Belts have been in use since the Bronze Age according to historians, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that belts became a common item used mainly to hold one’s trousers up. Belts, before pants had belt loops were mainly decorative in the civilian world and utilitarian in the military.
Soldiers had gear to carry and so a wide heavy belt was usually buckled around the waist so things could be attached to it such as sabers, daggers, money, water, and tobacco pouches along with rations in small leather sacks. In some militaries, a belt cinched tight around the waist gave a soldier a trimmer looking physique. A tightly cinched belt produced a puffed out chest and a trimmer looking waist, the perfect looking soldier.
Belts today still function as a fashion accessory and a belt can be used as a survival tool. Holsters for handguns, knives, axes, canteens full of water and magazine pouches can all be attached to a belt, but there are other uses as well.
A belt wrapped around your closed fist can help protect your hands and fingers from cuts and to create greater impact against an assailant’s body. A heavy belt can also reduce bruising and broken hands/fingers caused by striking the head and/or face of an aggressor.
A belt swung with the belt buckle end toward someone can be used to strike at the face or body or used to distract an aggressor so you can escape. A sturdy belt can also be used to deflect baton blows by grasping each end of the belt and holding up so a club/baton hits the belt to help reduce or stop the impact.
A belt can be used as a tourniquet, though, not ideal in some cases. Some belts can be drawn tight enough to stop or restrict the flow of blood, while others cannot, so consider this …