*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 08, 2020, 01:44:42 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 47 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 ... 14
Print
Author Topic: a Knight vs a Samurai?  (Read 48204 times)
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #45 on: January 15, 2004, 08:36:07 AM »

Quote from: Bastoche

My point is that sword fighting at the time was a science.


An assumption.  And a surprising one, considering the spectacular absence of a scientific method, a theory of science, or organs practicing science.

Quote

 That science is so old that it was probably not that far off perfection.


Another assumption

Quote
Besides, I think studying old books is a good way to go too. Assuming these books contained the best techniques known at the time...


A self-described assumption

Quote

 If they could do it then, we should be able to do it now. No? Assuming their techniques were as efficient as could be, "new" techniques should converge toward their techniques.


Yes, pretty much.  And I agree, the books are a good starting point.  And maybe after 100 years, it will have built up enough of a tradition and a body of practice that it will actually be a really existing martial art.  Whether or not the martial art, as a martial art, resembles the praxis of European nobility, however, remains doubtful in my eyes.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #46 on: January 15, 2004, 09:01:39 AM »

Quote from: contracycle

An assumption.  And a surprising one, considering the spectacular absence of a scientific method, a theory of science, or organs practicing science.

Another assumption

A self-described assumption


I concur. But if your life depended on it, would you randomly try new fighting techniques until you found the proper one? Probably these "scientists" weren't aware that they were using the "modern" scientific method, but I do not think it's that wild a guess to assume there was a systematic approach/study to the art of the sword. An assumption nonetheless. An hypothesis...

Quote

Yes, pretty much.  And I agree, the books are a good starting point.  And maybe after 100 years, it will have built up enough of a tradition and a body of practice that it will actually be a really existing martial art.  Whether or not the martial art, as a martial art, resembles the praxis of European nobility, however, remains doubtful in my eyes.


Absolutely.
Logged

Sebastien
Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #47 on: January 15, 2004, 10:00:37 AM »

I'm gonna throw my hat in the ring here before the (war)hammer comes down.

The use of the sword was in fact a science, or at least an empiracle set of observations that led to one person living and another dying. So it was evolutionary and subject to science at the very least. To me using a sword is both an art and a science. During my mere year of learning to fight with these weapons I have come to a few conclusions.

1). There is definitely science involved in this game. The fields I can think of off the top of my head include Physics, Math (geometry), Mechanical Engineering (I know not a science, but application thereof), Metalurgy, Psychology, Kinesthetics (body mechanics) and Medicine. If you need me to explain them, by all means ask.

2). The art of using a sword comes from the human will to do it. If you cannot bear to pick up the sword it will lie there, unused and literally harmless.

3). We have not been able to perfect the skills of the sword because these skills were lost to us for hundreds of years. My instructor tells me that he believes the last man to teach the use of the longsword died 60 years before the United States of America became a country! Things that they took for granted as common knowledge are what we had to work hard at to regain. Now we know how to walk. We are learning to run. It has very much to do with the society and the evolution of weapons & warfare. Why should they bother to continue teaching men how to use a longsword or Cut & Thrust sword when the musket he has will do the job nicely? It would be like me saying to you, "Well, your great-great-great-great-great Grandfather knew how to trap and gut animals, so you should too, but you have no outside information besides a bunch of euphamisms and a few woodcuts to work from, so make me a leopard skin coat". We were literally running blind on this stuff. We have just recently begun to really appreciate the fact that our next meisters will be our grandchildren.

4). The Meisters were proprietary of their information. They would have books published that would help to remind his student body of his teachings. Unless you were on the inside you would have a tough time figuring out what was going on in those books.

5). Museums study the weapons, but not their use. The museums look at weapons as little more than markers of events. The next time you go to a museum check it out. They never say that this type of sword or this type of breastplate was used thusly by this class of people who were after these goals. They say "X" article was found at "Y" site by "Z" person in "ABCD" year. End of story.

Please remember that the use of the sword evolved over thousands of years. Many is the time when I have said, "hey check out this cool new thing" to my instructor only to have one of the senior scholars say after the demo, "Ringeck did that five hundred years ago". I think that they found just about everything there was to make a sword effective.
Logged

"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".
Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #48 on: January 15, 2004, 11:31:03 AM »

Good points Salamader. I might add that from my limited kenjutsu knowledge, fighting with a sword (or any fighting style for that matter) is mostly about stratgy. It's fully analogue to a chess game. Another science and art in itself.
Logged

Sebastien
Lance D. Allen
Member

Posts: 1962


WWW
« Reply #49 on: January 15, 2004, 01:33:17 PM »

Quote from: Bastoche
fighting with a sword (or any fighting style for that matter) is mostly about stratgy. It's fully analogue to a chess game. Another science and art in itself.


Which is why, to bring the discussion back over to the asian side of things, rumor persists that Go Rin No Sho or A Book of Five Rings is required reading for Japanese business students. The book gives no direct analysis to wide-spread strategy, but is essentially a description of Musashi's beliefs on how a man should comport himself, the use of the other tools of a samurai's trade, and the basics of his school of swordsmanship. However, the discerning student can take the strategies and advice therein and apply it to any sort of situation where strategy is required.
Logged

~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Drifter Bob
Member

Posts: 166


WWW
« Reply #50 on: January 15, 2004, 05:04:11 PM »

Quote from: contracycle

An assumption.  And a surprising one, considering the spectacular absence of a scientific method, a theory of science, or organs practicing science.

 
There were aspects of both science and art to swordsmanship.  
 
It is silly to claim that "they", if you are speaking of the masters, lacked scientific method.  Most of the extant fecthbuchs were written during the later renaissance, some of them with considerable efforts at systemization and a 'scientific' approach.  There is no reason to assume that they were significnatly less able or lacking in theoretical knowledge than their contemporaries in various other fields, such as Gallileo, Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, or Da Vinci, to name just a few.
 
Fencing, martial arts of any kind, are less easily quantifiable however than the orbits of the planets or even the dominant and recessive characteristics of plants.  Thats because there are too many random elements, and it is too personal an art.  And unlike in some Asian martial arts, there was very little intentional unanimity or cohesion of approach among the European fencing masters, even within the various rough national groupings (Italian and German, say).  This is both a strength and a weakness.  The masters took many approaches and favored different techniques and weapons.  It is very interesting therefore to note those surprisingly many areas where they did actually agree (such as many of the pole -arm techniques as seen in such diverse sources as Tallhoffer and the Jeu du la Hache...)
 
Regarding the subject of ressurecting the martial arts of Renassaince Europe (to use Sydney Anglo's term), yes it will be quite a while before we reach the level of the masters.  Undoubtedly most of the masters never wrote any of their techniques down at all, and it is true that the ones who did publish the two score or so treastises that we have did so in a manner which can be cryptic and difficult to decipher.
 
However, I think it's clear that practicing the actions, and especially sparring, makes the euphemistic hints and the vague looking woodcuts start to come to life and make increasing amounts of sense.  
 
There are daunting obstacles to succeeding in this.  The practitioners of modern WMA have only been organized groups doing this seriously for about ten years, and few individuals more than 20 or 30.  There are limitations to what can be learned, and not everyone is doing everything right.  
 
Many of the schools around the country and the world increasingly do sparring with weapons that cannot be used full-force and in an increasingly formalized manner which will make material progress slow, or even misdirect it into some ritual offshoot like kendo.
 
Even those schools which do emphasise full-contact, full - force sparring like ARMA have years to go before they get their first pass through the panoply of weapons necessary to understand the big picture of weapon combat - they train now almost exclusively with the Dagger, Rapier, Cut-and-Thrust sword and most especially the Long Sword (and it's sub-types the Bastard Sword and Great sword) and their philosphy and basic tenets and canonical beliefs reflect this (and I think will begin to change some as they move more into the use of other weapons like sword-and-shield and pole-arms).
 
On the other hand, what has been absorbed already however is ALREADY formidable and compares very well to existing 'traditional' martial arts of the East, at least in the realm of fighting with weapons.  One of John Clements claims to fame was that very early on in the 90's, before he had learned even a fraction of what he knows now, he entered an international martial arts competition and took first place in the weapons division.   Several of the ARMA members have reached a level of skill which makes them equal or probably superior to practitioners of any other martial art with weapons.
 
Seeing this stuff in action from truly experienced practioners is amazing.  There is a segment on the History Channel show (Modern Marvels: Swords Axes and Spears) where you can see John and a colleague demonstrate renaissance longsword techniques for a few minuntes.  It's like nothing you have ever seen.
 
Finally, yes it's strategy, but it's many more elements than that.  It does not boil down easily to the realm of a chess game, the way some other more formalized martial sports can do.  I've been doing full contact, full - force wepaon sparring for many years, I have faced opponents from every kind of background and training, and I can testify, there are many, many other elements involved.  Courage, for one, to be able to face violent attack froom another person.  Even the pain of a wooden waster is intimidating or a padded SLA which can still knock you out and break bones.  Sheer reptillian physical reflexes and reactions.  Strength and endurance.  Perhaps most important of all, psychology, bluff, the ability to read the facial expressions and body language of others, and the ability to hide or mislead with your own.   All these elements are what keeps fencing on the border between art and science, and keeps it forever in that realm of "uncertainty", if my physicist colleagues will pardon my use of the term.
 
JR
Logged

"We can't all be Saints."

John Dillinger
Caz
Member

Posts: 272


« Reply #51 on: January 15, 2004, 07:02:56 PM »

lol so when are they going to make Master (insert name here) fencing manual required reading for business men in the west?
Logged
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #52 on: January 16, 2004, 03:32:53 AM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
It was also the Victorian age that introduced the arthurian cycle as we know it popularly now, inserting mention of armor and swords that were horribly heavy (perhaps to show how manly the bearers were?).


BL>  Just as a note:  Although I'm sure that you're right about Arthur, mentions of extremely heavy weapons (and accordant bad-assness of their wielders) are not merely the artifacts of modern dumbing down of melee combat.  On the contrary, they date back throughout the entire history of human literature and, honestly, probably before.  The Sumerians write about Gilgamesh carrying an axe weighing 50 (Sumerian units of weight), and so big that it requires a cart to carry it.  The Sumerians were excellent warriors, conquering most of the modern Middle East, and I can only assume that they knew what they were talking about, although they have clearly exaggerated somewhat.
  I have always assumed that this is because, provided you can move it around effectively, there isn't anything like a big, heavy weapon for breaking a guard and bashing the other fellow's brains in like so much peanut butter.  Of course, I'm a mythology / literature geek, not so much a weapons and fighting geek, so I am willing to freely admit error in advance.

yrs--
--Ben
Logged

Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #53 on: January 16, 2004, 10:22:16 AM »

Quote

All these elements are what keeps fencing on the border between art and science, and keeps it forever in that realm of "uncertainty", if my physicist colleagues will pardon my use of the term.


You're all excused ;). I mostly agree with what you said but I don't quite agree with you on one small point. You talk about randomness. I rather think it's that there's too many variables. It's not the same as total randomness. In the sense that the more you master your style, the less these factors are "random" and the more control you have over the fight. There's many stances, many strikes and many counter strikes, etc. And square that if not more for the number of combinations between two fighters. Plus many other factors. The more factors you know throughly, the less randomness there is. There wouldn't be much strategy at all if there wa more randomness than control.
Logged

Sebastien
Drifter Bob
Member

Posts: 166


WWW
« Reply #54 on: January 16, 2004, 10:39:39 AM »

Quote from: Bastoche


You're all excused ;). I mostly agree with what you said but I don't quite agree with you on one small point. You talk about randomness. I rather think it's that there's too many variables. It's not the same as total randomness. In the sense that the more you master your style, the less these factors are "random" and the more control you have over the fight. There's many stances, many strikes and many counter strikes, etc. And square that if not more for the number of combinations between two fighters. Plus many other factors. The more factors you know throughly, the less randomness there is. There wouldn't be much strategy at all if there wa more randomness than control.


Well, on this for once I'll admit I don't know for sure, in the sense that I really don't know if my own experiences are pretty a-typical.   I learned streetfighting and to spar with weapons mostly on my own, experimenting with different thigns and picking up a few things here and there from different people I have fought.  It's only in the last two years that I have begun to attempt to apply the various specific techniques found in the Fechtbuchs to my own style, and I have often been surprised by their efficacy.

From my perspective, and again, maybe thats just me, the profusion of variables makes it seem like there is a random element, you stumble, you slide, your hand slips, a drop of sweat falls in your eye, you misjudge an opponents intent or the direction of their attack by a fraction of a second or a few inches, and everything changes.  Somebody like Jake who has had a much more systematic approach to martial arts may see it differently.  

I still think a small percentage of the experience is if not random, very hard to get your head around.  I read an interview with John Clements where he said that even now sometimes very strong and agile amateur fighters can beat him as many as 3 times out of 10 on a bad day.  And then there's the "mutual death" phenomenon, I tend to see a lot when you are fighting with experienced fighters for the first time.  Until you have a sense of the other guy often you both can be too agressive and both get hit, usualy the first two or three times you cross blades.

All that ads up to the historical importance of Armor, to me!

JR
Logged

"We can't all be Saints."

John Dillinger
Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #55 on: January 16, 2004, 12:52:36 PM »

Quote from: Drifter Bob

From my perspective, and again, maybe thats just me, the profusion of variables makes it seem like there is a random element, you stumble, you slide, your hand slips, a drop of sweat falls in your eye, you misjudge an opponents intent or the direction of their attack by a fraction of a second or a few inches, and everything changes.  Somebody like Jake who has had a much more systematic approach to martial arts may see it differently.


Worded that way, I agree entirely :)
Logged

Sebastien
Jake Norwood
Member

Posts: 2261


WWW
« Reply #56 on: January 16, 2004, 04:15:09 PM »

Re: Scientific Method

There's some interesting things to consider. The first is Vigianni's treatise, which is written as a question-and-answer session between a senior master and his student. I don't have a translation on-hand, but it's very much like the scientific texts of the period in tone and approach.

Second, is personal experience. There are some very scientific issues in fighting, no matter where it comes from. This seems pretty "duh," but in most RPGs it's not. Every time you swing at someone, you hit them. It's easy. You just have to follow the laws of range and time. This very simple and obvious truth was torn apart and examined to a great extent by masters as early as fighting itself, and by the 1500's is accompanied not only by tried-and-true methods, but diagrams full of some very solid (albeit comfusing) geometry. People were theorizing what would happen given certain variables, testing it, then training in it when a given theory prooved effective in practice.

The scientific method, as I remember it from school, is roughly:

1. Make an observation
2. Formulate a hypothesis, or educated guess
3. Test this hypothosis (controlling the variables as much as possible to single-out your target variable)
4. Record the results and compare them to your hypothesis. Modify if needed.

Comparing this to the fencing of the Germans in the 1400s...

1. Observation: The hypotenuse of a right triangle is longer than either of the other two lines forming it. Since a swordsman swinging at my legs is making a right triangle with the distance between our shoulders (one leg) and the distance from my shoulder to his target, my leg (another leg of the triangle), then this attack (the hypotenuse, a line from his shoulder to his target along the length of his sword and his weapon) is the longest line in this triangle.

2. Hypothesis: If I thrust at his head as he swings at my legs, I'll hit first and deeper, because my range is shorter and therefore my time is less.

3. Test: This is easily tested in practice, and through full-speed sparring. In the 1400's, it would be tested against an enemy as well. The results are as expected.

4. Record: Hence the birth of the fencing manuals and books' like Musashi's Five Rings (which, btw, is more "spiritual" than its western counterparts, which ranged for pedagogical and scientific to collections of tricks and advice, but rarely anything more than minor references to western "spirituality," ie Chivalry, Knighthood,  Christianity, ever appear in the western texts).

4a. Modify: Further tests show that if the guy attacking your legs slings his weapon out with his off hand, releasing with his lead hand, he gains almost 10" of range, nullyfying your advantage. As this is observed, new tests are spawned.

Now, it's true that we use the scientific method in almost all of our decision making, but the sword masters were conscious of their approach and it's question-test-answer nature. This is clear from the earliest known manual, MS I.33.

Jake
Logged

"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
___________________
www.theriddleofsteel.NET
Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #57 on: January 18, 2004, 04:23:27 PM »

Fighting is as scientific as life-and-death poker.  I don't doubt that observations lead to hypothesis on techniques that were then tested in mock and real duels, but that's only part of the game.  Once you toss human emotions into the mix, science tends to take the back seat.  Make it a life-and-death situation, and fear obviously dominates all, unless you're crazy.

-Jeff
Logged
Jake Norwood
Member

Posts: 2261


WWW
« Reply #58 on: January 18, 2004, 04:42:35 PM »

Well, I can't agree entirely. The historical records don't seem to support that view.

Serious poker, however, for those who play big-stakes, is largely a game of psychology--which is a science. So there you go.

Jake
Logged

"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
___________________
www.theriddleofsteel.NET
Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #59 on: January 18, 2004, 05:05:12 PM »

I was careful to use the word "fighting" in this case, and the historical record does support my contention.  In practically every first-person account of battle that I've ever read, fear is at the top of list.  Furthermore, there was a famous study in WWII showing clearly the effects of fear on soldiers in many different ways (e.g. long-term and short-term reactions).

So while I agree that techniques developed in a scientific, or at least thoughtful manner, I think duels start to involve bluffing, reading your opponent, and other imperfect arts, and actual fights to the death involve fear, which further complicates things.

Let me toss my one personal example out there: I took a fencing class in college.  I was paired up with someone who had actually fenced before, and was takeing the class for credits.  He was better than I was (duh), and beat me in practice spars; in fact one day he got in a bit of a show-off mood, and disarmed me.

Late in the semester we had a serious of 'real' matches, where we had students act as judges and tried it out with real fencing rules.  When I had my match with my partner, I baited him by keeping a weak grip and being rather defensive; he took the bait and tried to disarm me.  Since I was ready for it, I casually moved out of the way which left him way out of position, so I got an easy touch.  That action so psyched him out that I got more points - I may have even won that match (it's been a long time, not sure if I remember it all).

Anyway, as scientific as the techniques may be, the truth of the matter is that when egos are on the line it enters the realm of art.  I further suggest that if it had been life & death that would have colored both of our actions even more.

-Jeff

P.S. A friend of mine's father was a psychiatrist; I'm certain he would have contested that your use of 'psychology' was in fact science.  He told me (to paraphrase) that the scientific part of psychology generally rests in the observable reactions to drugs; the idea that we can predict the actions of individuals scientifically has yet to be shown except in the general sense (e.g. 1000 people, when confronted with situation X, 990 will respond in Y way).
Logged
Pages: 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 ... 14
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!