Does Pedagogy Matter?

Open to public view.

Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby MEversbergII » 29 Sep 2015 03:54

To be short: Does practicing a weapon within a certain master's writings matter anymore? That is, longsword in Fiore's tradition or Meyer's, Sabre as according to Roworth or Hutton, Dagger in the Wallerstein fashion, etc.

When I was introduced to HEMA about a decade ago, pedagogy was a big deal. Now, however, I hear of people placing very well in tournaments without even really ascribing to a given master or another.

Thus: Do you think staying within a specific tradition really matters, or is a mixed martial art the future of HEMA?

M.
When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.

Best Advice on the Whole Site
User avatar
MEversbergII
Major
 
Posts: 876
Joined: 26 Oct 2012 06:00
Location: Lexington Park, Maryland

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby KeithFarrell » 29 Sep 2015 10:55

MEversbergII wrote:To be short: Does practicing a weapon within a certain master's writings matter anymore?


Yes, absolutely!

I think that for some disciplines, it helps significantly to read outside a main source, to fill the gaps where the main source doesn't quite describe things well enough - but where, I am sure, the master in person would have been able to provide the necessary instruction during a private lesson, were it possible!

However, I believe the masters chose to exclude some techniques or ways of doing things from their systems, DELIBERATELY, for whatever reasons. For example, Roworth says that the medium guard is not very helpful, and you are better choosing either the inside or outside guard, because then you are covered better; whereas McBane says that the medium guard is a superb guard, because you aren't committing yourself to either the inside or outside guard! So Roworth chose to exclude the medium guard from his system (or at least, deprecate it), because he preferred the certainty of having the inside or outside line closed. Both Roworth and McBane deprecate cut 7: Roworth because he says a descending cut will always have a slight angle and will therefore be cut 1 or 2 (so for technical reasons he doesn't like the concept of cut 7); McBane because he says that it's very difficult to hurt someone with such a cut if they are wearing a well-padded hat (so for practical reasons).

If masters chose to exclude techniques or concepts for a good reason, then we have to respect that, and we should ask ourselves WHY this is the case. If we understand these reasons, then we will come closer to being able to apply that master's teachings more effectively, without diluting it with inappropriate (or insecure or ineffective or in-whatever) techniques.

I gave a presentation on the concept of "style" in HEMA at the Dreynevent two or three years back, and in the video of the presentation, I talk about how to consider the stylistic elements of any master's teachings, including what techniques they left out of their system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ktj1qUU26E

MEversbergII wrote:Thus: Do you think staying within a specific tradition really matters, or is a mixed martial art the future of HEMA?


Yes, I think that staying within a specific tradition does matter. Yes, I also think that mixing the systems is the future for HEMA ... UNTIL people learn enough about historical fencing in general to become good enough at it to start pruning back their mixed martial arts and return it to something a bit more specific. We already see this with longsword competitions, I believe, where people first of all had to evolve to be better athletes (so we see an over-reliance on speed and strength), then evolve to be better fencers in general (so we see a "common fencing" method develop), and then finally, once people become better historical fencers, they start applying more of the stuff from the sources to beat the "common fencers". I wrote an article about this idea a while ago, it may be of interest: http://www.encasedinsteel.co.uk/2015/05/15/the-emergence-of-historical-technique-in-modern-tournaments/

Thanks for posing an interesting question!
-- Keith Farrell --
Academy of Historical Arts: website | Facebook
Fallen Rook Publishing: website | Facebook
KeithFarrell.net: website
User avatar
KeithFarrell
Lieutenant Colonel
 
Posts: 1162
Joined: 18 May 2010 18:38
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby ChrisBear » 29 Sep 2015 13:33

TL:DR
Whatever your goals there is merit in studying multiple sources, also I can waffle on about American Football in a sword forum and make it relevant.



Since my exposure to historical masters and HEMA is very limited there is a lot I really can't talk about but I think I can draw on other experiences here that are relevant. I will preface this with one assumption, that people and behaviour haven't massively changed and that ego and style have always influenced decisions and actions.

A very modern example of where different masters teach different things but are both "right" can be seen in American Football coaching. (Bare with me, it's where I have the most experience. Also this will be relevant but I need to give you some background first) the sport is very young yet there are many different styles and ways to achieve the same thing. Whilst I could provide you with a 20,000 word essay on the subject I'm going to just look at 1 position in 2 different offences, the coaches behind it and the reason they did what they did.

The left tackle is a player who has 2 jobs, 1st is to push people out of the way so someone can run the ball. The second is to protect the QB whilst he throws the ball. In all systems they do the same job.

In the double wing offence they are lined up right next to the player next to them and they have 1 hand on the ground. They look to push people out of the way by out muscling them, or by hitting them whilst they aren't looking.

In the air-raid offence they are probably about a meter away from the player next to them (this is a massive difference, just go with me on that), don't have a hand on the ground and don't try to push a specific person, they just move through a zone and in someone steps into their zone they guide them away from the play.

The different styles use different footwork, different biomechanics, different hand placements and different reads but they are both doing the same job. a player that had dominated on one offence could struggle in the other. both offences have set records all over the world for points scored and both have been developed by people who could be thought of as masters. Both are clearly the "right" way to do it and neither is the "wrong" way to do it.

To understand the differences you need to study the history of the offences and why they work the way they do (another thing I can talk for hours about).

Here is where it becomes relevant:

As a coach I could have studied the Air-Raid offence and been a great Air-raid coach, or I could have studied the double wing and been a great double wing coach. Either way I would be successful but I would be limited. If I study both, understand why they work the way they do I can then be a great football coach. In football the game evolves really quickly with styles coming into and out of favour, when the offence comes up with a new trick the defence finds a way to stop it and the great game of chess between the top coaches continues. I have no doubt that exactly the same thing has happened with sword masters.

They have each developed a system that was right for a very specific situation, some being more suited to multiple scenarios where as other are very specific and will only work in some situations. The books and the manuscripts we have are only a snapshot of this. Any master worthy of respect would continue to develop their style after they had published. People would be trying to find ways to beat their system and some would find a weakness that could be exploited, the masters would then adapt to counter this new challenge.

If we only study the work of a single master we are recreating just that single snapshot in time. If we look at other teachings and other styles we can greater understand the whole of swordplay and how our one chosen style fits into it. By studying the other styles from the same time we can understand how they were influencing our style. By studying the styles that came before we can see the development that lead to our style and by studying the styles that came after we can look to see how our style may have grown after the manuscript was produced.

If what mattered to me was perfecting a single style ad taught by a single master then learning the other styles doesn't detract from the purity of following the single master but can give a greater depth of knowledge to greater understand the master and how his style works.

If what mattered to me was to be the greatest HEMA tournament fighter I would still study multiple styles but (assuming I've got very good fundamentals) my main focus of training would be around filming as much current competitions as I could and studying what fighters do now in competition. I would then look to the masters for specific ways to combat those techniques I was likely to find in competition and then adapt them to best fit my needs.

I'm sure you get my point :-)

Also if I'm wrong please explain why as I really want to learn

Bear
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Inthe Meantime » 29 Sep 2015 17:10

In reply to the OP I would say it both does and doesn't depending on your goals for studying. As Chris says, if all you want to do is win competitions then studying the techniques and tactics of current top fighters and using the treatises to find techniques or tactics that defeat those specific opponents will be the way to go.
If you want to understand the whys and wherefores of sword play, to understand the underlying principles then one master is not going to give you that. It will be limited by his understanding at a particular moment in time.
However, once you have an understanding of the underlying principles then studying a specific style knowing why certain choices of technique have been made would be challenging and satisfying to those for whom an holistic knowledge is of more value than simple passing victories.
In other words, as our good host is overly fond of saying "Context"
Pugnavimus ensibus
Haud post longum tempus
Inthe Meantime
Private
 
Posts: 21
Joined: 30 Dec 2013 15:28

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby ChrisBear » 29 Sep 2015 21:11

Another point to consider is that the better you understand your opponent the easier it is to beat them. Even if you want to fight in a single style if you spent time studying the styles of your opponents you will be better able to predict their attack.
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Cosmoline » 29 Sep 2015 23:27

I think it reveals the inherent shortcomings with tournament play. When the blades are sharp, the old ways matter a lot. They were designed to be used in actual sword fighting or something close to it. When the blades are blunt and you have full protection, the old ways don't really matter that much. When we first started using sharps in I.33, a lightbulb went on. The positions and movements in the plates suddenly made sense. But try them with plastic swords and bulky protective clothes and none of it works right. The gloves inhibit free manipulation of the blade, and basic techniques like overbinds are much more difficult because the other guy's blade just slips off while yours flexes under pressure. So to win the combatants have to develop a new kind of style based on the gear in question.

That's not dissing on tournaments--it's just that they require tradeoffs like everything else we do. We can dispense with safety gear but only by reducing speed and pulling the blows. We can increase the speed and follow through on blows but only by increasing protective gear. Some of us are able to use sharps, but only by accepting the enormous risks inherent in that process and being *EXTREMELY* careful with them. I'm hoping someday someone invents a safe sparring simulator that has a proper bindy edge and maybe shocks you a little on impact :D

And as others note, the question is what the purpose of study is. If it's to understand how people actually fought, then the most any of us can ever do is poke around the edges. Never doing the thing itself. And that has to be enough for obvious reasons. But if the purpose is to create a new kind of martial art with simulators, then there probably isn't much point in studying the treatises that much.
Cosmoline
Corporal
 
Posts: 63
Joined: 19 Aug 2015 21:40

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Herbert » 30 Sep 2015 06:35

MEversbergII wrote:To be short: Does practicing a weapon within a certain master's writings matter anymore? That is, longsword in Fiore's tradition or Meyer's, Sabre as according to Roworth or Hutton, Dagger in the Wallerstein fashion, etc.

When I was introduced to HEMA about a decade ago, pedagogy was a big deal. Now, however, I hear of people placing very well in tournaments without even really ascribing to a given master or another.

Reconstructing and training a certain source (manual) and fighting well in tournaments are two very different and distinct things. You can mix them but you can't compare them.

So your saying that "people placing very well in tournaments without even really ascribing to a given maste" is comparing apples to pears. They don't depend on each other nor have they any significant influences on each other.

best wishes

Herbert
User avatar
Herbert
Lieutenant Colonel
 
Posts: 1024
Joined: 10 Aug 2006 09:40
Location: Austria

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby ChrisBear » 30 Sep 2015 10:45

Herbert wrote:Reconstructing and training a certain source (manual) and fighting well in tournaments are two very different and distinct things. You can mix them but you can't compare them.


Whilst I appreciate your point how do you know if you know if your training is achieving anything without testing it? I could get some source material and a group of friends together and we could train for the next 10 years, only ever testing ourselves against each other. I could be the best at what we do but have some massive flaws due to a lack of understanding, or just plain ignorance.

Without going outside of the club and testing what I know against a variety of opponents I will never know if what I'm doing is right. Even if my group of friends was being taught by a master who knows their stuff if we only ever work inside our school again it has very limited value, especially if we are only sparring.

Whilst I totally appreciate that tournaments are not analogous for real fighting they are a lot closer to it than club sparring. How else can you test if you are able to use what you have learned unless you try it out against someone who really wants to beat you? (I know we could do it for real but that would thin our numbers really quickly)

So your saying that "people placing very well in tournaments without even really ascribing to a given maste" is comparing apples to pears. They don't depend on each other nor have they any significant influences on each other.


I don't think it is as clear cut as you make it out if we look to other martial arts we can see that many styles don't hold up to competitive fighting once you take them out of the dojo, if you look tot he early days of mma when it was pretty close to a no holds fight some styles were shown to really struggle. BJJ really showed how good it was as a style for dealing with multiple types of attackers. Where as something like Shotokan Karate really struggled since it was so focussed on a specific idea.
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Herbert » 30 Sep 2015 15:49

ChrisBear wrote:Whilst I appreciate your point how do you know if you know if your training is achieving anything without testing it? I could get some source material and a group of friends together and we could train for the next 10 years, only ever testing ourselves against each other. I could be the best at what we do but have some massive flaws due to a lack of understanding, or just plain ignorance.

There are more possibilities than either working only in your group or doing tournaments. This is a rather limited view. There are many ways to fight, test and evaluate without going to tournaments and still tap the knowledge and skill of other people to test your work.
On the other hand, a tournament is absolutely NO way to test wether your interpretation of a single source is valid or not. It is simply a totally different game. If you want to know who is a better fighter…maybe. But not if you want to test wether your interpretation of a source is correct.

ChrisBear wrote:
So your saying that "people placing very well in tournaments without even really ascribing to a given maste" is comparing apples to pears. They don't depend on each other nor have they any significant influences on each other.


I don't think it is as clear cut as you make it out if we look to other martial arts we can see that many styles don't hold up to competitive fighting once you take them out of the dojo, if you look tot he early days of mma when it was pretty close to a no holds fight some styles were shown to really struggle.

Again…the difference is where you put the emphasis. If the goal is to be a good (tournament)fighter, the yes…competitions are probably a good idea. If your goal is to understand a certain manuscript, to reconstruct it and interpret the text, then tournaments are marginally interesting at most.

In the original post exactly these two things got mixed up: working on a certain text and doing tournaments.
User avatar
Herbert
Lieutenant Colonel
 
Posts: 1024
Joined: 10 Aug 2006 09:40
Location: Austria

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby ChrisBear » 30 Sep 2015 18:15

Herbert, clearly I'm missing something as what your saying goes against everything I've learned in multiple settings.

How do you test yourself to see if you have mastered the teachings?

There are more possibilities than either working only in your group or doing tournaments. This is a rather limited view.


Of course there are more than two options, I made the mistake of assuming the people reading this would understand that in a forum it's best not to add loads if you can make your point in a more succinct manner.

Also, unless you are about to share some magic training exercise, things are either a safe controlled environment where you don't introduce risk (this being represented by example of staying in the group) or a more realistic use of the sword against people really trying to hit you (tournament). Yes there are lots of things in between but unless you have tested yourself against someone in a situation where the outcome matters then you have no way of knowing if you have mastered the manuscript.
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Cosmoline » 30 Sep 2015 19:19

Ultimately you will never master any of these skills. Nobody will. We live in a different time and the ultimate testing grounds of judicial duel or combat with swords are no longer available. You can at best try various techniques from drill to freeplay and sparring to figure out what works right. From my experience, the closer you get to what they were doing in the sources, the better the techniques of the sources work. Put on heavy padded armor, a protective helmet, gloves and dull or plastic blade simulators, and you create myriad factors that simply weren't present for the authors of the text.

So I don't have any magical exercises, but for our group the BBB style of slow play working up to free play with minimal gear has been extremely rewarding. Here's a demo from Roland's crew:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOO2ch5uNBc
Cosmoline
Corporal
 
Posts: 63
Joined: 19 Aug 2015 21:40

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Mink » 30 Sep 2015 21:19

The point of tournaments, HEMA-wise, is to allow you to experience some things that are relevant to 'real combat' (non-cooperation, force, speed) but cannot be approached to the same degree in other training contexts.

If you believe sources show methods that are particularly suitable for real combat, surely drawing lessons from tournaments is a valid and arguably necessary way to perfect your understanding. When the source is sufficiently detailed it might not be necessary. None of the early sources are like that.

Being a top competitor shouldn't be needed, but dismissing what happens there is not warranted either.

Regards,
--
Vincent Le Chevalier
Ensis Sub Caelo
User avatar
Mink
2nd Lieutenant
 
Posts: 385
Joined: 25 Mar 2010 17:11
Location: Paris, France

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby ChrisBear » 01 Oct 2015 06:50

Cosmoline wrote:So I don't have any magical exercises, but for our group the BBB style of slow play working up to free play with minimal gear has been extremely rewarding. Here's a demo from Roland's crew:


Whilst that is great (and looks way cool) for showing understanding unless you are testing it against someone who is really trying to hit you then you are missing a level. Competition is a very different animal to any sort of controlled drill. The whole mindset and attitude of the person you are competing against is different.
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby ChrisBear » 01 Oct 2015 06:54

Mink wrote:Being a top competitor shouldn't be needed, but dismissing what happens there is not warranted either.


Yes, success in a tournament does not have to mean being a top competitor. It is whatever the conditions you set your self. If all you want to achieve is using the correct technique and having it work against someone not from your school who is trying their hardest to hit you and you manage that then you have had a successful tournament. Just because you don't get a medal it doesn't mean that you didn't succeed.
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Herbert » 01 Oct 2015 11:39

Ok, this is going to be a long post. I apologize up front and hope you have the patience to bear with me.

1. "Mastering" (whatever that may be) a certain manuscript includes the understanding of the principles, the reconstruction of the techniques and being able to fight according to this given manual. All manuals are restrictive in the sense that there is no manual that incorporates all known and possible techniques. So if I stay true to the manual, then I have to exclude certain techniques. This also means that the understanding and reconstruction is the main part of the "mastering" bit.

2. Tournaments never were, are or will be an adequate training for a real fight. Back in the days of our Fechtbücher there were both: fights in earnest and tournaments. I have yet to find a manuscript or master recommending tournaments to prepare for a fight in earnest (lethal duel). It was kept separately then and it should be viewed separately now. The setting, the goal and the methods are too different, not to talk about weapon simulators, padding etc.

3. Good sparring with people outside of your own club is a better way to test your mastering of a source than any tournament. There are several reasons for this:
• I can ask them to stick to the manuscript
• I can ask them to speed up or slow down
• I can ask them to repeat certain things to understand my faults better
• I can use different speeds, protection systems etc.
• I can use swords and not Fechtfedern which additionally skews the result
• I can concentrate on a certain aspect
There is really not much a tournament can add to aid the interpretation of a manuscript but it eliminates a lot of possible benefits I have from sparring. This of course does not mean that a tournament can't be a supplement, but it is not necessary.

Tournaments are NOT about how well you understood a given Fechtbuch. It is simply a test of who is the better fighter on this day under these rules. The fencer may use techniques from manuscripts (hopefully) but the goal is a different one. We see the results already: People with almost no HEMA knowledge and experience scoring high in tournaments, people training not to a manual but according to a modern trainer who prepares them for a tournament etc. All this goes without judgment. I don't want to label these things as "good" or "bad".

Given the way HEMA evolves, I think it is very important to start to label the things clearly and distinctly. One can do two or three things at the same time, but we should talk about them distinctly and not mix them up.

I hope I could make my ideas a bit more understandable.

Thanks for your patience!

Herbert
User avatar
Herbert
Lieutenant Colonel
 
Posts: 1024
Joined: 10 Aug 2006 09:40
Location: Austria

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby ChrisBear » 01 Oct 2015 14:00

Herbert wrote:Ok, this is going to be a long post. I apologize up front and hope you have the patience to bear with me.


That's cool, thanks for the answer. I do have a few follow up questions and comments though

1. "Mastering" (whatever that may be) a certain manuscript includes the understanding of the principles, the reconstruction of the techniques and being able to fight according to this given manual. All manuals are restrictive in the sense that there is no manual that incorporates all known and possible techniques. So if I stay true to the manual, then I have to exclude certain techniques. This also means that the understanding and reconstruction is the main part of the "mastering" bit.


I accept that, but surely there is more to mastering it than that.

2. Tournaments never were, are or will be an adequate training for a real fight. Back in the days of our Fechtbücher there were both: fights in earnest and tournaments. I have yet to find a manuscript or master recommending tournaments to prepare for a fight in earnest (lethal duel).


Are there manuscripts that specifically say that you shouldn't use tournaments to practice your skill or is it just a lack of people saying that you should? Obviously these are very different situations.

It was kept separately then and it should be viewed separately now.


The fact that a tournament is not the best setting for learning to fight in earnest does not mean it is not a valid way of testing your application of a manuscript. Also we are now talking about training methodology differences and we know a lot more about how to train in a skill/sport/martial art now than any of the writers of the manuscripts. I imagine that many of the masters would have used teaching techniques that we wouldn't use in a class today such as beating and belittling people who couldn't do something since at the time it was though this would make people better.

3. Good sparring with people outside of your own club is a better way to test your mastering of a source than any tournament. There are several reasons for this:
• I can ask them to stick to the manuscript
• I can ask them to speed up or slow down
• I can ask them to repeat certain things to understand my faults better
• I can use different speeds, protection systems etc.
• I can concentrate on a certain aspect


Everything mentioned above is a training situation for practising a skill and not a testing situation. They are all great ways of showing your understanding of one point in a very controlled environment. That is very different to being able to actually use the technique. These are all variations on drills to get you better.

Apart from very rare situation you will never get people in a training situation that will push themselves to the absolute limit. They will hold back as there is another bout, or they have to drive home or because they like you. The force they use and the risks they will take will be different. As a personal example I will happily take an injury if it means the win when I'm competing but I would never dream of doing that in a training situation. Also by changing the setting and making it competitive it changes how people will behave biochemically as well. This all changes the experience for both people. This is a thing that holds true on every other sporting or combat situation I have ever come across. It will hold true with swords.

• I can use swords and not Fechtfedern which additionally skews the result


Fair point :-)

There is really not much a tournament can add to aid the interpretation of a manuscript but it eliminates a lot of possible benefits I have from sparring.


This is where my understanding and knowledge for other areas is at total odds with what you are telling me. Sparring is not fighting, sparring is a training tool that teaches you some elements of fighting. Tournament fighting is also not fighting but it is different to sparring that teaches you other elements of fighting that are also important parts of being able to use the combat skill for real. It's about including the uncontrolled elements that you will never find in a training situation

This of course does not mean that a tournament can't be a supplement, but it is not necessary.


I suppose the question was never if it was necessary but if it was relevant and I feel this a point on which we will never agree :-)

Tournaments are NOT about how well you understood a given Fechtbuch. It is simply a test of who is the better fighter on this day under these rules.


This depends on your personal goals for the tournament, obviously winning is nice but taking what you have learned to a tournament and being able to execute it in that setting, whatever the outcome of the exchange surely points to a better understanding and application of the teachings than being able to perform the same technique in a (more) controlled situation.

The fencer may use techniques from manuscripts (hopefully) but the goal is a different one. We see the results already: People with almost no HEMA knowledge and experience scoring high in tournaments, people training not to a manual but according to a modern trainer who prepares them for a tournament etc.


I suppose I'm repeating a point from earlier but do you not see any validity in seeing how your learning holds up against these types of fighters?

All this goes without judgment. I don't want to label these things as "good" or "bad".


Agreed

Given the way HEMA evolves, I think it is very important to start to label the things clearly and distinctly. One can do two or three things at the same time, but we should talk about them distinctly and not mix them up.


In theory yes, but it can create as many problems as it solves.

I hope I could make my ideas a bit more understandable.

Thanks for your patience!

Herbert


Yea that was really helpful

Bear
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Herbert » 01 Oct 2015 15:56

ChrisBear wrote:
1. "Mastering" (whatever that may be) a certain manuscript includes the understanding of the principles, the reconstruction of the techniques and being able to fight according to this given manual. All manuals are restrictive in the sense that there is no manual that incorporates all known and possible techniques. So if I stay true to the manual, then I have to exclude certain techniques. This also means that the understanding and reconstruction is the main part of the "mastering" bit.


I accept that, but surely there is more to mastering it than that.

Oh absolutely! Definitely and I guess we are still learning.

ChrisBear wrote:
2. Tournaments never were, are or will be an adequate training for a real fight. Back in the days of our Fechtbücher there were both: fights in earnest and tournaments. I have yet to find a manuscript or master recommending tournaments to prepare for a fight in earnest (lethal duel).


Are there manuscripts that specifically say that you shouldn't use tournaments to practice your skill or is it just a lack of people saying that you should? Obviously these are very different situations.

We have several instances where they ridicule the Leychmeister and where they make a sharp distinction between the Schulfechten and fighting in earnest (HS 3227a springs to mind).
So we have fencing masters saying that this fighting is not the "proper" one. But then there are others as well…

ChrisBear wrote:Apart from very rare situation you will never get people in a training situation that will push themselves to the absolute limit. They will hold back as there is another bout, or they have to drive home or because they like you. The force they use and the risks they will take will be different. As a personal example I will happily take an injury if it means the win when I'm competing but I would never dream of doing that in a training situation. Also by changing the setting and making it competitive it changes how people will behave biochemically as well. This all changes the experience for both people. This is a thing that holds true on every other sporting or combat situation I have ever come across. It will hold true with swords.
[…]
This is where my understanding and knowledge for other areas is at total odds with what you are telling me. Sparring is not fighting, sparring is a training tool that teaches you some elements of fighting. Tournament fighting is also not fighting but it is different to sparring that teaches you other elements of fighting that are also important parts of being able to use the combat skill for real. It's about including the uncontrolled elements that you will never find in a training situation

That is where we disagree. I would never accept an injury just to win and I guess this is not the best tactics especially back then. I think it is quite clear that getting out of a fight uninjured was paramount for many fencing masters.
But why do you think, somebody won't give everything in a "sparring" setting (please don't see the word sparring the way it is used often…I rather see it as an agreed fight with rules that are made on the spot).
I honestly don't buy what some people claim: that a fencer in a tournament "gives" more than in a sparring.

Tournaments are about winning. If I know that there is a gap in (the interpretation of) a manuscript, then this would be exploited in a tournament. So I adapt my fighting to cover this…but then I am not reconstructing the manuscript any more. I might be a good fencer, but that is something different. And this is the reason why so many tournament fencers don't fight according to a manuscript.

As a sword and buckler fighter it would not make sense to limit yourself to the techniques of Lignitzer, but you should do this if you want to test your interpretation. But every I.33 fighter worth his salt will take you apart. So you fight differently, because you want to win. So you are not fighting according to Lignitzer any more and there goes the benefit for your interpretation.

Maybe this makes it a bit clearer.
To summarize:
If your goal is to be a good swordsman, then you should do tournaments.
If your goal is to faithfully reconstruct a single (or multiple) source, then tournaments can't help you.

Thanks again for your patience

Herbert
User avatar
Herbert
Lieutenant Colonel
 
Posts: 1024
Joined: 10 Aug 2006 09:40
Location: Austria

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Cosmoline » 01 Oct 2015 17:39

Whilst that is great (and looks way cool) for showing understanding unless you are testing it against someone who is really trying to hit you then you are missing a level.


They are trying to hit each other. They just don't follow through, and they keep control of their weapons. So a "hit" is acknowledged when the blade has a clear path to the target. What you miss in Roland's approach isn't really martial intent, but follow-through and to some extent speed. Though exactly what speed the real life combat happened at is impossible to know for sure, and likely changed over time as different styles became popular. I.33 at least seems to operate best at a measured pace, and does not rely on powerful cuts. But something like montante may be a totally different animal.

And it's important I think to distinguish between the goal of various sources. In some cases their purpose is no longer something we can strive for, so they have fundamentally limited applicability. The earlier longsword sources are mostly focused on winning judicial duels and generally preparing to be a good ritter skilled in all the arts of war. In the case of Wallerstein there were other considerations like robbing peasants :lol: And I think I.33 is probably also some kind of training manual for judicial duels, where a priest had set up a school of sorts at a cathedral to help combatants prepare. Of course there's no way to know that for sure since we don't have the backstory. Later sources seem to shift more toward the use of feather-swords and seem to be less about winning a duel or preparing for battle, and more about learning the longsword so you can say you learned the longsword like a good knight. The nature of dueling and combat had changed by the 16th century, and as war became more a matter for lower-caste professionals, the written sources seem to focus more on other aspects of swordfighting. The socio-legal background also shifted over time. And the earlier sources are kind of stranded out of place and time now. But later stuff such as smallsword or bartitsu comes from a legal and social framework much closer to our own and is easier to fully embrace. Bartitsu in particular is basically a modern martial art, and for the most part could be fully used and learned just as it was for those Edwardian gentlemen. I can walk around with my cane and cape and I can defend myself against ruffians with them, in real life. But you can't do that with judicial dueling texts.

Heck, look at Gunterrodt's reaction to finding I.33 in the later 16th century. He did not recognize any of it. Already its context had been lost, and he set about trying to re-contextualize it based on the swordplay norms of his own time. Just as we try to re-contextualize these old treatises in our own norms--which of course include the great tradition of amateur sport that would have been utterly foreign to Liechtenauer or the Priest.

Or look at the widespread attempts in the Renaissance to revive Roman and Greek military tactics right down to the use of sword-and-shield troops and pike formations. It's likely that an actual Roman general seeing what they were doing in Switzerland or Germany would say it's all wrong, but it was right for that context. Just as competitive tournaments in padding are right for our context. The question is--are we trying to bring the old arts into our context, or are we trying to understand them on their own terms? Is it historical recreation, or a revival and reinvention?
Cosmoline
Corporal
 
Posts: 63
Joined: 19 Aug 2015 21:40

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby ChrisBear » 02 Oct 2015 11:17

Herbert wrote:That is where we disagree. I would never accept an injury just to win and I guess this is not the best tactics especially back then. I think it is quite clear that getting out of a fight uninjured was paramount for many fencing masters.


Any time you try to get maximal effort out of your muscles you do damage to them, in a competitive environment against someone faster you have to push yourself to the limit to try and match speed. (assuming technique and other attributes are equal, I know it's more complex than this I'm just making an example) When you do this there is a significant chance of injury (dependant on so many factors) which is a thing you should accept when going into any form of athletic competition. Also within the context of a HEMA tournament little insignificant injuries such as a broken finger/wrist or maybe a pull or a tear to some soft tissue is not an unreasonable thing to come out of it with. (obviously the aim is to not get injured at all). you're only looking at 4-6 weeks recovery depending on how well you rehab. At the lower level the injuries wouldn't even require you to stop training.

But why do you think, somebody won't give everything in a "sparring" setting (please don't see the word sparring the way it is used often…I rather see it as an agreed fight with rules that are made on the spot).
I honestly don't buy what some people claim: that a fencer in a tournament "gives" more than in a sparring.


Any time spent coaching elite level athletes will show you that this isn't really up for debate. (Obviously I accept I'm hardly going to change your mind in an internet forum) Unless HEMA participants are somehow different to all other athletes/fighters when it comes to competition there will be different things at play in a competitive environment as opposed to a training one. Hormone responses are different, attitudes are different. It doesn't always have a positive effect as some people perform really badly when there is pressure, though other people perform to a much higher standard than in training.

What I suspect form your comments here, and some that I picked up from another thread (and I'm sorry if I'm wrong) is that you are not really a competitive person and here is the clash between our ways of thinking. I like competition for the sake of competition and get a lot of pleasure out if it. And I do enjoy winning but it's not about ego as you suggested in another thread, it's about seeing personal progress as a result of training.

It's clear that you want to see that too, we would just choose a different way of doing it.
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: Does Pedagogy Matter?

Postby Herbert » 02 Oct 2015 14:06

Regarding injuries: I wasn't talking about these injuries and I have the feeling you know that as well. I was talking about injuries inflicted by blade etc.


ChrisBear wrote:What I suspect form your comments here, and some that I picked up from another thread (and I'm sorry if I'm wrong) is that you are not really a competitive person and here is the clash between our ways of thinking. I like competition for the sake of competition and get a lot of pleasure out if it. And I do enjoy winning but it's not about ego as you suggested in another thread, it's about seeing personal progress as a result of training.

It's clear that you want to see that too, we would just choose a different way of doing it.

You are right that I am not a competitive person and I don't see the pleasure of competition. In this way I will be unable to get you the same way as you will be unable to get me.
I do see in a lot of people that this gratification exists and I am not denying it. What I strongly deny is that you have to do tournaments to properly reconstruct a certain source. And that was the point of the discussion.

So far you have not convinced me that tournaments are necessary to do a good interpretation.

All I see in tournaments convinces me of the opposite.

But I enjoyed the discussion and I think these discussions are a positive part of our culture. In trying to defend ones viewpoint flaws and inconstancies are shown. Also minds can be changed. I was more than once convinced by forum discussions and changed my mind accordingly. Not here and now, sorry.
User avatar
Herbert
Lieutenant Colonel
 
Posts: 1024
Joined: 10 Aug 2006 09:40
Location: Austria

Next

Return to General Historical Martial Arts

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests