Verifiably True Ancient Greek and Roman Exercises

Discussion in 'Other' started by Kozushi, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    Yes, as a student of the Classics and of history it always amazes me at how COMPLETELY WRONG the general public's idea about history is.

    It was quite clear to me while studying ancient exercise that the ancients prized INTERACTIVE exercises the most. When you went to the gym there were other people there to play catch with, wrestle with, etc. They really liked ball games, and the balls were heavy and didn't bounce since they didn't have rubber. Playing catch with what we today call a "medicine ball" was good exercise!

    Us moderns are loners.

    If there is one "secret" of the Ancients when it comes to exercise it is: do it with someone else!!! Don't exercise alone if you can help it!!!

    That's a paradigm shift from our current thinking.
     
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  2. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

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  3. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    Amazing, Pet!

    The Indian wrestlers are doing EXACTLY the stuff Galen wrote about. Now I know what that "repeatedly bending at the waist" exercise is - it IS THE SQUAT! I get it!

    Also, the "hindu pushup" for us wrestlers here is what we more or less call a "sprawl" - it is a defence move against another wrestler who is trying to grab your legs. Also, it resembles "bending at the waist repeatedly" too, so maybe this is why Galen left the "pushup" out of his list of exercises.

    I think I'm convinced. The ancient Greeks and Romans did have these moves.
     
    pet' likes this.
  4. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

    Hello,

    @Kozushi
    Matt Furey has a routine called "Combat Conditioning" (if I remember correctly) based on this moves and also back bridges.

    Kind regards,

    Pet'
     
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  5. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    The ancient Greeks got jacked lifting humans. Galen writes all about it. You picked up your partner. This is a kind of "bodyweight" training that isn't very popular anymore. Even in MMA clubs, the picking up of partners is more for technique development than for strength.

    The paradigm differences between classical exercise and modern are:

    1. They preferred to train with other people.
    2. The other people were their weights.

    Hanging from bars, swinging weights, jumping up and down, ball exercises, these were all just little side exercises to add nuance to the real training which was human on human.
     
  6. Kettlebelephant

    Kettlebelephant Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    That's one of the things crossfit got right. You start because you want to get fit, but a big part why you stay are the other people there.
    In my old box we also used to do partner or group WODs atleast once per week.
     
  7. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    The modern "non-classical" if you will solo training ideal is very interesting and appealing in its own way but it isn't something that seems to have been much lauded back in ancient times.
    There are 7 billion people in the world and we don't have the time of day for more than a couple of them in our lives. That's anathema to ancient Greek thinkers.
     
  8. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

    Hello,

    Training with purpose is an important factor. Ancients trained to compete and / or to fight. Then motivation is a part of the training in itself.

    Kind regards,

    Pet'
     
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  9. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    Yes, the central raison-d'etre for their thoughts on working out at the gym was indeed competitive sport. However, most people exercised not to compete seriously but instead for health reasons. Their pick up wrestling or ball catching and throwing at the gym with friends before dinner was for health reasons, one reason of which was to develop a good appetite! Sweating was considered healthy. I think they were quite right about these things! Still, the sports were indeed competitive - you were really trying to beat your friends at wrestling and win the ball game. The concept of someone training alone just to get strong of course existed back then like in every other culture everywhere in history, but it wasn't popular. For example, to keep in shape, most Roman emperors had wrestling trainers and NOT weight-lifting gyms. Something the ancient gyms had that I think was super fun was their throwing field! You went out and threw the discus and javelin as hard and as far as you could for exercise! Could you imagine going to the gym to do that? That would be AWESOME!!!!

    This all goes into why I do think the Naked Warrior book's claim that the one hand pushup and one legged squat are a kind of ancient secret is very valid, since we catch glimpses of these moves in history, like a few words from Don Draegar from 70 years ago, or a wall painting showing acrobats and such, or old Chinese monkish practices. These were indeed moves for "the super strong" and not for your rank and file athlete. Yes, I think "ancient secrets" is a fair term for them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  10. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

    Hello,

    @Kozushi
    "Mens sana in corpore sano" !

    Today's mentality is far from NW and Ancient's spirit I think. If I consider people I see at work, people I see when I walk in the street, etc..most of them are not fit at all, struggle to climb up stairs for instance. I'd not say they tend to be weak but...well you know. They complain a lot about their physical capabilities but they do not train at all. They barely walk one hour a week...

    Sometimes, they ask me "But how do you do to say fit and slim ?" When I answer them "I practice natural patterns 1h a day, with strength, cardio and mobility and eat quality food" they look at me with eyes wide !

    Related to practice, I think that everything we need is already here, in old books. We only have to be curious, pick what is worthy for us. Basically, not being too lazy to read a little.

    Kind regard,

    Pet'
     
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  11. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    I completely agree. Everything outside the physical sciences is in old books. We can rediscover things too.

    I remember in our little judo club coming across amazing "new" moves like the scarfhold lung compression submission, which is probably one of the best moves in submission wrestling, having never learned it anywhere. Then we found it in old catch-wrestling books, and to add insult to injury found out from the old judo senseis in the area that in the old days the idea of ALL the holds/pins was to squeeze the air out of the guy or to otherwise make him so uncomfortable that he would tap out. Anyhow, I used this "scarfhold lung compression submission" many a time in judo tournaments to good effect.

    Long ago before I got into lifting weights my dad told me how when he was younger he liked to do "one leg knee bends" and to grab hold of flag poles and hold his whole body out horizontally. He said he hadn't seen anyone else do them nor had he heard of these moves but he just felt like doing them one day so he did.

    We can discover or "re"discover lots of stuff too if we want. Like guys here say all the time, it's all about goals. If our goals are the same as the ancients, we can rediscover what they knew.
     
  12. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    So very true. I know so many people that 'train' (workout/exercise, or whatever it is they call what they are doing) that have no clarity of purpose. Most of these folks get frustrated with their 'results', and either abandon what they are doing, or switch from one thing to the next.

    I had a sensei who would always borrow from one of the old masters and admonish us to train with the intensity of a man whose hair was on fire...
     
  13. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    Agreed...
    There is pretty much nothing new under the sun.
     
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  14. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    A trend I see in everything is to claim that what you know comes from a long line of experts going back to prehistory. The truth is more mixed. Also, those historical experts innovated themselves and "re"discovered things for themselves which is why they were famous in their day.

    I'm sure people have been "re"discovering the magical strength building qualities of asymmetrical load exercises for just about ever. I'm sure lots of Aboriginal North Americans knew and practiced these things to become better warriors and athletes, or just for stronger health (they had a pretty strong "exercise for health" culture going on featuring feats of strength, speed, wrestling, ball games etc) even though we don't have much of a literary record for it. Figuring out that squatting with one leg or pushing up with one arm builds great strength doesn't require having seen someone else do it or talk about it.

    I've seen Ukrainian-Canadian dancers repeated jump upside down, do a single hand freestanding handstand pushup and then spring back to their feat repeatedly to the music! I've also seen them do dozens of jumping alternate "pistols" (called "cossack pistols" by Pavel) in time with their music. Did the Slavs learn these things from secret Ancient Greek or Indian trainers? I DOUBT IT!
     
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  15. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    My goal is to become legendarily strong with minimal equipment.
     
  16. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    Even if there is little new under the sun, I think that we live in the best age possible for strength training. Nearly all the information in the World is easily accessible with books and the internet. Also, technology has given us mass produced weights and the extremely adjustable plated barbell.

    The only thing hindering our progress is the modern western culture. It really doesn't look fondly on strength training on almost any level, and only in a few select subcultures. I think that it has been forgotten that even if strength doesn't pay your bills per se, it is an important quality in itself that has a myriad of benefits.
     
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  17. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

    Hello,

    Some folks such as S. Sonnon use pretty well Ancient knowledge. For instance, he "created" a pretty interesting clubbel training, and also a good "mutli tool" training (mixing bdw, clubbell, PU bar). This program fits pretty well a wrestling practice, and an "operational" practice too because training are short, not exhausting, purposeful and "complete" (strength, power, mobility, etc...). This system is called TacFit

    He does not claim he created it, but admit he simply looked for old resources.

    Kind regards,

    Pet'
     
  18. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    Well, what's more important - paying your bills or living long and healthily???
     
  19. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    I still contend that if you walk for 2 hours a day you need very little else for fitness or health.
    I remember one summer in Korea walking everywhere all the time and then trying a bench press near the end of the summer. I benched more than my own bodyweight. Sure, not a big deal, but it shows that even with zero weight lifting my upper body muscles were made and kept quite decently strong through mere walking alone.
     
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  20. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts

    Hello,

    @Kozushi
    +1 !

    I still do heavy 1H swings because I love this exercise so much. Nonetheless, since I walk one hour a day with 10kg (or 12 since today) backpack, I no longer need them to maintain my conditioning.

    Kind regards,

    Pet'
     

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