Showing posts from September, 2015

Machiavelli on teaching

"It is not possible for me to make a better gift than to offer you the opportunity of understanding in the shortest time all that I have learnt in so many years, and with so many troubles and dangers; which work I have not embellished with swelling or magnificent words, not stuffed with rounded periods, not with any extrinsic allurements or adornments whatever, with which so many are accustomed to embellish their works; for I have wished either that no honour should be given it, or else that the truth of the matter and the weightiness of the theme shall make it acceptable." - The Prince, Machiavelli

Some thoughts on the three ways of cutting in Longsword

I was chatting with one of my club the other night and she said she couldn't find any information about this on the internet so I thought I'd put something up here in case it wasn't an observation that was well known.

A distinct part of the "German" branch of longsword fighting, to my mind, is the use of the three ways of cutting with a longsword. These are true edge cuts and the two types of false edge cuts.

If you haven't already made this observation, then on each cut line you can do the cut three ways. Looking at the High Line then firstly, obviously, there's with the true edge. Secondly you can push the pommel under your arm turning the blade anti-clockwise for the Crooked (or "hooking" as I think of it) false edge cut, and finally you can Squint (or "twisting" as I think of it) the blade clockwise to bring around the false edge for the Twisting cut. On your right side the hooking type cut ends with your palm facing out, while the…

Some thoughts on why being small and weak isn't a good thing

Just a few thoughts about the above video.

It's a nice idea that skill "vastly outmatches" size and strength. Unfortunately this idea that there is a spectrum with "physiology" on one end and "skill" at the other end isn't really true and it can be detrimental to your training to operate under this assumption. Generally speaking they go hand in hand.

In all sports there's a "software" element and a "hardware" element, this means a element that is skill based and learnt (like Software on a computer) and there is an element that is physiological (like the hardware on a computer). Having better software can make a computer with bad hardware operate better but I doubt it would vastly overcompensate against a computer with better hardware. Likewise in fencing if I had the choice I'd definitely trade off for physical advantages. Why? Because those with physical advantages can achieve disproportionately greater outcomes with …

Swords move really fast

Check out the sequence of pictures. The sword starts in a point backwards cutting position, like Meyer high guard, ends in a wide position. No step but the torso has twisted though and this is quite obviously a strong blow.

These photos bring it home to me about how fast swords move, something that I'm not really conscious of when I'm training. In this sequence each frame is a tenth of a second, so this heavy blow took 0.3 seconds to execute from start to finish. The blow to the bottle probably less than 0.1 seconds (see how the sword is already through the bottle in the middle picture).

This is a good illustration of Silvers idea of Place, that if your opponent is in a position where they can attack an opening without having to step then there is pretty much nothing you can do about it. It highlights the importance of reading your opponents intentions and setting corresponding body mechanics in place before someone is in this position.

Thanks to Ian Nelson for the photo.