View Full Version : Unarmed Combat In Renaissance Martial Arts

Friday, September 5th, 2008, 05:48 PM
Since the time of the Ancient Greek Pankration to Roman pugilism it has always been understood that there is a direct link between armed and unarmed fighting concepts and techniques. There is no doubt that Western fighting methods contained considerable understanding of sophisticated and highly effective grappling, disarms, take-downs, ground-fighting, and submission holds. Although this area has been absent from much of Western fencing for the last 150 years or more, and is notoriously neglected by many pursuing historical fencing today, Medieval & Renaissance Masters of Defence did incorporate these concepts into the curricula of fighting styles.

Though ARMA’s efforts remain focused on armed historical combat, we are also aware of the close and important historical relationship between the armed and unarmed as taught in period Schooles of Defence. ARMA already incorporates many seizures, disarms, and some takes-downs as well as kicks and hand-blows into its Medieval & Renaissance weapons study (including limited use in free-sparring). However, ARMA is now beginning a more concerted and systematic effort to study these methods in coordination with experts on ground-fighting, submission-fighting, wrestling, and grappling. We are excited about the possibilities for cross-training. Many in the Asian martial arts community are also very excited to have been presented with some of the vast wealth of material now being uncovered.

While unarmed skills must take a back-seat to weapon proficiencies in ARMA, we believe a significant shift in the martial arts community is now beginning to unfold. As serious research into the reconstruction and replication of these sophisticated fighting methods develops, it will not be impossible to foresee in perhaps ten years or so, a fully complete and highly effective style of authentically Medieval & Renaissance unarmed Western martial art fully re-emerge as a legitimate unarmed fighting style for modern self-defense.

Below is but a small sampling of sophisticated unarmed techniques from several surviving manuals. This represents only the tip of a very large ice-berg.

From the 15th century Codex Wallerstein

From Filippo Vadi 1480's

Fabian von Auerswald 1500s

Nicolaes Petter 1674

Source (http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/unarmedcombat.htm)