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Rough and Tumble is also known by the acronym RAT.
It was formed to teach armed and unarmed skills to the South African Special Forces, although it is now widely practised by civilians.
It is a hybrid system that has drawn influence from many other martial arts, it has no official technical structure and may be difficult to distinguish from other hybrid styles.

RAT in South Africa was developed for a need to train soldiers in a greater range self-defense techniques and situations than is offered in many conventional martial arts.Techniques used include punches, kicks, knee strikes, elbow strikes, head-butts, and finger gouges. Fighters are also able to utilize grappling methods, such as tripping, throwing, locking, choking, and trapping. Along with the physical basics, practitioners study ethics, law ,strategy,  and psychology, in the hope that they will become openminded and humble fighters. Fitness is a key element of the art,which has a rankand belt system similar tothe Japanese grading systems.

The origins of the term "rough and tumble" was from "bragging and fighting" introduced to the North American back country from England where it came to be called "rough and tumble." In North America, as in England, it was a savage combat between two or more males (occasionally females), which sometimes left the contestants permanently blinded or maimed.

A graphic description of "rough and tumble" came from the Irish traveler Thomas Ashe, who described a fight between a West Virginian and a Kentuckian. A crowd gathered and arranged itself into an impromptu ring. The contestants were asked if they wished to "fight fair" or "rough and tumble." When they chose "rough and tumble," a roar of approval rose from the multitude. The two men entered the ring, and a few ordinary blows were exchanged in a tentative manner. Then suddenly the Virginian "contracted his whole form, drew his arms to his face," and "pitched himself into the bosom of his opponent," sinking his sharpened fingernails into the Kentuckian's head. "The Virginian," we are told, "never lost his hold . . . fixing his claws in his hair and his thumbs on his eyes, [he] gave them a start from the sockets. The sufferer roared aloud, but uttered no complaint." Even after the eyes were gouged out, the struggle continued. The Virginian fastened his teeth on the Kentuckian's nose and bit it in two pieces. Then he tore off the Kentuckian's ears. At last, the "Kentuckian, deprived of eyes, ears and nose, gave in." The victor, himself maimed and bleeding, was "chaired round the grounds," to the cheers of the crowd.

The martial arts and fighting systems that influenced RAT in its early stages were: western boxing, Karate, Jujutsu, Judo, Kendo, Savate, Nguni Stick fighting,Ba Gua Zhang and Tae Kwon Do. Later influences include Amateur Wrestling, Hsing-i,  and Eskrima.



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