Page 1 of 4 1234 Last
  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Posts
    30
    Style
    Judo
    3
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Pugilism to Boxing

    Hi, Everyone!

    I'm Ron, I'm new, and I'm a noob.

    I read in this forum for some time now, and since there are many pros, enthusiasts and instructors/trainers on this forum, I hope you can share some of your knowledge.

    I enjoy scrambling through internet sources about martial arts and biomechanics. And my most recent topic of interest are the beginnings of modern boxing, namely bare-knuckle boxing and the development after the introduction of gloves.

    I'm posting here to get facts straight that I might have misread, misinterpreted or were I'm simply misinformed. So please rip apart what I write!

    First off, it is more than obvious that boxing gloves changed the game completely. In the beginning meant to protect the hands (broken hands were common in bare-knuckle fights) and therefore to emphasize heavy blows, including more blows to the head (many hands were broken on thick skulls).

    And indeed, the fights became shorter and more spectacular. And from simple leather mittens gloves were developed into todays heavy combat pillows. But their weight and volume has such a strong influence on the techniques it has to be considered a weapon system.

    The influence of the gloves on the stance is more than obvious, but has several reasons. Having boney hands right on your cheeks when a strike hits your arm is a bad idea, therefore pugilists tried to block strikes far from their face, hence, the forward stretched hand position vs. Peek-A-Boo-Boxing styles. The blocking techniques in self-defense systems often use forward stretched hands in a similar matter to old-time pugilists.

    Also, in times before mouthpieces and where a dentist would rip out teeth at best, a pugilist would try to protect his face by leaning back. This would slow the reactions of a modern boxer and make him vulnerable to body shots.

    The gloves also influenced the punches, especially the hand rotation. While a vertical jab or straight might pass through the guard of a pugilists, your pillow will not pass through the two unfriendly pillows. Therefore, the added force of rolling the shoulder with the punch is welcome to increase impact and wear down the guard instead of passing through. Also, since the thumb is more protected, hand position changed because protecting the thumb is no longer an issue. This made other, more powerful techniques useful.

    The footwork changed a lot, but less likely because of the gloves but more evasiveness was found to be a great deal. I think all boxers agree that moving in and out of punching distance is vital. It probably wasn't when a fight would last 75 rounds (I **** you not, that's what many sources claim to be the round count for the last legal bare-knuckle fight).

    All this brings me to the next question: While a boxer definitely is a fearsome foe in a streetfight, would a pugilist of equal skill have the edge? Or is the training of a modern boxer so superior to bare-knuckle training that it would give the boxer the edge?

    I didn't find any good examples, because boxers met illegal bare-knuckle fighters only on the boxer's terms, and frankly, with the few bare-knuckle fighters out there vs. the many boxers, it's no miracle that there are more talented boxers than pugilists.

    Please give me your insight!

    Greetz,
    Ron

  2. #2
    DdlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    4,938
    Style
    Bartitsu
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I think those are all good and accurate observations.

    It's also worth noting that rule changes were largely in response to social concerns and law changes - BKB was eventually outlawed due to the prevailing "culture" of gambling, brawling etc. that came to surround it during the mid-1800s, and the modern professional and amateur boxing styles are developments of the more "gentlemanly", "scientific fisticuffs" style that evolved as a response to those social concerns.

    The Queensberry rules made a huge difference as they outlawed throwing from the clinch, which had been a very significant part of the earlier BKB style, and ultimately paved the way for timed rounds rather than rounds ending when either fighter hit the ground, which had been the custom under the London Prize Ring rules. Incidentally, that's why some early fights lasted a seemingly crazy number of rounds.

    Regarding your question about a hypothetical streetfight between a modern boxer and an old-school pugilist; IMO they'd be about equal at long range, the modern fighter would have the edge at in-fighting and the pugilist would almost certainly clean up whenever they clinched.

  3. #3
    Permalost's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    14,377
    Style
    street paddleboarding
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron_Ocata View Post
    First off, it is more than obvious that boxing gloves changed the game completely. In the beginning meant to protect the hands (broken hands were common in bare-knuckle fights) and therefore to emphasize heavy blows, including more blows to the head (many hands were broken on thick skulls).
    I think the "changed the game completely" part is overexaggerated.
    -"modern boxing" is used effectively in modern MMA, where only light gloves are worn
    -Irish bareknuckle boxers (in the vids I've seen) use a square, hands up modern boxing stance, not a fencing stance with John L Sullivan mulling hands.

    And indeed, the fights became shorter and more spectacular. And from simple leather mittens gloves were developed into todays heavy combat pillows. But their weight and volume has such a strong influence on the techniques it has to be considered a weapon system.
    Are you saying that modern boxing has to be considered the art of using heavy gloves as weapons? I'd disagree.


    The gloves also influenced the punches, especially the hand rotation. While a vertical jab or straight might pass through the guard of a pugilists, your pillow will not pass through the two unfriendly pillows. Therefore, the added force of rolling the shoulder with the punch is welcome to increase impact and wear down the guard instead of passing through. Also, since the thumb is more protected, hand position changed because protecting the thumb is no longer an issue. This made other, more powerful techniques useful.
    I don't think this "passing through the pillows" part is the main obstacle to landing a jab, then or now.

    The footwork changed a lot, but less likely because of the gloves but more evasiveness was found to be a great deal. I think all boxers agree that moving in and out of punching distance is vital. It probably wasn't when a fight would last 75 rounds (I **** you not, that's what many sources claim to be the round count for the last legal bare-knuckle fight).
    It was influenced by the rules of its day- I'd say standup grappling probably affected the stance more than the gloves part- getting hit is no fun even if you're both wearing gloves. Its kinda strange to me that they'd use such a sideways long stance when grappling is allowed, because that's not a good stance to grapple from.

    All this brings me to the next question: While a boxer definitely is a fearsome foe in a streetfight, would a pugilist of equal skill have the edge? Or is the training of a modern boxer so superior to bare-knuckle training that it would give the boxer the edge?
    In the modern day, I'd bet on the modern boxer cause there's a good chance the pugilist is a guy who doesn't spar often and likes reading books about pugilism, while the boxer trains to be hit every session. If its a mythical fight across time, I'd give the edge to the modern boxer due to many advances in training, nutrition, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron_Ocata View Post
    Also, in times before mouthpieces and where a dentist would rip out teeth at best, a pugilist would try to protect his face by leaning back. This would slow the reactions of a modern boxer and make him vulnerable to body shots.
    Leaning back is often considered amateurish in modern boxing, since slipping offers better followup options and leaning away from every punch makes you very vulnerable to a followup. I don't think leaning back would throw off a modern boxer much.

  4. #4
    DdlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    4,938
    Style
    Bartitsu
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Permalost View Post
    Its kinda strange to me that they'd use such a sideways long stance when grappling is allowed, because that's not a good stance to grapple from.
    The stereotypical long pugilism guard stance (and there was considerable variation between individuals, based on physique, tactical preferences, etc.) was only intended to be used at long range, reflecting the opening tactic of standing off and throwing bombs. The left lead (a long, lunging version of the jab) was the standard opening volley. They shortened stances for infighting and the standing grappling stance was essentially identical to any other standing grapple style.

    It may also be worth bearing in mind that the long, fencing based stance - with the slight backward lean and the extended milling guard - was not intended to counter leg pick-ups, which were not part of the London Prize Ring style.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    2,623
    Style
    Trad Ju Jitsu
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    BKB v Boxer.

    Just look up Joe Savage against a pro. He got flattened in R1 and had allegedly never been beaten. The top pros are at the top for a reason. BKB can't compete with a trained quality boxer.

  6. #6
    DdlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    4,938
    Style
    Bartitsu
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I think the OP was asking about a hypothetical streetfight between two evenly-matched fighters from the style POV, one trained in the historical pugilism style (from the 1800s as opposed to modern BKB) and one trained in the modern style.

  7. #7
    jspeedy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,717
    Style
    FMA
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I've wondered the same. With the advent of sponsored modern competitors it seems nearly all top athletes of today would blow away the competition from days past in any sport. I think combat sports are one of the areas where there is more room for debate. Would a modern sport fencer be able to hang with or beat a fencer of days past? How about kendo?

    As for the change in boxing Daniel Mendoza (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Mendoza)may be credited with the rise of the more modern evasive style of boxing. It's not uncommon within the Filipino Martial Arts community for FMA stylists to think the Filipino arts made modern boxing what it is. If it's true there's certainly no documentation to back up the claim. The change in approach in boxing seems to largely be a function of a refinement and change in the ruleset.

  8. #8
    DdlR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    4,938
    Style
    Bartitsu
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by jspeedy View Post

    As for the change in boxing Daniel Mendoza (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Mendoza)may be credited with the rise of the more modern evasive style of boxing. It's not uncommon within the Filipino Martial Arts community for FMA stylists to think the Filipino arts made modern boxing what it is. If it's true there's certainly no documentation to back up the claim. The change in approach in boxing seems to largely be a function of a refinement and change in the ruleset.
    I remember an article in an '80s vintage Black Belt or Inside Kung Fu magazine that made the same suggestion re. FMA influence. There was another article that made a semi-plausible case for old-school BKB having influenced Wing Chun. Interesting hypotheses, but yeah, probably unprovable either way.

  9. #9
    Fuzzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,202
    Style
    HEMA/FMA(Hiatus)
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I've also heard the "evasion comes from FMA" story a number of times.

    Tangenitally, here's the first in a series of videos from last year's Noble Science camp. I understand this guy teaches a fair bit of Mendoza's material:


  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,689
    Style
    kenpo, Wrestling
    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Op,
    I think the edge goes to the modern stylist even if other factors between them could be accounted for. I think the edge comes from safer training. I once had a kickboxing instructor opine on gloves and proper taping just for bag work. He believed your hands would start to fail before you had completed enough bag work to be proficient. I dont know if this is true but safer training methods do seem to increase the intensity of training and sparring. This is a massive edge.

Page 1 of 4 1234 Last

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Log in

Log in