Croydon Boxing System

The Croydon Boxing System is a hybrid boxing system developed between 1978 and 1988 in south London. Its purpose is to employ boxing for self-defence in the most efficient manner for local street survival.

It has to address multi-opponent fighting because street incidents commonly turn into mob fights locally. It is also necessary to be able to use the method for ring contests in order to build fighting ability. Therefore it has two important functions:

  • It must work for single and multiple attackers.
  • It must be usable in some form of contest in order to build fighting ability.

Main features

Its main feature is the use of a modern boxing envelope to leverage the bareknuckle fighting technique of 18th century English boxing, especially the specialist punches to the head used at that time, along with the strikes used when a punch is not optimal, and the integral wrestling and throws used at that time; plus the short range technique of Thai boxing, and assorted technique proven in fights.

The footwork and defence of modern boxing are better, and therefore we use them as the foundation.

The use of a modern boxing 'container' for a range of boxing and wrestling technique means the foundation is strong on footwork, movement and positioning; defence; and use of angles. Old English boxing has the best head punches for bareknuckle use, and these are significantly different from those of modern boxing because hundreds of years of bareknuckle boxing created an efficient method for this purpose.

Modern gloved boxing has not been around for long, in comparison. Also, it is a modification of old boxing, specifically for use with gloves on. It makes no sense at all to use it for anything else, and certainly not for bareknuckle usage:

  • That would be the opposite of its design purpose.
  • It is what glove boxing came from.
  • Old English boxing is the ultimate head punching system, no one has ever done it better.
  • It is nothing like modern glove boxing - the punches are completely different.

Street survival

The local conditions meant there was a strong need for an effective multi-opponent defensive method since duels (one-on-one attacks) were less common. The best way to manage a multi-opponent fight is with good movement and use of the environment, together with strong striking and good defensive wrestling.

There are many differences between the requirements of this type of combat and contests. Mobility and a 360 degree capability are the prime requisites; other issues include less or no use of ring-type attrition moves. Ground fighting is of no importance in modern urban multi-opponent fights as it is only applicable to duels; going to the ground is avoided, or followed by rapid stand-up moves, as being on the ground in the local environment could be fatal.

Unique features

The Croydon Boxing System can easily be identified by its use of traditional boxing punches and other moves within a modern boxing envelope, together with some technique from Thai boxing and other sources of fight-proven materials.

At the time of development and early use in the 1980s and 90s, no one else in the world was using our vertical fist straight punch / horizontal fist hook system (it is the opposite to 1950s boxing's fist positions), or the integration of boxing and throws that we had found was the most efficient way to survive in a mob fight.

Equally, our mob fight training method known as the Bundle was not seen anywhere else. In this, all pad up well: heavy gloves (16's), headguards, shin/instep pads, elbow pads, groin guard and gumshield, get in the ring, and fight all-onto-all. Good mobility together with efficient, strong use of boxing and throws, and no use of ringfighting attrition moves, proves to be the most effective strategy in such battles.


The closest we can get to a traditional boxing contest at present are Thai boxing and modern bareknuckle fights. Each has some pros and cons.

Thai boxing
The Thai boxing ruleset as seen in Thailand is virtually identical to the old boxing ruleset, except with gloves; of course the locals use their own preferred technique - but the rules are very similar. All punches, strikes, holding and hitting, stand-up wrestling, and throws are allowed. The locals are generally very small men averaging 120 pounds, who come from a kick-based fighting culture, and so the techniques preferred are very different from old English boxing - but the rules are similar.

Modern bareknuckle bouts
Today's bareknuckle matches are simply modern boxing with no gloves. This has no relevance to traditional boxing, which was a fighting system that included wrestling.

Therefore each of these rule types has some advantages for realistic contesting of fighting ability; but neither is perfect. The traditional boxing ruleset of early 18th century English boxing (and Burmese boxing, Lethwei, too) is the closest to actual fighting. Perhaps it may be possible to hold contests under these rules, since it looks as if people are more appreciative of real-world fighting skills of late.

There is a site page here on a possible approach to traditional boxing rules.