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Hugh Knight




Location: San Bernardino, CA
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Reading list: 34 books

Posts: 739

PostPosted: Fri 09 Mar, 2007 8:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Condon wrote:
Hugh, I have some doubts that the position you posted would be quite the most effective way of finishing someone off on the ground. I don't actually have any experience grappling in armour but I have trained and competed in wrestling, judo and BJJ for a number of years now and it would seem that the girl on top is in a very vunerable position for being reversed. People's neck muscles are actually quite strong and it would take a fair amount of effort to draw a resisting opponent's head up like that. During such an effort the guy on the ground could quite easily buck and come out the back, or grab a leg and overbalance the girl on top. With her weight so far up and her legs right next to his head/arms it would be quite easy to reverse the situation and end up with her on the bottom.

Now of course grappling in heavy equipment is not going to be quite the same but I would have thought it would be more effective for her to be straddling his lower back with all her bodyweight pressing into him thus keeping him pinned. From there she would be able to find a point to work the dagger in without being in a position to be reversed and pinned herself.


Hi Ben,

I wish I could tell you that "in my vast experience with Unterhalten I know you're wrong", but I can't. Our Schule doesn't actually do groundwork in armor in a competitive manner, these techniques are just too likely to lead to injury and to destroying our expensive armor (not that my new students on the west coast have any yet), so I don't have enough experience with someone actually doing this technique in a competitive environment to really answer you definitively.

All I can say is this: This is a real technique out of a real fighting manual, and unless the translation is completely flawed I'm pretty sure we're doing what Hundfeldt directed. On the other hand, I seem to be unique among WMA instructors in admitting that some of the techniques in these manuals are simply foolish, and this may be one of them, I don't know since I feel you can only judge those techniques you've practiced competitively. On the plus side, however, if you sit down hard on someone that's going to get you at least a moment in which to act, and as for picking up the head, remember that what this picture doesn't show is that she's supposed to be picking his head up by the visor of his helmet--that gives you a lot more leverage to overcome the neck muscles.

Finally, this is only one of the techniques in our arsenal for this sort of situation--I actually picked it more or less at random. There is another version of this play, for example, in which you do fall on your opponent's lower back; that version is taught both in the von Danzig Fechtbuch and in Gladiatoria. I don't have a picture of my students doing it, but I'll attach one here.

Thank you for your input into this technique.



 Attachment: 86.52 KB
Glad 116.jpg


Regards,
Hugh
www.schlachtschule.org
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Ben C.





Joined: 01 Dec 2006

Posts: 65

PostPosted: Fri 09 Mar, 2007 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hugh, I meant no offense with my post. My grappling knowledge is limited to my competition experience and 18th-21st century styles as well as grappling from the greek/roman eras. Therefore I'm sure you would know more accurately about the grappling techniques of these periods. I'm just a big grappling fan and enjoy discussing the finer points of techniques.

The 2nd picture you posted was what I imagined would be a more effective position. In regards to your first picture, are you sure the manual says to have your feet placed in front of the opponents arms while squatting down? There is a similar old style pin where you squat down behind the opponents arms and pin his shoulders beneath your knees. I'm not a fan of this technique though as a stronger or bigger opponent can easily buck you off and escape but if you factor in the combined weights of the armour it would probably be a lot more effective.

Of course like you said there more than a fair few ineffective techniques in every style, even heavily modernized styles like judo and muay thai. Therefore there is every possibility that you are practising it as intended.
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Hugh Knight




Location: San Bernardino, CA
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Reading list: 34 books

Posts: 739

PostPosted: Fri 09 Mar, 2007 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Condon wrote:
Hugh, I meant no offense with my post. My grappling knowledge is limited to my competition experience and 18th-21st century styles as well as grappling from the greek/roman eras. Therefore I'm sure you would know more accurately about the grappling techniques of these periods. I'm just a big grappling fan and enjoy discussing the finer points of techniques.


Hi Ben,

I assure you, I took no offense from your question. I thought it was politely worded and indicative of a genuine interest in the subject, not at all the usual "that there stuff's stoopid" I usually get, believe me. I, too, have a great interest in grappling both because of its importance in der Kunst des Fechtens and because I come from a Ju-jutsu background (but way back in the dark ages when Ju-jutsu used to be Japanaese).

Quote:
The 2nd picture you posted was what I imagined would be a more effective position. In regards to your first picture, are you sure the manual says to have your feet placed in front of the opponents arms while squatting down? There is a similar old style pin where you squat down behind the opponents arms and pin his shoulders beneath your knees. I'm not a fan of this technique though as a stronger or bigger opponent can easily buck you off and escape but if you factor in the combined weights of the armour it would probably be a lot more effective.


You raise a good possibility because the text is vague. Here's the actual text: "Note: when he lays on his belly then sit on him and step over his arm and break it. Note: sit straddling on his shoulder and pull his head upward." These two sentences are shoved together like that in the original text and I take them to be an "either/or" sort of thing; Fechtbücher often do that. You see it says "his shoulder" not "shoulders? This lead me to some confusion sicne you can't lift the head to much effect when straddling just one shoulder, but I finally decided it should have been plural and ended up with the interpretation you saw. There may be something in what you say, however, since here's a picture from the Paulus Kal Fechtbuch in which he's sitting back behind the shoulders:
http://www.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb0000...;seite=195
I've been reconsidering this play for months, ever since I saw that picture, even though it shows up in his unarmored plays.

Quote:
Of course like you said there more than a fair few ineffective techniques in every style, even heavily modernized styles like judo and muay thai. Therefore there is every possibility that you are practising it as intended.


Interpreting medieval Fechtbücher is really difficult. Some people go at it far too credulously, assuming that medieval masters were godlike masters of combat who never erred and never exaggerated, completely ignoring all the nonsense in martial arts books today even though critical review is so much more prevelant. Others go at it not credulously enough, assuming the wildly inaccurate things they "learned" from their own efforts at reenactment combat with ridiculously inaccurate gear gives them a basis for there judgements (or worse, that they can interpret armored combat when they've never even *fought* in armor!). Finding the balance is tough, especially when you might just have a bad translation, be taking something out of context or simply not have enough information--all of which are pretty common. My interpretations have changed drastically since I started practicing this stuff more than ten years ago, and I know they're going to change some more (hopefully mostly in fine detail stuff at this point, but I wouldn't guarantee it!).

Thank you for bringing this issue up, it's a perfectly valid question and a reasonable argument; I *think* my take is right, but I can't be sure--you saw how vague the instructions are. I have to admit I don't work through the Unterhalten material as carefully or as critically as I do other things simply because we can't practice these in armor correctly and practicing them out of armor is sort of pointless. I'm in the process of finishing up my Dagger and Armored Grappling book right now, however, and I think maybe I should go back through all the Unterhalten once again...

Regards,
Hugh
www.schlachtschule.org
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