bareknuckle boxing

N

nbcdecon

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Much of the realm of bareknuckle boxing is lost over this last century. I have complied a nice library of books on the subject because it was a great to read about the pugilist of old, fighting for the well being of family and the fun of friends.
I have read some articles of great note on ejmas about the stoic bareknuckling heros' of the yester years.
After reseaching information about the pugilists I have come up with these facts:
1. Bare knuckles were hardend by punching grain bags filled with oats
2. The fist was used in a vertical position
3. Punching to the head wasn't common place (unless you could cut your foe and put blood in his eyes)
4. Whiskey, urine and other liquids were combined to cure the hands (like dit da jou)
5. Technical sparring was a must targeting the (solar plexus, liver, shoulder pockets) the solar plexus was know as the sweet spot.
6. Throwing was legal ( cross-buttocks,backheeling) were the most common throws.
7. A round ended after you or your foe fell
I wanted to spark an intrest in bareknuckling
 
Sadly, this thread will not be big as many of the histories of boxing in the americas and in europe were not documented properly.

Too bad.
:D
 
Originally posted by nbcdecon

1. Bare knuckles were hardend by punching grain bags filled with oats

Similar to what we know was done for Oriental fighting methods!


2. The fist was used in a vertical position
3. Punching to the head wasn't common place (unless you could cut your foe and put blood in his eyes)

Both of these I find somewhat surprising. I know that punching to the head can break the hand rather easily so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised by that.

What is the reason for the change from vertical fist to (more-or-less) horizontal? Was it because of the glove?
 
The reason for the fist being in a horizontal
1) the fist shows less of a flinch responce when the hands are held low ( like the concept of fencing and kendo)
2) by punching with the horizontal punch your shoulders stay more relax.
3) with punching horizontal you gain about an inch of striking distance from your scapula being extended forward instead of it being retracted as gloved boxing.
( you can gain up to about three inches of reach on your punch by punching horizontal but you need to work your shoulders daily to make it functional for the street.
 
I think I read somewhere barefist boxers would practice "headbutting" punches with their forehead to break their opponant's fist. I don't know how true it is but that could explain some of the reluctance to strike the head unless you have a clean shot in.
 
The movie "gladiator's" with cuba gooding jr shows butting but the head was used as a weapon of head to face more so than fist to hand. If you could produce a source on this I will research it. I know Mendoza a jewish boxer use to only punch the head when the foes hands were tied up from infighting. I will look more into the matter and get back with you. John
 
Has anyone heard abou the bareknuckle boxing styles of Tagore india? I've seen some references on a book called secret fighting arts of the world, or something like that, after that i was never able to obtain any info.
 
Originally posted by KickingDago

Has anyone heard abou the bareknuckle boxing styles of Tagore india? I've seen some references on a book called secret fighting arts of the world, or something like that

See this thread; that book is a well-known parody, written by a famous martial arts author under the John Gilbey pseudonym.
 
What I find so amazing about the bare knuckle fights is how long they lasted. It wasn't uncommon to hear about a fight going on for three or four hours (low whistle!).
Now I know James Figg "invented" the straight punch, particularly the left jab. Now, the bare knuckle fighter wasn't punching to the head, just how utilitarian was the left jab? I can imagine right crosses, shovel hooks, uppercuts and left hooks being useful for hitting to the body, but the left jab? Hmmm, maybe to the liver, but I don't know....:asian:
 
people did punch to the head it just wasn't as common because of risk of injury.

Also boxing rules were a little diffrent.. matches went on for a wial because rounds were declared at an end when there was a knock down and if you got up in time you could have your sids carry you out to start the fight up again in the next round, all you had to be able to do was stand there when the round started.. as you can see someone could hang on for quite some time... it wasn't like they were going all out for 4 hours (and I'm not sure how common a 4 hour fight was.)
 
For an interesting read regarding bare-knuckle boxing in England and the Americas, try George MacDonald Fraser's "Black Ajax". It is fiction, but Fraser is both an excellent historian and avid boxing fan. It's a wicked read, and the bibliography should point you further towards excellent references in the history of bare-knuckle boxing.

Unfortunately, i beleive its out of print. I have a copy. No, you cant have it. :p

Cheers

Baoquan.
 
I think bareknuckle boxing is actually more humane than the soft-gloved Marquis of Queensbury rules in effect today. With bare knuckles, you get soft tissue damage without a lot of neurological damage, whereas gloves allow a fighter to absorb more punches(and also deliver more, seeing as how the hands don't break as easily), thus resulting in the brain slapping up against the skull like a briskly shaken egg. I don't think Ali would be in the shape he is today if he had fought bareknuckle.
 
yeah but it's realy bloody so any casual observer thinks it's more brutal, I don't think it will be legal for a long time but we could always hope.
 
also there were less blows to the head so the brain wouldnt be shaken as much

maybe we should go back to bareknuckle
 
I trained with nbcdecon when I was in Japan. We exchanged a lot of information about our styles with each other, and I really enjoyed my conversations with him about his interests in other areas.

One of the things I found most interesting was the nature of the mechanics of certain strikes, their intended targets, the effect the strike had on the target, and the strategy with which they were applied.

Since my only real martial arts experience has come from my study of Yiliquan, I found it really amazing how similary the bareknuckle boxing topic meshed with the practice of traditional Xingyiquan kung fu...

Many of the strikes are identical. Their targets are the same, the mechanics are the same.

Just kind of interesting to see a "classical" martial art having its methods reproduced in a Western fighting method.

Gambarimasu.
 
I agree: Xing Yi Quan and Bare-Knuckle fighting have a lot in common. I've seen one guy (also an internal boxer) who can "switch over" to the bare-knuckle style effortlessly if you ask him. That's because the principles are pretty much the same.

There's a good description of a bare-knuckle bout in Patrick O'Brian's The Yellow Admiral.

Best,

Steve Lamade
 
Originally posted by nbcdecon
The movie "gladiator's" with cuba gooding jr shows butting but the head was used as a weapon of head to face more so than fist to hand. If you could produce a source on this I will research it. I know Mendoza a jewish boxer use to only punch the head when the foes hands were tied up from infighting. I will look more into the matter and get back with you. John

I read a great book about barenuckle boxing a while back. It had stories of fighters of old.

It had Jack Johnson (?), Demsey, Mendoza, some west african dude taken to France as a slave etc.

Some of the most descriptive writing of fights I've ever read. I liked the Mendoza story the best.
 
Ironic that one of the main reasons of transitioning to gloves was not only to protect the fighter getting hit, but the fighter... Gloves protect the wrists.
 
I LOVE pugilism. I think it's one of the more interesting arts in Europe. I'm trying to find my online resources for pugiliam, but it seems a lot of the links have died. In any case, you can check out http://ahfaa.org/unarmed.htm which has some information a some good links.

I've heard the "boxers often break their hands" or "pugilists avoided headshots" saying a lot, but never really seen it in anything I've read about pugilism. I have a copy of a manual called "the art and practice of boxing" that says "The parts of the body and face which are subject to suffer by round blows are the temporal arteries, the jawbone, the glands of the ears, the ribs, and the loins; those subject to straight ones, the eyes, the mouth, and pit of stomach." No mention of avoiding headshots, although he mentions "The large knuckles of the hand should be only used, they are rarely disabled, but the knuckles in the middle of the fingers frequently give way."

The book is unfortunately undated and by an anonymous author. But he says that we should practice boxing with "boxing mufflers, or gloves stuffed with cotton." and also shows a few throws. The two others I have "Boxing: A manual devoted to the art of self-defense" by John L. Sullivan and "Science of Self-Defense" by Edmund E. Price recommend similar things.

MarialArtist said "Ironic that one of the main reasons of transitioning to gloves was not only to protect the fighter getting hit, but the fighter... Gloves protect the wrists." (sorry I don't know how to use the quote function)

I had thought that gloves were originally introduced because aristocrats became interested in boxing and instructors used gloves to protect those who were unwilling to endure the pain of full-on bareknuckle fighting. But I could easily be wrong about that.

Pugilism is often seen as "dirty boxing" but that is patently untrue. Pugilism is a very different style from modern boxing. The rule structure dramatically altered the sport, and it's interesting to look at both and think about why they are different.
 
I believe that a number of the boxing punches we see today were developed as the result of the introduction of the glove. The glove actually changed the striking surface of the fist and straight punches didn't work as well as they did bare-knuckled.

I have seen this exact same phenomenon occur as the result of the introduction of the foam gloves (and foot pads) used in modern karate competition.
 

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