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  1. #1

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    Alive Training For Dead Martial Arts

    I'm about to go to sleep but wanted to throw my hat in with the new forum as soon as possible.

    My main area of HEMA study is Medieval European knightly "combatives": wrestling, Longsword, dagger...I keep meaning to find time for staff/spear. I'm particularly interested in Medieval grappling which was a primary component the historical arts.

    There is ample evidence of sportive wrestling throughout the medieval period but most of the historical literature deals with combat wrestling, including blows & standing-joint breaks.

    I've seen how far off from functional compliant arts become so I'm constantly trying to balance safety/aliveness with accurate understanding of historical techniques. It's fairly easy for me to understand the joint breaks because I know the range of motion a limb can cope with as a result of my BJJ training. The greater challenge is how to introduce the historical techniques effectively to non-grapplers without creating a "jiu-jitsu bias".

    I have my own thought & opinions, but as I said, I'm going to sleep now. Does anyone else have experience struggling between functional skill & historical accuracy, between modern training & historical style?
    Last edited by SBG-ape; 2/12/2009 12:17am at .

  2. #2
    DdlR's Avatar
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    Really, the same problem exists in almost every MA that isn't a pure sport (and obviously, even serious competitive styles have strict safety rules). The standard fix, of course, is to get your free-sparring and fencing as close to reality as is safely possible and to run pre-set drills for everything that's literally too dangerous to train alive.

    Since no-one knows exactly how Renaissance-era kampfringen fighters moved, we have no choice but to rely on the biomechanics of the techniques explained in the old treatises. Your BJJ background may well be sufficient to do that. As long as you stick as close to your sources as is practical, any "jujitsu bias" will probably fall within the margins of "acceptable accuracy" anyway; that will always be an individual judgment call.

    I eagerly await the day when kampfringen is properly integrated into longsword fencing within the modern HEMA community. IMO the main reasons why it hasn't been so far are that:

    * far too many HEMA folk are so weapon-centric that they almost instinctively shy away from close-quarters fighting, and especially falling

    * grappling and falling with longswords can present legitimate safety problems

    * many HEMA clubs don't use mats (re. the risk of damaging the mats with weapons)

    IMO all of these issues are soluble with the right training and a bit of lateral thinking.

  3. #3
    Merry Christmas! shitter's full... supporting member
    omoplatypus's Avatar
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    nothing to add, just subscribing.

    that, and thanks to everybody that got this subforum up and running. it's all been very interesting reading even though i know absolutly nothing about the topic.
    very educational stuff here. thanks!
    --------

    Quote Originally Posted by it is fake View Post
    yeah, normally i'd get a quote, but couldn't be bothered.

  4. #4
    1point2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBG-ape
    Does anyone else have experience struggling between functional skill & historical accuracy, between modern training & historical style?
    Would I be out of line in the WMA forum to suggest asking an American training in Okinawan karate with a focus on modern combat/self-defense needs? Chinese or Japanese would qualify too.

    Ddlr is of course correct that you spar as alive and as close to combat as possible, and do pair-training (as close to aliveness, as opposed to uke-tori, as possible) when you can't incorporate it into sparring.

    Turning dead paper texts into something combatively useful seems precisely similar, to me, as making the pre-1960 kata "text" (in the postmodern sense of the word) into something combatively useful.

  5. #5
    DdlR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1point2
    Would I be out of line in the WMA forum to suggest asking an American training in Okinawan karate with a focus on modern combat/self-defense needs? Chinese or Japanese would qualify too.

    Ddlr is of course correct that you spar as alive and as close to combat as possible, and do pair-training (as close to aliveness, as opposed to uke-tori, as possible) when you can't incorporate it into sparring.

    Turning dead paper texts into something combatively useful seems precisely similar, to me, as making the pre-1960 kata "text" (in the postmodern sense of the word) into something combatively useful.
    That's an interesting point. People in the HEMA community have been doing this for a while now and are probably the logical first points of reference, but the process of redacting formal kata into realistic combat training has much in common with HEMA "interpretation" of written/illustrated texts.

  6. #6
    1point2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DdlR
    That's an interesting point. People in the HEMA community have been doing this for a while now and are probably the logical first points of reference, but the process of redacting formal kata into realistic combat training has much in common with HEMA "interpretation" of written/illustrated texts.
    DerAus would throw a conniption fit if he saw this thread. Something about "proper transmission" and "reverse engineering."

    Basically, yeah, the Okinawan MA community had a lot of poor transmission from teacher to student. "Here's the kata movements...no need for bunkai...now go back to the USA." Seems like a similar project.

  7. #7
    DdlR's Avatar
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    In another sense, the fact that the historical Western masters wrote everything down (in truly painstaking detail, much of the time) might even make the task easier. HEMA reconstructors are used to pressure-testing ambiguities.

  8. #8
    Naszir's Avatar
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    As far as training with weapons and grappling, might I recommend a Dog Brothers style approach? If the weaponry is a concern on the mat, you can sacrifice accuracy of feel and handling for functionality. Maybe a modified lameco stick. I know it isn't optimal but it will allow for alive training. That might take the training into an as of this time neglected area.

  9. #9
    DdlR's Avatar
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    Over the past ten years, the HEMA community had devoted a lot of time, energy and money into coming up with weapon simulators for all sorts of specialties - wooden "wasters" for drilling, sharp steel replicas for test cutting, steel blades with enhanced flexibility for safer fencing, padded weapons and modified shinai for full-contact without full armor, etc. The latest trend is towards training weapons in various synthetic materials (carbon fiber, shatterproof plastic and so-on).

    Padded weapons and modified shinai can both be used without risking slashing up a mat; part of the problem (IMO) is that many groups are so wedded to particular types of training equipment that it creates a kind of bias against experimenting with other types. That limits what they can safely do in fencing and sparring, which is kind of a pity.

  10. #10
    1point2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DdlR
    part of the problem (IMO) is that many groups are so wedded to particular types of training equipment that it creates a kind of bias against experimenting with other types. That limits what they can safely do in fencing and sparring, which is kind of a pity.
    This is a problem with empty-handed martial arts too. Many sparring rulesets are so ingrained either in the community mindset, or the insurance and financial standards of a school/org, that changing is a herculean effort. I'm running into that right now with standardizing a better sparring ruleset.

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