Common misconception of Sword-fighting.

Discussion in 'Historical European Swords and Sword Arts' started by Bob Hubbard, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    ARMA Demo on some of the common problems with how "sword-fighting" has been represented in movies and other sword stunt shows.






     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  2. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Darn it! Work's Net Nannie slaps Access Denied all over the clips - I shall have to wait until I am home again to view them :(.
     
  3. Josh Oakley

    Josh Oakley Senior Master

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    Good videos. These ideas embed themselves in people'brains, and often have to get trained out of the students in order to make any progress at swordfighting. I remember on student of mine had all these ideas. I had him com at me from any angle he wanted. Of course, single he thought in movie terms, he gave me all the space and time in the world to maneuver. He never laid a single strike on me. nd I am not particularly GOOD at the sword (which is why I recommended instructors to him rather than teach him the sword myself), but the fact that I am mediocre at the sword highlighted further the necessity to NOT rely on movies for reality.


    Sent from my ADR6350 using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  4. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    From the first sentence I knew this was going to be interesting and to the point {or maybe the edge? {Yeah! Sword based pun attack! :D}}.

    It's what popped into my head as incorrect movie-fu as soon as I saw Bob post the links i.e. don't strike at the weapon, strike at the man.
     
  5. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    They are only misconceptions in that people don't stop to think that the goals are entirely different. Movie sword fighting is designed to look interesting and exciting to an audience. The goal of a traditional sword encounter was to kill the opponent as quickly and decisively as possible. Only those people that are actually involved with the sword take the time and effort to actually think about that fact. In fact, it is only those involved in the sword that worry about such things as "misconceptions". The vast majority of people just don't care. :)
     
  6. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Good videos, but why does he keep saying, "this is what our historical sources tell us"?

    Does he not have an instructor to tell him (seriously asking, not trying to belittle him)? He demonstrated his point quite well in the videos and really needed no qualification or to appeal to historical documents.

    I tell my students all the time to avoid whacking at their opponent's weapons and I never defer to some historical source; As the instructor, I tell them, and when appropriate I demonstrate, why they should not do such things. If they do not wish to take my word for it, then they get their clocks cleaned in sparring by the students who do take my word for it. Then they take my word for it.... or continue to get their clocks cleaned.
     
  7. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    ARMA are focused on historical accuracy so seem to reference such to reinforce 'thats how things were done when we did it for real'.
     
  8. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Because there are dozens (hundreds?) of surviving period sources on combat of this nature. People interested in medieval and renaissance combat techniques can't often find genuine authorities. You can get training in some places from groups like ARMA and the SCA, but the quality of that training is erratic. Serious students tend to find historical sources as well, just as they do for other martial arts.
     
  9. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Aye, Dan, the WSA are reconstructions from the sources as there has been no living tradition carried forward through the centuries as there has been with the JSA.
     
  10. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I really don't consider the SCA an authority or a place to actually train in weapons. No offense to anyone in the SCA, but what I have seen of SCA fighting has definitely underwhelmed me.

    That goes without saying. :)
     
  11. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Outside of Olympic fencing and historical fencing with the same three weapons, no.

    Don't get me wrong; I wasn't being critical. In fact, I applaud the fact that they don't do what what is done in Korean sword arts: make up stuff.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  12. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Of one thing you can be sure, modern sport fencing bears no relation to how the weapons were truly used 'in anger'. A good analogy is the farcical touch sparring you get in some unarmed arts.
     
  13. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    The SCA is not an authority. Some individuals within it certainly are. Most, as with many mainstream (so to speak) MA groups are in it for the fun.
     
  14. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Well, either I've been doing blade-work WAY too long or this gentleman has a talent for stating the obvious because all three of his points are foundational basics and span not just sword work but any martial "striking." I don't see boxers punching at thin air when they're out of range. Heck, my 10 year old son knows these. I started teaching him these basics when he got his first wooden "toy" swords at 6 (I also taught him the five basic blocks found in the Highland Broadsword method, six standard cuts, and 3 standard thrusts).

    And I do have one little quibble with his first point. There are plenty of times that historic sword fighting sources talk about hitting the opponents blade as an attack. It is often called "Beating the blade" and similar terminology and it is used either as a feint or as a method of forcing the opponent's blade out of the way in a Combination attack.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  15. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Modern sport fencing is only one derivation away from it's original intention as a training method for real "in anger" usage. I know of at least 5 Maestros teaching historic Dueling methods who believe that Foil teaches important foundational skills and 2 of them insist on serious students learning Foil as a prerequisite. Thus, I'd opine that it bears more than a little relation.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  16. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    That depends on whether or not you include some Rapier styles and a number of Military Saber styles (including English, Russian, and Polish) as part of the Olympic 3-Weapon (I don't).

    And then there's the question of what counts as a "Lineage" in the Longsword tradition. There were some Classical Fencers in the Victorian era (Hutton and Castle come to mind) who revived Longsword from sources and then taught that to their students going forward. Does that count as a Lineage?

    And then we can muddy up the waters even more by adding Jogo du Pau (two-handed long stick), some styles of which claim their origin, and therefore lineage, hails from knightly Longsword and Spear (the two weapons were closely intertwined).

    But, yes, most of European Longsword being taught today is developed from historic texts & similar sources starting no earlier than the last quarter of the 20th Century.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  17. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Nor do I. Have these weapons been taught continuously or were they restored/revived?

    In the sense of tracing it to a single founder, it would count.

    But if the single founder "revived" the tradition from books and manuscripts, then what you have is a Victorian era approximation of an art that its founder had never seen practiced and who essentially learned it from reading a book; essentially a new art. So the 'lineage' cannot be traced to when the longsword was actually used, and in that regard, would not count.

    I don't view lineage as sacred or hoity toity; lineage simply means that each teacher has a teacher, going back to a point when the weapons were still actively used, whether or not a founder can be identified. A break in the recorded lineage due to war or disaster is one thing, but a break in the transmission of the discipline is quite another.

    So, if Jogo du Pau can historically identify the shift from two knightly longsword and spear to 'two handed long stick' as a distinctive discipline, with no gaps in transmission, then that counts as lineage to me. If all you have is people making the claim with no real way to support it, then you're entering into Haidong Gumdo methods of historical reckoning (no opinion on Jogo du Pau; I have no familiarity of it whatsoever).

    Without sounding flippant, this is exactly the sort of thing that induces howls of derision and cries of, 'you can't learn from a book.'

    I'm not belittling or discrediting authentic and earnest reconstruction of archaic styles where the transmission has been dead for centuries. Its hard work and the people who do it are making, in my opinion, a valuable contribution to history and to the martial arts.

    But when you get right down to the essentials, they're learning from books and manuscripts whose authors and practitioners are not alive to compare their results with. So I consider them to be modern arts drawing their body of techniques from historical sources, not historical arts.

    That's not to say that the end result is lacking or that the art is not legitimate. It simply means that a lot of work needs to be done to bring a revived art up to the point of having the depth of, say a koryu sword art, or classical 3 weapon fencing, which remains unbroken in transmission.

    Korean sword arts are in the same boat, hampered even further by the mish mash of Chinese technical elements paired with usually a Japanese sword. That and frequently fabricated histories (Samurang anyone?)
     
  18. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    In some cases (Hungarian Sabre for example) they have been practiced continually. There are murkier waters when rapier comes into play. There are classical schools of fencing with a lineage back to the time of the rapier, but there has not been continuous specific instruction in rapier to the present day as far as I am aware. However, 80% (or more) of rapier technique was retained by classical epee, so is that a living lineage of rapier? No, but it's not a pure reconstruction either.

    In my case, all my European sword MA are reconstructions. I make no claim to a long lost secret longsword lineage... just lots of hours spent in training, trying to get stuff more right than it was the day before.

    Best regards,

    -Mark
     
  19. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    The Military Sabre traditions have and there is clear recorded evidence. The Rapier might have but it is unclear. The same schools have been teaching and teachers back up-line taught it to mid-line students but it's not clear if those mid-line students specifically taught rapier or some derivation of it. As Langenschwert says, teachers at both the front and the back have been teaching but we're unsure of the middle and Epee was specifically intended as a training mechanism.

    Neither did most Europeans. You recorded who your teacher was if he was somebody famous and you could cash it a little bit on his rep for your own purposes. Maybe better job, or a chance to teach rich kids or the like. If your teacher was a nobody who's teacher was a nobody who's teacher was famous, then you went out and made your own fame.

    As I understand it, they have an oral tradition stating that their art came from Knightly origins but no written documentation. Their lineage is at least as solid as Wing Chun.

    And you can't. You take instruction from a book. You learn by doing. If you don't try it out, practice, and work against other fully resisting opponents (even in a controlled and 'safe' setting) then you don't learn. Sparring (or "Assaulting" as some in the WMA tradition call it) is an essential part of training.

    Of course, it also helps (a really bunch) if you have some sort of frame of reference, such as other martial training, to ensure that you're not way out in left field. Most of the Reconstructionists, at least the first generation ones, have a fair amount of experience in other martial arts.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  20. Indagator

    Indagator Blue Belt

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    The Swiss Guard have a consistent lineage with some of their medieval weaponry that is still used today (although predominantly ceremonially these days) such as their halberds and flambards.

    Of course, they're not the easiest of groups to gain membership in... :p
     

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