1595.

Our Practice

Unarmed

There is a natural relationship between the arts of fencing and boxing. Pugilism (in whatever form it takes) is the natural unarmed form of fencing (in whatever form that takes). The ‘classic boxing’ style of the 1800s was often described as “fencing with fists” and both boxing and fencing can, or should, be defined as the art of hitting without being hit.

“All of the early bare-knuckle practitioners and instructors were English fencing masters. As a result, boxing’s footwork, straight punching, blocking, parrying, and feinting techniques developed from strategies used by fencers. It is no coincidence that boxing’s most fundamental punch, the left jab, is very similar to the fencer’s straight thrust…”
The Arc of Boxing - Mike Silver

Prior to this, the popular Venetian mock battles known as the ‘War of the Bridges’ (that captivated the imagination of early modern Venetian society during the 1500s and 1600s) were first contested as a ‘guerre di canne’, with the rival factions contesting with sticks and shields. However, this form of combat was later abandoned in favour of ‘guerre di pugni’ - and the adaptation of what was essentially sword and shield techniques to an unarmed form of combat. (See ‘The War of Fists’ – Robert C. Davis)

To the art of scientific pugilism we can add the holds, throws and grappling techniques recorded by the fencing masters of history, plus those used in the ‘Golden era’ of the London Prize Ring. Further to this, it becomes a natural progression to apply the kicks and trips to be found in the nineteenth century French street-defence system of Savate.