I have to say yes we are less physical, compared to just a few generations ago many of us are wimpy little girls. I’m speaking in generalities so pointing out one or two specific people just doesn’t cut it from where I’m looking at it. If you take a modern kid raised on a farm vs. a city boy there is a marked difference even today. Some of the toughest kids/best fighters of the students at the school were raised on a farm doing manual labor while city boys are much smaller of muscle, usually fat and do not have nearly the endurance. The ‘farm boys’ just get it faster, probably because they are used to swinging some tool and this is just another tool. The city boys have to develop muscle because the strongest muscle we have is our first finger that constantly clicks a mouse.
First my generation just doesn’t have the average pain tolerance or ‘thick skin’ (mentally) my grandfather had: of the three grandfathers I knew two were tough sons-a-bitches, the other was a perfect gentleman that never had to prove a thing but I know he could handle himself just fine in a scrap. Both of the sons-a-bitches were grunts in WWII and were they type of guys who would pick fights with people half their age just to see if they still had it. At 60 they would still be able to go three rounds in a boxing ring. At about 12 when I was being taught to shoot a shotgun he took the gun away and punched me in the shoulder almost knocking me to the ground. Told me that is what the gun would feel like. When he was growing up this was considered ‘toughening the kid up’ and was a fathers duty to make sure the kid could deal with the other boys out there. Now it’s considered child abuse. The common boys-playing-rough that I had when growing up is now considered bullying.
I read an article about a sabre fencing school only a few generations ago that trained with no shirt - http://www.classicalfencing.com/articles/sabresedge.php
good read. Most fencing schools now require a plastron and decent fencing jacket. Brute aggression and intimidation from excessively hard hits were ‘part of the game’ even in the early 1900’s fencing, now it’s a penalty offense. One of the guys at the gym was telling me about a cavalry man in the civil war that needed his leg amputated. After they took an axe to the leg they needed to table for someone else so he hopped out of the room on his good leg without help.
I’ve also been reading a family history: my great grandmother had 10 children; she died at 32 years old after miscarrying the 11th. Her husband died from a kick from a horse, about a year or so after the horse kicked him. As I keep reading I realize that I’m pretty soft and wimpy compared to my family a few generations ago, again I’m a city boy with a desk job.
So in summery yes I believe a modern person with a desk job is much less physical than an original master was. #2 there may not be an evidence that people with physical jobs are better at fencing but of my students, the ones raised on a farm are tougher, stronger, have better fitness and endurance than the squishy city boys. They also routinely kill their own food.
At this point (especially after coming in second in a tournament last year because I got tired) I jog 3 miles a day 5-6 days a week (I usually can barely get out of bed the morning after a good night of freeplay), walk about 8-10 miles a week (wife is pregnant and I need to walk her regularly) and she has been requiring at least 20 push ups a day because she says I need a better chest. So why don’t I have a stomach women want to do shots off?