SCA Combat

Discussion in 'Historical European Swords and Sword Arts' started by kegage, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    Langeshwert Wrote:
    See, here's a problem. Binds are done with steel, not rattan. If you don't practice binds with steel, then you're missing the whole "feeling" of swordsmanship


    I disagree, the “feel” may be different, but the rudimentary physical aspects, body, arm positions, and reactions, are the same. You cited in a earlier post that your group adopted Marine Corp training philosophy for your training. Well, our local group of fighters have also adopted a philosophy from the Marines, except from Marine Corp Force Recon; “Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome.”

    Langeshwert Wrote:
    Understanding the bind is crucial. If you're doing it with rattan and adjusting the techniques to suit rattan, then you're not doing swordsmanship. You're doing sword-hilted rattan stick fighting. Nothing wrong with that, but let's not call it something it's not. Swordsmanship involves SWORDS, not sticks. I think we can all agree on that.


    Sorry, wrong again, I very much consider myself a skilled and experienced “Swordsman” as well as a whole bunch of other types of “weaponsman”. Not a “sticksman”. To help give you an idea of how important I, and many others I know, consider the “feel” of a weapon to be, every rattan weapon we have made is not only based on an existing period weapon in style, but we also duplicate the weapon it the dimensions, weight and balance. Just because I use rattan for practicing doesn’t mean that my skills go away, or are even diluted, if I pick up a real sword. Besides, personally, I don’t normally use a bind in the first place. I prefer to be disengaged. Keeps em guessing.

    Langeshwert Wrote:
    I have the same problem with using only wooden wasters. Wasters are tools, but they are not swords. Swordsmanship boils down to "how can I use a sword to save my life in an earnest encounter with sharps?", not "how can I use rattan/wood/boffers/padded weapons to win a match?"


    The silly, automatic, reply to this is: “Who, in their right mind, is going to take a boffer dagger to a real knife fight? That doesn’t, however, mean that the skill and experience they have from practicing knife fighting with a boffer/practice knife is not going to, just assist them, but will most likely be the reason the can at least hold their own, or even win in a real fight. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to have to use my training and skills in a real encounter. Already been there and done that too.
    The assumption in the your statement above, and several others that I have seen in this tread, seems to indicate that because we have rules that restrict target areas, the materials used to make, and the way we use our weapons, all for safety purposes, our research, practice, and training is about sports play and “winning matches”, not about historical recreation/reenactment and as a marshal art. What exactly does it take for any marshal activity to be considered a marshal art as opposed to a sporting activity, or to be considered a legitimate research organization? The manuals that you refer to are utilized just as much by our combatants as they are by yours for the weapon systems they are about. Our practice sessions are just as serious as any dojo or practice hall, if a bit more informal, with the number one goal being the improvement of form, technique, skill, and teaching those who wish to learn. There are more than just a few in our organization that do treat it as a sport, and most are happy with the very basic skill levels they achieve, but don’t usually go much farther than that, but even they are taught historically accurate techniques during their training.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am not insulted, but I am getting a little frustrated. In an earlier post I pointed out some of the concessions both of our organizations have had to make to historical and practical realities for the sake of safety. So, I could easily make the leap that you seem to be making. Your website mentioned your group has tournaments, just like we do, and listed the rules for those tournaments. Does that mean that your practice with padded weapons and wasters is about “winning matches”? I didn’t think so. But if not that, then, why do you have tournaments? Could it be for the same reasons we do, and the reasons they did historically?

    Langeshwert Wrote:
    I'm not invalidating the sporting aspect of swordplay. The ancients used this stuff for sport as well, but it was created for killing.


    Which is also my point. The main reason we do combat the way we do is to try a recreate combat as close as we can to the reality of combat with out people actually dying or getting seriously hurt. That means that combat has to be done as close to the same speeds, and as close to the same force that real combat had. We know that if we used real, or even close to real, weapons in our combat people would get seriously hurt and die. The SCA has been doing this type of combat for forty-one years and no one has ever died or received a life threatening injury from combat. There have been some serious injuries, but a vast majority of those were due to things like stepping in a hole while running across a field.

    Langeshwert Wrote:
    Now here I disagree completely. Any study of related weapons (bucklers, duelling shields) shows a multiplicity of techniques. Groups like Hammaborg try to adapt these to larger shields such as the viking shields featured below. One can certainly see where both Talhoffer and I.33 were adapted to fit a different weapon. There's a lot going on there, despite the simplicity of the techniques.


    I said that: “The wider and the longer they get the more restrictive they become.”
    I also said that: ”The smaller they are the more versatile they are in the ways they can be used.” I watched the clips you posted, and you are right on how “they” interpreted and the extrapolation “they” used in the use of “those” shields. I know some serious Vikings that wholeheartedly disagree.

    Langeshwert Wrote:
    If you haven't studied the surviving manuals on rotella/targe/buckler to the point of having internalized them, then no reconstruction means anything outside of the artificial restraints of SCA combat, regardless of the amount of experimental practice put in. For that matter, neither would any of my attempts at shield combat mean anything without similar study.


    For rotella/targe/buckler you may have a point, but not for the other shield styles. I know for a fact, having been proven on my body, if you use the techniques described in the manuals for heater, kite, rectangle, or other similar styles you will, move the areas of the shield designed to protect you out of the zones they were designed to protect, leaving those areas vulnerable to attack. The arm movement for these shields are radically different from the round and center-grip shields.

    Langeshwert Wrote:
    With all due respect, if you're not revising your interpretations every couple of years, then you're not doing research into historical combat. Thinking that you're certain of how a given weapon was used without extensive textual, technical evidence to back you up is unwise, to say the least. All you can truly say is "this is how I've made it work for me, given what I know now".


    Don’t assume we don’t, we do. Not everything written in those manuals is all the knowledge there is on the subject. We cover aspects of single and melee combat that are not touched in the manuals you cite. Also, they are accurate for the way the people who wrote them taught, and for their culture and period, and do not necessarily apply to all others, or even other cultures in that period.
    In short, it can quite often be an experimenting game. A. works in some situations, but not in all. B. works here and here, but not in this and that. Why not? What alternatives seem to be plausible? What movement and footwork seem to work best. Lots of slow-work. Lots of evaluating and reevaluating.

    Langeshwert Wrote:
    In a few years you will learn more, and may perhaps radically change your perspective on various weapons as more material becomes available. I know my interpretation of German Longsword has undergone a lot of change in the past year, as I understand the manuals better, and as I bout more. Please know that I'm not condemning your research as invalid. Experimentation via bouting is very important, and I applaud the hard work you've done. Just remember that we're just at the tip of a very large iceberg.


    Sounds familiar. See the above.

    Langeshwert Wrote:
    The best is truly yet to come.


    Yeah, Gulf Wars is in the first part of March. I can hardly wait.

    Kevin
     
  2. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    thardey Wrote:
    How big was the square? The idea makes sense- I haven't seen any pictures of that style, but I could see how it would be useful both on horse, (if you use the guige), but quickly adjustable for the ground.


    I don’t know if there was a standardized size. I would think it would depend on the person using the shield, just like it does for us now, different sizes for different sized folks. Below is a website that covers several different ways that kite shields may have been strapped using period artistic representations as source material. The way I described the enarmes is included, but they are used in several different ways including the one I described.
    http://www.angelfire.com/wy/svenskildbiter/armsandarmour/enarmes.html

    thardey Wrote:
    No, that's not the picture. In the one I saw, the strappings were arranged in a downward diagonal, and the picture illustrated a man on a horse. In your picture, there appears to be a small handle near the top of the shield, in the one I was talking about, that small handle was moved to the bottom, so there was no difference in the orientation or grip of the shield between mounted and dismounted combat. The only difference would be that the left hand would be gripping the reins, with a downward angle of the arm, so that the flat part of the shield was up, and the bottom point covered the front of the leg while mounted, vs. gripping the handle, and the arm is now held horizontally, so that the shield rotates so that the upper point covers the head, and the lower point covers the groin. Essentially the shield would be in the same position as in your style, except that my arm would be horizontal, while yours is vertical, which would give me farther reach to cover the front of my body, buckler-style.


    I have a t-shirt that has the enarmes on a heater shield that looks kinda that way, but I think it’s an artistic mess up, or a can you find what wrong with this picture sort of thing.

    thardey Wrote:
    The kite shield was also primarily designed to cover a horseman's left side while riding. Since most of what I've seen regarding the kite shield comes from the Normans during the Crusader era, most of the time you'll see pictures of them related to horseback. Because a lot of the Crusaders lost their horses during the campaign, they used their shields for foot-work, too.
    I'm not disputing that the kite or heater shield was used on the ground - but while we have pictures and records of how to use the shield mounted (mostly pictures from tapestries of battles, or descriptions of jousting), and none that we know of on using it on foot, it seems logical that it's primary purpose was mounted. For line soldiers a square shield would create a better link to your neighbor, and we have records of how (the romans, at least) used that. Or a round shield used like a buckler for foot was good, too.


    Your right, but there is no accounting as to the rhyme or reason why different cultures used the shields they did for ground combat. To use a modern analogy, if you will, the SCA has 19 kingdoms. Many of them are at war with each other on, at least, a year to year basis, and, if they are not at war themselves, they are allies of a kingdom or two that is at war. Lots-O-War going on. Great fun. That means they almost all have standing armies of some sort. The shields used in those armies vary in style, size, and use from kingdom to kingdom. Just like the different cultures in the middle ages.

    Knights were the superstars of their day. So, naturally 99% of the artistic stuff we see is about them. The poor ole infantry grunt hardly ever got represented in anything except maybe as background art. Same story as today, officers get all the credit and glory.
    It is a hard thing to get much hard data on. There are some artistic things showing shields being used on the ground by what appears to be infantry. Rectangle, Oval, Kite, Heater, and Round, all seemed to have been used as both mounted and ground shields depending on the place and the period.

    thardey Wrote:
    The method I'm describing is the opposite of what I've seen in the SCA.

    Where you're looking at the back of the shield, and the "****" represents your forearm, and the "&" represents your left hand holding the handle.

    While mounted the upper-left strap would be near your shoulder, the lower-right strap would be near your elbow -- on your upper forearm, and your hand would be exposed. The whole thing would be held in place by the guige around your neck.

    But you're right, the right strap would be useless once you're holding the handle. The handle would be useless while you're mounted, and the strap is necessary, as well as the guige.


    I have never seen the picture you are describing, and I hope I am reading your ASCII drawing correctly. I can’t speak for mounted combat, but, for what you are describing, if I understand correctly, on the ground your arm and hand would be pointed more towards the ground. That would make the top of the shield almost impossible to control, which is essential to block head and body shots. So, I don’t know what would be best for mounted combat It very well could be that, like what you’ll see at the web site above. There may have been many variations of how the enarmes worked depending on the person using the shield. Sir Robert liked his the way they are depicted in his effigy and the person in the picture you saw liked his that way

    thardey Wrote:
    Most of what I've seen is a pushing match between two shields locked face-to-face, while the combatants try to reach over the top and hit the other guy in the back. (I used to be involved with the SCA, too, but I'm also in the AnTir kingdom, which you've already described with accuracy.) The footwork is the same as what I learned in High-school football. Essentially drive the other guy off-balance, and hit him when you do so


    Like I said before bad training is bad training, and begets more bad training and bad technique. That technique does have some merit though, but mostly only in bridge battles when your unit is trying to push the enemy off the bridge.
    Too bad, sounds like you would be a great addition to the group.

    Kevin

    By the Way- I really like your signature. I was going to use it for mine, and then I saw you had it. Darn it! That’s ok I have some other ideas.
     
  3. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    I'm still trying to find the picture again - meanwhile, here's an excellent thread on the subject over at MyArmoury.com http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=1425

    Somebody mentions that some shields had two handles, one high, and one low, but he doesn't give a source.

    I have a t-shirt that has the enarmes on a heater shield that looks kinda that way, but I think it’s an artistic mess up, or a can you find what wrong with this picture sort of thing.

    Let me try the ASCII-thing again:

    _____________
    |..................|
    |..*..............|
    |....*............|
    .\.....*........./
    ...\.....*...../
    .....\......&/
    .......\..../
    .........\ /

    This would be how it would look on horseback
    Now, for the ground, rotate your arm to horizontal.

    The upper-right corner would now be on top -- the "peak" of a rooftop.

    True, you wouldn't have as much strength at that peak, but that wouldn't matter unless you hard parry with your shield. If you "shed" the downward strikes, as it taught in Talhoffer, Marozzo, and Liechtenauer (for the sword), then you just use the edge for parrying, and unless they really know the finer details of cutting, they'll over commit, and the sword slides off your shield.

    On the plus side, you would have some of the options available to you that were demonstrated in the Viking Video. If your shield arm is vertical, and I "punch" your shield just to the outside of your arm, I can rotate your shield and create an opening, similar to Marozzo's buckler. Also, I can now support my sword against my shield in a very effective defense "wall" that is also taught by Marozzo. For a third, I can reach further across my body with my shield, giving me the right-and-left motion that I've heard is limited with the heater.

    Basically, it gives me a more mobile shield, that can be used aggressively in many ways, including the edge. Sort of a "stepping stone" to the finer points of buckler.

    However, I think this is where Langen's point is shown. Maybe my way is what was historically taught to the knights, maybe yours was. However, I just demonstrated a very valid option on how to use a shield based on my experience on horseback, and extrapolated from what I know of established texts. There's no way to ever prove which one is historical. We could see what works for SCA, and I'm sure that for most people, your strap will continue to be the most popular. But this spring I will be fighting from a horse with one of these suckers, and I can guarantee you that I won't be gripping it your way.

    The problem though, is that everything I wrote doesn't amount to a hill of beans. A couple of pictures, my own experience, and some extrapolation only amounts to my opinion. Nothing more.

    I can't say that I'm using the shield in a "Historical Way" I'm just using in in a practical way.

    You could come back with a couple of more pictures, I could come back with a video, eventually we could meet and slug it out -- but that still won't prove what was historically accurate. I think that's Langen's point. I mean, kudos for trying the stuff, and it's all fun, but until we find more manuscripts, there's simply no way we can say how to use a sword and shield historically.

    But for the record, I do think that I will use the "square strap" for my shield this spring -- I'll just put the handle down low! :)
     
  4. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    thardey wrote:
    The problem though, is that everything I wrote doesn't amount to a hill of beans. A couple of pictures, my own experience, and some extrapolation only amounts to my opinion. Nothing more.

    I can't say that I'm using the shield in a "Historical Way" I'm just using in in a practical way.

    You could come back with a couple of more pictures, I could come back with a video, eventually we could meet and slug it out -- but that still won't prove what was historically accurate. I think that's Langen's point. I mean, kudos for trying the stuff, and it's all fun, but until we find more manuscripts, there's simply no way we can say how to use a sword and shield historically.


    I agree with you totally. There is no way that either one of us is going to prove this historically. It was never my intention to do so in the first place. You asked a question, and I attempted to answer it as best I could, and continued the discussion on the idea that maybe some of my very limited knowledge could help you with your dilemma.

    I sent to the owner of the An Tir Equestrian Yahoo group and e-mail requesting assistance. I briefly explained the discussion we were having and described both the techniques, and the evidence they were based on, and asked if they could provide any historical evidence as to either technique. Below is the response I received. I hope it provides you with some helpful information. He also included a couple of web sites that may be able to provide you with more helpful information.

    Kevin

    Kevin, AKA Your Excellency Uilleam MacUilleam of Garloch

    I'm not sure who you are speaking with in the Seattle area, but I am active with 4 of the local groups that do medieval horse sports around here including the SCA. I've been doing the joust and other equestrian combat sports for around 8 years now, and am an avid practitioner of equestrian war-sports in general

    I can't provide you with historical references at the moment, only real-world experience. When seated on horseback, you cannot conceivably defend the majority of the mass of your body or your vitals with a shield that is strapped to your arm at a downward angle as described in your inquiry. Any lance blow that struck you solidly with your arm in that position would undoubtedly do heinous damage to your arm at extension, and it would also tend to drive the lance tip inwards towards you and the body of your horse.

    Having been on the receiving end of literally thousands of lance blows, I find that the exact place I want my opponents lance to go is the upper outside corner of my shield and past my left shoulder. This keeps the point of their lance under my control and transfers the least amount of shock into me, and also reduces the chance that the lance point will strike "Home" in the center of my mass or to my lower midsection (which would do serious damage as well as certainly un-horse me). The single best way for me to comfortably accomplish this is to strap my shield in a diagonal fashion on my left arm in the same way most SCA heavies hang their heaters.

    This is not to say that someone at some point may have attempted a different method of hanging the shield in the joust. I find it more likely that the source the gentleman found was done with a little "artistic license" either to show the arms "properly", or perhaps it was done in satire to make one think that the person pictured was a fool who strapped his shield on upside-down.

    ~ Aaron Clements
    SCA: Caraide de Damh, Advanced Equestrian of Aquaterra, An Tir
    WCA: Master Mounted Archer ( www.warhorsechallenge.com)
    Green Knight of the Seattle Knights ( www.seattleknights.com)
    I.J.A. Jouster
     
  5. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    Thanks for that, it was very useful.

    So what does he do with the reins?
     
  6. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    Never mind -- I answered my own question.

    I took a look at the galleries and figured out a couple of things:

    http://www.seattleknights.com/gallery/gallerypicture.asp?Picture=2158

    Shows a picture of how the Seattle knights hold their shields. A slight upward angle, like you say.

    Now take a look at this one. and This one.

    See how high the reins are? You have absolutely no control over the horse at this point. Which, in the process of jousting, is probably a good thing, since at that moment of impact, your body does all kinds of weird things, like flailing around trying to stay on your horse. At very least, you end up leaning back, to "roll with" the shock, at least according to this guy. The reigns appear to be long enough to hold them high, take the hit, and roll backwards without jerking the horse's mouth, if you have the presence of mind to drop your shield as you roll back. If not, one of two things will happen, both of them bad: 1.) you cause your horse to rear up as you are leaning backwards, and you are unhorsed, or 2.) your horse gets a "harder mouth" requiring you to use more aggressive bits. So, as long as your reins are long enough, you are okay, which is probably what these guys do.

    Keep in mind, that your reins are useless when you have them that long. The knights seem to have experienced this, which is why in any pictures that show the reins held high (either holding a shield, or shooting arrows while holding the reins) you see that they have set up "lanes" for the horse to follow. This would have been quite standard for the lists, either rope ones as shown, or permanent wooden ones. (Also used as a barrier for "long spear on foot.")

    In the other pictures, that require more control over the horse, they are riding in a more traditional way, with the reins low. Like here, here, or here. So I know they know how to ride, they just ride differently for the joust.

    Now look at this picture. It's kind of hard to see, but you can pick out the reins as being much lower. Later the author describes the position of the reins as "well forward". Some of the pre-stirrup "jousting" saddles (way back) had horns, similar to our western saddles, but were heavier and wider, like these. Some historians theorize that they were there to hold during the shock of the collision, so your "bridle hand" would be low. From here, you can keep your reins short, yet still be able to lean all the way back, without jerking on your horse's mouth.

    So, during a joust, control of the horse isn't as important, since a jousting horse would have been trained to run alongside a barrier. (My horse would prefer to learn a pattern, than to actually listen to me, too.) But during a melee, or fighting with a sword from horseback, I would rather have the control, since, as you know, mobility is the key to winning sword fights. At this point, you're not as worried about the shock of the strike from a lance, but the shield would be essentially a part of your armor, (Which actually happened in the later jousting armor -- your shield was connected to the armor until it was all considered armor.) for that critical 6:00-9:00 blind spot that can't be defended if you're right-handed.

    Jousting armor is worthless for this type of fighting, as well. It's simply too big, and you can't defend your left side at all. Large pine lances were replaced with lighter ash spears (you could thrust in almost all directions), in short, field cavalry is different than Jousting. This is the kind of mounted combat I was referring to.

    All that said, the square pattern of enarmes still seems to be appropriate for any of the styles.
     
  7. aclements

    aclements White Belt

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    Greetings, all.

    Pardon me for stepping in to this thread, but curiosity got the better of me and I wound up wandering in and reading the correspondence thus far.

    As I have been cited as a reference, and have the first-hand perspective of understanding what is happening in a few of the pictures shown, might I be so bold as to offer some explanation?

    First off, please understand that there were several professional horse trainers and riders that I received my education from. All of them very specifically do war-sports training for a living, and have spent considerable time and resources doing the research and experimentation to get it to be as realistic and accurate as they could while making some sacrifices for the sake of safety and sanity. If it would help you at all in your quest for understanding and clarification, I could check with a few of them and see if they would like to comment or possibly be contacted by you so that you could speak with them directly.

    From my experience, "thardey" is partially correct in some of the assumptions that have been made so far. However, there are a couple of clarifications I would like to make.

    Firstly, the height of the reins you observed is due to a modified 2-finger grip that we use with the horses on the list. Although you are correct that we have a -reduced- amount of control over the horse via the mouth, the reins are not "useless" as you describe. I think that the photos are somewhat misleading as a few of the riders like to reach forward with the shield before impact, despite the effect it has on their accuracy and control. We retain the ability to neck-rein, but do sacrifice some of the bit control that classical equitation provides.

    Nor do we exclusively use lanes for the joust or for archery. We joust with the lance on either side of the horse, with and without lanes. We also shoot and spear fore, aside, and aft of our horses "in the round" more often than not. Our games and such are quite varied by the situation of the arena we have to work with, so we have to adapt and cannot rely on aids such as a rope or boarded lane. However, those who would have had that as a standard aid for jousting could easily do without rein control whatsoever as the horse has almost no option aside from responding to leg queue in that situation, and could stop, turn, and prepare at the end of the list by weight-shift queues from the rider.

    You may also have noted that in a goodly number of the archery pictures the reins are loose at the hip, in the teeth, or looped loosely over the primary arm of the rider where they can be taken back up if needed. Most of those who train at archery with us can do an entire "show" or event with bow in hand and never need to use the reins at all.

    Let me also propose that as an alternative definition of "Well Forward" being as you described, the author might also be describing what is considered "Presenting The Shield": Setting your arm and the inside of the shield slightly away from your body along the center line of the horse, unlike the traditional "turtle" that is done with a shield while on the ground, so as to encourage the oncoming strike to glance rather than hit square or true.

    I would also like to correct my earlier statement in regards to the bracing or enarming of the shield. My comment was specifically in reference my understanding that the shield in question was enarmed in a bend-wise fashion with the hand at the base of the bend. The arm would therefore hang at near 3/4 extension with the hand near the knee. Thus enarmed, any hit to the shield would tend to hyper-extend the elbow with the shield as the fulcrum and provide almost no impact protection whatsoever to either rider or horse if it struck true.

    In clarification, I think I see that what you are referring to is actually a more level enarming of the shield that allows for a lower grip of both reins and shield, somewhat like a targe would be, therefore allowing the rider to grip the horn or forward cantle of the saddle. With the larger shields as shown in the picture you presented, this would actually make sense and allow for more maneuverability for other types of combat. Unfortunately, the offset of being braced so against the tree of the saddle is that it would transfer the majority of the hit to the spine and ribcage of the horse - good for the rider, but seriously bad for the animal, possibly crippling it on the first blow.

    That being said, you are quite correct that all my theory and practice mentioned thus far is mostly in reference to heavy jousting and does not take into consideration at all the necessities of Medium and Light Cavalry or mounted sword combat. Close combat on horseback in full Edwardian jousting plate would be quite the comedy considering how restricted and heavy it is, and it would be equally comical to see someone so outfitted trying to engage light cavalry.

    For my preference when riding outside of the joust, I use a round shield and sabre as part of my standard kit on horseback along with a modified hungarian horsebow and boar spear on a 7-foot ash shaft. (I tend to use the Page style on foot, if you are familiar with it). Thus outfitted I could easily outmaneuver several fully armored knights and choose to run them until they were exhausted, pick at them at distance, or dance circles around them to harry at them. =)

    Should you be interested in discussing this further, please let me know. If I have been a bother or caused confusion, I beg you pardon and will excuse myself from further comment.

    ~ Aaron Clements
     
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  8. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    You're quite welcome, I hope you find reasons to stick around.

    That would be great, right now I am trying to research information on armed light cavalry, with emphasis on the transition from mounted to foot combat. I have the opportunity to work with Anthony Delongis this Spring on both, for an independent movie shoot, and all of us "extras" are committed to as realistic approach to the fighting as is allowed by camera work. It seems at this point that most of the light cavalry work is oriented towards attacking foot-soldiers, which is fairly simple, but there is any information on melee fighting between mounted soldiers (either with sword or light spear - 10'-12', I would appreciate it.

    Your horses must be very well trained, indeed! :)

    Are the horses trained to run a "pattern" then? I mean, when they see a run for the joust, or for a target, do they know what to do? (I have a hard enough time with "fine control" while at a lope, so if the horse doesn't understand basically what I'm trying to do -- run along this road, chase that cow, etc., it makes the ride much more uncomfortable.)

    Ah, that's what I was seeing -- it looked as though they were actually holding the reins. I knew that historically the reins were dropped to fire the bow, and that the horse simply "had it's head" which generally meant a straight line. But in an archery event, you're not charging another horse, so you don't have to fight the "skitters".

    He talks about the bridle and it's uses more fully on this page. Near the bottom is a section titled "Bridles".

    Gotcha, that makes more sense with what you wrote. I could definitely see how that would cause injury.

    For this type of enarming, I was thinking of the shield being similar in position to this later shield, but as a heater. With the leftmost strap being around the upper arm, almost to the armpit, and the rightmost strap being near the elbow. The shock would be taken on the upper arm, which could be locked in tight against the body without affecting the reins, and with a moderate curve to the shield, you could "roll with" the blow, and for many attacks, let it slide past you, taking the hit exactly where you described.
    If the lance came to the center of your chest, or the right side, you could roll to the right, and let it slide across you. (just hope you don't get clotheslined!)

    Indeed, in fact my friends and I are in the process of re-discovering plate armor for light cavalry. It's quite different than what you see in the popular culture. Nor would I ever consider taking a hit with a lance, if I could help it.

    That would be my style as well. Plus, I'm actually in Southern Oregon, and there isn't much jousting done down here. On the other hand, I could easily build my own targets, or set up a ring catching practice appropriate for light cavalry. Our horses are trained for either reining or roping, which seems to transfer well to that kind of application.

    Not at all, and welcome to Martial Talk!
     
  9. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Rudimentary is the key word here. One can learn 80% of basic sword techniques with a stick. But that doesn't make you a swordsman. It makes you someone who's learned some sword techniques with a stick, and perhaps a decent fighter.

    But do you use a SWORD regularly? If I drive go-karts regularly, it doesn't qualify me for Formula 1. True, the prinicples of melee weapons combat are universal, regardless of the weapon used. A staff uses a lot of longsword technique (or vice-versa, depending on how you look at it). However, I don't for a moment believe that I can hold my own with a dedicated staff fighter should I have to use a staff. Similarly, if you have to fight with a real sword, your skills will be dilited if you haven't actually used a real sword. I know that training with rattan will help, but there's no substitute for the real thing.

    If a superior fighter wants to bind your weapon, it will happen. When it does, and you can't work the bind, you're screwed. The bind is crucial to understand. There's a reason why the masters speak of the "feel of the steel", using terms like "Fuhlen" and "Sentiment du Fer". If you've never felt you know, steel, then your knowledge of swordsmanship is severely stunted. Using an accurate weapon is crucial to understanding historical techniques. If I were to say "I study armoured combat with the intent of attaining consumate accuracy, but I've never worn real armour... but I have hockey equipment and that's accurate enough", you'd laugh in my face, and rightly so.

    No argument there.

    Indeed. However, I train as if it were a possibility.

    That's not the point. In your initial post, you said the SCA strives for consumate accuracy, or something to that effect, which is clearly not the case with regards to combat. If you said, "we are striving to be as accurate as possible within the constraints of our sporting system", nobody would have said boo. Fair cop and all that.

    No one is disagreeing with this either. My issue in this post is that you can't call yourself a SWORDSMAN without using a SWORD in your training. A martial artist? Sure, fill your boots. A practicioner of combat sports? Absolutely. There is a reason why historically, students graduated from wasters to steel blades. It is simply REQUIRED to understand the finer points of the Art. A flight simulator is not a real airplane.

    Very little (OK, virtually none) of AES Calgary training is done with tournaments in mind. We endeavour to learn the historical techniques as accurately as possible with regards to unarmoured combat. We have tournaments for fun, and to publicise the organization. It's chance for AES members from both Alberta chapters to get together and learn from each other, and have a jolly good bash. While we're at it, we get to meet people from other MA organizations.

    Yup, no problem there.

    That's my point. You can't claim consumate accuracy with weapons that aren't even close to real. That's my only point. I'm not invalidating the SCA (nor would I cast aspersions on such a fine organization), nor am I saying that it has no martial merit. But to say you're an expert swordsman without using real swords is dangerous territory.

    Here are swordsmen whose skill level I aspire to:

    Note the lack of protective equipment and the intent used. Awesome. I wouldn't do it without a mask, but I respect the guts they have doing it. That's how it was done for sport historically with regards to protection, except back then you tried to draw blood or welts. The "sport" fencers of the day were a hell of a lot more martial than many modern "serious" martial artists.

    With regards to Hammaborg, at least they started with real, documented shield technques from historical sources. That MUST be the starting point, even if you throw it all out later, to claim any kind of historical accuracy in the first place. Otherwise, you're just making stuff up, even if it works great. And there's nothing wrong with making stuff up, as long as you call it what it is.

    Very best regards,

    -Mark
     
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  10. aclements

    aclements White Belt

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    I'm sure I'll get the hang of block-quote replies at some point, but bear with me until then. =)

    If you are familiar with Mr. Delongis, you may also be familiar with Mr. Anderson. I have studied under 2 of his pupils, both of which were independently contracted for their light cavalry horse-work for several movies such as the Costner films Dances with Wolves and The Postman. I'll write to them tonight and see if they are available to chat or email with you. I reference them in particular as they are the most likely to share a common frame of reference... and also because they are the most dedicated devotees of the McClellan saddle that was listed in your reference site earlier.

    If you are researching light cavalry and the transitional period for horse, are you restricting yourself to the European aspects alone or are you incorporating the Eastern aspects as well?

    As for the horses... yes, they are extremely well-trained. We spend two days a week, every week, in training with the horses to keep our skills and training up to par. I comment all the time about how silly it seems to be riding a horse that is so obviously smarter than I am. Two of the three horses I have worked with were specifically been trained for Cutting, and learned to do side-stepping at pace and even the roll-back turn on leg and balance queue.

    And as to pattern riding - there is a little of that, yes. However, we do an immense amount of fine control with heel and knee queues so that we do not have to rely on a set pattern. They gain an association over time that seems to follow the pattern of what weapon we carry - so if I am carrying the heavy lance and shield and I give the queue for a left-lead-canter, they understand that we are going to joust; if I carry a spear and lead with the other leg, we're probably going to run a ring pattern or head for the spearing target over there -->. Still, we do wind up doing the majority of the driving and queuing for fine control.

    On the other side of the coin, we do have a 22-year old gelding that has gone completely blind and can still do most of the sports we do reinless and without any problems with a reasonably trained rider. That tells me there is some kind of recognizable pattern there.

    For the archery, we're working on a more traditional Mongolian / Steppes riding and shooting style that relies completely on leg control. You are correct in that we give them their head for this sport, though they are used to charging other horses... sometimes to the point that we collide in a most ungraceful fashion if we are not careful. (He says, politely referring to last Saturdays "Mud-Bowl Incident")

    On to the shield... Shoulder-strapping it to the upper arm in that fashion in a transitional manner wherein it was not simply riveted or shaped as part of the spaulder or pauldron is really quite an interesting thought. It would have to be bound to the upper arm for certain in order to support the shield, and I can see good reason to have 2 straps to the left arm and a cross-body strap that connected to a single upper portion of the shield at the left arm-pit as a potential option there. My understanding of the physics of this lead me to think that the upper arm would be bound in the upper-left quadrant of the heater-style shield, and the elbow bound near center. Another option, considering the limited range of motion needed, is that there is a strap near-center at 90-degrees (N-S on the shield) that allows for binding of the forearm and reinforces the shield position with the arm cocked at an "L".

    An now you have piqued my curiosity. I think I have to experiment with this and see how it works out.
     
  11. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    In the "reply to Topic" box, at the top you'll see the options for changing the font, size, add smileys, etc. Just before the "#" button you'll see a button that looks like a speech bubble, like you see in the comics. Hit that, and it will give a code that looks something like this: |QUOTE||/QUOTE|, except that the "|" will be replaced with the appropriate brackets. Anything between those quotes will be offset,

    I haven't had the chance to work with Mr. DeLongis on horse, only on foot, so I'm hoping that the more familiar I am with his riding style (mostly American Cavalry, from what I understand) the easier it will be to work with him this spring, so If they are willing to talk to me, especially about proper cues and such, that would be very helpful.

    Since there seems to be a "family lineage" from the Transitional Period, through the Spanish Cavalry, to the Vaqueros and Modern Western riding, there seems to be more than enough to learn at this point. If I get interested in archery from horseback, I would definitely be interested in the easter ideas, but for now, I'm just wanting to be able to keep a good seat, and not hit the horse.

    My horse is a 23 year old Arabian, who loves to ride patterns in the Arena. If I do 2 figure-eights in a row, she'll do figure-eights until I tell her to stop - until then, I could just about drop the reins and go to sleep. Same with circles or whatnot. Outside of the arena, on the other hand, she just wants to go home. I haven't been able to work with her on any "target runs", but I think she'll figure out pretty quick what the game is. My sister's horses, on the other hand, are more "cow-horses" and they just want to play chase.

    Our horses are trained to ride mostly with leg pressure, with the reins "confiming" our leg cues. So I am learning to turn them with shifting my weight and with leg cues, but I need the reins to do any "tight" turns.

    That's basically the picture that I saw. The height of the shield was supported by the guige, around the neck. A looser strap appeared to be in the upper-left, but not quite to the corner, like you said, and this would go around the arm, and under the armpit. Its job wasn't to hold the weight of the shield, but to keep it snug to the shoulder, so it could be at 45 degrees or so. The other strap was about 6 inches to the right and down of the center, and ran mostly vertical. It looked like it was around the widest part of the forearm, about 5 inches behind the wrist. The handle wasn't used on horse, but it was only about 3 inches from that strap. When you transitioned from horse to ground, you slipped the guige off your neck ASAP, and grabbed the handle, which now supported the weight of the shield. This would slide the shield down to your forearm.

    Since my shield training has been with the buckler, we're taught to be aggressive with the shield, using it to strike the other shield with the edge, and create openings. Very rarely to we use the face. Often, the buckler and shield are used to support each other, and this would be possible with this kind of strapping. You wouldn't be able to "tortoise" as well, (although, theoretically you still could, it would just look funny), but you would be able to "punch" with the edges of the shield. It would be more passive on the horse, and more aggressive on foot.

    It would be a *completely* different style than I've ever seen in heavy-fighting, but it would look a lot like the rapier fighting, which is my arena.
     
  12. kegage

    kegage Green Belt

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    Hey guys,
    I wanted to let ya'll know that I will be offline for the weekend. So, I won't be able to post responses until early next week. My local SCA group is hosting a Arts and Sciences Collegium and Faire, and I have bunches of stuff to do for that. Two of the things that might be of interest to this thread is that I am teaching a class on "Understanding Musashi". The other thing is a class in "Modern Medieval Jousting". My, very cool, dentist gave me a pair of remote controled jousting knights and we will be have an improumtu tournament with those.

    Type at you later,

    Kevin
     
  13. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    That sounds like fun. I have a presentation on the AES tomorrow as well. :)

    Best regards,

    -Mark
     
  14. andras

    andras White Belt

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    As a long time practitioner of SCA combat over the years, there are several areas where SCA combat is not historically accurate:

    • No blows to the knee and below. The archaelogical record for the Battle of Wisby, for example, shows a lot of wounds were received to the lower leg or foot. This has the following impacts:
      1. The fighter is taught to avoid hitting a particular area that is highly vulnerable. This is relatively minor, as in a real fight, this could easily be consciously overridden.
      2. The fighter is taught there is no need to block the knee and below. This is a serious issue, because effective blocking must be partly instinctual. This is one of the two major weaknesses of the typical SCA fighter.
      3. Curved heater shields become much more powerful than they otherwise would be. Great swords, spears and pole-arms become less powerful than they should be.
    When the SCA rules were formulated, we lacked the ability to make quality knee and foot protection, so it was a good idea. Now knee and lower leg protection is easily and cheaply available. Although we have the ability to make foot armor, it is not cheaply available, nor is it likely to be. Personally, I would like to see the rules changed to the mid-calf. It leaves enough of a margin of safety for the ankles and feet and corrects most of the imbalances from this flaw.

    • No grappling/body-to-body contact, etc. It's a major historical flaw. Again, it was introduced for safety reasons. Most early SCA members had little to no clue of how to do this safely. Most still do not. It would take a massive organizational effort for this to change, because thousands of part-time fighters would have to be completely retrained. Given our penchant for battles, I think it would also increase the number of damaged knees and cause a big increase in damaged ankles as well.
    I would very much like to see some experiments done on this to start developing the techniques and the training methods for them. Some of the other groups out there are way ahead of the SCA on this.
    1. This makes large fighters stronger than they otherwise should be, because the equalizing methods that allow a smaller individual to throw or trip a larger one are not allowed.
    2. SCA fighters are unconcerned with another fighter's body parts, only their weapon edges. This is the second major weakness they have.
    • Our weapons behave a-historically when they impact a shield. In effect, they bounce rather than bite or skitter off.
    1. Good fighters use the kinetic energy from the bounce to deliver another blow faster than it could otherwise be delivered. Thus, the timing is somewhat ahistorical, making the offense stronger than it otherwise would be.
    2. Shields are indestructible whereas we believe some of them were disposable or could be penetrated.
    3. Standard shield blocking motions intercept the blow and cause the shield to accept more damage than it would with deflecting motions designed to extend the shield's life during the battle.
    4. Shields cannot bind a weapon that bites into them too strongly.
    • No striking with the shield.
      1. Gosh almighty, but SCA fighters are SO open to being hit with a shield. Center grip round shields just beg to be slammed into someone's throat, face, inner elbow, kneecap or collarbone. This makes heaters relatively stronger than they would be otherwise.
    There's more, but it's late and I'm tired. :)

    All that said, there are many, many excellent features of well-taught, well-executed SCA combat.
     
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  15. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    Excellent and insightful post!
     
  16. Nolo_Ferratus

    Nolo_Ferratus White Belt

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    I have traded E-mails with two different SCA Martials and determined the following...

    1. SCA combat is not in fact modeled after anything in particular.

    2. There is no such thing as a list of reasons that has been approved by the SCA that explains the rationale behind their sparring rules.

    3. SCA martials decide to error on the side of what they perceive as safety and so they may say that a rule is in place when in fact it is not.

    So now that I established these fundamental facts I must conclude the following.

    1. Anyone who claims to know why an SCA sparring rule has been made is only voicing an opinion and is not making an SCA approved statement..

    2. SCA sparring rules can not possibly make sense or be consistent in the reasons behind their rules since their sparring is not modeled after anything.

    3. SCA sparring rules are not designed to be fair to all types of fighters and are instead intended to make certain people seem more skilled than the actually are.

    3a. Belted fighters are allowed to interpret ambiguous rules in their own favor.
    3b. SCA sparring rules clearly favor "sword and board" fighters over pole weapon fighters.

    I don't mean to say that one can't learn Martial skills within the SCA but I see no reason to trust the SCA as an organization since they fail to answer simple questions such as, what are you trying to do?

    When People involved with the SCA say they are "recreating the middle ages" they still arn't saying anything about what they are doing in the physical sense. The word "recreate" which they always seem to deploy refers only to making something anew in the imagination. This word "recreation" explains nothing about what it is physically that they are trying to do. An organization can't create a set of rules for people to follow that make sense unless they first make a clear statement which explains what they are trying to do.

    So again I ask the question ... What is the SCA and what are they trying to do?
     
  17. hafoc

    hafoc Yellow Belt

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    Quote:
    Shields on the other hand are very restrictive in how they can be used effectively.


    Now here I disagree completely. Any study of related weapons (bucklers, duelling shields) shows a multiplicity of techniques. Groups like Hammaborg try to adapt these to larger shields such as the viking shields featured below. One can certainly see where both Talhoffer and I.33 were adapted to fit a different weapon. There's a lot going on there, despite the simplicity of the techniques.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWSTx0tZHCU&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGNBc7ewusQ&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXPujfwQJUg

    However, we agree that this may not be how it was done. My point is, if you're going to recreate a shield style, and want to claim some form of accuracy (your original point) then study diligently the surviving manuals on related weapons and learn them inside out. Perhaps you have, and I salute your scholarship if so. Hammaborg is also able to do such things with the shield because they have studied I.33 and Talhoffer religiously. Even their SPARRING looks like I.33, and that's under the pressure of combat. That's an accomplishment of no small import.

    If you haven't studied the surviving manuals on rotella/targe/buckler to the point of having internalized them, then no reconstruction means anything outside of the artificial restraints of SCA combat, regardless of the amount of experimental practice put in. For that matter, neither would any of my attempts at shield combat mean anything without similar study.

    Mark -- well said!

    Hammaborg's shield material is fantastic. I've tried out some if in freeplay and it works just as advertised the video. You can't do this stuff without realizing that a shield in single combat at least is not a board to hide behind, but an alive thing.

    That the ancients as far back as the Romans apparently used the shield in an agile way in single combat is borne out by this quote from Livy about a duel between a Gaul and a Roman soldier:

    When they had taken their stand between the two armies, while so many hearts around them were in suspense between hope and fear, the Gaul, like a great overhanging mass, held out his shield on his left arm to meet his adversary's blows and aimed a tremendous cut downwards with his sword. The Roman evaded the blow, and pushing aside the bottom of the Gaul's shield with his own, he slipped under it close up to the Gaul, too near for him to get at him with his sword. Then turning the point of his blade upwards, he gave two rapid thrusts in succession and stabbed the Gaul in the belly and the groin, laying his enemy prostrate over a large extent of ground. He left the body of his fallen foe undespoiled with the exception of his chain, which though smeared with blood he placed round his own neck. Astonishment and fear kept the Gauls motionless; the Romans ran eagerly forward from their lines to meet their warrior, and amidst cheers and congratulations they conducted him to the Dictator. In the doggerel verses which they extemporised in his honour they called him Torquatus ("adorned with a chain"), and this soubriquet became for his posterity a proud family name. The Dictator gave him a golden crown, and before the whole army alluded to his victory in terms of the highest praise. The History of Rome, vol II, 7.10 - Livy
     
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  18. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Do they do the Black Death, burning witches and all the other nasty medieval things?

    I like swords an awful lot, all swords, well all bladed metal edged sharp things really so I thought oh this thread will be interesting...it is, in a sort of surreal way. what on earth, exactly do you lot do with your weapons then!

    Langenschwert, you posts always make sense so I shall look to you to explain lol!
    Btw I live in a medieval village next to a few medieval castles, the most famous being Middleham, we have loads of renactments from the Romans ( I also live on a modern garrison but it was also a Roman one too) to the English Civil War so we have plenty of battles to keep us amused lol! And a lot of weapons!
     
  19. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Oh sure. Descriminate against the Aztecs. ;)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  20. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    We don't have many Aztecs up in the North York Moors, we've had Romans, Normans, Anglo Saxons and Vikings in the past leaving their weapons behind as well as the lot from all the civil wars we've had plus the Wars of the Roses armies all for real and now we have all the historical societies acting it out but no Aztecs I'm afraid so they'll get left out sadly. We are overburdened with history as it is!!
     

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