• Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to all of you! Thanks for your continued support and I hope that your holiday season is a blessed one.

Western MA site

Apr 30, 1999
I found this Aussie site by accident and found it interesting. Check out the essays section for lots of cool history.
Not a bad page, I wish there were more on the subject of Western arts. Someday when I can put together a good one(lack of photos, don't quite "get" making web pages yet,etc.) I'm gonna make a page to share what I know. I'd like to actualy have instructional information up. At least the underlying framework.

Now, while the history of Savate and it's stick arts jive with what I've heard, I'm Spanish-influenced, not French-influenced. So it could go either way. There are many Asian arts that boast their own version of history based on little more than how they'd have liked it to have been. Actualy, that's a can'o'worms I don't care to sink my teeth into right now...

What I can tell you is completely whacked, is their history of the knife. Off the bat, I have NEVER heard of a cut to the eye, 4cm deep or otherwise, causing paralysis. I used to run with a rough bunch, I'd probably heard this were it true. Secondly, the idea that the Bowie developed out of what ever they mean by "Spanish Dagger".

Like I said, I'm Spanish-influenced, so if I had an agenda I'd try to say that the bowie IS Spanish of origin, but I don't have an agenda, so instead I'll speak the truth. The fact is clip point knives have been used in Europe since the stone age. No, I'm not kidding. They dug up some sword-like granite weapons in Germany that are clip pointed. The Scramasax was the national weapon of the Saxons, forerunners of the English, and intertwined with their name, much like the Franks and the Fransesca(a throwing hatchet-type weapon). I couldn't in good concience say the Bowie has it's roots in any one weapon, especialy since we don't even have the original. All I can say is that the most commonly encountered style of Bowiefighting has a certain Spanish flavor to it, which isn't suprising considering the Spanish were the other major Western martial culture in the Americas. And double-edged daggers abounded eons before the Fairbairn/Sykes. There were some other inconsistancies, but those were, in my view, the worst. And I'm not sitting here with that page windowed so I can nit-pick it.

Oh, while this wasn't flatly stated, I feel it was implied, and it is a common view, but while European knife skills shared the common framework upon which many Western arts are based, they are NOT adapted from sword or rapier arts. Not any I've seen. Now, there are manuals of fence discussing the Rapier that also discus knives and daggers, and concievably the maestro could have adapted his knife technique from his sword form, the framework IS adaptable enough, but in all cases I've seen they are different. ALL independent Western knife arts I've encountered are different.

Western empty-hand forms aren't the primary area of my study. As to what I train/use, I have simply overlayed the techniques I inherited from the street onto the framework of the Western arts I study, with a little boxing tossed in for good measure. However, this is an area I have intrest in, and will pursue as time/money allows. Anyway, that doesn't put me in a good position to evaluate what they had to say about Savatte. All I can say on that subject is what I've already said, it jives with what I have heard.

I, for one, I'm quite pleased by the slow but steady recovery of the Western Martial arts. Having pursued them for some years, I can tell you they are a most elusive prey. In a lot of places information is fragmentary, as the old weapons/skills are all but abandoned when the new weapons are adopted, or just because of all the wars that have ravaged the area for so long, and the documents destroyed in the process. In other places information is hard to access, the internet have helped, but a lot of stuff is just hidden away on a back shelf in some forgotten wing of some ancient library or museum. It's out there, but scattered.

Thanks for the link, Root!
Snickersnee, I thought you'd like that page. Thanks for your comments. I 've read a little before on savate, and heard of 'la canne' from some JKD friends, but the most interesting thing on the site for me was the chair techniques mentoned. I've read that sambo has defensive techniques against chair attacks, but never seen them. I've said several times myself to pick up a chair if close at hand to fight off multiple opponents but never thought about formal techniques. They seem like a good idea... You find yourself not wanted in a in a bar by the locals so you use the handy bar stool under your ass to create room and poke and whack a few so you can make a 'tactical retreat' a.k.a. run !
Just thinking when I should be sleeping...
I've got another site for ya, one with an English theme;

They've got a book out, from what I saw it's pretty big. 200 illustrations. They also have several very good essays. Definately worth a visit. Especialy for all you Limey's.
Thanks Snickersnee, I finaly cheched that site out. I also checked out some of their links and read some of your posts on aemma's forum. Who woulda' thought western arts had such a following. Man, do I have a lot to learn.
The following is there but small and hidden. Understand that just about everyone here is in a niche group. The more specific your interest gets, the smaller everything gets.

There are even pages on a Druid martial art and the East Indian arts. There are 2 tapes out there on ancient sword fighting produced by a UK fencer and an Italian fencer. The first regarding sword disarming w/ the empty hand, the second classical fencing.

I've seen both Salem Assli's and Daniel Duby's article on la canne, it was pretty acrobatic. Regarding chair attacks, the Choy Li Fut system employs the bench, that is a small bench of an ancient era that could be used to defend. BTW, Root you might have heard of Mr. Duby injuring Paul Vunak during training. Basically, Paul fell for a fake and got kicked in the calf and couldn't walk for a week (his own words).
Druid martial arts? Smoke, you gotta post the URL! That one is too weird to pass up! If you lost the URL, can you tell me what references they are drawing from in their Druid martial art?

By ancient sword fighting, what exactly do you mean? In the Western world, "ancient" usualy refers to the major B.C. civilizations, Rome, Greece, etc. I have not heard of anything surviving from these times. On the other hand, several Medieval treatises go into unarmed defense against the sword. I was actualy recently suprised when I discovered quite a few more manuals went into unarmed combat than I had previously thought. A lot more material has surfaced since last I checked.

Speaking of which, I saw a site about a year ago that was run by some student who was selling untranslated photocopies of many manuals for reasonable prices. I didn't pick anything up at the time as a lot of it was in German and Italian, but I'm gonna track that place down again and maybe place an order to see if he's still in buisness and if he's legitimate. If the answer to both is yes, I'll post the link. If you want to look for it yourself, the page that linked to it had something to do with rapiers, and In Ferro Veratis, or something like that. They used the abreveation "IFV", which is also Infantry Fighting Vehicle, so it generates a lot of false leads.
A few nits to pick with that site.

There is actualy more an emphasis on parry and evading that blocking in Western arts(post-1200's). Trapping also plays a major role.

In Western blade arts, the trend is; bladework at long to medium ranges, grappling and unarmed techniques coming into play at close ranges.

"Cuchillo" simply refers to "knife". No Gypsies needed.

"Navaja", again is not a uniquely Gypsy weapon, and dates back to at least the 15-16oo's.

There is absolutely NO evidence to suggest that "Baratero" is a martial art of the Gypsies.

This all seems to come from the fact that a treatise was written in 1849 called "Manual del Baratero, O Arte de Manejar La Navaja, El Cuchillo, y la Tijera de los Gitanos"

This roughly means; "Baratero's Handbook, Or the Art of Wielding the Navaja, the Knife, and the Scissors of the Gypsies"

I know, I'm currently translating this work into English. "Baratero" means "one who extracts money from winning gamblers". You could associate it with highwaymen, muggers, scoundrels. The preface makes it quite clear that the baratero the author is refering to is the outlaw, not a martial art of the Gypsies. The focus of the work is the fighting skills and weapons of the lower classes.

Here's a treat, the opening line of the manual;

"Perhaps some will see this manual and think badly of it, assume it's appearance malevolent, by it's nature the navaja is the charachteristic weapon of the barateros, gamblers, and of other scoundrels of unsavory conduct, those who would rather ignore than learn the precepts will increase their own troubles, and consequently those of society."

Spanish is a wordy language. You can't really translate it directly over. The trick to doing an accurate translation is keeping the meaning while trimming the fat. This is just a rough translation, quickly done to make it inteligible in English and conveying roughly the same meaning for the pruposes of this post. I've got about half the raw translation done, I still have to through and make it make sense in English and clean it up so it sounds good, all without losing the original intent. I can read Spanish, so I can keep myself in check. But still, this stuff reads like Middle-English, and it's a slow-going process. I expect to be completely done with the work, including an index, glossary, and maybe some additional explanatory illustrations, by the end of the year/beginning of next. And this is a pretty short book.

I could rush it, and have it done by the end of next month, but I don't feel I could be true to the original text. To do this right, one needs to have an understanding of the subject matter, and work what is being taught, in addition to understanding the language. The problem with many translations is that they are done by scholars and linguists, who may be experts in their field, but don't really understand the meaning and intricacies of the work at hand. It is equal parts Art, Science, and Understanding.
Alright. You guys are gonna love this!

The URL to the cheapest source of historic fencing manuals I know;

They sell copies, not originals, but prices are around U.S.$15 for most of this stuff.

A well-known WMA-ist gave me the final clue that helped me dig this place up. He didn't expressly say that he had done buisness with this person, but he did know who I was talking about, and since he is known for being discriminating(in the good way) and careful in his studies, I'd say this place has got to be pretty good. I'll place an order soon and let you know what happens...