Running the gauntlet
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Running the gauntlet (originally gantlet, and, rarely, gantlope or gantelope) is a form of physical punishment wherein a captive is to run between two rows—a gauntlet—of soldiers who repeatedly strike him.
The word "gantlet" is derived from "gantelope", from the Swedish "gatlopp" (street run, street race); a loanword probably acquired by English soldiers during the Thirty Years' War. The modern spelling of "gauntlet" was influenced by the French-derived word used for a glove worn as protection or armour. Robert Hartwell "The Grumbling Grammarian" Fiske asserts in The Dictionary of Disagreeable English that the word "gantlet" (the form of punishment) has been incorrectly conflated with "gauntlet" (the medieval glove covered with metal plates) and should be used separately.
Roman predecessor 
It could also be applied to every tenth man of a whole unit as a mode of decimation.
Post-Roman usage 
A very similar military punishment found in later armies was known as "running the gauntlet". The condemned soldier was stripped to the waist and had to pass between a double row (hence also known as die Gasse, "the alley") of cudgeling or switching comrades. A subaltern walked in front of him with a blade to prevent him from running. The condemned might sometimes also be dragged through by a rope around the hands or prodded along by a pursuer.
Various rules might apply, such as banning edged weapons, requiring the group to keep one foot in place, or allowing the soldier to attempt to protect his head with his hands. The punishment was not necessarily continued until death. If so, he might be finished off when unable to walk. Running the gauntlet was considered far less of a dishonor than a beating (with exposure to ridicule) on the pillory, pranger, or stocks, since one could "take it like a man" upright and among soldiers.
In some traditions, if the condemned was able to finish the run and exit the gauntlet at the far end, his faults would be deemed paid, and he would rejoin his comrades with a clean slate. Elsewhere, he was sent back through the gauntlet until death.
- A Prussian cavalry variation was to beat the condemned with stirrup straps instead of rods.
- It was also common practice in the French army, especially for thieves.
- Also used in training, notably on military cadets, as in a scene in the movie Oberst Redl.
- There was also a naval version of the gauntlet, notably used in the Royal Navy as a punishment for minor theft. The condemned was prevented from rushing by the master-at-arms with a cutlass and pushed forward by a corporal, while being beaten with rope yarns that were plaited into so-called "knittles", which looked like smaller, improvised versions of the cat o' nine tails. The condemned could also receive a dozen lashes from the cat o' nine tails beforehand, so that blows received while running the gauntlet would aggravate the lacerations on his back. This punishment was abolished by order of the British Admiralty in 1806.
- Mild forms, not intended to cause permanent damage, have also been used on or by children.
In Sweden, running the gauntlet was also a civilian punishment for certain crimes until the 18th century. The practice also persisted in parts of Germany (mainly Prussia) and Austria as the Spießrutenlaufen, or "pike-run", and also in Russia, until the 19th century.
A notable description of the process appears in Tolstoy's short story "After The Ball"; it is also depicted in Stanley Kubrick's film Barry Lyndon. In Ernest Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls the aristocrats of the town are subjected to a form of the gauntlet wherein they are led to and run off a cliff by villagers.
Native American usage 
A number of Native American tribes of the Eastern Woodlands culture area forced prisoners to run the gauntlet. (See Captives in American Indian Wars.) The Jesuit Isaac Jogues was subject to this treatment while a prisoner of the Iroquois in 1641. He described the ordeal in a letter that appears in the book The Jesuit Martyrs of North America: "Before arriving (at the Iroquois Village) we met the young men of the country, in a line armed with sticks...", and he and his fellow Frenchmen were made to walk slowly past them "for the sake of giving time to anyone who struck us."
Other European-Americans captured by Indians and made to run the gauntlet included John Stark, Daniel Boone, James Smith, Col. William Crawford, Simon Kenton, Lieutenant-Colonel John B. McClelland, and Susanna Willard Johnson.
Modern use 
The original meanings of the phrase notwithstanding, the expression (to run) the gauntlet has been applied to various less severe punishments or tests consisting of consecutive blows or tasks endured sequentially and delivered collectively, especially by colleagues such as roommates.
As these do not cause serious injuries, only bearable pain, they are sometimes eagerly anticipated by the initiate as a sign of acceptance into a more prestigious group.
The phrase running the gauntlet has also been used, informally, to express the idea of a public but painless, merely ritual humiliation such as the walk of shame or perp-walk. It is sometimes confused with the phrase run the gamut.
Path of Health in communist Poland 
During the days of the People's Republic of Poland the Communist authorities used a gauntlet-like procedure on dissidents, protestors, and prisoners, but it was called the "Path of Health" or "Ścieżka zdrowia".
In "KOR, A history of the Worker's Defense Committee in Poland, 1976 - 1981", Jan Jósef Lipski documents the experience of one such dissident during the June 1976 protests:
On the first day I walked the "path of health" on the way from a truck to the police van, about 50 metres. They ordered me to walk slowly so that each one could hit me. They beat me with fists, clubs, boots. At the very end, I fell down. I couldn't get up again under the hail of clubs... A "path of health" from the van to the second floor... When they took us to get haircuts – another "path of health" some 40 metres long, from the door of the room all the way to the car... Yet another 10 metres in the corridor leading to the table... Then, a "path of health" (10 metres) to cell number nine... to the court in a prison truck; of course another "path of health"... then again a "path" from prison to prison. I survived another "path of health" in the morning when they took me to Kielce.—Waldemar Michalski, 
Military custom 
Similar practices are used in other initiations and rites of passage, as on pollywogs (those passing the equator for the first time; includes a paddling version) or in aviation when a new pilot gets his first license. It has also been used to "tack on" a recently promoted enlisted man's rank insignia.
- In certain team sports such as lacrosse and hockey, the gauntlet is a common name for a type of drill whereby players are blocked or checked by the entire team in sequence.
- In American football, the gauntlet is used as a running-back drill, in which the players swat and try to strip the ball out to get the ball carrier accustomed to being hit.
- In some countries, rugby matches end with 'the tunnel'. The host side forms the tunnel first, through which their opposition runs and are bumped and slapped. Directly afterward, the opposition forms a tunnel of their own and the hosts receive similar treatment.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". 2011-01-04. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 2004, "Gantelope"
- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 2004, "Gauntlet"
- Word Origins, 2005, A&C Black, "Gauntlet"
- Word Histories and Mysteries, 2004, Houghton Mifflin, "Gauntlet"
- The Dictionary of Disagreeable English: Deluxe Edition, 2006, "Gauntlet"
- The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, Peter Kemp ed., 1976 ISBN 0-586-08308-1
- The Universal Knowledge Foundation, c. 1925, p. 163
- KOR, A history of the Worker's Defense Committee in Poland, 1976 - 1981, by Jan Jósef Lipski, Translated by Olga Amsterdamska and Gene M. Moore, University of California Press, 1985, page 35
- The U. S. S. West Virginia: Crossing the Equator West Virginia Division of Culture and History
- Office of the Inspector General. The Tailhook Report. MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-312-30212-2. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
- "The Drill - Running the Gauntlet". CBC. Retrieved 2012-07-10.