Western arts revival

JOHN THURSTON is back and eager to discuss Western Martial Arts, especially relating to its history.


Western arts revival

Postby jorvik » Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:06 pm

I've recently started weapons training again, and after googling a few things I came across this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSDSsereOdg :D

after a little more perusal I came across this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKDkBlKEY1g :)

now I look at the martial arts imported from the mysterious orient :roll:
and frankly with their "kata" and meaningless traditions I am appalled at myself for not looking closer to the culture that was closer to me, and indeed more available.
LA SAVATE is more than the equal of karate, and surprisingly has very modern concepts such as the unheard of "full contact" La CANNE seems to me every bit as good as escrima

I just wonder when we do all the silly oriental stuff if one day we will open our eyes and realise that our unarmed and semi armed skills were far superior.we just forgot them and imported a load of cr*p that the orientals had equally forgotten :cry:

Good Points

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:51 am


I am the "Western Martial Arts" guy here, at least ostensibly.

Although I have studied the MA for a very long time, I would be the the last one to suggest that in the Eastern Martial Arts were "superior' totally.

One of the attractions of the eastern approach is its quality of offering to people a venue in which the young, old, very old, the adolescent, the talented and the low talented etc. etc. can be all taught and continue to train in a positive way within a 'system' that mandates a minimun amount of respect for all those who participate.

I do not know what prompted, therefore, a suggestion that the West was somehow de facto inferior in developing a martial way.

I am surprised, a bit, to have a heated canonball thrown at me in this respect, so to speak.

I especially enjoyed the clip of the Portuguese fighting when the Short Sword (or so it appeared) was shown.

The short sword was the main weapon of the Legions until at least the 2nd century AD.

The Gladius Hispansiensus, without immediate research the point, has its origins, as I am sure you are well aware, in the Iberian Peninsula.

Caesar, if you read some old postings, was held to prefer the Spanish Legions and this notion was stengthened in the relatively recent book "Caesar's Legion"---meaning the Legio X Fretensis.

If I recall, this Legion, at some point in the game, came to be recruited from central Spain.

I can research this in a more detailed fashion if you wish.

The Arab expansions, despite our concept of the Mameluke style sword wielding Horse soldier or, perhaps, Horse Archers (more a Persian and Parthian strength to be sure) were cored by infantry armed with a short sword.

The Principiate came to control as large a population as the contempary (to the Principiate) Chinese Empire and held sway over 100+ million people, allegedly, in a time when this was a very large number of people.

Not only that, but the Principiate held together a highly diverse number of creeds, races, religions, ethnicities, prior political entities etc. for around 200-300 years.

You will understand if I do not set forth an exact timeline since the Principiate evolved into an Imperial "Way" through the establishment of a parallel bureacracy to that of the Republic.

The latter slowly withered and died and thus the "Empire" was not established in a swift big bang, but a gradual destruction of Republican ways.

I would have to resort to several Atlases of World History at any point in time to determine exactly how MA and Military systems (East v West)compared at any given point. Clearly, however, also, the Mongols adn, if they qualify in your mind, the Turks pressed deeply into the "Western" and formerly Roman world in the Middle Ages.

It was often asked in the Indian subcontinent, as to why the "soldiers of the West fought better than those of the subcontinent".

The answer to that riddle is very complex.

But, although Indian Martial Arts and Military history are held by me, and most, in respect, as is the quality of the fighting men of the subcontinent, it is clear that from the Battle of Plessey until 1947, the Military arts of the West showed themselves superior.

Specifically, where do you wish me to begin?

I think that from my limited experience, it is the interwoven system of respect for all involved that appears to be the way, frankly, and in the marketing of same (oh how my friend on Okinawa would hate the use of that word here) that sold and endeared the Eastern Arts to so many in the West.

You don't have to be Muhammed Ali to win a Black Belt, and I am NOT going to sit here and tell you that myself as a 35 year man with a high rank of sorts at 62 is going to trounce any competent young or even middle aged boxer.

Graeco Roman boxing, it appears, began a certain self limitation in the number and types of techniques and in the times for which individuals could maintain a high level of respect and self respect as they aged.

My Sensei is 80.

He trained in Boxing as Sensei Fred noted.

I think he would be the last to maintain that he could handle a competent young and well trained boxer.

But, he is held in exteremly high regard.

Would even a boxing trainer at 80 be held in respect my friend?.

Sensei Van would have to be the one to talk about La Savate.

But the ----ah----manner in which that art is approached, maybe, that limited its long term adherents in number, not the efectiveness of La Savate techiques, I think.

Even in my own limited experience I found myself cast aside in the sports and fighting arenas.

No talent kids tend to get shunted aside.

In the Eastern way, as it happens, the person who appears to need the most help that often gets the most attention in a class.

Perseverance is paramount, not raw talent. Of course talent is more than a bit helpful.

Nor are the techniques of Western MA ignored in Karate classes.

My friend, who persevered in Uechi Karate, has found himself knowing that with his background in Graeco Roman Boxing and Wrestling mixed with Muy Thai, Gracie Jiu Jistsu and a UFC kind of approach, that he at his age, was a formidable opponent to almost all.

So, if you are looking for someone to agree with you, I would say, ok, what you say is true. but-------

La Canne appears more than a little effective.

Last edited by JOHN THURSTON on Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Stryke » Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:31 am

While I agree the western arts are just as good as the orientel , I think to assume better or worse of either is probably silly .

In the end both cultures explored the dynamics , and ultimately came up with similar answers , just with different stylisation .

personally I find the arts and revival of things like Pancrase , and the more exposure of sports like Sambo to be a great thing for fighting martial arts , and hope it continues to progress .

it always comes down to the individuals and there abiltiys , people before styles .

Postby f.Channell » Mon Nov 26, 2007 1:41 pm

Sambo has it's sport side, but when I tried it a few times it had all the teeth of Jujitsu or BJJ. Possibly more with it's nasty leg locks.

Savate I know has been popular and never ceased in training. But many of the sword arts being rebuilt from ancient manuals unfortunately lack that level of instruction from not being passed down. The guy teaching you, probably started a year or two ago. Which might not matter.

The sword arts of course, lack any modern day usefulness unless you keep a katana under your trenchcoat like in the movie Highlander.

Just not wearing a Hakama would negate 100% of technique.

Still fun though.

Here's some class links in Mass. http://www.higginssword.org/

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Postby jorvik » Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:04 pm

There were a number of points that I was trying to make there :)
firstly the evolution of Western arts or rather Eastern arts, look at karate in the US after a time in the 70's and 80's folks got sick of all the no contact rules and katas, so the next thing we see is the arrival of full contact karate, this is then followed by Daido juku in Japan.also the progression of arts like Escrima, wearing body armour and going full contact.and then of course we have mixed martial arts.but if you look at those clips and excuse the photography being in black and white then you can see that savate at that time was better than modern full contact karate or even escrima.which is now practised in the same way as le canne.
Two things come to mind, one is that to evolve any martial art will end up like the old western martial arts and two that this is the case of "blood will out" and we as westerners will eventually totally change any martial art into a western art...MMA is no more than boxing and wrestling.

As to the Bowie and the Gladius I see no similarity at all.the Gladius was part of a soldiers armoury and was used as part of a moveing Wedge in conjunction with a sheild.a battle field weapon..the Bowie was much more individual than that and was used by "folks" rather than military

There is another interesting thing that I once read, and this is that the Chinese developed kung fu after visiting the olympics in early times.....the greeks and Chinese had many meetings included in the writings of King Milanda ( a buddhist text).also Mencius was chinese :lol:

Postby eric235u » Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:21 am

As many fans know a martial artist with a background in boxing and wrestling will do well in MMA. But your statement of "MMA is no more than boxing and wrestling" isn't entirely accurate. In the early MMA events boxers and wrestlers got owned by the BJJ guys. While western arts are a great thing, it's not everything.

Lately I've been interested in defending against a knife. (Lots of stabbings on the T.) Karate blocks and neck strikes come in handy and you'll see them utilized in CravMaga.

Food for thought. :)

P.S. - I love boxing.
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Postby jorvik » Tue Nov 27, 2007 4:39 pm

My point is really that we seem to be going backwards when we go forwards.
The mma guys won because they do a mix of boxing and wrestling.that was the original method.....................a mix of the two. Only with the Queensbury rules did we really get boxing which didn't include throws and now we seem to be going back to the original arts

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