You Mean It Might Be Good For You !?

Discussion in 'The European Art of Fencing' started by tellner, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. tellner

    tellner Senior Master

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    Fencers have always had a reputation as cerebral fighters. Cyrano composed poetry while taking his opponents apart. It's traditionally associated with chess. And so on.

    It looks like at least a little of that reputation is deserved. According to the article there really does seem to be a connection between training in swordsmanship and better mathematical performance.


     
  2. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    That's really cool. :)

    Incidentally, I did use principles from German Longsword to win a difficult chess match. That was a pretty sweet win.

    Though I don't think I've used chess principles to win a sword fight. Or maybe I have. I'll have to think about it. :)

    -Mark the Sword Addict.
     
  3. bushidomartialarts

    bushidomartialarts Senior Master

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    unsurprising, but cool to see it supported in print.

    i wonder how much is due to a direct relationship of principals, and how much due to simple general stimulation.
     
  4. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    Doubt it. More likely, fencing's "cerebral reputation" tends to draw those who already have an aptitude or interest in such things. Since, as the article states, the "sport was synonymous with European aristocracy" - read: "effete, self-indulgent snobs" - it probably tends to repel the knuckledragger types who would skew the numbers downward.

    Update: I want to clarify that I am not saying the sport is poofy. But if you asked the average Joe what he thought about fencing, the image that would come to mind would probably be Tim Roth from Rob Roy.
     
  5. bushidomartialarts

    bushidomartialarts Senior Master

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    That's a good point. I wonder if there was a control group...

    On the other hand, quite a few studies seem to indicate that fine motor training and practice do in fact contribute to intelligence (at least some definitions of intelligence). It's a matter of exercise. Get strong by doing pushups. Get fast by practicing twitch activities. Get smart by doing logic puzzles.

    An activity that combines twitch and logic puzzles at speed sure can't make somebody dumber....
     
  6. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    I'm wondering if anyone has ever seen the quote (I can't attribute it, sorry) "Never give a sword to a man who can't dance"?

    It's part an parcel of the same phenomenon. The brain is a wonderfully complicated thing and it works best when the left and right work harmoniously to a goal.

    Swordsmanship is a classic case in point (Yeah, fencing pun :D!) where many aspects of cognition, both conscious and sub-conscious, are brought together in combination.

    What is often misconstrued is that the body is not just a mere 'support system' for the mind but is the conduit via which the mind perceives and interacts with the world.

    In swordsmanship and martial arts in general, it is often touted that it is 'mind and body as one'. That's not totally so as, when you are learning the basics, the mind is instructing the body what to do whilst the body provides feedback as to how things are going. Later, when the body is 'programmed' it can be left to get on with the spinal-reflex movement side of things whilst the mind gets on with understanding the 'combat' environment, reading the opponent and planning strategy.

    Even then, the mind is dependant on the body to bring in the perceptions it needs to make its judgements. So, the long and the short of it is that it is hardly surprising that learning how to handle a sword makes your mental accuity that bit sharper too :).
     
  7. RITFencing

    RITFencing Orange Belt

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    Yeah, you're right about the public image that fencing tends to have. In reality, though, it is the most alcoholic activity I've ever encountered (and I used to bowl competitively.)

    It is an extremely cerebral sport, though, in part because of the length of direct elimination matches at tournaments (15 touches.) Each fencer will have ample time to learn the other, so each must be very thoughtful in their actions and must constantly restrategize and keep up reconnaissance of the opponent, and your own counter recon to lie to them and create a false impression of your own tactics and intentions.

    In epee especially, high level fencing can be described as lies piled upon lies. Probably one of the most dishonest activities out there. :)
     

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