Nudity in combat

Nudity in combat is the practice of entering combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

 without clothing and armor. It is rarely practiced because, apart from the social aspects of nudity
Nudity is the state of wearing no clothing. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic. The amount of clothing worn depends on functional considerations and social considerations...

, the combatant lacks even the basic protection of clothes, e.g. 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
Heroic nudity
Heroic nudity or ideal nudity is a concept in classical scholarship to describe the use of nudity in classical sculpture to indicate that a sculpture's apparently mortal human subject is in fact a hero or semi-divine being. This convention began in archaic and classical Greece and was later adopted...

, however, was established in the art of ancient Greece
Art in Ancient Greece
The arts of ancient Greece have exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries all over the world, particularly in the areas of sculpture and architecture. In the West, the art of the Roman Empire was largely derived from Greek models...

 by the Archaic period.

Celtic peoples

Polybius' Histories
The Histories (Polybius)
Polybius’ Histories were originally written in 40 volumes, only the first five of which are existent in their entirety. The bulk of the work is passed down to us through collections of excerpts kept in libraries in Byzantium, for the most part....

 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. Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 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." Roman historians recorded that the Gaesatae
The Gaesatae were a group of Gaulish warriors who lived in the Alps near the river Rhône and fought against the Roman Republic in the Battle of Telamon of 225 BC...

 fought naked in the battles in the Po Valley
Po Valley
The Po Valley, Po Plain, Plain of the Po, or Padan Plain is a major geographical feature of Italy. It extends approximately in an east-west direction, with an area of 46,000 km² including its Venetic extension not actually related to the Po River basin; it runs from the Western Alps to the...

 in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in the Cisalpine War.

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 records in his account of the Gallic War that the Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

s 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
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

 their name.

Asia and Africa

There is an ancient tradition of bare-breasted female bodyguards in several Asian cultures. The Mauryan kings in India
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

, notably Chandragupta
Chandragupta may refer to:* Chandragupta Maurya, Indian Emperor, Mauryan Empire, 322–293 BCE* Chandragupta I, Indian king, Gupta Empire, 320-335 CE* Chandragupta II, Also known as Chandragupta Vikramaditya. Indian Emperor, Gupta Empire, 375-414 CE...

 and Asoka, were attended by half-naked women guards, and in the Moghul Empire the Urdu Begi female harem guards gave evidence that this tradition was long-lasting. Similar bare-breasted guardswomen were retained by the medieval Khmer Empire
Khmer Empire
The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Malaysia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city...

 and their Siamese successors.
The "Amazon" bodyguards of Dahomey
Dahomey was a country in west Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a powerful west African state that was founded in the seventeenth century and survived until 1894. From 1894 until 1960 Dahomey was a part of French West Africa. The independent Republic of Dahomey...

 in West Africa are sometimes described as being similarly unclad.

Modern occurrences

In some present martial arts
Martial arts
Martial arts are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat, practiced for a variety of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as mental and spiritual development....

 which are designed to be fit for military fighting, full or partial nudity still occurs. The traditional donga style of stick fighting
Stick fighting
Stick fighting is a generic term for martial arts which use simple long slender, blunt, hand-held, generally wooden 'sticks' for fighting such as a staff, cane, walking stick, baton or similar....

 practiced by the young warriors, now bearing firearms, of the Omo Valley Suri tribe
Surma people
Surma is a panethnicity residing in South Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia. It includes the Nilo-Saharan-speaking Suri, Mursi and Me'en.-Overview:...

, 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
The Nyangatom are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting southwestern Ethiopia and southeastern South Sudan...

, which fight bare-chested; the goal is to mark the adversary with visible stripes on the back.

In the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, Vietcong sapper
A sapper, pioneer or combat engineer is a combatant soldier who performs a wide variety of combat engineering duties, typically including, but not limited to, bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, demolitions, field defences, general construction and building, as well as road and airfield...

s used to slip through the barbed wire naked or almost naked.

In modern Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, soldiers under "General Butt Naked" Joshua Blahyi
Joshua Blahyi
Joshua Milton Blahyi , better known by his nom de guerre General Butt Naked, is a former leader for the Liberian warlord Roosevelt Johnson in the First Liberian Civil War known for his fierce, violent and eccentric measures in the first half of the 1990s...

fought naked in order to terrorize their opponents.
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