A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. Always in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Mostly captured or purchased slaves, sometimes condemned criminals, and occasionally people of high social status. Gladiators offered spectators an example of Rome’s warrior spirit and, in fighting or dying well, they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim.
They were the Rockstars of their times.
Their only activity and motive in life was to train in their particular weapon or unarmed styles to perform not only defensively but also spectacularly. They were trained to their optimal physical condition to engage with ridiculously unfair odds. All to add to the flair and excitement of the crowd, which screamed in unison as a dangerous distraction, all while constantly adapting to a controlled yet volatile arena.
The techniques mentioned here come from historical findings and records discovered in Ludus Magnus and Ludus Dacius, the two largest Gladiator schools dating back to 70 BC. While routines and methods are a dime a dozen in the internet age, This training regimen deserves a mention. It is the regimen that trained men and women to be not only aesthetically but also functionally effective to the point of death and dishonor in the form of a spectator sport.
Pay attention, most of this would be too hard to do in today’s day and age. And the medical proof of its effectiveness belongs to an era where leeches were the cure for everything. What one needs to understand is that the trainees were chosen on the count of how already fit they were for the regimen. Many disgraced soldiers, hunters, lumberjacks, stonemasons were fair game. Today’s physically delicate physical form might not even be cut out for this.
That said, let us try to understand the regimen. The knowledge may be worth our while.
The First two things we need to capitalize on are our time and energy.
Depending on our Calorie intake We might be consuming between 2200 to 3000 calories per day. Since that number is different for everyone, depending on their muscle density weight and size, we divide our total consumption by the factor of 10.
So if your daily calorie intake is 2500, one unit of your physical energy would be 250.
Keeping that in mind, The DOCTORE (trainers) made sure that the gladiators expended all 10 units of their energy in daily training. To the point where the slaves could have no energy to talk to one another by nightfall. Similar stringent routines exist in the modern era as a part of special force training regimens. The Navy Seals in the USA are told that, if they are done, they are in fact 40% done.
The body is naturally inclined to save energy for emergencies, But then there won’t be a tiger attack anytime soon. So the soldiers are made to train until they puke, then they are fed, and then trained again. The process exists to acclimate the body to use the utmost of its energies and to strengthen one’s willpower to work through the worst kinds of physical mental or emotional stress.
How far you plan to push yourself is your business alone. Remember that you have 10 units of energy.
The Ludus focused on three areas of physical fitness.
Strength, Speed, and Vitae (physical well-being).
We will be going through methods used in all the areas and the time and energy they require. There are some methods that were used at the time that required neither time nor energy but a bit of favor from the rich and powerful Dominus (slave owner).
Though it often took 6 to 20 consecutive and spectacular wins (preferably by beheading the opponent) to even call such favor from their masters once, in the modern era, these little favors can be our gifts to ourselves with little effort. These favors may not be for everyone depending upon their means and sensibilities, so I suggest focusing on training more than favors. I have listed three routine training regimens and two favors in each category.
Remember though, the progress either bought by favors or earned by training may be lost if the Gladiator (or you) neglected continuous practice.
So let us begin.
Luxury Bath (1 Energy unit) (Approx. 30 seconds)
A bath was a luxury in ancient Rome. But not for the reasons you think. The Romans had heated pools, sometimes milk baths, filled with all kinds of aromatic oils and exotic ointments. While it cured exhaustion and stress in the trainees, it also brought a bit of cleanliness and a feeling of well being which led them to believe that their work was sacred.
For simplistic modern standards, a cold shower will suffice. Let the water soak and cool all your body parts. Take 30 long seconds and feel the blood flow through your veins in a renewed energy. If possible, choose to do this in a pool. Or better yet, choose a lake in open nature and swim through it. Shaolin monks and Himalayan ascetics have been using this method to increase their Chi (life force) intake from nature for centuries long before Romans.
Average yield:- 2% increase in survivability chances
Rest (2 Energy units) (Approx. 10 minutes)
Rest was a weapon in a gladiators life. Not the kind of rest that went with sleep every night. Training included preparation for a stoical, unflinching death. Successful training required intense commitment. So to rest would be to rest completely. To Imagine and accept death in the moment, to be at peace with the incredible pain that would come one day to end your life. This often accompanied a vigorous physical massage by the MEDICUS (physician) or a few slave girls of the gladiator’s choosing.
My recommendation is to learn some form of a meditation. There are many different types of meditative practices mentioned online. Choose one that feels the most relaxing to you. I also recommend checking out a series of articles that would educate a newbie on the subject. If you can get a loved one to massage your shoulders and neck muscles, might be a good experience and some quality bonding time too.
Average yield:- 10% increase in survivability chances
Medicus Treatment (3 energy units) (Approx. 8 hours)
Medical care wasn’t the best feature of the ancient Rome. But there is no mistaking that the proprietors gave the best of their times to their champions in the arena. Massages, Oil, leech and herb treatment aside, The physicians made detailed observations of their physical strains, aches, and pains, internal and external injuries, their diets, their sleeping patterns and even the signs of good health in their stools and urine.
Such detailed and extensive medical care isn’t cheap nowadays, and frankly, the personal trainer’s and physiotherapists in today’s age wouldn’t go so far down themselves for any amount of money to take care of your physical well being exclusively for as long as 8 hours. Best if you take a therapeutic vacation. There’s ayurvedic and naturopathy centers in today’s day and age. There are acupuncture massages for the more adventurous. treat yourself with the best you know. And take care of your own well being.
Average yield:- 35% increase in survivability chances
(To be continued)