IntroWhen sparring, have you ever accidentally kicked your shin onto the opponent’s shin? It probably hurt. The shins are the most exposed big bones in the body, which is why they are a primary target in many self-defense techniques. How would you like to spend an entire class kicking shins with classmates? Unbelievably, this was once a popular sport.
PurringShin-kicking, also known as purring or hacking, was a popular folk sport that started in England in about the 16th century. Thanks to Cornish miners residing in Pennsylvania in the mid-19th century, it was also practiced in the United States.
In traditional purring, the opponents face each other and hold on to each other's collar. Traditionally, they wore white coats, representing shepherds' smocks. The opponents grappled above the waist and kicked each other's shins with the instep, heel, or edges of their shoes until one fighter fell to the ground.
They wore the shoes to prevent breaking their toes while kicking. They often baked the soles of the shoes to make them harder and give them a sharp edge. The fighters were sometimes permitted to bandage or pad their shins, however, even then, the men would usually leave the ring after a severe match with the skin completely off their shins. After a match, the seconds would wash their fighters' legs and apply poultices of rotten apples to reduce inflammation and pain.
Success in the event required both agility and the ability to endure pain, the loser crying out "sufficient" when he has had enough. The matches are observed by a referee, or stickler, who determined the score of the match.
In the United States, they used rounds but each round ended in the traditional bare-knuckle boxing manner where when one man fell to the ground the round ended; thus the rounds could be short or last a long time. American shin kickers developed some basic rules:
- Nothing could cover the legs but breeches.
- No kicking a downed man.
- No kicks above the knee (an automatic forfeiture).
- No grappling.
- First to surrender lost.