Martial Styles – Unarmed
Period of use: The 15th to 19th centuries.
Main way of using: Two handed. The system combines strikes with the hands and feet as well as locks, holds and throws.
Used by: Wrestling was used as part of the battlefield fighting arts of knights and men-at-arms as well as being practised for the entertainment of regular citizens. The pugilistic components were mainly seen action in the prize ring and at local fairs.
Popularised by: Sherlock Holmes.
This system is in development and is practiced on Monday evenings.
All of the fencing styles taught by the SSA are based upon fundamental principles that we call ‘governors’. They are timing, measure, judgement and placement.
The SSA unarmed system is an attempt to integrate those same fundamental principles into an amalgam martial art, with the active parts being medieval wrestling and pugilism.
Medieval wresting or grappling was also known as abrazzare or ringen and examples and references to it can be found in treatises from the 15th century onward. Whilst there are some similarities with modern wrestling this was very much a battlefield martial art full of ruthless manoeuvres including locks, holds, pins and throws.
To balance the closeness of wrestling we use pugilism to allow us to maintain our measure. This form of striking is done from an extended guard and is designed to be done using bare fists. Punches are fast and directed at weak points on the opponents to minimise any potential damage to our hands. In addition there are kicks that help form the system, giving us range and power.
The aim of the system is to maintain balance at all times and be able to transition from grappling to strikes as required whilst using the four governors.
Cameron Paine, Instructor in Highland Broadsword and SSA Secretary
Cameron has been a member of the SSA (formally the Sussex Rapier School) since 2004 and during his time there he has studied rapier, broadsword and longsword, becoming an assistant instructor in broadsword in 2013 and a full instructor in 2021. Whilst he has tried other self defence systems, it is in fencing that he found both understanding of martial arts and also a way to pursue them. Cameron has taught unarmed and broadsword techniques in Malta and assisted in teaching broadsword classes in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany and Malta.