Throughout all historical battles in this wiki, we have focused too much on weapons such as swords, armor or firearms. But let's take a break from these warriors and take a look at those who didn't need to use a single blade or a gun magazine to take down their adversaries. These guys we are pitting today are some of the most influential martial artists and combat experts to ever grace history, and they can beat the crap out of you without the need of weapons. For their whole bodies ARE the weapons.
Nai Khanomtom: The great Siamese warrior who became legendary for his grueling 10-men ladder match.
Daniel Mendoza: The brutal British boxer who used his speed and intelligence to defeat larger men.
In a one-on-one fight between these two great duellists from the 18th century... WHO IS DEADLIEST?!
Nai Khanomtom (circa 1700s) was a legendary Thai soldier and boxer during the era of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Not much is known about Khanomtom's early life, but he became a folkhero in modern Thailand for basically popularizing the sport that would later became known as Thai boxing ("The Father of Muay Thai"). Khanomtom's story started during the Second Burmese War (1765-1767). At that time, the Ayutthaya Kingdom was losing its long-running conflict with the neighboring Burmese Kingdom. In 1767, the capital of the Siamese Kingdom fell, and Khanomtom was one of the warriors who were captured and sent as a captive to the King of Burma.
After seven years of captivity, the Burmese King organized a festival and he wanted to see how his Burmese boxers would fare against the Thai boxers. Nai Khanomtom was chosen to represent the Thais against the Burmese. As is custom, Khanomtom opened the fight with a traditional Wai khru dance. He then brutally knocked out the first Burmese fighter. The Burmese thought the Wai khru was some sort of black magic which had aided him, and the king ordered that he face more Burmese boxers. Man after man fell, before the Burmese champion finally faced Khanomtom whom the latter also knocked out. After seeing this, no Burmese fighter dared to step into the ring with him. The Burmese King was so impressed with Nai Khanomtom that he granted Khanomtom his freedom as well as a prize of several wives. Khanomtom would later return to Siam and open his own martial arts school, later giving birth to modern Thai boxing.
Probably the ancestor to one of the most popular martial arts in the entire planet, Muay Boran is the traditional combat sport in Siam, and Nai Khanomtom was one of the pioneers of this art. Contrary to popular belief though, Nai did not invent the martial art, but his skills and legendary bouts popularized it from all other Siamese combat styles. Like its successor Muay Thai, Muay Boran is a very complex martial art that uses almost all parts of the body as a striking weapon like fists and legs, as well as elbows and knees (and even the head). It also has a deadly arsenal of clinch fighting techniques like in Muay Thai. However, unlike the modern sport which only focused on stand-up fighting, Muay Boran also included ground fighting. It is a martial art that was used by Siamese warriors in battle.While historians have had difficulties in pinpointing what style Khanomtom used, since there were a lot of several old styles that were developed in various regions of Thailand that are now lumped into the term Muay Boran (literally "Ancient Boxing"), such as Muay Chaiya, Muay Thasao, Muay Lopburi, and Muay Korat, there was no doubt that what people would call "Thai Boxing" was popularized by Nai Khanomtom.
- As a predominantly kicking sport, Muay Boran didn't have that much to offer when it comes to punching like in muay thai. Most of the punches seen in traditional muay consist of heavy chopping strikes and wide haymakers. Straights were also used but there were really underpowered and didn't have any distinction between a jab or a cross like in boxing. Muay boran did have a double punch technique called the "Hanuman" where a "Nak" (aka Thai boxer) would strike the opponent's chin with both fists at the same time. It wouldn't be until the arrival of British and American boxers a century later where Siamese fighters would adopt boxing techniques like jabs etc.
- Elbows on the other hand, was a different story. Muay boran had a wide range of elbow techniques, and while these types of strikes are shorter in range than fists, they make up for how much devastation it can cause. The fact that elbows are more solid and safer to do than fists allows it to generate much more power. There are two main types of elbows done by the naks:
- Elbow strike: the traditional elbow strike where an elbow is delivered horizontally.
- Overhand elbow: a much more dangerous elbow strike in which naks would send an elbow downwards towards an opponent's skull.
- Teeps are the traditional front kicks or push kicks which, while not that powerful, can be done to stop a charging attacker. Side-teeps were basically sidekicks but minus the jump, and are more used for pushing rather than doing damage. While on its own a simple teep isn't that dangerous, it can be lethal if used with enough force on an opponent's groin, or perform joint destruction by teeping at an enemy's kneecap.
- While teeps are useful, the main fight-enders were the Roundhouse Kicks. These are circular kicks that, while slower, can generate more power akin to that of swinging a baseball bat. Unlike in other kickboxing art like taekwondo or karate, muay thai and muay boran kicks not with the use of the upper surface of the foot, but with the harder and more solid shins. Different roundhouse kicks are used for different reasons. Head kicks are risky but are used to knock an opponent out, medium kicks are sneakier kicks used to break ribs, and leg kicks are used to basically chop through an opponent's leg and decrease his movement.
- Stomps, as what the name tells, is a kick that is done by literally stepping at a downed opponent. This is meant as a finishing blow done to an opponent's abdomen or head. It is more common in old-school muay boran than in muay thai.
- And finally, the most dangerous are the traditional Knee Kicks in Thailand. These kicks are performed similarly to how a Siamese warrior would stab an opponent with a spear or a knife. These kicks are the shortest in range and can only target limited areas in the body. But once they land, they are really deadly. Nat Geo once tested a knee from a nak and results showed that getting kneed in the abdomen was similar to getting hit by a car at 35 mph.
- The plum can also be used to pull and bring an opponent down to the ground. On the ground, a nak can perform ground fighting techniques were they get on top of an opponent and rain down more elbows to the face.
- Besides the Thai plum, the Khao Kong is also used in the clinch. This is a variant of a knee strike in which the Nak literally hugs his enemies, hold on tight, and rain curved knees to his sides and ribs.
The most iconic tool in the Thai boxer's career is the Hemp Wraps. These are tight and thick ropes or bandages that are tied to their fists. Th wraps create a more solid fists that allows them to punch harder and protect their hands better. It also prevents slipping due to sweat when the nak is grappling his opponent.
Daniel Mendoza (July 5, 1764 – September 3, 1836) also known as Dan Mendoza, "Mendoza the Jew" or "Mendoza the Great", was an Jewish-English prizefighter who became the heavyweight champion of England from 1792–1795. He fought a total of 37 bouts and won 30 of them through knockouts. Considered to be the most influential boxer in history, Daniel Mendoza is credited with completely reinventing the sport of boxing by emphasizing on speed rather than power. He is known to be the creator of the "outboxer" style of boxing that many modern boxers still used today like Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather Jr. He is known by many to be the "Father of Modern Boxing".
Mendoza started his career in pugilism at the young age of 16. He turned professional at the age of 18, and had an unbeatable 17 winning streak by 1783. He would later be embroiled in a heated rivalry with fellow boxer Richard Humphries, which resulted in the first "modern trash-talk" rivalry in sports history. It gained so much publicity that their bout was also the first where people paid to watch a sports game. At his prime he was capable of fighting three separate brawls in just one day, winning them all. He was so good in fact, that he was one of the first athlete to actually meet the Prince of Wales who would become King George IV. Outside of boxing, Mendoza still continued living a fighting life. He once fought off a gang with nothing more than a pistol and a mahogany table, convicted of numerous crimes, and was once hired as a thug to put down the ongoing Old Price Riots (which was one of the deadliest riots in London's history). His time as a boxer and other violent escapades solidified Mendoza as one of the toughest guys in his time. He is also considered a national hero in the Jewish community, because he elevated the status of Jews from a helpless minority to a physically strong people in a time where there was rampant antisemitism.
Daniel Mendoza was one of the greatest boxers of his time but he was no modern boxer. Mendoza trained in the art of British Bare-Knuckle Boxing, also known as Classical Pugilism, which is the predecessor to modern Western gloved boxing. Unlike in modern boxing that focused only on punching and limited clinching, Classical Pugilism was an almost complete combat style that consisted of punching as well as kicking and grappling. While many "punching" sports were already developed even before BKB (like those in Ancient Greece and Medieval Russia), it was the English (and the Irish) who developed a style with a thorough set of punching techniques rather than just throwing wild punches and slugging it out. It was the British who eventually coined the term "Boxing".Mendoza however, was special from all the other boxers in Classical Pugilism, since he favored speed, evasion and counter-punching rather than brute strength. He basically invented what would later be known as the "outboxer" style of boxing that legends such as Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather Jr. used.
- Unlike all other combat sports, boxing is famed for its use of fists. The traditional boxing stance (in which the lead arm is forward and the dominant hand is cocked at the back) allows the boxer to have two main types of straight punches: the jab and the cross.
- The jab is the fastest punch with the longest range. While weaker than all the other punches, the jab's speed allows the boxer to send rapid fire punches that deliver death at a thousand cuts (or punches). The jabs are also used to keep an opponent at bay, and can also be used to send in fast lounges similar to a thrust by a fencer.
- The cross on the other hand is a slower, but significantly more powerful, straight punch. It is done by loading the rear hand at the back, before sending the fist to the opponent, gaining more momentum and power before hitting its target. Many knockout blows in boxing were caused by the cross punch, and a test once revealed that it is even more powerful than a karate punch (which are powerful enough to break ice and adobe).
- Hooks are round punches that are delivered not in a straight line, but in a wide arc to the side of the face or ribs of an opponent. They are much slower and shorter in range but more devastating and more difficult to dodge. Hooks can also be loaded to perform a more powerful haymaker.
- During Mendoza's time, the Uppercut (known at that time as undercuts) was already invented. It is the most powerful punch in boxing with its ability to get pass a guard and potentially break ribs and internal organs.
- Choppers (known in modern terms as backhands or long uppercuts) were also favored. Doing a chopper consists of a boxer deliberately smashing the back of their fists straight to the opponent's face, with the intent of sending their knuckles to cause bruise and cuts. It can even cause blindness if the knuckle hits an eye.
- Although still debated by historians of their prominence, elbows and "parrying punches" (palm strikes and slaps) were generally allowed in classical pugilism. A palm strike in particular is one dangerous strike since it can both generate the same power as a fist but with lesser physical risks and injuries.
- A pugilist can punch to any parts of the body but were not allowed to hit an opponent while they are down. So classical pugilism didn't have any ground fighting or "ground and pound" like in today's MMA.
- Push Kicks are these strong front kicks that are targeted towards an opponent's abdomen or legs (and in the case of Bendigo Thompson, they can even perform "chin kicks"). They are great in pushing an aggressive opponent at bay or delivering steady powerful shots at the torso.
- The second type of kicking were the Purring Kicks (or "purring"). These are kicks that are done by smashing an opponent's shin with the hardened rim of the boot. This is the most dangerous kick in the pugilist's arsenal, and in some books, its even recorded to be able to shatter shins and even kill a man when targeted at the groin (Monstery, 1870).
- The Cross-Buttock Throw was the most favored throw since it can be easily done by just one swift grab, and can be used to counter an opponent's hold or clinch.
- Clinching was also more thorough back then, and the boxer can use hugs and headlocks (known as "Chancery") to grab a hold of an opponent and immobilize him. The holds also allowed a pugilist to continuously rain down punches to the face (which was called "Fibbing"), kicks in the shins, or headbutts.
- Holds can also be modified in fight by turning them into submissions and chokes, which can squeeze the life out of the opponent.
- Mendoza modified his own bare-knuckle stance by putting the fists in front of his face in order to better protect the head. His stance was also more squared and crouch so he can sidestep and dodge much faster to avoid strikes and attempts at clinching. This style of boxing favored evasion, and the reason why Mendoza created this style was because during his time boxing didn't have weight classes, and he had to fight against larger and tougher opponents (he was middleweight at best) who would've destroyed him if wrestle or to trade punches with them. He popularized the use of sidesteps, backsteps and weaving to dodge opponent strikes while also simultaneously countering them as well.
While boxing is generally an unarmed sport, they are allowed to wear footwear in single combat. Pugilists at that time would wear Steel-Toed Boots to increase the lethality of their kicks, specifically the purring kicks to the point that they can break shins.
While both fighters are well-versed in their martial art, only one of these two ups the other by basically having a military background. Daniel Mendoza is a talented fighter no doubt, but Nai Khanomtom is bringing not only muay boran training, but also actual military training during his time in the Siamese Army. Besides muay boran, Nai would have also been knowledgeable in krabi-krabong, an armed martial art consisting of dual-wielding swords and spears taught in the Siamese Army. While this fight would be undoubtedly an unarmed fight, the fact that Nai had army training probably gives him some physical and mental advantage.
This is a bit harder to decide upon than training. While the previous x-factor edges were more clean-cut, comparing both warrior's experiences is more tricky since one has an actual military career while the other has a more intensive duelling career. We don't really know much about Nai Khanomtom but we do know that as a soldier he probably fought in battles and skirmishes in the Second Burmese War. The only conflict that Daniel Mendoza participated in was the Old Price Riot, which was deadly in itself but not as large as an actual nationwide war. Mendoza however, has a more extensive experience when it comes to one-on-one fights, since he fought in 37 fights, winning 34 of them with 30 of those being knockouts, while Khanomtom's legend only listed 10 fights.
Okay, we don't really know that much about Nai's strategy since his legend only succeeds in telling that he defeated 10 men with none of the details of what really happened. Daniel Mendoza's fighting career is better recorded with complete details surrounding his strategy and approach to battle. Mendoza's intellect was highlighted in most of these records, since people just loved hearing and reading about the story of a small Jewish man taking on all fighters not with power but with speed and wit. It's not to say that Nai was a dumb fighter, it's just that he is known more for his toughness during his 10-man bout rather than defeating people with intellect.
- The fight will be a one-on-one fight in a large enclosed arena with people watching as spectators.
Late 18th Century.
It was morning in the Roman Colosseum, and the sun has just risen and shone its glory to all those below. There was a commotion happening inside the arena, as people of all colors and nations gathered in such early morning. There were people from the Near East, who came carrying their gold and spices to gamble. There were people from the Far East, who came with their exotic animals and unintelligible language. African princes and lords also came to watch the spectacle on their leopard skins and expensive tunics. And then there were the Europeans, both the rich ones with their pompous wigs, and the poor tossers in their rugged jackets and billycocks.
The people sat on the dusty and crumbling chairs of the Colosseum. They formed a circle and cheered, for they were there to watch a modern gladiator fight. What made it even more exciting was its uniqueness; the fighters came from opposite corners of the world.
A British dodger came into the center and served as the announcer and the referee. In a big booming voice, he yelled to the crowd, “Thank you everyone for coming in this magnificent morning. I’m pretty sure we all know why we came here, now do we?”
The crowd of men cheered like lions, and they can't wait any longer for the fight. The announcer continued to hype the audience, saying, “Well we certainly did not came here for a lady-day picnic now did we lads?!!!”
He then pointed to the left corner, where a big burly Thai man sat in a stool. He was wearing some sort of tennis racket in his head and a string tied around his arm. He had a body that looked like it was made out of smooth clay. He looked stoic, emotionless, but twitchy and couldn’t wait to fight. “We have a warrior from the Far Far East of the Kingdom of Siam! The good Siamese King has decided to send his greatest fighter to show to us how did them Orientals did it! I present to you! Nai Khanomtom!!!! The unbreakable wall!!! The slayer of Burma!!! The indestructible Thai!!!”
Although the announcer kind of butchered his Siamese name, Nai nonetheless stood and waved to the crowd as everyone cheered him.
The announcer then pointed to the right corner, where a raggidity-looking white man sat. He had curly and unkempt Jewish hair, and clothes that marked his middle-classness. His face on the other hand was full of rage and adrenaline, like a keg of gunpowder ready to explode. “In this corner, an Englishman known far and wide as the champion of Great Britain. Don’t let his size full you, this guy’s godlike speed and power has been unmatched in Europe!!! Gentleman, I present to you! The Jewish crusher. The Manchester Mauler. Nelson’s Little Bull Dog!!! Daniel “The Great” MENDOZAAAA!!!”
“Give that Asian to me, mate. And I’ll send him back in a rice bowl!!!” Dan yelled at the announcer as he got up and let himself bask in the cheers of the people.
The visitors then started to gamble their money and produce with each other, to whom they bet will win this fight. They were all ready to gamble in that day, but the true price was the show which was about to unfold. It was time to settle this once and for all. Who is better? The mysterious East, vs the classic West?
As the people started to shout in excitement, Nai took his time to come forward to the center and started to do is Wai Khru dance, which was the traditional dance of Thai fighters. To the mystique of the people watching, Nai’s danced with great flexibility and grace, doing splits with ease and raising his legs as easy as raising an arm, showing his athleticism in that one beautiful dance. Dan did not have any exotic rituals, for his religion encouraged silent, simple and isolated praying. Dan started to strip, showing his physique to everyone to see; a small but muscular body with scars that looked like tough white marble. The Jew then got unto his knees and prayed to Yahweh for victory.
He then faced Nai and yelled in spectacular British mockery, “No hard feelins Mr. Siam! But if ya got kids ya bettah kiss them softly goodbye. I’ll make sure to try and let ya keep ya face intact! And I heard ya got multiple wives? Won’t you mind if I pick one for meself if I win?!” The stoic Thai said nothing but gave his opponent a smile. He then raised his arms, made a position that looked like he was shooting a bow, and fired at Dan. It was the common issue of challenge in Thai warrior culture. Dan saw this taunting of the Thai but did nothing but grin with excitement. He's no stranger to being mocked and insulted due to his race and height, but nonetheless it always ended badly for those who do. Whatever Nai was doing meant nothing to him. He will wreck this guy to pieces.
“Alright boys, settle down,” the announcer said. “On my signal the fight will start. So get up to scratch and prepare yourselves.”
The two combatants then came forward and faced each other, their eyes aimed at each other with dreadful intent.
“Okay gents… on my mark… GO!!!!”
The first one to attack was Nai Khanomtom as he send a right hook towards his opponent, but Daniel Mendoza easily avoided it. The Thai then sent another left hook, but the Brit ducked and dodged it. Dan then sent an uppercut to Nai’s abdomen, making him reel back, before the Brit followed up with a cross to the nose. The crowd then cheered in delight as Dan drew first blood.
In just that span of a few seconds, Dan managed to make Nai bleed. But a broken nose was not going to end the Thai that easily. Knowing that punching with him won't do him no good, Nai then teeps Dan in the knee, making him lose his balance and almost fall to the floor. The Thai then followed up with a quick roundhouse kid, but the Brit thankfully avoided it. It seems that Dan is face to face with a kicker here, and he needs to be extra careful.
As the two circle each other, Nai found an opening and sent a side-teep on Mendoza chest. Dan countered with quick jabs on his opponent’s face, but this did not bother Khanomtom as he sent a heavy roundhouse to Dan’s left ribs. That strong attack almost knocked the wind out of Dan, and he can almost feel that powerful strike almost breaking his ribs.
“Not bad Asian man,” Dan said with confidence. “But try to keep up this time.”
In blinding speed, Dan weaved and started circling Nai. The Thai tried to tag Mendoza with a flurry of kicks and lousy punches, but the Brit was too fast. The coliseum was also large, and Dan had no problems using the ring size for his advantage. He moved everywhere, seemingly teleporting with his godly speed and Nai could not keep up. Nai tried to send a flying knee towards the Brit, but Dan was just too fast and he disappeared even as Nai was still in the air. As the Thai landed back on the ground, he definitely did not see that sudden right hook came out of nowhere and hit him right in the jaw. As he stumbled to the left, Daniel followed up with a combination of crosses, straights and uppercuts, which brutalized Nai’s face. And with one final cross, Dan hit him in the jaw, which knocked him down to the dusty floor below.
Dan then walked away to his corner; his traditional boxing code of honor preventing him from hitting a downed and defenseless opponent. He always viewed himself as a gentleman, unlike this uncultured barbarian who loved to kick like a stupid animal. Nai on the other hand, picked himself up. He was a warrior of his country, he killed his enemies in war in the name of his King, and he was not going to be beaten by some lazy white peasant.
Dan then went back to using his speed to confuse and disorient Nai, but the Thai had a plan this time. As he covered himself up with his forearms surviving whatever Daniel threw at him, unbeknownst to the Brit Nai was actually drawing him to the offensive. Thinking that he was winning, Dan lets go of his evasion and focused on pummeling Nai to submission. As he sensed his opponent getting too cocky and overconfident, and Dan himself was getting too distracted with punching rather than evading, Nai finally found an opening and send a powerful leg kick on Dan’s left leg.
The loud crunch of that kick made the patrons silent and horrified, as Dan yelled and limped away with a broken knee. Nai on the other hand, was not going to let him go that easily. He continued kicking and kicking Dan’s legs, continuously damaging it, and finally eradicating his speed advantage. It won’t be long before the Jew’s leg finally gives up and he falls to the floor, never to be able to stand up and walk again.
Daniel was in trouble as he could not use his speed anymore. The only way to survive this was to eliminate the Thai’s kicks, and the only way to do this is for him to grapple. Daniel grabbed hold of Nai’s waist, and this quick thinking finally immobilize the kicker and stopped his kicking. Dan then grabbed Nai on the neck with a headlock, slightly choking him and continuously pummeling and fibbing at his face with his free hand. Nai was not entirely defenseless though, as he too took a hold of Dan’s head in the traditional double plum, and started kneeing his opponent in the stomach. The two continuously battled each other in the hug, trying their best to tank every hit, and hoping that the other finally gave up. The battle of grace soon turned into a dirty barbaric brawl.
Nai was getting sick of it, as Dan’s punches finally made both his eyes swole and it won’t be long before he himself will not be able to see. And so he elbowed the Brit on the eyebrow, cutting him, before grabbing his opponent’s head and trying his best to pull him to the ground where he can pound him some more elbows. Dan saw what he was doing, and he countered by twisting his body and using a cross throw to throw Nai to the ground.
The hip throw was something that Nai did not see coming, and that slam stunned him the moment he landed unto the ground. Dan too fell to the ground as he lost his balance with that counter, and the race was on to whom can get back to his feet first. Even with Dan’s injury, he was still able to get back up faster than the dazed Thai. As the Thai was still picking himself up, in a quick flash Dan rushed towards Nai with all his remaining speed. The Thai, though stunned with that throw, tried to defend himself with a hanuman double uppercut, but Dan just parried it, before the Brit finally sent a powerful purr kick with his metal boots that shattered Nai’s left shin.
The Thai cried in pain as he tried to keep his upright balance and his foot literally dangling from his knee. With this momentum, Dan sent a coup de grace using a powerful hook that hit Nai on the jaw again, this time dislocating it. The Thai fell on the ground, unconscious, as the people flooded into the arena and picked Dan up. They cheered their champion on that day.
Winner: Daniel Mendoza
Nai woke up, in some dark and damp building. He was laying on a cold bamboo stretcher with his left foot in a cast. Suddenly, a group of dark hooded men came inside the room which surprised and scared the Thai warrior. He asked them who they were, as well as yelling and warning them to stay back. But the men all carried his bed to another door in the right, carrying the scared Thai to God knows where.
They then ended up in another darker room, and what Nai saw shook him in his sheets. He was a warrior and a soldier in Siam, and while he as seen a lot of horrifying things, this one scared him like he was never scared before. Inside the room was a sort of occult ritual, filled with many dark magic paraphernalia like chalk pentagrams, candles and different mini statues of knights, soldiers and demons.
As they laid Nai on the center, one of the hooded figure, probably the leader of this group, came forth and spoke to his fellow occultists. “Brothers… we are here today because a tradition must be fulfilled, Even if the battle that we have just witnessed was a bloodless and soft duel, we all know that this is not enough.”
“Not enough!!!” the rest of the group said.
“Yes! Blood needs to be spilled. Blood still needs to flow! He wills it! HE WILLS IT! Our great Field Marshal wills it!!!!”
And the hooded man then pointed to a portrait of Bernard Montgomery hanging on the center wall. He then grabbed a Webley revolver and aimed it at Nai Khanomtom. And as the Thai pleaded for mercy, the hooded man then shot him in the temple, killing him.
“The sacrifice is done. Blood has and will always be, continued to be spilled.”
Voters believe that while Nai had soldiery training and good kicking skills, he was still no match for the British pugilist. Daniel Mendoza proved to be too quick and fast for the upright Nai, and his grappling, equipment and punches offered more than Nai, who focused too much on kicking and clinching. In the end, old-school boxing proved to be superior to Muay Boran.