Bareknuckles on the Line (diary entry)




This morning’s lesson brought western boxing back to the self-defence line. The entire lesson was conducted barehanded, which allows the student to appreciate advantages and disadvantages of not wearing boxing gloves. In addition to applying principles taken from pre-20th century pugilism – gloved western boxing’s immediate predecessor – we looked at how the mechanics and strategies can be adapted for non-sporting interpersonal violence.


The lesson began with a quick revision of the fence. The client confirmed retention of the basic concept for protecting one’s personal space, not intruding on another’s and how to execute a pre-emptive attack. We looked at how to use the principle of throwing a jab to improve the lead hand of the fence. This enables the barrier being placed between a potential attacker and you to become a weapon immediately. The hand can be used to adjust a potential attacker’s attitude if they come to close without actively engaging in a fight. It can also be used to fire off attacks to the eyes, throat and solar plexus as well as an actual jab punch.

Defence from guard to standing7

We then covered the cross and the hook, also adding on stripping off an initial fence-grab. Using John Anderson’s famous lead hook set-up, we focused on create torque and turning slightly away from an enemy at close range. Anderson’s hook is legendary and very effectively delivered with a deceptive set up.


The uppercut completed the last of the single punches. Matty Evans always taught it to me using the thumb up position, delivered as if one were using a broken bottle or similar. The punch uses the exact same body mechanics as a normal uppercut.


We finished with a look at recovery. This brought us back onto the cover, which I always think of as an MMA or self-defence variation of the peek-a-boo concept. We also added on incidental combinations, bringing the jab and cross together as well as looping punches like the overhand.

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