1360Re: Eastern Martial Arts Philosophies meet the Rapier
- May 3, 2007Greetings Kaine,
I'll answer your post as well as I can after Beltane.
--- In RoyalGuildofDefense@yahoogroups.com, "Shane"
> So these past couple of months I have been studying the art of the
> rapier and still find it difficult to transfer over from my original
> learnings of Karate and the Japanese sword. Some of you out there
> may be struggling with that as well if you have ever taken anyeastern
> martial arts especially those augmented with weapons training. Thisbe
> essay is designed not only to put down on proverbial paper my own
> plans for incorporation but to also put it up here in case it will
> Let me first begin by stating that the Rapier is NOT a Katana, but
> not sure that should completely preclude the philosophical side ofchivalric
> sword study. The Japanese Samurai were some of the most skillful
> warriors in the history of man. They had an extremely rigid code of
> ethics that even today in the SCA ties very much in with our
> code. (the reason I say ours is because there is no physicaldocument
> in history depicting a knights code of conduct... it's a piecedfrom
> together philosophy)
> The Seven Virtues of the *Bushido Code (bushido means the Way of The
> Warrior) are as follows
> * Rectitude (義, gi)
> * Courage (勇, yū)
> * Benevolence (仁, jin)
> * Respect (礼, rei)
> * Honesty (誠 makoto, or 信 shin)
> * Honor, Glory (名誉, meiyo)
> * Loyalty (忠義, chūgi)
> The Accepted Code of Chivalry is as follows (this code is cited
> 19th century French historian Leon Gautier)thyself
> * Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shalt
> observe all its directions.
> * Thou shalt defend the Church.
> * Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute
> the defender of them.pledged word.
> * Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
> * Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
> * Thou shalt make war against the Infidel without cessation, and
> without mercy.
> * Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be
> not contrary to the laws of God.
> * Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thy
> * Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.know
> * Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right
> and the Good against Injustice and Evil.
> So in essence similar codes of conduct.
> Given the similarities in code... why could my personal training
> structure of the Rapier not also use martial arts philosophies of
> studying my art of the sword?
> So I got to thinking about this a little further and started looking
> up different Rapier philosophies and found one I like very much
> because it is concise and for those of you that study him... you
> it works.Aikido,
> Joseph Swetnam states his seven principles of which true defence is
> 1. A good Guard
> 2. True observing of distance.
> 3. To know the place.
> 4. To take time.
> 5.To keep space
> 7.Often Practice
> We will examine each of these an how I interpret them into Eastern
> Martial arts.
> First off
> A Good guard. Anybody who has ever taken Tae Kwon Do, Karate,
> Kung Fu or any other eastern martial art understands that a goodguard
> or stance as my sensei used to call it understands the necessity ofguards
> choosing a good guard. Anybody on here who has been to a fighter
> practice or has been studying rapier long enough to know basic
> knows how to get into one. but just in case I'll try and explain howto
> to do it and the why you do it. your dominant (sword foot as I wish
> call it) should be pointed at your opponent or if you have noand
> target... err opponent simply point it forward.
> Now your other foot should be pointing 90 degrees away from your
> sword foot forming an L with your feet. Take that and move it in the
> direction your toe is pointing approximately shoulder length apart
> bend your knees slightly. For some this is difficult to do and mayabove I
> take some practice. the reasons it should be about shoulder length
> apart vary from teacher to teacher but here is how I percieve it(and
> the reason it is how I percieve it is because I am not in a position
> to teach Rapier, this is of course reserved for Journeyman and
> believe) You should should have your feet shoulder length apartguard
> because it makes for even distribution of weight on your body giving
> you ease of movement when you begin advancing or retreating or any
> other dirction for that matter since we work in the round. it also
> makes your body a pretty small target. The toe pointed towards your
> opponent is also most helpful for 2 reasons
> 1. your sword point almost always heads in the direction of your toe
> 2.this is a test I have conducted with the same results everytime,
> Line up next to a wall with your sword pointed at it in a normal
> that we have just outlined, tip just touch it in a full extensionnow
> without leaning or lunging. now take the sword point off of the wall
> and turn your sword foot slightly inward towards your other foot,
> try hitting the wall again... if you don't lean into and still fullyof
> extend your sword tip should fall about 1/2 inch to and inch short
> the wall...and let's face it... in rapier in the SCA an inch couldbe
> the difference between you or your opponent yelling "DEAD!"so
> Now that you have done that and feel comfortable with it (for
> beginners it may be helpful to practice getting in and out of this
> foot stance... the repetition will not only generate muscle memory
> your body begins to do it naturally... but it will also help buildthe
> necessary muscles to maintain that guard, personally I practice justdescribe
> getting in and out of guard position 10 reps at a time on a daily
> basis) let's get into hand placement. the simplest way I can
> this and I'm sure this essay will be corrected on some points sinceI
> am not the perfect fighter and each person has their own way ofslightly
> explaining things is this: your sword hand for a basic guard should
> bent slightly at the elbow and the space between your elbow and your
> body should be large enough to to fit your fist into. your sword
> should be in line with your dominant foot... or in some cases
> to the inside as to cover your body better. for me I try and havethe
> button of my pommel in line with my hip on my sword foot/leg. nowthat
> you have that down, practice that a few times each day. I will notget
> into what you do with your offhand because there are many, manydistance
> variations on where it should be. For me I try and have it up by my
> head about equal length between my nose and my nipple, but that is
> just one variation.
> Next Let's look at Swetnam's second point.
> True observing of Distance
> Distance can mean several things. In the eastern martial arts
> means the amount of space between your fist or leg and youropponents
> body(once you get past thier guard) or terms of a katana which isas a
> slightly more relevant, the amount of space between your sword and
> your opponents body. it also means between your sword and thiers.
> katana is a cutting weapon with many large sweeps to effect the areaare
> between the two it is different from the rapier in that distances
> closer. but at the core of it... distance is still observed. whenworthless?
> advancing on your opponent you should not only think about your
> distance alone... but thier distance as well. how many advances will
> it take them to get close enough that your parry will be almost
> When I fight with the katana I am a reactionary fighter. watchingmy
> opponent advance on me tells me almost everything i need to abouthow
> to beat them, the same can be observed with a rapier I believe. whenmost
> my opponent advances on me I think about 2 things, where am I the
> vulnerable and how long is it going to take them to get there. If ilaid
> perceive their advances as quick and purposeful I find it wise to
> throw a monkey wrench in their plan and test the waters... at this
> point in the battle you don't want it to be over too quickly,
> generally speaking you do something to spring the trap they have
> out.(I'm not going to get into the debate of unless they are tryingto
> trick you or springing the trap only springs half of it right now)there)
> once the trap has been sprung think about distance again... are they
> within range for you to do something other than playing games with
> their sword? if you are in range and their body has a perceivable
> opening, try for it.(which is somewhat amusing since we are covering
> Swetnam who was notorious for creating openings that weren't really
> At this time you must also take into account 2 distances, theit
> distance between your opponent being able to parry a thrust for
> instance, and if they choose not to meet your blade.. the distance
> will take them to be out of range of your weapon again. I have foundof
> it useful to use distance at home with some trees I have in my
> driveway, it helps me learn how many advances and retreats it will
> take me to get in and out of range of a stationary target. This is
> course no substitute for real people as opponents... but it helpsof
> learn your own distance.
> Distance in terms of a lunge. Eastern martial arts does not have
> lunges... but we do have jumpkicks, both are powerful tools in each
> thier respective worlds and both cover great distance rapidly.an
> Everbody has a different length of lunge and once you are aware of a
> persons lunge distance... learn to percieve when a lunge will be
> useful to them. on the field during a practice examine this point. A
> lunge is a very powerful attack but it fully commits your body. If
> opponent lunges at your prematurely you basically own them unlessthey
> can recover rather quickly. Generally speaking when an opponentlunges
> at you, you have left an opening that they see and you may possiblywill
> not, unless you are creating that opening as a lure... but we will
> come to that in perhaps a different essay.
> To give you a distinct example of distance in terms of a lunge I
> use a rapier fighter whom I deeply respect Seagdha Cameron, hislunge
> is 12 feet long from the back of his foot to the tip of his sword.he
> is 6 foot 4 with decently long arms. my lunge on the other hand isterms
> about 8 feet at it's deepest and about 6 1/2 feet normally(haven't
> quite got the muscles to execute a longer lunge at this time) In
> of distance it would take me about 3 retreats or 2 passing retreatspoint.
> get out of his lunge range.The distance between your opponents blade
> and your body should be observed at all times. on to the next
> 3.To know the place, I find this is very essential but can be
> explained. In eastern martial arts I have never competed anywherebut
> a padded mat. I've gotten into a few situations where my martialarts
> skills have thankfully allowed me to walk away unscathed. In the SCAhave
> we tend to fight on a roped off field typically grass, although I
> seen the field of battle be a parking lot or school gym. I thinkthat
> Swetnam's mandate of knowing the place can also be associated withmy
> senseis teachings of "mind your surroundings and be observant at allare
> times. That means observe the field... are there any potentially
> hazardous items (there shouldn't be if the field has been properly
> chosen and the marshall has inspected the field for hazards) how big
> is the field (this goes slightly more with distance but it is still
> good to observe the field size. and finally I will also add that
> examining and observing the rapier field for me also helps with what
> my fighting style will produce today... in a larger field I am more
> prone to take more time to observe my opponents movements before
> engaging... on a small field I tend to be slightly more aggressive.
> which brings us to Swetnams next point.
> 4.To take time
> This should be a point ingrained in every good fighters head.
> "NEVER attack your opponent until they have properly presented
> themselves for death" examining that deeper is also make sure you
> ready to follow through with your attack come what may. yes... youcan
> break off your attack and parry... but at that point you have stillyour
> followed through. one of the things that I still struggle with when
> using an unfamiliar weapon (and albeit it, it is getting more
> familiar) is hesitating on making an attack... my attacks fall short
> of hitting home. Take the time to make your opponent come to you on
> your terms, that should be a philosophy every fighter should adopt.
> Katana is a very aggressive sword form... it is designed for close
> fighting and powerful cuts but you still want to make your opponent
> come to you... if they attack at an angle you don't like because
> body will become too exposed during your counter.... back the hellout
> of there. It will make them choose a different attack angle most ofthen
> the time, when they present an angle that is acceptable to you...
> and only then STRIKE!keeping
> 5.Keep space
> this somewhat is an emphasis on distance, but not completely,
> space simply is that, make sure the space between you and yourbe
> opponent always keeps you out of their line of attack. for close
> fighting to me would mean keep your head or torso out of the space
> their blade will be passing through, lest the two meet and you will
> dead. for further away fighting it means much the same thing...that
> keeping space to me says keep their blade away from you. I think
> is all I can impart on this point. repliers are most definately freeKarate
> to extrapolate.
> For many fighters patience must be learned through dying quickly a
> lot, I am one of those. My patience factor is growing again, In
> patience was a practice... my sensei used to tell me a good fighterin
> that has patience to meditate on the battle... even if it is at hand
> will have almost a vision of pre-cognition that will see the battle
> thier mind before it is played out. The best fighters I have everseen
> in a Dojo said they almost knew how the battle was going to gobefore
> the bout was even started. My advice is to meditate often about aat
> battle, for those of you who have been fighting for a while I still
> suggest it... the benefits for and many others is that you will be
> able to see much clearer not only how the battle will unfold... but
> the end of it you will be able to remember more about the battle andonly
> what you can improve on in the future. so patience for me is not
> waiting for the right moment but also meditating on the moment andwary
> choosing when I wish it to occur. The only thing I must make you
> of however is that meditation is markedly different fromdaydreaming,
> in daydreaming you almost always win... that is not so withso.
> meditation... the goal of course is to see yourself win within your
> minds eye and then execute it in real life... but I find being more
> humble in your opinions of your own fighting style is much more
> beneficial than not.
> Finally the last point Swetnam wishes to impart on us is:
> 7.Practice often
> Is there a single art form out there,
> painting...horse riding... that says "don't ever practice"? I think
> not. But in terms of practice and rapier there are many ways to do
> I find that a balance of meditation and physical exercise in my artwill
> have been helping me. of course I have only outlined today my new
> exercise routine in preparation for della spada. not many of you
> be up to this rigorous of a routine... but if you think you can andit.
> you think my reasonings are sound then perhaps you will want to try
> 5lb weights working both triceps and biceps as well as shoulders.
> to increase forearm strength use a 5lb weight and do wrist curls.heavier
> 20 situps and pushups every day to be increased by 15-20 on a weekly
> basis until 100 is reached. any more than 100 of either and you are
> building bulk muscle which is good if you are practicing for a
> weapon than a rapier which on average weighs 2 1/2 to 4 lbs.then
> the normal exercise without a weapon is to give more control over my
> body when a weapon is in my hands.
> for the weapon exercises... footwork, footwork, footwork... any
> instructor of any martial art will tell you...if you do not have
> proper footwork, the rest of your body will not work properly in a
> battle... battle body mechanics always start at the feet. Now in
> eastern martial arts the footwork is slightly different... but that
> doesn't matter here. learn it, practice it, use it.
> 40 parries in positions 2 and 4 on both hands. slowly at first..
> go faster as you gain more control of your point... when parryingonly
> move the point as much as necessary... the more stationary itremains
> the less exposed your body will be.at
> 200 thrusts... that's right count them 200... this will be your main
> attack... make sure you have absolute control of it... try doing it
> different lengths for pure calibrations sake... we don't need realmy
> holes punched in our opponents.
> 40 lunges... now for me this is going to be difficult to do and i am
> going to be pretty sore for the first week doing this... but i know
> own body's threshold for this type of exercise thankfully.... but ifthere.
> you are unsure of your own body... try doing 10 and then go from
> Finally... here's where the eastern philosophy ties in a little
> better... do 2 things.
> 1.think about what EXACTLY can be transferred over... if you have
> taken aikido...hand circles are excellent for the crossover
> If you have taken tae kwon do, think about how you block straight
> punches (now just make it less of a sweeping motion and you've got
> your parry) if you have taken any martial arts that is meant to flow
> instead of being a stiff martial art... and if you have taken more
> than 1 eastern art you know what i am talking about (think about the
> differences between kenpo and aikido) think about how to transition
> your blocks/parries into thrusts/punches and also think in terms of
> how your body moves. also think about your off hand at this point...
> in martial arts there is no off hand.. only a rear hand the
> takes longer to execute a move. compensate for that in rapier... uselike
> your offhand weapon more often than your primary at first until you
> feel you can balance the 2. in the instance of using an open hand..
> remember you can't actually touch your opponent with your offhand
> you can in martial arts... but a sword is an extension of the handis
> it not? that extension can be controlled just as easily as if youwere
> touching their body. I simply say think about it. testing it out incan.
> real practices or on the field is of course the only way to really
> know if it works for you... but for the moment try at home what you
> 2. the second thing is to meditate on the battle. visualize yourselfyou
> on the rapier field... it doesn't matter who against.(we all wear
> masks anyway) you are at opposites ends of the field which i know
> rarely happens at the time "lay on" is proclaimed but just for the
> sake of argument let's try it this way in the mind. Think about your
> opponent... how long is their blade... how tall are they... how long
> are their arms... where are they vulnerable... now meditate on how
> wish to close the gap between you and your opponent... what willthey
> do to try and counter this... after closing to engagement zone thinkthan
> about the battle... it has been said that there should be no more
> 3 exchanges between opponents before 1 or both of you should stepback
> and re-examine the situation, in martial arts it is also 3... 2 forlike
> your hands and 1 for your legs. meditate on the end game... where
> would you like to strike them for a kill and how do you plan on
> getting there. in martial arts my sensei used to have an exercise
> where he would ask you to pick out 2 places on the body you would
> to land shots and what hand or foot you would like to do it with. weplease
> would then face off without any advice given and be asked to try. if
> you failed to land either one he would tell you where you could have
> changed things... if you succeeded he would tell you how to do it a
> different way or ask you to pick new spots.
> I suppose I have prattled on long enough and I hope hidden somewhere
> in this essay there is something every fighter can use... if not...
> well it helps me to think of it this way. In closing I encourage
> anybody's input on this subject...constructive preferably. If you
> would like further explanation of eastern fighting philosophies
> don't hesitate to ask... there is much more to tell on that subject
> than I can write in this essay alone. I thank you for reading all of
> this. I'm sure it has been exhausting :)
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