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Thread: Fencing

  1. #61
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    Originally posted by yenhoi
    Fencers dont train to use the actual sharp of their tool against resisting opponents. How much training time is devoted to poking blocks of wood?

    But in the end, chess is still a better test

    I disagree. What about Go? How can you get any "cleaner" then Go? Why does anyone care about Chess Champion names or columns? Because they care, not because of the nature of the game. Just because a guy is good at chess and people who know about chess know his name doesnt make him smart, it only makes him good at chess. A game. I dont accept your metaphor as accurate.

    Gene didn't say "chess is the best test of martial brain skill". He said it was a better test than Risk. Risk is a game, like chess, only by Parker Bros and not nearly as old.

    To your first point, of course not! No fencer uses a sharp sword to practice. No more than kendo uses sharp katana instead of shinai for bouting practice. That's why it's practice, and not murder or death. That's why fencing has such a long history - it's for practice. Practicing being good at hitting an opponent without being hit. That is the goal. Not hitting a block of wood. An opponent. Gene's point, if I may, Gene, was that a sharp epee can penetrate a block of wood fairly easily if well handled. Or pierce skin. Not that you'd want to do either for any practical reason. But the wood test is an interesting one. From it (I've done it, too) you learn by extrapolation how easily you could be punctured by such a weapon. Sorry, outmoded weapon. Just like every other sword is outmoded. By guns. That's why fencing has rules and is a game. It's outmoded. We do it for fun. It's entertainment. It has no practical, specific or useful day to day application. Not in most workplaces, not at the mall, not on the street, not at a bar. It will not help you, except as a learning experience that may inform other aspects of your concious thought and expression.

    Consequently, we defend it's name from schisms and factions that attempt to influence others into believing that they are "fencing". Some do this well. "Historical Fencing"; fine - specific and clear. We can argue how accurate the history is until we're all blue. But it is distinguishable from western style fencing. So, we're good. "Classical Fencing"; somewhat clear, but practitioners often lay claim to being "how fencing ought to be" which is where conflict can arise. Worst is "Fencing"; instruction offered by charlatans and posers who either have no formal instruction or have corrupted what instruction they have had, and turned the game into something not quite right, but with the same name. That's where the confusion and frustration lies.

    The thing I appreciate about CMA and other eastern MA schools is that, for the most part, they seem to pick cool new names when they spin off from a root stalk. A well known example is, of course, Jeet Kune Do. Bruce created something new. He didn't call it Wing Chun. It was different, he knew it was different, and he made an effort to differentiate it. When people walked in, I can't imagine anyone made the mistake of expecting Wing Chun. You went for his thing.

    In fencing, if it's all called the same thing, how does someone interested in "fencing" know whether they're getting a trained expert in fencing or a charlatan?

    You don't. It's just luck or fate or whatever. Most places are fine, but there are enough exceptions to make this arguement over use of the word happen all too frequently.

    Fingers.... suddenly tired... cramping.... must stop.....

  2. #62
    This is all fairly easy to work out; if you are polite and somewhat commonsensical, you go and visit a few fencing clubs (you can find a regional guide here: www.usfencing.org, "new to fencing") and talk to the people in charge. You will probably find someone pretty quickly that has a genuine interest in swords and sword history (or else, why fence?).

    Ask if they want to swap training, fencing for whatever MA you do. I have known several people who have done this to the enrichment of both parties. This goes for you "historical" and "classical" types as well.

    There is a group of "historicals" near by that practice regularly at one of the local clubs (practice fencing that is, not the "historical" stuff) because, in their words, "modern fencing is swordplay stripped of the bells and whistles, it is pure concentration on hitting".

    For their own play, they have some pretty commonsensical rules that make sense to me (they have to have rules, too, since they are using blunt weapons; if they were usuing sharp weapons, whomever was left standing would be the clear winner, rules or no) and they do a lot of historical research, collect historical weapons, due some actual bladesmithing, and the like. I have never failed to have an interesting conversation with these folks.

    So I recommend that you put away your computer for a while, seek out other experiences and learn from them. I have had great enjoyment from my brushes with CMA, kendo, Arnis/Kali/Escrima, and some historical swordplay. Met great people and learned things that I could use in my martial philosophy if not in my art.

    The truth is that you probably have more in common than you think.

    Hit well, hit often!

    Decafyeti

  3. #63
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    yenhoi

    On your two comments above, sure there was foul play in duels. There still is today. I'll cite the example of Tyson biting off an ear. Should all boxers now train to defend their ears from biting attacks because one guy cheated? As if boxing isn't hard enough already. The point here is that you are trying to put a martial arts lens on an olympic sport - the same is done for boxing and wrestling - and if you have any understanding of the real sport, you'd see why that doesn't really work. It's like looking at modern mass fishing techniques to hunter/gatherer fishing. Modern times have changed it all.

    On the second one, on Go, firstly, decafyeti got it. But if your fixated on Go, I'll gladly change the metaphor. Imagine playing go with land mines (sorry for the typo on 'land mines' in my earlier post). Eventually you could turn that into risk too. I still think chess is a better metaphor because of the old fencing/physical chess saying - that would be something I would think a 'historical' fencer would be up on, famous sayings on fencing from history. Your whole point about someone being good at chess and not smart, is downright silly. The same is true for all professional competitors and athletes. Someone might be good at bridge and none-too-bright at filling out tax forms. But the point is that at least they acheived something. The 'historical' fencers haven't really acheived anything. So not only can they be none-too-bright, they can be bad fencers too.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #64
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    I thought I was pointing out that boxing-fencing-wrestling-etc were just sports/games- very specific training methods for very specific goals/results: scoring according to the rules. Very much removed from true combat methods.

    I also thought that some others a few pages back were claiming as truth that one of these games - fencing would and is the true test of combat oriented blade methods. As you say, thats exactly what fencing is not.

    I agree that the same holds true for many methods. Although many can/do develop good base attributes for combat, hardly tests of actual skill.

    strike!

  5. #65
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    Originally posted by yenhoi
    I thought I was pointing out that boxing-fencing-wrestling-etc were just sports/games- very specific training methods for very specific goals/results: scoring according to the rules. Very much removed from true combat methods.

    I also thought that some others a few pages back were claiming as truth that one of these games - fencing would and is the true test of combat oriented blade methods. As you say, thats exactly what fencing is not.

    I agree that the same holds true for many methods. Although many can/do develop good base attributes for combat, hardly tests of actual skill.

    Fencing, the sport, derived from the exact same training methodology as was used to train for fighting duels. Not kinda like that training; exactly that same training. Granted, for a very particular type of fighting. Structured. Rule-bound. But still - combat. If you don't know that, you've either never fenced or never seen good fencing. Or both, I suppose. Fencing, the sport, is what it is. But it's combat training, regardless of whether you're ever called to use it as such.

    You're as good as saying no martial training can possibly be worth anything in an actual fight, if you've never fought without rules. Which is silly. That's why armys train. That's why boxers train. That's why I train. I expect _never_ to use a sword for self preservation. But I could.

    However, it's all moot- I can't prove it, because I'm not stupid enough to seek such an encounter. Base attributes are all anyone anywhere will ever get from training, until they're faced with a dire situation. What happens in that situation is entirely dependent on the individual. Fight or flee? Duck & cover? What does that individual do? Who can guess? But if it comes down to such a situation, better to have had good training - in any martial activity - than not.

  6. #66
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    Its not all moot. These things (combat attributes and skills) can be precisely and predictably trained and then tested. This includes bladed weapons.

    exactly that same training.

    This is also not true. Fencers have much better technology and methodology today then they did even several decades ago.

    You're as good as saying no martial training can possibly be worth anything in an actual fight, if you've never fought without rules.

    I said nothing of the sort. I said such training, like fencing with very specific limitations were very valuable for developing basic combat attributes. I am questioning some fencers claim that the game of fencing is the end all be all when it comes to being able to "bring it" with a blade.

    But I could

    I doubt it. You will never have a sword on you to fight anyone with. And your attackers will never have the same weapon as you, my guess.

    What happens in that situation is entirely dependent on the individual. Fight or flee?

    This is barely true. Again, we can and do train people to respond predictably to variable situations, including weapons. All of us can/do guess and categorize. Its a large part of the training/learning process.

    strike!

  7. #67
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    boxers and fencers

    I thought I was pointing out that boxing-fencing-wrestling-etc were just sports/games- very specific training methods for very specific goals/results: scoring according to the rules. Very much removed from true combat methods.
    Back to "true combat" whatever that means. Do you think that boxers can't fight? That seems absurd to me. Maybe they can't kick or wrestle, but they can box. They have the distance, timing and velocity to deliver a knock-out blow. By the same notion, fencers have the distance, timing and velocity to deliver a killing thrust. They can't kick or wrestle. But not all 'true combat' is about kicking and wrestling. Especially not swordplay. All you need is a sharp and it makes it very hard for a grappler (although maybe not as hard for a kicker).
    Gene Ching
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  8. #68
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    The less limitations/restrictions/rules the closer you get to true combat, which has no limitations/restrictions/rules. The closer fighters train to true combat, the more reliable and effective their trained skillsets are. Attribute development is only step one to developing actual skill that can be predictably "used" against fully resisting opponents.

    Punching, kicking, grabbing is not fighting. Fighting is the chaotic measure of all the elements combined. Through training to box. boxers will develop great combat attributes. That doesnt mean there are not more effective methods for training to punch and not be punched that are closer to true combat then the game of boxing.

    Especially not swordplay. All you need is a sharp and it makes it very hard for a grappler (although maybe not as hard for a kicker).

    When are you going to have a sharp against a grappler? If you did have a blade of some sort, and the "grappler" didnt, of course you would have a great advantage over any other fighter or attacker. How do you know having a sharp makes it hard for a grappler? How/when does fencing address this in its training as a swordplay method? If its an "even match", say a swordsmen who only studies pure swordplay vs a swordsmen who studies combat with blades... then what makes the difference? Not the sharp or knowledge of sharps.

    Some methods of emptyhand fighting address all ranges and tools of combat and others dont. The former usually train more regularly closer to "true combat" the others train more regularly with specific limitations and rules. This is the same with swordplay. Some methods look at the whole picture and will develop better overall combat with blade skill, and others train with specific limitations and rules that diminish its true combat skill acquisition value.

    Of course all you need is a blade, and obviously boxers can play the game of boxing very well.

    strike!

  9. #69
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    I dont think I wrote that fencers (or boxers) cant fight. I was pointing to the fact that they dont train to fight, they train to fence. They dont train to fight with bladed weapons, they train to fence. I think this is also what others were saying, but they were also claiming that the game of fencing was the end all be all tests of true tests when it comes to bladed combat, and that, is entirely un-true.

    strike!

  10. #70
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    Originally posted by yenhoi
    I dont think I wrote that fencers (or boxers) cant fight. I was pointing to the fact that they dont train to fight, they train to fence. They dont train to fight with bladed weapons, they train to fence. I think this is also what others were saying, but they were also claiming that the game of fencing was the end all be all tests of true tests when it comes to bladed combat, and that, is entirely un-true.

    I've given up hoping the suggestion that fencing IS a fight with swords will hold anyone's attention in this discussion.

    So I'm going back to sleep now. After writing a note to myself to remind me to be sure to pack steel whenever I go out. Don't really know why though, since I'm hopelessly useless with or without my toy sword. Perhaps it will comfort me after a mugger beats me senseless with a quadrangle.

  11. #71
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    How on earth is fencing a fight with swords If its understood that neither person will grab, smash, or move off the strip - when those things - grabbing, smashing and moving freely (off the strip) are "allowed" when it comes to actually fighting?

    strike!

  12. #72
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    Originally posted by yenhoi
    How on earth is fencing a fight with swords If its understood that neither person will grab, smash, or move off the strip - when those things - grabbing, smashing and moving freely (off the strip) are "allowed" when it comes to actually fighting?

    Let's just say that on my planet, there are multiple definitions of the word "fight". Try this: www.google.com. Search terms: fight definition. Click on a result from a dictionary.

  13. #73
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    Silly-talk.

    Ok.

    strike!

  14. #74
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    a fight by any other name

    How do you know having a sharp makes it hard for a grappler? How/when does fencing address this in its training as a swordplay method?
    For my charity work, I volunteer at the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic. My specialty is managing combative and belligerent patients. The second step of our restraint protocol is physical, which means I get to grapple. I've faced armed patients on more than a few occasions - we once had a patient that was packing seven knives - and I'm telling you from direct experience that a sharp makes it very difficult. If you don't beleive that, well, then who's being silly?

    How does fencing address this? Ironically by using the method that you probably least understand - right of way. Foil and saber has a rule about right of way, which basically means that the first fencer to get his or her weapon in line has the right of way, just like the first person to get to a four-way stop sign. This was established for a very real reason. Early fencers did not have the safety measures that we do today (but as a historical fencer, you know that, right?) Today we have kevlar jackets. Back in the day, they didn't even have practice weapons. So right of way was established to prevent to fencers from simultaneously lunging and simlutaneously dying. Now all you need to do to deal with a single opponent when you have a sharp is to put that sharp between you and that opponent with the sharp part facing the opponent. It's simple. It's effective. And it's the foundation of modern fencing. Establish right of way. No one will attack onto an extended weapon (barring the occasional psycho, but then all bets are off for any form of martial arts - and that comes from my volunteer experience too - you just can't predict psychos).

    Maestro Charles Selberg used to make this bet with any comer to prove right of way. He would take a live sword and give you a practice weapon. He would then extend his weapon, establishing right of way and bet you that you would not lunge without removing that line. And you can't. It'd be suicide. I've been on the recieving end of Maestro Selberg's bet and it's simply not possible.
    Gene Ching
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  15. #75
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    Ive heard fencers ***** of right of way before. It doesnt stop someone from grabbing you or your weapon hand, it also doesnt stop them from smashing you or your weapon hand, and it doesnt stop them from changing the angle of attack (stepping off the strip) - which is the basis for fighting someone with a weapon. Right of way doesnt account for grappling.. it explains it away.

    Grappling, smashing, and stepping off line are valuable tools to use to help you overcome a opponent with a blade. becaues the blade is simply pointing at you, these tools dont become unavailable.. they become harder.. like everything else.. closing the gap, landing a blow, everything invloved in combat gets harder with a blade.

    I thought that by a sharp you meant a long pointy tool like a fencers blade. Of course blades can make all the diff. How does a blade make it harder for grapplers or kickers specifically? They dont. They make everything more difficult for everyone. I dont disagree that fencing will make a man more apt for bladed combat then a man with no blade expierence, but the claim that the game of fencing is the end all be all of bladed combat skill is crazy

    Im not a historical fencer. I have no expierence fencing except cross-training with some local fencers, and some of my "seniors" with fencing expierence. I have never claimed extensive knowledge of fencing. I have also not challenged your training methods. You duel masters get offended and ****y far too easily.

    strike!

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