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Imperial Academy Boxing, or IAB, was a martial art and combat sport practiced by cadets at Imperial Academies. The academic form was a required first-year course in the physical education program at all academies, and formed the basis of further, more complex unarmed combat instruction. Cadets also had the option of competing in IAB as an intra- and inter-academy sport after successful completion of the required IAB course, as one way to fulfill the Cadet Athlete requirement of Imperial education.
IAB was not practiced at junior academies such as the Academy for Young Imperials, nor at highly specialized schools such as Skystrike Academy, though such schools conducted other unarmed combat instruction.
Unarmed combat, as the most basic form of combat, existed for millennia before the founding of the Old Republic, and in organized forms for almost as long. Boxing was one of these organized forms, with a general focus on strikes performed with the closed fist across the many variations found throughout the galaxy. As a basic from of organized unarmed combat, boxing instruction was adopted into the military training of the Old Republic, and continued through the Galactic Republic era.
After the establishment of the Galactic Empire, such training was further expanded and codified for use at Imperial Academies, beginning around 19 BBY. Such rules were geared toward human participants due to the Empire's humanocentrism.
Academic instruction in IAB was conducted over 20 standard weeks, and included teaching cadets about stances, types of movement, basic and advanced strikes, and various tactics and strategies. Sparring and calisthenics formed a large portion of the instruction. The course culminated in a final bout against another cadet in the same class, with each cadet graded on technique, offense, defense, and effectiveness. A loss in this final bout did not constitute a failure of the bout, nor of the course; the bout's winner simply received a bonus to their grade.
IAB weight classes were adapted from common existing divisions in other combat sports. The Empire, however, did not use colloquial names for IAB weight classes, and instead only referred to them by the weight itself.
|Division||Weight Range||Common Name|
|45 kg||45-49 kg||Nanoweight|
|50 kg||50-54 kg||Fleaweight|
|55 kg||55-59 kg||Hawkweight|
|60 kg||60-64 kg||Lightweight|
|65 kg||65-69 kg||Middleweight|
|70 kg||70-74 kg||Stoneweight|
|75 kg||75-79 kg||Nerfweight|
|80 kg||80-84 kg||Heavyweight|
|85 kg||85+ kg||Ponderweight|
Competitive IAB was conducted in a tournament-style structure. The tournaments were:
- Garrison Open, where cadets at a single academy competed as individuals. Held in the second semester of each academic year.
- Squad Championship, where cadet squads in the same branch at a single academy competed against each other. Held twice a semester.
- Branch Championship. If applicable, different branches at a single academy competed against each other. Held each semester.
- Inter-Academy Championship, where different academies competed against each other. Held annually with the host academy rotating throughout the Imperial Academy system. Unlike the other tournaments, in which any cadet was allowed to participate, only the IAB teams of each academy could take part.
In all IAB tournaments, cadets would earn the IAB Championship Belt for victories in finals. Teams with the most wins in a tournament would collectively earn a team trophy for the given tournament.
Simplified Rules and Regulations
For bouts, boxers were to be divided on the basis of weight and sex. In rare exceptions only during academic instruction, final graded bouts between male and female cadets could occur if no even pairs were possible. Co-ed sparring was permitted if both boxers were in the same weight class.
In the relatively rare occasions where non-human cadets participated in IAB, certain strength, agility, or durability handicaps would be applied as needed, whether to the human or non-human cadet.
IAB bouts were conducted inside a circular area colloquially known as a "disc". The disc was 8 standard meters in diameter; a fighting area 6 standard meters across and a border of 1 standard meter. Unlike in some versions of boxing (such as shockboxing), no ropes, wires, or other barriers were placed around the perimeter of the disc.
Two small areas called "edges" were to be designated on opposite sides of the disc. Edges were where boxers returned to during the rest period between periods of action.
In academic bouts, the disc could simply be a marked circle of the appropriate size directly on the floor. More commonly, however, the disc was a raised platform 1 standard meter from the floor, on a plinth between one-half and three-quarters the diameter of the disc itself. The floor of the disc was constructed of tuffweave over a thin layer of padding. The edges of this raised disc were to be designated with colored lights: one red, one blue. Additional white lights were to be placed around the perimeter of the disc in the same manner as the edge lights, spaced evenly, for a total of 12 lights including the edge lights.
If a raised disc was used for academic bouts, the floor surrounding the raised disc was to be covered in square sections of padding, between 3 and 5 standard centimeters thick and at least 1 meter to a side, such that the disc was surrounded by padding out to 3 meters from the perimeter of the disc. For competition bouts, this padding was optional.
The raised version of the disc was required for competitive forms of IAB, both intra- and inter-academy.
Number and Duration of Phases
A "phase" was the period of action in a bout. Academic bouts consisted of 3 phases of 3 standard minutes each, with 1 minute of rest between phases. In competition bouts, the process was identical, except bouts consisted of 5 phases.
While a biological referee could be used to officiate IAB matches, it was much more common for a specialized repulsorlift droid to handle this duty in order to simplify the process, as the droid could also act as a scorekeeper, timekeeper, announcer, and camera. Usually, a Hologlide J57 cam droid was outfitted for this purpose; custom features of such droid referees included protocol chips, vocabulators, and holoprojectors to display the score and bout clock.
Strikes could be landed with any part of the closed fist; no other parts of the body could be used, and the open hand could not be used except to parry or block blows. Any part of the face, the sides of the head, and any area of the ventral portion of the torso between the belt line and the base of the neck were legal targets.
Attire and Equipment
Cadets wore their standard physical education uniform during bouts, consisting of a short-sleeved shirt, shorts, and athletic shoes. Groin protection was required for all cadets, and female cadets had the option of wearing breast protection if desired. Mouth guards and protective helmets with exposed faces were also worn.
The IAB glove was constructed of neo-leather and weighed approximately 4 standard ounces. Inside each glove was a soft, curved contact plate covering the entire fist, used to determine scoring. Contact plates would only activate under sufficient force.
Tight hand wraps made of coarseweave were worn beneath the gloves in order to support the wrists.
Each legal strike delivered with enough force to activate the contact plate was worth 1 Point. At the end of each phase, the total Points for that phase were converted to Phase Points as follows:
- If the boxers were tied or within 2 Points of each other, no Phase Point was awarded to either.
- If the spread was between 3 and 5 Points, the boxer with more Points earned 1 Phase Point.
- If the range was 6 Points or higher, the boxer with more Points earned 2 Phase Points.
Phase Points were added up at the end of the bout to determine the final Match Score. The boxer with the highest Match Score won the bout. Bouts could end in a draw.
Each foul was worth a deduction of 1 Point from the current phase. If a boxer earned three total fouls for the bout, they were disqualified.
Types of fouls:
- Hitting below the belt line
- Holding, tripping, or kicking
- Hits or strikes with the head, shoulder, forearm, or elbow
- Throttling the opponent, pressing with the arm or elbow in opponent’s face, shoving
- Hitting with an open glove or wrist
- Hits landing on the back of the opponent, especially any blow to the back of the neck or head, and kidney punches
- Attacking a downed or rising opponent
- Holding and hitting or pulling and hitting
- Holding or locking on the opponent’s arm or head, or pushing an arm underneath the arm of the opponent
- Ducking below the belt line of the opponent
- Completely passive defense
- Not stepping back when ordered to break
- Attempting to strike opponent immediately after the break and before taking a step back
- Assaulting or behaving in an aggressive manner toward the referee at any time
- Spitting out the mouth guard intentionally
- Keeping the advanced hand straight in order to obstruct the opponent’s vision
- Faking an injury
- Any other unsportsmanlike conduct
Victory in an IAB bout could be achieved in one of these ways:
- Points. The boxer with the highest total Match Score at the end of the bout was the winner.
- Knock-Down (KD). A boxer who touched the surface of the disc with any part of the body besides the feet as a result of a legal blow was considered knocked-down. A boxer who was knocked-down 3 times within one phase lost the bout.
- Count-Out (CO). A boxer who failed to rise after being knocked-down within a count of 8 lost the match.
- Disc-Out (DO). A boxer who was knocked or fell from the disc 3 times within one phase lost the match. A boxer unable to return to the disc under their own power within 30 seconds lost the bout.
- Knock-Out (KO). A boxer who was rendered unconscious by legal blows lost the match.
- Disqualification by Referee Stoppage (DRS). Could occur due to fouls, one boxer being overmatched, or injury.
Though identical in practice throughout the Imperial Academy system, IAB was referred to by different names depending on the branch of service:
- Air Corps Boxing (ACB) for Army Air Corps cadets.
- Imperial Forces Boxing (IFB) for Imperial Army cadets.
- Naval Corps Boxing (NCB) for Imperial Navy cadets.
- Stormtrooper Corps Boxing (SCB) for Stormtrooper Corps cadets.
Such distinctions were often used to denote specific intra-service competitions, or to indicate a specific boxer's branch.
All intra- and inter-academy IAB contests were broadcast over the HoloNet. In certain cases, academic matches were also shown over the HoloNet.
IAB was regularly practiced aboard Imperial Navy starships and in Imperial Army garrisons as a form of recreation, especially during long stretches of downtime. Somewhat paradoxically, such competition was noted to increase the morale of troops, particularly on starships, where different branches served side-by-side.
Since the "Academy" portion of the name obviously no longer applied in such contexts, it was usually referred to simply as Imperial Boxing, though it followed almost exactly the same rules. Most bouts in the actual military were relatively impromptu affairs that did not use a raised disc, headgear, or a droid referee, and were conducted on a more singular basis instead of as tournaments.
- Crix Madine: Won three Garrison Opens at Raithal Academy in the 70 kg division.
- Rae Sloane: Boxed for the Prefsbelt Fleet Camp IAB team all three years at the academy in the 65 kg division. Never won a championship, but also never ranked lower than 4th in any competition.
- Suwetra Endlo: Eight-time 65 kg champion from Carida Academy, including a victory over future Grand Admiral Rae Sloane at the 1st Inter-Academy IAB Championships in 18 BBY.
- Tobix Chasser: Captain of the Corulag Academy IAB team from 4 BBY to 2 BBY. Winner of 4 IAB belts, one for each type of tournament, in the 75 kg division.
Behind the Scenes
Imperial Academy Boxing is an expansion of Naval Corps Boxing, first mentioned in the novel Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig. Some terminology was taken from the shockboxing short story "Fists of Ion" by Edward M. Erdelac and illustrated by Cat Staggs.
IAB is patterned after the boxing requirements at the primary service academies of the United States (the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy), and its rules closely follow those of USA Boxing, the national amateur boxing governing body of the United States.