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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2008 4:33 pm    Post subject: Unarmed versus Longsword Video         Reply with quote

Guys,

The ARMA has just put out a super cool video demonstrating unarmed disarms against vertical longsword cuts.

See it here: http://www.thearma.org/Videos/DisarmDemo1.htm

(Make sure your QuickTime is updated)

Edit: Now on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz-07Dtp-Qw


Last edited by Craig Peters on Fri 08 Feb, 2008 11:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2008 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

Thanks for posting.

I was hoping to write this reply after watching the clip (grrrrrr) but couldn't get it to play on my computer (any chance of it getting put up on youTube?)

Are the techniques based on or derived from any particular source or sources?
Do they represent a particular style i.e. Italian - Fiore, Fabris etc., German, Silver etc?

Since I haven't seen the clip yet this question may already be addressed but . . . the title says " . . . against vertical cuts" so how have the techniques fared against other types of cuts, feints, changes of line etc. With full appreciation of the difficulty of unarmed versus longsword I'm curious how robust the techniques are against a canny opponent.

Thanks again and hopefully I'll get to actually watch it.

-Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2008 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The techniques are in part an extrapolation from Talhoffer's manual of 1467; see plate 77. I imagine there are other sources too, but I don't recall any off-hand.

I think the techniques here would be very difficult to perform against an experienced swordsman who employed other types of cuts. The fact of the matter is that no matter how skilled one is, someone possessing a weapon always has the advantage in a fight, and the discrepancy between a unarmed man and a man with a long sword is immense. Nevertheless, the video illustrates that it is possible for an unarmed man to triumph, and is a testimony to John's immense skill.

PS: I've already requested that it be put on YouTube.
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2008 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
The techniques are in part an extrapolation from Talhoffer's manual of 1467; see plate 77. I imagine there are other sources too, but I don't recall any off-hand.

Thanks. Interestingly Talhoffer illustrates a thrust against the unarmed man. I seem to recall at least one or two texts that deal with dagger versus longer weapon. These would seem to be a natural starting point for this endeavour. Do you know which manual I'm thinking of and if it was used as well?

Craig Peters wrote:
I think the techniques here would be very difficult to perform against an experienced swordsman who employed other types of cuts. The fact of the matter is that no matter how skilled one is, someone possessing a weapon always has the advantage in a fight, and the discrepancy between a unarmed man and a man with a long sword is immense. Nevertheless, the video illustrates that it is possible for an unarmed man to triumph, and is a testimony to John's immense skill.

Wellll, yeah. Big Grin But I was curious still. Perhaps a more specific question. Were any specific variations found to be more problematic for the unarmed person than others?

Craig Peters wrote:
PS: I've already requested that it be put on YouTube.

Thanks Big Grin

-Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2008 10:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey, cool stuff. While material for specifically unarmed vs. sword is incredibly scarce in the source material, it isn't much of a leap of logic to apply the principles that are seen in the mechanics of the other forms of fighting (unarmed, dagger, sword, poleaxe, etc.), just as seen here. I completely agree with Craig that it would be very difficult to do this against a skilled swordsman (unless if he were far too overconfident), but that doesn't take away from the fact that the skills can still be applied with proper timing and technique.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2008 11:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:

Thanks. Interestingly Talhoffer illustrates a thrust against the unarmed man. I seem to recall at least one or two texts that deal with dagger versus longer weapon. These would seem to be a natural starting point for this endeavour. Do you know which manual I'm thinking of and if it was used as well?


Steve,

If you look at the text for the plate, it indicates that while the two figures on the left are related to one another, the two figures on the right are not. So Talhoffer isn't specifically illustrating a thrust against an unarmed man. More to the point, note the text: "This is an advantageous stance for a disarmed man". What strikes me is that Talhoffer seems to have included this illustration as a jumping-off point. It's almost as though he's saying "Here's what you need to know for the stance- it's up to you to extrapolate from it". So we need to have a broader interpretation of this figure than what you've described.

As for dagger and sword, it's not something I've really investigated much, although according to Jay Vail's dagger book, there's material found in Fiore and Gladiatoria, in addition to a technique which he's extrapolated from Duerer.

Quote:
Wellll, yeah. Big Grin But I was curious still. Perhaps a more specific question. Were any specific variations found to be more problematic for the unarmed person than others?


I can't say. From my own perspective (and this is entirely my own opinion, not backed up by anything I've actually tried) I imagine that an unterhaw would be quite difficult to deal with. It's still possible; if you can close quickly and stifle, keeping your hands above your opponent's, you could probably stop it and sustain minimal harm, but it seems to me that it would be more tricky than dealing with an oberhaw.

As for things like feints and durchwechseln, I don't think they're actually that helpful to the swordsman. The same difficulty applies when using them against an unarmed man, and considering that the unarmed foe knows that he has to close quickly, trying to feint or change through probably won't make much difference. But again, that's just my opinion.
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William Carew




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 1:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Craig,

That's very interesting, thanks for posting. I have an observation that you are free to take on board or leave as you feel appropriate.

It appears to me that the fellow striking with the longsword is moving in False Times, by beginning to step into distance before he moves his sword forward. In my interpretation of the True Times, which I feel applies equally to longsword, the point of our sword should be the first thing that moves forward in both time and space, and the body and foot should follow the point and edge of the sword into distance (ala Hs. 3227a/Doebringer's analogy of the cord tied to the point or edge of our sword, pulling it forward by the most direct path possible). Thus, instead of following his sword into distance (which would make most of these techniques extremely risky) the chap can be grappled effectively because his sword is not a threat before his body is a target.

Perhaps this demonstrates another good reason for emphasizing True Times when attacking, especially against someone as skilled as John Clements.

Cheers,

Bill

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Felix R.




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The techniques look interesting, the basics look like standard wrestling techniques.

Besides the aforementioned points, the longsword wielder is telegraphing his attack almost everytime by either extending his arms a bit before the cut and by some slight nodding. Doesn´t mean that I could it do better Wink
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Dan P




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting to watch.
The principles appear similar to techniques for fighting empty-hand against an attacker with a club or bayonet, such as getting inside the arc of the weapon and using the attackers' rotational or linear momentum to effect a throw and disarm.

Even a very skilled fighter (such as the man in the video) is at considerable disadvantage empty-handed against a novice with a large weapon. But a swordman well-versed in these unarmed principles would almost certainly not leave himself open to these empty-hand techniques by attacking so aggressively that he overextends and leaves his inside vulnerable. So perhaps the real importance of documenting and developing this system historically was less of actually expecting people to fight longsworders empty-handed and consistantly win, but more of training longsword fighters how to NOT to get caught off guard just because their foe was unarmed or using a smaller weapon.

And the note on the page saying none of the demonstration came from aikido/jujitsu... I totally believe this is true, but at the same time a lot of it appears so alike that a reasonable person might mistake it for an eastern martial art style. Its a great thing that the advanced development of western martial arts is now coming to light. Like Craig said, super cool.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Even a very skilled fighter (such as the man in the video) is at considerable disadvantage empty-handed against a novice with a large weapon.


I don't know. Depends on how new the novice is and how skilled the master is. At similar levels of skill, certainly. My sparring partner and I have tried out a little of Meyer's advice on unarmed against rapier. I couldn't quite get it to work, but he could, at least a few times. But that is with the swordsman attacking. I'm not sure what an unarmed person could do to attack someone armed. I suspect that would be considerably more difficult.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A couple of points:

I agree that Silver's True and False Times are useful for practicing the long sword. That having been said, I have to wonder about the degree to which Silver's ideas were incorporated into German fencing. Does, for instance, Doebringer's injunction about striking as though there is cord tied to your point or edge imply that the Liechtenauer school had the exact same understanding as Silver on True and False Times? Perhaps they might have, and simply did not express it as explicitly as Silver. Or perhaps they felt that moving quickly and directly was important, but did not specifically teach that the hands must always move first as Silver does. It's something that I've considered before when thinking about the long sword.

Second, I wonder how well the principle of true time held up in actual combat situations, even for those who had specifically been trained to fight in true time. I'm guessing that perfect true time tends to fall apart in encounters. That's not to say that it isn't an important concept. Nor would I say that it's something we should not strive for in our training- it certainly would make a difference in the video shown. I'm just wondering how realistic it is to maintain it in combat.

I suppose though that one could argue that if you've trained your body through constant repetition of fighting in true time, you'd naturally perform that way in combat.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 7:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
A couple of points:

I agree that Silver's True and False Times are useful for practicing the long sword. That having been said, I have to wonder about the degree to which Silver's ideas were incorporated into German fencing. Does, for instance, Doebringer's injunction about striking as though there is cord tied to your point or edge imply that the Liechtenauer school had the exact same understanding as Silver on True and False Times? Perhaps they might have, and simply did not express it as explicitly as Silver. Or perhaps they felt that moving quickly and directly was important, but did not specifically teach that the hands must always move first as Silver does. It's something that I've considered before when thinking about the long sword.

Second, I wonder how well the principle of true time held up in actual combat situations, even for those who had specifically been trained to fight in true time. I'm guessing that perfect true time tends to fall apart in encounters. That's not to say that it isn't an important concept. Nor would I say that it's something we should not strive for in our training- it certainly would make a difference in the video shown. I'm just wondering how realistic it is to maintain it in combat.

I suppose though that one could argue that if you've trained your body through constant repetition of fighting in true time, you'd naturally perform that way in combat.


Maybe it's very useful in training to emphasize even slightly exaggerate moving the hand/sword first in true time, after a while the movement becomes almost simultaneous but the idea to to avoid absolutely crossing over into false time.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 11:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have edited my original post to include a link to the YouTube video which has just recently been posted.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 11:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
A couple of points:

I agree that Silver's True and False Times are useful for practicing the long sword. That having been said, I have to wonder about the degree to which Silver's ideas were incorporated into German fencing. Does, for instance, Doebringer's injunction about striking as though there is cord tied to your point or edge imply that the Liechtenauer school had the exact same understanding as Silver on True and False Times? Perhaps they might have, and simply did not express it as explicitly as Silver. Or perhaps they felt that moving quickly and directly was important, but did not specifically teach that the hands must always move first as Silver does. It's something that I've considered before when thinking about the long sword.


Personally, I think it is absolutely vital to move the blade before anything else in all forms of western swordsmanship. Anything else is a telegraphing movement. I think Doebringer's analogy is a perfect one to describe this, and shows that while Silver used different words, he wasn't alone in believing this. (In fact, the concept is just as alive and well in the Italian traditions.)

I did notice the telegraphing in the video, and while ordinarily that would bother me, it did not so much in this scenario because it was a case of a man using unarmed techniques to overcome someone with a weapon. Being unarmed is already a large disadvantage, so in this particular scenario it is fair that the armed man telegraphs, which the unarmed man takes advantage of. It's even somewhat realistic, considering the armed opponent would probably have a degree of overconfidence.

Quote:
Second, I wonder how well the principle of true time held up in actual combat situations, even for those who had specifically been trained to fight in true time. I'm guessing that perfect true time tends to fall apart in encounters. That's not to say that it isn't an important concept. Nor would I say that it's something we should not strive for in our training- it certainly would make a difference in the video shown. I'm just wondering how realistic it is to maintain it in combat.


While it might fall apart in stress, the same is true of any other skill. Of course, training and drilling are what help prevent this, as you say. But actual combat or not, moving anything besides the threat first is not only revealing your intent too early, but also leaving a vulnerability. So I would assume it is just as important (probably even more important) for real combat as it is for the salle, in my opinion.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 08 Feb, 2008 11:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I did notice the telegraphing in the video, and while ordinarily that would bother me, it did not so much in this scenario because it was a case of a man using unarmed techniques to overcome someone with a weapon. Being unarmed is already a large disadvantage, so in this particular scenario it is fair that the armed man telegraphs, which the unarmed man takes advantage of. It's even somewhat realistic, considering the armed opponent would probably have a degree of overconfidence.


Something else to consider is that the second opponent was far better about not telegraphing his intentions. While John still had a big advantage because he knew what cut to expect, he at least wasn't capitalizing on a really overt telegraph.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Feb, 2008 12:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for why this only shows cuts from above (vom tag), my thought is that you wouldn't dare to grapple like this until you saw such an opening.

Until then, you're either managing to avoid the weapon, or you're dead.

M.

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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Feb, 2008 5:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Speaking of true times...

I'm still unclear as to whether or not they are meant to be applied at all distances.

From what I understood:
- True place is the place where you do not have to step in order to strike the target (though of course stepping is a bonus)
- True times stem from the fact that the hands are faster than the body, which in turn is faster than the feet
- The hands should not slow down to accommodate a motion of the feet, for example.

To me it seems hard to reconcile these three ideas when launching an attack from a full step out of striking distance, or true place. So one can strike moving the weapon first, and in this case the cut is finished before the step is completed, or one can move the weapon first but slowing it down voluntarily. Or launch the weapon first full speed, then the feet, but in this case the target will be missed because not enough distance has been covered when the weapon lands...

I think what makes success possible for the unarmed guy in this situation is, in part, that the longsword guy launches a full, commited attack from further than necessary. Of course the attack is not perfect, there has to be a tiny occasion to counter, or the unarmed fighter dies as expected Happy

Many unarmed defenses against knife, for example, can be seen in other arts that use the same basic mistake from the attacker: he starts from too far, and thus is forced to provide the opportunity to counter. He cannot really do the specified attack in true time.

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PostPosted: Sat 09 Feb, 2008 6:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:
Speaking of true times...

I'm still unclear as to whether or not they are meant to be applied at all distances.

From what I understood:
- True place is the place where you do not have to step in order to strike the target (though of course stepping is a bonus)
- True times stem from the fact that the hands are faster than the body, which in turn is faster than the feet
- The hands should not slow down to accommodate a motion of the feet, for example.


First I have to mention that I'm very much a novice taking longsword classes: So I'm not going to get into details I am not competent to explain or even understand. Wink

But just as point of logic ( hopefully logical ): Lets say you are very much out of distance to be able to strike with your sword, it then matter not at all what you move first as you will just be hitting air ! One might change from guard to guard for various tactical reasons in preparation to closing the distance and to confuse and maybe cause the opponent to make a mistake.

There is a distance I think were changing guards is very unsafe as the opponent being just a bit out of distance can attack pre-emptively just as one starts to change guards faster than one can change one's mind about the desirability of changing guards: Reaction time is slowest right after a move is initiated if it become necessary to abort : In other words the way I understand it one should never be changing one's mind/guard at true time distance and only be at this distance to attack or attack first if the opponent is the one closing the distance.

All this may just be restating the obvious about it all being about controling or being aware of when one is out of distance and safe, and being in distance and not safe !

Oh, the above is not meant to be a statement of fact but more a question put to others much more qualified if I'm on the right track " in theory " : Even if I'm right in principle, applying the principle is not an easy thing as one must be able to read the other's intentions ( telegraphing, if any ) and be very much sensitive to controlling the engagement distance.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 09 Feb, 2008 4:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:


I think what makes success possible for the unarmed guy in this situation is, in part, that the longsword guy launches a full, commited attack from further than necessary. Of course the attack is not perfect, there has to be a tiny occasion to counter, or the unarmed fighter dies as expected Happy

Many unarmed defenses against knife, for example, can be seen in other arts that use the same basic mistake from the attacker: he starts from too far, and thus is forced to provide the opportunity to counter. He cannot really do the specified attack in true time.


Vincent,

I see your point on this one. Keep in mind, though, that the same principle behind unarmed defense works regardless of whether it's a closer range attack or a farther range attack- it might just be more difficult at closer range. Also keep in mind that it is generally preferable to fight at a range where you need to take a passing step to strike your opponent. Meyer mentions that every strike should have it's own step (even if that step is just a very short one forwards). It affords you better reach with your sword and more power in your cut. At the same time though, one does not have to step from as far away as is shown in the video, and that may have a significant influence in how difficult it is to perform the actions when unarmed. Also, I imagine that scenarios like this would have probably occurred at closer ranges in real combat, so practicing them at closer ranges makes sense from that perspective too.
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Feb, 2008 3:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Craig,

I must stress that whatever I've said is not a criticism of the techniques shown. I'm not remotely good enough at any grappling to do that Happy It's just that I find it surprising that very often when a video showing some form of counters is posted, someone says "Ah, but the attacker is not moving in true times". So I formed the opinion that this is in fact the condition that makes the counters work.

Or to put it another way... There must be an advantage for the fighter doing the counter to exploit. Assuming the skill of both fighters is equivalent, I believe it is healthy to acknowledge that the attacker indeed makes a mistake, either in timing or in distance...

Starting from a full step away is indeed common advice, but I wonder how it should change when the opponent's range is shorter than yours, as is the case when he has no weapon. My personal idea on that is that the longer weapon allows you to start the action closer to your striking distance, while still being one step out of your adversary's striking distance. In this case respecting true times is obviously easier, and the counter is more difficult.

But knowing how to defend against someone doing a slight error is still very valuable, because it happens all the time...

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