Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Losing Grip

B pointed out the other day that traditional FMA teaches very specific ways to grip the weapon, and that what I learned from Sonny runs completely counter to these methods much of the time.
Who knew?
Now I never learned edged weapon fighting from anyone else, so I actually had no idea that the accepted ways to grip were so fixed. Well, that's not strictly true, as I have had people comment that they were taught differently, but still it seems so natural to me that I could not see it as anything unusual.
So it is with many things that have a logic behind them "Of course you do X, otherwise you couldn't do Y or Z, right?"

Well, apparently not. So let me clarify a little (You'll be able to see more in the book/video project I'm working on).

Now I have no problem with utilizing a firm grip when using sticks, where it is very important not to lose them at impact, blocking, deflecting and striking with power.

Swords however are a completely different kettle of fish, particularly those that created the system I practice: In my case the single edged, single handed, swords of the Visayas.

Anyone who has seen the real articles will understand why the systems originating here have the minimum of blade to blade clanging and why the cuts are generally pokes, gouges, and slices as opposed to chops or hacks - The steel is not great quality and the tangs and handle fitments are often rather suspect to say the least. Last thing you want is for the blade to crack or snap during a fight.

What this means is that the blade only connects with something during a cut, and if possible, avoids all other contact. It is however used as the prime tool for deception, and as such need to move, be able to cut unusual curving angles, accelerate at the tip unexpectedly, reach an extra couple of inches where needed, appear and disappear, threaten and hypnotize.

There's just no way you can do this with a tight or fixed grip. The sword has to have life. The Pinuti is not a blunt instrument and should not be confused as such.


Scott said...

This might be true for fists too. My first fist training was about packing really tight fists. But hitting the scull with a hard fist is too likely to end in a broken hand. The open and moving hand is also safer against the force of a kick, learned that the hard way...
So punching with an fist is more about hitting the body, and the fist doesn't need to be so tight for that, but years of tight fist training freed up my wrist a lot, and probably allows me to make softer fists with good structural integrity.
So maybe training weapons grip is also a way to train body integration. Also we might consider that in warfare not dropping your weapon, ever, is the first lesson. Weapons fighting in a team might mean that if you drop your weapon they guy next to you dies.
In a duel it's just your blood being spilled, and frankly a dueler might allow an opponent to pick up their dropped weapon and have another go. You might not get the same honor slicing someone who drop his blade.

Mac said...

In one of the Arts I studied, the primary grip was with the last 3 fingers, the thumb and forefinger being used for control and blade shifting /orientation. This grip may have developed from the 'ricasso' grip used with sabres. In one style a small knife would be laid along the hilt of the long blade, held against it with the thumb and forefinger. A nasty surprise at close range.