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David Teague




Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Joined: 25 Jan 2004

Posts: 409

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 3:19 pm    Post subject: "Good" cutting vs "Bad" cutting         Reply with quote

Hello All,

This is a off shoot thread from the "The Naked Truth About Cutting - A Few Bare Facts" thread.

What constitutes "Good" cutting vs "Bad" cutting in my viewpoint? It comes down to my personal criteria as a historic fencer and instructor.

What is that criteria? Fair question. You can look at cutting two ways:

the simple act itself

Or

As applied using historical techniques from a system as if in a fight.

So from the simple act itself, a cut can be "good" yet very "bad' from my personal view because of the simple fact I look at all cutting vids from the view as if they were in a fight. Now in some ways that's quite unfair as many cutting vids are done by sword owners who don't know historic fencing and are only trying to show off how well their beloved sword performs. The cuts they achieve can be quite good from the simple act itself yet fail quite badly from a martial arts viewpoint. The lack of foot work, failure to enter the fight behind the sword, or various other problems that my trained eye can see from a martial arts viewpoint that would put the fencer at risk. That makes a "bad "cut vid IMO.

Now, a cut from using historical techniques from a system as if in a fight can be "bad" yet "good' if the student didn't cut the target cleanly yet entered measure behind the sword, cut, and withdrew without exposing themselves. "Bad" cut, good fencing . I call that a "Good" Cutting vid yet the student needs to work on their cutting forms to get better, but... a proper "Good Cutting vid" has both a proper cut and martial art form.

Now, my pet peeve is when fellow fencers I know (Not you, Michael) throw all of their fencing skills out the window and cut with "devices" that would get them killed in a period swordfight. I would rather use my historic system to cut and work on perfecting that cut than to add "devices" that allows me to skip building proper cutting skills and go for the thrill of just cutting.

I think proper cutting is a major component of a well rounded historic fencing curriculum (even for you small sword guys) and frankly most of us don't do enough of it. Michael Edelson and the New York Historical Fencing Association have been leading the way for a while now. It's time for the rest of us to try to catch up.

In closing, the purpose of this post is not to offend anyone(especially those of you who love swords, cut with them for the joy of cutting but don't study a period sword form), but to explain my personal viewpoint on what I call "good" cutting vids.

Cheers and Best Wishes,

David

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 3:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think this is a great post, and I think a discussion of this topic would be very good for the HEMA community, and maybe the collector community as well. If given the option, who wouldn't want to test their swords closer to the manner they were intended to be used?

I do want to add a small caveat about devices...they are not universal. Entering behind the sword can be interpreted many ways, and some systems give us a lot more information about this than others.

Fencing concepts such "true times" are far from universal (just a random example). The Bolognese arts have many actions that explicitly violate "true times", quite on purpose. There are many other examples of concepts in one art that are violated by another art. If these arts didn't work, they wouldn't have been used, which shows us that there is more than one way to skin a cat. For the art I practice, none of this is given to us, and we are forced to us frog DNA from other arts. I have chosen Japanese arts, others chose Silver, etc.

I do not put much stock in entering behind the sword, but I do put stock in entering behind a threat. That means that while the sword does not have to physically in front of you, it has to be moving at a high velocity towards your opponent. My view and David's view may differ only semantically, or there may be an actual physical difference, but either way, it is not important.

What is important, I think, is to evaluate cutting based on the interpretations of those doing them, and to use that to help evalualte the interpretations themselves.

I firmly believe that all interpretations must be vetted by "the great triumverate"...full intensity drills, artifact-free (or as close as possible) free play and test cutting on realistic targets.

I'm honored by what David said about me and NYHFA, and I look forward to the day when cutting becomes an integral part of every HEMA curriculum.

New York Historical Fencing Association
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Michael Ahrens




Location: Staten Island & Andes NY
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 4:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael and David


Not trying to be off topic here in any way, but perhaps you two should just chose seconds,
and meet at dawn on Saturday at CW10.

just my opinion I could be wrong.

Mike Ahrens
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Staten Island German Martial Arts (S.I.G.M.A.)
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 4:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no need for a duel (although it would be fun to watch Wink ). They basically agree, itīs just the details.
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
There is no need for a duel (although it would be fun to watch Wink ). They basically agree, itīs just the details.


I'm sure we'll get to cross swords at CW, in good spirit of course. David and I bicker a lot, but we are coleagues after all.

And you're right, we do basically agree, but sometimes we both forget that (me more than him, I admit).

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P. Cha




PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 6:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, wish I could see you two cross swords, but I wonīt be able to make it. You two play nice now hehe Happy .
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David Teague




Location: Anchorage, Alaska
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
There is no need for a duel (although it would be fun to watch Wink ). They basically agree, itīs just the details.


The thing is Phillip, that both of us can be right on some issues and still be in disagreement.

It depends which manuals of the 60 plus in the German system that we are working from and the differences between them.

The German fightmasters were in competition with any other living peer of his time frame and each would market themselves a bit differently. While the core concepts remained true to the early teaching as time passed you can see differences in how the sword is held in each guard , stance and other changes that could be worked in by a master so his curriculum differed from the others vying for a noble patron .

Cheers,

DT

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Teague wrote:

The thing is Phillip, that both of us can be right on some issues and still be in disagreement.


Yep. It's a hell of a thing. Happy

If I did not respect David and his views, though, I would not bother to argue with him about the things we are both right about. Happy

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P. Cha




PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan, 2010 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Teague wrote:

The thing is Phillip, that both of us can be right on some issues and still be in disagreement.

Cheers,

DT


Ainīt that the dickens though? Not to mention all the things that can go either way...there are plenty of things that can be discussed, and that of course is half the fun Happy .
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William Carew




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 3:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:


Fencing concepts such "true times" are far from universal (just a random example).


Hi Mike,

To play devil's advocate for a moment, in order to argue whether or not a principle is universal, we first have to reach agreement on what the principle is, and in the case of Silver's "true times" there is still much disagreement over what they actually mean. Vincent C, Oz, Jon P and others have quite different views on what the times mean to Paul W, Steve H and others.

Personally, I've had to re-think and question a lot of core assumptions thanks to some of the different perspectives that have arisen in the last few years. I know I'm not alone in that.

Quote:
The Bolognese arts have many actions that explicitly violate "true times", quite on purpose.


If there are many of them, can you please provide a few of them in detail for us?

Actions involving coming into distance with the sword infront of the body somehow (e.g. in guards such as pflug, ochs, langort, alber, schrankhut, hangetort etc) arguably meets a reasonable litmus test of 'sword before body' into distance, thus perhaps true time (according to the orthodox theory, which is itself disputed as already noted).

In fact, can anyone provide detailed and unambiguous examples from any European fencing treatises where we are advised to enter close distance (measure) without the sword (or a buckler/shield etc) infront of our body somehow?

The evidence for 'sword enters distance first' might be debateable, but there is, at least, evidence there (Doby's string theory, Liechtenauer's 'foot follows the blow' passages, Silver's true times etc). Before we reject this very idea, logic demands we be convinced by compelling examples from the primary sources that advocate a contrary approach.

Cheers,

Bill

Bill Carew
Jogo do Pau Brisbane
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Steven Reich




Location: Arlington, VA
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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 5:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William Carew wrote:
Michael Edelson wrote:
The Bolognese arts have many actions that explicitly violate "true times", quite on purpose.

If there are many of them, can you please provide a few of them in detail for us?

If anyone wants to discuss Silver's True Times I'm sure there is room for another thread. Since there seem to be so many interpretations, what the Bolognese sometimes do might be considered a false time by some and not a false time by others. However, I foresee a major thread derailment if we talk about it here.

Steve

Founder of NoVA-Assalto, an affiliate of the HEMA Alliance


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Steven Reich




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 5:17 am    Post subject: Re: "Good" cutting vs "Bad" cutting         Reply with quote

David Teague wrote:
Now, my pet peeve is when fellow fencers I know (Not you, Michael) throw all of their fencing skills out the window and cut with "devices" that would get them killed in a period swordfight. I would rather use my historic system to cut and work on perfecting that cut than to add "devices" that allows me to skip building proper cutting skills and go for the thrill of just cutting.

Good point. One of the biggest offenses I see to this is a re-working of the cutting mechanics for more power. For example, if you say that the sword should move before the feet, then do it that way when you're cutting. If you practice your art such that most of your cuts come from your wrist and elbow, then cut targets that way. If you find that the types of cuts you make when fencing are inadequate to cut the target, then you've just found a problem (and made the time and money spent on cutting more meaningful).

Steve

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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 5:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hm. I do understand the point of excecising cutting from a martial arts standpoint. But that said, I think a lot of people who practice cutting do so specifically because they like cutting stuff in half, and not necessarily to hone their practical fighting skills. As the thread starter point out himself, it isn't fair to ask those people to perform a "bad" cut for the sake of propper defence, etc. It depends on what goals you have with the excercise.

Personally, I would probably go for something in between. If I ever take up cutting, I wouldn't mind making my cuts sensible in a martial context, but I think I would still focus on maximizing my actual cutting performance. Your milage may vary.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I find myself trying (probably not as hard as I should) to be able to do anything as needed. That includes strong cleaving cuts over one step, shorter protective cuts worrying more about self-protection than magnitude of wound, slices, thrusts, even striking with the flat... Learn to use the versatility of the sword to the max (whatever the sword). It's the situation that makes a given cut good or bad, not just the form.

Even understanding the exact power and limitation of devices that seem to make a bad move in a given system is an interesting learning tool, and you can't have that unless you train at least a little bit in them. Between two extremes there are generally a lot of good places to be in Happy

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 8:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Bill,

Yes, I am aware of the debates on the menaing, though honestly I couldn't care less...true times and Silver have nothing to do with German longsword. As for the Bolognese, Steven is the expert, I'm just paroting things he said in other threads. Squack. Mikey want a cracker.

Steven,

Yes, that is exactly the point I'm trying to make...your interpretations need to inform your cutting, and your cutting needs to inform your interpretations. Otherwise one or the other, or both, are wrong.

Vincent,

Yet another agreement on my part...there ware many ways to cut. The goal of the cut should define the type of cut used.

Anders,

The goal of test cutting is learn how to cut (there are others, but this one is prime for me). To learn how to cut, you have to understand what you are cutting, how much force it will take, how your sword performs, and the hardest one, how you perform and should perform. To learn these things, you need to practice a lot of different cuts on a lot of different targets. Small cuts, big cuts, medium cuts, etc. When you get into cutting, don't limit yourself to one particular type of cut, and don't skip the big sweeping cuts. These cuts are you primary learning tool. Learn these, and the rest will follow.

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Christopher VaughnStrever




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Teague
Quote:
What is that criteria? Fair question. You can look at cutting two ways:

the simple act itself

Or

As applied using historical techniques from a system as if in a fight.


I look at this with two seperate eyes. For instance if I am going to turn on Lord of the Rings I know that I am seeing something non-historical. I therefore simply enjoy the movie as it is (So much of the movie has historical basis, though has been adapted to a complete fantasy presentation)

With the other eye, if I am watching a presentation about history and I see something that is obviously non-historical. I become very irritated and I usually stop watching.

I have been in training towards the pole axe and therefore cannot comment about the sword aspect of things. True time is an item that is apart of my training atm. When I see a presentation on the internet or television about the use of a pole axe and there is clear and presice evidence that there are flaws in the presentation (I do take into consideration that I have not had a complete study of even half of all the historical manuels and books about the use of the pole axe, I keep an open mind to study and find out if something is wrong or right) I can't stand it at all. However if I am watching an sca match on the internet... I simply giggle and chuckle about how silly it all looks.

Just like fiction and non-fiction media. I have have to turn my attention on or off if it is historical or non-historical.

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David Teague




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 9:57 am    Post subject: Re: "Good" cutting vs "Bad" cutting         Reply with quote

Steven Reich wrote:
David Teague wrote:
Now, my pet peeve is when fellow fencers I know (Not you, Michael) throw all of their fencing skills out the window and cut with "devices" that would get them killed in a period swordfight. I would rather use my historic system to cut and work on perfecting that cut than to add "devices" that allows me to skip building proper cutting skills and go for the thrill of just cutting.

Good point. One of the biggest offenses I see to this is a re-working of the cutting mechanics for more power. For example, if you say that the sword should move before the feet, then do it that way when you're cutting. If you practice your art such that most of your cuts come from your wrist and elbow, then cut targets that way. If you find that the types of cuts you make when fencing are inadequate to cut the target, then you've just found a problem (and made the time and money spent on cutting more meaningful).


Anders Backlund wrote:
Personally, I would probably go for something in between. If I ever take up cutting, I wouldn't mind making my cuts sensible in a martial context, but I think I would still focus on maximizing my actual cutting performance. Your milage may vary.


Hi Steve & Anders!

You hit the nail right on the head Steve. Wink

Anders, I want to point out that I'm not the HEMA's self appointed cutting police.

People have the right to cut however they choose, but my viewpoint is this: For those of us who do historic fencing in any system, isn't better/cooler/groovier to see how well your system's cuts work?

You can alter your strike with devises to cut better. but the risk you take is to taint your freeplay with those devises. There are reasons I know this as I used to cut 16 years ago like a "whack a mole" game. The end result was I started getting tagged in freeplay when I used those cutting techniques under the stress of freeplay. Eek! ( I have 2 long time fencing partners who know how to trigger those tainted techniques with me still after all these years. Man, that stuff can really get ingrained when you do it for countless hours)

I once was the very person I "complain" about today. Eek! It's taken years to try to unlearn those bad habits.

Now about this true time, staying behind the sword, yada, yada, yada stuff... since 3 HEMA instructors in a room can come up with 5 opinions on true time and Michael complains whenever I use the phrase "staying behind the sword" let's use a much more generic phrase "martially sound" instead.

Michael is correct, each system currently being studied by the posters on this forum has "martially sound" attacks or counter attacks that don't rely on "true time" or "staying behind the sword "in the standard concept yet are safe to the fencer.

"Martially sound" works for me, how about you guys?

Now for the disruptor, the place where Michael and I miscommunicate. Please be gentle in your response.

If I strike the cutting target (one of them there "tsunamis" mats Wink ) and only cut 1/2 to 3/4 of the way though I still struck a blow that if it had landed on flesh, that person would have received a fight altering blow. A blow that would give me opportunities to follow up with as I continued to control the fight. This is not the clean cut that Michael strives for, but it is one that happened in period play.

A point I often see in cutting threads is cutting into maille, armour, et al. That's a valid consideration for some swords and styles but not others. My main study of the last 7-8 years has been the longsword fought in period street clothes along with 16 years with the 18th century backsword. Both forms deal with flesh and cloth as what needs to be cut so my cutting viewpoint flows from only the need to cut 4-8 layers of wool & linen before the flesh come to the edge. Also, my studies flow from manuals written for the upperclass to survive a judicial duel to the death or a 18th century Scottish duel to the first cut.

Well, I better get to work!

Cheers,

David

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello David,

Sure, in a fight, if you cut half way through a mat, you've basically killed someone. Likewise, in a gunfight, if you miss center mass but hit an artery in his leg, you've also killed him. But when you train, you aim for a specific target, and when you train cutting, you should train to defeat your target in a manner of your choosing, based on your criteria for your art. That could be cutitng into a mat, or cutting through one. But before making that decision, you should know what a mat represents and how that translates to a human being.

General (non-David specific) response:

[cutting police hat on] One mistake people make is that they assume cutting cleanly through a tatami mat is some major accomplishment and that you don't need nearly that much force in a fight. This is not true. First, it doesn't take much force at all to cut a mat (unless your technique is not sound, then you have to compensate by adding force). Second, a tatami mat offers less resistance than a man in clothing, or a skull covered in a woolen hat.

When setting out to do cutting, people should not view cutting clean through a mat as some Conan the Barbarian super feat. With a diagonal oberhau, it should be child's play, and anyone should be able to do it. That is how you should look at it.

Remember...it's not force that cuts. It's technique.[cutting police hat off]

Another thing I want to say in reference to seeing if your system's cuts work. let's not forget that for the most part, you made those cuts up (I speak of the general collective you, including myself). Maybe you studied a different art, maybe you read some books, maybe you tried to apply some theory, but at the end of the day, you made them up.

So seeing how well your system's cuts work should be secondary, in my opinion, to refining those cuts you made and making them better. Here is where we should seroiusly heed David's cautions. When adjusting your cutting mechanics, be very mindful of maintaining a martially sound technique (yes, David, I like martially sound, I think it works well, thank you.)

To that end, there is one more important thing to keep in mind...cutting from standstill is artificial. When I cut from standstill, there all sorts of telegraphy artificats present in my cutting that I do no intend to be there in free play or even serious cutting. However, all of these disappear when the cut is done in motion...as in approaching your target. A cocking back of the hip, for example, is really obvious when I'm standing there not moving, but if I'm walking towards you, it's lost in my previous step. Same thing with lifting the hands, cocking back the sword. If I'm standing still, it's whack a mole time, but if I'm moving, this is done out of measure and seamlessly with the step that puts me in measure.

Just things to think about. I should write a book so I don't have to keep typing this. Happy

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David Teague




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
To that end, there is one more important thing to keep in mind...cutting from standstill is artificial. When I cut from standstill, there all sorts of telegraphy artificats present in my cutting that I do no intend to be there in free play or even serious cutting. However, all of these disappear when the cut is done in motion...as in approaching your target. A cocking back of the hip, for example, is really obvious when I'm standing there not moving, but if I'm walking towards you, it's lost in my previous step. Same thing with lifting the hands, cocking back the sword. If I'm standing still, it's whack a mole time, but if I'm moving, this is done out of measure and seamlessly with the step that puts me in measure.


Hello All,

Just so folks know, those reasons listed above is what lead to my phone call of a few months ago to Michael. I thought I saw martially unsound,"devises" added to power the cut.

After Mike and I went though his cutting vid frame by frame I saw his point.

Correct me Michael if I'm wrong, but aren't you planning on a new set if vids that shows cuts coming from martially sound movement and proper measure to be filmed later this year?

Michael Edelson wrote:
Just things to think about. I should write a book so I don't have to keep typing this. Happy
I better be in the preface. Razz

Cheers (and now I've really got to run!)

David

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jan, 2010 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Teague wrote:

Correct me Michael if I'm wrong, but aren't you planning on a new set if vids that shows cuts coming from martially sound movement and proper measure to be filmed later this year?


Have you seen our latest vid?

I linked it several threads already, but here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2ahRiSHi0E

It shows several cuts from an approach, as they would be done in a fight*, and several from an artificial starting point (in wide measure). Many of the cuts from the artificial position have telegraphing artifacts--I feel not only that these cannot be avoided, but that you should not try. That position should be used to train your body mechanics for the cut. Most of these artifacts tend to disappear on their own once you are in motion. The exception to this are counters and defensive strikes, like krumphau. I have one of these done from a standstill in that video too, and that is not artificial.

I was somewhat confused, a while back, by the very different reactions from various folks to our two videos, the first one you saw and the one linked above. These folks complained about devices and telegraphing in the first vid, but said the second vid was great and showed much improvement.

I was like, "But I'm doing the exact same thing in both vids, you numbskull!" Happy Except, of course, that in the second vid I am approaching the target from out of measure. Same mechanics, different application.

What I realized then is that not everyone understands about the difference between artificial starting positions and the approach, and how each should be used. One is not wrong and the other right...they both have value and should both be used.

Again, I firmly believe that there must be no effort made to avoid telegraphing from an artificial position. I believe that attempts to do so in the past by many have led to all kinds of artifacts in German longsword cutting mechanics that have no business being there.

* The video shows a specific type of entry...a full cut entry, and more importantly, one done closer to the COP than the tip. This action, in the context of a real fight, would be to enter with a big threat, one that is not as easy to void, but one that puts you a bit closer to the border between wide measure and close measure. This is not the only type of entry in my toolbox, but the only one I will ever show in cutting videos...there is little point in showing the others.

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