Food for Thought

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Matt Galas
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Matt Galas » Wed Apr 27, 2011 12:57 pm

Statistics & Performance-Based Metrics

One thing some of us are currently working on is the idea of keeping statistics on fighters competing in tournaments. At LongPoint, Jake kept track of double-hits during the tournament. At Fechtschule America, we constructed the rule-sets so that the score-keepers kept track of the following stats: Clean blows delivered, clean blows received, double hits, after-blows delivered, and after-blows received.

By keeping track of these stats, we can analyze the performance of the fighters, and have a tool for measuring who is doing best in areas of special concern, such as double-hits. For example, Scott Brown (who won the LongPoint longsword tournament) advanced to the finals with zero double hits. That's a big achievement in my eyes, since double-hits are the bane of good swordsmanship. That allows us to go back (whether as coaches or as fighters) and see what Scott was doing right. My prediction is that the combination of online video and performance-based metrics will eventually be a major tool for increasing our understanding of the art, as well as improving the overall performance of our fighters.

Tournaments As the End-All?

I certainly don't believe that tournaments are the be-all, end-all of HEMA. There are a host of skill-sets out there, all of which are important to make a well-rounded swordsman. Blade-mechanics are an important aspect of good swordsmanship; ditto for cutting skills. Yet I know some folks who are fantastic at tournament-fighting, but have mechanics that could stand a good deal of improvement. But the converse is true as well; I know of folks with beautiful mechanics, but who are crap fighters. In each case, there's a hole that needs to be filled in. Most of the tournament fighters I know feel more or less the same as I do; I don't know of any (especially not the champions) who focus exclusively on tournaments.

Good Judging is the Key

I think Jake pegged it earlier -- one of the problems we have is a real lack of good judges. (For example, I know of examples where historical technique was used, but was completely missed by the judges.) We are slowly building up a cadre of experienced judges, but they are always in short supply. One way to remedy this was suggested by Keith, just above: Integrate judging into your daily club practice. Not only will this make everyone a competent judge, but it will sharpen their eye and their mental analysis of fencing. At one sport fencing club I was in during the 1980s, there were only 2 strips running; no-one got to fight until they had acted as a judge for that strip (4 judges, 1 referee). The loser of the bout went to the end of the line, the winner stayed up. The loser was replaced by the judge who was first in line. Simple and effective.

Lee S
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Lee S » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:13 pm

Wow - lots to read.

I will keep this short, and focused.

And I am happy with how this discussion has unfolded, I believe lots of progress has been made.

Perhaps you, the members of the MFFG do not understand this, but I, personally, would like to see what you guys have to offer in tournament. I enjoyed watching Jay at Longpoint (although I never had the honor of cross blades) I am certain that other members of your guild could also set a strong example.

I am certain that there are many of us in the community that would like to see and experience your fights first hand.

For me its not so much about win or lose, but more about giving my opponents the best challenge that I can muster, and finding the most skillful fights that can be found. If I win, then its honor to my school, if I lose, back to the gym and the books. It is honestly is this simple for me.

I have found so far that each match in a tournament teaches me something that I could not learn in free play, nor could I learn in sparring...

As for how far we have come, Matt is right. In the last 3 years we have had exponential levels of growth, and skill. There is no comparison between what we saw in 2008 in Apelern, and what we saw at Fechtschule.

In the next 3-5 years, I can see us being that much better, its just going to take time, dedication and hard work.

Oh, and of course some fighting.

I believe having both open and invitational tournaments is a good thing. This way new and inexperienced fighters have the ability to fight the upper echelon guys, however the invitational pits the creme of the crop against each other, so that people have something to work towards. I think fechtschule america did a great job of this.

I believe that people who wish to criticize other people's fighting ability should be out there fighting with everyone else. A more important idea than winning is being out there, in the ring, and fighting to the best of your ability, publicly. I would eventually like to see a single North American event, like fechtschule, that lasts 4 - 5 days, has loads of fighting, tournaments in 3-5 different disciplines, and an invitational tournament for the top seeds. (it would be really nice to bring a rapier tournament in. )

I also hope to see more Instructors who can not only teach techniques and concepts, but can also apply them at speed, and furthermore under duress; rather than teachers who claim mastery or expertise, yet have sloppy blade mechanics and no concept of either measure or time due to lack of training, sparring, and a poor understanding of how the body works. Again, this tide is turning, and I expect that it will turn further in the next few years.

At the end of the day, the community needs people who desire to lead by a strong example. Sword and mask in one hand, treatise in the other.

Cheers,
Lee S. Smith
Principal Instructor, Blood and Iron Martial Arts

http://www.bloodandiron.ca

Mike Cartier
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Mike Cartier » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:55 pm

thanks for the input matt great stuff.
-mike cartier
Freyfechter
Meyer Freifechter Guild South Florida
http://www.freifechter.com

Anders Linnard
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Anders Linnard » Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:36 am

Hi guys!
I will offer my take on tournaments as well.

Tournaments are not the only, or even the most important, part of practicing HEMA. But they are one important part. After all I wouldn't want to exclude drilling, sparring or researching, so why miss out on the competetive aspect?

Just as drilling is a way of training a specific situation time and time again in order to make it part of your repertoire, tournaments are a way of testing that repertoire under pressure. So it is only natural that drills will look cleaner, more text book, since drills are, by their very nature, a way of exposing the fighter to a specific situation. Sparring is more free of course, but usually done under friendly conditions, and for the most part against someone who you've fought many times before. Tournaments add an extra aspect of excitement and competitiveness, which will pressure fighters even more.

The purpose of tournaments is to win, to beat everyone else, to show the world and yourself that what you have learned is useful. Of course you can be an excellent fighter and never fight in a competition, but the question is why you aren't entering competitions? Sometimes a fighter will be excellent at drills, in sparring etc, but will perform poorly in a competition due to the competitive aspect. Let's face it, in those instances that is a weakness of the fighter, not a flaw in competitions in general. The good news is that you just found out that you need to learn to handle that stress level. A stress level that is significantly easier to handle than one where your life is at stake.

So, just as drills aren't sparring, sparring isn't competing and competing isn't a real fight. However, they are all part of HEMA. And I don't really see what we will benefit from limiting our art.

Hope to see all of you soon!
Anders

Anders Linnard
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Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:50 am

Re: Food for Thought

Postby Anders Linnard » Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:16 am

Haha, That rant now has a life of its own :)

I really hope to train with you guys as well. You can email me if you prefer to chat off the record on tournaments or anything else. My email is my first name dot last name at gmail dot com. I rarely have time to follow forum threads i'm afraid.

Anders


Kevin Maurer wrote:WOW Anders Linnard himself!! Welcome Welcome

I had a really big post typed up in response, but then i cross referenced all my weak points against your Shut the f*** up rant, and decided that I better just take your advice and shut the Fook up. lol

Hope to train with you someday.

Kevin Maurer

Mike Cartier
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Mike Cartier » Sat Apr 30, 2011 4:46 am

thanks for the input Anders, I agree with what your saying wholeheartedly. I would not want to do away with tournaments they are an excellent tool for HEMA. My only purpose in this discussion is to get at
1) what is a buffalo
2) why do we not see enough of the art in tournaments (or freeplay for that matter)

I am a firm beleiver in the role of combat sports in ALL western martial arts, its the western way and a proven method of creating good fighters in any art.

I think you Swedes are a great example of what i am talking about with the buffalos, you guys train hard an hit hard but you are not buffalos. Too many people want to go straight to hitting hard without putting in the time to be able to do it properly. you guys consitently show more art in your fights precisly because you take the training part so seriously.

Loved that Rant BTW

We look forward to being able to cross swords with you guys in the next year or so, hopefully we will get to one of the bigger tournaments, We will make it to a swordfish one day too. Of course you guys could always make it to our tournament in Oct :) We would of course require as much time drinking beers as fighting.
-mike cartier
Freyfechter
Meyer Freifechter Guild South Florida
http://www.freifechter.com

Mike Ruhala
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Mike Ruhala » Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:41 am

Mike Cartier wrote:1) what is a buffalo


I think the best definition of a buffalo is "one who believes in the power of athleticism over art." As far as I can tell they've been around since the dawn of time. The real trouble with the buffalo strategy is that it works, at least against inexperienced swordsmen, and those successes reinforce the behavior. My favorite historical perspective on these kinds of people comes from the 1804 work "The Art Of Defence On Foot With The Broad Sword And Saber,"

It has been frequently asserted, that a bold active man, unacquainted with the art, by rushing forward with repeated attacks, will perplex a good swordsman, and if not defeat him, reduce the contest to an equal hazard: but this can only happen if such swordsman has never reflected on the measures fit to be adopted in an engagement of that nature. For instance, if a swordsman slips a cut attempted by one of that description, instead of parrying it, he may effect a cut before the ignorant can possibly recover, and with such force as totally to deprive his antagonist of that vigour and audacity on which alone he could depend.


Luigi Barbasetti deals with this kind of stuff in "The Art Of The Sabre And The Epee" at the end of the saber section. It's too much to type here but well worth reading if you can find a copy.

2) why do we not see enough of the art in tournaments (or freeplay for that matter)


Insufficient training, which is most often the product of inadequate pedagogy. This right here is why I aborted my first attempt at putting together a school all those years ago in favor of studying classical fencing... initially I just wanted to learn how to become a better teacher from a Western perspective.

Any fight is a conversation, the weapons and context provide the topic of discussion. If one or both parties are ignorant on the subject its impossible to have an intelligent conversation. Some people, buffaloes, would like to construe this as "athleticism is superior to art." That isn't really the case, when I'm having a conversation with an ignorant fencer I just use smaller words, shorter sentences and I present my argument in a very blunt way anyone can understand. Against a more conversant fencer I can (and have to) present a more sophisticated debate. Barbasetti covers this kind of thing as well. I'll try to remember to bring some photocopies of the relevant text next time I see you.
Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
www.tcfencers.com

Mike Cartier
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Mike Cartier » Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:23 pm

yes thanks for that Mike, great perspective.
-mike cartier
Freyfechter
Meyer Freifechter Guild South Florida
http://www.freifechter.com

Mike Ruhala
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Mike Ruhala » Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:29 pm

Yes, that is a good portrait... there's something in those eyes. I would have loved to have had the chance to meet Barbasetti, my dueling saber comes from him. He was one of my teacher's teacher's teacher's teachers.

As someone who studies both classical fencing and KDF I will say it's immediately obvious to me how closely connected Meyer's work is to the later systems. Many of the martial principles are the same as is some of the actual technique. Meyer seems to use the longsword as an environment in which to train and develop the skills that will be used in all the other weapons which is immediately reminiscent of the way the foil is currently used to establish the essential skills and attributes that will later be used in the study of epee or saber. Really when I go back and read the manuals I see 9 centuries of conceptual continuity, pretty cool if you ask me. Anyway good learning isn't possible without good teaching and I feel that's one thing that needs attention in the world of the reconstructed arts... we're hard at work on that here at home. I'm interested in seeing how you guys do things, if I can make some room in my training schedule I'd really like to come down and work with you guys at least for a little while. Maybe in a couple months.

I'll definitely be coming to the Orlando get together next weekend and I hope to have the opportunity to fight both you and Mike. This will be my first opportunity since I began seriously studying the longsword to test my art against people from outside my group.
Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
www.tcfencers.com

Matt Galas
Posts: 90
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Message from Scott Brown

Postby Matt Galas » Wed May 04, 2011 1:03 am

Hi, All!

Sorry I haven't responded recently, have a house full of swordsmen prepping for Dijon. Scott Brown is here, and can't seem to log in on his own account, so the following response is from him.

Regards,

- Matt Galas

===============================

Hi All,


Speaking to some of the original topics of this thread.....

Out of curiosity, exactly what techniques are being used in tournaments that are not historical? I'm asking for specifics and please use video examples.

I'm referencing the sentiment "This is contributing to another factor of concern in the tournaments, lack of actual Lichtenauer –esque technique in the form of guards, cuts and handworks." and other similar comments throughout the thread here.

Also, please post tournament video examples of some buffel's. We have so much in the way of video resources nowadays that not using specific examples is only going to promote confusion and miscommunication.

Not all of the Fechtschule America videos are online yet but a Youtube search for the username FechtschuleAmerica will produce many of these videos. However, there is no reason to limit the discussion to FA vids since the general thrust seems to be with all of the modern HEMA focused tournaments.

Scott


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