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Author Topic: a Knight vs a Samurai?  (Read 42582 times)
Deacon Blues
Member

Posts: 46


« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2004, 03:47:14 PM »

Given that you're hitting your sword against shields, armor and other swords all day, isn't a little nicking inevitable?  I wouldn't be so concerned about keeping my sword from nicking if I were accustomed to it happening - i.e., if I used it as a tool of the trade and were OK with taking it in for resharpening every so often.

So, the argument "You can't parry with the edge - it'll nick!" doesn't hold a lot of water for me.
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Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2004, 03:53:15 PM »

Quote from: montag
which brings me to the question: who are these ARMA guys anyway?
It doesn't mean anything that I never heard of them before, but I read some of their articles and remember noticing a large number of spelling errors and the fact that most of their articles are concerned with (a) why one must, must, must parry with the flat (more reasonable schools of similar bent beg to disagree politely or state that the sources are contradictory) or (b) how no one likes or understands their hobby like they do and what bad swords are sold out there.
At least, that was my impression, which I got despite being terribly interested when I came across to site (via TROS). So, what am I missing?


ARMA is the Associatin for Renaissance Martial Arts. Based in Texas they are among one of several groups studying the finer points of renaissance fighting arts. The methods of these groups vary, but they all hold one thing to be inviolable. That being the desire to find the truth behind the arts practiced in renaissance and medievel Europe. However, they do butt heads, as can be expected from any passionate pursuit.
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2004, 04:14:24 PM »

Quote from: Bob Richter
The facts as I see them are these:

1) A good sword which is 4 inches across the forte is perhaps a quarter of an inch across the flat.


I am curious as to whose swords you are using. A blade with a four inch wide forte would weigh a terrible lot. Perhaps you meant 4cm forte? This would place it in the realm of usable and well within the statistical average for weapons used at the time. A thickness of 1/4 inch has been seen, but more often then not a blade will be a bit thinner. Perhaps half that...

Quote

2) The point of a parry is to stop or deflect an attack. This means your blade will be absorbing a fair quantity of energy. Would you rather absorb
it across a 4 inch depth of steel, or a quarter-inch depth of the same?


I am glad that you provided a definition of the parry with which I can work. The idea that it is better to absorb the energy across the thickest, most rigid part of the blade is a scientifically viable one. There are several quite skilled scholars out there who agree with you, the reputable Steven Hand among them. But there are also scholars who disagree and those who "sit on the fence" as it were.

When dealling with the parry, we can either absorb the energy of it, or spring it back into the opponent, or use that energy to bring your own weapon into action. When parrying with the Stark (strong) of the blade edge to edge we see the energy absorbed by the defending swordsman. If, however we use the flat, we can return some of that energy to the opponent's blade and this can assist us in our options. I of course would not counsel a parry, I would counsel a counter. Why let him continue to swing away at me when I can take the energy of his attack and use it to kill him?

Quote

3) All the parries I was taught meet the opponent's blade with the edge, at about the midblade to the forte.


This is called "answering the weak with the strong" The strong being the part of the blade from the cross to about the middle of the blade's length.

Quote

I have seen fools try to parry a sword with the flat. Even with the blows we use in theatre fighting (which are not particularly forceful for all that they give the appearance of being,) I have seen blades snap because of such folly. If you parry with the flat, you will soon be out a sword, and won't be worrying about how your edge might have become a little notched if you had parried with it.


I wonder who makes these weapons for you. The swords I have used were VERY hard to destroy. If a blade snaps, it was due to poor temper. A metal blade tempered and made in the European style will have spring and will not snap. I have seen a well made blade, while still having a high degree of rigidity, be quite able to absorb the energy of a blow.
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2004, 04:38:36 PM »

>>>I am curious as to whose swords you are using. <<<

Actually, on this one point, I made my post in haste and without really thinking, grabbing a figure out of thin air. In doing so, I believe i constructed a fairly monstrous blade. My apologies.

>>>I wonder who makes these weapons for you. <<<

These weapons were not of the highest quality, it is true, but I have not seen one break from being struck on the edge of the forte. The idea that a strike to the flat is less likely to break a blade is an excersise in absurdity.

>>>When parrying with the Stark (strong) of the blade edge to edge we see the energy absorbed by the defending swordsman. If, however we use the flat, we can return some of that energy to the opponent's blade and this can assist us in our options. <<<

Since I have little experience in practical swordsmanship (as I say, my closest approach is being a theatre fighter,) I cannot truly answer this point. On the other hand, I am not convinced by it.

Now that I think of it, I have seen some counters that contact flat-to-flat, but these are useful against thrusts only. Perhaps I only need further instruction. For now, parrying with the flat still strikes me as ludicrous.
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montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2004, 04:39:28 PM »

Quote from: Salamander
ARMA is the Associatin for Renaissance Martial Arts. Based in Texas they are among one of several groups studying the finer points of renaissance fighting arts. The methods of these groups vary, but they all hold one thing to be inviolable. That being the desire to find the truth behind the arts practiced in renaissance and medievel Europe. However, they do butt heads, as can be expected from any passionate pursuit.

do I understand you correctly, that ARMA is basically a hobby group, a club of sorts? See, their panel of experts, and the great stock the author's of TROS put into ARMA's endorsement seemed to suggest that ARMA is somewhat more than a hobby group.
Could you elaborate on their status a bit? For if they're merely a group of enthusiasts my criticism of Clements' article would of course be misplaced (but then, so would any reliance on their authority).

Besides, I think it's possible to draw a line between "passionate pursuit"  of something and saying the other just simply must, must, must be wrong. Your response to Bob Richter is an excellent example of the former, while his original post IMO was an example of latter, since he suggested the ARMA guys had no idea what they were doing. But just as it seems obvious to me that the ARMA guys wouldn't favour parrying with the flat if it constantly broke their swords, I think they are themselves going too far in the other direction.
"You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward"--James Thurber
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markus
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"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2004, 04:43:22 PM »

>>>since he suggested the ARMA guys had no idea what they were doing.<<<

It is true. I am not known for my tact.

This was not my intent, I was simply reacting with incredulity to the apparent belief of ARMA members in something most theatre fighters consider patently false.
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
Jake Norwood
Member

Posts: 2261


WWW
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2004, 05:39:24 PM »

Well, damn.

A big, stupid thread while I'm away. Let's see if I can add my own supported opinions here.

[rant mode]

First, my credentials in the area, so that I'm not talking out of my ass. I am currently the senior ARMA student, with as many or more hours of personal time training with John Clements as anyone currently involved in the ARMA. People can hop on whatever hobby-horse political bandwagon they want on this issue, but Ewart Oakeshott and Sydney Anglo are considered to be the two absolute top scholars in the field, and both consult (or, in Oakeshott's case, consulted, since he passed away last year) with Clements and the ARMA on a regular basis. Not with any other group, and sure-as-hell not with any stage fighters. The ARMA is not the wellspring from which all WMA knowledge flows, but the senior ARMA guys are serious scholars and fighters, and we'll all put our money where our mouth is. Doubt it? New Orleans, Feb 28th and 29th, I'll see you there.

What does my study within the ARMA entail? Mostly I train physically, trying to gain competence and skill with attested historical techniques and occassionally with still iffy interpretations. Nothing is set in stone, and anything that I do in a fight or in training is subject to scrutiny under lenses of physical effectiveness with intent and speed against an opponent who isn't cooperating, and historical evidences that the technique is being correctly performed. I spend more time studying old German manuals than I'll ever spend working on TROS or on these boards.

I'm also smart enough to know that teachers don't know shit. I know more about historical fencing than anyone that I ever took instruction from except perhaps John Clements, and I know more than he does in many areas. That isn't to say that I don't learn from John every time I see him--I do, but one man can't study everything. Thus *ever* saying "that's what I was taught" as some kind of proof is simply evidence of foolishness in believing what you hear without any kind of visible proof, evidence, etc. It amazes me that a person can be an atheist because there's "no proof of a god," and then believe in nonsense about killing a human being from a fat guy in a foppish hat that took stage combat classes. Whatever.

So let's hit a few of these topics here, if I can.

1) The knight vs. samurai article didn't have a point.
Yes, it did, and Valamir hit on it. If you don't belong to the audience that this *editorial* was written for then don't get your panties in a bunch over it. What a bunch of self-righteous know-it-all assholes roam the internet. The discussion on FARK.com on this very topic is exactly the crap I'm talking about. The article was for fanboys. I know the guy who wrote it. I know him damn well.

And yes, lots of people *do* believe that a katana can slice through a car. I listened with disgust for an hour once as a senior kenjutsu student spouted such nonsense at one of my classes. He then proceeded to use such poor cutting technique that he broke is cheap katana on a gourd--a gourd that I then cut with a blunt sword and little effort. Is this guy everybody? No. Are there a lot like him? Yes, there are, and many of them *should* know better, but don't.

2) John has spelling errors.
Yeah, true. When the ARMA, then HACA, site first popped up, it was a little group without much other than a desire to "get it right." It has since grown very, very large, and in fact has more members than all other similar groups combined, and has produced as much or more scholarship than these other groups combined. John Clements, however, has only recently acquired proofreaders for his material on line, and much of it is being fixed. This takes time, especially since most of the ARMA's staff is volunteer help. Is it an excuse? Not really, but it really appears that some people attack it because they like to attack, instead of addressing the specific scholarship of specific points as they applied to the thrust of the article.

3) The ARMA is a hobby.
As far as I'm concerned, anything that you do for fun and not professionally is a hobby. That includes RPing, religion, and any-and-all physical excercise unless you're pro. For John it isn't a hobby, because it's his job. For me, it is, albeit a very time-consuming one. The ARMA is a very serious group, but many, if not most, of its members are simply having fun training while 10% spend time and money on the really serious stuff. I'm one of those in the 10%.

4) Edge-vs.-flat
The ARMA stance on edge-parrying is really in contest to the edge-bashing static-blocking of hollywood, reinactment, and the stage. It is poorly understood outside of the ARMA, mostly due to John's very aggressive form of communication. You will NOT find serious scholarship or practice anywhere in the historical fencing community that advises or even excuses stage-combat style edge-to-edge static blocks. The volumes of evidence against such blocks are untold in number. There is, in fact, no evidence that such blocks were ever employed prior to the smallsword in the 1700s. Prove me wrong, I dare you.

What you do see are proactive movements and "parries" where you strike at an opponent's weapon with your edge. At full speed these techniques with infrequent exception lead to edge-on-flat contact, or edge-on-bevel contact, but not edge-on-edge static contact. Do the edges ever meet? Certainly. Fighting is chaos. Do you ever receive an attack on your edge? If it's near the ricasso/forte/stark, then yes, and this is not the form of edge-parrying that you hear John ranting about (yes, I agree wholeheartedly that John rants). There are stifling actions and "absetzen" that occur there. ARMA has never taught otherwise, but there is much confusion on the matter, primarily due to constant beating-a-dead-horse discussion on the internet. A prime example is Greg Mele's article in the first and only issue of SPADA, published by Chivarly bookshelf. Although Greg and his peers thought that the article went against standard ARMA teachings, the opposite was true. The article finely supported everything that we teach, and it's all excellent scholarship.

The issue of edge nicks holds very little water for me as well, as some nicking is inevitable. The real reason is simply function and efficiency. Single-time defenses are impossible if your edge is busy parrying a blow, yet almost all parries prior to the 1600's are single-time, and those that are not are called "the parries used by bad fencers" in the manuals of the most important masters.

I also must address this quote, "I was simply reacting with incredulity to the apparent belief of ARMA members in something most theatre fighters consider patently false." Theatre fighters know shit. There, I'm displaying my tact. One of the best and most respected theatre fighters is ARMA collegue John Waller. Waller coreographed First Knight and several other films. Waller's book, "Sword Fighting, a Practical Guide for Stage Fighting" (or something to that effect) is one of the better manuals out there. It's shit. There is hardly a single attested historical technique in the whole book. Now, I'm not saying that stage fighting is worthless on the stage, or that there aren't good reasons for some of the things that are done in stage fighting, because there are, and not hurting your opponent is a big priority. How could one respect a "martial art" whose goal was *not* to hurt one's opponent? Think about it. This "Belief" in ARMA members (and, though they use different words, in the entire HES community) is backed by every manuscript on swordsmanship from the late 1200's (MS I.33) to the early 1600s in Jakob Sutor. If you're talking movies, then I defer to stage combat. If you're talking combat with a focus on killing, maiming, and fighting an uncoorperative opponent, leave the fops at home.

5)Parrying with the flat causes broken swords.
Actually, it doesn't. I've seen a few bend, made by MRL (which is legendary for crap). I have seen many, many swords broken from edge-parrying, leading to gouges that eventually become stress fractures. Swords, as mentioned here previously, had tremendous flex. One reinactment group in the VA area stopped breaking swords when they switched over to historical techniques which do not endager the flat like stage combat parries do. They went from breaking a few swords a season to breaking none.

[/rant mode]

I probably insulted a few of you, which was not my intent, but please understand that I deal with this sort of discussion on a constant basis as a teacher of swordsmanship and the "senior" ARMA student. I'm not trying to defend John here, except that I will say he is the finest fighter I have ever met and my friend. I am trying to put some things into perspective, I suppose. The TROS board is different from a lot of other RPG boards in that many people from the HES community come here, and that the game is endorsed by the ARMA. That means that a thread like this isn't really off topic. I think that questioning the ARMA's methods and credibility are not only fair but worthwhile. We at the ARMA do it, too, and John's opinions on swordsmanship are not the same that they were three years ago when he became my teacher. There is simply too much new information constantly available to feel too comfortable in any position. What we can do is take a stance and defend it until it wins out or is defeated, at which point we nod, accept that we were wrong, and we amend our training and our "doctrine." Zealosy? No, none, although John is a very firey speaker and generally a feisty guy. A "man of choleric temperament" that is more like George Silver than probably any man alive. I can't help that, though at times I wish I could.

Where we go wrong in HES is when we say "I think that it's like *this,* because..." and then go on to cite personal experiences alone or our guesstimations based on what we know (or think we know) about combat. Where we go right is when we say "We know that master so-and-so said *this,* and based on what we know about combat and biomechanics, we can use the writings of these other 6 masters to triangulate what it is that master so-and-so meant. We could be wrong, but this fits the instructions and it's martially sound. That's where the Edge/flat thing comes from, and that's where the ARMA is coming from.

Those of you interested in edge-on-flat and flat-on-flat quotes (and similar technique issues that you disagree with due to stage or reinactment experience) can request them, and I'll dig a few up from a few different centuries if you like. For now, honestly, I'm not sure that it would make much a difference to most of you, and I'll wait for a sincere request.

Thanks for playing.

Jake

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2004, 06:59:19 PM »

I think Jake summed it up nicely, if not bluntly. Probably better than I could have done,as the man does have at least three years on me in the art of defence... I wanted to say something about the chaos of a fight, but Jake beat me to it. In regards to that, I have handled a few historic examples of weapons, really used four hundred - five hundred years ago. In all of the examples I saw and handled I think perhaps 1% may have shown any sign of edge damage on the stark of the blade, the part we are taught to parry with, flat or edge. Most nicks were along the schweck or weak of the blade, where one would expect damage to be from hitting a shield or other solid object whilst attacking, not defending.

In regards to Theatrical or stage swordsmanship, it is a style designed to entertain. They will invariably use a style drastically different from real fighters because they have to. If they were to use historic techniques, the fight would last but a few seconds... hardly entertaining for the crowd who has paid good money to see the production. Stage combat is good for what it does, entertains people on a stage, but to say it will do in a real fight is a dangerous mindset to entertain. Just as historic swordsmanship would be a poor hoice for theatrical production.
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
montag
Member

Posts: 172


« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2004, 08:25:14 PM »

Jake's reply makes sense to me, both regarding the scholarship at ARMA and Clements' article. For reasons stated above I continue to believe the article is not written well. IMO the FARK thread http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=785597 is both funny and surprisingly reasonable by FARK standards.
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markus
------------------------------------------------------
"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."
--B. F. Skinner, Contingencies of Reinforcement (1969)
Ingenious
Member

Posts: 352


« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2004, 10:45:55 PM »

Well damn, all I did was criticise the dude's writing. I hope I did not offend anyone in the process, and I am sorry if I did.. as it was not my intention. I did not attempt to discredit the author, I just noted that his proficiency in penmanship/writing is not quite at the same level as he might be with swords....
I had no problems in trusting his creditials and being a member of the ARMA, etc etc.. I just did not like the way he went about bringing about the question that was not answered.. The title itself seems to imply that an answer was to be had.. and I was left hanging.
It would be like either of the first two LOTR movies, or even books... that just end suddenly.. and if there were no more movies/books after that, you'd be left hanging.. and feeling like I did after I read his articles.

To some, having a beef with the way someone writes is foolish and pointless.. but to others it isn't.
*shrug*

-Ingenious
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Jake Norwood
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Posts: 2261


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« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2004, 11:24:00 PM »

Ingenious-

I wasn't attacking you, buddy, nor anyone in specific. You have every right to expect good writing in professionally published work, even though the "real thing" is usually short of that. Part of the problem with internet discussion is that several items get clumped in together, so that valid issues with one problem end up appearing to substitute for reasonable debate. Make sense? That's what I was ranting about, I think.

I know that *I* have issues in the way I write, and that after THREE proofreaders, one of which was professional (and none of which were me), TROS is still riddled with errors. It drives me nuts.

So no offence taken, and I hope that I didn't offend much (though I'm sure I did...oh well).

Jake

ps. Salamander does hit some valid points on stage combat, which I wasn't attacking as an art in-and-of-itself, but rather as a substitue for actual martial ability/knowledge. Hope that's clearer.
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Ingenious
Member

Posts: 352


« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2004, 11:41:30 PM »

Point conceded.
Now then, checketh your e-mail so that we might dicuss the ARMA event coming up.. as I am not that far from New Orleans.

Secondly, if you are in need of a proofreader still, I have volunteered my proof-reading services to Brian before. Shortly he replied to me, and I noticed that the gramatical errors to be had in the core-book were not of his making. However, whilst I am not the world's foremost expert on writing, I am a bit more knowledgable than most. So just send me some stuff in an email to proof-read, edit, etc. if you so choose.

Now then, back to the ARMA event. It would be a great opportunity to meet the author and see exactly how experienced he is with swords as compared to pens.

The pen IS mighter than the sword, though. :-D
-Ingenious
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Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2004, 12:01:55 AM »

Quote from: Ingenious

Now then, back to the ARMA event. It would be a great opportunity to meet the author and see exactly how experienced he is with swords as compared to pens.

The pen IS mighter than the sword, though. :-D
-Ingenious


LOL

Yeah, now lets see you counter an assault from Jake using a longsword with your Waterman fountain pen...

:D

Remember to use the flat ;)
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2004, 01:07:11 AM »

After reading Jake's response it is clear to me that I have absolutely no idea what the ARMA types are talking about. As such, I have no business talking about it myself.
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
sirogit
Member

Posts: 503


« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2004, 06:42:08 PM »

I'd like to say Bravo to Jake for clearing up misconceptions and half-truths which spring up so quickly out of this discussion. It bothers me deeply when people dedicated to genuine knowledge are mocked because their veiws don't coincide with pretty-boy-starring hollywood action movies.

For the record, I'd say with my bottom-level knowledge of essay-writing, that the article's point is NOT "Hey, who would win, samurai or knight?" but "What is known about the martial advanatge/disadvanatge that would be had between a samurai or a knight in combat?" Which it does answer decisevly.
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