Food for Thought

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Matt Galas
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Matt Galas » Wed May 04, 2011 1:19 am

Hi All,

This is Scott Brown writing this post under Matt's name again, for the record....
Jake Norwood wrote:[*]Do to a fluke in the way the rules were written, Talhoffer-style kicks to the torso scored a point[/list]

I think Jake may be forgetting one part of a conversation when putting together the Fechtschule America rules for 2011 here. Awarding a point for torso kicks was not a fluke but intentionally designed to award historically documented "technique". I can understand that some folks may disagree with a kick getting awarded a point since it may not be life threatening like a sword wound can be but this wasn't the intent behind this rule. One aspect we were working was to reward documented technique. We were using the rules to encourage documented source-based technique. ;)

Personally, I find it rather ironic that some in this thread are arguing that historical technique is largely absent while simultaneously being dissapointed in this type of reward. I'm not singling anyone out here, I'm using this to point out that this thread clearly has a lot of what has become very predictable and typical "tournament angst". That's fine, to each their own, but I have noticed a trend in recent years amongst the angster's to largely be folks who have no real first hand introduction to the greater tournament scene. This is an important point because once these folks do get involved they usually find that tournaments are a lot of fun, a great challenge, and almost always come away with a dramatically different perspective of HEMA tournaments in general. The point here is that it's one thing to have an opinion from afar but it's another to have an informed first-hand experience based opinion.

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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Matt Galas » Wed May 04, 2011 1:36 am

Scott Brown here again.....

Heading off to Dijon in a few minutes so don't have time to respond to a lot that I would like such as the issue of "control". (I get that sense that most people use this term to mean "slow down and don't hit as hard" whereas I view it as striking exactly as hard as you mean to do in precisely the place you meant. But that's me. :P )

However, one point I'd like to make is that of national pride. The citizens of the United States have a long and rich history of being competitors in all walks of life. They also have a history of excelling. Frankly, I'm getting more and more dissapointed in the U.S. HEMA scenesters for all this anti-tournament angst. Where is that American pride to get out there and put our mark on the scene? Where is the classical American pride to work hard and be recognized for that?

This is relevant to those who think that tournaments don't produce enough "stress" to be of any concern. Talk to me after you've been to a foreign country where you are the only person from the U.S. and have to manage the pressures of not only being an instructor who will be judged afterwards because the videos will be out there for all to see, but also have to deal with the on-site national pride of the local regions aaaaaaaand the immediate business of the guys in the tournament. Once again, a first hand experience will often change folks' tune when it comes to these types of opinions.

Scott

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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Matt Galas » Wed May 04, 2011 1:55 am

Scott here again....

Lastly, for now, I'm also concerned about some of the attitudes that keep recurring regarding "athleticism". What? Really? Athleticism in sword arts is somehow a bad thing? Historical fencers were all a bunch of fat slow merchants who simply had some magickal "Arte" to protect them? Sorry, but that's just horseshit. Athleticism in high level fencers is both fundamental and essential.

This is another attitude that needs to be kicked out the door. We (WMA/HEMA) should be actively focused on improving athleticism amongst our swordsmen and women. Many folks are happy to bemoan the buffels and that tournament play is somehow non-historical (we'll come back to that another time) but this only demonstrates that they don't understand what athleticism is. It is the athletes that will produce more and more refined representations of the source material, gang. This is because athleticism is all about performing physical actions in increasing efficacious and precise repetitions. It's what they do and we should be supporting them and heralding them, not trying to dismiss them as some sort of poopyheads killing HEMA. Seriously, what's wrong with working hard to get good and then actually doing it on command?

Martial arts are about doing exactly what you mean to do in exactly the way you intended to do it* and it is athletes who embody this lock, stock, and barrel. Give an athlete a method and some experience to enact this and blam-o you have a fencing system.

Perhaps our pal Paulus Hector Mair wasn't being clumsy when he referred to the players in his manuals by calling them "athletae". Mair wasn't alone in this; there were plenty of other 16th century sources that referred to the martial arts as "ars athleticae". ;)

*And adjust as circumstances change.

Scott

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KeithFarrell
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby KeithFarrell » Wed May 04, 2011 2:06 am

Scott Brown wrote:
Jake Norwood wrote:[*]Do to a fluke in the way the rules were written, Talhoffer-style kicks to the torso scored a point[/list]

I think Jake may be forgetting one part of a conversation when putting together the Fechtschule America rules for 2011 here. Awarding a point for torso kicks was not a fluke but intentionally designed to award historically documented "technique". I can understand that some folks may disagree with a kick getting awarded a point since it may not be life threatening like a sword wound can be but this wasn't the intent behind this rule. One aspect we were working was to reward documented technique. We were using the rules to encourage documented source-based technique. ;)


That's an interesting way of looking at things, and it seems to be an entirely reasonable way of awarding points in a tournament. I like the concept! Would you say that this rule was effective in bringing out more (or a wider selection) of the historical techniques from combatants?


Scott Brown wrote:Heading off to Dijon in a few minutes so don't have time to respond to a lot that I would like such as the issue of "control". (I get that sense that most people use this term to mean "slow down and don't hit as hard" whereas I view it as striking exactly as hard as you mean to do in precisely the place you meant. But that's me. :P )


That is a very good definition of control. To my mind, control is striking appropriately in all factors, for example strength, time, target, speed, etc. What counts as control against a beginner will be different from control against an advanced student, which will be different from control against someone completely covered in protective gear, which will be different again from control against someone who is not very skilled at the sword but who only wants either to hit you hard or to get in close and grapple with you. Control is entirely dependent on the specific scenario, and it is up to every practitioner to do things appropriately while practicing.
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Craig Shackleton
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Craig Shackleton » Wed May 04, 2011 5:12 am

Edit: as i typed this, Kevin's response came in, and I haven't read it yet, but I'm going ahead and posting!

I'm going to address a number of things here and risk pushing this topic into further new directions. Fortunately, they all fall under the stated topic of "food for thought." ;)

I've recently heard that it is rude to quote someone, break their points up into sections, and address them piece by piece. I'm tempted to make that into a topic itself, because I think that NOT doing it muddies discussion. So far, I've only heard people like me saying they've heard it is rude and thus not doing it, rather than hearing someone who was actually offended. Part of me wonders whether the offense is that their points have been clearly and systematically refuted. However, for now I will fall into line and try not to be rude. This is tangential but related to my main point which is about clear and robust debate and discussion.

There will be other asides. If anyone breaks my post into separate points to discuss them, I won't be offended.

So working backwards through some previous posts, my first comment is related to Scott Brown's comment about the stress of tournaments. I personally buy that they are stressful, and that the increased stress is one useful tool in testing our athletes and our interpretations of systems. I disagree with and (and actually kind of resent) the assertion that no one who has fought in an international tournament as the only rep of their country has a right to discuss the notion though. Different people are stressed differently by different things, and most adults have a pretty good understanding of what sorts of situations do and don't stress them out. I will acknowledge the caveat that no one knows for sure how they will respond to a situation until they encounter it, but that in and of itself is a good reason for them to assert their beliefs, if only to hear of the experiences and responses of those who have been there. It also smacks of an arbitrary elitism. That said, I know Scott wrote these comments in a hurry. He may not have meant to close down discussion, but rather to suggest only that attitudes will change with experience. I respect his experience and the point that his experience has more value in this discussion than someone else's lack of experience. I just object to completely ignoring or worse, shutting down, the comments of the less experienced.

My main point here is that shutting down people who are outside of something (anything) only lessens the flow of information rather than increasing it.

As a personal aside, getting to tournaments is not easy for me. I'm working on it. This year I went to longpoint, and decided to not fight in the tournament. I KNOW it would be stressful for me, and thought I'd get the lay of the land this time so that I'd be better prepared to fight next time. Of course, then I ended up judging, which was its own kind of stress! :shock:

I'm intrigued by the kick rule. I generally prefer to require techniques to be taken to their conclusion, but admit that I have done similar things in freeplay exercises to encourage techniques we were working on in class. I commend the decision to use that rule to encourage the technique until such time as kicks are established well enough that competitors can use them successfully to complete an action. I'd also encourage changing up rules like this so that other techniques that get ignored, are encouraged as well. Nothing particular at this time, just like the idea.

Here's where I wish again I was just working through quote texts. my next point is that Scott makes a general comment about tournament angst, without singling anyone out. I'd personally rather see the singled out comment that he's talking about. I get that he doesn't want to offend an individual (something I'm apparently going ahead and risking :oops: , sorry Scott!) but I compare it to his earlier comment on lack of technique in tournaments. Show us the specifics, and address the points! see how this gets back to my initial comment about quoting and dividing text?

And honestly, I'm singling out Scott here in part because he's making points that relate to what I'm saying anyways (and I think he's tough enough to take it!).

I also understand, again, that the kind of discussion I'm talking about is hard when you're rushing out the door to a tournament.

Okay,s so on to the comment about citing video. Video is great, and there is more and more available. However, video is a bit like the whole internet. There is enough of it out there that it's easy to find a bit of it that supports your point no matter what your point is. The problem isn't that there isn't enough info. the problem is that there is too much info, and none of it has been organized in a format for making statistical statements. Until we can present some sort of statistical analysis of what techniques were used with what frequency over a broad array of tournament videos, all we can do is offer a variety of counter examples or general impressions based on wide viewing or personal experience. I wish it were otherwise, but I'm not about to take on the herculean challenge of enumerating the techniques in the videos, especially when we aren't at a point of agreeing on what the techniques are, and sometimes it is hard or impossible to tell what actually happened from a video (or even as a judge). Plus we have our friends who work with Fiore or other systems that categorize the techniques differently to contend with (although it is my impression that there are many more JLT practitioners in tournaments).

I actually think a better solution would be an improved recording/judging system that enumerated techniques, but I don't think we are anywhere near that yet.

And to clarify. I'm totally in favour of backing up statements with actual documented evidence. I'm totally in favour of using video to discuss technique etc online. I'm just not convinced that it will help this particular discussion.

I'm going to add my personal experience of having been to and judged at exactly one tournament event. I was surprised at how many fighters relied on very few techniques. And I mean this in a bad way (they were buffels), not a good way (they focused on basics). I was surprised (a little) that some of them got some mileage out of this. I was happy that none of them got much mileage. I was happy that the fighting in the second round was generally better and showed more technique than the first. In general, in addition to stress testing, the tournament worked. There were people who relied on power, or gimmicks, or even gaming the rules, and they could gain advantage over less experience fighters. But generally the top fighters were the ones that were the actual top fighters.

Okay, I've spent way to long typing this. Sorry for going on so long. i occasionally type long responses like this, and then delete them, because it's something I just need to get out of my system rather than actually discuss. But since a lot of what I'm trying to put out there is creating robust and open discussion, I'm going to let this one stand, and maybe trya nad clarify my thoughts in a new topic later. :oops:

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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Craig Shackleton » Wed May 04, 2011 5:18 am

I had forgotten this was in the Meyer Frei Fechter Guild sub forum. Sorry if my post is inappropriate here! :oops:

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Dan Sellars
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Dan Sellars » Wed May 04, 2011 5:51 am

Craig Shackleton wrote:I had forgotten this was in the Meyer Frei Fechter Guild sub forum. Sorry if my post is inappropriate here! :oops:


This may be the MFFG subforum but it has some of the more interesting discussions* so they are going to have to deal with interlopers like us! :-)

* this is a complement to you guys
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Jake Norwood
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Jake Norwood » Wed May 04, 2011 6:07 am

Hi Kevin.

Just a few points.

Fechtschule America was the first event that I know of to hold a tournament using 16th century rules (the Franco-Belgian), with the only real changes being the use of masks instead of "fryhutten" and that the fines for violating rules were significantly lower. I would like to note that the historical fines were quite high, and that not paying them would get you thrown into debtor's prison.

Fechtschule America's $180 covers the price of a large event, and isn't run at a profit. It's also the cheapest event of its size I'm aware of. The MFFG "Free" model is awesome, but when a venue costs money (like DK), who picks up the tab? Who pays for the T-shirts? Somebody does, right? It's not free for that person. The price of these events, like FA, like Longpoint, etc., just divvies up the cost between all participants equally. Nobody's turning a profit, and when you take into account the manpower-hour cost of setting up and running the event, even at, say, $10/hour, you're looking at hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in labor/time (and sometimes money), at a minimum, donated by the event organizers and staff for no return other than the satisfaction of putting on an event.

Anyway, you're totally right that this is MFFG's forum and playground, and the rest of us are guests. Everybody involved is entitled to their own opinion and approach to the matter. But after that post, brother, I wanna see some sweet, accurate, researched, 16th Century Fechtschule events at DK2012! I'm callin' you out, and expecting you to blow my mind on this one. Instead of bitching about it, "Shut the f*ck up" (quoting Anders here :) ) and put on something better--a superior alternative for developing, showcasing, representing, etc. And if it's 100% Meyer-focused, that's even even even better. I can't wait to see it--seriously, no sarcasm here, I'll be there.

Jake
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby A Froster » Wed May 04, 2011 8:37 am

@Kevin,

What did Mike called you? “Captain Jackass”. But you're our Captain Jackass so we own you (& love you). With that being said, I have never heard anyone from the WMAC or HEMAA even remotely suggest that tournaments were the end all in HEMA. You might have heard individuals making that assertion out of ignorance, but not from the folks leading the movement. It’s my impression that GHFS (Anders & Axel) put much more emphasis on conditioning and drills than they do tournaments. Fechtshule America might not emulate a sixteenth century fechtshule to perfection, but they have just as much right to call it a fechtshule as you have to call your interpretation of a Zwerchauw a Zwerchauw. We are all still learning. I prefer to call them gatherings rather than tournaments because the real reason to have them is to get good instruction, cross swords with strangers and exchange ideas. The tournament aspect is to make sure everyone has a good time. The point is that they are trying (given modern constraints) to replicate a fechtschule as best as they know how based in the information that they have, just as we are trying to replicate Meyer devices to the best of our understanding and information. Let’s not slam someone for making their first attempt to replicate a fechtshule. They know it is probably never going to be as good as it was in the sixteenth century, but how are they going to get it right unless they take the first step? Because they took that first step and a trying to get it right, I am grateful as all of us should be.


@Scott, Matt & Jake

Damn right and good that we have someone who isn’t afraid to question the going dogma of the day. As far as I’m concerned Kevin and Mike have made some very valid points regarding the dangers of Tournamentizing HEMA. In reality, I’m not too worried about the senior practitioners understanding that lesson. I’m worried about the newbie’s (who are the future seniors) getting the wrong lesson. In retrospect both Kevin and Mike have shook me out of my la la daze regarding the dangers that lie before certain paths we take and at the same time served to awaken my HEMA Conscience. Just because Kevin & Mike want to warn the MFFG of these valid concerns doesn’t mean they are anti Scott Brown or Matt Galas. It means they are stirring the pot for a gut check which we all need every now and then. Anyone whose read this thread all the way through can’t tell me that they haven’t altered the way they look at the tournament question differently than before the thread started. In that respect, we owe Mike and Kevin a debt of gratitude for making us think as individuals and not as a group.
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Jake Norwood
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Re: Food for Thought

Postby Jake Norwood » Wed May 04, 2011 9:10 am

I had a long post, but Al's was better. Mostly. ;)

We all agree that there are HEMA tournament dangers. The last 6 years or so of HEMA tournaments have not, in my opinion, bourne those dangers out. Getting involved and helping to shape it is the best way to get the good stuff out of tournaments and minimize the possible negative effects that tournaments could have.

Would I rather have mild sportification in a put-up-or-shut-up environment or self-proclaimed masters who won't fight or display their skill publicly? Honestly, I choose the first, understanding that in some ways its a lesser of two evils. That also appears to be the spirit of the decisions made by the ancients.

We talk a lot about the fears of "tournamentizing HEMA" and other stuff. My point all along is I don't see any "bad" behavior in fighting in HEMA tournaments that I don't see outside of HEMA tournaments. What this tells me is that the "bad" stuff isn't a product of the tournaments. Moreso, thanks to the tournaments, we see it and can address it, because Tournaments are recorded, made public, and can't be negotiated out of. There's an absolutism there that makes folks uncomfortable because it says, "Hey, guess what, you thought you were pretty good, but when you fought so-and-so you actually looked like crap." This applies to the winners and the losers. I'm much less happy with my performance in my tournament fights than I am with my private fights at home. Why? 'Cause I can't hide from it. 'Cause I fought in an environment that I didn't control, against an opponent who I didn't pick, who doesn't train like me, and whose tricks I don't know.

And I see more "good" behavior in these tournaments, at least at the higher levels. How else do we get 20 skilled fighters from across the world to fight each other? Who's going to motivate Axel to train harder if he never fights Lee Smith or Nathan Grepares?

Anyway, to sum up. Tournaments =/= teh ultimate. Tournaments = a good thing, but not the only good thing. Sheesh.

Best,

Jake
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