Common misconception of Sword-fighting.

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

  1. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    I've seen that Messer clip that Langen posted before but it always brings to mind for me just how much more 'aggressive' short sword work is than long. When we sometimes 'play' and do partner forms with wakizashi rather than katana it takes me a bit to adjust to how 'violent' it all seems :).
     
  2. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    For our viewing pleasure, see how the Messer work is much more 'in-your-face' (in more ways than literally) than this:

    [yt]Kj4Ng6DBfrg[/yt]
     
  3. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Yeah, no kidding. We're actually doing a unit on messer now in my class. What becomes obvious is how quickly combat with short blades can go to hell in a handbasket. Targets that with a longsword (legs being the prime one) are rather secondary become much more accesible in close combat with messers. Add to that the danger of fighting at close range, using what Silver called "time of the hand", where you can hit your opponent without stepping... it become very hard to defend.

    Best regards,

    -Mark
     
  4. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Me want!!!!!!

    Best regards,

    -Mark (the Cookie Monster of the the Sword world)
     
  5. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Yeah, no fool'n! The requisite for a good feel for Measure and Tempo (proper distancing and proper timing) are heightened every time the blade gets shortened.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  6. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    You an me, both. Prices seem exceptionally good but I've never heard of these folks so it'd be a crapshoot.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  7. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I found it interesting that the first video states that hands/arms and legs are not considered major targets. My experience with Chinese sword work makes hands a favorite target. In addition, archaeological evidence from medieval battlefields have found many many skeletal remains showing major injuries to the legs for battlefield casualties.
     
  8. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    While I realise the initial videos are about Western sword, I might point out that in each of the three "misconceptions" listed, when it comes to Japanese swordsmanship, each is taken on a case by case basis. For example, cuts to the arms, underneath the wrists or down onto the elbow or base of the thumb can be fairly common in Kenjutsu, as it's the closest target, and stops your opponent from being able to wield their sword. Striking to the weapon, as well, has been noted. In the Gorin no Sho, Musashi spoke of the "Red Leaves Hit", as well as a "Slapping Parry", both of which target the opponents sword first; many other systems have similar ideas and concepts. And lastly, striking when not in range is also something that can be done in order to draw an opponent to commit to an action, and is typically done against an nervous, or anxious opponent, leading to an opening without putting yourself in undue danger. Again, Musashi referred to this as the "Rhythm of the Second Spring".

    Actually, that's not strictly true either... there is, in the Imperial Collection, a unique tachi referred to as the Kogarasu Maru (Little Crow), attributed to the great swordsmith Amakuni. That blade features the last third of it's length with a double edge.

    View attachment $kogarasu.jpg
     
  9. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Aaron is overstating his case, and speaking in only very general terms. The German system certainly targets the hands with the Krumphau (Crooked Strike), either as a response to a cut or as a way of attacking someone in the guard of Ochs (hilt above head, point forward).

    There are a few attacks to the feet, but it's rare and risky due to the principle of uberlauffen (overrunning) which I detailed earlier in the thread.

    Targeting the blade is done more often in rapier, also with the Krumphau in longsword, and with the Schielhau (Squinting Cut, back edge downward cut) against the guard of Longpoint.

    He's also referring to duelling combat. Battlefield is another matter entirely, where any type of weapon might be used. Targeting the feet with a messer... not so much, but a halberd is more than capable of doing so.

    And that tachi with the sharp short edge is awesome. Me want that too. Give me cookie!!!!

    Best regards,

    -Mark
     
  10. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah, I got his overstatement. Basically he was lamenting people thinking that movie style swordsmanship is like genuine swordsmanship... unfortunately he chose three misconceptions that aren't, but interpretations of them are. Targeting the opponents sword isn't a misconception, but standing back and just whacking at each others weapons in a choreographed action is, and so on.

    Within Japanese systems, swordsmanship doesn't tend to attack the legs much, the blades just aren't long enough to do that safely from the front (but it is a big part of naginatajutsu, sojutsu, and so on). That said, there aren't any absolutes in this either, and there are a few systems that do make a habit of targeting the legs, such as the Yagyu Shingan Ryu. They have a tendency to get beside or behind the opponent and basically hamstring them.... lovely system, really....
     
  11. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Are these katana? So far as I know, a katana is distinct from a tachi and refers to a single edged curved saber. If my information is incorrect, I would appreciate accurate information. In any case there is no false edge on the one in the video.

    Many thanks!
     
  12. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Oh boy. That perhaps would be better suited to a different thread in the Japanese Sword Art section... oh, and that's only one blade, just a few pictures of it. Feel free to start a new thread, let me know, and I'll jump over (I don't want to derail this one too much...).
     
  13. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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  14. Senjojutsu

    Senjojutsu Blue Belt

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    Speaking of Stage Combat... I have sometimes thought - would the "English Gentlemen" of early 17th century London - who actually had used the swords hanging on their sides - while attending a performance at the original Globe Theatre watching a living William Shakespeare and his Lord Chamberlain Men doing swordfights on stage...

    ... would be amused and think amongst themselves - that crap they're showing up on stage would get us killed on the street!!!
     
  15. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    That's an interesting question. I've never seen any documentation one way or another. It could be that Fencing was still an uncommon enough skill that the majority of theater-goers wouldn't notice, much the way modern depictions of Karate fights are. It could be that the Fencers ignored the "problems" of Stage Combat and just accepted it as entertainment like the rest of the play. Or it could have offended them or been amusing to them.

    I'll have to ask a few of my Stage Combat friends.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  16. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I suspect that the audience viewed it as props for the play and not as combat analog, fencers among the audience included. Realistically, women in Shakespeare plays were played by men, so once you clear that hurdle, lack of realism in stage combat isn't a problem.
     
  17. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Basically, yes. Here is what Joachim Meyer had to say about it (Trans. Jeffrey Forgeng):

    "...also so that the practice of combat has its origin in a true rational foundation, and is not based on slipshod sword-mummery. For there is a very big difference between such mummery and combat, and indeed the knightly art of combat has always been held in great esteem by all widely experienced soliders, especially the Romans, while street-mummers are taken for the most worthless and useless folk in the world."

    Best regards,

    -Mark
     
  18. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Hey Mark,

    I thought that Meyer was talking about poorly trained pikers here, not Stage Combat/Actors. But, I admit, I'm not a Meyer scholar. (However, his Rapier system is one of the few that I would consider should I ever decide to study Rapier seriously.)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  19. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Just what I was going to say, Daniel :nods:.
     
  20. Senjojutsu

    Senjojutsu Blue Belt

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    Good Point - maybe for clarity - it is not that I would have expected Billy Shakespeare & his boys to engage in full speed swordplay on the stage.

    The audience critique would probably been focused on the actors' sword postures and distancing. As a modern day analog - just think how people trained & skilled in firearms cringe at some of the crap shown in films and on TV. Especially back in the Gunsmoke & Horesh!t days - or classic Police Drama shows.

    Those actors couldn't even hold a revolver properly if their life depended on it - never mind hitting the target.
     

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