Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Cosmo Kramer, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. Cosmo Kramer

    Cosmo Kramer Valued Member

    is fencing considered a martial art? one of my friends just started it and i was wondering
  2. kenpoguy

    kenpoguy The Last Dragon


    Yes, many consider it to be a western martial art, as it is something that can be studied and refined and practiced , similar to traditonal martial arts. There is still a lot of debate out there over it, but despite what people say, by theory it is...
  3. Omicron

    Omicron is around.

    Remember too that there are lots of different types of fencing. There's the standard sport type fencing, but also the type that teaches from a more practical application-based viewpoint. I have a friend who trains in classical renaissance style rapier fighting, which is much different from the sport fencing you see on TV and such.
  4. kenpoguy

    kenpoguy The Last Dragon


    very true omicron, as what your freind does is most likely SCA fencing. In that they use traditonal rennoiscance garb such as the periods clothing, and use live blades, along with daggers , shields, and sometimes whips, as well as many more items. Fencing typically is known to be more of an olympic sport though, and few people know about SCA. I also hear of a school in england i believe, that teaches gladioatoral fighting, and has actual gladiator bouts.(Not to the death of course, they are unchoeargraphed however) and they even use nets.
  5. Omicron

    Omicron is around.

    Indeed my friend is involved in the SCA, though I think the club he studies fighting with is a separate entity in itself.
  6. kenpoguy

    kenpoguy The Last Dragon

    Yeah, there are all kinds of subdivisions within it. Very fun to do and watch, something I would love to get back into. I always preffered it to regular fencing to be honest.
  7. Cuchulain82

    Cuchulain82 Custodia Legis

  8. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    -And for those of you that don't bother checking out that thread (you really should, by the way, if you're interrested in WMA/european fencing) -I'd like to mention that current weastern fencing roughly can be divided into the following communities:

    LARP'ers: Young fellas doing live actual roleplaying, with emphasis on playing a character and safety. If their settings is set in Fantasy-realms or other settings that involve fencing, they fence with foam-swords/latex swords/gaffa-swords and usually have nothing in common with other kinds of fencing.

    Re-enacters/SCA: People of all ages trying to reenact historical events/times. Allso here most of them is more focused on safety and setting than the art of performing lethal techniques with swords, but they at least use metal swords, so their fighting is somewhat closer to the real thing than LARP-fencing.

    Show-fighters/Movie-fighters/coreographed-fighers: People that tries to make fencing look cool on screen. Sadly most stuff that looks cool on a screen allso is what would get you killed in a real situation, and allthough it looks cool, and many of the people performing this kind of fighting are very skilled at what they do (look at Hector and Achilles in Troy, Maximus in Gladiator and Viggo Mortensen in LoTR), they don't perform anything that could be called traditional weastern fencing (they don't try to either).

    Olymic fencers: A style of fencing that has derived from actual, lethal rapierfencing ala "The three musceteers", etc. Since their main focus is to declare winners and safety, many of the original techniques are removed, and -like the ones performing Re-enactment/SCA they, don't train in delivering hard thrusts/stabs/cuts (they don't need to, as touch is sufficient to score)

    WMA'ers: Those traditions of weastern martial arts that involve fencing. Luckily many manuals from renissanse and even medieval times have survived in Church-libraries and museums and have been re-discovered. Theese styles are truly martial arts, with techniques meant to put the enemy out of the fight with no regard for the opponents safety or any show-effects for spectators. The sad thing is that most of theese traditions have been ressurected, so that we have nobody that can tell us how the techniques are supposed to be done. The WMA-community therefore consists of people that really don't know wether they're doing stuff right, and there's a continous discussion on what's right and what's not right. (A fun example of this is "my WMA"; Fiore di Liberi's Fior di Battaglia. One of the leading characters in rediscovering this martial art is writing a book that he wants to have as perfect interpetation of the manual as possible. It was supposed to be finished around 2002, but everytime he thinks he's got it right, he disvovers a glithc, get's a new innsight, disovers a deeper thought, etc. and the book still isn't finished!)
  9. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    SCA fencers mainly use blunted schlager blades or double wide epees. And even those that do use historically accurate rapiers dont use a live blade. They use blunted rapiers. If they were to use a live blade there wodl a very high atrition rate as the way a SCA match is decided is by a "killing" blow IE a blow to a portion of the anaotmy taht would result win death with a live blade.
  10. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    Nice summary although the Olympic sabreurs would have to have words with you about it being derived from rapier fencing :D

    It seems like WMA as you describe it is combat archeology, find some artefacts and documents and try and re-create a way of life (or fighting at least). Bottom line with any historical stuff is that there will always be more than one interpretation because A. some of the evidence is lost forever, B. There is rarely a single and correct way of doing anything. If there was, MAP wouldn't exist and there would be no debate about well known, current MA's.

    Main thing is to enjoy it and come out at the end knowing more than when you went in :D
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2005
  11. Chris Umbs

    Chris Umbs New Member

    It depends on the Art involved. I study dueling sword, dueling sabre, smallsword, rapier, sidesword, and unarmored longsword as living tradition from a lineage (Me-Martinez-Rohdes-Cabijos) as opposed to treatises.

  12. Wynnston

    Wynnston Member

    All four of you agree on absolutely every aspect? No disagreements, no evolution of moves, no new moves? Is it possible that how Cabijos taught Rohdes how to lunge might not be exactly the same as how Martinez taught you how to lunge (as an example). I'm not having a go, and you obviously know more about it than me, but I'm just saying that absolutes in any fighting art are hard to come by whether they're historical or new.
  13. Chris Umbs

    Chris Umbs New Member

    Well that's the entire point of a living tradition. Same thing with any traditional Asian style. On top of the living trad. we ALSO have the treatises to check ourselves against and that stops any teaching branch from going too far off the main path. As for new moves... no, not really. Unless we came up with some kind of new blade - every possible combo has been fully documented throughout the printed works. However, there's often 5 or 6 different responses to any given action - some teachers will emphasize certain moves over other, but a good teacher will tailor the style to the individual student's need.

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2005
  14. kenpoguy

    kenpoguy The Last Dragon

    forgive the live blades part. I was mainly reffering to when demonstartions and shows are done.
  15. Ran Pleasant

    Ran Pleasant Valued Member


    Are you saying that you are studying a living tradition of longsword, sidesword, and rapier with direct unbroken roots into the Renaissance periods? Given that the martial arts of these weapons completely died out I can only assume that you mean that you are studying a recreation of the use of these weapons by your teacher or one of his teachers. As you might recall, this issue came up on Sword Forum International back in 2002.

    Ran Pleasant
  16. Chris Umbs

    Chris Umbs New Member

    Well since you brought up the Sword Forum thread, why not just go back and read it? I'll print the final post from that thread, but Ran - you know that thread was locked by Greg for a reason... If you just really can't remember the conversation, that's one thing, but you seem to be trolling.

    Dear Readers,

    I have recently returned from attending a hectic nine days of the third FISAS meeting and the first IMAF-Academy which took place in Italy. Needless to say I am very tired from traveling, teaching and meetings, so I will be very brief in addressing the questions that have surfaced on this thread.

    Mr. Keith Myers asks:

    ----"Now with all due respect to Maestro Martinez, and at great risk of offending people further......does anyone but me find it strange that someone purporting to know enough about a method to teach it openly is unaware of its origins? Again...I mean that as a legitimate question. I am not trying to be inflammatory at all.â€

    I will repeat here in a condensed statement what I explained to the participants of the seminar in Rochester NY.

    I offer the following;

    The long sword that I learned from Maitre Rohdes is a collection of techniques and NOT a complete system. I also learned a collection of techniques in single sword, sword & shield, and side sword along with cloak, dagger and buckler. I was also instructed in round shield & sword as well as round shield & axe. I received no instruction in pole weapons but I was instructed in some very elementary quarter staff techniques. There were also other things that I learned such as walking stick self defense and some unarmed self defense techniques based on fencing theory and the experience that Maitre Rohdes had gained during his time in the German Navy.

    Maitre Rohdes never told me where he learned these weapons and techniques from the middle (16th century)and early (14th &15th centuries) historical periods. When I asked him where he learned these techniques, he told me he learned it "some where in Europe". Maitre Rohdes instructed me in English for the simple reason that I do not understand a word of German and he felt that I would not understand his terminology. Maitre Rohdes informed me that what he taught me from the early and middle periods was German. There is nothing strange in that I do not know the origins of these techniques. Maitre Rohdes adhered to his professional duty in seeing that the knowledge was transmitted to his disciple. In his capacity as a Master what his objective entailed was that I fully comprehended the instruction that he was imparting to me and that I would be able to teach it. I accepted what he told me as fact. My master always encouraged me to conduct my own research as part of my training and preparation to become a teacher. During many years, I consistently verified that everything he taught me in regard to the French and Italian schools was correct and is thoroughly documented. I have fluency in Spanish, Italian and some French therefore, I am able to read the primary source material in these schools of fencing. My lack of knowledge of the German language was an obstacle for me in researching the German treatises. In regards to these early weapons I have never changed what I was taught. I continue to teach it as it was taught to me. It is only recently that I have been attempting to find the origins of what he taught me from these early periods. In the end it is difficult to know if these methods are from the German revival and reconstruction in the 19th century or if they where learned from some obscure master in Europe.

    In many of the fencing academies of the 18th and 19th centuries in Italy, Spain and France, what was termed "ancient fencing" was taught along with the contemporary weapons. For example, even though we have no long sword and dussack treatises in the 18th century that I am aware of, these weapons were still being practiced in the salles as is evidenced in Diderot's Encyclopedia of the late 18th century. These traditions existed well into the 19th century. However, it is difficult to know how these methods were taught and how they may have changed during these later periods. To my knowledge there are no specific treatises written in the 18th and 19th centuries that can document the pedagogy that was utilized to give instruction in the older weapons.

    After having taught the seminar in Rochester, it was clear to me and some of the participants that some of the elements of what I teach are indeed German. During my recent time in Italy at the IMAF Academy I discussed this with Stefan Dieke. He feels that there are some German and Italian elements along with some techniques that he has never seen before. The information provided by him was extremely helpful as it gives me a direction for further investigation as to the origins of these techniques.

    In regard to the question of lineage, I come from a "Living Tradition" in the weapons and styles of the classical period and the late historical periods because I learned complete systems directly from a master who learned from his master. In fact my linage is in complete systems of fencing that can be traced directly back to the Italian and the French academies of the 19th century. These systems can then be traced back to the 17th century. This linage can be verified by the fact that the systems are documented in the period treatises. The transmission of a traditional line of fencing knowledge (LIVING TRADITION) can only be attained through a master disciple relationship. The master of that lineage must have attained his knowledge through his master, who in turn received the transmission of knowledge from his master. This chain of knowledge cannot be gained through the reading and study of treatises.

    My tradition is in the classical weapons and in the historical weapons of the late historical period. I cannot make the same claim for the middle and early historical periods (Medieval and Renaissance) because I did not learn any complete systems in the weapons of those periods but only a collection of techniques as they were passed on to me by my master. I have never claimed otherwise.

    As for research and reconstruction, my work with the Spanish School stands on its own. However, long before I began my work with the Spanish School I had conducted intensive research of the Italian and French Schools (and continue to do so) in order to expand my knowledge and further my understanding. As a professional it is incumbent upon me to continue to study and work very hard in order to improve as a Maestro De Armas. It would be a disservice to the art & science as well as disrespect for the legacy that my master left me and to the masters of the past for me to just rest on my laurels. I hope that this brief explication will give clarity to the questions that have emerged on this thread.

    Maestro Ramon Martinez, IMAF
    Martinez Academy of Arms
  17. Matt Anderson

    Matt Anderson New Member

    OK, so if I'm reading that post from a thread on Swordforum correctly, you claim a lineage of master and students back as far as your teacher's teacher. Beyond that no one really knows the origin of the material? And you're not using old manuals at all? Mr. Martinez's bio on his website says this:

    "He has also done extensive research in historical fencing. Many of the most prominent masters of the past centuries left elaborate, highly detailed treatises of the systems and styles which they taught. Maestro Martínez has spent years carefully and thoroughly researching these treatises (see bibliography) in an effort to accurately reconstruct these varied styles. These ancient and historical forms are then taught as authentically as possible to those of his students who are interested."

    This would seem to indicate at least some degree of reliance on the written material of the old masters. Perhaps you mean that your teacher worked out material from the manuals and taught it to you, but that you yourself don't use them? FWIW, I'm not trolling, I'm just really trying hard to understand what you mean. I would be very surprised to find that someone could trace a lineage for any style of swordsmanship back to renaissance Europe, especially Longsword.
  18. Chris Umbs

    Chris Umbs New Member


    We can go back one more generation than that to M. Cabijos who came to America in 1922 and that's where the rapier and dagger comes from. At this moment, we don't know who taught Cabijos. In the 20's he defeated the epee champion of his time, Leo Nunes, with just a dagger against Leo's sword.

    We don't disdain the treatises.

    In my case, my priorities are

    1) Learning the French and Italian schools (full system) of foil, sabre, epee, smallsword, and rapier as taught by M. Martinez.
    2) Learning the techniques of sidesword, longsword, and cane that Martinez teaches.
    3) Learning the styles of knife and cane that M. Loriega teaches.

    After that, I'll be glad to hit the books. To my mind, it's more important to preserve what is already being taught than to try to re-invent every wheel on my own. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever come up to us and said "Acording to XYZ treatise, you're doing it wrong." I'm sure for my Provost test I'll have to do some more research - certainly for my Master's test. I'd just rather have the best understanding that I can, before I hit the books. Just my own opinion, but I don't feel that the Martinez re-creation of Destreza would have been as good if he hadn't already been a fencing master who had already inherited a living system of rapier.

    I think too many people hear words like rapier and longsword and assume Renaissance. Personally, I'm not that wowed with Ren. rapier styles when compared to the later ones. I'd much rather use the Cabijos style in a tournament than a 'pure' 17th c. style. Since a lot of folks enjoy trying to re-create a hermeticaly sealed system - HES is the way to go if you want to learn a specific system. I'll say that I teach Italian rapier - I won't say that I teach Capo Ferro.
  19. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    Last tiem I checked the SCA had a no ifs ands or buts about live weapons being used at any SCA event. But I can always recheck with the local SCA rapier fighters to double check.
  20. Matt Anderson

    Matt Anderson New Member

    Ok Chris, I think I understand now. I was confused because in your first post you said:

    "I study dueling sword, dueling sabre, smallsword, rapier, sidesword, and unarmored longsword as living tradition from a lineage (Me-Martinez-Rohdes-Cabijos) as opposed to treatises".

    Then you seemed to contradict yourself by saying

    "we ALSO have the treatises to check ourselves against"

    So you are doing both right? You're practicing what you were taught from your lineage to a modern fencing master, and studying the old manuscripts. Would you say the longsword style you practice comes mostly from your lineage as taught by Rohdes or from a historical source?

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