Does anyone think Spirtiuality/Magick/Mysticism/Occultism is very neglected in European swordsmanship (and HEMA in general)?With how Catholic it was?

Bullsherdog

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I just got a book by mail The Sicilian Blade by Vito Quattrochi.

Quattorchi's main specialization isn't martial arts but occultism. Specifically Catholic devotions. His most famous book is Benedicaria: Magical Catholicism which is basically about local Italian magick all revolving around the Roman Catholic framework.

Throughout his book on Sicilian knife fighting he frequently mentions prayer to Saint Michael. Even in his Benedicaria and other occult books, frequently he says to call Michael the Archangel not just for defense against demons, but even for physical protection (one of the prayers in the Benedicaria mentions something about praying to Michael to let the enemies knife miss stabbing at you).

So I think this is a very underlooked topic. I'm not a Roman Catholic but I was raised Anglican and one of my relatives specialized in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. So I'm quite familiar with basic Catholic stuff from his tutorship and in Catholicism many Saints are given patronages of not only war but even certain weapons like Sebastian bow and arrows and Maurice swords.

Without going into a ramble about Catholic theology, you seek a saint who is patron of a specific subject like say Raphael for healing and ask them in a prayer to intercede on your behalf (they pray to God asking for your request related to the subject). Hopefully God answers them. The stronger the Saint is a patronage of a subject, the more likely a response from God.

In addition being raised in an Anglican-Lutheran hybrid school of thought in my household, I read through lots of stuff about Protestant Reformation and plenty of stories about prayers to the Trinity for victory not only in battles during major conflicts like The Thirty Years Wars but prayer before and after duels, hanging biblical verses outside of barracks (and so I would assume same for fencing schools), holding the cross while resting, etc in the various stuff I was forced to read, watch, and so on as a child all the way to College Years. Nothing involving saints BTW since Lutheranism normally doesn't believe in intercession of the Saints.

I mean even ISIS are known to have an Imam quote Quranic verses not only before battle but even during training as well as play Adhan before and after training sessions. So if Iraqi swordsmen today are even using Islamic spirituality as part of their fencing traditions, why does HEMA and most Western fighting traditions seem to completely ignore this often very associated part of Asian martial arts?

I mean in a HEMA site they were even pointing out some Medieval and Renaissance schools have patron Saints and not only had prayers and candle devotions but blatantly used Christian symbols as part of their logos as well as Biblical verses in local languages!

If there's one reason that irks me so much about the lack of exploring occultism and mysticism in HEMA and western fighting traditions in general, its not the fact some local familial styles like Vito Quattrochi's family style is steeped with Christian tradition..............

Its the fact in a far away Eastern country in Asia called the Philippines often has devotions to Saint Michael as a common thing across their local arts' schools. Esp schools existing prior to "Eskrima" being created as an all-catch codification of Filipino martial arts, already predecessor styles Saint Michael statues commonly in whatever the Filipino equivalent of a dojo is called.

So why does HEMA as a whole and even Western fighting arts tend to neglect the religious and occultic aspects of European martial arts? Esp since intercessions of the Saints was so ubiquitous in Medieval and Renaissance society it permeated not just swordsmanship and unarmed martial arts but practically all across European society? I mean even illiterate peasant farmers knew about prayers to local Saints and how to light novena and the nobility saw it necessary to honor Mother Mary or else!

Bonus question-anyone who is Christians do you attempt to add back European mysiticism into your practise of HEMA esp Catholic devotions? Do any of you light novenas to Saint Michael the Archangel or read verses from a Calvinistic bible in between breaks at sparring sessions?
 

Blindside

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I suspect it doesn't happen in a modern cosmopolitan and increasingly secular population because it isn't why people want to study HEMA. Most HEMA guys are people who just want to fight with swords with a smaller subset who love the academia of historical investigation. And it isn't just HEMA, the head of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali has an anting-anting (think magic charm) and an oracion that he keeps in a pounch around his neck. The vast vast majority of his western students have nothing and want nothing to do with the mysticism. It would be a gigantic turn-off to me if I came to a class and instead of fighting/wrestling started an investigation into some saint that I don't believe in. In general martial arts are culty enough without actually adding religion back into it directly.
 

O'Malley

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I just got a book by mail The Sicilian Blade by Vito Quattrochi.

Quattorchi's main specialization isn't martial arts but occultism. Specifically Catholic devotions. His most famous book is Benedicaria: Magical Catholicism which is basically about local Italian magick all revolving around the Roman Catholic framework.

Throughout his book on Sicilian knife fighting he frequently mentions prayer to Saint Michael. Even in his Benedicaria and other occult books, frequently he says to call Michael the Archangel not just for defense against demons, but even for physical protection (one of the prayers in the Benedicaria mentions something about praying to Michael to let the enemies knife miss stabbing at you).

So I think this is a very underlooked topic. I'm not a Roman Catholic but I was raised Anglican and one of my relatives specialized in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. So I'm quite familiar with basic Catholic stuff from his tutorship and in Catholicism many Saints are given patronages of not only war but even certain weapons like Sebastian bow and arrows and Maurice swords.

Without going into a ramble about Catholic theology, you seek a saint who is patron of a specific subject like say Raphael for healing and ask them in a prayer to intercede on your behalf (they pray to God asking for your request related to the subject). Hopefully God answers them. The stronger the Saint is a patronage of a subject, the more likely a response from God.

In addition being raised in an Anglican-Lutheran hybrid school of thought in my household, I read through lots of stuff about Protestant Reformation and plenty of stories about prayers to the Trinity for victory not only in battles during major conflicts like The Thirty Years Wars but prayer before and after duels, hanging biblical verses outside of barracks (and so I would assume same for fencing schools), holding the cross while resting, etc in the various stuff I was forced to read, watch, and so on as a child all the way to College Years. Nothing involving saints BTW since Lutheranism normally doesn't believe in intercession of the Saints.

I mean even ISIS are known to have an Imam quote Quranic verses not only before battle but even during training as well as play Adhan before and after training sessions. So if Iraqi swordsmen today are even using Islamic spirituality as part of their fencing traditions, why does HEMA and most Western fighting traditions seem to completely ignore this often very associated part of Asian martial arts?

I mean in a HEMA site they were even pointing out some Medieval and Renaissance schools have patron Saints and not only had prayers and candle devotions but blatantly used Christian symbols as part of their logos as well as Biblical verses in local languages!

If there's one reason that irks me so much about the lack of exploring occultism and mysticism in HEMA and western fighting traditions in general, its not the fact some local familial styles like Vito Quattrochi's family style is steeped with Christian tradition..............

Its the fact in a far away Eastern country in Asia called the Philippines often has devotions to Saint Michael as a common thing across their local arts' schools. Esp schools existing prior to "Eskrima" being created as an all-catch codification of Filipino martial arts, already predecessor styles Saint Michael statues commonly in whatever the Filipino equivalent of a dojo is called.

So why does HEMA as a whole and even Western fighting arts tend to neglect the religious and occultic aspects of European martial arts? Esp since intercessions of the Saints was so ubiquitous in Medieval and Renaissance society it permeated not just swordsmanship and unarmed martial arts but practically all across European society? I mean even illiterate peasant farmers knew about prayers to local Saints and how to light novena and the nobility saw it necessary to honor Mother Mary or else!

Bonus question-anyone who is Christians do you attempt to add back European mysiticism into your practise of HEMA esp Catholic devotions? Do any of you light novenas to Saint Michael the Archangel or read verses from a Calvinistic bible in between breaks at sparring sessions?
First, a few words on Vito Quattrocchi. What he writes seem more based on fictional representations (like "The Godfather") than reality. I've had the chance to skim through his book and it felt fishy. Can't comment on the validity of the technical instruction itself - I'm no knife fighter - but the overall way he wrote reminded me of Ashida Kim. I've also had suspicions about the "Sicilian" words he used in the book (e.g. "indraga mano"), which didn't sound like any variant of Sicilian I've ever heard. I've asked around - I'm based in Sicily - and only got puzzled expressions, including from old people who mainly speak dialect, and Google searches in Italian and Sicilian gave me nothing. Also, we found strange that he refers to himself as "Don Vito", "Don" is how others may have called you in rural Sicily decades ago (if you were something like the most important guy in the village). The fact that he writes on Catholic mysticism - a subject where it's easy to affabulate - and cheap mafia fiction further strengthens my impressions.

As for HEMA, again not an expert but my understanding is that HEMA is based on the reconstruction of historical techniques through research, so modern practitioners may just want to reproduce and understand the technical aspects without necessarily replicating the spiritual part. I don't think you have to be Catholic to practice HEMA.

Also, comparing with Asian martial arts is a bit fallacious, because Western and Asian MA evolved in radically different contexts. In certain Asian MA (e.g. Taiji or Aikido) you have to have some understanding of the spiritual aspects to do basic things such as standing in place.

The bit about ISIS is way oversimplistic but I currently don't have the time to discuss it.

If you want to add Christian mysticism to you own practice, there are actually treaties regarded as "classics" that would be more authentic than "pop-spirituality" by obscure authors. You can check out "The Cloud of the Unknowing" or St Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises.
 

elder999

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I am not sure if Jesus approves cutting, slicing, smashing, choping etc. other people.
Sure he does.

He said to them, But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you dont have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: And he was numbered with the transgressors; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.Luke 22:36-37
 

Flying Crane

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Sure he does.

He said to them, But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you dont have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: And he was numbered with the transgressors; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.Luke 22:36-37
I am familiar with this passage (in spite of doing my best to drive all such religious teachings from my brain). Is this the only such passage, where Jesus accepts/endorses the possible need for violence in self defense? If so, it seems like a small platform to build a movement upon.

I believe there is one short passage in the Bible about serpents not biting the faithful, and the whole snake-handling Christian movement was built upon that. Pretty weak. Not how I would go about it.

But then again, very little about religion makes any sense to me. So I remain uninvolved.
 

elder999

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I am familiar with this passage (in spite of doing my best to drive all such religious teachings from my brain). Is this the only such passage, where Jesus accepts/endorses the possible need for violence in self defense? If so, it seems like a small platform to build a movement upon.

I believe there is one short passage in the Bible about serpents not biting the faithful, and the whole snake-handling Christian movement was built upon that. Pretty weak. Not how I would go about it.

But then again, very little about religion makes any sense to me. So I remain uninvolved.
Always remember, when they ask, "What would Jesus do?" to tell them that turning over tables and beating everyone in sight with a whip is always an option.

11The crowds replied, This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. 12Then Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. 13And He declared to them, It is written: My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of robbers.胼
 

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ATTENTION ALL USERS:
Like politics, religious debate does not belong here on MartialTalk. This thread is on the edge of being locked. Please don't make us do that.

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Bill Mattocks

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I call upon St Vidicon of Cathode most days, it seems. Mostly for IT things, but the Imp of the Perverse is everywhere these days.

On a more serious note, many military people carry a St Christopher or St Michael medal, as do many cops. How people choose to express themselves can have a positive effect on performance, I've seen. Overcoming fear, settling nerves, becoming centered, these can be positive things. They are, like belief itself, personal in nature. I respect all, regardless of my own beliefs.
 

Buka

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"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."

Jules, in Pulp Fiction......just before he kills guys..
 

JowGaWolf

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So why does HEMA as a whole and even Western fighting arts tend to neglect the religious and occultic aspects of European martial arts?
It's easy. People come in with their own religion. People bring their beliefs into the martial arts. If you don't believe in the "religious and occultic aspects of a European religious culture" then you aren't neglecting it. It's just not part of ones belief. I'm not sure if it's possible to neglect a belief that is not yours.








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