Friday, March 9, 2012

Fighting styles

One could argue for months about the value of one fighing style over another. My touchstone of validity is "does it work". Well, one could say that about most fight styles hmmm? There are always rules. Or perhaps conditions. Are we talking one on one, tournament, war, what? Remember, they also serve who serve the guns. And I remember a spirited discussion with one old infantry man who has blessedly passed away now who reminded me that they also serve who successfully serve breakfast. Good point. But, in our classes, we stick to single handed sword, hand and a half sword and double handed sword, with or without shields.

The Lichtenhaur school always said that there is only one style...the attack style. Applicable no matter what weapons you have. That being said, they always say in their descriptions "from the bind do this". I choose to interpret this debating point to meaning "after you have successfully blocked or put aside his attack then do this..." I have had many good swordsmen disagree with me on this interpretation, however, they only disagree in degree, not principle.

When Mr. Talhoffer was teaching his farm boys to become infantry men, he created a great change in how fighting of any kind was being done. Oh sure, there were professional armies stretching back into the bronze age, some quite spectacular. (Spartans come to mind, as do Temujin's Mongol hoardes I suppose.) But all the fighting was done by "citizen soldiers" or "aristocrats" of one form or another. The rank and file were there, of course. The peasantry whose labours provided hay, oats, and bacon for the "real" soldiers were always sort of tolerated, but not really part of the the army....sort of like camp followers, card sharps and head lice are an unwanted part of the army. The great ditches full of dead at Whisby were not professionals...they were the farmers and tanners and whatnot that met and slowed the army so that the town could prepare for the worst. This was repeated enough around Europe that the bourgoisse and peasantry realized that there might be a better way. Talhoffer and his crew actually taught the illiterate, the disposessed and the the upwardly mobile. The result was a new societetal class...a force to be reconned with. This was a class of trained soldiers, who were able to demand payment and bargain their services.

I guess that is why I like the art so much. Its not elitist, not scholarly. But it is very straightforward, and applicable to a lot of situations.

The South Tower Amouring Guild style is based on these principles. There are more, but this is a good start.

1. we are using swords. Not clubs.
2. there are no "target points".
3. when you are in guard you are invulnerable
4. attack from the guard.
5. you came here to fight, so get to it
6. let him start it.
7. practice
8. Its his turn next, so do unto others, etc etc.

I might add a couple of extra things commands in here....
1. Thou shalt look good.
2. Thou shalt be doing this to have fun, not to truly injure your opponent.
3. Thou shalt find participation superior to winning.
4. To lose a fight is preferable to losing a friend.

(fol 18r) Jung Ritter lere / got lip haben frawen io ere / So wechst dein ere / Uebe ritterschaft und lere / kunst dy dich zyret und in krigen sere hofiret
"Young knight, learn to love God and revere noble ladies, so that your honour grows. Practice knighthood and learn the art that dignifies you, and brings you honour in wars."

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