5 More Ancient Tactics For Modern Combat

As the political situation in the United States (and really the Western world on the whole) continues to deteriorate, and street fighting paramilitary groups have begun to affect political change through violence, I feel that it is prudent for all of us to learn how to fight, not only individually but in hand to hand units as well. And, several months ago, I did give you an introduction to a few tactics for street fighting.

But, as any classicist knows, our forefathers had just as much tactical diversity as the military strategists of today. And so, bearing in mind that I do not condone using these tactics for purposes of aggression, here are a few more hand-to-hand tactics that were used by ancient warriors, and still are used by riot police today:

1. The Inverted Wedge

The flying wedge discussed in the first article, of course, is a formation in which the unit forms a metaphorical “spearhead” to penetrate into the enemy’s lines. The inverted wedge is essentially the exact opposite of that: two units stand abreast from each other, and successive units extend from behind those first two, culminating in a point—in other words, you march as V with the “opening” of the V going towards the enemy.

This formation is very useful for encircling some sort of tactical objective ie: enemy combatants, as famously shown at the Battle of Cannae.

You can combine the inverted wedge with…

2. Kettling

Kettling, also known as corraling, is a tactic often used by police to control large crowds. Essentially, it involves a large cordon of officers who surround the enemy combatant, and then move towards each other or in a given direction, pushing the crowd to whatever place the police want them to go.

Bear in mind that this tactic requires you to have a large manpower advantage over your opponents—but also remember that a mere manpower advantage does not guarantee victory if you are all running about willy-nilly

3. The Testudo

Recalling the shield wall from the first article as the most basic ancient infantry tactic, the testudo, created by our friends in Ancient Rome, represents the inevitable evolution of it.

Begin by forming a shield wall (tower shields work best), and then have a back rank of people place their shields over the heads of themselves and the people in front of them.

As you can imagine, this is largely a defensive formation—the positions of both ranks makes movement slow and cumbersome, and as I highly advise NOT to use spears, none of the ranks can really attack the enemy either.

I would recommend training this in conjunction with the shield wall: train to form this formation quickly to protect yourselves from projectiles, and then decamp to go on the attack. A failure to do this quickly led the Romans to several defeats, most notably the Battle of Carrhae in which they were pinned down by a combination of cavalry and archers in this formation and gradually worn down.

4. The Hollow Square

The hollow square is, again, vaguely similar to the shield wall and the testudo, with the main difference being that ranks of fighters form the shield wall in all directions, forming a square with an empty space in the middle.

This may be a bit difficult to visualize, so here is a picture:

The Battle of Waterloo. Note the bottom left corner, the British have formed a hollow square.

The hollow square in the middle can be utilized for a variety of purposes, such as auxiliary fighters, reserves, or logistical support—i.e.: medical providers, or people you are seeking to protect. And of course, you can combine the hollow square with the shield wall for added protection.

This tactic was on the cutting edge of military strategy from the Classical Era until the American Civil War, so it would behoove you to learn it.

5. The Human Wave

And of course, when all else fails, you can just form all of your men into a great thundering herd of humanity and point them at the enemy, with naught but elan and whatever weapons they’re armed with, in the hopes of overwhelming the enemy before they have time to hunker down and prepare for you.

As you might have elucidated from that paragraph, I wince whenever I hear of some military commander referring to “elan” or “esprit de corps”, because it’s inevitably being used in the context of “tactics, logistics, and strategy  being REPLACED by elan”. Many who have read military histories feel the same way, and from what I have gathered, those who are or have been in the military are likely to feel even stronger about this than I do.

Indeed, it seems more likely that doing a human wave attack will get you commemorated as a noble, valiant failure. Or at least that’s the impression I get from Kipling

But, when I studied martial arts, my master told me that spinning hook kicks and other fancy moves were taught not necessarily for us to use, but for us to know how they worked so we could defend ourselves from OTHER people using them against us. Similarly, I feel that this cloddish tactic should be fully understood so it can be defended against. I’d recommend the tried and true shield wall.

And, most importantly, you must practice these formations repeatedly, just like anything else in life. As some commenters in the first tactics article pointed out, your average group of schlubs may not cotton to pseudo-military discipline, which is why somebody really ought to write an article on how to instill discipline—oh wait, somebody did.

Read More: 4 Ancient Tactics For Modern Streetfighting

89 thoughts on “5 More Ancient Tactics For Modern Combat”

  1. Bayonet charges were rarely attempted if I recall correctly… history is riddled with different sources on it though.

      1. Supposedly the human wave assaults by the Soviets against the Germans were effective in causing German machine gunners to have nervous breakdowns after killing so many Russian soldiers.

        1. There is a lot of respect for each other between Russians and Germans.
          Not so much is given to the west front.

        2. I spoke to a German war vet in 2002 and he manned a MG42. He told me his unit was defending a hilltop once and every morning the soviets would form and storm up the hill to over run heir position. They opened up at 600 meters and killed everyone of them. He said he probably killed hundreds in 5 days.

        3. Strange really. I’d consider the opportunity to mow down communists in an unending stream to be something I’d pay on an hourly rate to experience.

        4. The Russians would tell the new recruits that the machine gun needs meat, not exactly the kind of thing that would inspire me to serve the Soviet Union. I believe the early strategy of the Soviets was to force the Germans to run out of ammunition and then lead a bayonet charge with the remaining soldiers.

    1. The most succesful Russian General, Generalissimo Alexander Vasiliyevich Suvorov used to do only bayonet charges. He lost no battle. He participated in 60 major battles while frequently having the numeric disadvantage. This tactic worked because of the time he used to live: the 18th century. During that time firearms were highly problematic and the implementation of the infantry charge with bayonets was actually a very good idea.
      Today that idea would have been a disaster: a military genius, just as Suvorov nees to find what makes the modern battle and war work and use that to his advantage. This is also the reason why commonly battle and strategy manuals tend to age horribly: as the situation in the battlefield changes totally with age.

      1. Yes, but he also had superb artillery, a Russian tradition since Peter Romanov. It is how he defeated the Swedes at Poltava. (peter also relied heavily on field works but that is not relevant to us here). This combination of massive artillery bombardment followed by a direct infantry assault goes a long way back.

    2. I’ve read that too. But it seems to contradict the memories of many war vets.
      The last bayonet charge is from 2011, if I recall correctly.
      Reading the writings of the “psychologists” type of military experts that flourished after WW2 such as “On killing”, one could think that warfare never actually happened.

      1. Majority of them in recent history come from Royal forces. Last one was October 2011. Knew an American who claimed to participate in one, but he was a habitual liar, and had nothing to show for it.

      2. How is your instruction proceeding, monsieur?

        1. Great ! It’s coming to an end at last.
          Love the infantry’s mindset.

        1. Great. I love it for now. Paid to do mostly things that I love to do. Learning truths about humans and myself. It strengthens my Faith. Really great.

        2. Great, my son just finished training in Virginia. Not sure where in Virginia yet. He just texted me and said he was in the bus on his way. Back at university now. Have not had the chance to speak with him yet, but I think it went well.
          Will get the full story when he his home for Easter.

        3. When I was in, they paid me to learn Russian. I studied 7 hours a day every day for a year. I could speak it pretty well. Now, I cannot speak it at all. But my brother did the same program and continued wwith it. He is very fluent (and is a Russian teacher).
          I was more interested in French and Japanese. Was a big fan of European integration at the time. So I left the army and studied at L’Institut des Hautes Etudes Europeennes. At the time, it was right behind the Strasbourg cathedral. Prime location. Now, sadly, I think it has been moved outside more to the main campus.
          It was so wonderful. We were allowed as students to enter with no security into the European Parlement. A friend of mine almost bumped into Kohl and Mitterrand one day when she was walking, looking down, not paying attention. She looked up embarrassed, and they both Mitterand and Kohl started laughing.
          I think at the time, the people at our institut thought we were going to become one of the Grandes Ecoles, but I do not think that ever happened. Brussels is more important than Strasbourg.
          And now, I hate the idea of European integration. Mainly because of the euro and Muslim integration. It was nice when there was freedom of movement and recognition of diplomas above a “license” for Europeans.
          I so wanted to be a European at the time. Europe in the 80’s was the best place in the world. No question. But the problem is the euro and Muslim immigration. They do not fit.
          Greece is destroyed by the euro. Before the euro, they could just get out of their problems with a year or two of high inflation. Now,, they have debts they can never pay. Will never recover. The country is now a vulture’s picnic.
          Jacques Delors and Jean Monnet were people I looked up to in my 20’s. Now I see them as super villains.

    3. I know there were a couple during the Civil War, at least, but if I remember right they were employed largely as last-ditch solutions.
      Spear charges, cavalry charges, and the like have occurred, though. Usually they work best when the enemy can’t pick you off as you cross the span (e.g. charge wildly across the fields of Gettysburg while the enemy has ammo and the high ground, and you lose).

  2. so important to use ancient shield-wall ( rugby ) tactics.
    Read up on Steven Pressfield — alexander/sparta etc..very awesome books.
    Offence gets you arrested these days.
    Based Stickman has felonies to answer. Commies that mace old people are revered.
    Even the gas mask is a felony.

    1. Gotta love Gavin.
      Can someone give references proving that Soros funds the antifas? Preferably something from a believable, non-biased source (whatever that means anymore) that might persuade a normie or more reasonable liberal. I’m not doubting, just looking for ammo to use in social media political debates.

      1. No idea about the antifas, but I did see some craigslist posts that suggested one of his organizations was hiring and busing people around for the anti-Trump roadblocks. Of course, anyone can create a craigslist posting, so it could be fake, but it did combine with the uniform signage and the buses people saw to form a compelling case.
        As to antifas, the only connection I feel reasonably confident making is that most of these people must not have normal jobs, given how they can form protests at any time of day and maintain them for a good long while. It’s likely they’re on some form of welfare (which Soros supports), working for non-profit organizations (many of which are either owned by Soros or connected to him), or supported directly by some party (which could well be Soros).
        If we had any 100% proof, I’m sure he would have been prosecuted long ago. History suggests there’s probably a >60% chance he’s funding them, but that does not a conviction make.

      2. The tactic is that he funds various groups, who in turn fund the political troops. I saw an article on this in Breittbart several week ago but I don’t remember.

    2. Physically remove communists! Yes! Lol!

    3. I thought they dropped the charges on Stick Man?
      Really there need to be arrests all over California. And Washington.

    4. In a riot in my town I used the dragon stance and tiger stance alternately with my buddy, Dwaine Kostas. During a period of over an hour we were attacked by 100 plus rioting muslims and blacks, some armed, and defeated them all. When the police arrived they found us surrounded by a pile of casualties 5 deep, reminiscent of the film Zulu. I recommend these two stances.

      1. It looks like a basic dual-filter industrial respirator. I wore one at a copper mine for years. Not regulated, you can buy them at any safety supply store.

  3. Also, act now !
    Get concealed carry. I have it even if I do not use it at all. When SHTF comes and suddenly, you do not want to be arrested by police carrying conealed when taking legitimate measures for protecting yourself amid the chaos.
    I live in a decent neighborhood, and do not feel the need to carry a firearm. But if that were to change, I have the right to carry.
    Be aware that from the time you enroll in the class to the time you get your permit, it takes about three months.
    If you wait, it will be too late. Yes, you can open carry legally (in North Carolina), but if you want to carry concealed (far wiser), it will be too late once riots break out.
    I admit, even with my permit, I have never had the gumption to walk around town armed. But I would if I had to.

    1. If you do go concealed (as you should – violence is not restricted to war zones or “dangerous neighborhoods”), get an arm you are comfortable concealing and practice with it. I like the 9mm M&P Shield – it fits the hand well and carries more than enough for self-defense, but conceals easily and has non-intrusive safety features.
      CC is essentially a deputy program, like in the Westerns. You pass the course and study the law, and as a result you are authorized as a sort of affiliate-lawman. It’s a responsibility to not only yourself but your fellow man, to protect them from savages and lunatics who would do you both harm.
      And, as anecdotes repeatedly inform us, simply having an arm is a powerful deterrent. The guy with a crowbar fears the “victim” with a pistol, even if it’s actually unloaded (after all, “do you feel lucky?”).

      1. The militia, of and by the people, is considered to be charged with the responsibility to defend the people. It’s kind of in the definition of militia.

      2. I have a .38 special charter arms revolver. And a bunch of WW2 stuff. Way out of date, but I enjoy the bolt actions.
        I especially like my Japanese Arisaka that shoots rounds at 2 bucks a piece. But it is highly accurate.
        I think I will just get another .38 special. Have one in my master bedroom and one under my car seat. Maybe keep my little .22 revolver downstairs in my computer room.
        By the way, is that CC thing good for every state ?

      3. I just checked that out for NC. It looks like a demanding program. They have something callled BLET.

  4. Barring any firearms or milotov cocktails, I think the Testudo would be pretty effective against the antifa rioters as they tend to A) throw rocks and other items at their opponents and B) pick out isolated individuals to attack. Both of these tactics are negated by the Testudo.

  5. I’ve seen the human wave performed successfully hundreds of times at the ball game.

      1. So many battles, so little memory of them.
        Frankly, I’m impressed that even one of these battles was mentioned. If it’s not Gettysburg or the Alamo, no one seems to know about it these days.

    1. like Channing Tatum in “The Eagle” ???
      just having you on, dont watch that movie… its shite
      although they do a great testudo in one of the fight scenes.

      1. Oh I don’t know, it was just a b movie. Reminded me of the old Roman sword and sandal movies I saw when I was a kid. Sort of crappy but fun.

  6. Simple moves like elbow strikes, palm strikes and low kicks are surprising effective in combat.

    1. Among the few martial arts moves I’ve maintained after leaving McDojo years ago:
      – Backfist strike – basically a backhand slap, but with a fist. You can whip it around with way more force than most people realize.
      – Palmheel strike – hit something soft with the boney part at the bottom of your palm, and it goes ‘squish’
      – Hammerfist strike – Basically a backfist, but with the side of your hand, works well as a fist and as a knife
      – Front/side kick – use only to push a single opponent away, aim just above center of gravity
      Mix these sort of strikes in with your Muay Thai-esque moves, and you have quite an arsenal at your disposal. If you can just master these and maybe a few basic takedowns (single- and double-leg, at least), you can take most unarmed attackers with minimal effort.

      1. Grappling moves (grab and direct the motion) are my go to as a “big guy” (large muscular dude). I can’t out speed a little fucker, but will stand stock still and let him come to me, turning as necessary. I’m fast with my hands, the moment he’s in my reach, he’s a goner.

        1. Also a big guy, so my go-to strategies are laugh off the first punch (works for most wimps out there with the wild haymaker) or deflect-into-counter. It doesn’t take a lot of practice to see where their energy is, and you can either just add to it to throw or use it to power your own counter-blow.
          It’s a goddamn super power for massive fellows, but it can make even the skinny and light into pretty potent fighters.

        2. The first hit yes, while watching the legs because half the time they go for the nuts as a second strike.
          Watching energy is key, most people telegraph everything days before they do it.

        3. Do you fight often? If so, how do you manage to stay out of jail?
          I’ve only been in one real fight as an adult. It was in Ukraine, where fighting is de facto legal.

        4. Another great trick: learn to throw punches with minimum telegraphing. They have all but no power, but they put the enemy on the defensive and set them up for real strikes.
          Best target for these: the nose. You throw a loose quick jab at the nose, and their hands will cover their faces. Without vision, there’s just about no degree of wind-up they’ll be able to notice.

        5. Rarely for keeps, thankfully. Fighting for your life usually ends with everyone in deep shit.
          But I practice, I listen, and I observe. I’ve sparred in unofficial matches with my mates and official matches in various McDojos, and I’ve learned a good deal from those (including, edifyingly, how to go on after getting the wind knocked out of you and how to focus after a solid blow to the head). I’ve listened to those who have been in fights for their input, and I’ve tried to both visualize it and practice it. And I’ve seen plenty of drunk assholes going at it behind the more interesting bars in town.
          It’s not impossible to stay out of jail while fighting, though. If you can prove that both parties agreed to the fight, or if you fight in self-defense, then you are in the right according to most laws. And if neither party gives a damn about the cops, all you have to do is not get caught by a well-meaning manchild.
          EDIT: Sorry, thought this was addressed to me. GoJ grew up when men were men, so I tend to suspect he’s been around the block a few times.

        6. No worries. I appreciate the feedback. When I was in the US I would once in a while get in a situation where I would have liked to duke it out with a guy, but to me it’s not worth it because of risk of legal consequences. I would only fight in the US if attacked, and even then only if I couldn’t flee. Even then, I’d be worried. Witnesses might be friends of the other guy, he might have the resources to get a better lawyer. If he’s not white he might, god forbid, accuse me of “racism” and I’d end up facing “hate crime” charges, etc.
          I currently live in Central America where I would try even harder to avoid a fight because the locals here are very trigger happy.

      2. Hammer fists, backhand fists have demonstrated some effectiveness in no holds barred fights such as pride and UFC. They can work in street if applied correctly

  7. A human wave depends upon the spirit and quality of the defenders. It’s a great tactic if they scatter from intimidation and fear, but if they hold you’re screwed.

  8. Let me know if I a wrong here, but weren’t siting squares used to defeat or nullify cavalry? I thought this was one of the factors that lead to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo–the French sent in their cavalry against squares without proper infantry support (Napoleon was sick and away from the field). I’d like to have this one right, so please let me know.

    1. Yes. But it was Ney’s fault – he thought that the British were retreating when they pulled back a line to a better position. So, pursue what he thought was a fleeing enemy, he took personal command of cavalry and pursued. Oops.

    2. Form square for cavalry charges, horses stop when they see no way through.
      Form line for infantry charges, you can bring all your guns on the enemy.
      Line only works when you can fire quicker than the enemy.
      If they can cover the distance from out of range to up close, before you can shoot them all, you die. This was important in the Zulu wars.

      1. Huh. I wonder if this is why they were discarded after the implementation of the rifled musket. I don’t think they(squares) were used once during the American Civil War.

    3. Dunno if about Napoleon, but if you’ve ever experienced a police horse in action it’s pretty awesome. They are devastating and very effective. If it’s demos you’re talking about good luck with forming a square!

  9. Before we begin, I do not seek after violence nor advocate for its use. War is hell.
    Spitballing a bit, some of these tactics make a lot of sense in an urban setting.
    Suppose we had a modern French Revolution of sorts, with modern weaponry in a tightly-packed urban setting. If we move in a tight formation we’ll be climbing over each other as blasts rain down. However, if we went with a loose inverted V formation, it would largely neutralize explosive effectiveness and require more effort for the enemy to pick out targets. This would have the advantage of drastically reducing casualties, I suspect.
    As to something like the shield wall or the box, they make a lot of sense for vehicle formations. Individual vehicles can be outmaneuvered, but in a mass they provide ample mass and cover. If you want to stop roads or advance on closed-in infantry, something akin to the tetsudo would work quite well.
    The hollow square, though, interests me most. I can imagine it best somewhere open like Times Square, where you would potentially have the room to develop such a formation and have support at the core. I can hypothesize the effectiveness (which, obviously, is reduced in a setting with that much verticality), but I’d sure hate to see any scenario where it were employed.
    To reiterate, I am just turning the idea around in my head. As with martial arts, the object of such study is to be able to fight if absolutely necessary, but with the study comes awareness of the importance of reducing hostilities.

  10. Another helpful tip, from the Havamal:

    Never leave your home
    Ahead of your sword and shield
    You cannot foresee an attack
    Nor feel a battle in your bones

    Even if you just have a pocket knife or a reasonably heavy flashlight, you’re one up on the unarmed. In a survival situation, many common items become life-saving weaponry.

    1. I always carry unless I’m drinking (illegal) or if the place is posted (illegal) so I use Ohio law to my advantage.
      You see, here, if you’re carrying a Claymore sword and say it’s a tool you use for everyday use, you don’t have to defend or define anything, the cops cannot arrest nor bother you. I don’t carry a Claymore (cumbersome). But I have seen *lots* of men with k-bars openly strapped on their legs from a belt scabbard, in bars, drinking, who are left utterly alone by cops.
      If ever approached, and none ever are, say it’s a “tool I use” and drop the topic. You’re good (in Ohio).
      Know your state’s weapon laws. Most states, and I mean the vast majority, think that knives are deadly weapons and have no other utility, or they care deeply about blade length (we don’t of course). But, your state may not give two shits about stun guns (or whatever).

      1. Local jurisdiction is key as well. In San Antonio, a lockback knife is considered the same as a “dirk, dagger, or poignard” and banned for carry. It’s nuts.

        1. Most states have enacted state level legislation that overrides local jurisdiction. It’s called “pre-emption” I believe. I don’t know if this applies in Texas or not. If it does, then that San Antonio thing needs to be taken directly to court.

      2. As much as I envy the ability to carry both the firearms and Ka-bars I own, I can’t give up the lifestyle of this commie city. Maybe I’ve become incomplacent to my liberty and too distracted with tna

  11. What we need are breakdowns in the various jursidictions on what is legal and what is not and tips on how to stretch those laws. That way the people who go to protect against anti-fa terrorists can be properly and legally equipped.

    1. If you’re planning on overtaking an enemy by arms and force, I doubt “legal” and “jurisdiction” comes into play.
      But your point on legality is well made with regards to preparation.

      1. This is for protecting our demonstrations from antifa terrorists, not revolution. What is legal to use, what is not, how far can we go etc etc.
        That way we can draw up lists of equipment and basic tactics for our aspiring Stickmen and protect them from becoming felons.

  12. Top shelf article Larsen. Tactics and strategies are rarely if ever discussed or taught, you’re laying a grand foundation to get this discussion started. We can learn from the past and build upon it for current tactics. Well done sir.

  13. Good stuff but don’t forget your wits…. traps, snipers, misdirection etc. are also all very effective tools, especially if outnumbered.
    This is why as young boys we played ninja out in the barn and there was often blood spilled when we got a little too rough, ah I miss those days LOL

  14. @LarsenHalleck I have certainly read about the the inverted wedge or V used by sparta in the battle of thermoplyae before. However, in this day and age, the hollow square would most likely be useless unless you have more than two lines of infantry or in this case , men. My opinion would be to combine Tetsudo with the pike formation used by the tercios and swiss pikemen of the 16th century (of course subtituted with the bayonet or even better have the third or second line holding polearms or bayonets or anything that keeps the enemy away from approaching while equipping the first line with automatic firearms with bayonets) combined with firearms and mainly based on the hollow square. While the wedge would most like be useful if you strike swiftly in a blitzkrieg like fashion as to what the mongols did on horseback hundreds of years ago with an improvement to form a pyramid like shape.

  15. The riots in Kiev are a good example on utube.
    No idea which side is which or what happened.
    However, there are plenty of videos available, and useful to watch the evolution of action and tactics.
    Well protected riot police who, seemed to be non-aggressive, and I believe surrendered. much stuff chucked on them without much affect.
    Then there are scenes of protesters, with the police shields, being shot…
    Mostly this post is about not armed(and certainly no firearms), shields only to protect peaceful demonstrators from violent communist thugs…only issue between ancient and modern is the pepper spray…
    Interesting that stick-man mentioned the gas mask was illegal to wear – WTF?!?
    EDIT: locals have evolving makeshift armor, sticks. And then sometime later all are very well uniformed/armor, and weapons and ammunition.

  16. The main purpose of the cavalry square was to repel enemy cavalry: horses would not charge into a wall of bayonets. This proved highly effective during Marshal Ney’s cavalry charge, which the British Army repulsed.

  17. Give back, they say…
    here’s what I found a few minutes ago, and IT’s A WORLDWIDE SPORT !

  18. More Info for the Brethren:
    The International Medieval Combat Federation, (IMCF) is a global historical full contact sport fighting revival movement, in which combatants use historically accurate reproduction medieval and early modern armour and blunted weapons to engage in competitive fights according to authentic historical tournament rules.

  19. I like the idea of talking tactics, but this article is stupid, Shield Wall? OK I will go get my tower shield and 50 others guys to do this. Meanwhile one .308 kills 5 of you in a row

    1. Considering that there have been actual melees between groups of political paramilitaries recently, I wrote this article specifically for that situation.
      If guns come into play, obviously tactics differ. But that hasn’t happened yet.

  20. I find fire to be most effective. Molotov cocktails are easy to make, simple to deploy, and do a nice job disbanding an unruly crowd

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