Sirius Black punching --Lucius Malfoy-- during the --Battle of the Department of Mysteries--.

Sirius Black punches Lucius Malfoy in the face, an example of Muggle duelling

Harry Potter: "And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?"
Ron Weasley: "Throw it away and punch him on the nose."
— Ronald Weasley suggests resorting to Muggle duelling as a last ditch effort in a Wizard's Duel[src]

Muggle duelling[1] is a wizarding term used to refer to non-magical combat, or rather, fighting without the use of wands or spells. It is thus distinguished from a formal wizard's duel, in which combatants may only use magic against their opponent, and therefore an illegal tactic. Usually, Muggle duelling involves the use of one's own body for attacking, such as punching, kicking, choking, or tackling. Though usually undertaken by Muggles, who obviously cannot use magic, wizards have been known to engage in Muggle duelling on occassion. In the wizarding world, Muggle duelling is seen as particularly disgraceful and childish, and as such, it is typically only done by wizards who are young, hotheaded, or are in especially messy confrontations.

In extreme cases, Muggle duelling can also involve weaponry, such as knives, swords, or even firearms. One variant of Muggle duelling that was in great use during the Middle Ages was swordsmanship. Godric Gryffindor, one of the Four Founders of Hogwarts was known for his great skill in the style, as were many wizards of the era.

Another formal variety of Muggle duelling is known as boxing.


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Hermione Granger punching Draco Malfoy in the face for mocking Hagrid, rather than using a spell

Prior to the establishment of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, during a time when wizards intermingled freely with Muggles, many wizards were accomplished in formal Muggle duelling as well as wizard duelling, as it was considered unsporting to use magic in a fight against a Muggle. Godric Gryffindor was a noted practitioner of both varieties of duels, and carried the Sword of Gryffindor for the purpose of duelling Muggles.[2]

The wizard Knight Sir Cadogan was also presumably proficient in swordsmanship.

Along with magical combat, Muggle duelling is against the rules at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and is furthermore considered a childish activity to be caught doing. Severus Snape docked Gryffindor five house points in December of 1991 for witnessing Ronald Weasley instigating a fight with Draco Malfoy by aggressively grabbing the front of his robes.[3] In 1992, during the first meeting of the Duelling Club, Millicent Bulstrode resorted to Muggle duelling, putting Hermione Granger in a headlock.[4] In 1995, Minerva McGonagall attempted to give both Harry Potter and George Weasley a week's worth of detention for simultaneously assaulting Malfoy when he insulted both of their families after a Quidditch match. However, Dolores Umbridge changed this punishment to disbarring them from playing on the Gryffindor Quidditch team instead.[5]

Behind the scenes

  • As they lack a wand, Muggle characters in the LEGO Harry Potter games can do a physical attack similar to a roll to harm enemies or destroy LEGO objects.


Notes and references