Distance in sword fighting

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Distance in sword fighting

Postby wiesiek on Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:41 am

During my recent sword training I encounter distance problems during "fighting form " practice.
I have tendency to shorten the distance as soon as possible.
I mean - quickly lookin` for contact with the partners sword and goin` forward for body contact ,
kinda of ingrown fighting basic rule.
Follow the Abbot it is deadly wrong,
`cause this is the sword fight I should keep the distance, - ie. step back.
During the training this is the point, of course you have to go follow designed pattern/s/
BUT
How in real encounter?
Is it general rule,/keep the distance/ or specific for the given style, or maybe personal preferences?

My personal experience with the weapon/s/ is close to 0, in addition I`ve been training to shorten the distance as soon as possible all my life, so
I have hard time to move against ingrown reflexes . -duel-
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby Steve James on Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:08 am

Imo, if you're sparring, the question is whether what you're doing works or not. You're thoughts are exactly what someone who actually used a sword to survive would have. I.e., if you fuck up, you probably die. No do-overs.

I tend to think that I'd want to fight from as far away as possible, and that hand to had would be the last resort when everything else has failed. Otoh, because I know that about myself, I know that there must have been those who trained to exploit that tendency. I.e., in real sword-fighting days, there'd be someone who specifically trained to get in close.

Maybe your question is really whether to train more for being in close or for being farther away? Are you doing historical fencing or modern fencing?
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby jaime_g on Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:39 am

Different systems consider different distances, this is an easy method to think about them:

Long distance: No blade contact, you would need more than one step to hit your enemy. Few systems focus on that.

Middle distance: You would need to do one step to hit your enemy. You usually look for blade contact. You can remain at this distance safely, most systems have a lot of tools for this one.

Short distance: You can hit your enemy without stepping. It's usually a transition place, it's dangerous to try to fight at this distance, but some systems focus on that.

Grappling distance: Usually hilt against hilt, hand on hilt distance.Disarms are hard, but throwing is quite common and safe once you get really close.

System and personal choices would decide, but usually:

Long distance fighters end being really good hand-hunters, but have a higher rate of mutual hitting.

Middle distance fighters focus on blade work/sticky swordmanship. Many times they lack timing and explosivity, but they usually have great defence and very few mutual hits.

Short distance-grappling need knowledge of empty hands fighting. A common problem is rushing carelessly trying to get a clinch or weapon hold by any means. Most of these guys got hit while closing in.
Last edited by jaime_g on Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:52 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby Finny on Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:39 pm

jaime_g wrote:Different systems consider different distances, this is an easy method to think about them:

Long distance: No blade contact, you would need more than one step to hit your enemy. Few systems focus on that.

Middle distance: You would need to do one step to hit your enemy. You usually look for blade contact. You can remain at this distance safely, most systems have a lot of tools for this one.

Short distance: You can hit your enemy without stepping. It's usually a transition place, it's dangerous to try to fight at this distance, but some systems focus on that.

Grappling distance: Usually hilt against hilt, hand on hilt distance.Disarms are hard, but throwing is quite common and safe once you get really close.

System and personal choices would decide, but usually:

Long distance fighters end being really good hand-hunters, but have a higher rate of mutual hitting.

Middle distance fighters focus on blade work/sticky swordmanship. Many times they lack timing and explosivity, but they usually have great defence and very few mutual hits.

Short distance-grappling need knowledge of empty hands fighting. A common problem is rushing carelessly trying to get a clinch or weapon hold by any means. Most of these guys got hit while closing in.


This. I've spent a while studying an old style of Japanese swordsmanship which focuses more on maintaining appropriate distancing for cutting. Not strictly long range, but a strict focus on using the sword to kill the other guy - close range techniques typically involve either thrusting or what in western terms would be called 'half-swording'.. removing the left hand to use it to support the blade in close. This year I began learning another old Japanese system which is very much jujutsu/grappling based. While the curriculum includes swordsmanship, it is in the context of closing the distance in order to grapple/control/shank. Adjusting to the new system you are studying will simply take time; if you are going to learn anything from it, you should try to adhere to the instructions you are given.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby wiesiek on Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:45 am

Than you , guys
Steve, this is >zen temple style< /Kwan um do/
It is direct transmission of the Muschashi`s art, so from this point of v., is historical...:)

jaime - thx, very good main points

Finny - I had shallow contact with katana in my youth,
This is something slightly different
`cause you use the sword in one hand from the start, they add 2nd sword later, when you advance :D
Of course, I have go follow the patters to get the system, it is clear for me from the beginning,
I just feel strange, that my body react somehow against my will.., :o
hmm,
suppose, my grappling reflexes are ingrown very deep.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby MaartenSFS on Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:29 am

Some quick points:

1) Agreed about using unarmed techniques only when ABSOLUTELY necessary, including throwing. European systems focus on this a lot more because during Medieval times people were wearing armour and wielding fairly long swords and during the Renaissance people were using long, thrust-only swords where one could "slip" past the attacks easier. This is an oversimplification, but generally holds true. There were of course other swords and the techniques and strategies were different.

2) A lot of the techniques shown in the manuals were high level techniques, as one was expected to know the lower level stuff already. As such, they are not easy to pull off against a good opponent and the stakes are high. Whether or not to use binding techniques will depend on how your opponent fights. If they are also looking to bind then the fight could be decided on who is better at it. Conversely, if your opponent wants to bind then not binding with them usually a better option, as they keep putting themselves in danger - which leads me to my next point.

3) Regarding the ranges, the safest is at least one or two steps away and going for the hands, lead forearm and lead leg. The chance for double-hits is the lowest here, but footwork and deceptions must be used to gain the upper hand. Darting in and out can be used to good effect because if one misses then they can just move out and recover. The middle range, about a step or half step away can still be relatively safe if proper footwork and deceptions are also used, but requires more blade contact and it is harder to retreat, so combinations are more important. The close range is fraught with peril, as less than perfect technique will usually result in death even at the hands of a less-skilled opponent. Failure leaves oneself totally exposed. The key here is to commit and to flow from one thing to another without pause. This is a more internal aspect of swordsmanship and, as in unarmed fighting, is the hardest to pull off. Besides using the left hand to support the blade one can also grab the opponent's hilt/arm/etc and move around them whilst cutting.

4) One must always threaten the opponent at all times, especially when stepping. When taking two steps many people fail to do this and walk right into their opponent's sword, hence the amount of double-hits. Advancing with the rear foot should be used sparingly (compared to the front foot), but closes the gap rapidly and can end the fight right there. People that often take two steps are easy to predict and trap. People that bind too much are also easy to predict and often leave their hands totally exposed. Many rulesets prohibit targeting the hands, which reinforces bad strategy. Besides targeting their hands it is also easy to bait them and set them up for a thrust or to sweep their lead leg.

5) In conclusion, I recommend first learning the long range, then progressing into the middle range and, after getting comfortable with those two, slowly moving into the close range. Also, don't forget that if one's opponent doesn't want to get close that one shouldn't force it. That will be to their advantage. Still, when learning it is fine to take risks, as that is the only way to improve. Good luck in your studies.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby Wanderingdragon on Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:12 pm

Seek the least contact possible to find the least amount of resistance.
Long distance : seek to strike not engage.
Middle distance: seek to strike and counter.
Close distance: seek disengage to engage.
The point . is absolute
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby Finny on Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:13 pm

wiesiek wrote:
Than you , guys
Steve, this is >zen temple style< /Kwan um do/
It is direct transmission of the Muschashi`s art, so from this point of v., is historical...:)



Nup.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby Steve James on Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:52 am

Image
https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/ ... e=5CAD2D23

This is an historical photo of a (oops, Japanese) soldier wielding a (type of) dadao in the 30s. In terms of distance, what do you think the strategy, or his strategy, or your strategy against him would be?
Last edited by Steve James on Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby BruceP on Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:02 am

Steve James wrote: your strategy against him would be?


Create 10 to twelve feet of distance, throw my blade at him and follow it in.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby wiesiek on Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:13 am

Finny wrote:
wiesiek wrote:
Than you , guys
Steve, this is >zen temple style< /Kwan um do/
It is direct transmission of the Muschashi`s art, so from this point of v., is historical...:)



Nup.


ok, maybe not his direct transmission, I`m not goin` to die for it ,
anyway KIm gets it not me ,
today I can give you the exact data:

KIm re-established >Shim gum do< art follow spiritual directions of the:
.>put you favorite warrior/s/ name here< :-*
Historically speaking it is lost >2 swords fencing art< from the time of the Koreans Three Kingdoms /circa 500 y.a./
When Kim came out with his art, Japanese didn`t sit on their arses, but invite him for the lesson.
Particularly, `cause he jumps out with the highest "dan" in sword fencing from nowhere.
He wins the duel in front of the Masters Kendo circle,
so
they have to shut up :D

Present day:
- Kim move out from Korea , and has the school in Boston, /Hey Bostoners it is your chance to support ancient art! /
- Mark Fortin is his best disciple and teach it under the name Kwan um /in S.F. bay area/
- Kraków, Poland, - in zen center here, we are trying to get it .

I use Mushaschi name, `cause he was one of not to many warriors knows famous from two sword fencing techniques and been Buddhist adds the weight to the statement.
Of course, only Kim can tell us exactly ,
I didn`t had a chance to meet him yet, but only his teacher , and never discuss the topic,
Then, you may say - Muschashi is my guess, and I can live with it 8-)
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby Subitai on Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:59 pm

wiesiek

Just curious...are you in Poland? Are you doing some sort of Traditional asian martial art? Are you doing HEMA i.e. Historical European MA.? Or are you doing more like Western Fencing? I.e. Epee, foil and sabre? Some sort of your own version?

To me,
It really depends on what you want to achieve and what is your venue? Is it cramped space or do you have allot of space to move around?

For example, if I had allot of space to move...and can use my foot work, i'd prefer a sword like an Epoch Image
or a Rapier
Image

With this sword in my hand...if you make a mistake while trying to enter me...I'll put a hole in you 1st. IF I HAVE THE ROOM TO MOVE.

Side note: I remember the 1st time I took up Foil fencing after having spent years in CMA and FMA. It was a real eye opener as to how EXTREMELY FAST SOMEONE COULD MOVE, DODGE AND PUT A HOLE IN YOUR HEART! Western style fencing should never be underestimated by other traditional arts. Even Bruce Lee was smart enough to take notice.

=============================================================

About closing the distance,
i'd only do that when I can safety enter to trap or grapple with them. For example, the Spanish style of fencing does allot of this. Filipino blade and stick work does allot of this. Chinese Single edge knife I learned allot of this. I've even fooled around with some HEMA type stuff using some Long Sword Wasters...to enter and grapple with long swords. Kind of a side interest of mine to read up alittle on Hans Talhoffer. But I'm no HEMA expert...that is my weakest area.
Last edited by Subitai on Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby wiesiek on Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:53 am

Yes Subitai, I`m in Poland.
Basically I`m judo teacher w/o the school :)
but last 20 years I did mostly, health oriented qigong,
so
couple years ago I learned TJ sword, `cause I had very little experience with the weapon/s/,
and I feel need for something heavier than empty fist when doing the form /s/.
Right now, this ancient art knocked in my door, then I jump into it.
Of course I know lot of different steel toys - I work in the Historical Museum and we have full armory here,
and sometimes fooling around with steel toys,
but didn`t formally trained fencing never before,
then, all info are precious for me.
thank you.
W.
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby klonk on Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:22 pm

Steve James wrote:Image
https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/ ... e=5CAD2D23

This is an historical photo of a (oops, Japanese) soldier wielding a (type of) dadao in the 30s. In terms of distance, what do you think the strategy, or his strategy, or your strategy against him would be?



He seems to be poised for a scything attack high, probably at the neck, close distance, but he could lunge and thrust from that position as well. He is vulnerable to attacks on his hands, wrists and forearms, far distance. About such attacks, this is a bit long and detailed but some may find it interesting: https://shootery.blogspot.com/2017/07/s ... ctics.html
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Re: Distance in sword fighting

Postby Steve James on Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:42 pm

Well, if it's a choice between staying at long range or getting in close, my choice would be keeping a distance. For one thing, this guy looks like he wants to kill me. So, he'll be coming in. In this case of an early 20th century Japanese soldier, it wouldn't matter that I had a machine gun. Otoh, what weapon do I have? A spear or a bayonet is just a knife on a stick. One can be 10 to 14 feet; the other, maybe 5 foot. Off the bat, 14' would be uncomfortable for me; I'd prefer something about 7' long. Ya know, I'm thinking of Duel at Ganyru. I'd want something just a bit longer, even if not as sharp.

I think that the getting in close strategy might be used if I were fighting someone in armor. In this guy's flimsy duds, (to me) it's just not necessary --unless I'm stuck with a shorter weapon. :) But, this is about me having my 'druthers.
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