Please excuse me responding in-line. Keeps it easier to not miss stuff.
Kevin Maurer wrote:
Jake Norwood wrote:I think I understand Mike well, actually. Mike definitely knows fighting, kaos, and the lot of it. My comment was more directed to his observations regarding tournaments, not observations regarding the hau, buffaloes, and improving training, etc. (with which I generally agree).
But this is the crux of the matter, someone's ability to observe the Art or lack thereof, and is precisely what I am referring to. What we are seeeing from the videos is not to be belittled in any way, but rather, it highlights a cross section of the Spectrum of HEMA today, and the more artful strikes are missing for the most part. And to name names, and show examples would only serve to injure already delicate egos. So I think this discussion can't go the full measure. Why is the Leger Zufechten missing, where are the high strikes. Where is the Zucken? Do you see what I mean? There is so much to the art, we know this from reading and practicing, So why then do we not see this in the tournaments? Especially if they are being used to measure someone's level of understanding. I could go on and on.
First, regarding Mike’s ability (or anyone’s) to view the art and judge the artfulness he’s seeing I’m not questioning. However, when you’ve only attended one tournament it’s hard to say “tournaments
.” There are some sweeping generalities that, while largely accurate, are based on a limited cross-section and minimal personal experience.
To be frank, I think the problems that Mike is addressing in tournaments have very little to do with tournaments at all, and everything to do with the low quality of fighter that fights in most tournaments…to which I add my name, Axel, Anders, Jay, etc. In other words, the best ‘tournament fighters’ are also some of the best ‘fighters’…and the best have a long way to go before they’re good at performing “the art” under pressure as such.
To address your specifics, I see the leger in zufechten, I see the high strikes, I see the zucken. I see them all in the higher echelons of competition, though still not yet in the number and quality I hope to see next year, or the year after, etc.
Your desire not to call out specific names to protect egos is generous and respectful. I volunteer any and every of my tournament videos (I’d prefer you use the most recent ones, frankly) for dissection. Better yet, I hope we can do a comparative analysis of my fighting in Houston last year to this year. Likewise, tourney videos are public fights. There’s no hiding or protecting folks that fight on film! Bring it on, Hammer!
I also believe that You, are defining the Art by the Tournaments. Because Mike has only attended one event, he is incapable of commenting about the level of intent that is used in the Tournaments? Is that what you are implying?
Well…yeah. Not really. Sort of. I have never, ever been in sparring matches that equal tournament matches in “level of intent.” Now, to be fair, I’ve been in tournament matches that didn’t match a great deal of sparring in intensity. In the end, it’s all about what the fighter brings. “the tournament” isn’t a living thing. It’s a collection of fighters, currently one of fighters of two dozen different skill levels.
My reading of Mikes original post, actually, was that tournaments were forcing too much intent. I think that is absolutely true of junior fighters. And most competitors in most tournaments are junior fighters. That’s worth remembering.
This is the greatest fear that we have about the tournaments. That they will serve as a Bar or standard by which others can measure the physical level of their understanding. Attempting to define the Art by competition in a Tournament? are we doing that now?
This is a super-valid question! Clearly, it’s no secret that I’ve had a good experience in the tournament “scene” and that I think well of it. I’m biased, and it’s obvious. My personal experience is that tournaments improve fighting by motivating training and putting fighters into a no-shit, no-compromise environment. So I will be honest in that my appraisal of a fighter includes how they perform in competition, public, judged sparring. But its not the only thing. I think Mike Edelson, who didn’t perform as well as he would have liked in Longpoint’s tourney, is a good swordsman. He has a solid understanding of technique (and how to teach it). He cuts well (not an easy skill). He spars well, too.
However, I expect that as Mike competes again, he’ll do better. And he’ll be motivated to do better. For me—personally—HEMA is first and foremost about learning to fight. I want to fight the way “they” did, and I want to do
it well. I want to do it well against people who don’t want me to, who aren’t trying to help me, and who want to hit me (but not kill me…I’m not that hard core). I want to fight people that I wouldn’t have chosen to fight. And I want to not spend my mental RAM counting my own hits or deciding if a blow was good or not. Tournaments are good for all of that.
**I raise the question: how is a tournament fight different from any other sparring match between the same fighters. If you and I face each other at Dixie Krieg in freeplay, and we face each other in a tournament, how will those matches be different?**
How are these matches different from videos of the same people sparring in non-tournaments? Is the problem the tournament, or the fighter?
If I were to go to tournament and whoop up on someone, as you say, what would that prove to me? Do you think that we should care about that ability? We learn more from getting whooped up on.
I think the masters cared. I agree that you learn a lot getting whooped up on. In a tournament, the only guy who doesn’t get whooped up on is the one who wins. The other 36 fighters all got a handy lesson!
I think its fun to compete. But through the use of the Art. The art should be measured and points awarded for demonstrating that usage in a Tournament. That way it is encouraged as opposed to discouraged through competition. It really should be a self decision. WIthin each of us to decide if the Thing is worth winning by hitting and not getting hit, or by demonstrating to ones self, that the Art is more comprehensive than one hit wonders.
I think we agree a lot, here, Kevin. I think we’re on the same page, or within a page of each other, because this whole section is something I agree with completely. The disconnect—or at least where we’re not quite lined up yet—is in how this is best accomplished. You’re absolutely right that competition should prop up the art, not whittle away at it. Games teach things. Good games teach better things.
To interject, though—the art isn’t much good to someone who can’t even avoid getting hit by a “one hit wonder,” though. We all have a long way to go, still, I think. And it’s awesome. How boring would this all be if we’d all already “arrived”?
And there is no way to not sound douchy about this or Supremist. If it comes across that way, then thats a shame. Why should we suddenly decide that the tournament is the only true test of one's physical understanding? Thats Bullshit. Thats only One method. Why should the Art that is used in such a limited and confing way, be the determining factor of someone's understanding of it? That seems like f**** up thinking to me.
You don’t sound douchy to me. You’ve got legit concerns about this whole enterprise. I appreciate you bringing them into the discussion (if three people are in a room and they all agree, then you don’t need two of them…).
Let me be clear about my personal stance on the matter. Tournament fighting is not the only true test of one’s physical understanding.
It’s one metric of maybe a dozen total (and about four or five physical ones I can think of).
Ultimately, though, I think that fighting all comers, in public, is a major test of one’s physical understanding, and it’s a pretty damn good BS detection tool. I am highly suspicious of any fighter who claims ability but who won’t fight uncooperative, “unknown” fighters in a public venue. I’m not saying that such folks can’t fight, but you won’t catch me claiming that they can, either. Now this kind of public display doesn’t need to be a tournament (MFFG, for example, has always put their sparring clips online), but tournaments are a convenient place to gather a bunch of folks like that in one place!
Tournaments make events about fighting, and not about posing. I love that.
I understand, that you understand this. I dont think that you dont.. But I think that you inlfuence alot of this today, and hopefully this doesnt alienate people. so Its great to have you sharing your opinions on this, here thank you. Its something i am still trying to understand, where the Tournaments fit into my Art. I dont like using them as the adjudicator of my Art. It is vain. Mike has great plans for encouraging the Art n Tournaments. And I wholeheartedly embrace them. It is after the benefit of being in this Guild.
We’ve talked about this before. My influence in the community actually isn’t something that thrills me. It makes it tough to have personal opinions, because people assume they’re the same as the Alliance’s opinions or whatever. And they’re not! I lost more than one vote in GC meetings, I assure you.
This is also why I write this horrid, multipage posts discussing my positions. Because, like it or not, I do have some of this influence (apparently not enough, or we’d all be tournament-heads by now, right?
). Not everybody is going to buy into the tournament scene, in its current form or even as it improves. That’s cool. We’re a martial arts organization. The art is central to all of us, or should be.
What I do know is that Dobringer (or whoever wrote 3227A), Talhoffer, Mair, Thibault, Meyer, and several other masters of both the “Ernst” and “Schul” fechten varieties participated in competitive, rule-bound, sportive fencing for fun, for recruitment, and to hone skills. Which is exactly what I want to use it for!