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Re: Eastern Martial Arts Philosophies meet the Rapier

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  • Staffan Arffuidsson
    Greetings Kaine, I ll answer your post as well as I can after Beltane. In Service, Staffan ... also ... eastern ... be ... I m ... chivalric ... document ...
    Message 1 of 3 , May 3, 2007
      Greetings Kaine,

      I'll answer your post as well as I can after Beltane.

      In Service,

      --- In RoyalGuildofDefense@yahoogroups.com, "Shane"
      <galadrial_kaine@...> wrote:
      > 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 any
      > martial arts especially those augmented with weapons training. This
      > 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
      > helpful.
      > Let me first begin by stating that the Rapier is NOT a Katana, but
      > not sure that should completely preclude the philosophical side of
      > 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 physical
      > in history depicting a knights code of conduct... it's a pieced
      > 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)
      > * 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.
      > * 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
      pledged word.
      > * Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.
      > * 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.
      > Joseph Swetnam states his seven principles of which true defence is
      > grounded
      > 1. A good Guard
      > 2. True observing of distance.
      > 3. To know the place.
      > 4. To take time.
      > 5.To keep space
      > 6.Patience
      > 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 good
      > or stance as my sensei used to call it understands the necessity of
      > 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 how
      > 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 no
      > 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 may
      > 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
      above I
      > believe) You should should have your feet shoulder length apart
      > 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 extension
      > 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 fully
      > 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 could
      > the difference between you or your opponent yelling "DEAD!"
      > 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 build
      > necessary muscles to maintain that guard, personally I practice just
      > 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 since
      > am not the perfect fighter and each person has their own way of
      > 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 have
      > button of my pommel in line with my hip on my sword foot/leg. now
      > you have that down, practice that a few times each day. I will not
      > into what you do with your offhand because there are many, many
      > 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 your
      > body(once you get past thier guard) or terms of a katana which is
      > slightly more relevant, the amount of space between your sword and
      > your opponents body. it also means between your sword and thiers.
      as a
      > katana is a cutting weapon with many large sweeps to effect the area
      > between the two it is different from the rapier in that distances
      > closer. but at the core of it... distance is still observed. when
      > 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. watching
      > opponent advance on me tells me almost everything i need to about
      > to beat them, the same can be observed with a rapier I believe. when
      > 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 i
      > 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 trying
      > trick you or springing the trap only springs half of it right now)
      > 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, the
      > 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 found
      > 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 helps
      > 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.
      > 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 unless
      > can recover rather quickly. Generally speaking when an opponent
      > at you, you have left an opening that they see and you may possibly
      > 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, his
      > is 12 feet long from the back of his foot to the tip of his sword.
      > is 6 foot 4 with decently long arms. my lunge on the other hand is
      > 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 retreats
      > 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 anywhere
      > a padded mat. I've gotten into a few situations where my martial
      > skills have thankfully allowed me to walk away unscathed. In the SCA
      > 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 think
      > Swetnam's mandate of knowing the place can also be associated with
      > senseis teachings of "mind your surroundings and be observant at all
      > 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... you
      > break off your attack and parry... but at that point you have still
      > 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 hell
      > of there. It will make them choose a different attack angle most of
      > the time, when they present an angle that is acceptable to you...
      > and only then STRIKE!
      > 5.Keep space
      > this somewhat is an emphasis on distance, but not completely,
      > space simply is that, make sure the space between you and your
      > 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...
      > 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 free
      > to extrapolate.
      > 6.Patience
      > 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 fighter
      > 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 ever
      > in a Dojo said they almost knew how the battle was going to go
      > the bout was even started. My advice is to meditate often about a
      > 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 and
      > 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 and
      > choosing when I wish it to occur. The only thing I must make you
      > of however is that meditation is markedly different from
      > in daydreaming you almost always win... that is not so with
      > 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,
      > Eastern,Western,Southern,Northern...fighting,sewing,drawing,
      > 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 art
      > 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 and
      > 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.
      > 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.
      > 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 parrying
      > move the point as much as necessary... the more stationary it
      > the less exposed your body will be.
      > 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 real
      > 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 if
      > 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... use
      > 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 hand
      > it not? that extension can be controlled just as easily as if you
      > touching their body. I simply say think about it. testing it out in
      > 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 yourself
      > 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 will
      > do to try and counter this... after closing to engagement zone think
      > about the battle... it has been said that there should be no more
      > 3 exchanges between opponents before 1 or both of you should step
      > and re-examine the situation, in martial arts it is also 3... 2 for
      > 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. we
      > 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 :)
      > Kaine
      > Scholar
    • Else Hunrvogt
      Thank you Kaine. I very much enjoyed your essay. If you have not already done so, you should glance at the Class schedule for Colleigum. There are a couple
      Message 2 of 3 , May 3, 2007
        Thank you Kaine. I very much enjoyed your essay. If you have not
        already done so, you should glance at the Class schedule for
        Colleigum. There are a couple of philosophy class you might enjoy.
        Also Lysander will be teaching introductory rapier and Staffan is
        teaching an SCA applied Meyer class.



        Title: Tournament Mindset Time: 9:15 - 10:45 Classroom: Or level: all
        Minimum age:
        Instructor: Leohtulf of the Silver Hills
        Description: tba
        class limit:None fees/bring: None

        Title: Introduction to Rapier Time: 9:15 - 10:45 Classroom: Argent
        level: beginning Minimum age:
        Instructor: Lysander Griffing
        Description: Get a basic understanding of West Kingdom Rapier.
        class limit:None fees/bring: None

        Title: The History of the Chivalric Model Time: 1:30 - 3:00
        Classroom: Gules level: all Minimum age:
        Instructor: Leohtulf of the Silver Hills
        Description: tba
        class limit:None fees/bring: None

        Title: The Basics of Meyer: Simple period rapier technique Time:
        1:30 - 3:00 Classroom: Argent level: all Minimum age:
        Instructor: Staffan Arffuidsson
        Description: I will cover the basic techniques that Joachim Meyer
        discusses in the rapier section of his 1570 book "The Art of
        CombatÂ…". This will include moves that can be applied on the standard
        rapier field as well as the one for Cut & Thrust. Please bring as
        much equipment as you have, for I have a finite amount. Handouts will
        be provided.
        class limit:20 fees/bring: Please bring as much equipment as you

        Title: Castiglione For Fighters: the courtly warrior Time: 3:15 -
        4:45 Classroom: Gules level: all Minimum age:
        Instructor: Antonio Giordano da Sicilia
        Description: Prowess is only the beginning. This class is geared
        towards all SCA fighters (armored and rapier). This class will
        utilize Castiglione's "The Book of the Courtier" in terms of
        understanding the responsibility of the SCA warrior, the courtly
        warrior's code of honor and the opportunity for individuals to
        enhance their kingdom by the exercise of their virtue as well as
        their sword. Yes, prowess is of great importance, but it is only one
        aspect of the noble warrior. I have used "The Book of the Courtier"
        in three previous classes over the last six years: "The Making of a
        Knight," "The Knight in His Age" and "The Evolution of Chivalric
        Virtue." This is the first time that I have attempted to take
        Castiglione out of the historical and the theoretical and apply it
        specifically to SCA armored and rapier fighters. As for the
        historical and theoretical components, I will include those as
        introduction so that people will be able to determine if my theories
        hold up to Castiglione's original insights.
        class limit:None fees/bring: None
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