Jay Vail wrote:WHatever your feelings about JC, he's right on this.
Is he? While I realize the religious significance that this particular cow has to many, let's take a hard look at it.
Jay Vail wrote:It is very clear that the techniques in the masters are based on actual combat experience, whether their own or that of others personally observed is patently clear. Fiore and Talhoffer both prepared men for fighting in the barriers and there can be no doubt that they at least personally observed such fights. If other writers make no such claims or exhibit evidence of personal involvement in personal combat, that does not negate the inference that the techniques are the result of personal experience with violence.
Talhoffer makes no such claim to my recollection. Obviously he trained men to fight lethal duels, but there's no mention of he himself ever killing. You also mention Fiore, and he was indeed an accomplished duelist (according to his account) and combat veteran (according to historical records, which place him as an artillery commander in a local civil war). Let's look at his account, shall we? He mentions several of his students, but only a few anecdotes of their fights: Lancilotto Beccaria of Pavia fought a "duel" consisting of six mounted bouts with blunted lances; Zohanni de Baio da Milano's "duel", on the other hand, consisted of three bouts each with blunt lances, axes, swords, and daggers (the latter three on foot). No details are given of Galeazzo da Mantova's duel with Marshal Boucicault of France, but fortunately these men were important enough that historical record exists; because of this, we know that the Duke of Milan called the match after the first bout.
Of himself, Fiore says the following:
I used even more precautions with other Masters of Arms and their students. Out of envy, some Masters challenged me to combat with sharp swords in a gambeson and without any other defensive weapon besides a pair of chamois gloves. The reason was that I had refused to associate with them or to reveal to them any parts of my art. This happened no less than five times, and all five times I was compelled by honor to fight in strange places, far away from relatives or friends and without anything to rely upon besides God, the Art, myself, Fiore, and my sword. By the grace of God, I came through each time with my honor intact and without any physical injuries.
I have always told my students who had to fight in the lists that doing so is far less dangerous than combat with sharp swords in a gambeson. With sharps and a gambeson, a single failed parry can be fatal , while in the lists a combatant wearing good armor can receive multiple hits and still go on to win the fight. Also, oftentimes none of the combatants dies because one will hold the other for ransom. This is why I always say that I’d sooner fight three contests in the lists than a single one with sharp swords, as I have described.
So much for that. He fought five duels, hated every one of them, and urged his students to never actually get the kind of experience that you argue is what makes a Master. And as far as I know, that's more than we can say for any other Master that we study.
My Fiore studies aside, I am one who reads from the Book of Liechtenauer and holds it close to my heart. And none of his students claim personal combat experience. In fact, as I already mentioned, of the great man himself the following is said:
And before other things you should notice and know that there is only one art of the sword., and it was invented and put together many hundreds of years before, and it is a basis and a core of all the arts of fighting. Master Liechtenauer learnt and mastered this art in a thorough and rightful way, but he did not invent and put together this art, as it is stated before. Instead, he traveled and searched many countries with the will of learning and mastering this rightful and true art.
No killing folk mentioned or even alluded to, unless you assume that the "thorough and rightful way" involves murder--but that would be using your conclusion to prove your conclusion correct.
Jay Vail wrote:Few people today AMA and certainly in our field have ANY personal experience with violence, other that a little bit of combat sports like MMA and certainly not with sharps. This lack of first hand experience seriously undermines anyone's claim to mastership. I have known dozens of guys who claimed the title of master and I can count on one hand those who may have deserved it, and that was mainly because of their upstanding character. ALL of them advocated techniques and approaches that were insane if applied in personal combat and/or directly contradicted advice of men who in fact been in real fights. Consequently, what modern so-called masters teach is as likely to be wrong as right.
This much is true. The only person in our community that I know has had to fight for his life is Brian Hunt. However, funny thing about that second part: Fiore said the same thing six hundred years ago. "I have seen a thousand people calling themselves masters, of which perhaps four were good scholars, and of those four scholars not one would be a good teacher." So much for masters being better in old days than they are now.
Jay Vail wrote:The word "master" today implies an almost semi-divine status in which the claimant can walk on water and defeat multiple opponents blindfolded. THis is clearly BS. I tend feel nothing but contempt for most people who claim to be masters. They are misleading people about about the utility of their teaching because much of it hasn't been validated.
I agree completely that this inflated idea of what mastery means is a bad thing.
I've laid down my evidence for what mastery is and isn't, Jay: actual requirements for mastery as recorded in historical documents. I only have knowledge of the English system, of course; if an expert on the German guilds, such as the Freifechter or the Marxbruder, comes on and verifies that they required a body count in order to qualify for mastery, I will withdraw my argument immediately. Short of that, I'm still waiting for evidence. Did killing happen back in those days? Of course. Did you need to participate in it to be a good fighter? It looks like no.