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Folktown Stomp

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Folktown Stomp

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Dionysus on Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:13 pm

I learned Folktown Stomp, which is a lesser known version of Jailhouse Rock practiced in southern circles. I really dont know much about the history of Folktown Stomp except that it originated at the Lee County stockade down town in Fort Myers, Florida... I did some Google research and found this information on Wikipedia pertaining to some different versions of Jailhouse Rock:

Jailhouse rock or JHR is a name which is used to describe a collection of different fighting styles which were practiced and/or developed in US penal institutions. The “styles” of JHR seem to vary greatly, with an emphasis on a free style governed roughly by underlying principles. Some examples of the many styles of JHR are 52 Hand blocks, Comstock Style, San Quentin style, Mount Meg, 42nd and Closing Gates.

Many of these styles of JHR are thought to have evolved regionally in different penal institutions. Others assert that these are just idiosyncratic variations of street fighting and not a "proper" martial art.

For a long time, the existence of this martial art was hotly debated, but near-mainstream media exposure, such as a magazine article available in scanned form at, have gone a long way towards verifying the veracity of Jailhouse rock. The 52 Hand Blocks aspect of JHR is featured in a true crime book called Street Kingdom, published in 2002 and written by Douglas Century.

The name 52 may also be a reference to playing card games or 52 Pickup and the expression to "let the cards fall where they may."

According to some researchers and practitioners, JHR is an indigenous African American fighting art that has its origins in the 17th and 18th centuries, when slaves were first institutionalized and needed to defend themselves. It is said to have evolved secretly within the U.S. penal system, with regional styles reflecting the physical realities in specific institutions. This theory relates JHR to the fusion of African and American fist-fighting styles known as "cutting", which is said to have been practiced by champions such as Tom Molineaux, and also to the little-known African-American fighting skill known as "knocking and kicking", which is said to be practiced clandestinely in parts of the Southern US and on the Sea Islands.

Alternatively, other practitioners claim that JHR was not a product of penal institutions but something which was evolved from one of the many African martial arts or fighting games which was practiced by slaves. Starting from the same artform but evolving separately in different penal institutions. The art surviving and evolving on the inside, while unfortunately being lost and forgotten on the outside.

Jailhouse Rock may be a modern American manifestation of the many African martial arts that were disseminated throughout the African diaspora, which may have fueled the evolution of other martial arts including Brazilian Capoeira, Cuban Mani, Ladja of Martinique, and Eritrean Testa.

Although modern versions of JHR allegedly exist (eg Bum Rush), it appears that the original styles have become extinct in the current penal systems, particularly as the influence of western boxing has spread. Now JHR seems to be in the hands of the few, e.g. the 'more senior' incarcerated and a few torch bearers on the outside such as Dennis Newsome.

Elements of this art may also be seen in the 1987 film Lethal Weapon, as taught to and choreographed for actor Mel Gibson by Dennis Newsome.

Folktown Stomp follows the same principle as the 52 Blocks, as you are supposed to "let the cards fall where they may". There is not a huge emphasis on precision, as all of the strikes are dealt with maximum strength so as to knock the opponent out, or beat him to death. Dirty tricks, gestures, gang signs and sucker tactics are well employed, as most punches come from the blind side. The opponents will often try to catch one another offguard and unprepared for a devistating attack. Sometimes even the first punch is a knockout punch, while others prefer to use their stronger knees and elbows to inflict pain. Wrestling is not uncommon, and actually the main object of Folktown Stomp is to get the opponent on the ground so that you can kick him to sleep. Therefore, opponents of this style rely on dirty tricks such as outnumbering the victim and jumping him, clotheslining him, tripping him, or putting him in a sleeper hold, whatever it takes to get him on the ground. From there, they will usually try to kick him in the ribs and face until he stops moving. Sometimes the dance is finished off with a simple stomp on the head once he is knocked out, giving this style its name Folktown Stomp.

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Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Remæus on Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:12 am

Wow, I've never heard of this actually being a martial art - seems pretty interesting. I suppose it's one of the many styles that grew from necessity, perhaps even a canonization of a mindset. Either way, very enlightening.
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