Fang and Claw

One must prepare one’s body. This is the core of the true martial arts. All technique put to the side. The methodology of this is rarely practiced. Rarely taken to the extreme. The extreme in that such training creates a weapon vastly superior to nearly all other humans. This is not about physical fitness. This is not about weight lifting. This is not about technique training. This is the act of shifting ones being. This is the act of taking “hard” martial arts, and creating the hardest. Many of the martial arts that partake in such training are not exclusively “hard” in style. In this day and age, we are of the world that many believe “mma” training is a form or “hard” training. Rolling around on pads while striking pillows is not what I speak of. One will find what I speak of in few martial arts, especially as partaken by westerners. You will find this amongst some Kung Fu followers. Remember the “romantic” Shaolin training in movies. There is truth to this. You “may” find this in Silat, Karate and others. You “may” find this in some Muay Thai gyms. Some. The best strikers in the world you have never heard of. Styles such as these all fall into, mixed with, esoteric spiritual practices and perceptions. That is from a martial perspective: the practice of chi and energy. Of heightened combative power. A changing of biological and energetic magnitude depending upon the state of reality. We may also refer to such practice as shape-shifting. Perhaps even Berserking. Not now. Not here. This opens a path of many directions or perhaps one long path. For the study of martial energy touches upon many subjects. Empty force, depending on the degree you wish to take this. Elemental energy harnessing. As hinted upon in the Book of Five Rings, as well as a multitude of other cultures. Another, the Hindu chakra system in elemental form. The practice of energetically taking on the aspects of animals, sometimes in addition to the wearing of pelts and such. This is what is called shape shifting in an animal sense. Which is also the path of animal totems and familiars. As well as the projection of ones self in animal form. As seen in Viking sagas. Alongside actual supposed shape shifting (animal pelts and energy, etc). Yet this will touch upon the simple to grasp aspect of energetic elevation within the human. This is not simple excitement nor adrenaline. Just as Berserking became illegal under christianity, this shows the actual act was distinct. Not getting angry or adrenaline becoming aroused, as common. Regardless of ones belief. Many men will show you truth in ability. Abilities that one can not defy. If such a master performed such an incredible feat because he changed his energy to that of the Tiger. Then he did. As the practice whether magical, psychological, biological, or all, still took root to effect reality.

It is from such practices that we have the lore of the shapeshifter. Such as the “Berserker” of European history. I once read a greatly puzzling study, one of pure ignorance. Comparing the viking Berserk to soldiers “berserking” in Vietnam. This is a horrible train of thought to walk upon when studying many subjects and using such equivalent comaprision. One compares fire to ice. On one hand. You have an elite band of warriors. Individualistically proud. Warriors who wish to be were they are. Are there for personal gain. Train specifically in physical and religious practices with a sincerity you could never imagine. An attitude that would terrify you to be around. Ones who truly enjoy the domination of others in combat, killing, taking blood, in the name of spirituality. Most likely intense alchoholics, perhaps partaking in other substances with extreme tolerance. Spiritually and sincerely altering their state to berserk and come down after victory. Again and again in spiritual prowess. Seeking Valhalla. On the other hand you have a young man who is working for a pay check, or perhaps worse, drafted. Thrown into a land completely foreign to his body, hot, bug, disease infested. Fighting for a cause that has next to no effect on his homeland or personal gain. Moral as low as possible for such things. All individuality stripped. Spoken down to constantly. Fighting a force of high moral enemies. Oppossing country is actually too poverty ridden to be an actual threat far from their borders. Desiring anything but the here and now, regardless of the degree of propaganda belief. So when said american soldiers completely break down psychologically, do not compare this to the Chosen of Odin. Such ignorance. Such warped propaganda. Yet we westerners live off of propaganda day and night. When watching news to cause one to believe lies or false threat. Watching sports athletes feed you vomit you hungrily eat. Watching theatrical actors and musicians shower you in their piss. Society eats it up. With great gluttony.

Regardless of such distraction. Onward to such training techniques of importance. What I speak of revolves around combatives. What does such a thing mean? Abstract life and death situations. No form to point one into. For combatives vary. Many people immediately look to military. There are so many training curriculums. Many to stay far away from, for many are oddly influenced by MMA sport. Due to technology military combatives are not were to look, nor for the degree training is taken to. Combatives are true “free form” combat. MMA is not “free form” as many say. Such a statement is an extremely bad joke only showing ones ignorance. MMA is no longer even mixed. It is a single specific sporting style, bound under extremely caging rules. Nothing is free form of such a thing. Thus combatives are open ended, with the binding concept of killing quickly. While many MMA moves may lead to death and breakage, it takes too long to cause, and causes one to be extremely vulnerable. This is poison to combatives. Both attacker and attacked must understand consequence. Something you learned in the gym might have just given someone probable cause to defend themselves as if life is threatened, or body is to be maimed. Blades and guns are common. There is evidence of this on video. Be very careful what you learn. Understand what you are being attacked with and to the degree you may defend. Many submissions performed with criminal intent can be countered with knife attacks, maiming, etc. Understand your rights. This is not the Octagon.

What is killing quickly? Techniques that have an immediate effect of ending threat. Specific targets trained again and again. Knee, neck, face, wrist, testicle. With the perspective that one is willing to bite their enemies testicles off with their teeth. Knees are to be broken with striking, immediately collapsing opponent, the same move again and again, executed with the perfection of tens of thousands of practice strikes. Necks stun or kill in an absolute way, dislocation of throat,etc. The face is to be maimed, and focused on in ground combat. The wrist controls the entire body. The wrist is to be focused on in ground combat. Testicles self explanatory. Very important in ground combat. Punching is to be frowned upon, unless gauntleted in some form. One is to use the open palm strikes leading to pokes, tears, and clawing. With such strikes we break coconuts and stone. Pinching is of horrendous effect upon the body. Onward and onward. If you have a knife use it. A gun, use it. Laws are to be mastered above all else. Evasion and escape of first importance.

The body is to be forged to cause such combative perspective to be horrible. There are countless ways to practice such a thing. This has been developed over many years. The most important is the formation the Claw. Many may call this iron fist techniques. I use granite blocks. Hammer fisted repeatedly. Open palm strike. Finger tip strike. The grip is to trained to death. I grasp said granite blocks until they slip from my grasp with shaking hands. For this causes the grip to be as death. The finger tips to harden even more, and ones pinching able to tear away flesh from body. Again and again. Until the hand is as a claw. The body must be struck repeatedly. I use an oaken staff. At least one hundred times in such a session per target. Targets should consist of the rib cage. The inner and outer upper leg. The shins. The upper arms. The shoulders. The collarbone. The solar plexus, etc. Strike the wooden pell. Not a swinging punching pillow sports style. Knee strikes, elbows, heel, shins, forearms, knuckles to a degree, head to a degree.  Always practice the bending of metal with ever stronger metal. It is this training that forges the body into a power that no technique will ever create. Such training causes a shift in perspective. A shift in energy when such training is undertaken. For the martial way is one of shifting shape. Shifting intent.

Technique of course is of great importance. As we all must practice a technique. For the “combative” only practitioners are typically a martial arts disgrace. Therefore I train in specific styles. Attempting to capture the heart of the style while training. Ringen, Muay Boran, and Budo are the martial arts I study. Combatives what I express as my own understanding. For Ringen teaches one to deal with force and control ones body under sincere environments as the art is expressed from. Muay Boran teaches one the power of striking, and what it forces your body to become. Budo technically teaches one the importance of the wrist, that one controls life in his enemies wrists (obviously amongst other things) and combative distance. Budo teaches one the power of the Shadow. For combatively I must strike from stealth and Shadow, contacting with the frenzy and wrath of the Berserker. A metaphor for all aspects of life…

Indomitable Way

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The Kanabo. A powerful symbol. A powerful artifact. Stirring images of terrifying Oni standing all powerful and invincible in combat. A symbol that enflames stories of mythology and spirituality. An image of Japanese martial arts and culture. Yet what is the kanabo? What is the Art? This will be a writing first of martial art expression, followed by mythological inspiration.

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The kanabo comes in many various shapes and sizes, as do many weapons. The immediate feature is the desire to break bone. The martial art? Kanabojutsu, does not necessarily exist. Yet it’s image permeates Japanese martial arts. Pictured is a kanabo I have recently made. Measuring seven feet in length, carved of Oak. One is to use the edge for striking, the studs add weight. 1 3/4” in girth upon squared section. Although made as a practice weapon, it is equally deadly. For a true battle weapon I would prefer one entirely of steel. Designed a particular way. This is the first piece of a matching set, including an Odachi, Katana, Wakizashi, and Tanto all made of Oak. The first time I will use Japanese practice tools tailored to my length. These ones will have rounded edges suitable for sparring, at least sparring with the smaller. One can imagine full contact Kanabo sparring. Or greatsword, great axe, etc, equally translated from originals in weight and form. This can not entirely be done, someone will die or be maimed regardless of protection, regardless of wood or steel. ‘True War weapons’ against armour are such for a reason, armour becomes a cage you die in… Anyways, my original practice “Kanabo” is one naturally created. An oak tree cut down by a beaver I found floating in the river while running many years ago. Naturally shaped as a six foot baseball bat. I can not express the power this new one expresses as it is weilded. Yet, how does one wield such a thing? There is no such true form of kanabojutsu. Kanobodo. Yet to speak of the two, does not the Jutsu of any form, lead to a Do, if one stays true to path… Regardless, my pursuit Is what it Is. My continued pursuit of mastery lies in the Western martial arts. Because of my constant training with the greatsword, I am able to apply this ability to the kanabo. There are many similarities between Samurai swordsmanship and Knightly swordsmanship. Yet more differences. Immediately due to technology. The core of All martial arts is the same. We are all stuck within the human body. There is much to learn in Kenjutsu, and all it’s styles, yet much to ignore in a combative sense, as with all martial arts, Hema included. Training variations of beauty and creativity aside, as these ways will give greater understanding of control, and we all do such things and should. Many eastern arts suffer from a large amount of choreography, taking this no further. Yes, many of these demonstrations are beautiful, yet there is so much to filter out when it comes to simply cutting a stranger as quickly as possible while staying unharmed, while said stranger is also attempting to do the same to you. The eastern arts suffer from ‘fencing around’ as intensely as the western. Techniques piled atop one another, simply too many additions for the sake of impressing the ignorant. Many Kenjutsu demonstrations are highly involved with Iaijutsu. While attractive, such a thing has its limitations in impressiveness, especially when the swords are short aluminum, as they often are. It has very little to do with the actual duel or battlefield, save switching after losing your pole arm. And perhaps assassinating someone who allows you too close as they trust you. After understanding and much practice, the design of the sword allows the scabbard to literally not exist. Therefore it is what it is. I prefer the Kenjutsu, as what actually happens between fighting men. I see Iaijutsu as simply an additional aspect to learn. Kendo is were to take ones sight in straight forward use. Or any full contact sparring use of Kenjutsu, old and new. There is Kendo and Kendo. The sport and the Way. The Way stands alone. The sport simply an extension. If you wish to see some of the greatest swordsmen in the world move, watch the peak of Kendo, although remember the weight and balance of the ‘swords’. Of course they are not acting as if in a real sword fight, nor targeting in such a way, yet the skill obviously translates more than choreography. As it is not routine practiced choreography. One thing I appreciate of Kendo tournaments is the length of match, as well as the stamping and ‘noises’ made. Mine developed more from low rolling growls changing magnitude during Muay Boran training. I really appreciate the ‘Kamikaze pitched’ yell of the Japanese. Western sport swordsmanship should take the round length into consideration, even extending matches to ten minutes, allowing fighters to tire if weak, truly testing them. It is much easier to score points in the longsword as the entire body is the target, this is not the same of Kendo. Such long matches would have a high point score. Yet only produce a greater expression of average, leaving less to chance, more to overall consistent skill and perseveance. Yet back to the kanabo. The kanabo is not a greatsword, as I constantly use. Nor any type of sword for that matter. For in the greatsword I find the deep desire to cut over striking. With the kanabo one must strike. In pursuit of the kanabo, one must know the sword first and foremost, for the sword is the door to all weapons. Next would be the equal understanding of the Bo. For with no blade, the kanabo can be used in such manner on many occasions. It is the combination, yet neither of these arts that one will find the kanabo. Such is viewed in old Japanese art. It desires to be “Fenced around” with, yet equally desires the “one inch punch”. Against armour it will devastate, especially Japanese armour, which is quite questionable in standard of protection and overall design function. Design beauty is amazing. There is much to compare technologically and write of, another time. Although this is why their armour technology changed when contact was made with Europeans. Give me a stout Oaken staff against a knight in full armour, and I will feel great confidence with no armour on. I will wield the staff as a greatsword… Just like a kanabo. The key truly lies in the training, to become such a being. An Oni so to speak. No, it will not give you huge swollen muscles. Do not inflate with supplements, simply for psychological strength. Train outside barefoot and bare shirt upon dirt as much as possible. Use granite blocks with awkward grips and such things. The actual weight of the kanabo is light in comparison to ‘everyday weight lifters’ and your daily reps should be in the hundreds and thousands. The torque of the wrists and strength of grip is another given strength all together. You will appear harder than any ‘sole body builder’ over time. Wiry and animalistic. Not swollen and soft of combative energy. It is energetically obvious who does what. Of course one should lift heavy weight in pursuit of combat prowess. Simply balance as to not become combatively weaker.

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What is it to become Oni? My first thoughts of imagination pull towards Shugendo. The Way of training and testing. A “hermitic” path of wilderness meditation, martial training (for many) and testing such things. Historically these men would be associated with aspects of spirituality such as the Yokai. Tengu and Oni. Both being wilderness embodiments. Feared and mysterious. Possessing powers Unknown to those of society. Thus these Shugendo practitioners are seen as something otherworldly. And what is the pursuit of martial arts than to unleash ones true Dragon, if dragon is what you wish to express. Oni ‘translates’ to many “things” westernly. Daemon, troll, ogre, giant etc. If taken into western understanding. First off, universalism in mythology carries countless flaws. In my mythological narrative, the closest comparable entity of the Oni would be the European Giant. I have written of the giant previously in depth. Jotunn. Yet there are many cultural options to attach such a being to in a universal expression. Does Daemon even have anything to do with Oni or the European pagan folkloric and mythological beings as ogres, trolls and giants? Are the latter even comparable to one another? Or is Daemon simply a Christian term used to brand everything non Christian, and still falsely used today to express understanding from other cultures. Daemon, what does such a thing truly mean? Does it even translate easternly? The word is Greek, the understanding is a supernatural being, not quite god, not quite human yet part of the human being, neither good nor evil by nature, yet sometimes one or the other, sometimes both. This has little to do with the pigeon hole nature of “later” abrahamic thought, using a word for their own cultural expression of something else. Sounds similar to forms of the Fey, to forms of the Yokai, the Giants, etc. If one wishes to be universalists in approach, yet keep the narrative somewhat similar. Thus the Christian “demon” becomes it’s own unique entity. The Greek Daemon is something all men may become, to understand. For what is the Id, the Dragon, the Giant. What is the base natural self when put into a hostile environment, just as what is such a thing when put into a loving environment? What is it when one enters combat of life and death? What natural aspect of self, yet extremely developed to be found, for how disconnected is the human being? Driven by ego, never coming close to touching what it really is capable of… Thus such warriors as the Shugenja become the Oni, the Tengu. Thus they are feared. This reminds me of the Ulfhednar ,Berserkers and Svinfylking of the sagas, as well as many other existing, living human expressions, simply in a generalized, flawed manner. There is the saying “Like giving a club to an Oni”. As in, now one is unstoppable. Ones power greatly enhanced. Indomitable. These wild haired, power enhanced, club bearing Oni brings one sight towards other similar mythological images. Mighty Thor with with magical hammer Mjolnir, wild and red haired. Samson the Judge, power ridden long locked haired, Nazarite from birth, wielding the jawbone and slaughtering thousands of enemies. Herakles, of the “long-haired Achaeans”, locked and bearded as depicted in original art. Fighting with his great club, able to impregnate fifty woman in one night. Symbols of Masculine power and dominance. The Oni also brings to mind the greatly misunderstood Grendel. Grendel being an embodiment of many berserker ‘dark’ qualities. Grendel and the berserker Beowulf being two sides of the same entity. It is my belief the origins of this story are extremely “Odinic.” Grendel being stealth, night, silent killing, cannibalism, etc. Just as the Oni are also ghostly, shadowy entities, as well as enraged animalistic field standing combatants. The true evil of the Beowulf epic were the warriors of Herot hall. Grendel being a man living in the swamps, who became something vastly powerful, sent to punish such decadence… another time. Always allow all mythological symbols to stand as they are. In the beginning and end, an Oni is an Oni. The ‘hero with a thousand faces’ theory, I am extremely against based upon many reasons. It is naive and ignorant of time, culture, historical figures, human psychology and creativity. Mine is the ‘thousand heroes with the face of humanity’ theory. Perhaps another time.

One must constantly test oneself, for oneself, against oneself. Soon will be the ‘day of ten thousand sorrows’. That is ten thousand kanabo strikes in a timely manner, “fencing around”, completed in a Japanese style… Oni Kanabodo… Previously it was three thousand ‘Thai kicks’ to taped pads upon the pell. What begins as endurance, becomes a test of pain and blood. Training is The Way, testing is The Way. There is no single definition to express The Way. “I am because I am not.”

Weapon Anatomy

There is no such thing as a standard close combat weapon. Just as there is no such thing as a standard human body. This is in the study of martial arts, in the sense of individual close combat, both upon the field and duel. The bearing of a warrior who would be extremely well versed in close combat. Not the “modernized” soldier or technology. In regards to 17th century warfare and onward in the European theatre. That is, when weapons were massed produced for the hands of a quickly trained warrior. Of course through all time weapons would be massed produced and placed in such hands, depending upon time and culture. The “perfect” weapons I speak of are cultures that maintained an aristocratic elite, trained for war from a young age, or elite bands, having the wealth to produce weapons individually crafted for the wielder. Amongst all cultures, particularly the “technologically advanced” ones. Such as European longswords, or Samurai katanas. This will not be a post of technology comparision. Another time for there is much to write.

When I refer to trained quickly, a year of training is quick in my understanding. And yet this far outstrips many of the “modern” armies I speak of. Yet when you approach an individual who has trained for three years and more, things begin to change. Especially when you reach the ten year mark. These are the warrior elites I write of, often based upon feudal systems of management.

There is no standard weapon. Every weapon is to be made to fit your own standards. A longsword that works explosively for me, may not for another. Just as the clearing room of the handle will be different as another. Just as the tip clearing the ground upon techniques will be different. Vadi states the longsword is to measure to ones armpit. Based upon these measurements I am in the 57” area. Many modern practitioners base a longsword as being no longer than 54” with a 40” blade, before it becomes a greatsword. This is debatable, based upon skill of the smith. A 48” longsword is excessively short to my standards, a drawback to my height. For length wins a sword fight. Yet at a particular length, a weapon obviously becomes weaker. This is to be found. The same is said of all weapons. This is extremly expressed upon renaissance rapier fighting systems. One’s sword length upon ones body proportions. When studying historic originals, one must take into regard the height of the wielder. Men were shorter, not greatly, and often due to diet and health than any form of evolution, yet shorter. Therefore filter the average height of a man from a particular race and apply it to said historical artifact. The mathematics are simple and easily transferable to find the proper height of artifact for a modern practitioner. A silly thing you will always see in the west is the practitioner of eastern martial arts using weapons based upon artifacts of medieval eastern races. One is using a vastly small weapon. The katana is the perfect example. A very popular form of martial arts in the west. Medieval Japanese were small in comparison to modern western Europeans. Based upon skeletal evidence and handprints we have of Japanese warlords. Placing ones hands atop these prints is as covering a child’s hands. I am 6’2”, I speak from my perspective. It is strange to use such a piece of technology, created for a man of this stature. The average Katana is roughly around 40” in length. Upon simple mathematics, a 6’ man should use a katana of roughly 48” in length and will be wielding it in the same nature of the average medieval Japanese. 8 inches is life and death. “Medieval” based upon their timeline, not the west. This is to be repeated in every single weapon one can find. Something to pay attention to in all martial arts.

In combat and the duel: reach will win, when using well crafted respectable weapons. This is simple martial arts theory and law. Of course there are variations. Especially with pole arms when their edge is “penetrated”. Therefore bring the proper equipment to a duel. Just as each martial artist carries a custom body. Each martial artist must carry a custom weapon. This is the nature of history. One must find himself.

Till Death

I am ashamed of my generation. This does not mean I hold past generations in higher regard. Simply viewing my own. The laziness and lack of effort many make is open and obvious. The quality of being. A truth: your body represents a deep inner aspect of yourself. This is not vanity. This is not who is pretty and not. This is simply truth. My generation is incapable if not being in front of a computer. Many are incapable of effort. Masculine effort. That is capable of body and will. Not what one can do at a desk. Unhealthy bodies have become the obvious norm, a following of the past few generations. Commercialized diets, sitting entertainment, sitting work, sitting life styles. There is nothing wrong with making money while sitting. In all regards it is best to make money while actually not trading time after initial investment. It is simply the dignity of still being physically capable as a human being. The lazy, snobbish, I am above the effort of today, this generation carries is appalling. There is a timeline of capability we as men have. This timeline is far mis calculated in the modern beings perspective. The idea of down hill at thirty disgusts me. It is a lazy excuse, to enhance laziness.

My perspective, that of martial arts, dictates a much different timeline. Timeline based upon healthy eating and training habits. With overlap expressing transition. There are many examples to give, yet are unneccesary. First and foremost, as a man, you have little use below the age of twenty five. Regardless of talent. From the ages of twenty five through forty five, you are at your peak as a “fighter”. Your blending of athletic ability and skill, while rooted as a man. From the ages of 35 through 65 you are at you peak as a martial artist. Your blending of artistic talent extremely developed, alongside continued athletic ability maintained. 40 through 65, you are the King who still commands on the frontline, you are to be rooted, skilled, strong, and respected. Whether the martial arts “master”, “business owner”, etc. From 65 through death, you are the elder. The King who rules from the throne, yet still able to perform for a long while. The martial arts high master and sage. Your wisdom from success and failure to be omnipotent. While maintaining rooted nature and strength of body. Expansion of business and art to ever continue through this age. Obviously changing as you enter venerable elder stage of late seventies and above, were physical nature means less. Yet your body is still to represent who you are on the inside.

In this sense, we are to ever grow more powerful in life. Although the form of power changing. Our roots are to grow deeper, as branches grow higher. When viewing what walks around in western culture, while calling itself a man, we might feel we live in a joke. It is true, we do live in a joke. Yes, this is judgmental, but it is deserved. Yes fingers are pointed, the intent is to stab. What walks around is far disconnected from what we truly are. What we, as men, are supposed to be. Ones body is a direct reflection of ones spirit and lifestyle. You represent yourself. This means nothing to so many. And therefore we live in such states of depression. Such states of sickness. Not even realizing how sick we are, for sickness is the norm. And if it is the norm, then by all means we must be it. Doctor prescribed medications make you a drug addict as much as any illegal substance. Alcohol is a hardcore drug as well. Prescriptions for mental anguish are due to our own laziness. How could you not live in torture, when confined in such a vessel as your body, and life style that created it. Prescriptions for health are causing men to live longer then life would allow. Prolonging their filthy lifestyles and eating habits. Fixing the immediate threat, yet offering no resolution. Such is modern medicine.

Stand. Take responsibility for yourself. Your lifestyle. You will feel such worth, such ability. You will feel as nature. Or: you will feel as a slave. That society is holding you down. That you are judged. That you feel sick. That running a small distance may kill you. That dirt may make you feel sick. Touching a rock may make you bleed. Addicted to the chemical grease of the machines food. Addicted to the high of the machines medications. Dependent upon anything else to take away the responsibility that you have control and power to be something vastly greater than what is pressed upon you. The peak of the human potential. Yet all is a waste when health is cast aside. All is a waste.

The Highland Sword

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The Scottish Highlands. The very thought stirs romantic images within one’s mind. Not far from the truth. Cold, wet, windswept moors and rolling hills. Lonely mountains and sharp cliffs. Jagged coasts and misty forests. A quiet haunting feeling, of loneliness and sadness if you listen. Lost pipes upon the wind and hilltop fires summoning men. There is a sense of lethargy there, of time moving somewhat slower. A sense of emptiness, for the highlands are still empty as to what they once were. This spirit saturates the air. A people always on the “outside” of history. From the mysterious Picts of the ancient world, to the last of the Jacobite clansmen. In a way, the “Gaels” are history’s “Last Barbarians”. Living a simpler, materialistically poorer life than “civilization”. Warlike and proud. Destined to lose… This is what we feel of the Highlands, what we want to see. As an artist, there is half of me that desires the loneliness of solitude (my wife the exception of course). The desire of feeling as a passing ghost. To be lost in a poem of romance. To drink strong whisky and eat hearty meat. The sound of haunting music, shadowy fires, and the folkloric tales of faeries and heroes. For indeed there are many ghosts upon this land. The Highlands were a wellspring of folklore and myth. The combination of Gaelic, Nordic, Pictish, Welsh and Saxon folklore. A wealth of inspiration and longing. On a very real note, Scotland could arguably be one of the most active centers of folkloric belief during such an era. The folkloric belief in this land was rich and swayed into the lives of many. Far greater than that of other realms, due to this “backwater” culture. Fairy (ghost/spirit) belief and interference, folk healing, curses, and other supernatural encounters being an everyday aspect of life. Many of the witchcraft trials here speak highly of this, with many very unique. The Highlands seemed to be a nesting ground for such a thing, whether accused or not, recorded or not. The commonality of folklore causing many sincere beliefs to slip through uncorrupted by threatened interrogators, as opposed to other lands. The Highlands are a place to explore our mind and imagination, regardless of the dirty truth of past reality, the landscape demands a level of introspection. Many of those in America, especially the mid east coast have ancestry directly from these lands. The high level of this is due to the Highland clearances. The failures of the Jacobites, and the consequences of such action. This is the sadness that saturates the land, this lonely loss of life and noise. My matrilineal side being  German, my patrilineal direct “son of” Scottish line came after the failings of the second uprising, settling the land of the Tennessee frontier. A new beginning from an old loss.

It is of these Jacobites and contemporaries, that we have the passing of a martial art. A form of Swordsmanship. A multitude of manual’s and instructions on the topic of many weapons, with a strong emphasis of the broadsword and targe. An interesting note of the Jacobites was their preference for close combat. A romantic yet outdated battlefield approach. Yet this is an image that has endured, and rightfully so. The Scottish Swordsman and duels of honour. This style takes us there. While on the modern battlefield the “Highland Charge” brought defeat. While once feared, Technology always replaces Prowess…

The combat style is quite the array of weapons when fully equipped. A broadsword in one hand, the hand clearly protected, not the wrist. A targe in the other, a spike sprouting from the middle of the shield, and a long dirk held downwards. That is, three points and locking locations. Unique in appearance. The image of the two handed claymore, although the single handed sword was also a claymore, stands clear in our minds. Yet the sword and shield are more relevant to the martial art and time. The twohander an archaic weapon, although there is evidence of the twohander being used in the last Jacobite uprising. Of the art, there is much to study, mainly of the finer aspects the technology grants after basic mastery. Something to explore on your own then any text specifically. The foundation is the same as any sword art. Of note is the aiming of the wrists, in that it is directly focused on again and again. To mainly strike at from underneath. This is were a downward pointed dirk is of great importance in deflection. Yet this form is not touched upon deeply. The projecting shield spike offers a great way of snagging and displacing a sword or bayonet. All the while counter attacking. Just as the backward step to protect the leg. The style is actually similar to the very early I.33, especially in “stepping” or lack of. Yet it is not I.33, as the two are clearly recognizable to witness stylisticly. It is said there might even had been clan styles, this is a tangible thought, yet probably leads more directly to training methods than clear differences in the appearance of fighting.

When I was younger, my father, brother and I visited an aloof antique dealer and collector that was a friend of my fathers. He lived in a very old house atop a hill, with absolutely everything within antique. Everything. Owned arguably the largest personable collection of American Revolutionary War arms in the world, whole armoury rooms under lock and key. As well a a creator of reproductions. Buried money in antique ceramics in his backyard. Million dollar quilt in an old chest the Smithsonian wanted to purchase, wouldn’t sell. A hole you could see the road on his van floor, etc. He also had an array of Scottish broadswords and targets, as well as some renaissance arms. Not to mention any other form of antique you could imagine. The basement the kind of place only goblins and ghosts could live in, and who knows of the attic above the third floor. Sleeping in an antique bed, surrounded by antiques and such a setting, enflamed the imagination, yet often into dark places for a young one. I will always remember the arms and such. As such a thing is more personal than any museum could be. The old shields and broadswords an inspiring memory, one can almost hear the pipes and see the fires.

While this style is something I have trained in and feel very confident with. A next training cycle is falling completly under this style. The practice of a smaller twohander (60”), almost completed in oak. As well as the broadsword (longer than my single handed sword), a stout targe with a nail through the middle (filed and wrapped in leather tip for “safety”), and a strong dirk. To all match technology more appropriately as opposed to the “close enough” items I have used. Although the bare footed training will be somewhat coming to a close in a couple months, as my yard is four acres in the middle of literally thousands of acres of forest. Not suburb forest, untouched ever forest. Nature wants to kill you not hug you, that kind. Bloody, oozy, itchy feet that appear diseased are not preferred, although I am sure to suffer at some point this season. I will miss the cold burning toes of winter training.

Artwork: Highland Swordsman 2012