A Bout with Gloves.

Journal of Manly Arts
June 2003

by Professor A. Austin

Originally published in Outing magazine, February, 1891, No. 17, p. 447-452.

Which foot shall be advanced? Well, nearly all right-handed men advance their left foot when in the act of throwing a ball or missile of any sort and spring from the right foot to gain impetus.

The smith holds his work in his left hand, and with his left foot nearer to the anvil hammers away with his right hand.

A man's natural impulse is to seize an enemy with his left hand and punch away at him with his right. (See Figure 1.) This is easy enough to do if you can catch and keep hold of him and he does not know the simple stop for it. Common sense should teach the merest tyro that the stop for this is to extend the left hand in the direction of the assailant's right shoulder, run it down the biceps and hold tight to prevent his blows (Fig. 2); then, having your own right hand at liberty, you can punch away at him to your heart's content until he elects to leave go of you. (Fig. 3.) But assuming the attacked one anticipated the attack he would apply his powers of resistance while the aggressor was trying to get hold of him.

This would be done most naturally by striking out with your left at his face (see Fig. 4), or in any other manner under the heading of active resistance called countering. If not sufficiently prepared for this system of defense you might divert the course of the hand trying to seize you or strike you (see Fig. 5), or make any other movement under the heading of passive resistance, returning the compliment, if so disposed, with the disengaged hand.

Lastly, you might step back with the right foot, bringing the hands into position, thus (Fig. 6) being perfectly prepared for his next effort.

In boxing the two men assume this position in commencing and recommencing the bout, it being understood that neither desires to take any unfair advantage of the other, and the assumption of this attitude implies readiness to begin.

The earliest conception of boxing-that it consisted of a system of tricks-is not dead yet in some quarters. I find that nearly every pupil who comes to me for first lessons is so impressed. The notion dies hard. A few months since the boxing master of one of the leading athletic clubs received a letter from the secretary of a country club asking

him if he knew of a teacher who knew a hundred points whom he could recommend; "for," said the writer, "we have one who teaches sixty points, but should prefer one with more extended knowledge."

I have studied boxing literally since I learned to read practically since 1858-in the boxing saloons of Harry Orme, Nat Langham, Billy Shaw, Alf Walker, "The Spider," Jem Mace, Ben Caunts, George Brown, H. Brunton, Jem Ward, Jack Hicks, Bill Richardson, in London, and have boxed in New York at John Wood's, and Hill's, and Geoghegan's and all the athletic clubs, but have never yet learned a trick worth knowing.

The various books, pamphlets and articles by one of Humphreys' and Mendoza's pupils, Ned Donnelly, Ned Price, Billy Edwards,

Mr. Mitchell (in the "Badminton Library") and Jem Mace contain each writer's views upon the subject of the art and instruction in the system they advocate (when they have one), but no inside track whereby one man without the necessary ability can inflict punishment upon his adversary without the risk of getting as good as he intended to give. The only way that my study and practice of the art have taught me to punish my adversary, without getting punished myself, is by having the judgment to make and seize an opening, the promptitude and dexterity to make the most of it, and the force behind the blow to make it effective.

page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5 | page 6

June 2003