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Brass Knuckles History

CestusIn the United States they're known as "brass knuckles", also sometimes called "knucks" or "knuckle dusters" (more common in British English), and translated from German they are called "punch rings".  A less known form of artificial knuckles are known as "sap gloves".  Sap gloves are leather gloves filled with bars of lead or lead powder.  For years boxers have used them secretly, along with brass knuckles, to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents.

Brass knuckles are commonly believed to have evolved from the ancient Roman "caestus", a type of glove or hand guard made from leather and metal used during boxing matches in gladiatorial events. Unlike modern day boxing gloves which are used to muffle the fist of fighters and thus lessen bodily harm, the caestus was used to intensify the damage caused by a punch or blow.

A cestus is an ancient battle glove. In effect, it is the Classic world's equivalent to brass knuckles, sometimes used in pankration.  The first version of a cestus was a series of leather thongs that were tied over the hand. Greeks used them in their hand-to-hand competitions, where only knock out mattered.

In Roman Latin, cestus referred to leather that was wrapped or bound over anything, including items like belts. Romans modified the leather thongs by adding metal parts, including studs and iron plates. Some of them had fixed spikes over the knuckles.

More dangerous versions of the same weapon included the myrmex or "limb-piercer", and the originally Greek sphairai, thin leather thongs with cutting blades.

Cesti were usually used in gladiator bouts where otherwise unarmed combatants - usually slaves - fought to the death. This form of boxing became increasingly bloody until the cestus was officially banned in the 1st century BC. Hand-to-hand fighting was banned in 393 AD.

The most famous depiction of the cestus in sculpture is The Boxer of Quirinal, in Rome. The sitting figure is wearing cesti on his hands.

TekkoA similar weapon, the "tekko", is one of the traditional weapons of kobudo, a martial art from Okinawa, Japan.  They were used mostly by martial artists, and they are still used today and are usually fashioned out of wood, metal or whatever else may be handy.

Tekko was originally a type of horseshoe. It is said that farmers kept one always on hand, and it could be a very effective tool in fighting any enemy immediately. It was also handy to carry.  It went through various modifications as a self-defense tool to be used whenever a situation calls for an instant reaction until it acquired its present shape.

Historically, brass knuckles are weapons used in hand-to-hand combat.   Basically, brass knuckles are pieces of metal, usually steel despite their name, shaped to fit around the knuckles. Designed to deliver the force of punches through a smaller and harder contact area they result in greater tissue disruption and increased likelihood of fracturing the victim's bones on impact. Also, the wielder of such a weapon may punch harder than normal, exacerbating damage even further, due to reduced subconscious anxiety about harming their own hands when striking.

Brass Knuckle ManufacturersOften made in factories in Pakistan or China, brass knuckles typically are constructed out of aluminum or steel .  Chrome or brass paint, or whatever color is then applied. Truly brass brass knuckles are rare due to the weight and expense of brass, which can range up to $80 + for one pair! Some knuckles are also made of plastic which can serve the same purpose as the metal variety but are much lighter and less likely to be detected.  You can check and see that we sell a few of these.

All of our metal knuckles are made of steel.  Some of our competition sells only aluminum knuckles, so watch out.

Common varieties are spiked knuckles, "fat boys", "wedding rings", brass knuckles donned with a longhorn steer on the knuckles, brass knuckles with lions or skulls on the knuckles, etc..

Spiked knuckles are seen to be of the most vicious variety of brass knuckles as they not only can shatter bone into fragments but will shred tissue. The length of the spikes varies from as small as a quarter of an inch to up to 6 inches. Shorter spikes emphasize the impact of the brass knuckle while longer blades are used solely to inflict tissue damage.

Civil War Brass Knuckles

For more info on how to use brass knuckles, and about safety,
and also different creative uses, click Brass Knuckles Information...

 

 

 

 

 

 
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