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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 7:13 pm    Post subject: New cutting vid: combination cuts         Reply with quote

Hi all,

This is our latest cutting vid. It shows combination cuts, double and triple. These cuts, some of which are performed on the same section of mat before it hits the ground, are designed to improve timing, focus, aim, balance and more.

I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4ucqArlmpk

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Mark T




PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 7:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Michael,

Nice stuff!

Some of the other test-cutting I've seen on tatami-omote by HEMA practitioners seems to have a lot of 'muscling' through cuts, over-swings, and so on ... I'm curious about whether, what, and how much you draw on your previous JSA tameshigiri experience when applying it to test-cutting with Western swords?

Cheers,

Mark
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark T wrote:
I'm curious about whether, what, and how much you draw on your previous JSA tameshigiri experience when applying it to test-cutting with Western swords?


Thanks, Mark.

To answer you qestion, it's not just previous experience, it's current experience, and I use it as much as I possibly can. When most people look at JSA cutting they see what they think are cutting tricks and gimmicks, and to be fair, some of it is like this, but in Toyama Ryu, at least the particular ryu to which I belong, everything that you are judged on in a cut has a tactical application and justification. Aside from the fact that it only has one edge, a katana cuts in the same exact way a longsword does. So what I do is I take the striking mechanics of Toyama Ryu and interpolate them for backedge and/or "off camber" cuts like Schielhau and Krumphau.

The reason I have turned to JSA is that Liechtenauer treatises are prefaced with words to the effect of "this art is for people who already know how to fence." I find that fascinating. There are no texts for learning this fencing that you're supposed to know before learning Liechtenauer's art...all that knowledge is lost. However, there are living tradition arts that use an extremely similar weapon that still have these skills, and that is where the majority of my work is focused. It's led to some very interesting things.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 8:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark T wrote:
Hi Michael,

Nice stuff!

Some of the other test-cutting I've seen on tatami-omote by HEMA practitioners seems to have a lot of 'muscling' through cuts, over-swings, and so on ... I'm curious about whether, what, and how much you draw on your previous JSA tameshigiri experience when applying it to test-cutting with Western swords?

Cheers,

Mark


From things I've read by Michael previously his approach is foremost HEMA as a martial art and the cutting is secondary to using the moves, techniques and speed without over committing that would be used in the ideal real combat use: The actual cut is secondary and a check on the accuracy and alignment of edges and also seeing what the effects are on the target of controlled cuts.

If the objective was to just cut the most difficult targets or the thickest targets there would be some optimizing of equipment and technique to just be as effective at cutting as possible but at the cost of using techniques that maximizes the cutting performance but with little regard whether the cutting technique would be good fighting technique tactically: After the cut the situational awareness including staying menacing and also ready to transition to reacting to a continuing menace from the opponent should he remain uncut. In a real fight the target may be missed, may have voided, may have counter attacked at the same time etc ..... visualising the tactical and executing cuts in that context. Tatami mats don't fight back and don't menace in turn with a sword.Wink

Anyway, Michael can correct me if I'm wrong or expand on what I wrote if I'm right ( Or partially right and partially wrong. Wink Laughing Out Loud )

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Jean, that's basically right.

Cutting is one aspect of training...learning to use your sword for the purpose it was intended. Combined with drills (solo and paired) and free fencing, you get a complete package. Ideally, you should move the same way in all three, so that when you free fence or do drills, each of your strikes is an effective cut (or thrust, or slice) that would actually damage the opponent. When you cut, your strikes are controlled, centered and focused just like they should be in drills and free fencing, and so on. It's a harmony of three elements that combine to form the whole of the art.

The cuts in this particular video have a very specific purpsoe. Here I'm not simulating approaching a target. These cuts mostly work on speed, timing, aim and focus, as well as not overcommitting. If you overcommit to one cut, you're not getting another one out in time. That sword may be light for a longsword, but it's still a 3.25lb piece of steel that wants to keep going in the same direction.

If these cuts were to be given a tactical application...looking at the last cut (the tripple), I cut into alber and miss, inviting you to try to nachrisen. You come in with your hands leading and I lop off your right arm. But you still have your sword, so I lop off your left arm. Then I notice that your stumps are uneven, and that bothers me, so I cut your right stump with the short edge to make it even with your left. There, all better. Happy

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Joshua R




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice, very smooth. It looked quite effortless!
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jun, 2010 9:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:

But you still have your sword, so I lop off your left arm. Then I notice that your stumps are uneven, and that bothers me, so I cut your right stump with the short edge to make it even with your left. There, all better. Happy


A little " disturbing " ..... but in a good way. Razz Laughing Out Loud Cool

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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jun, 2010 4:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
You come in with your hands leading and I lop off your right arm. But you still have your sword, so I lop off your left arm. Then I notice that your stumps are uneven, and that bothers me, so I cut your right stump with the short edge to make it even with your left. There, all better. Happy

He's had worse! Just a flesh wound. Wink

Seriously, that was an impressive display. You made it look effortless. And thank you for showing me what a Brescia is capable of in skilled hands.

Pax,
Sam Barris

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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 3:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I notice that, in cutting, you turn your sword, as if you only have one edge to work with. Would it not be faster and easier in some cases to cut with the back edge instead?
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Douglas S wrote:
I notice that, in cutting, you turn your sword, as if you only have one edge to work with. Would it not be faster and easier in some cases to cut with the back edge instead?


The last cut of the last sequence is done with the false edge. However, to answer your question, cutting up with the false edge is a weaker cut because of the reversed grip.

I used to do the false edge cut a lot, because I thought it was faster, but I've seen people in Toyama Ryu turn the edge and cut twice as fast as I can cut with the false edge, so I've since rethought that.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 8:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In addition to what Mike said, a good fencer needs to be able to use both edges depending on circumstance. There are some instances where the long edge makes much more sense (it allows you to close the line in a way that the short edge doesn't, it allows you to press against the underside of the opponent's arms to force them away, etc).
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Greg Mele
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 8:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Bill - you need both edges. But according to Western fencing theory, returning back up with the false edge is *of necessity* faster. Returning back up the same line is a single, perfect time, or tempo whereas turning the hands over to return the cut is an imperfect time, because it requires two discreet, linked actions - turning the hands over, and then cutting, so that the sword moves through a longer arc.

That doesn't mean that Mike's observation is wrong that has seen people who can turn their hands over and cut twice as fast as he can. What it means is that relative to any one person, returning up the same line with the false edge is faster than it will be for that same swordsman to turn his hands over and cut.

Now again, that's not Greg talking, that's four centuries of dudes using two-edged swords. Wink However, note that those same swordsmen made a point of using true edge cuts from below, as well. Which do you use, when? Well, it depends! Wink

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 9:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed with most of the above.

The true edge follow-on from below is slower, and it has less range, but it closes the line effectively. The false edge cut is [a little] faster, has greater extension, but must rely more on clearing aside the attack from the outside, as it doesn't close the line well.

We find both in German sources: the canonical Unterhau, done with the true edge, and the streichen, or 'slashings', with the false edge.

However, the short edge blow isn't inherently weaker. In fact it's incredibly powerful; the key is to lever the pommel down while lifting the leading hand up as you cut. But more to the point, if you use it as prescribed (at least in German texts) - to sweep aside an attack from the outside, then riposte down to his head/arms/etc. - you're playing off his momentum anyway. That's a place where a cutting exercise *can't* tell you how to use the system correctly, because this blow isn't primarily used for cutting in the first place, but for deflection; it's the downward, follow-on blow that does the real damage.

Cheers,

Christian

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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jun, 2010 10:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:

However, the short edge blow isn't inherently weaker. In fact it's incredibly powerful; the key is to lever the pommel down while lifting the leading hand up as you cut.


I've broken a heavy steel trainer (by one of the two top makers) on a swinging pell doing this short edge unterhau. It is an incredibly powerful strike. Is it more powerful than a long edge unterhau? Perhaps, though it may just seem that way because it is easier to put the hips into it, the answer to which would to be train the long edge strike more.

But, it is *not* a better cut, because it does not draw the edge along the target nearly as much as the long edge strike. You can make it draw the edge more by changing the position of your hands, but that weakens the strike. As Christian said, this is described in the German texts as being used to displace an attack from the outside, which makes a lot of sense considering the strike's great percussive force and not so great cutting ability.

I think it's important to develop this as both a powerful strike (to deflect a sword) and a cut (to penetrate layers of cloth and bite into flesh). These two uses require different mechanics to be optimal. The cut is best practiced against a cutting target, like tatami or a carpet roll covered in textiles, and the strike is best practiced on a pell (with a cheap waster!). The different mechanics required to make this an effective cut will reveal themselves after a good deal of practice.

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jun, 2010 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Mike,

I can cut with it, but you're right that the mechanics are a bit different. I'd liken them to 'hooking' through the target, which is different than how, say, an Oberhau cuts. If you don't train it that way, you train out the proper mechanics for deflecting.

And you do need to be able to cut, or at least deliver a percussively sound stroke (likely targets are the arms/hands, which needn't be cut through or off to be de-activated), even though that's not the primary application, because if you're opponent refuses to strike, you're going to have to hit him.

Conversely, the left long edge Unterhau is probably the tactically weakest blow of the four simple strokes (the Oberhau and Unterhau from both sides), because it's so shortened. Unterhaue have significantly less range to begin with, and on the left, the blow is delivered with the leading hand attached to the trailing foot. That's not important once you're playing at close measure (which you do in the video), but it's a significant weakness at the onset of the fight.

But I don't advise developing radically different mechanics for 'striking' and 'cutting' because:

1. There's no evidence that cutting through layers of fabric is important in this application - it's unarmoured fighting and thick jacks and the like are armour. In fact, jacks are regarded by period writers as "sword proof", so training to cut through them is counter-productive. Fight book illustrations don't tend (if ever) to show amputations or decapitations through clothing; it's instead against bare skin - at the wrists or neck.
2. You're unlikely to call up differing bits of 'muscle memory' on the fly that require differing mechanics, particularly when the situation is fluid, as it is in any fight. What began as "he's not moving, so I'll cut him" may need to turn, on the fly, into "he's now attacking, I have to deflect his sword".
3. If you slash up forcefully, you just don't need to even cut into the arm or hands; it's a bad day for them in any case. Any number of serio-comic episodes with wasters, or even padded swords, attests this.

The word used for a blow struck with the sword's edge is "Hau". That word doesn't mean 'cut'; instead the closest English word is the one it shares a common origin with: 'hew'. Alas, 'hew' is not a noun in English. But in any case, the word implies a chopping action, not a slicing one; there's a percussive element implied in the word itself. This is all the more evident when we're told to use 'hauen' with poleaxes, or even simple wooden staves, elsewhere in the tradition.

Cheers,

Christian

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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jun, 2010 7:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Guys,

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:


The word used for a blow struck with the sword's edge is "Hau". That word doesn't mean 'cut'; instead the closest English word is the one it shares a common origin with: 'hew'. Alas, 'hew' is not a noun in English.


Although not commonly used anymore, it appears that Hew has been considered a noun in English.

"US Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary
Article 47683
Hew
III. Hew ·noun Destruction by cutting down."

I just wanted to throw that out there!

-Cory

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jun, 2010 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, interesting Cory. But note that this isn't used to describe the act itself, but rather the result. I don't think one would say "you need a better hew to fell that tree."

It's certainly nothing used by modern speakers, so the translation ends up being rather wonky, and in this case, due to the expanded meaning of the word for non-edged weapons, incomplete.

Cheers,

CHT

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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jun, 2010 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good point, but I think that you could take it either way.

"Destruction" can be defined as "the act of destroying", so if we plug that definition into the definition of "hew" above, we get "the act of destroying by cutting down".

In any case, I agree that its a bit strange sounding to modern speakers, and still doesn't completely fit all of the uses found for "hau". Its just something to consider.

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jun, 2010 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, I see your point Cory. That makes sense.

To the main point...we read of someone being "hewn down" in a battle. The implication here is they were 'cut down' or 'felled', as a tree is hewn or felled. They needn't have been "cut in half". Rather the meaning is simply that the blow felled them.

That's really what I'm driving at.

Cheers, and good catch!

Christian

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jun, 2010 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:

But I don't advise developing radically different mechanics for 'striking' and 'cutting' because:

1. There's no evidence that cutting through layers of fabric is important in this application - it's unarmoured fighting and thick jacks and the like are armour. In fact, jacks are regarded by period writers as "sword proof", so training to cut through them is counter-productive. Fight book illustrations don't tend (if ever) to show amputations or decapitations through clothing; it's instead against bare skin - at the wrists or neck.


Hi Christian,

When I say layers of cloth, I am referring to the three layers of linen and two of wool you would likely find on a medieval man wearing a linen undershirt, a linen lined doublet and a linen lined wool coat. Now these things were not always linen lined, so you may run into less layers, but you would not ask your opponent to examine his clothing prior to striking, so you prepare for more, and get pleasantly surprised when there is less, rather than the opposite.

As for jacks, there is no evidence that cutting through layers of fabric was not considered an important ability either. In real life there is no neat division between types of fighting. You could have been accosted by bandits during your travels as a lord’s body guard or a lord himself, and some of those bandits could be wearing jacks. Being prepared for this is better than not. Thrusting through jacks, or thrusting or striking around them, is easier and tactically more sound, but is not always an option. It is better to not be limited to certain wounders or target areas.

The fact is, a longsword can cut a jack, and it doesn’t take a giant swing or any grand movement that gives up anything to the opponent. And if I can cut a jack, you can bet that medieval swordsmen could cut them also.

Quote:

2. You're unlikely to call up differing bits of 'muscle memory' on the fly that require differing mechanics, particularly when the situation is fluid, as it is in any fight. What began as "he's not moving, so I'll cut him" may need to turn, on the fly, into "he's now attacking, I have to deflect his sword".


Actually it’s quite easy and intuitive, and it happens subconsciously. This is where a lot of cutting training and a lot of pell work come in.

I have three pells that I use. One is a standard post pell, in this case a 4x4, which you can use for training measure, basic striking mechanics, etc. I use this pell to practice bind work (it’s a swinging pell). The second and most useful pell is a cloth pell, which consists of a Revival cotton gambeson suspended on a chain. This pell can be used to strike full force without damaging your steel blunt and to train the drawing motion necessary for good cuts into your striking mechanics. This pell also traps your sword sometimes and is fantastic for developing fuhlen. The third pell type is not applicable here.

The point is, training cutting along with different kinds of pell work develops a subconscious ability to switch your mechanics subtly depending on your goal. This is a basic tenet I try to pass on when I teach cutting…the type of strike you do depends on the goal. Learning which you need when and to adjust them without thinking is one of the benefits of cutting practice.

Also, in regards to this particular strike, I never use a short edge unterhau as a vorschlaag and I see no evidence it should be used that way, so it’s not a question of is he moving or not…you’re in the war, so he’s moving or he’s dead.

Quote:
3. If you slash up forcefully, you just don't need to even cut into the arm or hands; it's a bad day for them in any case. Any number of serio-comic episodes with wasters, or even padded swords, attests this.


This is our strongest point of contention, and one we’ve had for a while. A sword is a cutting and thrusting implement, not a club. And while it is true you can inflict a good amount of damage on someone without getting through his clothing, I do not believe that one should train to do “just enough.” I firmly believe that you should train to make use of the weapon’s full potential. Things in battle don’t usually go your way, and targets don’t stand still, so “just enough” can quickly turn into “oops, that wasn’t enough and I’m dead.”

Quote:

The word used for a blow struck with the sword's edge is "Hau". That word doesn't mean 'cut'; instead the closest English word is the one it shares a common origin with: 'hew'. Alas, 'hew' is not a noun in English. But in any case, the word implies a chopping action, not a slicing one; there's a percussive element implied in the word itself. This is all the more evident when we're told to use 'hauen' with poleaxes, or even simple wooden staves, elsewhere in the tradition.


I don’t believe in basing one’s mechanics on words, particularly one the use of which is not, and cannot be, fully understood. A proper sword strike does indeed have a chopping or hacking action, but it also should have a drawing action, or the full potential of the weapon is not realized. To believe otherwise is to believe that our medieval ancestors did not know how to make the most of their weapons, which is something I simply cannot accept.

I really don’t think we’ll ever convince each other of any of this, and that’s fine. The fact is, neither you nor I can know if we’re right, we can only each pursue our own ideas and see how they turn out. I think this is good, and healthy for the community. In a situation like ours, where we are recreating a dead art, it’s important, I think, to approach it from many directions. Time may tell which of us was right, or that we were both right and wrong on some points, and those that follow after can only benefit from this.

One set of ideas should never be accepted as gospel. That road leads to stagnation.

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