WMA and HEMA

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Gilbey

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Hi folks,

I'm new here - I've enjoyed reading some of the threads and just thought I should comment on the difference between Western Martial Arts and Historical European Martial Arts.

WMA is usually used as an umbrella term for martial arts and combat sports of European descent. This list is much longer than many people realise - as well as savate, boxing, wrestling and fencing, there are dozens of folk-wrestling and stick-fighting arts that are still being practiced in places like the Canary Islands, Portugal, Italy, etc. Some of these are only just coming to light in the English-speaking world - not so much because they have been "kept secret", as because people outside these countries are only recently getting interested in them. Plus, language and other communication barriers can now be overcome due to the Internet.

HEMA is a more specialised sub-group of WMA, and usually refers to European martial arts that have died out or evolved into completely different forms over the decades or centuries, but are now being "revived". The revival process is sometimes controversial in EMA circles because people are so accustomed to thinking in terms of lineal descent - my master was trained by so-and-so, who was trained by so-and-so, etc. However, it is a basic premise of HEMA that the revival process is a worthwhile endeavor, to re-discover the martial arts as they were practiced within a particular culture and historical period. Luckily, many of the historical European Masters of Defense wrote and illustrated highly detailed combat manuals, and these are the basis for modern reconstruction.

Most of the activity in HEMA at the moment involves the martial arts of the 1500s - 1700s, including a wide range of fighting styles such as the two-handed sword, rapier, armoured dagger combat, etc. Other HEMA enthusiasts focus on more recent styles and periods such as Irish stick-fighting, bare-knuckle pugilism, Bowie-knife combat, etc.

The aim in HEMA is not so much to train for real self-defense, although some of these arts - especially knife and unarmed combat styles - can be applied that way; rather, just like people who play "old-time" baseball with the original equipment and rules, it is to rediscover a valuable part of our heritage that has been lost over time. Most people involved in HEMA also have quite extensive training in other styles, and the whole field is becoming more and more popular, with many websites, books, tournaments, conferences, etc.

I will be happy to help answer any questions about HEMA and WMA and look forward to conversations here.

Regards,

Gilbey
 
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Gilbey

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Christopher Umbs said:
Hi Gilbey.

I'm over at the Martinez Academy, where are you studying?

Chris
Hi Chris,

I'm based in Hawaii, but I travel a lot.
 

Samurai

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Mr Umbs...
Can you speak to the Spainish Fencing Styles? I am looking for information on the La Verdadera Destreza style.

Thanks,
Jeremy Bays
 

lonecoyote

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I have a couple of general questions. How much of HEMA is re-creation, that is, created from books, manuscripts, letters, etc. as opposed to having some kind of unbroken lineage (which in my opinion is not always important)? I say this because it has been a long time since some of those weapons have been wielded on the field of battle with the purpose of killing your opponent with them. Have many kinds of combat survived by becoming sport? Thanks.
 
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Gilbey

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By definition, all HEMA styles are re-created from detailed historical sources, whereas WMA in general are those styles which have been passed down, usually at the folk-sport or folk-art level.

Gilbey
 

Christopher Umbs

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It depends on the art and the school. Certainly dueling sword (epee du combat) and dueling sabre as well as smallsword and rapier all have living traditions. One downside to having so many printed treatises available to us though is the tendency of some groups to try to learn simply from the books even when there are living traditions. Other arts may be 'dead', but I still think one would be better served by studying a LT of Grand Baton before trying to work their way through a longsword treatise.


Chris
 

John Lacy

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I am new to the forum as well and also to the self defense world ingeneral. When speaking of the differing art forms and their origins, where does Krav Maga fir in when discussing Western and European Martial Art forms?
 

arnisador

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Krav Maga was developed in Europe and Israel from a variety of arts, with a strong boxing influence. I consider it Western, personally, but there is also a significant Oriental influence on it.
 
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Matt Anderson

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Christopher Umbs said:
It depends on the art and the school. Certainly dueling sword (epee du combat) and dueling sabre as well as smallsword and rapier all have living traditions. One downside to having so many printed treatises available to us though is the tendency of some groups to try to learn simply from the books even when there are living traditions. Other arts may be 'dead', but I still think one would be better served by studying a LT of Grand Baton before trying to work their way through a longsword treatise.


Chris
I think it's important to point out however, that for most fencers, these living traditions only go back to the early 20th or perhaps late 19th century and are handed down from a relatively modern fencing background, not the deadly and combat effective styles of earlier periods when a duel to the death was an all too frequent possibility. Certainly sport and classical fencers develop skills that can translate to the study of older styles with realistic replica weapons but they are not the same thing by any means. The only way to really learn these arts in their earlier forms is to study the manuscripts left behind by the early masters of defense. Here's a slightly different take on this concept:

http://www.thearma.org/essays/classical.htm
 

Christopher Umbs

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Matt Anderson said:
I think it's important to point out however, that for most fencers, these living traditions only go back to the early 20th or perhaps late 19th century and are handed down from a relatively modern fencing background, not the deadly and combat effective styles of earlier periods when a duel to the death was an all too frequent possibility.

Ah yes... the non-deadly 19th century...
http://www.duellingoaks.com/

I suspect that Llulla's opponents would be glad to know that what happened to them wasn't deadly. If people are dying, guess what? It's deadly.
 

lklawson

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Silat Student said:
A little info on Irish stick fighting please?
What about them?

I don't understand the question. Do you want a history? Techniques? Known schools/styles? Typical weapons? etc....

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Silat Student

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lklawson said:
What about them?

I don't understand the question. Do you want a history? Techniques? Known schools/styles? Typical weapons? etc....

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
I'd like any info that you have. I've googled a bit but haven't turned up much (perhaps it's just my ineptitude).
 
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Keith Jennings

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Christopher Umbs said:
Ah yes... the non-deadly 19th century...
http://www.duellingoaks.com/

I suspect that Llulla's opponents would be glad to know that what happened to them wasn't deadly. If people are dying, guess what? It's deadly.
Its funny; the extreme bias that Victorian fencers held against medieval methods of swordplay is now almost mirrored by the dismissal of 19th century fencing by many of todays practitioners of historical swordsmanship. Thats karma, I suppose.

Of course, to outright dismiss of any method of swordsmanship, especially if you yourself are not a practitioner, is pure arrogance. As far as my own study of historical fencing, time basically stops after 1600 (except, or course, for the Bowie knife). That, however, is simply my personal preference. I suppose its the nature of martial arts to attempt to compare one art against another to determine which one is the "best". Still, it is a bit irresponsible to think that a 19th century duelist such as Pepe Llulla who used his skills in actual combat, was practicing a less martial method than those of us who do this as a hobby, no matter how intense our training is.

Though, there are some obvious differences between medieval combat and later sword fights. Paul Kirchners excellent "Dueling with the Sword and Pistol" details a number of duels, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a fascinating read, and of particular interest as far as this discussion goes is the amount of damage the duelist take before they are finally put down. Compare this with what Fiore says of the unarmed duel in the 15th century and the differences become evident:

"Because the man that plays at sharp swords, the one single cover that he fails, in that blow the blow gives him death".

IMO, like the Victorian, the outright dismissal of any fencing system (or any martial art, for that matter) comes from a lack of understanding. As the great James Hetfield said: arrogance and ignorance go hand in hand.

 
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Matt Anderson

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Christopher Umbs said:
Ah yes... the non-deadly 19th century...
http://www.duellingoaks.com/

I suspect that Llulla's opponents would be glad to know that what happened to them wasn't deadly. If people are dying, guess what? It's deadly.
Of course there were duels in the 19th century and some of them were lethal. The lethal ones were probably the exception to the rule however as by this time duelling usually followed a well defined code of conduct that was largely designed to minimize death and injury.

From the 26 comandments of the Irish duelling code of 1777:

"If swords are used, the parties engage until one is well blooded, disabled, or disarmed, or until, after receiving a wound and blood being drawn, the aggressor begs pardon."


So a good flowing cut was probably enough to satisfy in most cases. IMO, killing each other was not a paramount objective and as the 19th century progressed, this becomes even more the case as fencing evolved into more of a sporting activity between gentlemen than a deadly serious martial activity, eventually becoming the modern sport form that we have today. The legendary duelling stories from early 19th century New Orleans are well known and the following quotes from the article you linked to are notable:

"Of course, duels did not always terminate in a fatality; often injured dignity was appeased by the first blood drawn, and the duellists sometimes left the park arm in arm"

"Pepe broke all records for participation in duels. Stories of his killings are so numerous it is more than likely most of them are myths".

"Llulla's duels, for the most part, however, were usually terminated at his own suggestion, and before a fatality occurred"

And of course, I don't think anyone can reliably trace a "living tradition" back that far anyway. I believe you stated on another forum that yours, for example, only goes back to the 20th century. I suspect that most fencers studying duelling weapons of the 19th century under modern teachers are doing a recreation of this style, in some cases with unrealistic sport foils, epees and sabers, rather than practicing a true "living tradition" from the period when duelling was common.
 

Ran Pleasant

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Christopher Umbs said:
Matt,

Either you don't know what you're talking about ...
Actually Matt made a very good case quoting the article that you linked.


Christopher Umbs said:
...or you're just being a troll.
Throwing the "trolling" label again so soon? In what manner is Matt trolling by disagreeing with you and making his case using the material you provided?

Please note, this is not SFI.:rolleyes:
 

Christopher Umbs

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Because these are old discussions, Ran. Mostly ones that have lead to locked threads elsewhere because we don't agree, are never going to agree and there's no point in trying. I'm also a tad suspicious about motives. Matt's been registed on MAP since Feb 2004 yet he didn't post until the other week when I started. Since then, every post he has made there has been an attack on me. I answered his first few questions since I thought he might be sincere. I no longer believe that to be the case.
 
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