Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > ARMA Footwork Article Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next 
Author Message
Greg Coffman




Location: Lubbock, TX
Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 254

PostPosted: Sat 13 Mar, 2010 6:31 pm    Post subject: ARMA Footwork Article         Reply with quote

John Clements has now released his footwork article titled, "Volta, Scale, and Key." It is an image-intensive pdf that has some embedded videos for demonstration. This is one piece of the "revolutionary" new material that has been mentioned or hinted around.

http://www.thearma.org/VoltaKeyandScale.htm

I hope you find it informative and interesting at the very least.

Greg Coffman
ARMA Abilene

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
View user's profile Send private message
James Head





Joined: 09 Mar 2008

Posts: 127

PostPosted: Sat 13 Mar, 2010 8:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the link! I'm downloading it right now. It will take a while to read through everything and process the article, but I'm interested to see what it will say. There's been a good discussion about 'Die Wag' on SFI so I am curious if any similar issues will be brought up.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Hugo Voisine





Joined: 25 Feb 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 336

PostPosted: Sat 13 Mar, 2010 9:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now that's something we can sink our teeth into. Happy

Thanks for the link.

« Que dites-vous ?... C'est inutile ?... Je le sais !
Mais on ne se bat pas dans l'espoir du succès !
Oh ! non, c'est bien plus beau lorsque c'est inutile ! »
View user's profile Send private message
William Carew




Location: Australia
Joined: 23 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 154

PostPosted: Sat 13 Mar, 2010 9:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for letting us know Greg.

I've read through it once, and would have to read through it a few times before offering any really detailed thoughts. I will say this: continuous footwork and motion, open and closed foot angles, voltas, hip turn and weight shifts, triangles, cross steps and the balance(s) have all been considered and discussed by other researchers for some time. There is not a HEMA researcher who has ever read Meyer who is unaware of the turned foot and the use of triangles and broken steps, nor one who has read Fiore who is unaware of the three volta and their use in striking and wrestling that John briefly touched on. Nonethess, it is always good to have another researcher's take on things.

One quick question that comes to mind: why, in an article in which die waage is so prominent, was there no mention of the fact Mair (a source John references heavily in his article) outlines '3 balances' (high, middle and low) that correspond to the distance between the feet and the relative height (and mobility) of the fencer?

Anyway, I appreciate the time and effort John has put into the article, and I find his take on Vadi's advice that the legs are like keys that open and close due to the pivoting of the rear foot interesting, although I don't think this invalidates the other common conception: that the legs 'close and open' like a key because they 'close' the distance to the opponent by coming forward and 'open' up the distance by going back away from the opponent. The beauty of the allegory used in the treatises is they can hold any number of mutual meanings.

Hopefully the article does, indeed, spur more discussion and experimentation with footwork from all researchers and students.

Cheers

Bill

Bill Carew
Jogo do Pau Brisbane
COLLEGIUM IN ARMIS
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Greg Coffman




Location: Lubbock, TX
Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 254

PostPosted: Sat 13 Mar, 2010 10:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William Carew wrote:
One quick question that comes to mind: why, in an article in which die waage is so prominent, was there no mention of the fact Mair (a source John references heavily in his article) outlines '3 balances' (high, middle and low) that correspond to the distance between the feet and the relative height (and mobility) of the fencer?


I don't know why not. Maybe because that is too easy [3 stances, check...high, middle, and low, check...]; there's not a lot to it. But the emphasis of his work seems to be on the facing of the feet. When John started talking about a real low stance, it corresponded to teachings on turning the back foot past 90 degrees. The low stance is facilitated by opening up the hip and pointing the foot past 90 up to about 135 degrees. We are certainly not all using the low stance all the time. Nor are we pointing the back foot past 90 degrees all the time either. I think the article covers rather well the variety of ways the feet can be turned, how, and standing or stepping. And I think that is the real breakthrough. The footwork is integral to and more important than the height and breadth of the stance.

Also, in this article John basis his argument heavily from source illustrations, both fechtbuk and other historical artwork., instead of the source teachings. That is why the article is so image heavy; that is the raw data. And he cut quite a bit of images as it is! However, he certainly is aware of the source teachings, but he just doesn't include them in this article, probably because it is so big already. (Not that another article on the subject is intended.)

Quote:
...although I don't think this invalidates the other common conception: that the legs 'close and open' like a key because they 'close' the distance to the opponent by coming forward and 'open' up the distance by going back away from the opponent. The beauty of the allegory used in the treatises is they can hold any number of mutual meanings.


That's certainly true. What does "squint" mean? What doesn't it mean. Wink

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
View user's profile Send private message
Reinier van Noort





Joined: 13 Dec 2006

Posts: 165

PostPosted: Sun 14 Mar, 2010 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did a brief skim. It seems an interesting piece, though I do not necessarily agree with all picture-interpretations.

I feel honoured to see my Bruchius translation literally quoted on page 61. A proper reference to my work to go with this quotation would of course have been appreciated.

School voor Historische Schermkunsten

www.bruchius.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 14 Mar, 2010 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Reinier,

It appears the one on page 61 was missed. However, there is one on page 88 that makes reference to you.
View user's profile Send private message
Reinier van Noort





Joined: 13 Dec 2006

Posts: 165

PostPosted: Mon 15 Mar, 2010 12:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Woohoo! I'm famous now. Big Grin

I missed that one; thanks for pointing it out! Cool
And my apologies to JC for assuming he didn't refer.

School voor Historische Schermkunsten

www.bruchius.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Mon 15 Mar, 2010 4:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

I think it's nice that the subject gets some attention. As John Clements himself points out the orientation of the foot is something that has a lot of consequences. I certainly have been told more than a few times that my feet were not pointed in the right direction... And this was kenjutsu.

However I think the strong emphasis on the back foot is a bit misguided, as the orientation of the front foot can be much more significant in some stances. To be more accurate, I think the most important thing to get right is the orientation of the foot where most of your weight is. I think what is shown in some of the images is simply a 'trailing' back foot that could be at 90° or 135° without much consequence. This is something that happens quite naturally in motion, though ordinarily I wouldn't go as far as 135°.

I think the coarse classification of all (early) foot positions as either 45° or 135° is also a bit simplistic. The author seems to dismiss the perspective problem quite rapidly. The problem with representing a figure with the foot pointed straight towards the viewer is that it then seems to have no foot. All the little kids will draw their figures with feet sticking out just because of that. It's not until the Renaissance that the perspective problem was solved (and also, that viewers could be considered as reasonably familiar with such a representation) and surprise surprise, that's when you begin to find the 90° back foot position. Thus the article is turning the 90° position into a rapierist invention, when it could just as well be that we only see it unmistakably then. I understand this is to set oneself as far as possible from sport fencing, but it seems a bit exagerated here.

Some of the stances assumed in the photos (for example the one in the middle of p.46) make me cringe in pain for the knees and ankles of the performer... I guess they are being exaggerated for pedagogical purposes.

The few references to Thibault are somewhat inappropriate in my opinion, and perhaps the images in the articles do not allow the readers to judge for themselves. I'll make a few comment since I own a good facsimile and can read the text as a bonus. I'll just give the reference to the plates, using the format [book]:[table].[circle] that allows for an easy look-up.

So, on p.30, from top to bottom and left to right, we have:
  • 1:V.3 : Not in an 'open' position at all. One just has to follow the lines on Thibault's diagram... The back foot points 90 degrees to the left, the front foot is full-forward, the heels are lined up. What the article calls a typical rapier position. The back foot appears open purely because of perspective, and also perhaps because according to the text it has been dragged behind instead of purposefully moved there.
  • 1:III : These describe the drawing of the sword. The back feet are exactly as open as they are in the previous drawing, so I doubt this is a 135°, though there are no lines there to help.
  • 1:VII.14 : Both figures have the heels lined up and the back foot at 90°, as shown by the lines. The back foot of Alexander (the figure on the right) appears slightly open but this is because he is coming to his adversary at an angle.
  • 2:VI.1 and 2.VI.3 : These I'm ready to believe have the back foot opened. They also have the weight on the back foot and the feet are crossed (meaning the right foot is on the outside of the left foot).
  • 1:VIII.9 : This one is unclear, but going by the description the left foot should be in the air at this stage... So this is wouldn't be a real stance but rather an image of a transition. Anyway, the foot is not that much open either, as on the first image.
  • 1:X.4-5 : (Circle 4 is on the right, 5 on the left) On circle 5 the figure is unambiguously in a 90° position with the heels slightly out of line (half a foot, maybe) and the front foot slightly pointed to the inside. On circle 4 only the tip of the right foot touches the ground. The foot is depicted in the act of stepping to where it will be on circle 5, which makes it appear to be open when really it's not.
  • 2:XI.1 : This posture of the two-handed sword is similar leg-wise to 2:VI.1 and 2.VI.3. So yes, probably opened.
  • 2:VI.7 : Zacharie (on the left) has the open position, Alexandre (right) has the familiar L-stance.
  • 1:XXV.12 : This is also a L-stance (90°) but skewed by the perspective and maybe a dragging foot. Not the clearest figure, which adds to the confusion.

What does it all mean ? It means, first, that it is very easy to see opened stances where there is none, because matters of perspective are complicated. It also shows how a raised foot, in the act of stepping, might seem more opened than it is. This all makes me all the more doubtful about the rest of the evidence, which has artwork of a far lesser quality.

There are only three unambiguous figures on the page, all with the weight on their back foot, all images not of Thibault's style but of common styles of the period that Thibault shows how to counter. So there is no evidence at all that Thibault had a specifically opened stance, or even that other fencer of his days had a very open stance except in the specific case of having a good portion of the weight on the back foot.

Even worse, it's the opposite. The author points out that the feet on the diagram are never shown at any angle other than 45 degrees. Of course: all the footprints of this diagram go by pairs and show the favourite posture of Thibault assumed at various distances from the enemy. And Thibault's stance is really similar to the usual Spanish stance as far as the back foot is concerned, that is, at 90°. The front foot is different, and as the article says does not point to the adversary. The article calls this "crossed" which is really inapproriate, given the instructions given by Thibault. On the contrary, he details thoroughly how this stance is the most natural and generates the least stress in the legs. He tells the reader to experiment himself by changing the angles of the feet, and feel for himself how the tension builds up with any of the changes. I can only assume that John Clements has not read the explanations that go with the diagram... Nothing at all is curious there once it is understood that these footprints do not come in isolation and that Thibault really has that favoured stance.

On page 77, an image is shown (the first on the fourth row) of Salvator Fabris' posture as shown by Thibault (this is 1:XXXIII.1 and 2) in support of the offline position of the foot and 'crossed' position of the front foot. This image shows neither... If anything the front foot is slightly open and the back foot is right in line with it and the opponent. What causes the mistake here is that the big figure is slightly off the line, to allow for the foot of a neighboring fencer to be at the right place.

Finally on page 81, two images are shown to illustrate something I'm not quite understanding. It seems the author considers they illustrate a transition from 45° to 135° of the rear foot? I'm not sure. Anyway, the situation illustrated in this plate (2:XIII) is actually a transition from 0° (pointed towards the enemy) to 90°. The plan of Thibault is to close on the musketeer by advancing in zigzags. I don't know what is implied by 'closing via the familiar 90° Baroque method', but the final stance is certainly 90°, even though in the running portions of course the feet are parallel to the direction... The image is compared to 1:VIII.6 on the right, which is indeed a similar situation. However the placement of the rear foot is not consistent between the text and the plate, which makes an interpretation difficult in terms of angle. My opinion, looking at the other similar stances, is that the tip of the foot is actually raised in this particular plate.

To conclude, while I applaud the amount of illustration and think it is an important subject, I also feel the conclusions are far too black and white, and it is apparent that at least a portion of the evidence does not resist closer inspection, casting doubts about the rest of the illustrations.


Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
William Carew




Location: Australia
Joined: 23 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 154

PostPosted: Tue 16 Mar, 2010 3:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg Coffman wrote:
William Carew wrote:
One quick question that comes to mind: why, in an article in which die waage is so prominent, was there no mention of the fact Mair (a source John references heavily in his article) outlines '3 balances' (high, middle and low) that correspond to the distance between the feet and the relative height (and mobility) of the fencer?


I don't know why not. Maybe because that is too easy [3 stances, check...high, middle, and low, check...]; there's not a lot to it.


That doesn't make much sense Greg. Providing an interpretation of die waage, partly by incorporating several images from a period source such as Mair, whilst ignoring what that very same source says about it, leaves us with two distinct possibilities - John has either a) not studied the full text in Mair or b) he has studied it and decided that Mair's actual usage of drei wage is of no consequence in his own modern article on die waage.

I want to make it clear, if John hasn't read Mair, I think there's no shame in that. I haven't studied it fully either, as I can only stumble through small sections of it myself until such time as my German improves (or an English translation is released). However, when interpreting images from a fight book, without the benefit of having read and understood the context of the images, we must be very careful about reaching firm and sweeping conclusions from our impressions of the images alone.

Quote:
But the emphasis of his work seems to be on the facing of the feet. When John started talking about a real low stance, it corresponded to teachings on turning the back foot past 90 degrees. The low stance is facilitated by opening up the hip and pointing the foot past 90 up to about 135 degrees.


I'll agree partly with what is said here: if you are going to adopt Mair's equivalent of the 'unter waage' (low balance) as your default stance, then turning out the rear foot assists in it. My point, however, is this very low position is not the *only* structure demonstrated in the fight books (as is easily confirmed by Mair and his 3 balances, and Vadi's postures among others). Even Joachim Meyer, often considered a proponent of a low stance, has 'high' balance positions depicted (particularly with the staff weapons).

Quote:
We are certainly not all using the low stance all the time.


Ok, thanks. That wasn't clear from my first read through of the article. But I have to say, this makes it all the more strange that no mention was made of your other stances or of the higher balances in Mair and Vadi.

Quote:
Nor are we pointing the back foot past 90 degrees all the time either.


No-one said you were. The article does, however, seem to suggest there are only 2 legitimate angles for the rear foot in this theory - 45 forward or 135 backward. I share some of Vincent's concerns about these generalisations, and I concur with him that many of the images cited as evidence of a 135 degree turned out foot are not convincing and could be interpreted quite differently.

Quote:
I think the article covers rather well the variety of ways the feet can be turned, how, and standing or stepping. And I think that is the real breakthrough. The footwork is integral to and more important than the height and breadth of the stance.


As I said, I like John's reading of the turning of the foot being one interpretation of how the 'key' opens and closes in Vadi. I think that's a good suggestion and I think more people will pay attention to how they turn their foot after this article. Thanks to some boxing and the odd golf lesson, when I interpreted Vadi's 'new footwork' I had already considered turning and pivoting on the ball of the rear foot in order to bring the rear hip forward when wanting to generate power without changing the lead foot. I'm sure I'm not the only one (really, anyone who has ever learned to throw a proper straight cross or a hook understands this), but I give John credit for calling this out so clearly and linking it to pieces of the masters' advice.

Quote:
Also, in this article John basis his argument heavily from source illustrations, both fechtbuk and other historical artwork., instead of the source teachings. That is why the article is so image heavy; that is the raw data. And he cut quite a bit of images as it is! However, he certainly is aware of the source teachings, but he just doesn't include them in this article, probably because it is so big already. (Not that another article on the subject is intended.)


Personally, and this might just be me, I would have appreciated less (uncited, often unrelated and separated by centuries) images and more focus on deeper textual analysis on what is written in the fight books. But that's ok, it's not my article, and both John's theories and my view of them are worth exactly what the readership here paid for them. Wink

Bill

Bill Carew
Jogo do Pau Brisbane
COLLEGIUM IN ARMIS
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Greg Mele
Industry Professional



Location: Chicago, IL USA
Joined: 20 Mar 2006

Posts: 356

PostPosted: Tue 16 Mar, 2010 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill,

William Carew wrote:

As I said, I like John's reading of the turning of the foot being one interpretation of how the 'key' opens and closes in Vadi. I think that's a good suggestion and I think more people will pay attention to how they turn their foot after this article. Thanks to some boxing and the odd golf lesson, when I interpreted Vadi's 'new footwork' I had already considered turning and pivoting on the ball of the rear foot in order to bring the rear hip forward when wanting to generate power without changing the lead foot. I'm sure I'm not the only one (really, anyone who has ever learned to throw a proper straight cross or a hook understands this), but I give John credit for calling this out so clearly and linking it to pieces of the masters' advice.


Indeed, Viggani specifically illustrated and describes in his text the pivot on the ball of the foot and turn of the heel *outward* to allow the rear hip to drive forward. It is part of what makes his "universal parry" from the left have the needed range and power. It also is significant when making any rising cut, particularly with the false edge. Again, however, this was being publicly discussed and taught by many people as early as 2003 or 2004, so it's not really a new discovery of old material, as it were.

Cheers,

Greg

Greg Mele
Chicago Swordplay Guild
www.chicagoswordplayguild.com

www.freelanceacademypress.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 12:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg Mele wrote:


Indeed, Viggani specifically illustrated and describes in his text the pivot on the ball of the foot and turn of the heel *outward* to allow the rear hip to drive forward. It is part of what makes his "universal parry" from the left have the needed range and power. It also is significant when making any rising cut, particularly with the false edge. Again, however, this was being publicly discussed and taught by many people as early as 2003 or 2004, so it's not really a new discovery of old material, as it were.

Cheers,

Greg


Greg,

From what I've seen of YouTube clips, I haven't seen anyone integrating this particular bit of footwork in their freeplay/sparring. Nor, for that matter, have I seen evidence that people have been integrating such a diverse array of elements, such as cross-stepping, turning the key for leverage, stepping with the foot turned sideways, and shifting balance dynamically forwards and backwards in the scales, and all the other elements discussed in the article, the way John has. So, it may not be a new discovery, but to my knowledge, he's the first person to integrate the various elements so holistically and employ each of these various facets in freeplay, and this in itself represents an important advancement in the state of our knowledge of the Art.
View user's profile Send private message
Dustin R. Reagan





Joined: 09 May 2006

Posts: 264

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 10:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:

From what I've seen of YouTube clips, I haven't seen anyone integrating this particular bit of footwork in their freeplay/sparring.


This is one example of how self-proscribed isolation from the rest of the WMA community is unproductive....one ends up relying on youtube clips for a window into what might be going on in the rest of the world.
View user's profile Send private message
Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For the most part I like the article. I appreciate the sheer volume of images but I feel that references for the images would be appropriate as would more discussion of indivual pictures as opposed to just quantity. I also agree with Bill that more textual analysis would lead to better conclusions.

The article is noteworthy for is thoroughness. There were a number of times while reading when I aksed myself, "but what about . . ." and found that point addressed later.

The article contains a huge array of images to make a point but does not compare them to other images. The most basic methodology would be to count all the footwork images in manual and note which are of what kind. This then allows a breakdown of what footwork is used and in what proportions. For instance the crow foot positions occurs much less commonly then other positions but that's not made clear.

By failing to include the contrasting images and/or counts of each the article seems to be cherry-picking evidence to make a point. I want to be clear that I'm addressing the presenation of the evidence, not the conclusion.

My biggest problem with the article is the repeated assertion that John is the only one who figured this out and uses it.

Craig Peters wrote:

Greg,

From what I've seen of YouTube clips, I haven't seen anyone integrating this particular bit of footwork in their freeplay/sparring. Nor, for that matter, have I seen evidence that people have been integrating such a diverse array of elements, such as cross-stepping, turning the key for leverage, stepping with the foot turned sideways, and shifting balance dynamically forwards and backwards in the scales, and all the other elements discussed in the article, the way John has. So, it may not be a new discovery, but to my knowledge, he's the first person to integrate the various elements so holistically and employ each of these various facets in freeplay, and this in itself represents an important advancement in the state of our knowledge of the Art.


The "crossed/crow foot" position was discussed here on the WMAC forum last year. Myself and the rest at Forte have been using it for a few years. If anyone from ARMA had been to our Sword Gatherings then you'd have seen it in person. It may be that condemnations of the ignorance of the entire community should not be based solely on YouTube videos. (I'll note though that the above linked thread has youtube videos.)

Shifting balance forward and backward as part of footwork has been a basic part of Forte's curriculum for over two years, as described in this video from June of '07. Included also in the Fortejeff Youtube Channel are sparring videos, and you'll see Forte folks doing the balance shifting footwork (please note that not all Forte students incorporate the footwork equally well and that many of the bouting videos are from a larger events with lots of non-Forte people.)

The pivot to generate power has been a standard part of Fiore mechanics as I've seen them for years, inlcuding Guy Windsor's '06 book. Lichtenauer students tend not to use it because the texts seems to specify that you step to generate power instead of pivoting.

From where I'm standing the only reason I haven't seen anyone incorporate all of the elements discussed in the article is because the vast majority of practictioners out there do not syncretize the German and Italian traditions.

I hope you can understand my comments as being akin to the peer-review process and not simply attacks.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Alexandria, VA USA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003
Reading list: 43 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 4,148

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've finally gotten around to reading the article Let me first off say that I think its a great topic, and I'm glad to see someone put the "pen down to paper" (so to speak). I don't recall anyone else writing an essay about this subject. I like the multitude of photos, and I think there are some very good points to consider. I also think it is great that this is being offered for public review, as that is how research gets critiqued on its merits and can therefore better serve everyone.

I found myself getting very tired of the "look at me, I'm the first one to do this" attitude. Even if that were true (and it isn't), who cares? Nevermind that these topics have been in discussion for years at various events and classes; nevermind that the first time I'd heard of this was about 1999 from Brad Waller, nevermind all of the European groups who've made a case for this type of footwork over the last decade, nevermind that its seen all over the place in many non-western martial arts, and nevermind the many former ARMA members who've helped John come to these conclusions but were not given any credit. Is it really that necessary to spend 40% of your article going on about how awesome you think you are?

As far as the content goes, I'm disappointed by the complete reliance on images and not on any text. Its almost a little disturbing how a person can make such definitive statements without reading the texts first, which in a few cases contradict the images. For example: The foot placement in Giganti is wider than what he (and other contemporary masters) recommended. In this case we have the Italian Renaissance paradigm of art influencing the images despite what was actually practiced (and in fact a similar case can be made for a number of other fencing treatises). I've said this before, but you simply cannot just go by the pictures and assume you can understand these arts. You have to read them, one at a time, and not lump them all together as being the exact same thing. The images used in the article from Agrippa are showing different mechanics to achieve different actions than the images used from Mair, and they need to be put into that context, otherwise we're just making things up.

Also, for such an image intensive article, you'd think there'd be a citation *somewhere*. I would have failed a class in college for turning in a paper like this. (To be fair to John, that's not unique to him, and is a complaint I have about much of what's published out there.)

Technically I've been using this idea of open and close stances it for about ten years in my rapier studies because that's simply what the treatises tell us to do. (Though I'll readily confess I haven't put much emphasis in it with my studies of the medieval traditions, and this article has made me rethink that, which is certainly a good thing John has done.) I don't use the same terminology (because its silly to use German terminology for non-German arts), but its laregly similar. I think this article puts far too much emphasis on the foot alone. The foot alone isn't the important aspect here so much as the body alignment from the spine through the hip through the knee through the foot. In order to prepare the chain of muscles to press the dominant side forward, you need to turn the rear shoulder and hip back, and if you do not adjust everything else you can do damage to the joints, fighting against yourself to get the actions to work right. As you angle the hip back, turn the knee out and make sure that it is not over your instep (a huge mistake that beginners do), and point the rear toe back to support the knee. But anyone who has done Italian rapier within the last decade would already know this (despite John's insistence otherwise).

And please, for the love of god, do not judge the WMA community from YouTube. I've often said that YouTube may be the single worst disservice to the WMA community. For every decent video on there, there seems to be twenty terrible ones. ARMA is just as guilty as anyone else in the community.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Greg Mele
Industry Professional



Location: Chicago, IL USA
Joined: 20 Mar 2006

Posts: 356

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg,

I think everyone has already commented on the YouTube issue - certainly, for example, were I to judge John solely from his YouTube videos, I'd have to assume that he specifically trains students to miss and strike in false times when he demonstrates - for example, in his sword disarms video, where the students begin to close, step in a false-time, and make a simple, telegraphed cut so that he can show his disarms easily. My point here is that I really don't think the "my YouTube clip is better than yours" tells us much about ANY martial arts group, of any tradition.

Having said that, there *are* good clips out there that show some of these elements being trained, being used in plays, and being used at speed. The clips by Gladiatores, Gesellschaft Liechtenauers, and those by Thomas Stoeppler are some that immediately come to mind. I was just in Leeds and watched members of a group called c.1595 use the same sort of body dynamics with Saviolo's rapier and in a partizan demo. As stated, the use of the volte in Fiore's material has been a staple for many, many years - certainly since 2001, and you can find video clips from groups as diverse a the Exiles and Nova Scrimia using variations of it.

Now as to what the man *wrote*. My general take on the article matches Bill's - it is not a bad article and certainly a worthy topic. But John's research is hampered by the same problems he had in the late 90s, when he was asking Steve Hick, Matt Galas, Chris Amberger, David Rath and myself to provide him Italian and German terminology for "Medieval Swordsmanship" a few weeks before it went to press, because he reads neither Italian or German. Consequently, he can only work with images, unless he has a text in translation. There is absolutely no shame in that, but as Bill Grandy explains, it means that sometimes the images do not show what you may think that they show. Because John does not cite where each image comes from and the corresponding text, nor even the source for most of the non-technical artwork, he makes following it extremely difficult for others to follow his paper trail. As such, this isn't really a scholarly work, but a "presentation" or the outline for a more complete analysis. As a community, the standard of research has simply moved beyond looking at images in isolation.

Again, I think that if ARMA members came to more non-ARMA events and if there was less hyperbole about the material and it's "discovery" (John spends the last several pages asserting his uniqueness and preemptively asserting that his work will be stolen), it would receive less pushback. Of course, it might also receive less attention.

Best,

Greg

Greg Mele
Chicago Swordplay Guild
www.chicagoswordplayguild.com

www.freelanceacademypress.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Randall Pleasant




Location: Flower Mound, Texas
Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 333

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scholars

I joked last week on the private ARMA forum that some people who have held their feet more than 90 degrees will say that they have always been doing the Scales for years and the Fiore students will point to the Volta will say that they have been doing all of the Scales for years. So yes, everyone has done this or that, but no one was doing all of it. Nor was anyone recognizing that the Scales was universal to all of the major European marital arts. The Scales is not German, it's not Italian, it's not just longsword, it's not dagger, etc., it is everywhere, in I.33, in Fiore, in Meyer, etc.

Bill Grandy wrote:
...nevermind the many former ARMA members who've helped John come to these conclusions but were not given any credit.

I have read some of the threads where some ex-members have suggested this. Sad but not unexpected. We have several videos of John Clements teaching the Scales to those very same people and of them acknowledging John's work on the Scales. Plus we keep all of our emails. In any case this is off topic.

Quote:
As far as the content goes, I'm disappointed by the complete reliance on images and not on any text.

The images not only show what the Scales are, but also how universal it was in European martial arts. Without the images we would be back to talking about the Germans did this and the Italians did that.

Quote:
I think this article puts far too much emphasis on the foot alone.

Actually a goal of the article was to put all of the emphasis upon the feet. The article is dealing with footwork that is universal beyong any given guards, weapons, or specific masters.

Quote:
And please, for the love of god, do not judge the WMA community from YouTube. I've often said that YouTube may be the single worst disservice to the WMA community. For every decent video on there, there seems to be twenty terrible ones. ARMA is just as guilty as anyone else in the community.

ARMA does not judge the WMA community solely upon YouTube. YouTube is but one of many valid indicators. Most of the videos on the Internet are trash put out by people with almost no training. But we do focus upon those few decent vidoes.

Bill, would you agree that the following picture of a senior student of a leading Fiore instructor is a valid indicator of current Fiore interpretations? The raised heel clearly indicates a lack of understanding of how the Scales were used by Fiore. I do not mean to point out this student or his teacher in any negative way, all of us mis-interpret the works of the historical masters, rather I'm doing so to point out the value the article offers them, you, me, and everyone else. Might we wonder what this young man will be capable of once he puts his heel down like Fiore and makes full use of the Scales?




Ok, so where does this leave us? We can put our heads in the sand and say, "See no scales, hear no scales, and speak no scales" or we can acknowledge the full role of the Scales. May a better understanding of the Scales move the community forward in its effort to recreate these lost arts.

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
View user's profile Send private message
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
Quote:
As far as the content goes, I'm disappointed by the complete reliance on images and not on any text.

The images not only show what the Scales are, but also how universal it was in European martial arts. Without the images we would be back to talking about the Germans did this and the Italians did that.

What disturbs me in this reliance on the images is that it is selected evidence, and some is just plainly misinterpreted as showing 135°... I've already detailed the Thibault examples. Thibault's opus has probably more than a thousand figures of fencers, and of the dozen presented (I guess because the author thought they were the clearest examples?) only a minority show unambiguously the rear foot pointed significantly backwards (I don't think even as much as 135°).
And then you get sentences like:
"[Thibault's] rapier fencing style does not employ a 90° position of the feet with the heels in line, but rather displays offset 45° and 135° positions with the heels spaced apart." (p.30)
"The overwhelming majority of examples reveal rapier stances employed with feet held at either 45° or 135°" (p.58)
Neither are true as far as I've seen. Yes there are stances like that, but not an overwhelming majority. Yes foot orientation matters, but it's not just 45° or 135°, and forgetting 90° does not appear to be a good idea.

So the case is overstated and this is done by presenting as evidence images that are not, which I find disturbing as far as respecting the writings of past masters is concerned... Seeing the problem with the very clear illustrations in rapier manuals, I also find it hard to be convinced about the deductions drawn from the much less precise earlier artwork. Though I'm not really concerned about it given my period of interest Happy

Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Greg Mele
Industry Professional



Location: Chicago, IL USA
Joined: 20 Mar 2006

Posts: 356

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall,

Randall Pleasant wrote:

Bill, would you agree that the following picture of a senior student of a leading Fiore instructor is a valid indicator of current Fiore interpretations?


Since that is *my* student, Randall, which you know, and I am on this thread, let's not be coy. While there are actually two issues with the photo - which is four years old - as an example of dente di zenghiaro lo mezzano - the raised heel is not one of them.

Quote:
The raised heel clearly indicates a lack of understanding of how the Scales were used by Fiore. I do not mean to point out this student or his teacher in any negative way, all of us mis-interpret the works of the historical masters, rather I'm doing so to point out the value the article offers them, you, me, and everyone else. Might we wonder what this young man will be capable of once he puts his heel down like Fiore and makes full use of the Scales?


Actually, Fiore didn't use "the Scales", Randall, he used the volte, and it is an error to try and paint every master with the same brush. And if your comments show great understanding of John's article, it also shows a *clear* lack of understanding of what FIORE taught. There are two stances in Fiore's art: forward and back. The weight always favors the bent knee, and the opposite heel is generally raised. But no one need take my word for that. The Getty Ms is there for all to see:

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObject...k&pg=1

Let me call your attention specifically to the two right hand figures on this very first image, and you will note the raised heel. You can flip through the entire manuscript and see the same thing in the other sections of the manuscript. If you want to see the rear stance with the forward heel raised, one need look no further than here:

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObject...;handle=li

Look at the top left image, the master wearing the crown. If swords are more to your liking, then you can see it again here:

http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/images/l/14349301.jpg

(bottom right figure)

or here:

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObject...;handle=li

Look at the two right hand figures, top and bottom. (Those on the left have their rear heels raised.)

Incidentally, the lower right figure here, is the guard that Jesse is more-or-less in that you are taking exception to:

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObject...;handle=li

So it would be *demonstrably* wrong for someone studying Fiore to always have their heels flat on the ground, and all one has to do is make a careful study of the four manuscripts to *see* that in the poste, which form the mechanics for all of the actions in the system. You then follow *Fiore's* instructions on the three volte, and you will find both tactically and biomechanically why the heels raise. It wouldn't matter if no other master did this - *Fiore* does. However, these same ideas are found in other early Italian systems of fencing. I would love to hear your explanation for the raised heels in Vadi, such as his posta di falcon, or those found in Bolognese fencing, such as when Viggiani *specifically* calls for it in the transition to his second guard, where turn the heel up and out drives the rear hip forward and powers the rising cut. Likewise, I'd really be interested how to execute Fabris' girata against an attack to the inside without lifting the heel of the front foot as you pivot.

Effectively, it doesn't matter what other sources illustrate or other masters do with their own footwork. This is what *these* masters specifically both illustrated and advised. Ran, if you are still adamant on disagreeing, perhaps you can post some photos of how *you* think Fiore's 12 poste of the sword in two hands should be formed, so we have even grounds for discussion.

Randall, your assertions speak to the problem that the rest of us are trying to explain about John's article. The concepts of the Scales, the Volta, etc are not new or revolutionary, and have been in use for years. If the revolutionary part is John's idea that there is one, Pan-European system of body mechanics, he is simply wrong. We can look at living arts like European cane fighting and you can see multiple systems of body mechanics, footwork and power generation - all similar but distinct. Just within one art, like grande baton/ gran bastone there are differences in how the stick is rotated, which hands leads and what the *feet* do to power the blow. The same is true of 19th c English pugilism and purring vs. French savate or Italian boxing. Europe didn't get bigger in the modern era, it actually got smaller as travel increased.

Likewise, if you cross into Asia and begin to compare schools of escrima and arnis with one another or various kenjutsu ryuha, they all have clear commonalities, but they also have distinctive elements of stance, movement, power generation - so much so that practitioners of one tradition can spot their own, and someone who is not, immediately. And Japan is a much smaller, much more homogeneous place than all of Europe.

Were John to actually make a *detailed* study of *individual* sources these issues would be clear. But in this article he is still trying to do what he did a decade ago in "Medieval Swordsmanship", look at images and draw attention to the common elements that fit what he does and feels works best, and thereby demonstrate a pan-European style of swordsmanship. Consequently, he takes something like the "cross step with the foot turned out to the side", and equates every instance of its use as the same thing and as a basic part of movement. Of course, in doing so, he ignores *why* you do this - to keep the same side oriented toward the target. For a longswordsman this is only relevant if you frame a single guard, such as vom Tag, and wish to close distance, it keeps your hips from turning (a mezza volta), and it is the dominant foot that remains turned out. For Fabris, Giganti, etc, this is so that your sword side, and thus your point, remains oriented at the target, and it is the *non-dominant* foot that remains turned out. Further, that action is *only* used with a double pass, because you do not make a single pass in rapier, even if you thrust on the pass, you either continue forward or immediately recover. So while the reasons for such a step draw on similar body mechanics, the application is different. This is true even within a single weapon - I will use the double pass when fighting with the point when I wield a bill or halberd, but will make a normal pass, rotating the hips (a mezza volta del corpo) when I cut.

Again, I think the paper is an interesting survey, even if the tone is condescending. If John wishes to fuse these elements together into a single dynamic and emphasize them in the ARMA training program, great and God-bless. Not a single person has faulted him on this. But the individual elements discussed in the paper are not revelations, there are serious problems with the scholarship, detail of study and lack of citations and John does not succeed in revealing a grand, unified field theory of European swordsmanship.

Best,

Greg

Greg Mele
Chicago Swordplay Guild
www.chicagoswordplayguild.com

www.freelanceacademypress.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Alexandria, VA USA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003
Reading list: 43 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 4,148

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 10:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
I have read some of the threads where some ex-members have suggested this. *snip* In any case this is off topic.


Fair enough. I agree that its off topic and will say no more.

Quote:
The images not only show what the Scales are, but also how universal it was in European martial arts. Without the images we would be back to talking about the Germans did this and the Italians did that.


When did I say that the images were not important? Please don't change the argument to try to make me look wrong. I said that John didn't reference any of the textual evidence that corresponds with many of the images he used... some of which don't gel with what he's saying. Its pretty obvious that he hasn't read these texts that he's drawing such firm conclusions from, which is dishonest at best, and possibly self-deceptive.

Quote:
I think this article puts far too much emphasis on the foot alone.

Actually a goal of the article was to put all of the emphasis upon the feet. The article is dealing with footwork that is universal beyong any given guards, weapons, or specific masters.[quote]

And I happen to think that's a huge area where the article falls short. There isn't a single martial art in the world that makes such a huge deal about the feet without addressing the relationship to the rest of the body. But that's just a disagreement. If John can't handle someone disagreeing with his articles, then he shouldn't write articles... but yet, he isn't the one complaining at all. You are.

Quote:
ARMA does not judge the WMA community solely upon YouTube.


1) Who said anything about ARMA? And 2) Why do you always feel the need to speak for the entirety of ARMA?

Quote:
Bill, would you agree that the following picture of a senior student of a leading Fiore instructor is a valid indicator of current Fiore interpretations?


Randall, I'm pretty appalled that you would sink to this kind of behaviour. You know full well that this "leading Fiore instructor" is Greg Mele, so don't try to pull any of this passive aggressive garbage just so you can make a childish dig and play innocent. Worse, you took a person who has nothing to do with this thread, has not said a single negative thing about the article, has no leg in this race, and overall has nothing to do with anything we're talking about, and you dragged him into the thread to make an insult about his form to make you appear right (nevermind that I think you're completely wrong). This isn't 6th grade, Randall. For someone who had the audacity to claim that I made an ad hominem attack on ARMA just because I dared to disagree with you, you certainly aren't taking the moral high ground.

Quote:
Ok, so where does this leave us? We can put our heads in the sand and say, "See no scales, hear no scales, and speak no scales" or we can acknowledge the full role of the Scales. May a better understanding of the Scales move the community forward in its effort to recreate these lost arts.


*sigh* I said what I thought was good about John's article. I said what I thought was bad about the article. That isn't the same as "see no scales, hear no scales". But clearly you seem to like playing the role fo the poor crucified one (even though we are talking about an article that you didn't even write, and one that you swear you can't answer for). If you can't handle the idea of peer review of an article, then perhaps you should consider a new hobby.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > ARMA Footwork Article
Page 1 of 5 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum