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  • #46
    Originally posted by nodachi
    If you are worried about losing a finger here or there, then your technique will be crappy.
    In understand where you're coming from Nodachi, but this is not true as an absolute statement. Plenty of martial arts and modern fencing are concerned about receiving an 'incapacitating' injury (that would be enough to 'win' in modern fencing). Certainly the all out attack works in some systems, but it is not the way of all martial arts systems, and you have to acknowledge that. For example, in the Liechtenauer (German) medieval tradition they tend to seek the offensive/initiative, or 'vor', at all times, whereas in our system it is prescribed sometimes to be defensive so that you may 'lay a trap' to launch a counterattack. It's not easy to launch a successful counterattack if the attacker has just partially severed one of your hands .

    Regards,
    Matt

    Comment


    • #47
      Originally posted by Neil Gendzwill
      There are several factors behind what you see. First is that kendo matches are not stopped unless there is a point or a penalty. In an FIE fencing match there is an exchange, lights go off, the president sorts out whether someone scored or not, and then they reset and try again. I saw a similar attitude in your video, where the players visibly reset after each exchange, whether anyone made anything of it or not. If you watch a kendo match from that perspective, just thinking that whenever there is action and then they seperate, from there it is a whole new mini-fight, then you will see the similarity.

      Second, the rule is that the hit must be cleanly in, so if there is a simultaneous hit or if the opponents sword is on your body, you don't score. So to score you need to avoid losing those fingers as you point out.

      Finally, there is the Japanese attitude, quite different from the western one, where the aim is not to survive, but to kill the opponent. Surviving is good, but the first goal is to kill the opponent. Therefore we teach a very aggressive, always forward, throw everything you've got into each attack style. It's a fundamental difference in perspective.
      Thanks for clearing that up Neil. It all makes sense, and I think reinforced why it's not really fair to criticise what we do through kendo concepts. Though it is fair to criticise lack of coordination and that ciritcism is taken on board .

      Cheers,
      Matt

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by Ignatz
        But when you start thinking and talking in terms of "real" perhaps you should consider therapy. It's a game and so is kendo and so are all the other "martial arts".
        Well, yes and no. I understand that, yes, we aren't out to kill one another and it is all a bit of recreational fun and games. However, our endevour is to try and interpret what these occasionally intractible manuscripts are actually saying.

        To do this we must try and at least imagine that the exchanges we engage in would result in serious injury, otherwise we can once more misinterpret the manuscript. For example, in 15th Century Europe risking a small injury to lay a large one upon your opponent may still kill you a few weeks later. The repertoire descibed must be designed to avoid playing such odds - perhaps explaining all the defensive endevour that you see.

        So, we find ourselves often musing about what would constitute 'real', and as a result must resort to a wide range in training techniques to try and approximate it.

        But, yes, perhaps therapy might be a good idea all the same.

        Comment


        • #49
          Originally posted by Rurouni Kenshin
          Exactamundo............. That's what I have noticed in your video - even if it is just sparring - you guys focus more on not getting hit, than getting a nice cut in on your opponent. Sometimes it even seems as youre already retreating (sp) even before your cut connects. No offence but at moments it looks like your showing fear/insecurity towards your opponent, not following through your cuts.
          Exactly . As ScholaDays has also said, the number one rule in our system is to survive. Of course that results in something that looks weird to a kendoka - and defending against all manner of cuts, thrusts, grappling, a thrown weapon and everything else is surely harder than attacking - this is of course of the things that makes what we do look uncoordinated to your eyes - our brains and bodies are kept very busy trying not to get 'wounded', not simply to make the perfect strike. The historical records are full of people who died from minor wounds thanks to blood poisoning, gangreen etc. In England the term fencing developed from 'The Arte of Defence'. That's it - the art of defence, not the art of killing someone or dieing trying (though we have western systems that lean more towards this latter).

          Matt

          Comment


          • #50
            Yes of course.

            Originally posted by ScholaDays

            But, yes, perhaps therapy might be a good idea all the same.
            True words spoken here, but if other people would take up your advise I fear it would be awfully quiet here on the Kendo World Forum

            Comment


            • #51
              Actually, whilst I have you attention, a thought just occurs.

              Do any of you Kendo fellows out there think that we could gain any useful insights for our researches or training methods by occasionally cross training to Kendo? And if so, what might they be?

              Or are the differences between our objectives and methods too great for this to be of use to our efforts?

              Comment


              • #52
                Kendo versus the Mideval (sp?) Knight?

                Originally posted by ScholaDays
                Actually, whilst I have you attention, a thought just occurs.

                Do any of you Kendo fellows out there think that we could gain any useful insights for our researches or training methods by occasionally cross training to Kendo? And if so, what might they be?

                Or are the differences between our objectives and methods too great for this to be of use to our efforts?
                For the sake of an argument, or hypothetical.
                If you oppose a Kendoka against a "Knight" than the Knight should be wearing a bogu and the kendoka the armor of your profession. A Kendoka can only hit a few valid "targets". If I see it correctly everything pretty much goes at your tournaments. This wouldn't be fair to the Kendoka and the Knight would also be at a disadvantage because he is not used to the strikes that we do in Kendo.

                On the other hand if you have someone who practices Kenjutsu then we're talking. Kenjutsu comes closer to what you Knights are doing. If you have someone who practices in a ryu where the fact that you have to deal with a yoroi (armor) then I think the stage would be set for a real comparison. One ryu that springs to mind would Katori Shinto Ryu because some techniques are specifically effective against an armored opponent.
                Both of the competitors should be of equal level.

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by Fonsz
                  For the sake of an argument, or hypothetical.
                  If you oppose a Kendoka against a "Knight" than the Knight should be wearing a bogu and the kendoka the armor of your profession. A Kendoka can only hit a few valid "targets". If I see it correctly everything pretty much goes at your tournaments. This wouldn't be fair to the Kendoka and the Knight would also be at a disadvantage because he is not used to the strikes that we do in Kendo.

                  On the other hand if you have someone who practices Kenjutsu then we're talking. Kenjutsu comes closer to what you Knights are doing. If you have someone who practices in a ryu where the fact that you have to deal with a yoroi (armor) then I think the stage would be set for a real comparison. One ryu that springs to mind would Katori Shinto Ryu because some techniques are specifically effective against an armored opponent.
                  Both of the competitors should be of equal level.
                  Well, yes, I see your point. However it's not so much the repertoire I'm thinking of, for we have already discussed that our objectives are a little different.

                  I'm more thinking of the actual approach to training. We pretty much concede that our footwork needs more work. Now, what I'm wondering is not simply 'is you footwork repertoire better', but more 'how do you train your footwork into yourselves, and could we exploit this approach to train ours?'.

                  That sort of thing.

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Sorry

                    Originally posted by ScholaDays
                    Well, yes, I see your point. However it's not so much the repertoire I'm thinking of, for we have already discussed that our objectives are a little different.

                    I'm more thinking of the actual approach to training. We pretty much concede that our footwork needs more work. Now, what I'm wondering is not simply 'is you footwork repertoire better', but more 'how do you train your footwork into yourselves, and could we exploit this approach to train ours?'.

                    That sort of thing.
                    Well all ,or nearly all, of the curriculum that is taught at the legitimate Koryu (old styles) is actually well documented, the scrolls of some of the ryu are passed on from headmaster to headmaster. In fact if a headmaster takes over he has to copy the scroll with all the kata, kamae and everything else even the okuden "secret" techniques. It has to be written faultless. So it takes a while before he has it in one. By that time he knows everything by heart. So the legacy is nearly as it was in the olden days.
                    The disadvantage of what you're doing is the lack of a tradition like I just mentioned. It reminds me of a German Scientist who recreated the Roman Cavalary and found out the hard way that a lot of scientific assumptions were well of the mark. In real life it didn't work.

                    I think that a lot of the techniques that you are using are also very well documented. I wonder if there's no mention of footwork and such things.
                    The footwork at Kendo can be described as unnatural. Both feet are pointed forwards and if you think about it it's very awkward. Having said that if you do it correct it makes you very alert and you can strike with lightning speed. The stance in Kenjutsu is more natural and the feet are perpendicular. When the cut is delivered the left foot usually stays where it is. The cut is delivered with Ki Ken Tai no Ichi (body, mind and weapon in unison) just like in Kendo but it looks different. That's because with Kenjutsu you slice and with Kendo you strike. Before the war the strikes resembled cuts, and the shinai was about the same length as a Katana. Nowadays Kendo has evolved from Kenjutsu but the mindset at a shiai (match) is in my opnion the same as in the olden days when you had to do the real thing and the winner stayed alive. So I think that you can learn from Kendo/Kenjutsu but I think that if you use the Kendo stance it wouldn't work, but if you studied the Kenjutsu footwork that would make more sense.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Kendo and WMA

                      Interesting thread guys

                      Couple of points

                      1) I don't know if this has been pointed out yet, but I didn't notice that it had. There are actually two distinct types of WMA fencing, of which I use the German terms since I don't know the Italian terms (this is relevant as well, see below). Blossfechten is a fencing style based on fighting in no armor or light armor. This is much more similar to the kind of fighting you might see in Kendo or Iaido. Harnischfechten is fencing in 'harness' or full plate armor. This is a very different style which involves a lot more thrusting and grapping, the former usually at the 'half-sword' (i.e. choking up on the weapon or even striking with the pommel or cross-guards) and generally much less striking. Fewer moves in general.

                      2) There are at least two basic traditions in WMA fencing as well, the German and the Italian (there were Fechtbuchs published in other places including England, France and Spain but these were much rarer and usually later on). The modern interpretation of the Italian school is essentially based on the work of one guy, Fiore, while the German school has at least a dozen or so Masters to emulate, based on I'm not sure how many, I'm guessing scores of books, some in the same tradition (there are several Masters in the Lichtenauer tradition for example)

                      3) There are currently a wide variety of formal WMA schools and associations, as well as smaller study groups and clubs around Europe and the US. Some of the largest schools / and or associations have either never, or have not recently made many of their fencing clips available, for a variety of reasons. The ARMA, an international group based out of Texas, is at least as advanced as the Schola and I believe has considerably more members. One group I encountered in Bohemia has over 1,500 active members and studies the German Master Tallhoffer primarily. They have no web presence at all. So there is a great deal going on under the surface. Some of these groups rely almost exclusively on drill, while others heavily emphasise sparring. Some concentrate on a specific German or Italian master, some combine the teachings of 2 or 3 or several. So there is a wide range of skill and expertese, and sparring can look a lot different.

                      4) One of the major problems in WMA training has been in coming up with suitible training gear, especially weapons. Some groups rely primarily on steel blunts (suitible only for fairly heavy armor or limited contact sparring, limited in thrusting) or shinai (unrealistically light), others prefer a new type of aluminum blunt (good for nearly high speed cutting but dangerous to thrust with), others wooden wasters (Ok for drill, limited for full contact full speed sparring without proitection, unsafe for thrusting), some use padded 'boffers' (too floppy, unrealistically shaped, too soft), and lately a new type of 'padded waster' has appeared, which is a padded weapon but flat, accurately weighted and balanced, and much firmer than an ordinary padded weapon. These padded wasters are good for high speed full-impact sparring but will sometimes lead to injuries, particularly broken hands and fingers, and do not bind as realistically as steel or aluminum weapons. Notably, groups such as the ARMA apparently primarily use wooden wasters for training, and use steel blunts, wooden wasters, and padded wasters for sparring, and also emphasise test-cutting with sharp steel swords.

                      5) Incidentally, I have to disagree with Matt on one point, a Medieval sword did weigh about 2.5 -3 lbs. THe important thing though is that the weight has to be distributed appropriately with a balance point usually 4"-6" from the cross, I have no idea how you could do that using Shinai.


                      This is a clip from an independent study group in New Orleans in 2005. Lacking a master, they were considerably less advanced in terms of scholarship than any of the major international fencing schools, having to rely on techniques picked up during one major seminar and the study of a couple of interpreted fechtbuchs in the German tradition. They do have a fairly good grasp of very basic techniques however and most of them have a background as streetfighters. They did a lot of full-speed, full contact sparring with the 'padded waster' type weapons and a minimum of armor protection. Compared to the Schola videos, you may find them less skillful, but at the very least, high enthusiasm and very little fear if any. This is a highlight clip showing fighting with the longsword, rapier, sword and shield, sword and spear, and bill. Keep in mind the "padded wasters" are considerably heavier than shanai so the striking speed is a bit slower.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D6Iw7iqzM0&eurl=

                      This is a clip from a German group. Also fearless, quite well trained and with good form, using what apear to be Shinai and heavy pads. Please excuse the silly sound track.

                      http://zornhau.de/files/ZornhauSparr...hwert_high.mpg

                      The ARMA -SFL (ARMA South Florida) study group also has some excellent sparring clips on their websites, (most without silly sound tracks of any kind) I would have posted some here but didn't have time ask permission from them.


                      P.S. When the Mongols invaded Europe in 1240 even partial plate armor was fairly rare. Irregardless, the mail worn by European knights was apparently heavier than the heaviest armor available to the Mongols, so they simply shot the horses of the knights instead. They also lassoed knights and pulled them off their horses.

                      It's also worth noting that the Mongols suffered fairly heavy casualties at their two victories at Leignitz and Sajo (particularly the latter when they came to grips with Hungarian knights while trying to force a bridge), and were defeated by the Bohemians between these two battles, sparing Bohemia the ravaging that Romania and Hungary recieved....

                      DB

                      "and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." -- Luke 22:36

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Hi Fonsz - thanks for taking the time to reply and explain.
                        What I have seen of kenjitsu footwork is actually similar in many ways to what is described in the medieval European sources. Footwork is described quite adequately in Fiore dei Liberi's treatise, and shown in his diagrams. We simply make it look messy in the videos . Some of the footwork is ok, compared to what we intend to do, some of it is a mess. This is our fault, but we realise the fault and it is not what we intend to do. By its nature WMA or kenjitsu footwork is rather harder to get right IMO in bouting than kendo footwork (which I was taught). I would compare kendo footwork more with the simple footwork of something like sport fencing or even 19thC military sabre.
                        I think you have a point - it would be very interesting for us to see how a traditional kenjitsu school enforces correct footwork in bouts. I agree that kendo footwork doesn't really have much relevance to the system we study.

                        Best regards,
                        Matt

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Drifter Bob
                          5) Incidentally, I have to disagree with Matt on one point, a Medieval sword did weigh about 2.5 -3 lbs. THe important thing though is that the weight has to be distributed appropriately with a balance point usually 4"-6" from the cross, I have no idea how you could do that using Shinai.
                          Check out the shinai I'm holding here.

                          http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/schola.../gambeson.html

                          At the root, near the rather chunky crossguard is a lead ring.

                          Now, you're just going to have to trust me on this one, but to our surprise this shinai weighs about 2.2lb with a balance point about 4"-6" from my hand.


                          Honest.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Very nice gambeson.

                            Interesting about the shanai, from the grip... is that a solid core you have inside of it? Do you have problems with breakage? You still don't have edge geometry unfortunately, nor a proper pommel ...and the feel of a shanai is just off to me, in the blade, it's just too flimsy. Every training weapon is a tradeoff though.

                            I also have a big problem with using fencing masks, mainly due to the lack of protection for the back of the head. Have you seen the helmets they make in the Philipines for Escrima / Arnis? Those are pretty impressive, one of the guys in our old group had one.

                            Thats another reason I like the padded wasters though, we can fight wearing gloves and $20 lacrosse helmets. Better for your poor-mans WMA

                            DB

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Matt Easton
                              I agree that kendo footwork doesn't really have much relevance to the system we study.
                              Indeed the repertoire may be different, but how is it trained?

                              Is there a whole lot of stepping up and down the hall, practising footwork in isolation from the swordwork - as in my Sport Fencing days? Or are there drills or exercises to practise footwork? Or is is learned 'on the job', so to speak, amongst all the sparring?

                              I know this seems a simple question, but I'm curious.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Drifter Bob
                                5) Incidentally, I have to disagree with Matt on one point, a Medieval sword did weigh about 2.5 -3 lbs. THe important thing though is that the weight has to be distributed appropriately with a balance point usually 4"-6" from the cross, I have no idea how you could do that using Shinai.
                                Hi Drifter Bob!
                                Thanks for posting - in regard to the shinai, a basic shinai weighs about 500g, we add a led ring that weighs about 600g and a wooden guard which takes the weight up to about 2.5-3lbs and because of the location of the lead ring it puts the point of balance at about 6 inches from the guard . Most of the groups using shinai online are using unweighted shinai however, which are less than half the weight of ours.

                                Best regards,
                                Matt

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