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You Can't Fight In Here! The War Room Martial Arts Thread

Discussion in 'History & Military Discussion' started by EricD, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. For anyone practicing HEMA, an important announcement. The Koning gloves are now accepting preorders, and will ship 'by the end of march'. In the words of one of my fellow club members:

    "GO GO GO GO GO GO!"

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  2. Pale Wolf

    Pale Wolf For Spite And Profit! Magistrate

    Oh fuck the hell yes, I've been needing better gloves.
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  3. Shipping will apparently start by the end of march, but I imagine demand will be huge, so put your preorder down immediately if you want them some time in the near future.

    Just about every HEMA practioner in the world is probably gonna want a pair, after all.
  4. 100thlurker

    100thlurker atheshtarih and Enemy of the Lie Magistrate

    SMS Odette II

    While somewhat specific to Irish stick fighting - though that is in and of itself quite valuable - I think this raises important points for those generally new to Martial Arts. What do you guys figure?
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  5. I'm looking for advice on getting into martial arts/swordplay.

    While HEMA would be great, the only place that does it in my city is very difficult to get to on a weekly basis. Kendo seems like it'd be pretty cool too, and most clubs I've looked up will loan you the gear for the first three months until you have to get your own.

    I'm mainly looking for something that offers great physical exercise and application of skill rather than pure muscle strength, a focus on the right mentality and mindset, and something that won't require very expensive equipment - like, say, archery. Self-defense would be cool, too, but meh, I don't exactly plan on getting into any fights anytime soon.

    EDIT: I understand that these are all fairly generic things that most martial arts would develop...
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
  6. It depends on what you're looking for, I guess.

    When it comes to learning how swordsmanship actually works, the only two arts I'm personally aware of (and I will note as a disclaimer that I'm not familiar with a particularly broad range of sword-based martial arts) that would teach you those skills would be HEMA or some manner of Kenjutsu ryū.

    Kendo is essentially the equivalent of Olympic fencing in that it might be a perfectly fun activity to learn and compete in, but they're both basically formal games of tag; the objective is to hit the other guy before they hit you (regardless of whether they'd hit you fractions of a second later), and you have a fairly strict body of rules governing what you can and can't do. They'd teach you more about swordsmanship than doing nothing at all, but they're largely divorced from their combat roots. It's up to you to decide if that's fine with you.

    As far as your local HEMA class being difficult to get to… that's just the way it is sometimes, sadly. I'd probably be interested in studying a little Kenjutsu if I had the opportunity, but I'm not even sure if there's a proper school for that in Australia, let alone locally.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
  7. So I had my first Judo lesson tonight. I've never done any grappling-based arts, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

    The night's theme was on groundwork, so after going through break-falls and rolling and the like (which we didn't spend much time on because I've done the same things in other arts and the Sensei was satisfied with my execution of them), and touching on the theory (which we didn't spend much time on either because what sort of self-respecting martial artist these days doesn't read up on the art before they come in for a lesson), I was taught some hold downs and turnovers and then spent some time practicing against some of the other students.

    It was fun, but dear god is it embarrassing how unfit I am. By the end of the night my vision was swimming and when I got home I actually threw up. I'd thought that HEMA longsword freeplay in full protective gear (in an Australian Summer!) was as exhausting an activity as I was ever likely to encounter, but the night's training wrecked me.
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  8. BlackHadou

    BlackHadou A Brand New PosiBunny!

    It doesn't matter what the martial art actually is, if your really training, your going to suffer and be exhausted regardless. If you aren't, then you either weren't training particularly hard or particularly long, possibly both.

    Though keep in mind, there is value in light training as well as heavy training, there's no need to grind yourself down every session.
  9. 100thlurker

    100thlurker atheshtarih and Enemy of the Lie Magistrate

    SMS Odette II
    Well, it's well known that proper longsword technique can be done by performed by a very wide range of physicalities, while grappling is...considerably more demanding. :whistle:

    While this is a somewhat late juncture, I'd like to reinforce the points @LastChronicler has made. If your nearest HEMA group is simply not practical to go to, definitely consider a reputable Kenjutsu dojo if that happens to be closer to your area.

    If there's none, it's worth considering whatever local olympic-style sport fencing clubs are in your area. They won't teach you a martial art, which is what you're looking for, but they are very, very good at training. The body control, footwork, etc they will teach you will serve you quite well. To leaven this instruction you could look around for any major HEMA events or seminars you think you could reasonably make time for, or at least, consider how you could fit at least a few visits to that faraway HEMA group a few times in a year.
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  10. Moving this disagreement here from the Exalted discussion thread, and tagging @Pale Wolf since I was quoting his post to start off.
  11. To lay out my position...I think that there is a significant difference in being proficient at fighting without weapons, and fighting with them, and that being good at one is no guarantee of skill at the other.

    Just like being a good grappler doesn't necessarily mean you can strike worth a hill of beans, and vice versa.
  12. BlackHadou

    BlackHadou A Brand New PosiBunny!

    Depends. My Kung Fu school had weapon proficiency being ibe of the requirements for mastery, as well as a significant grappling proficiency. It depends how specialised your training really is.
  13. That's true, some styles teach armed and unarmed (Escrima has empty hand techniques, Okinawan karate has sai, tonfa, etc in addition to punching and kicking) but...

    If I belong to a gym that offers boxing AND judo classes and I take both of them, that doesn't mean boxing improved my foot sweeps or that judo made me good at throwing a jab...if that makes sense?

    That is, of course if a style has you training empty hand and with weapons you'll get proficient in both. No argument.

    But I'm saying if you only train the one there's still going to be a significant change up if you have to deal with the other.

    Boxer in a fencing match, fencer in a boxing match sort of thing.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
  14. Imrix

    Imrix Periodically Malevolent QM

    To me, and I think part of what Pale Wolf was getting at as well, it's more that if you are skilled at fighting with/out weapons, you also necessarily have a lot of skills applicable to fighting, period. Some of those skills may map well enough across disciplines to be applicable, but chiefly, if you've learned to fight with your fists, you've also learned how to move your feet, how to stand, how to dodge with a minimum of wasted motion, how to keep your head to avoid freezing up, how to simply do harm to another human being without hesitation. Those skills don't go away just because you have a length of sharp metal in your hand now, and the reverse is also true.

    Keep in mind the original context of this discussion is the Exalted rules system, where if you max your rating in armed combat and are disarmed, all of a sudden you are mechanically identical to an untrained incompetent.
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  15. I agree that's just stupid. A world class boxer is going to get tooled by a world class swordsman in a swordfight, but he won't fare nearly as poorly as a world class chess player would.
  16. BlackHadou

    BlackHadou A Brand New PosiBunny!

    In fairness, in relation to the original argument, this simply means that to actually be in character, you'd have to have taken a certain amount of unarmed along with upping your melee.

    Really, though, I think Boxing is a loaded example, as its become a sport. Likewise, competition fencing has a few issues, as does competition kendo, verses the actual train to kill schools for the discipliene.

    It really is a matter of what your actually learning.
  17. 100thlurker

    100thlurker atheshtarih and Enemy of the Lie Magistrate

    SMS Odette II
    Boxing and Judo emerged in modern sportive contexts which allow for specialization, rationalization, and eventually gamification in safe competition with fixed parameters. You know for certain that you are going to be fighting in a ring with a judo gi, or boxing gloves, in a specific way, judged according to specific ideals, with strict limitations on what you can do. No one is intended to be killed or cripplingly wounded whether as part of the learning process or matches. The point isn't to demonstrate value or protect the student's life, it's to win a game match. So yes, Judo and Boxing have precious little crossover and train only what they need, they don't pretend to offer anything more; Boxing exists so that people can win boxing matches.

    Presumably, however, we're discussing martial arts in pre-industrial societies, where no one is going to teach you "just" how to grapple or "just" how to strike. That's inconceivable. The student of a martial art in such settings is surrounded by violence which can erupt unexpectedly, often in unfair circumstances, against a wide variety of potential techniques. You might be sitting down with your sword in its sheath - or with no weapon other than a dagger at all - and all of a sudden a dude comes rushing at you with a spear, or the dude you're talking with suddenly reaches for his weapon, or you could be fighting on an actual battlefield against a combatant in heavy armor. The martial artist is expected to be able to protect life and honor in all of those encounters. If anything the survival of holistic technique meant to cover the breadth of expected knowledge often confounds students of martial arts with long lineages (why the fuck do I need to learn how to defend myself from someone reaching out to grab my wrist? Absolutely no reason today, but back in the day that person could be trying to prevent you from drawing your sword). That doesn't even get into how the actual performance of technique requires understanding. If you aren't taught anything about grappling, you're fucked the moment goes for a disarm or closes inside your reach. Encounters may not only be unequal at the start (mismatched weapons), but can shift in balance radically in a single moment. All the martial arts we know of that existed in such environments are therefore holistic, covering all aspects of fighting, HEMA fechtbuchs for example are extremely explicit that unarmed techniques are the foundation on which all skills of arms are built; the body mechanics of throwing a proper cut or thrust with a weapon are basically exactly the same as throwing a good punch.
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  18. Pale Wolf

    Pale Wolf For Spite And Profit! Magistrate

    Yeah, it is. That's because of the 'sharpened' hand. Fist-fighting is high-speed because it's at an incredibly short measure. Knife-fighting is at the same measure and the same speed, except 'holy shit I can't afford to take any hits at all because his hand is sharp and will go through my precious precious organs'. That's why it's so dangerous - it's a fistfight (in which 'avoiding getting hit' is pretty close to a pipe dream) except you can't afford to get hit ever.

    Speaking specifically of the sword cut point, I should mention that one of my trainers is a boxer. He teaches the basic fendente and punch in spectacularly similar ways, as do all the other instructors, because a downright cut is literally just 'punch them with the center of gravity of the sword and let the sword unfold along its axis'. This is the method which moves the weapon fastest - because it's a straight line - and the method which keeps your sharp bit in between your face and the other guy's sharp bit (because it's a straight line- you take your weapon off that line and suddenly there is air in between your enemy's weapon and your face, and he can quite easily stab through that air, if he does it right he won't even have your sword drop onto his head a second later).

    It's not the exact same body mechanics, you have to learn to do it with a thing in hand which involves a couple wiggles and squiggles, but they're not particularly different.

    You're right that in modern martial practice a boxer and an olympic fencer and whatever are going to be severely lacking in one another's arena. But that's because the modern world's martial context is one of hyperspecialists. Our modern context is one where melee weapons are rare and highly frowned on, because violence is extremely rare. This means that people are capable of focusing on martial sports that feature solely the particular aesthetic they're looking for - by and large they don't actually have to use those skills with lives on the line, and in the rare occassions where any kind of violence happens at all, the aggressor is also lightly armed if at all, so pure boxing or whatever works about as well as anything. (And 90% of self-defence is 'not being there')

    Such hyperspecialists simply don't exist in a milieu where actually having to fight in melee combat is a thing, because the olympic fencer will die in five seconds to someone who fights using their whole body (and actually defending themselves, my god I have seen some terrible shit, I watched a gold medal match and had to shut it down cringing after watching the winner repeatedly leap onto his opponent's sword and win because he got the point). And the guy who's unarmed will pull a dagger at the first opportunity because why the fuck wouldn't you when someone is genuinely trying to kill you?

    You used martial sports as your example, but let's go back to the timeframe where actually stabbing people was a common military practice. Martial manuals start with grappling. Historical martial arts always, every single one, feature weapons as part of the exact same basic curriculum - you've got my HEMA, you've got Wing Chun, you've got Bajiquan, you've got Vietnamese Vovinam, you've got Silat, you've got Indian martial arts like Kalaripayattu and Gatka, if Okichitaw is any indication historical Cree fighting techniques casually mixed in axes and spears and daggers and clubs, you've got Capoeira's cheerful use of knives and machetes and scythes in its historical practice if not current (if you're keeping count I've now hit every continent except Africa and that lack is mostly because of my lack of knowledge about African fighting systems), even modern-day actual combatives like the MCMAP and Systema feature knife-fighting and bayonet right alongside unarmed.

    This isn't some alien concept, Wade. This is how every single society that has done melee violence did it. We are the aliens, because we don't actually do melee violence, we do melee sport, hobby, and spectacle. Those are fine things and they can be lots of fun but let's not extrapolate too much from our modern-day systems, because our modern-day systems are operating in a fundamentally different context entirely.

    There are differences from weapon to weapon once you get to the highest specifics, and different people are differently suited for different weapons, but this is talking, in RPG terms, about the last couple points of the skill, or specializations added on top (which Exalted features and can be used to reflect these things).

    They're not the exact same biomechanics, there's absolutely a need to hammer in those specifics, and get used to the specific weapon you're working with, but in an RPG system with twenty-five skills to cover the entire breadth of human endeavor (knowledge of the history of the Middle East, the economy of China, and agricultural practices in the southwestern United States are all falling into 'Lore'), each rated on a scale from 1 (competent amateur) to 5 (world-class), the system simply lacks the granularity to cover the differences in these techniques. The difference between a punch and a kick is a lot larger than the difference between a punch and a sword (the fundamental biomechanics are highly similar but getting a handle on the actual execution is a lot trickier), and we already have punch, kick, and grapple all covered under the one skill as it is.

    If I wanted to be really radical I'd put all personal-scale human violence, melee and ranged alike, into one skill, because that's about the level of compression a lot of other skills in Exalted are looking at, and 'fight at short range' and 'fight at long range' are honestly about as closely related as the huge swathe of things covered under Lore, or Craft (carpentry and building an F-22? Same skill). You already have 'Talk Good' and 'Perform all art from writing to music to interpretative dance Good', at that point you could pretty casually get away with just putting 'Fight Good' as its own one skill.

    I don't want to be that radical - some level of granularity is fun and I like combat enough to devote a comfortable chunk of a game's design space to granularity on combat specifically. But I don't think anyone's looking for the Phoenix Command of martial arts here.

    Or a floppy hat.

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  19. Imrix

    Imrix Periodically Malevolent QM

    Or, for a much more summarised version; modern fencing is a specialised set of techniques for fighting other fencers. Historical fencing was a more general skillset with wider application because it was expected to face off against all comers in all conditions.

    I mean I took Systema classes for a while because I wanted to learn some approximation of real self-defense instead of the Judo I learned as a sport. Most of the exercises were focused on things like pressing my hand against a partners body in assorted places and pushing in order to understand the biomechanics of how the body reacts to a punch, getting comfortable with throwing a punch, and getting comfortable with reflexively reacting to incoming attacks. Prop knives were a common sight. When we did fancier exercises, it was things like exploring how to reflexively react to incoming attacks while sitting on a bench.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016

  20. I'll freely admit I know jack diddly about swordsmanship vs fencing, IIRC there's a fine example of Merino and Kensai taking me to task for that in this very thread, but as far as unarmed fighting goes, a "sportive" approach to training is going to yield huge dividends over "train to kill".

    The techniques of Western boxing and judo can be trained pretty close to a hundred percent intensity against a fully resisting opponent on a very regular basis. (Albeit with proper precautions like padded mats, gloves, mouth guards, etc.)

    You can't do that with a style full of killing techniques (eye rakes, throat strikes, and the like). Those have to be practiced slowly and carefully, against a non resistant or very lightly resisting opponent.

    The latter approach fares very, very, very poorly when actual punches start being thrown and now your adrenaline is up and the other person is flailing at you trying to knock your head off your shoulders and oh crap this is new what do I do now!

    This may be my incredible ignorance of "How do I sword" coming through, but. Like I said in the Exalted thread, I can see how a jab or a cross becomes a straight line thrust with a sword fairly easily.

    The only thing I've done that comes remotely close to sword cuts is messing with machetes in thickets or knocking off bits of lighter pine with a hatchet, but I try to imagine throwing a hook or an overhand with the mechanics you use for that and my wrist aches just thinking about it.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
  21. 100thlurker

    100thlurker atheshtarih and Enemy of the Lie Magistrate

    SMS Odette II
    None of the historical martial arts I know of practice any of that kind of bushido. Very little of what needs to be trained can only be done against nonresisting, complaint partners. In fact that would be the real complaint a modern sport oriented martial art can level at historical arts. For example, Ringen has almost no ground game compared to the arts you see show up in MMA - it's usually sufficient to throw the guy to the ground (or headfirst into a wall). Why is that? Because if you've thrown a dude to the ground you're going to be kicking his head in with your boot or shiving him with a knife - why on earth would you be going to ground with the other guy for a tapout? Nevertheless, there is no getting around the fact that a guy grounded in ringen is going to be toast in a cagematch with a guy who only does MMA grappling all day every day. Etc.

    This applies even more so for historical cultures which just accepted death and injury as the normal price of martial games. We even have textual attestation to fencing at what seems to be full speed with sharps. Evidently they had no issues with the kind of damage that might result when practicing at full intensity with a lot less protective gear and cruder simulators than we have access to.
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  22. I may be misunderstanding what Hadou meant by "train to kill" disciplines, and if so I apologize to him.

    Every time I've encountered that wording before it's been "Well my style's small joint locks/front kicks to the knee/spear hands to the eye/monkey steals peach/insert deadly technique here is meant to kill and cripple, not for sport" and...well.

    I mean, you can take the basic sleeper hold from judo/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and that's a technique that will kill with a fair degree of efficiency once it's slapped on, you just need the mindset and the know how to get to the "slap it on" part in a combative situation instead of a grappling match.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
  23. 100thlurker

    100thlurker atheshtarih and Enemy of the Lie Magistrate

    SMS Odette II
    Yeah I can see why the wording there might have wigged out your what-is-this-bullshitto/violence-nerd-21-ninjas-warble antennae, but I don't think that was what was being referred to.
  24. BlackHadou

    BlackHadou A Brand New PosiBunny!

    You have misunderstood, but not by a huge amount.

    Let's use Boxing. A person who practices Boxing for sport will be very good at boxing, but their abilities the second kicks, grapples etc are introduced will be severely hampered, as would a Judo practitioner and so on.

    Its not a gripe of how good you are, but how broadly applicable your skillset is.
  25. Imrix

    Imrix Periodically Malevolent QM

    Those proper precautions are part of why a sportive approach does not yield huge dividends over actual combat training in practice. Other reasons involve the formalised setting, the narrow range of situations it acknowledges, but those are a big part of it.

    Like, if you want to kill somebody unarmed, small joint locks/front kicks to the knee/spear hands to the eye/monkey steals peach/insert deadly technique are mostly so much worthless hogwash. You just incapacitate them with your regular fighting skills so they're in a state where they can't fight back anymore, then improvise. Smash their face into a wall a dozen times or so, knock them on the ground and put the boot in, strangle them to death, whatever. Killing with your bare hands generally happens either by accident or through something that's rather messy and unpleasant.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
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