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  1. SBG-ape is offline

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    Posted On:
    1/08/2012 2:22am


     Style: Jiu-jitsu & HEMA

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Aliveness in Western Martial arts???

    There seems to be an emerging division in the HEMA community between those groups that compete & those who do not. That much is easy to see. What I think is harder to measure, but more significantis the difference between groups with competitive training methods & those without. Competitions are a useful way of gauging a group relative to the larger community, but whether a group competes or not is ultimately less significant to me that how they train…



    You know what, I was going to try & be tactful &scholarly about this, but it’s a sore spot for me & my annoyance isoverpowering my tact: I know that there are groups out there studying medieval & renaissance martial arts who don’t train in an Alive manner. There are groups that practice compliant techniques & then spar because they don’t know how to structure live drills or don’t understand the importance of that stage of training. I think such methods are less then optimal, but at least they’re sparring. Then there are groups that don’t even spar or spar at such low levels of intensity that they may as well be doing a compliant form (this seems particularly prevalent with fencing groups dabbling in kampfringen). I have nothing, but contempt for such methods.



    In my more charitable moments I reflect that, lacking a living lineage of instruction, it may be that such groups train as they do out of ignorance. Maybe they just don’t know how to train in an Alive manner. Then I look at the 19th century antagonistics groups.



    This guy

    taught a Bartitsu seminar in my town & actually said, without sarcasm or embarrassment, that his group never spars because bartitsu is for the street. If there’s one thing I think every Bullshido member tends to agree on it’sthat the “too deadly to spar”/“we train for the street” thing is reprehensible nonsense & typically used by people who can’t fight to shield their egos & deceive potential customers.



    Then I looked at the website of The Barton-Wright/AlfredHutton Alliance for Historically Accurate Hoplology & Antagonistics, a group I desperately want to like because they may have the best WMA name ever invented (BWAHAHAHA). I saw things like For practicing savate, hard-soled shoes with a bit ofstructure are recommended.” Which makes me seriously doubt that they spar, followed by “We do practice the postures and movements of old-school, bare-knuckle pugilism, largely as a conditioning exercise.” Which makes me pretty certain that they don’t spar, or do many/any alive drills.



    This boggles my mind. LPR boxing was a sport, boxing is a sport, Savate was & is a sport, Jiu-jitsu was a sport, Judo & Brazilian Jiu-jitsu are sports, sabre fencing/single stick/la canne all sports! Why are the people attempting to rediscover/recreate/integrate them seemingly in the dark when it comes to sportive training methods? It’s appalling.



    So, I decided to post this for 2 reasons:



    First of all, could someone please point me toward evidence of somebody practicing 19th century WMA with a level of intensity & a quality of training methodology that won’t make me want to cry.



    Second, like in the YMAS “Do you still trainregularly” thread, I’d like to hear about what people on this forum are training & how. What historical material do you study? How often do you train? How often does your training include sparring? How much of your training includes drills/games against a somewhat unpredictable & fully resisting opponent (what Matt Thornton would call alive drills or the isolation phase)?



    I’ll start. I train KDF material, mainly working from Ringeck, Ott & the Codex Wallenstein. My group focuses on Longsword, Ringen,Kampfringen & the use of the rondel dagger. I train HEMA for one, 3-hour session each week. This includes a 20 minute warm-up, followed by at least an hour of longsword training. The majority (upwards of 40 minutes out of 60) of that training time is spent practicing live drills. After that, at least an hour is spent on Ringen/kampfringen or rondel work. Again, the majority of the time is spent in isolation drills to practice specific skills against resisting opponents. The session ends with sparring.
  2. Petter is offline

    12th level logic wielder

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    Posted On:
    1/08/2012 3:59am


     Style: BJJ, judo, rapier

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by SBG-ape View Post
    This guy

    taught a Bartitsu seminar in my town & actually said, without sarcasm or embarrassment, that his group never spars because bartitsu is for the street.
    Which is ironic, because I’ve been in his bartitsu classes and I’ve sparred with him!

    Sadly, though, it’s the sort of thing he might perhaps say. (Nice guy, but sometimes he opined on “going to the ground”…) I stopped going to those classes partly because sparring was far too infrequent—the occasional cane-fencing with padded sticks, purring-type training of low kicks, but only once in the months I went was there full-range sparring (i.e. cane, hand, and foot strikes allowed plus takedowns). Much too rare; and the classes ended up over-theoretical as a result.

    Guy has a Wing Chun background, by the way…

    So, I decided to post this for 2 reasons:

    First of all, could someone please point me toward evidence of somebody practicing 19th century WMA with a level of intensity & a quality of training methodology that won’t make me want to cry.

    Second, like in the YMAS “Do you still trainregularly” thread, I’d like to hear about what people on this forum are training & how.
    Well, since for aforementioned reasons I no longer attend bartitsu classes I don’t do 19th century WMA, but I still go to Academie Duello and practice in their regular programs, which cover rapier with or without dagger, sidesword with buckler, and longsword. (Other weapons, like staff and polearms, are sometimes taught, and senior students work with unorthodox combinations like sword and cloak, or two swords, &c.; but these are not really emphasised like the big three aforementioned. There’s also some unarmed stuff—see my school review for that.) The core weapon for the curriculum is the rapier, based on Capoferro. The longsword program is based on Fiore, and sidesword…embarrassingly, I forget.

    Aliveness is pursued, though it varies a bit with the weapon. Rapier training builds from basic technique via solo and compliant drills to combative drills and freeplay, and typically every class will have it. (The classes I attend usually break down as 10–15 minutes warmup, an hour of techniques and drills, half an hour freeplay, give or take, interspersed with water breaks to make two hours.) Fridays there’s an open floor with lots of freeplay. Advancement in the ranking system, after a certain point, requires success in freeplay (e.g. to achieve the third rank, red cord, students have to do a meat grinder type of exercise facing fresh partners for every pass, for 4×10 minutes, and win at least 50% of their bouts; next rank they have to win more, &c.). With the rapier, aliveness is…alive and well.

    The other weapons are trickier because students are required to wear proper armour to spar with sidesword or longsword—rigid protection of hands, arms, chest, and knees. Some people make their own leather armour in workshops; some cobble together lacross gear; most students don’t have armour and so never do freeplay at speed with the heavy weapons. I’ve seen some good bouts with sidesword and longsword, mind, with plenty of speed and intent; it’s just that relatively few of the students ever do it. (I haven’t; I don’t have armour.) The components leading up to freeplay in the aliveness scale are all there, from technique via drilling and pressure drills like driveback (i.e. agente attacks with all descending cuts, patiente parries while retreating). Make of this what you will. If you accept the decisions to (1) use only steel weapons (no boffers…) and (2) requiring the use of armour, I think it’s about the best they can do.

    Sadly, I can’t find a video with just sparring, but if you search for Academie Duello on YouTube you’ll see brief snippets in some of the promo vids. Someone really ought to make a montage with footage from internal tournaments and such, at least…
    [ petterhaggholm.net | blog | essays ]
    [ self defence: general thoughts | bjj: “don’t go to the ground”? ]
    “The plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data.”
  3. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    1/08/2012 10:48am

    supporting member
     Style: Bartitsu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    There are now about 20 Bartitsu clubs and study groups around the world, the majority less than a year old. Most of them are run by people who have considerable cross-training experience in a range of styles, but are largely attended by MA beginners. I don't think there's ever been a survey re. sparring, but still, it would be a mistake to extrapolate experience with any one club into a commentary on the activity as a whole; every club and study group is completely autonomous. Overall, the market for commercial, recreational 19th c. antagonistics is still largely untested beyond informal backyard groups and seminar intensives.

    The Bartitsu School of Arms conference in London (August of last year) was the first time international Bartitsu practitioners had ever gathered to meet and train, and included some stick sparring and submission grappling but not kickboxing. The latter was vetoed by the insurance company, which was nervous about an unfortunate case in which a kickboxing competitor had died in the ring.

    BWAHAHAHA (yes, best name ever) are a subset of the Lonin historical fencing group, which does longsword sparring and now has all the requisite protective gear to start full contact stick fighting as well. They have only recently (past five months or so) formalized their antagonistics program to the point where they can offer regular classes. Given another year, they may feel ready to start sparring in those styles; they're very conscious of getting the historically accurate basics and conditioning down first.

    The Academie Duello Bartitsu group was founded in August of 2010, which actually makes it one of the first clubs to offer ongoing training, as opposed to occasional seminars; the practical revival as a whole is still very new. As Petter notes, they do spar; I don't know whether they're planning on increasing the frequency/intensity of their sparring practice as their "student demographic" gets more experienced.

    FWIW, plans are for the Chicago Bartitsu club (kicking off with a seminar on the 22nd of this month) to work up to full contact sparring, provided that it prospers beyond the six week introductory course. Friday nights will be open mat/fight nights.
    Last edited by DdlR; 1/08/2012 11:16am at .
  4. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    1/09/2012 11:45am

    supporting member
     Style: Bartitsu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Following up a bit on this, I posted a general "do you spar, if so how hard/often/etc." question to the Bartitsu message board. Six responses so far, all representing different clubs.

    One instructor answered "no" regarding his intro. seminars, citing the risks of allowing seminar students to spar and equipment issues. All the others (who offer regular, ongoing courses) said "yes"; medium contact kickboxing using protective gear is the most common form of sparring, some allowing judo throws during the sparring as well, one only offering jujitsu style randori until all his students have bought enough safety gear to allow for relatively safe kickboxing and stick fighting.
  5. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    1/09/2012 12:52pm


     Style: Bowie

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I haven't posted yet on the Bartitsu forum, but same here. No sparring at Seminars but in regular class, yeah, we spar with medium contact and safety gear but only when I think the student is ready for it. Some students are ready quicker than others and it's usually more based on their emotional readiness instead of their physical ability.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  6. MikeRC is offline

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    Posted On:
    1/09/2012 2:49pm


     Style: Arnis Kali

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Since the groups I learned with were all ex/current SCAdians, as well as previous, old school martial artists, the emphasis was constantly on testing by doing.
    Hard contact was the norm, as was a constant experimentation as to how to interpret the fight books through rough and tumble methods.
    When I was teaching regularly, padded wasters, 3-weapon helmets, padded armor were the daily norm, as was contact for fisticuffs and wrestling, either using no pads and control, or varying degrees of protective equipment and "gentleman's rules".
  7. Spungdeeper is offline

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    Posted On:
    1/12/2012 12:09am


     Style: HEMA, Judo, Bjj

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    We are also a KDF group focusing on Longsword, Ringen and Dussack. Our sources are Dobringer, Danzig, Ringeck, Goliath, Ott (recently), Wallerstein, Von Auerswald, Leckuchner, Meyer, and I really like Das Buch von Fussringen http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Ringkunst.

    We train twice a week. Two hours on Wednesdays, 3 hours on Saturdays, and the tournament team trains an extra hour on Saturdays. Nearly every class runs a half hour over. I wish we could have class everyday.

    We usually get an hour of longsword and an hour of Ringen in. Each with 15 to 30 minutes of sparring depending on the time schedule, sometimes more sometimes less. We just started Dussack, but we have plenty of isolation and sparring plan for those training it.

    We uses the three I's and use isolation drills for the KDF stucke every class. We study the longsword stucke sequentially, ringen is a little more eclectic with Ott forming the bones and Von Auerswald and Wallerstein adding muscle and sinew. Next year I am hoping to delve into some Petter, but its a little late for my tastes. We'll see.

    Recently we've separated the longsword and ringen into formal classes, however it is understood that during longsword sparring ringen am schwert techniques will happen, and ringen is required for everyone in the curriculum in order to advance.
  8. captain zorikh is offline

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    Posted On:
    1/15/2012 2:32am


     Style: bjj, sca, armored combat

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    In the local (NYC-area) SCA there are at least two, sometimes three practices a week that fighters can get to, if they have a car or a ride and the time, and most active fighters get to at least one. The practices are mostly full-speed, full-contact sparring, with varying amounts of technique training depending on the fighters present and their particular needs.

    I also go to East Coast United BJJ once a week, where about half the class is for learning and drilling techniques, and half the class for free rolling (starting on the ground).

    Before my work schedule changed, I would also go to Twin Towers Wrestling Club, which allows both pin and submission wrestling, and is mostly live sparring, with some individuals choosing to work on technique.

    As far as the principle of "aliveness" goes, I think it is a valuable part of training, but should not exclude co-operative drilling. While you're hypothetical opponent will be fighting back, if you never get the chance to learn the move, you will never be able to do the move. So learn the move first, then drill it, then fight with it (this opinion is open to consideration based on future evidence).
  9. GenericUnique is offline

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    Posted On:
    1/15/2012 9:34am


     Style: WMA Lichtenauer Longsword

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    First of all, let's just link to The Aliveness 101 Blog and Matt Thornton videos on What Aliveness is and Why it's so important. Just so people get the idea.

    I've given kudos for this thread, and I'll give it again in a minute. A massive amount of the HEMA training I've done has failed at using the principles of aliveness to train well. When you're working from historical manuals, you're absolutely justified in beginning with dead, choreographed techniques or set piece plays (for example, the stuch-bruch-stuch-bruch flows of many pieces in Lichtenauer manuals). What's necessary, though, and which I think many instructors don't follow through on enough, is:
    a) understanding, and getting through to students, why the technique works. I like the position -> posture -> pressure -> potential model that Thornton uses for grappling, especially in bindwork. Alive teaching is a great way to show how without intent and alive resistance there is no opportunity for a technique to be used.
    b) training with varied levels of resistance. A lot of the training I've done has tried to leap straight from dead choreography (what Thornton might call the beginnings of "Introduction" of the technique") to full sparring (highly Integrated, in Thornton's terminology) without travelling through the spectrum of isolated and integrated alive training. The results are... unspectacular, and personally disappointing.
    c) having access, as a coach or instructor, to a wide enough array of forms of drilling and training. This often seems to be the case when I look over, as an example, the HEMAAlliance Drills thread. It's a great resource, but a lot of the offerings are at the highly dead end of the spectrum, possibly because many HEMA instructors have either minimal MA backgrounds or minimal alive MA backgrounds, and perhaps not enough obsessive how-to-train better reading habits.

    Now, for bonus points, let's discuss the inherent problem in training HEMA as a preparation for an impossible-to-do swordfight with sharps to the death. We're stuck in the triangulation between resistance and simulation, between dancing with sharps and combat sport with padded sticks and masks, and I'm always acutely aware that I wouldn't be happy with either extreme.
  10. blossfechter is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/09/2012 4:59pm


     Style: German Longsword, HEMA

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    My school primarily focuses on Meyer (KDF). For the last year, I've mainly been teaching only longsword to my students. Our school practices Tuesdays (two hours) and Sundays (noon till 10, usually). My assistant instructor and I meet Mon and Wed for additional studying, class prep, and sparring.

    My Tuesday classes are split into theory explanation/cooperative drills/knowledge building for the first 45 minutes, uncooperative drilling for the next 30-45 minutes, and sparring until the end. Sometimes we don't follow that model and leave out one or two sections. Although it's very rare that we don't spar at all. We have two types of sparring: sparring and bouting. The sparring is not judged so students aren't concentrating on winning but getting techniques to work better under open-format uncooperative enviroment. The bouting is judged by at least three judges (we practice judging a lot this way). All bouting results are kept on record so the student can see how many doubles, after blows, clean hits, etc they experience. This last part has changed a number of things in the attitude towards bouting.

    The results from my students had have been pretty good on the local scene, and we'll find out how we do at Fechtschule America here soon!

    Overall, I'd say we fight on the more intense side of most schools and more often. We've never had any bad injuries though. Although, there were a few incidents before I started requiring cups...
    Last edited by blossfechter; 2/09/2012 5:36pm at .
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