Mendoza's Treatise on Boxing -A Few Extracts-
The following extracts are taken from a chap-book published c.1800 that includes Mendoza‘s advice and lessons in the science of pugilism. I have been unable to find the original book by Mendoza, but material seems to have been freely borrowed from it for both this and other anonymous publications.
Please note that comments in square brackets, [thus], are my additions.
The entire text can now be downloaded as a 65MB PDF, here. In addition, Kirk Lawson has made a reprint of a different edition available as a free download or reasonably priced hard copy, which can be obtained here.
MENDOZA'S TREATISE, WITH HIS SIX LESSONS
In the preceding pages is given a system of Boxing as generally practised by the most celebrated pugilists of the present day; we shall now add Mendoza's treatise on the subject, which, as the reader will observe, is comprised in a very short compass, and differs not very materially in general principles from the foregoing. The six lessons that form an essential part of his treatise are however well worth the notice of the reader, and an attention to them must be a very material help in acquiring a knowledge of the science.
The first principle to be established in Boxing (says he) is to be perfectly a master of the equilibrium of the body, so as to be able to change from a right to a left handed position; to advance or retreat striking or parrying; and throw the body either forward or backward without difficulty or embarrassment.
The second principle to be established is, the position of the body, which should be an inclining posture, or diagonal line, so as to place the pit of the stomach out of your adversary's reach. The upper part of your arm must stop or parry the round blow at the head; the fore-arm, the blows at the face of stomach; and the elbows, those at the ribs: both knees must be bent, the left leg advanced, and the arms directly before your throat or chin.
It must be an invariable rule to stop of parry your adversary's right with your left, and his left with your right; and both in striking and parrying, always to keep your stomach guarded, by barring it with your right of left fore-arm.
It is always better to avoid a blow by throwing the head and body back, at the same time covering the pit of the stomach, than to attempt to parry it.
Both hands must never be up or down at the same time. If your adversary strikes either at your face, stomach or side, with his left hand, parry or stop with your right, covering the stomach with your left; if he strikes with his right, let your left oppose it, covering your stomach with your right.
It is proper to exercise the scholar in changing both arms and legs from alternate positions of right handed to left handed, and to make him master of the equilibrium of the body, advancing and retreating.
[There are six lessons, taking up a total of 4 pages of text. The links to these are provided below.]
[The lessons in HTML format below, thanks to Rob Lovett]
Master strikes with his left arm at your face.
Parry with your right fore-arm, barring at the same time your stomach with your left fore-arm, throwing your head and body back.
Master strikes with his right at your face.
Parry with you left fore-arm, barring at the same time your stomach with your right fore-arm, throwing your head and body back.
Master strikes round at your right ear with his left.
Parry with your right arm, turning up the elbow so as to cover the side of the head, barring the stomach with the left fore-arm, and throwing head and body back.
Master strikes round at your left ear with his left.
Parry with your left arm, turning up the elbow so as to cover the side of the head, barring the stomach with the right fore-arm, and throwing head and body back.
Master strikes at your stomach with his left.
Bar your stomach with your right fore-arm, keeping your left opposite his nose, throwing your head and body back.
He strikes at your stomach with his right.
Bar your stomach with your left fore-arm, keeping the right opposite his nose, throwing head and body back.
His left strikes at your right side.
Stop with your right elbow, keeping your left fist opposite his nose, throwing head and body back.
His right strikes at your left side.
Stop with your left elbow, keeping your right fist opposite his nose, throwing head and body back.
Master makes the feint 1, 2, at your face, striking first with his left at your face (which is the feint) in order to hit you in your face with his right.
Parry first with your right fore-arm, and secondly with your left fore-arm, covering the stomach with the right fore-arm, and throwing head and body back.
Master feints in the same manner, beginning with his right.
Parry first with your left arm, and secondly with your right fore-arm, covering the stomach with the left fore-arm, and throwing head and body back.
His left feints at your stomach, to hit your face with his right.
Bar your stomach with your right fore-arm, and parry the blow at your face with your left fore-arm, throwing head and body back.
His right does the same.
Bar your stomach with your left fore-arm, and parry the blow at your face with your right fore-arm, throwing head and body back.
His left feints at your right side, to hit your face with his right.
Stop with your right elbow, and parry his blow at your face with the left fore-arm, throwing head and body back.
His right does the same.
Stop with your left elbow, and parry his blow at your face with the right fore-arm, throwing head and body back.
N.B. Observe, that the three foregoing feints are at the face, i.e. 1, 2 at the face - secondly, 1 at the stomach, 2 at the face; and next 1 at the side, 2 at the face.
The feints at the stomach and side are not 3 as those at the face, but only two - for example;
Master strikes 1 at the face, 2 at the stomach, with alternate arms.
Parry the first with the proper fore-arm, and the second with the proper bar; that is, if he strikes with his left at your face, and the right at your stomach, parry his left with your right fore-arm, and his right with your left across your stomach; if he strikes first with his right at your face, and his left at your stomach, parry his right with your left fore-arm, and his left with your right across your stomach.
Master strikes 1 at the side and 2 at the stomach.
Parry with the proper arms, first by catching the blow on the proper elbow, and secondly, parrying the blow at the stomach with the proper fore-arm; that is, if he strikes with his left first, catch it with your right elbow, and bar his right with your left across his stomach, and vice versa of his right.
He strikes at the face 1, and 2 at the side.
Parry each with the proper forearm and elbow.
He strikes at the stomach 1, and 2 at the side.
Bar the first with the proper fore-arm, and catch the other with the proper elbow.
This 2d Lesson consists of 1, 2, at the face, stomach, and side.
1 at the face, 9 at the face
1 at the stomach, 2 at the face
1 at the side, 2 at the face 1, 2 at the face
1 at the face, 2 at the stomach
1 at the side, 2 at the stomach 1, 2 at the stomach
1 at the face, 2 at the side
1 at the stomach, 2 at the side 1, 2 at the side
1, 2, 3
Master strikes with his left at your face 1; with his right ditto 2; with his left at your stomach 3, the blow intended.
Parry the 1st with your right fore-arm - 2d with your left fore-arm - the 3d with the right fore-arm barring your stomach, throwing head and body backward.
Master strikes with his right at your face 1; with his left, do 2; with his right at your stomach 3.
Parry the 1st with your left fore-arm - the 2d with your right fore-arm - the 3d with your left arm, barring your stomach, throwing head and body backward.
N.B. - The above is 1, 2, 3 at the stomach.
1, 2, 3 AT THE FACE.
Master strikes at your head 1 with his left; do. 2 with his right, at your face; and 3 with his left, the intended blow.
Parry the 1st with your right - the second with your left - 3d with your right, your fore-arm covering ultimately your stomach, throwing head and body back.
Master strikes at your head 1 with his right; do 2 his left at your face; and 3 with his right, the intended blow.
Parry the 1st with your left; 2d with your right; 3d with your left, your fore-arm covering ultimately your stomach, and throwing head and body back.
N.B. - The above is 1, 2, 3 at the face.
1, 2, 3 AT THE SIDE
Master strikes with his left hand at your head 1; his right do 2; and his left at your side 3, the intended blow.
Parry the 1st with your right fore-arm; 2d left forearm; 3d right elbow.
Master strikes with his right at your head 1; left ditto 2; right at your side, the intended blow.
Parry the 1st with your left fore-arm; 2d right fore-arm; 3d left elbow.
Master's left strikes at your face.
Parry with your right fore-arm; and return at his face with your left, which he catches in his open hand.
His right strikes at your face.
Parry with your left fore-arm, and return at his face with your right ditto.
Master's left strikes at your stomach.
Stop by barring with your right fore-arm, and return at his face with your left, which he catches.
His right strikes at your stomach.
Stop by barring with your left fore-arm, and return at his face with your right.
Master's left strikes at your right side.
Stop by catching the blow on your right elbow, and return at his face with your left.
His right strikes at your left side.
Stop by catching the blow on your left elbow, and return at his face with your right.
Master's left chops at your face.
Parry with your right fore-arm, and return at his face with your left.
His right does the same.
Parry with your left fore-arm, and return at his face with your right.
Master's left strikes at your stomach.
Parry it down with your right, and return a back handed blow with the same hand, covering your stomach with your left arm.
Master's right strikes at your stomach.
Parry it down with your left, and return a back handed blow with the same hand, covering the stomach with the right arm
Master's left strikes again at your stomach.
Parry it down with your right, and return a straight blow at his face with the same hand.
His right does the same.
Parry it down with your left, and return a straight blow at his face with the same hand.
1, 2, AT THE FACE
The Scholar strikes 1, 2, beginning with the left. Master parries with his left, and riposts with his left at your face.
Parry this ripost by catching the wrist with your left fist, and striking a back-handed blow across his face with your left hand
Do. the same with your right hand, i.e. beginning 1, 2, with your right.
This he will parry with his right, and ripost with the same, when you catch it with your right fist, and return with a back-handed blow across his face.
1, 2, 3 at the face, beginning with his left. Master will parry with his right, and ripost at your stomach with his left.
Stop this with your right fore-arm, and return with your left at his face
1 at the face, and 2 at the stomach, beginning with your left.
This he will stop with his left, and ripost 1, 2, at your face, beginning with his left. Parry with your left, and return 1, 2 at his face.
1 at the face, 2 at the face, and 3 in the stomach, beginning with your left, keeping your right fist opposite his face.
This he will stop with his right, and ripost the same again, 1, 2, 3, at your stomach, which you must bar.
Do the same with the other hand, i.e. beginning with your right.
This he will stop with his left, and ripost the same again, 1, 2, 3, at your stomach, which you must bar.
The Scholar strikes with his left at the face, the Master parries with his right, and riposts with his left at the stomach.
Knock the blow down, and return strait at the face.
Do the same with the other hand.
Scholar strikes 1, 2, at the face, beginning with the left.
Master parries, and riposts the same.
Scholar strikes 1, 2, 3, at the face, beginning wit the left.
Master parries and ripostes the same.
Scholar strikes 1, 2, at the face and 3 at the stomach, beginning with the left.
Master parries and ripostes the same.
Scholar strikes 1, 2, at the face and 3 at the side, ditto ditto.
Master parries and ripostes the same.
The Scholar should always use himself to cover either the stomach by barring or the head by projecting the fist.
At this period the scholar should parry and stop, but not return all feints for some time, and when perfect herein, he may set-tom or spar loose.
RULES OF BOXING
After having thus explained the order of the lessons, and the proper method of practising them, I would impress upon the reader's mind the following precepts, which will be brought to bear in fighting, and found equally easy and necessary.
Parry the blows of your adversary's right hand with your left, and those of his left hand with your right.
This rule ought never to be disregarded, except when you see a safe opportunity of catching a blow of his right hand if aimed at the face on your right, and striking him in the loins with your left; or of stopping his left-arm stroke on your left, and directing your right fist to his kidneys.
If your adversary aims all round blows,
Which is generally the case with a man ignorant of Boxing, you should strike straight forward, as a direct line reached its target sooner than one which is circular.
If he gives way, or is staggered by a severe blow,
You should not be anxious to recover your guard and stand on the defensive, as this will only be giving him time to recollect himself, but take advantage of his momentary confusion and follow up the blow.*
[*N.B. This is NOT what you should do in a small-sword fight!]
Is practised by placing the right foot forward at the same distance from your left, as your left is from your right in the first attitude; you then throw your left foot forward so as to resume your original position, and thus keep gaining on your antagonist as he recedes.
Which is used when your adversary approaches too violently upon you, or when you feel yourself embarrassed and wish to recover your guard, is practised by placing your left leg about as far behind the right, as the right in the original position is removed behind the left, then throwing the right hindmost so as to regain your former attitude, and thus continue receding from your antagonist just as the circumstances of the battle shall render necessary.
If you are long-armed,
You will have an advantage over your antagonist, as your guard will keep him at a distance, and your blows, by reaching further, will be struck with more force.
Your superiority over your antagonist will consist in close fighting. You must endeavour to get within the compass of his arms, and aim straight blows, which will reach him before he can strike at you, and if he does strike at you, his fists will go over your shoulder.
If your adversary is ignorant of Boxing,
He will generally strike round blows, or plunge head-forward. If he strikes round blows in an awkward, slovenly manner, content yourself with aiming at his face and stomach, in a straight forward direction. If he strikes them quickly, stand chiefly on the defensive, stopping his blows, and throwing in the return whenever you find it convenient. And when you perceive him winded, hit as fast as possible, and follow up your blows. If he butts, or plunges at you head-long, you may either strike straight forwards and catch his face on your fist; or turn round on your left heel, and let him fly over your thigh; or jump on one side, and strike him with one hand as he advances, and the other as he passes by.
The foregoing rules conclude the treatise of Mr. Mendoza, on the subject.
A SHORT EXPLICATION OF THE TECHNICAL TERMS USED IN BOXING
ADVANCING. This is necessary when your opponent gives way. It is done by stepping a pace forward with the leg that is foremost, and then with your hindmost foot, so as never to loose your original position. If he continues to retreat methodically, follow him in that manner; but if he runs from you, it would be folly to advance according to method.
BAR. To bar a blow is to stop its effect, by placing your arm on the part which it is aimed at.
BOTTLE-HOLDER. An assistant to the second, so termed from his carrying a bottle of water on the stage, for the use of the person fighting.
BOTTOM. See GAME.
The CHOP or CHOPPER. A blow so called. See p.17 [or wait for description to be posted here].
CLOSING. See Chap. 4 [will be posted shortly].
CROSS-BUTTOCK. A fall so called. See p.23.
DISTANCING, is when you get out of the reach of your adversary's blow [i.e. breaking of measure].
DRIVING, is fighting with such power and resolution, as to oblige your adversary to constantly retreat before you.
DROPPING. Falling on your breech, your knee, or your back, to escape the coming blow of your adversary.
FEINT. To affect to strike at one part, and really to hit another.
GAME, or BOTTOM. Hardiness to endure, and resolution to stand against, the severity of an adversary's blows.
GOUGING. Screwing your knuckles into the eye of your adversary. A practice not very frequent, nor much commended amongst boxers. Mendoza once played Humphreys this trick during their battle at Odiham.
GRAPPLING. Closing in upon your opponent.
GUARD. The posture best calculated to prevent your adversary from striking you, more commonly applied to the first position. The guard of Humphreys and Mendoza is generally the same as represented in the frontispiece [top of page].
HIT. A blow or stroke that actually takes place.
MANOEUVRE. Any piece of skill in fighting, by which you accomplish your own intentions, and frustrate those of your adversary.
The MARK. The pit of the stomach. So called, from its being the object at which a stroke most likely to put an end to a battle can be aimed.
PRACTICE, in Boxing, as in every other science, is the great requisite to acquire a perfect knowledge of it. It should not be neglected while you have a friend to spar with, or a glass to stand before. A glass will, indeed, set you right with regard to the securest attitude, and you may strike and practice the lessons before it. The same use may be made of a candle, if you stand between its light and the wainscot, on which your shadow may be observed with much advantage. A companion to spar with, is, however, of still greater service than either, as he obliges you more closely to unite practice with theory. If you happen to be where there is neither candle nor glass, you may amuse yourself by striking forward with each arm successively. By repeating this you will find yourself able to strike much oftener and quicker in any certain, limited space of time, than you could at first. The same may be done with a pair of dumb bells in your hands, of a weight just adapted to your age and strength.
RETREATING. Receding one leg backwards with the hinder leg, and the same with the foremost leg, and repeating this as often as is necessary; by which means you still retain your original situation, at the same time that you are getting from your adversary.
SECOND. The person who backs another inn fighting, and sees that he is not dealt unfairly by.
SHIFTING. Running from your adversary whenever he attempts to hit you, or to come near you, or when you have struck him: this is practised with a view of tiring him out.
SPARRING. Boxing, when practised merely as an art, or an exercise, by two persons, without any intention of hurting each other.
TRAINING. See chap. 5.
WIND. Breath. By too violent exertion in fighting a person becomes winded, or out of breath. The wind may be much improved by frequent practice, and greatly recovered when lost in fighting, if the person fatigued acts judiciously. He should play with his hands to and fro, fight only on the defensive, and if struck, fall, and lay flat on the ground until his second picks him up; by thus easing himself, his powers of respiration will gradually return.
To be observed in all Battles on the Stage, as agreed by several Gentlemen at Broughton's Amphitheatre, Tottenham-Court-Road, August 16th, 1743.
1. THAT a square of a yard be chalked in the middle of the stage; and on every fresh set-to after a fall, or being parted from the rails, each second is to bring his man to the side of the square, and place him opposite the other, and till they are fairly set-to at the lines, it shall not be lawful for one to strike at the other.
2. That, in order to prevent any disputes, the time a man lies after a fall, if the second does not bring his man to the side of the square, within the space of half a minute, he shall be deemed a beaten man.
3. That in every main battle, no persons whatever shall be upon the stage, except the principles and their seconds; the same rules ought to be observed in bye battles, except that in the latter, Mr. Broughton is allowed to be on the stage to keep decorum, and to assist Gentlemen in getting to their places, provided always he does not interfere in the battle. And whoever pretends to infringe these rules to be turned immediately out of the house. Every body is to quit the stage as soon as the champions are stripped, before the set-to.
4. That no champion be deemed beaten, unless he fails coming up to the line in the limited time, or that his own second declares him beaten. No second is to be allowed to ask his man's adversary any questions, or to ask him to give out.
5. That in bye-battles, the winning man to have two-thirds of the money given, which shall publicly divided upon the stage, notwithstanding any private agreement to the contrary.
6. That to prevent disputes, in every main battle the principles shall, on coming to the stage, choose from among the gentlemen present two umpires, who shall absolutely decide all disputes that may arise about the battle; and if the two umpires cannot agree, the two umpires to choose a third, who is to determine it.
7. That no person is to hit his adversary when he is down, or seize him by the ham, the breeches, or any part below the waist: a man on his knees is to be reckoned down.
A CIRCUMSTANTIAL ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE BETWEEN HUMPHREYS AND MENDOZA, AT STILTON.
The following preliminaries were drawn up, and subscribed by the parties, in the presence of their friends, at a meeting held at the White Hart tavern, Abchurch Lane, on the 26th of November, 1788.
Mr. Mendoza proposes to fight Mr. Humphreys upon the turf, in a space of forty-eight feet square.
If either person falls without receiving a blow, he is to lose the battle, unless such a fall should be deemed by the Umpires accidental.
If the ring should be broke in upon, the man who leaves the field before the battle is decided by the Umpires, shall be deemed the loser.
Each party to deposit into the hands of a person, appointed by both, the sum of Twenty Pounds: the whole of which is to be given to the winner.
That no person be admitted to see the fight without paying.
The place of fighting to be inclosed in the strongest manner, at the joint expense of both parties.
That no person shall be admitted within the place of fighting but the Umpires and the Seconds.
That both the Seconds, immediately at the setting to of the parties, shall retire to one of the four corners of the enclosure till one of the combatants is down.
That the place shall be at the option of Mr. Humphreys, who agrees to give one month's notice where it is to be to Mr. Mendoza; the time, the first Wednesday in the month of May, 1789, between the hours of twelve and two; and that the money collected from the spectators to be equally divided.
To all these propositions Mr Humphreys acceded; and each party deposits Twenty Pounds in the hands of Mr. Hotchkins, who is hereby authorised to give the whole to either party, if the other refuses his performance to this agreement.
Accordingly, pursuant to the tenor of the preceding agreement, this battle took place on Wednesday the 6th of May, in the park of ----- Thornton, Esq. And amateur of the sport, at Stilton, in Huntingdonshire.
As there was a considerable space of time between the signing of the preliminaries, and the day on which the battle took place, very numerous bets were laid: the odds, however, from Humphreys being the successful man in a former contest (at Odiham) [another account says Oldham, although Odiham in Hampshire actually exists] were seven to five, five to four and three to two, in his favour.
A spacious amphitheatre was erected, for the purpose of viewing the battle, which consisted of seats round a space of 48 feet in circumference, raised one above another, and capable of holding between 2 and 3000 persons. The highest seat was removed at the distance of 18 feet from the ground, and every man could see the combat clearly and distinctly.
Between one and two o'clock Humphreys appeared on the turf, with Johnson as his second, Mr. Ford his bottle-holder and Mr. Coombs as his umpire. Mendoza soon after entered the field, attended by Captain Brown as second, Mr. Ford his bottle-holder and Sir Thomas Appryce as umpire. They stripped, and on setting too, the seconds retired to separate corners of the enclosure.
Humphreys aimed the first blow at the face of his antagonist. This Mendoza stopped, returned it with great quickness, and knocked him down: the second and third rounds terminated in exactly the same manner. After a contest of about 40 minutes, in which Mendoza had evidently the advantage, -generally catching his adversary's blows on his arms, and knocking him down, or throwing him- a cessation was put to the battle by circumstances which created much confusion.
In the 22nd round, Mendoza struck at Humphreys, on which the latter dropped. The preliminary articles specifying, that he who fell without a blow should lose the battle, a cry of "Foul! Foul!" took place, and Mendoza's friends declared he had won it; while those interested in the fate of Humphreys exclaimed that it was fair. The whole place was immediately a scene of confusion. Humphreys, as well as Johnson, and part of the spectators, insisted that the blow was stopped before he fell, the partisans of the other side were as vehement in avowing the contrary opinion. The matter, however, could not be decided, as Mendoza's umpire declared it foul, while that of his adversary declined giving any opinion on the subject. During the dispute, Capt. Brown told Johnson that he was "a liar and a blackguard:" this assertion was answered by the other's walking up to him with a stern and menacing look; and it was a matter of doubt whether a bye-battle would not have taken place between the two seconds.
Humphreys came several times to his antagonist, and called on him to fight out the battle, but this Mendoza's friends would not suffer, on which Humphreys threw in his hat, and challenged him to the contest. A number of the spectators exclaimed, that this went nothing towards solving the point in dispute; and the battle would perhaps have been a drawn one, had not Mendoza, either advised by his friends, or irritated by his adversary's coming so often across the ring, and taunting him with not continuing the fight, consented to resume the contest. On this they again set to, and the two first rounds were terminated by Mendoza knocking down his antagonist - they fought near half an hour, during which time Mendoza appeared still to have the advantage; and at last gained the battle, by a palpable violation, on the part of his antagonist, of the articles of agreement. After some blows had been exchanged in the last round, Humphreys retreated, and Mendoza advancing, aimed a blow at his opponent, who again dropped, and it was evident without receiving the blow, he was universally declared to have lost the battle.
With regard to real skill in this contest, it is universally allowed Mendoza had the superiority: even the best friends of Humphreys do not scruple openly to confess this. - Humphreys suffered his antagonist to gain ground upon him during the whole battle, and generally flinched, whenever he appeared ready to make a blow. Mendoza, on the contrary, stood up to him with great manliness, and followed him with a coolness and resolution that were doubtless of more service to him than the ardour and impetuosity of spirit which in general mark his conduct in fighting.
Several times, when Humphreys was in the action of setting to, Mendoza walked up to him, and, instead of standing upon his guard, with his arms closed he viewed his opponent with a look of contempt; and when Humphreys fell, or was knocked down, Mendoza likewise pointed to him, and, with an expressive countenance, seemed to signify to the spectators the same sentiments.
When Humphreys closed likewise, he said to Mendoza "Very well indeed! Very well!" on which Mendoza, when he threw him, repeated his words, and patted him with an air of mockery.
Humphreys was much beat about the face. One eye was closed up, and his forehead cut above the other: his lip was likewise cut, and he was observed several times to spit blood.
The only blows of much consequence which Mendoza received, was one on the cheek, and several in the back, at the time that they were in the act of closing. Humphreys, towards the conclusion of the battle, made several neat darts at the pit of his adversary's stomach, which Mendoza stopped incomparably well. They must, had they taken place, been inevitably decisive of the battle.
The partisans of Humphreys experienced a mortifying disappointment upon on the event of this contest. They had wagered their money very freely, and many of them did not scruple to declare that the battle was sold. The superior skill of Mendoza was however so apparent during the fight, that little doubt was entertained by those who were spectators, of the sincerity of Humphreys to do his best for his friends. He felt this imputation on his character as a man, and has since avows to the public the cause of his failure, in a letter published in the newspapers, which he ascribed to bodily infirmity, having been afflicted with a rheumatic complaint for some months previous to the meeting. In this letter he challenges Mendoza to another battle. Mendoza answered the letter, and expressed his willingness to meet him; but some difficulties started with respect to time: these, however, have been since removed, and they are expected shortly to have a third trial.