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Ruel A. Macaraeg





Joined: 25 Aug 2003

Posts: 306

PostPosted: Sat 03 Apr, 2004 8:54 pm    Post subject: Failing to educate the public about swords         Reply with quote

Friends,

I had a moment and decided to commit these thoughts to writing and invite your input.

On the Failure to Educate the General Public about Historical Swords and Swordsmanship

While modern sword-collecting and swordsmanship-praciticing communities are continually at odds with each other, providing endless drama of soap-opera caliber, they are all united in the belief that swords are underappreciated, misunderstood, and misrepresented by the public at large. Thus, we see in the mission statements of most organizations and websites calls to promote historical authenticity in public media by making documentary and statistical evidence available and circulating it throughout highly visible venues -- from journalistic publications to TV and big screen films.


I certainly agree with this effort in principle: Accurate knowledge is essential to the appreciation of traditional weapons and the cultures in which they were used. Yet I think that trying to combat misinformation with good information as a primary strategy is ineffective, for the following reasons.


1. The amount of misinformation will always vastly exceed the amount of good information, for the simple fact that it takes effort to produce good information. Good information must be researched, validated, and independently confirmed; misinformation doesn't.


2. Misinformation can be sensational and provocative; good information, properly presented, must be dispassionate and objective. Sensational and provocative statements always get more attention from the general public.


3. Theories and measurements about objects outside peoples' everyday experiences are unlikely to register with anywhere near the effectiveness as "hyped" words ("razor-sharp," "battle-ready," etc.)


The unabated proliferation of falsely advertised "sword-like objects," bad sword movies, and inaccurate "informational" documentaries shows that the current efforts by sword enthusiasts are failing. I'm certainly not saying that we should give up on trying to provide factual counter-arguments to misinformation about swords. Rather, I think that we should choose a different primary strategy: Instead of trying to "educate" the public about swords by going tit-for-tat -- fact-for-error -- we should encourage the public to be critical thinkers about swords, so that they can evaluate information for themselves.


When we hear comments about the absurd weights of old swords or their impossible cutting abilities, we should not proceed to cite museum statistics or the structural properties of processed steel. At best, we'll bore them; at worst, we'll come across a condescending and (more importantly) distant, the latter the first characteristic on the slippery slope toward social deviance that is the justification for certain recent attempts at legislated sword restriction. We should, rather, encourage them to examine the origins and validity of their beliefs through critical thinking questions, such as:

"Where did you get this information?"

"Do you trust this source? Why?"

"Does this information agree with other facts you know about related objects or events?"

Not only is this an easier method of engagement; I also believe that it will prove to be more effective. On this website, the critical thinking approach will be adopted as much and as often as possible.

http://weaponspage.homestead.com/failuretoeducate.html
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Allan Senefelder
Industry Professional



Location: Upstate NY
Joined: 18 Oct 2003

Posts: 1,563

PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 7:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So what your saying in a nut shell is that " the average person is self absorbed ,stupid and lazy and therefore will
accept without question the most redilly avaliable information to avoid having to leave the cushy peice of living room furniture embossed with thier butt cheeks and find out for themselves the truth and that because this redilly avaliable
source of information is elctronic media outlets pimping the sensational not the factual it will always be an uphill if not losing proposition battle to wake them up but still should be done becuase its the right thing to do " I couldn't agree with you more . Kinda explains why reality TV is so popular though .

We encounter and have encountered the same thing for going on nine years accross a counter at a renfaire with
armour . Every year we spend 50% of our time trying to dispell the misconceptions about armour ( oddly the one
thing the public has never gotten out of the movies is that film shows armour failing EVERY time its hit . The arrow
always sticks, the sword always cuts ) and every year there seems to be the same number if not more that believe
the same misconceptions . Easier to just say " your absolutly right mam , armour was so heavy they couldn't even move .
So we're you interested in buying this ?" . You bet but you've gotta at least try .
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Arik Estus





Joined: 07 Dec 2003

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with both of you Gentlemen.
The truth is a hard Mistress. And Hollywood sucks.
At the Highland Games their are always "Know it alls" who come over and tell me why the
Baskethilts werent really any good. Or expound on the Rapier as the epitome of the true sword.
Why did knights bother with something that would fall apart aas soon as struck?
You could just shake the crap out of them. Then youd have to clean up the mess.
With out the filling there is not much left. Laughing Out Loud

Arik
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Joel Whitmore




Location: Simmesport, LA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003

Posts: 342

PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 8:58 am    Post subject: Good Topic         Reply with quote

This is something we in the tight-knit collecting community have faced for quite a while. Our frustration seems to mount every time we see a History Channel or Discovery Channel program that examines swords. To me the blatant inaccuracies are more glaring and dangerous here because these programs are put forward as documentaries and therefore many people assume them to be factual. We have many times chimed about "why can't Hollywood get it right" and it just seems that it comes down to a single person's vision: the director. As a community, both academic and amatuer, we have not formed into a cohesive educational unit. SFI was trying to do this (if I step on toes here or am out of line then delete this) and was well on it's way until it careened severely off course. However, we in the ancient combat community are partly ( perhaps more) to blame for this. Besides movies, Ren fests and such gatherings are the only place that people get to see people actually use swords. I have been to 4 different fests and have NEVER seen, over 15 years, even one cutting demonstration. Worse, there are groups who put on stage acts with edge-bashing, acrobatic moves. The audience really enjoys such things. On more than once occasion I have approached such groups about putting on actual historical acts and they will say one of two things: a) we do practice historical combat/fencing on our own but the audience wouldn't want to see that or b) what we do IS based on the historical texts. I know it's hard to fault performers, even those who are knowledgable and practice historical western martial arts, for trying to make a living. My point is, aren't we the ones who should start this movement? Shouldn't we be the ones putting on cutting demonstrations and teaching people about historical combat? Sure there will be little profit in it and many people may not pay attention at first. I feel this is something that needs to be done. I applaud people like Howard Clark and Bugei for producing DVD's about forging and cutting. I am sure neither will reap huge profits from such an endeavour. But, just maybe, there is a documentary film producer for a major network researching for a an upcoming special about swords. Just maybe he/she'll stumble across these DVD's and actuall call Howard or Bugei. That is my hope. The teacher in me oozes to the surface LOL. Am I at faullt also? You betcha. I do not feel myself knowledgable enough or experienced enough(certainly not rich enough) to put out such a program. LIke many of you reading this, I am also isolated with no one to practice with and few like-minded individuals near me. Excuses all because I certainly could refocus my energies to find people and put something together. But I have not. I have great hope for people like Albion, becuase they are large enough to put out something like this for the general public. But I think it has to start small. There has been a great deal of interest in the past 10 years with people wanting to knwo more about swords and thier western martial heritage. Movies such as The Lord of the Rings certainly fuel the imagination of many young people. How long will out window of opportunity last? I wonder.

Joel
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Kenneth Enroth




Location: Finland
Joined: 04 Dec 2003

Posts: 288

PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The things that come to my mind is that the info is already there if you go look for it. All you need is an internet connection and the interest to look it up. If a person wants to know the truth the truth is quite available and easily understood. Few people who look at a sword with interest have much interest in researching deeper and deeper into the history of these items. I don't think many have the internal urge to know more and more about this subject. Most people seems to see the sword as a symbol for testosterone filled action and adventure. It's possession may be some form of indulging in heroic fantasy. I don't think that will go away no matter how much you educate and without this element you'll have a lot less people interested in swords.
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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 11:17 am    Post subject: Re: Good Topic         Reply with quote

Joel Whitmore wrote:
This is something we in the tight-knit collecting community have faced for quite a while. Our frustration seems to mount every time we see a History Channel or Discovery Channel program that examines swords. To me the blatant inaccuracies are more glaring and dangerous here because these programs are put forward as documentaries and therefore many people assume them to be factual. We have many times chimed about "why can't Hollywood get it right" and it just seems that it comes down to a single person's vision: the director. As a community, both academic and amatuer, we have not formed into a cohesive educational unit. SFI was trying to do this (if I step on toes here or am out of line then delete this) and was well on it's way until it careened severely off course. However, we in the ancient combat community are partly ( perhaps more) to blame for this. Besides movies, Ren fests and such gatherings are the only place that people get to see people actually use swords. I have been to 4 different fests and have NEVER seen, over 15 years, even one cutting demonstration. Worse, there are groups who put on stage acts with edge-bashing, acrobatic moves. The audience really enjoys such things. On more than once occasion I have approached such groups about putting on actual historical acts and they will say one of two things: a) we do practice historical combat/fencing on our own but the audience wouldn't want to see that or b) what we do IS based on the historical texts. I know it's hard to fault performers, even those who are knowledgable and practice historical western martial arts, for trying to make a living. My point is, aren't we the ones who should start this movement? Shouldn't we be the ones putting on cutting demonstrations and teaching people about historical combat? Sure there will be little profit in it and many people may not pay attention at first. I feel this is something that needs to be done. I applaud people like Howard Clark and Bugei for producing DVD's about forging and cutting. I am sure neither will reap huge profits from such an endeavour. But, just maybe, there is a documentary film producer for a major network researching for a an upcoming special about swords. Just maybe he/she'll stumble across these DVD's and actuall call Howard or Bugei. That is my hope. The teacher in me oozes to the surface LOL. Am I at faullt also? You betcha. I do not feel myself knowledgable enough or experienced enough(certainly not rich enough) to put out such a program. LIke many of you reading this, I am also isolated with no one to practice with and few like-minded individuals near me. Excuses all because I certainly could refocus my energies to find people and put something together. But I have not. I have great hope for people like Albion, becuase they are large enough to put out something like this for the general public. But I think it has to start small. There has been a great deal of interest in the past 10 years with people wanting to knwo more about swords and thier western martial heritage. Movies such as The Lord of the Rings certainly fuel the imagination of many young people. How long will out window of opportunity last? I wonder.

Joel


Hi Joel

It is starting in small ways. But it is starting........

One thing that had to happen is for a lot of the petty infighting to end.

For myself, I've sent stuff to a Florida dealer to be used for cutting demos at local Renfaires and SCA events. Been a done deal twice now.......

In the last two weeks, I've been to a local martial arts studio and a dojo three times, by invitation {wasn't hard to wrangle}. The studio teaches several martial arts, but I went there to talk Tai Chi swordsmanship to some "advanced" students studying the Yang style 42 form {also known as the long form}. I wound up doing my 32 form {short form} and showed where in the form various "wards" were. And discussed the similarities in these wards to wards found in WMA single sword arts {actually, the wards are the same, period}. Then of course there was the handling of some fairly recently made swords..........

At the dojo it was similar, but I have very little familiarity with Japanese arts, so I couldn't discuss things to the same depth. Nor am I as familiar with the euro longsword arts as I am the single sword stuff..... But a similar impact was made.........Do you know how few people studying martial arts have actually handled a quality repro, let alone an antique?

The sifu at the studio and I are working to arrange a "field trip" to the shop which will include a cutting clinic. The odd thing is, that I suspect the entire class of 16 will likely make it.......

Want to hear a funny one {at least I got a kick out of it}? The Thursday that I went to the studio, was a fairly stormy night. There were two classes scheduled at 7PM that evening, the advanced sword form class, and a kung fu class. The kung fu class was mainly younger folk that wanted to "learn to fight", and they were all so dedicated that they couldn't make it in because of the storm.....*g*

The other class was mainly late 30's and up age wise.... and the whole class showed up. Sigh....... So I wound up trying to discuss this with the sifu, 16 in the class, and the two assistant kung fu instructors since they didn't have a class to teach that evening.... and with six attractive women in attendance, the Auld Dawg's shyness kicked in big time.... *g*

But it went off well........

I think if you check around, you'll see that the other two US makers are doing what they can too. And then you have the local WMA groups, which are doing a lot too.............

Locally, the Academie de la Spada is trying to get a cutathon going, with groups of various martial arts, and we're hoping to get this off the ground before Not-Livermore.......

The more we all work together, the more we all reach out to one another, the wider the educational effort can be......

Auld Dawg

swords are fun
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Scott Bubar




Location: New England
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 120

PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey, Ruel--the "Belly-Dancer Armed" link doesn't work!
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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kenneth Enroth wrote:
The things that come to my mind is that the info is already there if you go look for it. All you need is an internet connection and the interest to look it up. If a person wants to know the truth the truth is quite available and easily understood. Few people who look at a sword with interest have much interest in researching deeper and deeper into the history of these items. I don't think many have the internal urge to know more and more about this subject. Most people seems to see the sword as a symbol for testosterone filled action and adventure. It's possession may be some form of indulging in heroic fantasy. I don't think that will go away no matter how much you educate and without this element you'll have a lot less people interested in swords.


Hi Kenneth,

I agree with you that much information is already available on the internet. The problem is that it is a mixed bag. There are relatively few web sites that disseminate serious and factually based information. I am saying few because if one were to google "swords" or "a functional sword" or some other generic statement, the first hits are not going to be this forum or if SFI of the Albion or Arms and Armor or Atrim websites, but a bunch of poor quality sword retailers, who would have essays written to convince you that their swords are battle-ready and are named after some battle and are of high carbon steel, etc. And if one is very new to this subject they are going to go for it. I know I did at the time!!!!!! There is a lot on the internet but sifting through the garbage to find what is a good piece of information requires some solid general knowledge which the novices (myself included) lack.

To all,

I am convinced that anyone seriously interested in a subject will find the "good" sources sooner or later, it is just a matter of time and desire to learn. All we need to make sure is that these truly informative sites are available. Realistically, people are still confused about astronomical issues, AIDS and HIV, proteins and DNA, cloning etc. If the scientific community (which I dare say is larger, better organized, and are entirely based on experimental evidence) cannot successfully educate the larger public, what are our chances?

Now let me open a can of worms. I think that our own community is very guilty of disseminating inaccurate information. We, as more knowledgable, are more likely to be trusted and taken seriously, therefore we should be extremely careful of what we say and how we say it. There are numerous examples of us (the amateurs) starting some heated debate over the durability of weapons and the protective properties of armour where many, many outright inaccurate things are said (I am very guilty of saying such stupid things and holding wrong attitudes). Until the educators become educated, we are in dire straits.

Another problem is when very experiences and knowledgable experts exaggerate for whatever reason.

E. Oakeshott made several statements in his "the medieval knight and his weapons" that set off my alarms.
page30. "The halberds..........cut through the knightly mail an clove shield and helmet as a knife goes through butter "
page31. "In a few seconds they were upon the horrified Austrian knights, slashing and striking with their terrible haberds, shearing through helms as if they were made of paper .
page 67. regarding the medieval swords "their edges were literally kept as sharp as razors"
pare 67. "When such a weapon was swung by a powerful arm and shoulder, which had developed enormous strength from a life time of practice, we need not be surprised when we read how, in medieval times, arms and legs and heads were chopped off even though they were armored in mail"

These are few of the things I see as exaggerating the power of the edged weapons, or maybe it is a realistic representation and mail armor was more or less useless, but I doubt that .

I do not know what the truth is, but this text reads as if the swords are a mighty weapon against mail. And since this book is cheep and easily accessible, and since Oakeshott is one of the world experts, people eager to learn are going to absorb avery single word and take it all at face value.........contributing to an already wide spread confusion.

I realize that the the exaggeration I just spoke about is a far cry from the misconceptions about swords prevalent among people, but if we are to re-educate, we have to be consistent in every aspect. We should not rid of one wrong notion and introduce another.

I hope this post will not result in me being banned from the forum.

Alexi
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Robert Zamoida




Location: Davis Monthan AFB, AZ
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 4:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Angus Trim wrote:
In the last two weeks, I've been to a local martial arts studio and a dojo three times, by invitation {wasn't hard to wrangle}. The studio teaches several martial arts, but I went there to talk Tai Chi swordsmanship to some "advanced" students studying the Yang style 42 form {also known as the long form}. I wound up doing my 32 form {short form} and showed where in the form various "wards" were. And discussed the similarities in these wards to wards found in WMA single sword arts {actually, the wards are the same, period}. Then of course there was the handling of some fairly recently made swords..


Wow Gus, I didn't know you were a practioner of Chinese Swordsmanship; that's awesome! Big Grin

Ultimately what it is going to take, besides patience, a lot of people whether in small or large groups getting out there, and good quality recreations of arms is perhaps the most imnportant thing of all: persistence. Overall, public opinions are like waves in the ocean; sure, you can build some sort of barrier to block or deflect the effects of the wave, but it takes time, and persistence. Just keep plugging away, and slowly but surely we can change the misconceptions. Perhaps what we can do is get together a group from myArmoury.com, approach people like the History Channel, Discovery Channel etc about doing a true documetary Wink

Rob Zamoida
"When your life is on the line, you want to make use of all your tools. No warrior should be willing to die with his swords at his sides, without having made use of his tools."
-Miyamoto Mushashi, Gorin no Sho
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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 8:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Zamoida wrote:


Perhaps what we can do is get together a group from myArmoury.com, approach people like the History Channel, Discovery Channel etc about doing a true documetary Wink


That is a great idea, Rob!!!!

If someone can get Peter Johnsson, Erik Schmidt, and few others that are researchers as well as industry professionals and make a documentary for a widely viewed channel, like Discovery, or the History Channel it will be perfect. But I do not know how realistic this is.

Alexi
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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 9:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since we mentioned making a documentary, I went back and searched for existing ones. These is whole line of documentaries made for the history channel, which encompass the crusades, knights, medieval soldiers, swords, axes, bows, etc. Seemed pretty inclusive.
http://store.aetv.com/html/search/index.jhtml...=0&y=0
Are these any good?

These are also few made for NOVA, for which I have heard good comments. The siege one was discussed on several threads on this forum.

Alexi
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





Joined: 25 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Sun 04 Apr, 2004 11:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the input, all.

Really, though, I think we should do less of "counter-information" strategies like better documentaries, demonstrations, and the like and more of critical thinking exercises. For example, rather than going about saying, "This is the truth about swords," we should be saying things like:

"So you're thinking about buying a sword/studying swordsmanship. Before you begin, you need to ask yourself some questions that will help you make good decisions. There's alot of information out there, and often it's hard to decide who's telling the truth. Here are some things to consider."

And then you offer them a quick checklist of questions. If they ask the right questions, they're more likely to get the right answers. We'll never keep pace with the misinformation by trying to combat misinformation with good information, but we won't need to if we can get folks in the habit of discriminating good information from bad. Resources like documentaries, demonstrations, or even myArmoury.com should be follow-up strategies, engaged after then initial strategy of getting them to think critically about swords and swordsmanship in the first place.


Quote:
Originally posted by Scott Bubar:
Hey, Ruel--the "Belly-Dancer Armed" link doesn't work!


Gimme two weeks and I'll have something up. In the meantime, you can look at pix of some rather lovely bellydancers armed with various blades at these two pages:

Tribal Bellydance
Cabaret Bellydance

(And of course, if you have any pix of your own fitting into this theme, send them my way!) Razz
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Joel Whitmore




Location: Simmesport, LA
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Posts: 342

PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2004 6:50 am    Post subject: I disagree on some points here         Reply with quote

[quote="Ruel A. Macaraeg"]Thanks for the input, all.

Really, though, I think we should do less of "counter-information" strategies like better documentaries, demonstrations, and the like and more of critical thinking exercises. For example, rather than going about saying, "This is the truth about swords," we should be saying things like:

"So you're thinking about buying a sword/studying swordsmanship. Before you begin, you need to ask yourself some questions that will help you make good decisions. There's alot of information out there, and often it's hard to decide who's telling the truth. Here are some things to consider."

And then you offer them a quick checklist of questions. If they ask the right questions, they're more likely to get the right answers. We'll never keep pace with the misinformation by trying to combat misinformation with good information, but we won't need to if we can get folks in the habit of discriminating good information from bad. Resources like documentaries, demonstrations, or even myArmoury.com should be follow-up strategies, engaged after then initial strategy of getting them to think critically about swords and swordsmanship in the first place.


[quote]Originally posted by Scott Bubar:

Ruel I have to disagree here. Coorrect information is correct infromation. The "misinformation" found out here, for the most part, is not intentional. It is just purely ignorance and I don't think there is a deliberate campaign to purvey wrong information. I personally feel that education is never a complete waste of time and your idea is remarkably like the Socractic method of education. It's a very good idea, but I cannot give up on giving out what hard facts we have about swords and swordsmanship. One other thign that crossed my mind about this topic, is the near complete unavailability of actual historical examples to the general public. If you do get to see one, chances are you will never get to hold it. Thus, the general public never gets to feel, firsthand what a genuine medieval sword feels like. I like the fact that someone out there is doing cutting demonstrations with western swords as Gus told us. I think the right presentation would really wow most people and you could certianly hold their attention while explaining to them what an actual sword was like. After writing to this thread, ti got me thinkng about plannig out such a demonstration for kids and young adults. I'll see where this leads.

Joel
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2004 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Zamoida wrote:
Perhaps what we can do is get together a group from myArmoury.com, approach people like the History Channel, Discovery Channel etc about doing a true documetary ;)


Be careful - the idea might wind up as a segment on Mythbusters instead. Spectacular and popular no doubt, but no guarantee that the result will be historically accurate or factually reliable.
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2004 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not to get off topic but Alexi asked about some videos . I have or have had most of the videos you liked to .
There's information to be had from every one ( even if its just eyecandy close ups of original pieces ) and the
Arms In Action series is really good . They were put out by the Tower Armouries about five years ago and what
each video does is take a particular weapon system or defesive system and trace it from its earliest use to its latest.
Each episode has lots of living history demo from The Tower Armories fight troop ( headed by John Lawler) and
usually will have a craftsman recreate a piece ( they do things like build a wrought iron cannon and then shoot it,
test various arrow types against plate and maille armour ) . A very neat series if vids . Hope this helps .
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Ciaran Flanagan




Location: Dublin, Ireland
Joined: 25 Aug 2003

Posts: 75

PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2004 7:21 am    Post subject: Dont they say be carefull what you wish for because.........         Reply with quote

Im not so sure we should try to educate the masses about our hobby.



We regularly see discussions regarding the frustrations of members of the online sword collecting community. They focus on the misinformation that the public has about the weaponry we collect but is the public being misinformed so terrible? Does their ignorance damage or benefit us?

Now having been around the forums for a good few years there are certain ďtruths ď that seem to be held dear but there is also a certain amount of delusion required in order to keep us and our hobby safe from the prying eyes of local government and police.


So what is a sword?

A sword is a weapon which stands out due to the fact that its sole purpose is to kill people. Some of us have romantic notions that a sword is so much more then a killing device but the ďtruthĒ of the matter is that is little more then ideological romance.

Some swords that people post pictures of are breathtakingly beautiful, most notably Japanese and Persian blades. To call them weapons almost seems vulgar. But weapons they are, having evolved steadily throughout our history as the reqirements of death dealing extensions of our warriors arms changed. We even as collectors need reminding of this fact from time to time when we get overly caught-up in the romaticism of swordsmanship.



So what do we want to educate the public in?

Do we merely want them to use the correct terminology, to stop using words like Blood Groove and battle ready? Do we want them to understand the intricacies of what makes a well-balanced blade? Do we want them to appreciate the cutting power of these weapons by doing cutting demonstrations? Do we want them to know that what you see in Hollywood flashy fight sequences isnít how it happened, That fights were quick and brutal.

But is this a case of we better be very careful what we wish for as we might just get it?

Take the scenario of a Renfaire. Itís all very WWF, keeping the violence PG and fantasy-esq.

So what if someone were to put on cutting demonstrations? Someone cutting tatami at the faire, demystifying the myth that European swords were cumbersome bashers. But we are ignoring the fact that we are actually saying that European swords are misunderstood in their killing power. We are actually saying that a European sword is every bit as capable of chopping a person in two as a katana. Will everybody see it this way, No, not everybody but not every body has to, just one with a large mouth and a penchant for stirring the proverbial pot.

This could well be a realistic scenario at a fair. Lets see if we can visualise the possible shredding we could receive from essentially a Maude Flanders stereotype

Sword enthusiast: You see that these swords are capable of cutting through this straw mat cleanly due to its blade geometry?
Maude Flanders: Why do you use those straw roll mats?
Sword enthusiast: because they approximate a human limb.


SE: You see historical fencing wasnít was showy as hollywood makes it out to be. Real historical swordfighting was quick with the goal to dispatch the enemy as quickly and efficiently as possible. While there are some sporty versions of swordfighting such as SCA and kendo we are researching proper swordfighting using old manuscripts called fechtbuchs.
MF: And why would you learn how to use a sword to actually kill people? Why would you want to know that?
SE: We learn it for the sake of history, to learn how a sword was used in the past.
MF: Cant you do that by reading books, why do you feel a need to actually train yourself to be better able to kill people with a sword? You are learning how to kill people arent you? What other use does a sword have?



You see where Iím going with this and from experience every single thing you say can and will be taken out of context and used against you.

Am I being unrealistic that it only takes one nosy troublemaker to really screw things up for us? Because the ďtruthĒ is swordís are, In the eyes of your average joe bloggs, A pretty nutty thing to collect. How could we possibly think we are going to be able to convince the Public its normal when in truth its not. What we are really advocating is spin doctoring swordsmanship to show it in a positive light.

One of the ďhot topicsĒ on the forums is always the ones where someone actually uses their sword to cut meat and bone. There are cries of horror resonating throughout the net the someone would actually use a sword even remotely close to its intended purpose. It seems that even within the sword collecting community when reality rears its ugly head people are hugely offended. Imagine how the great unwashed would react?

So is the ďtruthĒ that swords are Just art with a fascinating history worthy of exploration and recreation? Can we try to educate the public but dissociate the violence? Can we convince the public to appreciate the sword as a symbol of something noble?


Me, personally I appreciate the fact that we are a small fringe group. I like the fact that most people who are into this continually try to learn and self-proclaimed experts are quickly exposed. I like the fact the public leaves us alone and associates swords and swordsmanship in a WWF kinda way. I think this protects us. It means people donít take us seriously and so long as we are a joke we are left alone. Said maude flanders above only has to focus on the violent side of swordsmanship and we are ruined. We all know this, which is why even on the forums we do our level best to put up a facade of academics. We all dance around the grim realities of how there things sole reason for existing is to dismember, to dismbowl, to decapitate, to brutally slay other human beings.we avoid this topic to convince the outside world and passers by we are all benign historians and art lovers. Perhaps thatís what most of us are but itís a cover thatís very very easily blown.

Keep it benign and theatrical and we stay unnoticed, try to educate the public and unless we are extraordinarily careful we could find an article in a major circulation exposing us as a bunch of lunatics who arenít content with Role playing but need to learn the real death-dealing deal. No amount of fanciful backtracking is ever going to convince Joe Public that itís purely for academic reasons. Once we are in the public eye the police and the politicians start asking questions and nothing good usually happens when they do that.

Just food for taught..


Ciaran

Ciaran

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Joel Whitmore




Location: Simmesport, LA
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2004 8:01 am    Post subject: Self-revelation         Reply with quote

I appreciate your point of view Ciaran, but I disagree. Your scenario is possible given the climate in some parts of the world today. However, I think it's a rather pessimestic view. As a person of European descent, this is part of my history as well as part of the history of over 85% of the people living in my country. To ignore it out of fear that someone will misconstrue it is, to put it mildly, rather short-sighted.

Quote:
We all dance around the grim realities of how there things sole reason for existing is to dismember, to dismbowl, to decapitate, to brutally slay other human beings.we avoid this topic to convince the outside world and passers by we are all benign historians and art lovers. Perhaps thatís what most of us are but itís a cover thatís very very easily blown.


Perhaps this is a little bit self-revealing on your part Ciaran. Without drifting into personal attacks, I think you view of us a lovers of the carnage swords can cause who try to hide behind a "cover" of being "benign historians" is offensive. If that's where your interests in swords lie, then so be it. I am apalled that you would generalize it to the entire sword-collecting community on here.

Joel
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Russ Ellis
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Joined: 20 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2004 8:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:

Now let me open a can of worms. I think that our own community is very guilty of disseminating inaccurate information. We, as more knowledgable, are more likely to be trusted and taken seriously, therefore we should be extremely careful of what we say and how we say it. There are numerous examples of us (the amateurs) starting some heated debate over the durability of weapons and the protective properties of armour where many, many outright inaccurate things are said (I am very guilty of saying such stupid things and holding wrong attitudes). Until the educators become educated, we are in dire straits.

Another problem is when very experiences and knowledgable experts exaggerate for whatever reason.

E. Oakeshott made several statements in his "the medieval knight and his weapons" that set off my alarms.
page30. "The halberds..........cut through the knightly mail an clove shield and helmet as a knife goes through butter "
page31. "In a few seconds they were upon the horrified Austrian knights, slashing and striking with their terrible haberds, shearing through helms as if they were made of paper .
page 67. regarding the medieval swords "their edges were literally kept as sharp as razors"
pare 67. "When such a weapon was swung by a powerful arm and shoulder, which had developed enormous strength from a life time of practice, we need not be surprised when we read how, in medieval times, arms and legs and heads were chopped off even though they were armored in mail"

These are few of the things I see as exaggerating the power of the edged weapons, or maybe it is a realistic representation and mail armor was more or less useless, but I doubt that .

I do not know what the truth is, but this text reads as if the swords are a mighty weapon against mail. And since this book is cheep and easily accessible, and since Oakeshott is one of the world experts, people eager to learn are going to absorb avery single word and take it all at face value.........contributing to an already wide spread confusion.

I realize that the the exaggeration I just spoke about is a far cry from the misconceptions about swords prevalent among people, but if we are to re-educate, we have to be consistent in every aspect. We should not rid of one wrong notion and introduce another.

I hope this post will not result in me being banned from the forum.

Alexi


Alexi, merely having a dessenting opinion is not likely to get you banned here. Have a little more faith in Nathan and the moderating team guy. Happy

As for the quotes that you have above... I can't say that I own that particular book although isn't it one of the little ones mostly intended for children? In any respect I don't know that he's that badly off base. In the first two quotes he's referencing pole arms not swords at all and I depending on the mail type that doesn't seem totally fanciful to me. One only has to look at the forensic evidence from Towton or Visby to see that mail certainly was not proof against terrible slashing wounds.

Others have talked about the sharpness of medieval swords, they were in fact rather sharp and although as sharp as a razor might be a bit of hyperbole it's not by much.

As for the last quote again look at the forensic evidence available. Although not everyone was getting split open crown to waist losing limbs and other body parts is very feasible especially with substandard or partial mail.

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2004 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joel,

I think Ciaran was mostly just trying to say that he would rather fly under the radar because if people recognize the deadly capabilities of swords they may start lumping them in with guns and other weapons as awful things to be banned at all costs. He may very well be right. One only has to look at restrictive knife laws (I'm avoiding guns as there are tons of threads on that issue elsewhere) around the country to realize that edged weapons can be banned just as easily as firearms and for many of the same reasons. People do not really care what your motivations for having them are. All it takes is one group or politician to start demonizing swords and sword owners and there will be plenty of sheep involved to bleat that the nasty sharp pointies should be done away with. It should be noted that the NRA has desperately tried to educate the public for years about firearms with no real success. Fear mongering is much easier.

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Allen W





Joined: 02 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr, 2004 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What Russ just said.
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