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Re: [SCA-Archery] Mongolian Archery Question

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  • John Rossignol
    That s a tough one. Speaking as someone who shoots a horsebow himself and understands how little most Americans know about the whole subject, and also as
    Message 1 of 51 , Jul 17, 2008
      That's a tough one. Speaking as someone who shoots a horsebow himself
      and understands how little most Americans know about the whole subject,
      and also as someone who has taught in Collegia out here in the West
      Kingdom, I have a few suggestions I hope are useful.

      If your class description is clear, then you can be fairly sure that
      whatever class you teach, the students who show up will know what they
      are getting into, and will have an interest in that particular aspect of
      the subject. The real problems are:
      a) what topic do you really want to teach;
      b) what topic will be interesting to the greatest number of people, or
      at least a goodly number of people; and
      c) how do you guess what level of knowledge and experience your students
      will have (e.g. archers vs non-archers)?

      In my experience, when we are laying the groundwork of knowledge in a
      new field, we generally have to concentrate on (b) and save (a) for
      later, when we have built up a clientele, so to speak. Otherwise, we
      lose them. It sounds like you have already come to the same conclusion.

      The ideal answer to question (b), in my mind, is actually to offer more
      than one course: first your #4 history class to set the stage and whet
      the appetite, then a hands-on "Mongolian Archery Technique" course which
      combines the practical applications of your #1 and #3 (which are
      intimately related anyway). (As a first offering, I would not recommend
      the historical and cultural aspects of either thumb rings or the thumb
      draw. I don't think they would fly. These are really fairly arcane
      topics for folks grounded in Western civilization, best saved for when
      they have developed a serious interest in Eastern archery.)

      If teaching two courses isn't feasible, then I would recommend going
      with just the hands-on "Mongolian Archery Technique" course. Strictly
      speaking, at least to my mind, "Traditional Mongolian Archery" per se is
      technique and equipment much more than it is history, and I think most
      people seeing that topic title would expect, or at least want, to learn
      something about how to do it. If you have any historically-sized (i.e.
      very short) horsebows for students to try, the answer to "why use the
      thumb draw" will also become apparent readily enough. (Of course, the
      thumb draw can be discouraging for beginners, so be sure to demonstrate
      how well it can work once one becomes skilled. Also, unless you have an
      indoor range available you will probably want to be ready to shift gears
      to "demo + Temüjin lecture" if the weather is too nasty to actually go
      out and shoot.)

      The answer to question (c), in my experience, is that unless you
      explicitly exclude students who lack a certain level of knowledge or
      experience (which you obviously don't want to do here), you have
      absolutely no way of knowing what sort you are going to get. Very often
      you will get a broad range. My advice is to take a quick poll of your
      students and then try to teach the class at a level that will be
      moderately challenging to most of them. Provide class notes which
      introduce some of the information you won't have time to cover in
      class. Especially, a well-done "further reading" list can not only help
      students at any level deepen their knowledge, but also get them started
      on related topics if that's what they want. In a one-hour class, you
      simply can't tailor things to each student, but with good class notes
      you can help them do this for themselves, later on.

      The bottom line is that it is impossible to be sure of making the right
      choice of class offering. There are too many variables beyond our
      control. We all guess wrong sometimes, but it's not the end of the
      world. Just make the best judgment you can, be sure your class
      descriptions are clear, and then when the day comes try to tailor your
      teaching level to your students. Even if a class flops at a particular
      University, don't get discouraged. You still have the class notes, and
      your own knowledge, available to pull out in the future when a more
      receptive audience appears -- plus you have gained audience insights you
      can apply to the next University. Eventually you will have a whole
      spectrum of classes in your magic bag, ready for any occasion, and in
      the meantime you will have deepened your own knowledge of the subject,
      and probably improved your teaching skills.

      I hope some of that is helpful. Good luck!


      Ceterum censeo, Carthago delenda est.

      Steven Fuller wrote:
      > Hey folks,
      > I have been asked by a few people (separately, even!) if I would teach
      > a class on Traditional Mongolian Archery at Atlantian Fall University.
      > They wanted it to be a part of a whole Mongolian track of classes,
      > including cooking, culture, clothing, furniture, etc.
      > My question, then, is this: seeing as how I only have an hour to teach
      > a subject and I really need to narrow my class down to one topic, what
      > should I teach about?
      > 1) History of the Mongolian Draw, How It's Done and Why
      > 2) History of the Thumb Ring and Its Cultural Significance
      > 3) Learn to Shoot with a Thumb Ring
      > 4) Horse Archery and Its Pivotal Role in the Spread of the Mongolian
      > Empire
      > I'm not really sure who my "students" will be, if they would be mostly
      > archers or mostly non-archers. How should I decide what would be most
      > wanted out of a Mongolian archery class?
      > Thanks for any and all suggestions (and any reference help would be
      > great, too! *grin*),
      > --Rhys.
    • Kinjal of Moravia
      ... Oh, how I disagree with you -- let me count the ways (no citations follwing your opinion lead) I hope the citizens of the other European nations are not
      Message 51 of 51 , Jul 22, 2008
        --- In SCA-Archery@yahoogroups.com, Carolus <eulenhorst@...> wrote:

        Oh, how I disagree with you -- let me count the ways
        (no citations follwing your 'opinion' lead)

        I hope the citizens of the other European nations are not too
        offended by your view that only England and France are important.

        1) the Mongolian 'event' obviated the 'hubris' driven infighting of
        the European monarchy. This allowed the Pope to demand a mediating
        role that broke the power of Fredrick II (Holy Roman Emporer) and
        appoint favored kings and princes throught Europe.
        2) The 'too late' support of Austria came at the price of whole-sale
        Christianization of entire Slavic peoples. This 'fire-hose' baptism
        and later church restructuring to support massive expansion let to
        power abuse and the Reformation.
        3) Without the Mogol invasion the Ottoman Empire would never have
        4) without the invasion the Russian states might still be just a
        collection of squabling cities. Batu Khan unified Russia if nothing
        5) The Mongols demonstrated the effectiveness of gunpowder explosives
        to the Europeans.
        6) Miltary tactics of all European armies changed after the multiple
        7) the saparation of the Eastern and Roman churches might have been
        resolved except for the power dynamics created by the invasions.
        8) the weakening of the Baltic states and distrust of the Western
        rulers prevented cooperative support during the 'years of darkness'
        in the 14th century that led to the plague.
        9) the breaking of Teutonic oppression of Poland and Germanic states.
        10) repeating the reformation probably would never have occured
        except for the Mongolian invasion.

        and more ... have fun doing the research yourself.

        my interest in the 'Mongolian impact' is fueled by these and many
        other reasons indicating that the Mongol Invasions was one of the
        MOST CRITICAL influences on the development of European cultures in
        the 14-16th centuries. I have no particular love of the Mongolian
        Culture or actions, but am facinated of how they defeated every
        European army they met through guile, subtrafuse, courage and skill
        while European leaders dithered over uniforms, sibling squabbles and
        religeous politics.


        > Well written, John. You point out a number of
        > the reasons I do not consider the Mongols a major
        > factor in Western culture. While they had a
        > significant influence on the East, they had
        > little influence in the traditionally Western
        > countries such as England and France except to be
        > used as "bogeymen" to appear in stories to
        > frighten children into behaving. The fact that
        > their culture virtually disappeared into those of
        > their supposed "conquered" foes and has no
        > lasting influence on Western culture is why I do
        > not consider them a tangible influence.
        > Carolus
        > At 06:14 PM 7/21/2008, you wrote:
        > >reneshepard wrote:
        > > > Okeiday, this is my tuppence on the subject, btw, I'm Rene
        Shepard, I
        > > > got my first degree in Art History at OSU Stillwater, but I had
        > > > I call a "secular" history major for two years at the now
        > > > Phillips University in Enid OK. I have other training but it
        > > > relevant here.
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >> First, I did not state that they were militarily
        > > >> defeated. The political collapse of the Mongols
        > > >> was far more devastating than anything the West
        > > >> could throw at them. This does not change the
        > > >> fact that they were not able to succeed in
        > > >>
        > > >
        > > > Genghis Khan died 50 or so miles from Paris France, yes?
        > > >
        > >
        > >Sorry, no. To my knowledge, the closest Genghis Khan (Temujin)
        > >ever came to Europe was the northern part of Persia, after which he
        > >concentrated on China. Other of his forces under Subutai and Jebe
        > >farther west, eventually conquering Georgia (in the Caucasus) and
        > >Kievan Rus', and then were recalled to the east by Genghis Khan to
        > >in China. No Mongol forces ever got close to France. The farthest
        > >any of them came was somewhere around the eastern border of modern
        > >Germany, during the campaign against Hungary, but that occurred
        > >Genghis Khan's successor.
        > >
        > >Genghis Khan probably died in China (of what, exactly, we don't
        > >Some accounts say he died of wounds incurred in Egypt, but that is
        > >unlikely, since the Mongol involvement (and defeat) in Egypt
        > >took place after he was dead.
        > >
        > >(And I apologize, but I can't cite specific references for most of
        > >It's the result of many years' reading, but I don't own the
        sources. My
        > >fields of relative expertise are mostly Western, and I only have
        > >for so many books. In general I am, shall we say, somewhat wary of
        > >sources, so I usually don't like using them as references.)
        > >
        > > > But:
        > > > Contrary to popular belief, Genghis Khan did not conquer all of
        > > > areas of the Mongol Empire. At the time of his death, the Mongol
        > > > Empire stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Japan. The
        > > > empire's expansion continued for a generation or more after
        > > > death in 1227. Under Genghis's successor ígedei Khan the speed
        > > > expansion reached its peak. Mongol armies pushed into Persia,
        > > > finished off the Xi Xia and the remnants of the Khwarezmids,
        and came
        > > > into conflict with the imperial Song Dynasty of China, starting
        a war
        > > > that would last until 1279 and that would conclude with the
        > > > gaining control of all of China.
        > > >
        > > > I wouldn't consider this a footnote nor trivial.
        > > > Ghengis' grandson:
        > > > Kublai or Khubilai Khan (September 23, 1215[8] - February 18,
        > > > [9]) (Mongolian: Хубилай хаан,
        > > Chinese: 忽必烈; pinyin: Hūbìliè), was
        > > > the fifth and last[citation needed] Khagan (1260â€"1294) of the
        > > > Empire. In 1271, he founded the Yuan Dynasty, which ruled over
        > > > Mongolia, China Proper, and some adjacent areas, and became the
        > > > Yuan emperor.
        > > >
        > > > Again, only trivial footnote in Western eyes.
        > > >
        > >
        > >True. Actually, they also made quite an impression in eastern
        > >and their rule in Russia may have set its cultural progress back
        back a
        > >couple of hundred years behind the rest of Europe. Quite a few
        > >westerners still remember the Mongols, and not fondly. But see
        below, also.
        > >
        > > > The main point I'm trying to get to though is why the Mongolian
        > > > archer's and the horde in general are so very important in the
        > > > scheme of things.
        > > >
        > > > The horde were able to do what they did because of the
        invention of
        > > > the stirrup. Prior to there was nothing really as usefull. It
        > > > the horde to put pressure on the West forcing more and more
        > > > which eventually led to the accidental "finding" of the New
        > > > Which was never lost, nor was it new but you get my point.
        > > >
        > >
        > >I think you are mistaken here. For one thing, by the 1200's when
        > >Mongols irrupted, everyone in Europe and Asia had had stirrups for
        > >hundreds of years. The earliest stirrups probably did originate in
        > >Central Asia, but they had been introduced into Europe long ago,
        > >likely by the Avars in the 600's. For another thing the Huns,
        > >nomadic horse people from the steppes, had in late Roman times
        > >or terrorized everyone in their path quite without the benefit of
        > >stirrups. Although there is considerable dispute regarding the
        extent of
        > >the cultural and military impact of the stirrup ("The Great Stirrup
        > >Controversy"), it is moot here because by the time of the Mongols
        > >stirrups were in universal use. The great success of the Mongols
        > >due, not to stirrups, but to a number of other factors, including:
        > >superior bows and the skill with which they used them; their great
        > >mobility against foes who, at least in the West, lacked sufficient
        > >cavalry to counter it; their adaptability and their incorporation
        > >conquered forces; and above all their superb tactical discipline.
        > >
        > >Nor did the Mongol activities cause much in the way of migration.
        > >Perhaps you are thinking of the migrations of the Slavs and Goths
        > >fleeing the Huns a thousand years earlier.
        > >
        > >As far as Mongol pressure leading to the eventual discovery of the
        > >World: quite the opposite. The occupation of the Middle East and
        Asia by
        > >the various Mongol Hordes actually facilitated trade between West
        > >East across the ancient overland routes. The Mongols suppressed
        > >and local warlords along the Silk Road, and encouraged trade.
        > >diplomats visited the West, Marco Polo visited China, and trade
        > >flourished. It was the *decline* of Mongol power, and the rise of
        > >Turks, which eventually strangled Europe's overland trade routes to
        > >India and China, prompting Europeans to seek Atlantic ones.
        > >
        > > > My problem with the minimalization of the importance of this
        > > > incredible culture is a habit of Western thinking even today,
        > > > leads to, imo, the negative persona of the West that seems to
        > > > permeate cultures outside of the West. In other words, we in
        the West
        > > > tend to make other cultures somehow insignificant to our own,
        > > > because it is not our own.
        > > >
        > > >
        > >
        > >Everyone does that, not just us. In fact, Western historians are
        by no
        > >means the worst offenders.
        > >
        > > >> invading and conquering the West - just as Russia
        > > >> successfully defended their country by planned
        > > >> retreats and the use of harsh weather as a
        > > >> weapon. It does, however, point out that the
        > > >> culture was not strong enough to maintain a
        > > >> successful occupation and did indeed become a
        > > >> footnote along the way of history.
        > > >>
        > > >
        > > > A foot note in whose history? Just because Communist China
        > > > and denies any history that does not support it's bizarre
        regime does
        > > > nothing to negate the immense impact this culture had at the
        time of
        > > > its occurance nor it's relevance to future generations. These
        > > > still exist, and if you haven't noticed they have an enormous
        > > > the last time I checked is a nuclear power.
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > >
        > >If you are still talking about the Mongols, they don't have an
        > >and they are not a nuclear power. Since the decline of their
        empire in
        > >the 1300s, they have been overrun and subjugated repeatedly by the
        > >Manchurians, Chinese, and Russians. About a third of Mongolia
        proper is
        > >now part of China. What's left is about twice the size of Texas,
        but it
        > >is mostly desert, barren mountains, and arid steppe.
        > >
        > >The Mongols did have a large impact on the history of Asia and
        > >Europe, primarily because of the unifying influence they provided
        for a
        > >time, and the devastation they caused in some areas. However, the
        > >size of their empire -- much of which was empty wasteland -- can
        > >lead one to overestimate their lasting influence. Culturally, the
        > >Mongols contributed almost nothing to the lands they conquered.
        > >were a primitive, nomadic people who rather quickly adopted the
        ways of
        > >the lands they occupied, and were subsumed into their cultures in a
        > >generation or two. Their greatest positive contribution was
        > >their unifying effect on some of the areas they controlled,
        > >China, which helped those cultures to flourish -- after, of
        course, they
        > >caused the deaths of millions, many as a deliberate terror tactic.
        > >
        > >The "Mongol Empire" was in fact rather short-lived. Its full
        extent was
        > >never a single political entity except in name. Temujin (Genghis
        > >began his conquests in 1207. Upon the death of his successor
        Ogedai Khan
        > >in 1241 the Mongols began fragmenting into several feuding "Hordes"
        > >which controlled different areas. When the already-very-sinicized
        > >became Great Khan in 1260, most of the empire had already
        fractured into
        > >separate, often warring khanates, and the Mamluks were already in
        > >process of conquering back the Middle East. The Yuan (Mongol)
        Dynasty of
        > >China became thoroughly Chinese, but was overthrown in 1368 for
        > >incompetence and bad luck. Russian forces defeated the Golden
        Horde in
        > >1380, although some areas paid tributes for another century.
        > >to, say, the Romans, the Mongols' tenure was brief, and their
        > >much less pervasive. The Mongols did not impress their ideas,
        > >institutions, or way of life on conquered peoples -- just the
        > >in fact. They were either absentee landlords, as in Russia, or
        soon lost
        > >their own cultural identity in the lands they occupied. Yes, the
        > >did change the world, but not nearly as much as did the Greeks,
        > >British, Chinese, Arabs, etc.
        > >
        > >[Okay, okay, I did get those dates from Wikipedia. I'll trust it
        > >that much.]
        > >
        > > > The only other point I'd like to make on the subject of
        > > > Mongolian/Khazak/Chin history is that the area we are
        discussing is
        > > > huge and it's area encompass' such large diversity of peoples
        that to
        > > > assume an idea could or could not have occured based on one
        battle or
        > > > one time or one generation is absurd. We could dig for years
        > > > mountains of archeology and information and never come to any
        > > > conclusion. Thus if someone like Kinjal has a tale to tell,
        with or
        > > > without citations, I for one will read what they have to say and
        > > > weigh it based on my own experiences. And while citations can
        > > > some reading more profitable, sometimes, it is just more fun,
        > > > less antagonistic to listen/read the story and enjoy.
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > :)
        > > > Rene
        > > >
        > > >
        > >
        > >That approach to history has some merit, but also many drawbacks.
        > >need to be very wary of the philosophy that "to assume an idea
        could or
        > >could not have occured based on one battle or one time or one
        > >is absurd." If I understand you properly, you are saying that we
        > >accept that certain events and ideas *may* have occurred in the
        > >even without any evidence that they *did* occur. While such
        > >cannot logically be disproved, this approach makes history into an
        > >absurd, meaningless shambles. If we follow it far enough, we have
        > >credit the possibility that the Assyrians freed prisoners who could
        > >recite sonnets in Elizabethan English, or that preliterate Celts
        > >worshiped a giant cream-puff. Therefore, we ask for evidence, the
        > >solid the better, before we accept something as "history". Without
        > >evidence, it's only conjecture -- which is fine, as long as it's
        > >presented as such. We need conjecture, and open minds, but they
        are not
        > >enough by themselves.
        > >
        > >As far as source citations: I think the general feeling on this
        list is
        > >that when covering well-known ground, or matters of only casual
        > >interest, none of us wants to be bothered with providing, or being
        > >interrupted by, a lot of citations -- although we do appreciate
        > >told when we are listening to speculation or the poster's pet
        > >rather than knowledge gathered from more accepted sources.
        However, I
        > >for one feel that when the subject matter is new or controversial a
        > >citation or two is appreciated, and asking courteously for one is
        > >certainly not out of line. Most of us respect the idea of "history"
        > >enough to want it tied to something more than a good story. Of
        course, a
        > >poster is never required to provide citations, but I consider it
        > >courteous to do so if possible when asked. And, naturally, a
        poster who
        > >cannot, or will not, back up his or her historical pronouncements
        > >accept with good grace that others may not buy what he is saying.
        > >course, one is never obliged to credit the reliability of any
        > >source, either, but some evidence is better than no evidence.
        > >
        > >John
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