Unarmed Combat Usage and History
Combat without weapons is a vital part of almost any martial arts system and this was no different in Medieval and Renaissance Europe.
Unarmed fighting is something that almost every person in the middle ages would have some experience with, but mostly warriors and knights had the training and practiced to perfect the techniques.
Unarmed combat was an integral part of the training for any swordsman, and continued to be important with rapier combat during the Renaissance.
While Sword Academy stresses armed combat in line with historical sources, we also study period accurate unarmed combat (again much like the historical sources). While it is not usually associated with European fighting styles by general public, there is extensive documentation in many of the historical sources we study.
Being trained in combat without weapons is of great value because once you have closed inside the range of your weapon, or if a weapon is unavailable, it is still necessary to be able to attack and defend. These skills also allow a combatant to see openings that would otherwise be missed. Knowing when to throw a punch, kick a leg or step in and throw an opponent to the ground is valuable, even when fighting armed. Because of the nature of medieval combat, most of the unarmed techniques are designed to cause debilitating injuries and differ from modern wrestling.
Unarmed combat was also conducted while wearing full plate armor. Wrestling in armor can often cause more damage to an opponent than most weapons because of the protection armor provides. Joints can be manipulated and twisted and the protruding edges of armor plates can be hooked and locked to perform devastating throws.
In our curriculum Sword Academy studies both medieval and renaissance techniques of unarmed combat inspired by German, Italian, English and other sources.