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Alfonso Asensio




Location: Tokyo
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Oct, 2007 9:45 pm    Post subject: Kung fu craze in armour         Reply with quote

Hello

This is a topic that keeps jumping into my head although it may have been discussed here before. I am also not sure if this forum, is the right place to post it

I grew up during the late 70s and early 80s, at that time it was very common for people to be interested in Easter martial arts and there was a big popular culture push in that direction, (from Hong Kong movies to Iron Fist comics). Because of the exotic flavor of the trend, and together with very valid examples of teaching centers and professionals, along came a large amount of people who used the remoteness of Asia and the general lack of information of the public to portray themselves as something they were not (or at least not at the level they pretended). I would think I was not the only one who saw people boasting of having studied under some mystical Japanese master or holding the secretive knowledge of a deadly kung fu move (the attitude went from international organizations masters to neighborhood kids with nunchakus tucked under the belt).
Slowly, this trend died out as people became more informed or, perhaps, discerning (or was supplanted by new fads in "special forces combat", "street combat" and, the latest I have seen in lethal nomenclatures, "prison combat") and the Kung fu craze became just another area of interest.

It may be me, but in a way I am seeing the same tendency in the recent popularity of western Martial arts (I am not sure if this is the accepted term).

Where 30 years ago terms like Wu-shu, mawashigeri or Shaolin (even "ninja" was an exotic word once) hold the secret to the mysteries of Asia, now a days, old Latin, Medieval German and XVII century Spanish lingo comes out as the key to locked knowledge. People study with masters in remote corners of Europe. They find gladiatorial techniques that have survived intact through the centuries. And now, like before different organizations and grades seem to come out all the time (once as a kid I met somebody who, affirmed, was "lotus belt” in some obscure Japanese discipline)

I am, of course, not saying that current efforts to rediscover and develop WMA are all like this. But I wonder if development in a new field always has to be accompanied by a rearguard of disinformation and pretense that some may use to try to present themselves as something the may not be.
Am I thinking too much? Has anybody else felt something similar? I would like if possible to know other, more informed, opinions about this.

Best regards
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Oct, 2007 9:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to say, I haven't seen this. Yes, there've been a few people who've claimed to have some sort of secret lineage of power that traces back to some master Viking chieftan wizard, or some such, but as far as I've seen those have been few and far between.

Though I don't doubt at some point within the upcoming years seeing some "X-treme Western Martial Arts Annihialation Technique" videos... and perhaps some wire-work films such as "Crouching Talhoffer, Hidden Ringeck" and "Blind Fiore"...

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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Oct, 2007 11:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Problem is that there is no "big popular push" for WMA. Your average movie-goer, joe sixpack, or mall ninja have no idea what WMA is. If they do, they often associate it with reenactment and the SCA. Hell, many of my SCA friends don't even know much about WMA. Generally, you have to pretty much be in the know to even know what WMA is. Plus, Hollywood has no intention of trying to include WMA techniques in movie fighting. So, I suppose I could say that I don't really see the trend the way you do, obviously....
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Oct, 2007 11:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Kung fu craze in armour         Reply with quote

Alfonso Asensio wrote:
I am, of course, not saying that current efforts to rediscover and develop WMA are all like this. But I wonder if development in a new field always has to be accompanied by a rearguard of disinformation and pretense that some may use to try to present themselves as something the may not be.
Am I thinking too much? Has anybody else felt something similar? I would like if possible to know other, more informed, opinions about this.



Actually Yes, This happens.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello George,

Perhaps you can flesh out that post with some examples, or even anecdotes and opinions? It would more effectively further the discussion (and back up your own statement). Happy

Cheers,
-GLL

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The persistent public misperception of the western martial arts as clumsy and brutish works against the creation of "mall knights" to rival the billions of "mall ninjas". Plus, basic human fascination with other cultures drives at least some of the west's fascination with Asian martial arts. When we want something exotic, we don't turn to our own past, even though it might seem much more exotic to us than does modern Asian culture (if only we'd just take the time to question what we "know" about our own past). Now, a century from now, when Asia is the economic, military and cultural superpower, cool Japanese kids may embrace the mystical ancient art of the longsword. Look what happened when the cross-cultural fascination tables were turned once before--European armour influenced the development of Japanese armour and Japanese warriors ended up wearing cabasets! They got the worst part of that deal, I think. Sallets would have been better in-tune with Japanese armour.

"Crouching Talhoffer," indeed! Too funny, Bill! Laughing Out Loud

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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Now, a century from now, when Asia is the economic, military and cultural superpower, cool Japanese kids may embrace the mystical ancient art of the longsword.


This has already happened to some extent. I'm not a specialist, but I believe several anime show european weapons or use european mythology.

I'm not saying it's historically accurate though Happy But then much of the common knowledge about eastern arts is not either...

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Michael Ekelmann




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:
Sean Flynt wrote:
Now, a century from now, when Asia is the economic, military and cultural superpower, cool Japanese kids may embrace the mystical ancient art of the longsword.


This has already happened to some extent. I'm not a specialist, but I believe several anime show european weapons or use european mythology.

I'm not saying it's historically accurate though Happy But then much of the common knowledge about eastern arts is not either...


Record of Lodoss War is an anime series that is based in a European flavored fantasy world (elves, goblins, dragons, knights and such)
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
The persistent public misperception of the western martial arts as clumsy and brutish works against the creation of "mall knights" to rival the billions of "mall ninjas". Plus, basic human fascination with other cultures drives at least some of the west's fascination with Asian martial arts. When we want something exotic, we don't turn to our own past, even though it might seem much more exotic to us than does modern Asian culture (if only we'd just take the time to question what we "know" about our own past). Now, a century from now, when Asia is the economic, military and cultural superpower, cool Japanese kids may embrace the mystical ancient art of the longsword. Look what happened when the cross-cultural fascination tables were turned once before--European armour influenced the development of Japanese armour and Japanese warriors ended up wearing cabasets! They got the worst part of that deal, I think. Sallets would have been better in-tune with Japanese armour.

"Crouching Talhoffer," indeed! Too funny, Bill! Laughing Out Loud

This does happen to some extent, atleast in the Japanese SCA groups. A friend once remarked on feeling like he was through the looking glass while over there. He was used to seeing alot of 6ft tall white samurai in the American SCA, so he thought it quite peculiar to see several Japanese SCA fighters in 14th C. plate. Laughing Out Loud I suppose to some people, the grass is always greener on the other side of the proverbial fence...

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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriel Lebec wrote:
Hello George,

Perhaps you can flesh out that post with some examples, or even anecdotes and opinions? It would more effectively further the discussion (and back up your own statement). Happy


Um... I think I have started enough flame wars in the last 24 months or so. I'm going to keep silent on this one.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the West, you have various forms of martial competition that are arguably the oldest known from an archeology view point.

One can look back at the artwork in pyramids at least 2000 B.C. and earlier time frame and assert that unarmed wrestling (pancreation) was already a Western "unarmored" martial art long before similar things are currently known to have existed in the East. At least in terms of "controversial legend", we could even discuss Western European heros bringing these arts to the East roughly around the time of Alexander the Great. If looking for early gladiatorial combat, then within Persian Syrian cities dating to around 1000 B.C. you can find ruins (Tyre) that appear to have been the basis for the size and proportions of the Greek Olympic style stadium as well as chariot races, and various forms of combat, as well as the origins of words like "Heracules."

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
Um... I think I have started enough flame wars in the last 24 months or so. I'm going to keep silent on this one.


If you're not willing to elaborate on a statement or back it up, it may not be wise to make that statement in the first place. To put a statement like that out there and then clam up when pressed makes it seem like you meant to stir the pot, though you claim you don't want to do something like that.

We like straight talk here, or no talk at all. Happy

Happy

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Shawn Henthorn




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Crouching Talhoffer, Hidden Ringeck"...too funny...can't breath!! Seriously though I can remember alot more of this sort of thing before its popularity really started to grow. Now more and more people know better and teh accecpted sources are alot smaller and not as mysterious as our Asian counterparts.
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

If you're not willing to elaborate on a statement or back it up, it may not be wise to make that statement in the first place. To put a statement like that out there and then clam up when pressed makes it seem like you meant to stir the pot, though you claim you don't want to do something like that.

We like straight talk here, or no talk at all. Happy


Alright. I'll take that as permission to say things I usually keep to private messages.

I first put forward that all martial arts attract those who want to be thought of as tought guys, gurus, etc. This produces such things as Koga Ninja masters, (who cannot produce their densho scrolls,) and such characters as Frank Dux and Ashida Kim. These are basically people on ego trips, who wish to be thought of as having additional insite, secret information, etc.

It is my opinion that there are a small number of these in the WMAs world, All such aquire followers, in varing numbers depending on their level of charm.

I think that the edge vs flat debate is a perfect example of a select person attempting to pretend they have a one true way of looking at the question of Western Martial arts. We have a prepondeance of evidence from primary sources on the edge vs flat debate, yet no amount of evidence is enough to convince them that they are mistaken, and do not have a correct view. There was also a significant debate on the historical nature or lack thereof of the same person's shield style, which is claimed to be historic but does not match up to any known shield style in the surviving manuals. Another example is the claim that rapiers cannot cut, when it is shown that many rapier manuals include the blow amoung their list of techniques. When truely locked down by many people, the claims mutate, the use of straw man arguements surface, and false tests are used to demonstrate points.

In short, we have false information being presented as a one true way. I propose this is exactly what the original poster refers to as "a rearguard of disinformation and pretense that some may use to try to present themselves as something they may not be" inorder to gain respect and renown.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Alfonso Asensio




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Oct, 2007 11:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks all for the thoughts on this.

You have mention several reasons why the cases of WMA now and EMA in the past are different and several why they are similar

Although EMA can be very traditional and rich, in the WMA case, the approach people are taking looks a bit more "scholarly" if I can use the term freely. In one side there is a very strong push for historical respect from all parties. In other, most of the tecniques you are all using had to be researched out of books and manuals as there seems to be no living tradition to feed from
Maybe this means that the "entry requirements" for people to be interested in WMA are a bit higher than the ones for EMA were 30 years ago?

I wonder if this is making a difference between both

Robin, funny you should mention Japanese SCA because that is all the SCA I have known so far. It is interesting to see them absorbed in something that is so "exotic"from an asian-centric point of view. People coming from western groups have always mentioned how much care they put in, not only look historically acurrate but also looking plain good (velvet and satin abound), but that is Japan for you; perfeccionism.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Oct, 2007 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:

Alright. I'll take that as permission to say things I usually keep to private messages.



If that's the case then you're misinterpreting my message. My point was that you shouldn't post a potentially inflammatory post, then claim to not want to back up your statement because it would be inflammatory. If you truly don't want to inflame, then don't post inflammatory material.

If you want to post potentially inflammatory material, please take a moment to read our rules first to make sure you're not about to run afoul of them. Specifically, see this:

Quote:
Do conduct yourself in a professional manner
We support forum members engaging in constructive debate, disagreeing with the opinions of others, or requesting further information or even the citation of references. We do, however, expect this to be done in a respectful manner and without personal attacks. If you don't agree with somebody's post, argue with the post's content, not with the person who made it. [emphasis mine]


Also, I'm disturbed that you seem willing to use the private message system to say things that would cause a ruckus if said in the public view. If you're unwilling to say things publicly and take the public heat for your statement, you shouldn't be saying those things. If you're using the PM system to skirt our rules for respectful discourse, that's even worse. Using the shelter of PMs to be inflammatory is not an acceptable course of action.

Lastly, it's my sincere hope that this thread doesn't whip up old WMA community fights and animosities, as it's off-topic to this thread and not welcome on this site anyway.

Happy

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George Hill




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PostPosted: Thu 25 Oct, 2007 8:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

If that's the case then you're misinterpreting my message.


I see. I thought your key words were wanting straight talk. I'll go back to keeping quiet.

Quote:

Also, I'm disturbed that you seem willing to use the private message system to say things that would cause a ruckus if said in the public view. If you're unwilling to say things publicly and take the public heat for your statement, you shouldn't be saying those things. .


Oh, I'm generally willing to take the heat, but I try to be respectful of the tone the moderators seem to wish to set.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Oct, 2007 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
I see. I thought your key words were wanting straight talk. I'll go back to keeping quiet.


I do want straight talk that follows our rules and culture. That's all I've been asking for.

Check your PMs.

Happy

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Ed Toton




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PostPosted: Thu 25 Oct, 2007 9:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So far I've seen a pretty healthy amount of humility on the part of the WMA practitioners I've met. Of course egos will come into it at one time or another; it's human nature. But from what I've seen so far, there's a culture of respect, and as someone already put it, a "scholarly" sort of approach to it.

Just my humble observation, from someone who admittedly did not witness the edge/flat debate. Happy

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Oct, 2007 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Ekelmann wrote:
Record of Lodoss War is an anime series that is based in a European flavored fantasy world (elves, goblins, dragons, knights and such)

Record of Lodoss Wars isn't set in a European setting at all. It's set in a fantasy setting--and then, not in a really good fantasy setting. I'm an avid fantasy fan who has read Lord of the Rings numerous times, but I found Lodoss Wars particularly lacking whether in the fantastic department or in the historical department--perhaps because it's little more than a novelization and reinterpretation of the transcript from a series of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns and therefore has little originality to go with it. Not to mention that, if you look closely at the equipment, almost all the armor and swords appear way too thick and heavy to be practical--and yet the sword can cut through all that armor in a single blow!
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