Nudity in combat
Nudity in combat is the practice of entering combat without the use of clothing and armor. It is rarely practiced, however; apart from the social aspects of nudity, the combatant lacks even the basic protection of clothes, for instance when diving for cover or crawling. Also the combatant misses the practicality of hiding/carrying objects in pockets and attached to clothes.
Polybius' Histories describe how the Celts visually intimidated the Roman enemy before they engaged in the fight: naked, furiously shaking their long hair, shrieking brutally, bragging and defiant, showing an outrageous contempt for their own life. Diodorus Siculus reported other instances of such combat: "Some use iron breast-plates in battle, while others fight naked, trusting only in the protection which nature gives."Another possible reason for this was to avoid infection of wounds caused by contact with contaminated clothing and debris. Roman historians recorded that the Gaesatae fought naked in the battles in the Po Valley in Italy in the Cisalpine War.
Sometimes the soldiers wore no clothing but were covered in war paint, a custom that allegedly gave the Picts their name.
In some present martial arts which are designed to be fit for military fighting, full or partial nudity still occurs. The traditional donga style of stick fighting practiced by the young warriors, now bearing firearms, of the Omo Valley Suri tribe of South Sudan and western Ethiopia, is often practiced entirely naked: serious injury is not uncommon, and it is occasionally fatal. Another example is the stick fighting style of the neighbouring Nyangatom, which fight bare-chested; the goal is to mark the adversary with visible stripes on the back.
- Stephen Allen (2001). Celtic Warrior: 300 BC-AD 100. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-143-5.
- Peter Maslowski; Don Winslow (2004). Looking for a Hero: Staff Sergeant Joe Ronnie Hooper and the Vietnam War. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-3244-6.
- Tony Tate (2004). Liberia, how to Fight, how to Kill: Child Soldiers in Liberia. Human Rights Watch. GGKEY:BSU0ZLGQ89F.