During my Sixties childhood unarmed combat was a fact of life. Virtually everyone wanted to pound you. Often mere play-fighting but occasionally a more serious skirmish, these are the more notable techniques used, the dirty dozen:
Deployed by Big Brothers or your worst enemies: essentially a form of lethal squeeze, whereby the tender flesh of the victim's inner thigh is clasped in a claw-like manner and pressed together. Usually ends after significant screaming. Like the Dim Mak or death hand strike of Ancient Kung Fu, the cowbite is passed down from generation to generation of bullies.
Like the Cowbite this double-handed killer is similarly truth-inducing. Again, a form of hand to hand combat, the snakebite was basically a two-handed counter twist of the skin of the victim's lower arm. Carrying out the snakebite was guaranteed to get said victim to spill the beans or make rash promises about sweets, comics and household chores!
The treatment was reserved for the female of the species and in particular sisters. Performed with great aplomb by brothers, the treatment involved picking up of said sister and swiftly spinning them round above the head. This swirling action would trigger a fit of banshee-like shrieking, which usually made a Parent come out to see which cat was being strangled!
4. Nose Tig and Flick
A subtle but irritating Ninja-like move, in which the executor points to the chest of the victim and says 'Ugh, what's that?', who on looking down, receives a mild touch of the finger on the nose. For minor frays, modest annoyance and gentle aggravation, especially of siblings, rivals and Parents. A much more aggressive form is the Nose Flick, in which the aggressor unleashes a strong finger-flicking strike on the targetted nose.
5. Nose Squeeze
One of the big guns of sibling combat, the nose squeeze was devastatingly simple and excruciatingly painful in the extreme. The victim's nose would be tightly squeezed and control could be gained over the entire body. Unreasonable deals were often made during this manouvre. An even more toxic variation was the nostril hook.
6. Ear Pull or Thick Ear
Popular amongst Mums of the Swinging Sixties, the 'thick ear' was either a rapid clip round the ear'ole with the palm of the hand or a nimble grab of the ear lobe rendering the child powerless. Often undertaken in public places, Home/ Father/Bed usually followed the thick ear.
7. Kick up the Bum [or Arse] or Slap on the Backside
Again a mild punitive strike by Parent's to encourage conformity. It featured either a kick or palm slap on one or both lobes of the young seat. For added leverage an arm would be clasped to attain maximum torque. This salvo was often done in shops.
8. Knuckle Butty
The Knuckle sandwich/ sarni or butty was most often alluded to by vexed Fathers as a deterrent to further childish miscreance, frequently whilst at Zoos, Parks or Weddings. Usually shortened to the alarming epithet 'Knuckle' and delivered in such memorable ways as 'Do that again Son and you'll get some knuckle' or 'are you gagging for some knuckle or what?'. The threats seldom need to be carried out.
9. Fat Lip/ Shiner/ Busted Nose
These are the injuries of the schoolyard: the wounds of the defeated or the trophies of a hard-won victory: fat lip is a swollen gob; shiner is a black-eye and busted nose is a bleeding hooter. They earn oodles of respect or scorn in equal measure depending on who was scrapping. Often accompanied by the tribal cry of 'scrap, scrap, scrap, scrap!' and resulting in a trip to Matron. Detention often followed.
10. Shin Kick
An exceedingly painful kick to the tender cut of the front leg. Can be delivered to either the trousered or untrousered shin and is best applied with a sturdy shoe such as a Brogue or a footy boot. A high stakes manouvre, which may be the catalyst for lethal retaliation and extended pounding.
11. The Dangling Spittle
Possibly the most uncooth of all the techniques mentioned and one reserved for the bitterest of skirmishes in the playground, the dangling spittle required the victim to be pinned down on his back by way of bicep kneeling. Rendered helpless, the assailant then produces a lengthy rope of spittle, which slowly descends towards the victim's face and for that special moment, towards the mouth. Driven to near-insanity by the descending grolly the assailant will then attempt the suck-back. This is a risky finale as the slobber may have reached a critical distance from which there is no return. This spit pie will result in a degree of wretching and gagging usually reserved for rotten meat.
12. The Face Fart
Like the Dangling Spittle, the face fart was obnoxious provocation in the extreme. More of a pungent insult than a debilitating strike, it required the victim to be kneeling or seated or in the worst-case scenario pinned down. The aggressor's rear end was then lowered next to or over their face and a select guff executed. Chemical warfare for the schoolyard or the soccer field, it was frequently known as a 'good gassing'.