i wouldn't do that if i where you.
Originally Posted by kwan_dao
first of all, Haitian Creole is not French.
it is, of course, more like a dialect of French but its a really weird one if you think of it as such. it would take weeks of immersion for a French speaker to understand the dialect, and much longer to understand the cultural differences that would make conversation easy.
for instance I'm a black guy but i was called a white man my entire stay in Haiti. i took offense at first but weeks later i understood that all foreigners are called white.
secondly, many Haitians see Americans as rich, period.
your walk, your skin, your accent, your smell, all of that would signal you as a potential source of income.
many American has come to Haiti looking for spiritual guidance from a practitioner of voodoo. only to realize that they can't find one through the glut of con-men and women trying to separate you from your money.
i suspect it would be the same with "teachers of blades" or "teachers of sticks"
there's no use trying to tell them "I'm not rich". the exchange rate will bounce from something like one us dollar = 20~50 Haitian guod.
you will consistently have to pay bribes, your luggage has been lost, give a dollar its magically found.
every child you ever see in the whole damned country will ask for a dollar and their so poor you'll probably give it to them.
don't get too drunk at that party if you don't know how to get back where you belong. you could easily walk into the wrong neighborhood and find yourself face to face with....you guessed it "machete wielding thugs" or worse yet Haitian police who have a secret hatred for "white people" who think they can do what ever they want, and these guy carry ak47's.
Haiti is one of the most fun places in the whole damn world, parties happen at the drop of a hat. beaches are like sugar, the mountains are full of waterfalls, you can live like a king for months off a few hundred dollars.
but you need family there (like i had) or someone to guild you through, so you won't fall into dangers that are culturally obvious to everyone but you.
the movements that they were doing in those vids look very similar to the "stick playing" (more like "switches" really.) my cousins would do, only they would hit each others arms, heads and legs (and me!...the bums.) much faster in practice.
i hope this guy will become good enough to open a school in the states as going to Haiti will probably do more harm than good right now.
Last edited by mr.thraz; 7/01/2010 7:59am at .
Reason: additional statements
I can say for certain that a good majority of the haitian population speaks both creole and french. creole is for the streets, french is the language used in schools.
in regards to the machete usage. as a Haitian i can say this. Haitian:Machete as Samurai:Katana. During the early slave revolts, conventional firearms were not readily avaible to slaves. Instead they had their yard tools. Even today men clash using machete's as guns are expensive and not readily accessible.
Last edited by BaboonKing; 7/01/2010 9:02am at .
Originally Posted by BaboonKing
well, French is taught in school and spoken by the upper class, problem is the upper class is really small. and only they can afford to send there children and maybe the children of there servants to school.
really, when speaking to the average Haitian you'll be listening to a very aficanized form of French. you, like me, being Haitian can understand it.
but your avrage Frenchmen would find it difficult to begin with.
If I might suggest, an interesting essay on the African influence on martial arts in the Americas is "Surviving the Middle Passage: Traditional African Martial Arts in the Americas`, by Tomas Green. It`s included in the very interesting set of essays compiled as `Martial Arts in the Modern World`, by Thomas Green and Joseph Svinth (Thomas Green is an anthropologist by training).
It refers to two Haitian stickfighting traditions, masondi and maculele (the latter of which was referenced earlier in the thread ...)
It`s not a long piece and while I`d recommend the book in its totality, if you`re only interested in this particular topic, you might be better off checking it out at the library.
I'm glad to see that this thread has been active. I stopped checking sometime last year... Sorry if anyone's tried to look at my website (http://culturalcapitalhaiti.org), which has been in shambles since last February, when it got erased because I let my domain name expire while I was in Haiti doing earthquake relief. It's back up but the content is minimal... No excuse for that, other than that I am a graduate student now and pretty much everything other than getting ready for this has been taking a back seat in my life since I got back from Haiti. I am happy to see the calls for support. It is difficult to convey the devastation, but also the degree to which life goes on in Haiti, though the conditions of the internally displaced remain extreme. The two aid organizations I work with down there, SOIL (http://www.oursoil.org) and Mother Health International (http://motherhealthinternational.org/) are both small, tight outfits getting **** done where others have failed. So if you are into giving to Haiti, your money will go far with them. I am hoping that I will be in a financial situation next summer that allows me to come to Haiti to train and possibly lead a program, but we'll see. Any serious inquiries are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
kwan_dao: I don't know what to say about your doubts, other than I will try to do a better job of documenting the art the next chance I get. Everyone in Haiti believes in it strongly. And for what it's worth, I did passably well sparring full on with some Dog Brothers-style fighters while training at Alive MMA in Portland, Oregon during this past spring and summer. The best fighters could certainly own me, but I was fighting at what you could call an advanced beginner level, the same level I feel I am at in my teacher's system. As to your comment about not seeing Haitian military carrying machetes into battle in 1991, that's because it was (while the Haitian military still existed) used for drills, much the same way as modern Marines drill with the sword, and all branches do parading drills, as a way of breaking the recruit into the service and hardening them up, only in Haiti it also had a spiritual meaning as a legacy of the Haitian Revolution. This is according to my teacher, Professor Avril. The drills took the form you see in my videos, with one person attacking and the other defending, hand kept behind the back, at least for beginners. I've gotten comments on various forums that have corroborated that what takes place in these videos is representative of the way cutlass and saber were trained circa 1800 (most authoritatively in conversation with this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_M._Rodell). See also the texts sited below.
Eleblood88: I thought those fees were pretty reasonable... The idea was to charge students costs plus a small fee for Professor Avril's services. $100 a week is, I think, a moderate fee to pay him: enough to be a minor windfall for a subsistence farmer, but also a bargain for a First-Worlder getting 15-20 hours of a skilled person's attention. With regard to other expenses, yeah, it is possible to live in Haiti on very little money if you don't need a lot of comforts, but a cooked meal with a nice piece of chicken in it can be comparable in price to one in the US, ditto for hotels with things like flush toilets. Staying in a shack in the hills is an option, but would be really uncomfortable for most foreigners as well as awkward in ways that it might be hard to imagine if you've never been to a country as poor as Haiti. What I can offer right now to anyone interested in training with Professor Avril is this: write to me letting me know about your interest and experience, and give me a few weeks notice to arrange a car and driver to pick you up at the Port-au-Prince airport to take you to Jacmel, or alternately you can just come to Haiti on your own and catch a taxi (or "tap tap" bus if you think you can swing it) down to Jacmel. You can either stay with Reginald Turnier, my partner in this project (he is also Administrative Director of Mother Health International, a birthing clinic that delivers about one baby per day plus gives all sorts or pre- and post-natal care, so be aware that he probably won't have a ton of time), at his inexpensive hotel or get a room at one of the fancier hoetls in town (or try to find something even cheaper on your own). Reginald can arrange motorcycle rides for you up to Professor Avril's house in the hills (about a 20 minute ride away, costing about $2), and you can negotiate what you think is fair to pay the Professor, though, again, I suggest that $100/week is fair.
blossfechter: "someone that can dance confidently and quickly with blade contact probably has a hand up on someone that doesn't do anything other than hack."... That's my teacher's system in a nutshell.
mr.thraz: I have had many similar experiences. Since the quake, Haiti can feel even more bleak, but there is a very widespread feeling that foreigners are a positive presence (there was, at least, when I was there in January-February, and my friends still on the ground there say it's still largely the case). I don't think many people in Haiti would think it inappropriate to come to Haiti to learn from them a piece of the cultural tradition. In fact, tiré machet is something that unites rich and poor alike. Almost everyone respects it. And everyone that I've spoken to about it in Haiti can separate in their minds the martial art from the random or political violence, just as anyone familiar with cage fighting in the US understands that it does not promote violence outside the ring, but rather channels our natural aggression in a positive direction. So I disagree that coming to Haiti to train in machete combat does more harm than good. I don't see the harm at all, and if you come check us out I think you will agree.
Craig Jenkins: Thanks for the book reference. Another good source is: "Fighting for Honor: the History of African Martial Traditions in the Atlantic World" by M. Thomas J. Desch-Obi. You can find an excerpt on the Haitian tradition by going to http://books.google.com and searching "Haitian machete fighting". The same author has a paper on the subject that you can download as a .pdf at http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/redalyc/pdf...5512905010.pdf.
Mike (aka generalrelative)
Last edited by generalrelative; 9/21/2010 5:05pm at .