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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
Joined: 20 Jul 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 10 Oct, 2010 8:21 pm    Post subject: General comments about Medieval techniques and fighting         Reply with quote

Hello Everyone:

I finally realized what has impressed me so much about European martial arts techniques for various weapons like the longsword and polearms: their sophisticated nature and quickness.

I sense there was a kind of genius men like Liechtenauer and Vadi (?) had. I've seen several techniques demonstrated on youtube. I am amazed, and somewhat terrified, at the same time. Death could come in a split second, and I usually think "how did they figure that out?!" - especially with some of the half-swording techniques.

The historical masters must have possesed a high degree of hand-eye coordination, reflexes, situational awareness, and good three dimensional spatial orientation. Same for modern practioners like Mr. Clements, Mr. Tobler, and many others.

I am curious if a modern bioengineering study has been conducted on European martial artists. It seems like you have to anticipate and think more quickly than a modern fighter pilot in an aerial dogfight. I wonder how much more quickly mental processing is in a real longsword fight as compared to an aerial dogfight or a karate fight. In terms of fitness, how would a swordsman compare to a modern soldier?

I make the comparison to dogfighting because I know that is a very fast-paced activity in three dimensions. It too is physically exhausting and a pilot's mental workload can easily go off the charts. There is a whole science for modern cockpit design to reduce pilot mental workload (civilians have gone the opposite direction with cell phones, G.P.S., texting, etc. in cars). You can't do that for a swordsman.

Anyway ... a pilot at least has a chance to eject if he makes a mistake. A swordsman didn't ... so the pressure to not fail was higher. Perhaps fencers have been studied, but fencing is very different compared to Ringeck or Talhoffer.

I look forward to joining an ARMA chapter one day, but there will always be the nagging fact that there is (and always will be) someone better than me. I'll do longsword fighting for exercise and historical interest. Despite knowing many techniques now thanks to books and videos, I haven't a clue how to begin an engagement without getting hit myself. It's a vicious "art" we enjoy studying.

Go kill some watermelons! Thank you for your time.

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Sun 10 Oct, 2010 8:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
In terms of fitness, how would a swordsman compare to a modern soldier?


Which swordsman? Which soldier? John C. as a random example probably compares favorably, whereas some couch potato who stops by a school on the weekend to swing a sword around probably doesn't. Same goes for the soldiers. Some guys are, in my opinion, crazy and work very hard to be in peak condition, whereas others make you wonder how they survived basic training.

Just nit-picking. I'm glad to see your enthusiasm, but I'm afraid I don't have any answers to the rest of your post.

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
-Cold Iron, Rudyard Kipling
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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
Joined: 20 Jul 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 10 Oct, 2010 9:22 pm    Post subject: Which Swordsman?         Reply with quote

I was refering to a medieval or rennaisance swordsman who had been in practice for years (as the art seems to require). There is the assumption people like Ringeck and Talhoffer were in good shape during their prime as a result of years of practice.
DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 4:53 am    Post subject: Re: Which Swordsman?         Reply with quote

Dustin Faulkner wrote:
I was refering to a medieval or rennaisance swordsman who had been in practice for years (as the art seems to require). There is the assumption people like Ringeck and Talhoffer were in good shape during their prime as a result of years of practice.


One could maybe compare it to the skill level of a professional hockey player who started playing at the age of 9, has superior talent and reflexes, and has been doing it for 20 years to a hobby league player who has some talent but would be hopelessly outmatched by the full time professional player.

In period I'm speculating that some non-professional but well trained by masters swordsmen might be very good compared to most of the untrained or self-trained city militias, mercenary soldiers or bandits. ( Sort of a casual hobby, selfdefense and sports trained martial artist ), but the warrior class fighters: Nobles, knights, professional soldiers, swordmasters would completely outclass anyone doing the training partime.

This is a generalization because you can always find people with less training but more talent and athletic skills and reflexes that could be very competitive with the best of the best and some professionals of mediocre quality who might just barely be able to best a relative novice.

Oh, for duels it would often happen that each party would be given time to get instruction, crash course, in longsword or other weapons by a master in preparation for a judicial duel: This means that the " Masters" would often earn their living giving instruction for the untrained who needed to learn the basics to fight a duel to the death !

If such a trained for a duel person had to face a professional warrior with decades of experience or worse a " Master " he had gotten into a dispute of honour with, I assume that the Master would have much more skills.

Ironically though a novice can be very dangerous to even a Master swordsman because his actions may be unpredictable in ignoring an attack or a feint causing a suicidal double kill: The greatest fears of a Master is having to fight someone suicidal in their lack of defensive reactions or facing another Master as good or better than he is.

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





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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 6:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I find more and more that Western swordsmanship reflects the ultimate in martial opportunity for a very broad spectrum of different individuals. One where you must size up your opponent very quickly and employ a strategy that maximizes your abilities and at the same time minimizes those of your adversary.

I've seen an older; physically inferior man roundly defeat a much younger and physically gifted opponent by doing just this. The older fellow didn't allow you younger man into a range which his physical ability would dominate the fight. Likewise the older fellow's strikes and parries were efficient with no wasted motion enabling him to equalize the superior conditioning of the younger fellow. After several times of venturing into the older man's range and getting bit, the younger man lost his confidence also altering the mental part of the fight. Likewise a man with short arms will want to get in close to a man with longer arms to negate his advantage of reach. This aspect of "fighting smart" explains (at least to me) why medieval art portrays soldiers of all shapes and sizes and why you read accounts of knights fighting in battles at ages that should be well past their primes.

In this context, sword fighting is like three dimensional chess. The mental aspect will save or kill you just as quickly no matter how good you are physically.

"Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face."
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Thomas R.




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2010 10:48 am    Post subject: Re: Which Swordsman?         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:


Ironically though a novice can be very dangerous to even a Master swordsman because his actions may be unpredictable in ignoring an attack or a feint causing a suicidal double kill: The greatest fears of a Master is having to fight someone suicidal in their lack of defensive reactions or facing another Master as good or better than he is.


This is so true! I always have to deal with beginners, who do everything, but defending themselves. Mostly I end up stabbed and he gets hit in the head... Nevertheless, we do both learn something from each try.

http://maerenundlobebaeren.tumblr.com/
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Mike O'Hara




Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Dec, 2010 12:24 am    Post subject: xxx         Reply with quote

Hi all

Maybe this thread has died out but I guess I came to it very late. While I have only recently begun studying western Martial Arts (Fiore based system) I have been a student of the Eastern Arts for 30+ years.

There is an interesting parallel to the Eastern arts - in a number of styles there is a kata called Sanchin - which can translate as "The Three Battles". These are the battles of body, mind and spirit.

A serious medieval warrior would be schooled from an early age and learn to develop the necessary strength, speed, agility etc. This would be comparable to a professional MMA or similar sort of fighter now. Generally you can 'win' the battle of body after 2 - 3 years of serious training. After that your body has 'learned to learn' and new physical tasks may initially be an issue but you adapt quickly.

The battle of mind (the understanding of the system, how to move, what techniques work for you and so on) takes longer. Even so, 5 -10 years is enough to again 'teach the mind to learn' - you certainly don't know it all but you pick up new things faster, provided they are not antithetical to what you already know (that takes unlearning!)

This is where the 'old head' has the advantage - he/she has been around the traps and has enough confidence (read: spirit) to have faced most situations with confidence.

Where you face someone younger, possibly faster, you can call on wisdom and the confidence and this shows.


The battle of spirit has to be fought anew each day - I have lost unarmed fighting situations ( I train with a 'hard style' art - we basically have no rules, just control) that I should have won where my opponent had better spirit than me and won others where I was facing a technically superior fighter for the same reason.

Even in Western Arts, where I am a real beginner, I have been able to beat more experienced technicians for this reason.

As an interesting comparison, I suspect if we had a modern master who did nothing but train he would probably beat a medieval equivalent physically all other things being equal. I base this on modern sports science, nutrition etc. and the fact that athletic and physical records continue to tumble.

I have one caveat - if life was on the line this may not be true. Again, spirit (the will to live or the less concern over doing and receiving harm) is likely to triumph

cheers

mike

MIke O'Hara
Location: Plimmerton, New Zealand
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Christopher VaughnStrever




Location: San Antonio, TX
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Dec, 2010 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dustin Faulkner Wrote:
Quote:
In terms of fitness, how would a swordsman compare to a modern soldier?


I'll take a stab at this question... All other elements such as experience, techniuqe, and the like equal between a man alive in the 1450's and a man today (Soldiers) I would believe that fitness (It may be my definition of fitness to be training and conditioning) in and of itself is quite close to equal. The modern soldiers train daily in some regard. And so did the Medieval counterpart.

However I feel your quest for an answer is a bit deeper then just fitness. As has been mentioned in this topic and other topics, A fully trained man in the art of sword play can fall to a man without any traing at all with a sword. For the simple factor of chance and that the trained man cannot predict the incoming attack of the untrained man as he would be able to predict the incoming blow from a trained swordsman.

But the comparison of a pilot fighter and a man at arms and/or Knight, well lets just say I understand the quarry that you ponder.

First, there can be no definite answer. Second, its all about who you personally have favor to. Even against the the odds a man will put down money to bet for his home team rather then bet against them. In my opinion it is all about chance.

Fully Armoured, I would vest to say the Medieval Men at Arms/Knight would come out superior in a sword fight. As you know you can bash your sword against steel all day and not do much at all to the man underneath, It all comes down to the precision of half-swording and even then the fight has a high chance of ending in a grappling match involving daggers.

Unarmoured, Its any mans game.

The difference for me I guess, is that we today will never be better then those who fought in the past. These men fought to the death all for money. No matter the country, a Knight had to keep up his wealth in order to pay for all that encompasses the official title of Knight. People know-days are either forced to fight, or choose to fight for their country- and lets be honest the pay is not the best out there for the modern soldiers.

In other words, Men at arms qho fought under Knights of Nobility and Knights themselves did this for their livelihood this was their life. And every battle you survive is the more advance you become, they fought to the death every time (Unless they could use another knight for ransom)

And today re-enactors and people in HEMA dont fight to the death, they hold back to some degree, the Knights of old had no reason (except taking one for ransom) to hold back. They simply have the experience that we could never have with a sword.

The closest modern day counterpart would be a mercnary, but those dont give a flip about swords.

Experience and learning from such defines maturity, not a number of age
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