WESTERN MARTIAL ARTS:
Ever since I started collecting swords and weapons,
I've been interested in learning about their use as well. I think an understanding
of the techniques and nuances can deepen your appreciation for these weapons and
the people who used them historically.
My first experience with a sword art came in the form of the Fencing club in
college. Clearly, this is not a historical combat technique, but rather a sport
that was originally based on light dueling swords. As with any sport, it's
designed with completely different goals than actual warfare. Likewise, the
strategies will always be different when the participants know they're operating
in complete safety, and their lives don't depend on what happens in the next
I think this is the primary reason that I never gravitated towards
SCA combat. While it looks to be loads of fun,
I've always doubted what it could teach me about historical combat and the
capabilities of the weapons that I was fond of.
In recent years, I've been participating in a historical swordsmanship class
offered at VAF, which is primarily following
interpretations of period manuscripts from longsword masters, most notably
This sort of WMA (Western Martial Arts) program poses an interesting challenge.
Unlike the eastern counterparts, the western arts were abondoned centuries ago.
Eastern cultures have kept their martial arts in a continuous living tradition.
Western cultures, on the other hand, took an entirely practical approach and
allowed their martial arts and sword construction techniques to be lost when firearms
became practical and abundant.
For this reason, current revivalists have to translate and interpret the few
surviving texts that were written by the period masters. Much of what we learn
may be tossed aside as new superior interpretations become clear.
While I've been working towards learning what I can about medieval swordsmanship,
and I'm in the advanced level in my sword classes, I still consider myself to be
an overall novice. The more I learn, the more
I learn how much more there is to learn. :)