Velocity Systems

Discontinued Merit Badges : Master-at-Arms

This photo is said to be of Boy Scouts participating in the short-lived Master-at-Arms badge. It was one of the original 14 merit badges which debuted in the 1910 version of the Boy Scout Handbook and unfortunately, this one lasted just a year. The badge was missing from the 1911 version of the manual when it was released.

To earn the basge, a Scout had to master three of the following combat skills:
-single stick
-boxing
-ju jitsu
-wrestling
-quarterstaff
-fencing

Can you imagine such a merit badge today?

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27 Responses to “Discontinued Merit Badges : Master-at-Arms”

  1. iceman says:

    This is the same era that produced the men with the fortitude necessary to persevere during WWI. Today you would get arrested if you sent your kids outside to practice quarterstaff in the back yard. Luckily kids have the chance to day in scouting to earn their video game merit badge.

  2. Bradkaf308 says:

    Cool I’d recommend it for my son’s troop. Quarter staff could be presented as bear defense and the others as cultural awareness. Where do you find Quarterstaff instructors?

    • Riceball says:

      You might be able to find quarterstaff instructors at a HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) club somewhere, although they tend to focus primarily on swords.Failing that, there are traditional martial arts studios that teach weapons but I don’t know of any that focus solely on weapons though. Worse comes to worse, you could always look up staff manuals on your own and try to teach yourself by referencing these manuals, there also might be videos on YouTube that show staff techniques; these won’t be as good as learning from a live instructor since you wouldn’t have anyone correcting you if you’re doing something wrong but it’s better than nothing.

      • Bradkaf308 says:

        Thanks, apreciated.

      • defensor fortismo says:

        If you’re after traditional martial arts that focuses on weapons, I’d recommend finding a school that focuses on Filipino Martial arts. most of them don’t teach the staff per se, but they typically start you off with a short stick between 30 and 24 inches long. The neat thing about it is you start off bass ackwards from other styles, you learn the stick, then learn how to use the same technique with a blade and finally empty-handed.

  3. Girls like guys with skillz…like bowstaff skillz.

  4. Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.

  5. Historia says:

    This should still be a merit badge

  6. Dellis says:

    Thanks SSD, very interesting to learn of this. You’re right, sadly, this would never get past “idea” phase in terms of bringing it before a committe to institute it as a merit badge.

    Hell, in our local schools kickball and dodgeball has been banned, as has physical ed as a whole really.

    • Bradkaf308 says:

      I was really surprise at a Cub camp we went to they set up a sling shot range. Everyone enjoyed it, no one got hurt, simple safe fun. Try to up it with Scouts and do pellet guns or Archery is so hard.

  7. Middian says:

    I couldn’t imagine the time needed to “master”:

    -single stick
    -boxing
    -ju jitsu
    -wrestling
    -quarterstaff
    -fencing

    This sounds like the training to be the most interesting man!

  8. Brian says:

    If only I was a scout in 1910. But I will say this, my scouting buds hit eachother with all sorts of sticks, rocks and bb guns anyways. So the Defence Badgee would have been a sinch. I’m still trying to forget about the hot dog tong incident…..?

  9. Disco says:

    Anytime something cool happens some fatass, liberal, or woman has to ruin it for everybody

  10. xpoqx says:

    If we taught our sons these skills as boy scouts, girls would hear “I am a man who can provide for and protect you” when they tell them that they are/were boy scouts. Because right now I think all a girl would hear if you told her you were a boy scout is “I’m a virgin.” Hahaha.

  11. james says:

    I would have gotten the video gaming merit badge on Pong!

    Eagle 1984
    Troop 32
    Watchung, NJ

  12. Brian says:

    It takes anywhere from 1000 to 10000 hours to really master a skill. Having practiced (but not mastered) several martial arts, including Jui jitsu, Bo staff & boxing, just Jui jitsu takes 7-10 years at 5-7 hours/week. I assume that they definition of master is a bit more lax in the scouts

    • SSD says:

      Perhaps put it into the perspective of 1910.

    • bloke_from_ohio says:

      The “master” in those requirements probably implies demonstrating a working mastery of some specific basic concepts and techniques of said set of skills. First Aid Merit badge does not make a boy into a surgeon or combat medic. But, he certainly should be able to slow/stop bleeding and do CPR until the real medics get there.

      At the end of a merit badge, a scout probably has the skill level of good amateur or maybe an weak journeyman in any given discipline. They also have far more exposure than they would had they not elected to do the work required by the badge. True experts they may not be, but they are more useful human beings for their efforts.

      I used to teach life saving merit badge (among others). My scouts could indeed safely perform a lot of different water rescues skills. In flat water, most of them could save a life if called upon by fate. They were not as good as the actual life guards who worked at the lake. Nor were their requirements as tough as those for the life guards. Then again, none of the life guards were are as good as PJ’s or Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer. It all comes down to different training for different purposes.

  13. DD says:

    It’s a pity. Nice merit badge to have. Good skills regardless for many reasons.