||Rough and tumble, also called gouging, was a common form of fighting in the southern part of the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is an extremely violent fighting style focusing on the disfigurement of the opponent. Biting, tearing off body parts and gouging out eyes were all part of it since there were no restrictions whatsoever (Jennings 2016; Gorn 1985).|
||Rough and tumble started in rural Carolina and Western Virginia. In the late 18th century it expanded in popularity and into Kentucky and Tennessee. There were no rules in this form of dueling. Participants of gouging were usually the lower classes, the uneducated, rural population. Most sources regarding the history of these practices are written by visitors and travelers or passed on orally. In rural areas the literacy was very low and there was generally a lack of newspapers (Gorn 1985; Jennings 2016). As time went on, higher-class gentlemen also started to take part in the brawling fights. By the end of the 18th century however some people wanted to distinguish themselves and started to take on more gentlemanly ways by imitating the English aristocracy, and some took boxing lessons, distancing themselves from the unregulated fights (Gorn 1985).|
||- Gorn, E.J. (1985). "Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch" The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry, The American Historical Review https://ejmas.com/jmanly/articles/2001/jmanlyart_gorn_0401.htm|
- Jennings, L.A. (2016). “'Rough-and-Tumble': The Deeply Southern Tradition of Nose-Biting, Testicle-Ripping, and Eye-Gouging”, Fightland. http://fightland.vice.com/blog/rough-and-tumble-the-deeply-southern-tradition-of-nose-biting-testicle-ripping-and-eye-gouging
*not to be confused with the South African martial arts called “rough and tumble” (RAT for short), which was developed for the special forces in the 1990’s and currently widely practiced by civilians.