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Author Topic: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17  (Read 4138 times)

Das Bill

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SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« on: 2008-05-14, 04:13:25 »
All the info is here:

http://www.capitalareabudokai.org/swordfest2008.html

Basically, its a Japanese Swordsmanship festival, where David Rowe and I were asked to do a longsword demo last year. We were very well recieved and were asked back this year. Additionally, Steve Reich of the Order of the Seven Hearts will be there doing some 16th c. Bolognese swordsmanship (really cool stuff) and Mike Edelson (one of Christian's students) of the New York branch of the Selohaar Fechtschule will be coming down to demo with a couple guys from his group. Plus there will be tons of Japanese demonstrations. Its in Alexandria, just barely outside of Old Town.
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Sir Wolf

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #1 on: 2008-05-14, 10:20:26 »
y do things happen when i can't make them :(

Sir Edward

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #2 on: 2008-05-14, 14:05:18 »


I missed it last year. I'm going to try to see if I can come by.

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Sir Edward

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #3 on: 2008-05-19, 14:57:32 »

Hey, that was a pretty good time. Some of those demos were very interesting, even if they're not specifically to my taste. Some were definitely very cool.

Watching some of the tatami cutting really convinced me that it's much easier than the swordfodder stuff. Especially at the end of the day with the impromptu test cutting out behind the building. Some of the beginners cut right through it.

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Sir Wolf

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #4 on: 2008-05-19, 20:23:10 »
pics?

Sir Edward

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #5 on: 2008-05-19, 20:33:49 »

I forgot my camera. :(
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Das Bill

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #6 on: 2008-05-20, 04:16:43 »
They just e-mailed me to let me know these photos are up:

http://picasaweb. google.com/ chrestme/ Swordfest2008

http://picasaweb. google.com/ dawsonandoh/ CapitalAreaBudok aiSwordFest2008

There were people video taping. I don't know if that's going to end up on the internet or not.
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Sir Edward

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Sir Ed T. Toton III
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Das Bill

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #8 on: 2008-05-21, 04:08:11 »
Whoops, thanks Ed!

One of the things that was really cool for me, in watching the demos, was just how clean and crisp so many of the practitioners were. While you could tell that some of the students more experienced than others, for the most part the various arts were very well executed. While I'd like to think that my execution is on par with several of them (I hope), and while I consider many of my advanced students to be close if not on par with many of them (even slightly superior to a handful of the people I saw), it still reminds me of just how far Western Martial Arts has to go in terms of reviving our art forms. Because if we took every single person in WMA who could move at least as well as the lowest ranking person in any of those JSA schools, out of the entire world, we'd probably only fill my living room. This is not to say that the Japanese arts are in any way superior, of course... but they have the advantage of unbroken traditions, and we have the hurdle of revival. I think we're definately on the right track (and given how much praise they gave our demo, which I'm sure they also gave to Steve and Mike's demos, they clearly recognize the historical European martial arts world as peers), but we've still got a long way to go.
"A despondent heart will always be defeated, regardless of skill." -Master Sigmund Ringeck

Sir Edward

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #9 on: 2008-05-21, 16:01:26 »

I think given enough time, the WMA community will get there. But I think there's another distinction, separate from, but hand-in-hand with the lack of a living tradition. Since it's primarily being pursued by western cultures, I think a cultural aspect comes into it in terms of the attitude people take towards it. What I mean, is that there's a desire to be practical and have fun at the same time, and so by necessity I think it tends to be taught casually (I think we're a bit unusual in that we're at a professional fencing school). People come and go, pick up what they care to, etc (not counting the die-hards, of course).

One huge difference that seems to come out of this is that the eastern arts tend to start with very repetitious drilling of moves and footwork, and sequences of plays, the usefulness of which is often obscure to the beginning student. With the western arts, we jump right in, but this keeps it fun and interesting even at the beginner level.

I don't think one approach is necessarily superior to another. However, I think the eastern arts tend to be a little more prepared to look pretty in a demo as a result, whether or not the students are advanced enough to apply it.

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Das Bill

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #10 on: 2008-05-21, 18:39:47 »

I think given enough time, the WMA community will get there. But I think there's another distinction, separate from, but hand-in-hand with the lack of a living tradition. Since it's primarily being pursued by western cultures, I think a cultural aspect comes into it in terms of the attitude people take towards it. What I mean, is that there's a desire to be practical and have fun at the same time, and so by necessity I think it tends to be taught casually (I think we're a bit unusual in that we're at a professional fencing school). People come and go, pick up what they care to, etc (not counting the die-hards, of course).

I somewhat agree and somewhat don't. I agree that many come into it with a different mindset, but I don't think that's as much a western mindset, because I think many JSA schools have the same types of students. I think, however, that, due to the pre-existence of a living tradition, they already have a right way and a wrong way to do techniques, and there really isn't any debate about that. Therefore any teacher claiming to do something differently is easily identified as a fraud. WMA, on the other hand, has gray areas in terms of some interpretations, and does not have the same levels of standards. As such, anyone can claim expertise, and it is harder to say who is more legitimate and who is less. And because of this, the average WMA practitioner isn't anywhere near the level of the average JSA practitioner, simply because there's so much more garbage in the modern WMA world right now.

Quote
One huge difference that seems to come out of this is that the eastern arts tend to start with very repetitious drilling of moves and footwork, and sequences of plays, the usefulness of which is often obscure to the beginning student. With the western arts, we jump right in, but this keeps it fun and interesting even at the beginner level.

It really depends on the school. When I was doing Aikido, my sensei explained the reasons for quite a number of the techniques, whereas other schools take the approach that you should do something until you understand it. As a teacher, I like to give a broad picture early on to help keep it interesting, then bring things back to being more focused later (e.g. teach basic footwork, have them do some handwork before they've necessarily mastered footwork, but then come back to the footwork again), but I think that's more of a modern mindset, not necessarily a western mindset. Classical fencing, for instance, has a lot in common with how traditional JSA trains, despite being western.

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However, I think the eastern arts tend to be a little more prepared to look pretty in a demo as a result, whether or not the students are advanced enough to apply it.

Maybe, to a certain extent, but I'd caution against too much of that line of thought. First, I don't think it is an issue of them looking pretty, I think it is an issue of them doing something right. And being able to do something right happens to look pretty.

Also, many of the kata in JSA are a lot more free form than most people realize, and are not that different from the types of drills we do. Quite honestly, I borrow quite a number of ideas for how to drill from JSA and other art forms. Many of the kata are only slightly different from free-play, except with certain parameters for 1) safety and 2) making sure that the technique is absolutely correct had it been a real scenario.

While I'm not giving up free-play as a method of training (because it definately was a method of training utilized by our ancestors), I do wish the majority of the WMA world wouldn't put so much emphasis on it. To be clear, I don't think most of the top instructors in the WMA community do, but there are a lot of guys out there who feel that the only way you can tell if something works or not is by sparring... and I think people with this attitude are kidding themselves.
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Sir Edward

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Re: SwordFest 2008 this Saturday, 5/17
« Reply #11 on: 2008-05-21, 19:04:21 »
Quote
However, I think the eastern arts tend to be a little more prepared to look pretty in a demo as a result, whether or not the students are advanced enough to apply it.

Maybe, to a certain extent, but I'd caution against too much of that line of thought. First, I don't think it is an issue of them looking pretty, I think it is an issue of them doing something right. And being able to do something right happens to look pretty.

You're right, I'm probably coloring my understanding of it based on the experience I had with less-than-adequate teachers when I took some martial arts classes as a kid. Either that or it was really dumbed-down for the kids.


While I'm not giving up free-play as a method of training (because it definately was a method of training utilized by our ancestors), I do wish the majority of the WMA world wouldn't put so much emphasis on it. To be clear, I don't think most of the top instructors in the WMA community do, but there are a lot of guys out there who feel that the only way you can tell if something works or not is by sparring... and I think people with this attitude are kidding themselves.

That's true. And that emphasis on "sparring as proof" can lead to a degree of persisting misrepresentations, since if the techniques aren't executed properly, that's not actually adequate proof of how well it does or does not work for a specific situation. And lacking the living tradition, many people out there probably don't notice subtle mistakes in the techniques that lead to them not performing as the manuals might suggest.

It would be great if we had a time machine to go back and observe the period masters doing their thing. :)



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