soldiers found themselves trapped in barbed wire, gunned down by machine guns and rifle fire, blown up by artillery shells or land mines, and choked upon poisonous gases - without ever coming into close contact with the enemy.  Within a few months of the start of hostilities, all of the  Western Front was caught in a stalemate, as the dreaded "trench warfare" soon took over the battlefield. This equilibrium led to the rise of what Robert Axelrod termed the "live-and-let-live system" in which the opposing front line soldiers came to an understanding, a tacit truce, in  which each side found it prudent to restrain from aggressive actions, for fear of triggering a reprisal.

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