I agree--although it's better organized than the original version, AD&D is still scattered across three, four, or more titles (depending on which supplements you add to the game) and can seem a bit schizophrenic. The result, at least for the group I played with as a teenage Scribe, was that we ignored a lot of the rules that slowed the game down (I'm looking at you, weapon speeds!).
However, a fresh look at the Players Handbook shows that as teens, we ignored what should have been a major part of combat: pummelling, grappling, and overbearing. While the PH is short on mechanics of combat, leaving adjudication methods to the DM, it does have a short section that lays out various options for players, including turning undead, spells, missiles, and melee combat, which "includes the use of hand-held weapons, natural weaponry (claws, horns, teeth,etc.), grappling, and special or magical touch attacks, i.e. poison ... etc." (Emphasis added.) The section goes on to describe an example of combat in which adventurers surprise an illusionist with twenty orcs. From page 105 of the Players Handbook:
(Emphasis added.) This example of combat (which I recently read for the first time in probably more than two decades) contains two rules which we pretty much ignored as kids: grappling and morale--and I only just now noticed the bit about a morale check. I won't describe the Dungeon Masters Guide rules for unarmed combat in detail (it involves a percentile dice to-hit roll against 10 x defender's armor class, adjusted by fiddly little 1%, 5%, and 10% modifiers and then a second percentile dice roll--with more modifiers--to see how much damage is scored, and a fraction of that damage is nonlethal and temporary, and ... oh, just read it for yourself). Morale rules are more straightforward, but still difficult to compute on the fly. I realize now there are alternative unarmed combat rules in Unearthed Arcana, but back in the day I never actually got to the end of that book.... The illusionist/orcs again win initiative and attack first, 5 orcs going after each fighter to grapple, 6 rushing the magic-user, and 3 heading for the cleric. The fighters are pulled down, as is the magic-user, but the cleric avoids their grasp. ... [T]he fighters and magic-user are held fast by orcs, so they can do nothing. ...
... It is now the orcs' turn, and as their leader is dead [slain by the theif in the previous round] and they still face 2 powerful opponents, they will check morale. It is probable that they will kill the pinned characters with dagger thrusts if their morale does not break, or that they will rleease the pinned characters and run away if their morale is bad.
Sorry, went off on a tangent. My point is, I guess, that in our version of AD&D combat, the characters and the monsters faced each other in static lines, exchanging blows like in the old 8-bit versions of the Final Fantasy videogames until one side or the other was eliminated. Gygax's example, on the other hand, is more reminiscent of those old sword & sorcery tales that inspired the game, where hordes of bad guys swarm the hero in order to capture him but run away if resistance is too fierce.
So does anyone actually use the unarmed combat rules from the DMG? Do you instead use one of the simpler versions in Unearthed Arcana? Or do you just have the two sides whacking each other until everyone's dead? And what about morale? Do enemies run away or fight until the bitter end?