Pugilism, or bare knuckle boxing, was the main form of boxing until the publication of the Marquess of Queensbury rules in 1867. Prior to these rules, boxers fought without gloves, and were allowed to grapple and wrestle in the ring. Boxers were not allowed to kick opponents, or to strike them when they were down, but even so, the sport was governed by far fewer rules than today.
The art of pugilism was sometimes compared to sword-fighting, being viewed as fencing with fists. Many of the same principles can be seen in both pugilism and in fencing disciplines such as the broadswords, for example the importance of punching in a straight line, rather than using large swinging punches.
Compared to modern boxing, greater care must be taken to avoid damaging your own hands when you strike, due to the lack of gloves. At our pugilism classes in Glasgow, we emphasise the importance of correct striking mechanics, so that you can strike with force without injuring yourself.
We also teach students how to land safely when you are thrown, and how to safely carry out the various throws that were important in pugilism.
As well as providing good exercise, and being interesting from a historical perspective, the emphasis of pugilism on striking safely with bare hands and with integrating strikes and grappling techniques makes pugilism an well-rounded self defence system.
Feel free to come along to one of our regular weekly classes and have a go, or even sit and watch a session to see if it would be of interest to you. Send us an email if you would like to ask us any questions beforehand, or just swing by and speak to the instructor on the night.