native american martial arts

Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Jordan, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I see your point.

    For anyone starting to do interpretive(?) testing of indian weaponry, should have what you say in mind, and their first question should be:

    Have this tool been made primarily for warfare, or is it a tool?
    Secondly: If it is a war-tool, was it used by a culture that had organized warfare as a way of solving political disputes?

    I'm not going to provide even a hint of an answer to theese questions, as I have absolutely no knowledge of indian warfare byind "Hoppalong Cassedy" cartoons from the 50's that my father bought when he was a kid :p

    The reason why I involve myself in this discussion, is because I see some similarities between those trying to explore "viking"(dark middle ages)-battle-techniques, as there's very little sources for actual techniques but plenty of myths, just as it is with the indians :)
  2. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    defining between a tool and weapon seems difficult at best. for example a tommahawk was considered a weapon. yet it might have been used as a tool for chopping wood and the makeshift hammer. the bow would be considered by most as a weapon yet it was a tool in the sense it was used to put food on the table?. it would be tempting to suggest that weapons/tools served in a multi-use capacity.

    and i understand where slipthejab is coming from. there doesnt have to be some kind of form involved with learning how to use a weapon. anybody could pick up a knife and kill another person without training. yet there does seem to be a significant difference between those skilled with a weapon as opposed to not. considering the reputation of the native american peoples they were highly skilled with thier weapons and could employ them well in conflict. does that not suggest training?

    honestly i cant say if the native americans taught striking techniques or places to hit. maybe they had enough real world experience to fight with a tommahawk in one hand and knife in another. did they pass on those kinds of skills? the only thing i feel certain of is they used alive training.
  3. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Actually no it doesn't, atleast not in a formal systemised sense. There could be family based teaching but that doesn't mean there is a formal martial system. Also there would have been plenty of opportunity for hands-on experience from a very young age.

    The Bear.
  4. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    didnt mean to suggest there was a formalized training session as seen in the martial arts today. was thinking there might have been a few prefered techniques passed down and the native americans might have somehow practiced those skills. no classes.
  5. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Yeah but without a system none of this will ever have been recorded so unless you find someone who was there and was taught, your up a gum tree and it's out in the fields and trying to see what works I'm afriad.

    The Bear.
  6. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    since my purpose is more functional than historical would it be possible to learn how to use certain weapons/tools by combining outdoor skill knowledge with concepts/techniques of a martial art style? for example how to clean fish or fight with a knife.

    there are weapons/tools utilized by native americans in the past that are very similar to what might be found in use by outdoorsmen today. provided the native american peoples did have multi-purpose use for as much it did seem feasable to use thier skills for a model.

    we have some information from reliable history sources to have a good idea about what kinds of weapons the native americans used. and we also know they had some form of wrestling technique. granted theres a great deal of speculation involved with the relationship between them.

    now about creating a working model. does the filipino martial arts sound like a reasonable starting point? using theory alone could it not represent anything like what native americans did have? the weapon to weapon grappling to fighting empty handed concept sounds feasable.

    following a path like that doesnt mean that ive lost intrest with the amazing culture/skills of the native american peoples. from a more academic based standpoint ill always have significant intrest there. yet maybe attempting to recreate thier skills is not realistic.
  7. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    No it doesn't. All you are doing there is FMA dressed as an indian.
    Have you close contact with any native american tribes. I would suggest going and living with the people. Understand the psychology of the people and watch how they move in daily lifes. Posture of people standing and moving are influenced over long periods by their peers. Then travel to and study artifacts still surviving from the period you wish to study. Once you think you have a grasp of the people then begin to make assumption about martial practices.

    The Bear.
  8. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    where it possible to spend a long period of time with some of the native american tribes in the area it would be a terrific learning experience. with the responsibilities of work and family living among them would not be possible for those reasons. maybe there could be some understanding of the psycology and daily activities by doing so.

    the study of artifacts would also prove beneficial to understanding the culture and practices of the native american peoples. the issue of a specific time period is problematic. how far back would be necessary to establish native american culture before significant influence by settlers in the new world?

    most of what is known on my part about native american peoples is from several conversations with regional tribes and academic studies. most of the fiction in books or movies do little to accuratly portray the native americans as they seem to have been. there are more reliable sources of information about the native americans that i have made the effort to learn from.

    several years have passed with this endeavor without having made real progress in learning about native american fighting skills. the best i have managed is to learn native american crafts and how to construct some of the weapons used by tribes back in the day. there has been mention of some form of wrestling and the multi-use of weapons/tools as mentioned before.

    the bigger problem is that most native americans that i have spoken at lenght with maintain those fighting skill were lost. just as others on this thread have suggested the general feeling is that such information could never be found in enough detail to establish a reasonable conclusion about how native american fighting skills worked.

    learning about the culture and practices of the native american peoples is something i have enjoyed and hope to continue doing for years to come. far more than fighting skills intrest me.
  9. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    hey polar bear,
    during the last post my efforts were to describe the kinds of research that have been done to learn about the native american peoples. which does in part include thier fighting skills.

    when you suggested that all i would be doing is practicing fma dressed as an indian the possibility came to mind that you misunderstood the idea behind this endeavor.

    the idea here was to blend outdoor and fighting skills. based on what i have learned about native american tribes it appears they managed to accomplish this a least to some degree. yet the idea was to build from whatever could be learned not to re-create as much. the end result is meant to be far more practical than historical.

    as mentioned earlier a couple of times earlier here i have learned about what kinds of weapons the native americans had not to mention how to actually make some of them. despite having done as much im not so intrested with using a more primitive design bow in place of my recurve. and there are some native american weapons that i would never use. those have no practical use for current outdoors activities.

    if the basic theory developed from research is accurate then it could be suggested that native americans used weapons and tools for a variety of purposes. and the basic structure of thier fighting skills followed the weapon skill to retention skill to empty hand line of thinking. and the closest martial art that i could think of that resembled as much was fma.

    using concepts from what i have learned about native american fighting skills which i admit is not so much and some basic fma material could provide what my efforts have been about. the blend of outdoor and fighting skills. not re-creating native american fighting skills as they were. although eventually making that effort someday has appeal.

    again the idea here absolutely has nothing to do with packaging a 'stye' to market. no schools, uniforms, or ranking structure. no terminology from native american languages. and never any claims to have re-discovered some long lost fighting art. that is disgracefull to exploit any culture in such a way and people doing so have no dignity imo. nor would i recycle fma and call them by a different name.
  10. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I just got an idea... how about indian tribes in the Amazons?

    OK; 99% of them have been exposed to and integrated into Brazilian civilisation, but non the less, it's shorter time since theese tribes were assimilated than their cousins in North America... Perhaps some of their traditions could have been relevant?

    One note here, is of course that "the indians" never considered themselves one culture, just as a Korean would get rather sour if you called him japaneese ;) (But it is still possible to see similarities between korean and japaneese culture)

    Do anybody know about martial arts in South American indian tribes, and if so; are they systematized, ritualized or privately passed on from father to son?
  11. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    thats a brilliant suggestion! why had i never considered that before? maybe it was a matter of being one-track minded on my part and studying only the native american peoples. only recently had i even begun to consider looking into african tribal practices. the south american tribes could provide some usefull insight about outdoor/fighting skills. time for becoming broader minded and expanding search parameters.

    maybe someone here knows about how to research tribal arts from south america? any information like names of tribes and what region they could be found would be greatly appreciated. also keep hearing that burton richardson did some research into african martial arts with sucess. theres supposed to be an orginization somewhere in africa for martial arts. does anyone here know about that?

    will begin looking into south american tribes and report back. depending on the location it may be possible to visit thier region. were it likely that some insight could be gained a trip there would be benificial. considering that i just watched 'apocolypto' the other night how that was missed is difficult to believe. thank you for the observation!!!
  12. Devon

    Devon Valued Member

    Google "esgrima criolla". There's quite a bit online re. South American martial arts in general, just bear in mind that the mania for "rediscovering" ancient tribal martial arts is pretty much ubiquitous these days. Some are genuine, some are such-and-such Asian/European martial art(s) in a poncho, some are a bit of both.

    Also, and this is where the history gets tricky, most legitimately old styles from areas that have seen the influx of several diverse cultures reflect that diversity. Esgrima Criolla just means "the fencing of the common people" and it's not systematized to the same degree as are most Asian styles, but it probably includes elements from some very old tribal styles in addition to Spanish fencing, etc.
  13. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    That was a good idea Stolenbjorn cetainly worth looking into.
    Also how about some of the Canadian tribes you could contact them. They may still have some remnants of arts.
    I can sympathise completely with the family issue. Kids come first.

    Your never going to be sure what your are doing is authentic but the worth in highlighting this important culture and promoting interest, I think is a worthy enterprise.

    The Bear.
  14. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    several times it has been mentioned by different posters there are numerous claims of 're-discovered' fighting styles. just as devon pointed out during the last post this seems to be a popular trend. from what ive been reading here most of us that have seen examples of these 'ancient martial arts'. and can easily tell most of this is not genuine. the recycled asian martial arts material is probably the most obvious sign.

    the reasons behind someone marketing those products have been discussed as well. theres always a financial incentive for offering a 'new' or 'different' martial art. no real effort to provide authentic material by years of research is necessary. just providing something that looks a little different on the surface and making up lineage seems to work. of course theres always talk about how these 'secrets' were revealed and colorfull names fill in the blanks. too bad these frauds arent exposed.

    has anyone considered why that people would take intrest with learning the kind of material thats suposed to be offered? to be fair there are individuals that have a sincere intrest of learning more about thier native cultures. and of course there are plenty of material happy students of the martial arts that always wants to learn something else. thats a real problem within our jkd class. students cant wait to learn other things instead of focusing on what they are being taught. the reason behind my efforts has been stated numerous times.

    yet could there be another reason? from what i keep reading here on map a fair number of students have become disappointed with the current state of martial arts today. much ado about nothing. the claims of mysticism have worn thin and so has the exotic appeal. when all the glamour is stripped away the lack of substance becomes apparent. however that does seem to be changing albeit slowly.

    maybe the current trends in mma have brought about some central truths about martial arts. such as saying and proving are very different. more to a point here mma has reflected a more natural and spontaneous way of fighting. could that be in part what students are looking for today with these alternatives to what is commonly taught? earlier slipthejab made some comments about how there are non-stylized methods of fighting skills that have always existed. maybe thats exactly what people want now. and these efforts to make quick cash by promoting non-stylized material is a good sales tactic.

    anyway just a few thoughts. sorry it took so many lines. was just curious about the 'why' behind the appeal of ancient/deadly/secret re-discovered fighting styles of (insert culture here).
  15. Devon

    Devon Valued Member

    Cashing in may be the major motivation in some cases, but IMO they're a small minority and usually the easiest to spot and pigeonhole. In most instances, I think that the motivation is a matter of genuine cultural pride and an interest in ancestral heritage, combined with a strong interest in the martial arts.

    Also, just to underscore the points that some rediscovered tribal etc. MAs are exactly what they claim to be, and others are honest, self-proclaimed reconstructions.

    By the way, if you're more interested in combining outdoor skills with MA than in a formal reconstruction of Native American fighting styles per se, then check out Tom Brown's "Tracker School" website. I believe that the school offers, or has offered Jeet Kune Do training, which would presumably be something like what you're looking for.
  16. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    hey devon,

    just last night my son was complaining about his math teacher insisting the students must show thier work not just the answers to problems. what my thoughts were is the process leads to the solution. make any sense?

    maybe someone out there has just what im looking for to succesfully blend outdoor and fighting skills. the answer could be found with the material offered by tom brown. and my intention is to look into 'tracker school ' later today. it would be foolish on my part not to.

    at the same time there has to be a little reservation shown with just taking what is offered without the learning experience. to me growth in martial arts represents a reflection of the person not what someone else has done. and finding a solution to what im looking for must involve personal effort before knowing thats what im looking for.

    thank you sincerly for the advice. the website could offer significant progress toward my endeavors. and i have every intention of looking into what is being done there in a optimistic way.
  17. Devon

    Devon Valued Member

    I read some of Tom Brown's books in the 1980s ... they were great fun but read rather like some of Carlos Castaneda's stuff, very "New Age" and it was hard to tell where the simple recounting of experiences blended with degrees of self-mythologizing.

    On the other hand, from what little I've heard and read about the Tracker School training programs, they sound like very good courses in woodcraft, wilderness survival skills etc. Not a major interest of mine but they probably would be worth checking out.
  18. windtalker

    windtalker Pleased to return to MAP

    does anyone know of any native american efforts to research thier earlier fighting skills and somehow preserve them? maybe in the way of teaching as much to future generations and/or re-enactments. the native americans have a beautiful culture and proud history that should be remembered.
  19. Devon

    Devon Valued Member

    I've never heard of such an effort. I met a Native American guy at a martial arts conference in Canada a few years ago and asked him about this, but despite being very "into" his ancestral culture, dances etc. he didn't know much about NA fighting styles and didn't seem all that interested.
  20. Nojon

    Nojon Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein

    Taken from
    Post #19 by Aaron Cuffee


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