Historical Boxing
I've been wondering about historical unarmed martial arts of Europe. I've read allot about Ringen but was wondering about the roots of Boxing. If you've ever faced dirty boxing (boxing that trains without the rules of the ring) then you know it's an incredibly hard art to fight. It has a very simple but effective defense and impressive destructive power. I was wondering if this was used much in Medieval or Renaissance times? I know grappling is more effective against armored opponents, but even Jujutsu and Aikido use strikes, so I was wondering if it was used. I doubt there are manuals about it, but there might be art.

P.S. I'm not referring to Greek boxing.
Re: Historical Boxing
A. Jake Storey II wrote:
I've been wondering about historical unarmed martial arts of Europe. I've read allot about Ringen but was wondering about the roots of Boxing. If you've ever faced dirty boxing (boxing that trains without the rules of the ring) then you know it's an incredibly hard art to fight. It has a very simple but effective defense and impressive destructive power. I was wondering if this was used much in Medieval or Renaissance times? I know grappling is more effective against armored opponents, but even Jujutsu and Aikido use strikes, so I was wondering if it was used. I doubt there are manuals about it, but there might be art.

P.S. I'm not referring to Greek boxing.


To my knowledge, there wasn't a lot of boxing going on in Europe during the Middle Ages. Since the nobility and monied classes were the ones who could afford armor, and they were generally the only ones actually trained to fight, there was no perceived need of unarmed striking arts--there's little use for hitting someone with a proper punch when they're encased in armor. There's a very nice account in Sydney Anglo's The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe of how modern (English) boxing was actually "reinvented" using the methods of rapier/smallsword fencing as a base for movement, stance, and strikes. Very interesting.
Yeah, I imagine that boxing wasn't very useful when practically everybody wore a knife (at the least) all the time. Wrestling moves would be much more useful, thus their preponderance in period manuals showing unarmed fighting techniques.
One of the more prevalent ancient and medieval European forms of unarmed martial arts was the Greek wrestling or pankration. Several medieval era texts devote significant sections to it. http://www.thehaca.com/spotlight/unarmedcombat.htm
Hi,
There is a bit of information on striking in Fiore' manuscript:

In his his section on the Abrazare - wrestling for one's life - Fiore (~1400ad) says: "If your opponent is not in armour , strike him in the most painful and dangerous spots such as the eyes, the nose, the temple, under the chin and in the flanks..." he then lists the eight qualities of Abrazare
Strength
Speed
Knowing advantageous grapples
Knowing how to preform breaks (arms and legs)
Knowing binds (controlling arms to make then useless for defense)
Knowing the most dangerous places to strike
Knowing how to put the opponent to the ground with endangering yourself
Knowing how to dislocate the opponents arms and legs in various ways

In his section on defending against dagger Fiore tells us always to do these five things attacker:
Take his dagger way
Strike him
Break his arms
Bind him
Throw him to the ground
(tranlation: Leoni 2009)

Fiore also show what appears to be posture to deliver a hammer fist, as well as techniques employing kicks to the lower legs and knees to the groin.

So we have documentary evidence that trained noble and high raking men at arms and knights knew and used strikes to the head and body when fighting out of armour.

One and likely a fairly conservative interpretation of how to deliver empty hand blows is mirror the strikes of the dagger - hammer fist blows to the head and as low as the elbow and under hand punch to belly and flanks no higher then the rib cage

Mackenzie
The invention of gloves made boxing more dangerous to the boxers as they would now take hits to the head and get brain injury.
I know from from personal experience that hitting the head without gloves is a really bad thing for your knuckles. The hammer fist sounds safer for your hands if you really want to hit something as hard as a head. :)

Kicks to the head (on the ground) sounds risky too, with those flimsy shoes/moccasins you might just break a toe.
IMO, while "formal "training" in unarmed combat, May have existed, but MOST learned it "informally" . , school of "hard knocks, + if lucky an sib or parent. Later on a Bud , who taught you a few things.
a. as youth - sibling fights, & peers.
b. as adults- brawls ( street, taverns etc. ) & perhaps even combat

In today's world, Boxing ( both "sport & other ) + other , are prolifically "trained". ( civilian, Mil, LEO ) But back then = ???????

Puffer
As usual, Wkipedia comes through with the history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing
Mackenzie Cosens wrote:
So we have documentary evidence that trained noble and high raking men at arms and knights knew and used strikes to the head and body when fighting out of armour.


All that's true, Mackenzie (and well put, by the way), but I don't think that can be construed as "boxing," per se, in the sense of the OPs question. Rather, such striking techniques should be seen as a subordinate part of Abrazare, just as the Morts÷▀e are a subordinate part of Ringen and atemi-waza are a subordinate part of jujutsu. All combat grappling arts I have ever seen include striking techniques as you showed Fiore did, but boxing, I think, refers to a system wherein strikes with the fist are the *primary* techniques (and, it should be noted, some older styles of boxing included some grappling), not secondary adjuncts to the art (however important!).
I agree, it is not boxing, they are strikes design to weaken your opponent or possibly put him in compliance for the primary techinique. But there does seem to be a misunderstanding that Medieval and Renaissance wma did not include strikes and that is simply not true.

To reflect back to Jake's original post: strikes are used, at least in Fiore's art, and in my experience in a way close to their use in Aikido.

Quote:

All that's true, Mackenzie (and well put, by the way), but I don't think that can be construed as "boxing," per se, in the sense of the OPs question. Rather, such striking techniques should be seen as a subordinate part of Abrazare, just as the Morts÷▀e are a subordinate part of Ringen and atemi-waza are a subordinate part of jujutsu. All combat grappling arts I have ever seen include striking techniques as you showed Fiore did, but boxing, I think, refers to a system wherein strikes with the fist are the *primary* techniques (and, it should be noted, some older styles of boxing included some grappling), not secondary adjuncts to the art (however important!).
[/quote]
Toke Krebs Niclasen wrote:
The hammer fist sounds safer for your hands if you really want to hit something as hard as a head. :)




I would add to this open palm strikes that can hit with full power without risks of spraining or breaking one's wrist.

Also with an open hand strike one can change the strike to a grab or grab after striking if the opportunity presents itself.

I know personally that when hitting a heavy punching bag with an open palm I don't have to hold back to avoid injuring myself and can hit bare handed or with just light weightlifting gloves.
Closed fist strikes
Hi folks

Scott Woodruff said
Quote:
Yeah, I imagine that boxing wasn't very useful when practically everybody wore a knife (at the least) all the time.


Yes and no Scott - when you're fighting a knife, you're still fighting the person. While I have yet to be attacked by a knife for real (it came close once) I've done a fair bit of dojo work on this. A quick blow to the nose e.g. a jab and you have a partner who can't see. At which point you can stick their knife anywhere you like. Most people expect you to defend and a jab (or backfist) is very fast. Secondly it takes time to draw one (assuming its sheathed). I promise you, against a relatively skilled boxer/fist-fighter, you won't get the chance.

I've actually punched a partner in a helm with maille over leather gauntlets and really rang their clock for them. I didn't feel a thing. Remember, you are trying to concuss someone by accelerating the brain to smack into the opposite side of the skull.

Jean Thibodeau said
Quote:
I would add to this open palm strikes that can hit with full power without risks of spraining or breaking one's wrist


Yep - really agree with Jean. Interestingly some full contact martial arts tournaments allow bare knuckle punches to the body but not open hand techniques.

In any case, knowing some good basic strikes really adds to your arsenal when you enter a close play. I'd wonder if this weren't taught at least in some schools in medieval/renaissance times.

cheers

mike
Some cities in Germany hired fencing masters to train their armed burghers. This is another source for learning how to fight.
One source for hitting your opponent seems to have been naval combat, like savate (18th century), but I think it's possible to have had earlier roots.

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