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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Oct, 2012 9:13 pm    Post subject: Bouting artifacts from removing the head target         Reply with quote

I've been re-reading Michael Edelson's article on bouting artifacts in longsword fencing, and now I can't help wondering about what kind of artifacts would be introduced in a bouting/sparring system where the head is not regarded as a legal target--or, on a parallel track of thought, what a viable form of sport swordsmanship in its own right would look like if it did not allow head hits. My first thought is that the primary target would shift to the hands and we would see more people taking the measure from the opponent's hands rather than the body, since the fear that a stop-cut to the hands might not be able to completely halt an incoming cut to the head seems to be an important factor in discouraging an obsessive focus on the hands. Leg cuts, too, would become much more powerful in the absence of Überlauffen, and I'm curious about how they'd be defended against when threatening the head is not a viable option. A stop-hit to the hands again? Body thrusts? Or just a plain old block?

Naturally, there'd be a push to remove the hands from the list of legal target areas in order to encourage greater "variety" in targeting, but what kind of further weirdness would this introduce? Or would it merely move the favoured target a couple of inches up to the forearms?

Not very useful in the context of serious martial studies, I know. But it might be a fun issue to discuss.
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Brian Robson





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PostPosted: Sat 13 Oct, 2012 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many English steel re-enactment styles ban head shots and also hands and forearms. The result is a style where the combatants often lead with the head in their efforts to get more reach to strike at the legs which do become a primary target this is especially true in shield combat as it means that the shield can simply be held still and cover every valid target except the legs. You then end up with both blades going low all of the time, which I expect is as far from realistic as you can get.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2012 2:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm. So the higher prevalence of leg strikes is rather unavoidable when head hits are banned, especially when the hands are off the target list as well. I wonder if the people using such systems have developed any particularly effective way of defending the legs (apart from armouring it), or if they simply take the leg-whacks for granted?
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Kalle Kylmänen





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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2012 5:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On attacking the legs while using shields, here's a tidbit:
Quote:
The rotella is more stationary than the smaller side-arms, but in exchange it offers more protection. It effectively shuts out the primary line of attack (that of a diagonal descending cut from the right, a mandritto sgualembro) but leaves the feet exposed. A notable part of the material focuses on leg cuts, even as far as to describe feint-parry sequences only targeting the legs.
http://marozzo.com/2012/09/18/the-purposes-of-the-rotella/

imho banning headshots is not very productive. If the ban is motivated by safety reasons it can become useless as people start to use their head to block. A lot of techniques and cuts are aimed at the head or it's close vicinity in the way I have been taught german longsword. If counting 5 meisterhaus, 2 (krump, schielhau) can be/are aimed at hands and 2 (zwerchau, scheitelhau) at the head. If the hands would not be a valid target either it *could* result in people tryin to wind past the sword and hands to get a hit on the torso. I can imagine to blokes in langenort reaching as forward as they can doing something closer to rapier play.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Wed 17 Oct, 2012 7:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have been taking part in reenactor-type live-steel combat with a group that does not allow head shots or count hand or forearm shots. Depending on the combination of weapons used, I usually find I have 2 recourses. When using shields and swords or axes I usually have to stuff my opponent up close to tie them up and attack either the back or back of the legs. With shields and spears I usually have to drop my spear and do the same as above with my seax. The alternative is to use a two-handed spear to constantly attack until I am able to open them up for a body thrust. Neither of these gives a good impression of real period combat, which is why I encourage my fellow members to give sparring with fencing masks and full body target a try to get a better taste of what real combat would be like.
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Oct, 2012 8:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually, for some periods I don't thinks its that far off from reality. For much of the Migration and Early Medieval, the most likely area to have armour would have been the head. So its stands to reason that if a man in unarmoured except for a helm, you're not gonna target the head.
A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Wed 17 Oct, 2012 10:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is quite true, especially when it is axes or swords. Still, the neck and face would have been the main targets in real combat (especially with spears,) as faceguards and mail coifs were rare or unknown in the periods you mentioned. One thing that I have noticed is that as we have gotten more adept at using our shields hand and forearm strikes have gotten much more rare.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Oct, 2012 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Safe or sane bouting will always have artifacts, but some rules can make things much less realistic.

There is also an honest attitude in acknowledging hits and a big difference between bouting to learn what works, or might work, validity of interpretations, trying to use techniques in bouts rather than flailing away hoping for a lucky hit.

Competition for competition's sake also produced the artifact of " gaming " the rules and winning on points doing things that would have killed you in a real fight, taking wild risks one would think twice about if being faced by a sharp !

But technical issues aside, special rules aside, the main difference is one of intent(s) in a real life and death fight:

A) Your goal and focus and intent is to kill, maim or at least win the fight: Your last/least concern is the health of your opponent as opposed to the respect due to a training partner or a " sports " competitor.

B) Without being craven and being afraid to fight, and take chances, your first priority is to not yourself be wounded, killed or merely defeated. ( if ransom was the goal even in a real fight a fighter might show some restraint as long as one was winning or thought that one was winning Wink ).

C) The weapons are real, the danger is real and you have only one life and some limbs to lose and no " reset button " if you mess up ?

Seriously, how many bouts have even the best of us ever won in a row against even less skilled opponents? How many of us would survive 5 or 10 bouts without a scratch if the fights where real.

So, I think that the mind set of a real fight, the actual dangers, and the skills/nerves/courage needed to survive even one serious bout, with an equally skilled opponent, would make a fight a much slower, thoughtful, tactical and careful thing at least in the approach when out of measure with a lot of testing and measuring up the opponent.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Oct, 2012 8:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, dunno. Fighting without head targets might develop skills that could come in handy if one has to fight a blemmy, or if conventional wisdom is wrong and zombies don't stop when their heads are taken off....
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 16 Nov, 2012 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the subject of defending against leg attacks in the absence of an easy counterattack to the head, what about leaping over the leg cut? I know the weaknesses are obvious; a good attacker would simply cut higher so that there's no way to leap over it quickly enough without rendering yourself too vulnerable to some other attack, and in any case the time it takes to recover after landing would also slow down any subsequent counterattack (assuming none is delivered in conjunction with the leap itself). But are there situations where it would make a bit more sense in unchoreographed sparring?
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Nov, 2012 1:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's supposed to work against attacks to the foot and lower leg (we see it, and also just lifting the front foot) in Chinese arts.

But against thigh attacks?

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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