Dojo Darelir, the School of Xenograg the Sorcerer

Tag: training

No Match for a Well-Trained Aristocrat

May 2, 2008

All [medieval Japanese] warriors, regardless of rank, were trained in swordsmanship. Those of the upper ranks, of course, had more time to devote to the pursuit of excellence in this art, and to the pursuit of superior instructors—which explains why a retainer of lower rank, notwithstanding his longer exposure to the hardships of military life, was usually no match for a higher-ranking bushi in a duel. This type of situation…resembles that of Europe during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries [C.E.], when hardened veterans of countless battles were still no match for a well-trained aristocrat with a sword—the noble’s weapon which, with the rise of the bourgeoisie to power at the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, became known as the gentleman’s weapon.

Secrets of the Samurai, pp. 254-55

Backstabbing Assassins, Not Knights of the Air

May 2, 2008

There is little finesse in air combat. Many civilians and those who have never looked through the gun sight…at an enemy aircraft have a romantic perception, no doubt influenced by books and movies about World War I, that pilots are knights of the air, chivalrous men who salute their opponents before engaging in a fight that always is fair. They believe that elaborate rules of aerial courtesy prevail and that battle in the clear pure upper regions somehow is different, more glorified and rarefied, than battle in the mud. This is arrant nonsense. Aerial combat, according to those who have participated, is a basic and primitive form of battle that happens to take place in the air. Fighter pilots—that is, the ones who survive air combat—are not gentlemen; they are backstabbing assassins. They come out of the sun and attack an enemy when he is blind. They sneak up behind or underneath or “bounce” the enemy from above or flop into position on his tail—his six-o’clock position—and “tap” him before he knows they are there. That is why fighter pilots jink and weave and dart about like water bugs in a mason jar. They never hold a heading or a position longer than six or eight seconds. Aerial combat is brutally unforgiving. To come in second place is to die, usually in a rather spectacular manner. Most casualties never know they are targets until they are riddled with bullets, covered with flames, and on the way to creating a big hole in the ground. Those who want to engage in the romanticized World War I pirouette of a fair fight will have a short career. Thus, aerial combat favors the bold, those who are not afraid to use the airplane for its true purpose: a gun platform. There is nothing sophisticated about sneaking up on someone and killing him. Aerial combat is a blood sport, a knife in the dark. Winners live and losers die….

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, pp. 42-43

Emphasis mine.

From Hunters to Warriors

May 2, 2008

War has been intertwined with hunting for millennia. The word venison, originally “hunted meat,” comes from the same Indo-European root as the Russian votna, meaning war. Certain French armored units still dignify themselves as chasseurs, huntsmen, while several elite German and Austrian formations are styled jaeger, or hunters, a reminder that they were first recruited from the gamekeepers of central European forests. A guest of the more established officers’ messes in Italy or Spain is likely to dine beneath stag or boar heads glaring from the walls, the high-toned British regiments preferring paintings…celebrating the fox hunt. In the United States, which finds its romance on the frontier, the comparable designation for light, fast-moving outfits is Rangers, harking back to the days when woodsmen passed almost overnight from hunters into warriors who contested mastery of the forests with Mohawks and Hurons on the edge of an unknown world.

Derek Leebaert, To Dare and to Conquer, p. 4

Looking At The Enemy

May 2, 2008

Look at the enemy as if you are looking through him without being too obvious about it. Perception and sight are two important principles in my strategy. Perception relies on intuition. This is developed through practice. Sight is based upon the physical ability to use the eyes. Understand the difference and sameness of perception and sight. One must be prepared for the possibility of losing one’s sight in mortal combat.

Stephen F. Kaufman, The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings, pp. 28-29

Hand-to-Hand Combat Was Rare in Ancient Warfare

May 2, 2008

…No one now alive has witnessed combat between organized forces using hand-to-hand weapons, for the last vestige of it disappeared one hundred fifty years ago when the bayonet charge became obsolete. We tend to think (assisted by the movies) that direct shock combat of the sort described above was much more common in premodern warfare than it was. In reality, it was always difficult to make foot soldiers seriously engage one another with edged weapons because of their natural tendency to keep out of one another’s way. We have already seen that the Persian and other Eastern armies put no faith in heavy infantry assault. The main function of their spearmen was to provide cover for their archers, and battles were won by cavalry and archers with a minimum of physical contact. Only the Greeks had developed a style of warfare that made shock combat inevitable, because their infantry formation was no loose huddle but a tight rectangle (phalanx) often eight ranks deep or more, its heavy shields a collective locking device, its sheer depth and weight propelling the men in the front ranks onto the spears of the enemy.

Doyne Dawson, The Origins of Western Warfare, p. 48

Before the Fencing Master

May 2, 2008

Up until the start of the sixteenth century [C.E.] there were few solid principles of how best to fight with swords. Masters, mainly army veterans, passed on a hodgepodge of techniques, mixing together swordplay, dagger work, and wrestling moves—anything that would help their pupils survive. [Historian] Egerton Castle’s view was that “each individual master taught merely a collection of tricks that he had found, in the course of an eventful life, to be generally successful in personal encounters, and had practised until the ease and quickness acquired in their execution made them very dangerous to an unscientific opponent.” All that was about to change [by the emerging occupation of fencing master].

Richard Cohen, By The Sword, p. 23

Art of Japanese Spear Fighting

May 1, 2008

Naturally, there were many ryu and many sensei of bujutsu who specialized, often exclusively, in the use of the spear in combat. Famous among the former was the ancient Hozo-in ryu, named after the Hozo monastery where spear fighting was widely practiced. The Shinkage ryu, famed for its skillful swordsmen, also included spear fighting in its program of instruction. According to the literature of bujutsu, an expert spearman trained in any of these schools was studiously avoided not only by single warriors armed with the formidable katana but even by groups of warriors whom he could scatter with an intricate, yet impenetrable and deadly circular dance—his long weapon cutting, thrusting, slashing, and parrying as it cut through the air around him in a series of murderous whorls….

According to the major types of spears, there were two major arts or methods of using them: yarijutsu, the art of the straight spear, and naginatajutsu (or simply naginata), the art of the curved spear. Each art was practiced in accordance with innumerable styles, and there were subspecializations centered upon the use of all the various types of long and short spears and javelins. All shared a substantial number of basic techniques, such as the thrusts (tsuki), strikes (kiri), and parries which, in common with all cutting weapons, were also found in swordsmanship. Postures of readiness, introductory movements, styles of moving in toward an opponent or of sliding out of range of his blade, manners of reaching a target or of evading an attack, varied from school to school and even, within each, from expert to expert….

…In feudal times every part of the yari was used, including the bottom, which was usually capped with a pointed metal head; and that the position of readiness with the spear kept close to the side (in one of the predominant styles) was known as kai-kumi. We also know that several schools taught intricate patterns, high and low (jumonji-yari), in order to be able to strike not only from the front but also with characteristic sweeps directed at the opponent’s rear, while other schools specialized in parrying, hooking, and deflecting techniques known as kagi-yari. Naginatajutsu added to the techniques of the yari those circular cuts particularly appropriate to the curved shape of the naginata.

Secrets of the Samurai, pp. 250-253

Emphasis mine.

The Spiritual Hunt and Spiritual Warfare

May 1, 2008

In the context of the hunt, Native American youths were taught to view themselves as subordinate to their game: as suppliants requesting a favor from a powerful being. The hunter’s strength was necessary to inspire the animal to sacrifice its life on his behalf. He had to prove himself worthy to appeal to the animal like a medieval knight performing brave deeds before begging a boon from his king.

The relationship between the warrior and his human enemies was viewed very differently. The warrior’s intention was always to dominate his opponent completely, on both the material and the spiritual plane. Most of the Plains tribes believed that the spirit of an animal that willingly gave up its life to a hunter would either travel to a peaceful spirit world or else be reborn in this world. Either way, that animal’s spirit would bear no grudge against the man who killed it. By contrast, they thought that if you destroyed a man’s physical self without fully conquering his spirit as well, his spirit would continue to represent a serious threat to your own physical and spiritual well-being. The angry spirit of a fallen enemy could bring a warrior bad luck, disease, or even death.

The warriors of the plains felt that the only way for a man truly to defeat an enemy without risking postmortem supernatural harassment was to demonstrate clearly the superiority of his spirit over that of his opponent. Even after death, an inferior spirit would always fear to attack a stronger one. Therefore a great deal of their warrior training was directed toward encouraging their young men to have confidence in their own superiority of spirit.

Shannon E. French, Code of the Warrior, pp. 145-46

King’s Armiger

March 7, 2003

The king’s armiger was originally just what the Latin world literally means, the bearer of the king’s arms. On ceremonial occasions in the eleventh and later centuries [C.E.] the armiger continued to be the royal servant whose duty and privilege it was to carry the king’s sword, lance and shield. But by [King] Sancho II’s [d. 1072] day the responsibilities of this officer were far wider than the merely domestic or ceremonial. The armiger was responsible for overseeing the king’s household militia, the body of troops who formed the king’s escort and were the nucleus of the royal army. While we do not possess any contemporary description of the duties of the armiger, it is likely that he was responsible for recruiting, training and keeping order among these often unruly young men; perhaps for supervising the arrangements for their payment too. He had to have an eye for potential talent, to be demanding in his appraisal of mounts and equipment, to be firm and tactful in sorting out the scrapes his subordinates landed themselves in. He was also one of the king’s principal military advisors. Thus the armiger had to be at once staff-officer, adjutant, regimental sergeant-major—and something of a counselor. It was a demanding job. Usually held by fairly young men, it equipped them for independent command.

Richard Fletcher, The Quest for El Cid, p. 114

Horsemanship: Prerequisite for a Military Career

March 7, 2003

Horsemanship was the first prerequisite for a military career. [A boy] would have had his first riding lessons almost as soon as he could walk. Under the strict gaze of his father’s grooms he would have progressed from donkey to pony, from pony to horse, learning by practice how to keep his seat, how to govern a fractious beast or calm a nervous one, how to ride for long hours over rough country without tiring, and all the other skills that would go to preserve his life in the melee of combat. Hunting and hawking, the nobleman’s pastimes, developed further skills: an eye for country—surface and slope, vantage point and dead ground; the habit of moving on horseback in company, if necessary swiftly and silently; the difficult art of shooting from horseback with bow and arrow at a moving quarry; the courage needed to dismount and face the charge of a boar with only a spear to protect the hunter from its tusks; endurance of heat and cold, hunger and thirst; care of weapons and tack, where a loose knife-haft or girth worn to breaking could cost limb or even life.

Richard Fletcher, The Quest for El Cid, pp. 109-10