Second in order of combat skill importance for a soldier of the Crown is fighting without weaponry. Indeed, for contingency's sake, after mastering their individual weapon system the soldier must endeavour to make himself lethal even when bearing no arms.
In the coming chapters, the writers have condensed an expansive breadth of unarmed combat knowledge into the bare minimum of basics. With what is written here, the soldier will learn the fundamentals and entry-level skills to turn them into a well-rounded combatant in all arenas.
Written by Dame Alison Clement, Sir Valrik the Exalted, and Lieutenant Thaddeus Locke
It is important to note right off the bat that fighting without arms is unintelligent. Lethal weapons come with our trade, and squaring off to a man bearing arms when you have nought but your hands and feet will get you killed. Therefore, the number one priority for a soldier of the Crown, should they become disarmed or threatened with lethal force, is to arm themselves. Even if there are no weapons in your immediate vicinity, an implement such as a heavy rock, a metal bar, or even your helmet will serve you far better than just your body.
However, there comes times of desperation in a soldier's career where they will have no other option but to fight bare. Preparing for these moments is paramount, as the soldier unskilled without weapons is no different than your common civilian: easily bested.
With that to note, this chapter will cover the fundamentals of: stance and movement, how a soldier should think and feel, and the control of distance. The chapters following will delve into the meat and bones of techniques and their applications.
Stance & Movement Edit
Paramount to unarmed combat is the proper stance. From your stance comes stability, power, and ultimately your efficacy as an unarmed combatant. By the same metric, footwork bears the same importance, as a fighter should never present themselves as a stationary target for long. Before you learn to throw any strikes or shoot for any takedowns, you must endeavour to acquaint yourself with your stance and moving thereof.
In order to cover stance fundamentals, some key words must be introduced:
- Orthodox: Right handed stance.
- Southpaw: Left handed stance.
- Lead hand: The hand closest to your opponent (left hand in Orthodox fighters, right hand in Southpaw fighters). Also known as the jab hand.
- Power hand: The hand furthest away from your opponent (right hand in Orthodox fighters, left hand in Southpaw fighters). Also known as the rear hand.
- Lead foot: The foot closest to your opponent (left foot in Orthodox fighters, right foot in Southpaw fighters).
- Rear foot: The foot furthest away from your opponent (right foot in Orthodox fighters, left foot in Southpaw fighters)
- Center line: An imaginary line bisecting your stance down the middle.
The stances you will see in the unarmed combat world are variable. Some prefer to stand with their feet spread wide, some prefer to have their hands resting low by their sides. Many of these differences boil down to the preferences of experienced fighters and should thus be disregarded as they are far beyond the scope of entry level combatants. The basic stance should be presented as follows.
Starting from the ground up, your feet should be slightly more than a shoulder's width apart with your lead foot advanced and angled from 12-1 o'clock, while your rear foot should be angled from 2-3 o'clock. You must endeavour to maintain heel-toe alignment at all times; that is, the toes of your lead foot and heel of the rear foot should at most straddle either side of the center line. Take care not to cross this line, as you will severely limit your abilities of balance. When done properly, this foot arrangement will provide you with stability and the option to move in all planes.
The basic fighting stance is one that is bladed, meaning that you do not face your opponent with shoulders and hips squared towards them but instead angled off towards your power side, i.e. a right-hander's body will face. This is done for the dual purposes of presenting less of your vulnerable parts to the enemy, and facilitating the production of power in your power side by coiling the kinetic chain of that side. The degree of blading should be what feels comfortable to one's body; the taller you are, the more bladed you may wish to be. From there, you will sit into your stance by bending slightly at the knees and hips. This will lower your centre of gravity to grant more balance, and put a spring into your legs to power your movements.
Finally, the placement of the hands and arms is of great importance as well. The lead hand should settle 6-10 inches from where the chin meets the jaw on it corresponding side. The power hand should rest 2-3 inches from its corresponding cheek. The elbows of either arm should remain close to the body; flaring them is detrimental to your ability to block blows to the body. With proper hand and arm placement, you guard the vulnerable areas of your chin and temples, and leave yourself with only small movements to make to block strikes both to the face and body.
There is an old anecdote that states "boxing is not about moving the hands, it is about moving the feet." While this manual delves far beyond the scope of just boxing, the same rule applies to all disciplines. Mastery of footwork is one of, if not the, most vital areas of making a successful combatant, and this passage will introduce you to how it must be done.
It was mentioned earlier that the proper stance affords the fighter with movement in all planes. While this is true, it must be done in a very specific manner so as to maintain the structural integrity of your stance. This will be explained from the perspective of an Orthodox fighter; Southpaws should apply the same principals but reverse the right and left directions.
- To move forward or left, step in that direction with your lead foot and then follow with the rear foot.
- To move backwards or right, step with your rear foot and then follow with your lead foot.
Some have referred to this as "crabbing," and while it may look and feel odd at first it is imperative to proper footwork. Take care not to cross your feet as that will only lead to moments where you are unbalanced and easily exploitable by the enemy.
When in an unarmed engagement you must look to create angles for your self with footwork. Move into positions to allow for the striking at open targets on the opponent, such as shifting your lead foot outside of your opponent's lead foot to line up a straight line to their face with your power hand. These spaces and their corresponding targets are best shown in hands-on training rather than written, and should thus be taught by your instructor.
The dynamics of a fight will not always see you on the offensive. Sometimes you will be forced to move backwards as well--indeed, some fighters prefer fighting on the back foot--and this should be no cause for alarm. One thing you must remember when moving backwards is that you can afford only one step backwards before you must move laterally to either side. Moving straight backwards along the center line will leave you easily pursued and struck by your opponent. Additionally, moving laterally away from your opponent's power side is always a good idea.
Tying in to the prior point is the movement of your head. It should go without saying that the head should be in motion more often than not so as to not present a stationary target. Do not park your head on the center line; move it slightly and unpredictably, and adjust your hands to keep their place wherever it goes. There are also safe pockets of space to slip your head to when your opponent is striking, but these will be addressed in chapters on technique.
Distance Control Edit
The Striking Approach Edit
The Grappling Approach Edit
How to Think & Feel Edit
When in an unarmed engagement you must immediately come to terms with the brutality of your situation. It may feel somewhat sickening to deal damage with your body yet we do what it necessary in service to the Crown.
It is important to note that in life or death situations there are no rules. Combat sports will limit fighters with do's and don'ts, but on the battlefield these must go out of the window. Exploit your opponent's every weakness; if you can seize victory by pulling their hair, gouging their eyes, or striking their groin, then you must do them.
You must know and come to terms with your physical and technical advantages and pitfalls and work within and around them. Find the areas where you are strong and rely on them; if you are a good puncher then focus on setting yourself up for punches; if you are a good wrestler then close the distance and grapple with your opponent.
Finally, you must master the dichotomy of aggression and serenity. Fear not the fight but embrace and relish it. Hone your abilities and predatory instincts and find confidence thereof. We are soldiers; war is our trade and blood is our currency.