Nudity in combat

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Dying Gaul, anonymous Roman sculpture

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.

The artistic convention of heroic nudity, however, was established in the art of ancient Greece by the Archaic period.

History[edit]

Celtic peoples[edit]

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.[1] 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."[2] 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.[3]

Julius Caesar records in his account of the Gallic War that the Gauls went into battle naked save for their weapons.

Sometimes the soldiers wore no clothing but were covered in war paint, a custom that allegedly gave the Picts their name.

Africa[edit]

The "Amazon" bodyguards of Dahomey in West Africa are sometimes described as being similarly unclad.[citation needed]

Modern occurrences[edit]

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 the 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.

In the Vietnam War, Vietcong sappers used to slip through the barbed wire naked or almost naked.[4]

In modern Liberia, soldiers under "General Butt Naked" Joshua Blahyi fought naked in order to terrorize their opponents.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ancient Spain, the Art, Culture and History of Ancient Iberia". AncientWeb.org. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  2. ^ Stephen Allen (Author), Wayne Reynolds (Illustrator), Celtic Warrior: 300 BC - AD 100 (Osprey: 25 April 2001), ISBN 1-84176-143-5
  3. ^ "Ancient Ireland, The Art, Culture and History of Ancient Hibernia". AncientWeb.org. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  4. ^ "Looking for a hero". Books.google.com.ar. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  5. ^ "How to Fight, How to Kill: Child Soldiers in Liberia: Roles and Responsibilities of Child Soldiers". Hrw.org. Retrieved 2012-08-01.