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.”

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.

I.33

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The I.33 Fight book is both an interesting and important historical artifact. It is the oldest tome expressing the martial arts of Europe, specifically that of Germany. It is perhaps the oldest expression of a martial arts tradition, actually teachable and frozen from the time it was created. While many legacies throughout the world claim ancient lineages, few can prove such things, and those who speak truth, have often evolved and changed deeply alongside technology causing them to no longer present ones original war form. I.33 is simply the catalogue number for this tome held within the archives. While it is connected with the tradition of German fencing. It also stands alone. As the German fencing tradition “begins” with the teaching of Lichtenauer, as recorded by the priest and master at arms Hanko Döbringer. In the same light, the I.33 is a fighting form recorded by priests, for priests. One must remember that religion did not unite a culture. Attacking an enemies territory and slaughtering his priests, ransacking temples, raping nuns, etc. meant nothing to many medieval (and modern) combatants. Therefore, the priests most often protect themselves.

A romantic thought that has always lingered inside my head, given the time period, is how inspiring it would be if such a book was recorded by remnant Templar knights. Given the Dual nature of it. There is much to be said of the Templars, yet this is not the point. The fight book dated to circa 1320, places it shortly after the Templar’s persecution. One must understand, very few Templars were arrested, very few. Only in locations were their enemies held great political and man power. Many of the Brethren simply prepared for battle, went to the authorities and asked who amongst them would come forth and perform such an arrest. Few challenged this afront. Yet obviously with such a decree sent forth, the Order simply was forced to dissolve. Many simply fell into disguise and silence. Many under the name of new and older orders, perhaps in secret conclaves, some simply not convicted. This is reasonable to understand. The obvious wealth was obviously taken elsewhere, or used elsewhere. It is quite easy to believe that many did indeed leave to Scotland or new lands, the passage to the new world was known of for several centuries at this time. The Scotland theory seems tangible given the fact it was free of this persecution. Fighting alongside Robert the Bruce? Nothing specifically states yes, or no. The idea of a small presence does not seem too radical, given the politics and time. I do not not believe the Templars persecution was unfounded, that they stood in complete innocence. Innocence is a twisted word. What we have at hand is a witch trial. False charges brought forth, spoken from ignorant minds, accusing what one did not understand. Insane acts spoken under tongues of torture. The Templars had their secrets. Secrets that made them what they were. Lost secrets. Learn and decide what you will… Yet, we at least have one of the most inspiring quotes of all time attributed to the men. “A Templar Knight is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armour of faith, just as his body is protected by the armour of steel. He is thus doubly armed, and need fear neither daemons nor men.” And thus in fire and blood, we are left with a legacy…

Yet the I.33 is of martial arts, romantics to be left aside. It offers a large perspective into sword and buckler training. Yet there are a couple things to be aware of. Most importantly, is the lack of always stepping. That is as one attacks from a particular side, one steps placing that foot forward. This is stressed in nearly all traditional martial arts, especially the Arts of Mars. Yet it is not always necessary. Yes, one wishes to step in strength in balance, yet cutting a man down is simple, and often takes little strength. Many combative and sports forms, such as Muay Thai, offer little stepping. Performing attacks from all angles while maintaining the “same” foot work. The “strong” foot often already forward, both feet being the “strong” foot. This is effective. Often there is little room to step, yet one should not be limited to one side. Therefore, one should train as diligently in not stepping as one should stepping. What the I.33 seems to be expressing is a form of “shoot combat”. Highly explosive propulsion from the balls of ones feet. Were you “slide forward” without stepping. This is an extremely effective approach to combatives. One to be trained in order to be understood. Simply take a fighting stance, sword pointed at “enemies face”. There is after all only One proper opening stance… Now explode forward again and again, dozens of times across your yard, causing your calves to hurt. Do the same thing moving backwards, diagonally in all directions, etc. This is the “leaping” the masters speak of, not actually jumping, that is foolish. Understand how to kill a man without even moving your sword. Therefore, when you do move your sword, you are thus moving in double… This is what I view when exploring this text.

A reason that such a text is connected to the priesthood, is that priests and religious men throughout time and cultures, have been the most connected to art on average. It is they who would express such things, have the men at their disposal to create such things. In their otherworldly pursuit, writing and embellishing writings into what eventually became true art. Of the world of Art, we owe everything to Renaissance Europe. This is when art truly became “Fine Art”. What the masters accomplished have set the standards for all eternity. Causing all cultures to fall miserably in comparison. This is an undisputable fact. In the history of art, before the modern era, it is the pursuit of the divine that drove such men to such high standards. Art, and all matters of the pen, being firstly held in the hands of religious and learned men, nearly always the same. This is why the I.33 is important to us. For arts sake, for martial arts, for history, and for spirituality.

Image: Conceptual Illustration I created depicting the I.33 models. 2010

Goliath

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The Goliath Fightbook is the Germanic foundation source for fighting with the Greatsword. Although a Longsword is a “Two-hander”, it can be easily used as a single handed sword. The True Two-Hander can not. Although one should train with it in a single hand for strength and balance purposes, fighting this way is not recommended. Thus, this is the “Two Hander”. There are a few things to point out when studying Goliath:

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First, Goliath is simply one of the greatest fight books given to us. Both in the quality of art and the uniqueness of it. The swords are undoubtedly True-Twohanders, measuring the height of men. When speaking of Greatswords there are two types the swords will fall in to. Those with lugs and those without lugs. Goliath embodies fighting using those without lugs. Thus dictating the style within the book. When studying historical artifacts, those made of a masterful quality, one must study the point of balance the sword carries. This is of upmost importance. As this dictates the bind. Your binding point, the lugs or cross, must be below the balance point. A “perfectly balanced” sword is not so. Perfect swords are made with perfect geometrical proportions. Creating a balance point a few inches above the cross. When binding you want the pivot point/ balance point above the “bottom-line” bind point for fluid motion. Thus two types of great swords. I will refer to two specific examples as generalization. Two specific examples created by master blade smiths.

A German example measuring 68” in length, a 17” handle, with a balance point of 8.5 inches, weighing 6.9 pounds. Slightly above the lugs, this balance point is purposefully put there. A Scottish example, although most likely a German made blade, measure 75”, a 22” handle, with a balance point of 4” weighing 9 pounds, with no lugs. Designed to use the cross. While both swords are masterfully created. The Scottish example is the more perfect weapon. The greatest balance. It will handle with great ease. Weight is not in issue in this category as one must train. It is simply created with greater geometry. Yet, are the lack of lugs a weakness or strength? This is up to the personal style of the wielder.

The swords used within Goliath are closer to the Scottish example. This is were the Goliath fight book comes into play. For one will may still desire the distance lugs create. This comes to grip placement. Many grip techniques place the cross hand a few inches below the cross, thus creating the distance of lugs, also placing balance point higher, yet still maintaining the ability to wield a sword with perfect balance by a quick shift of grip. Something a sword with lugs will lack. The grip varies within this book. From as written above, The pommel hand upon the pommel, sometimes above. The cross hand firmly placed under cross, etc. When wielding a great sword, you must be able to clear underneath your arms with ease, this can become somewhat awkward when the arms cross. In my understanding, it is the length of your forearm that is the ideal length when clearing under your arm. Although this is not necessary, especially when arms do not cross and proper extension maintained. Therefore upon placing attacks at your opponent, a grip inches below the guard will give you proper clearing room, maintaining distance as lugs, allowing quick shift of forward grip for superior sword balance, a luged sword lacks this, as you may never grip with perfect balance. A luged sword with “perfect” balance will lead to many an awkward bind, this is why you do not often find these. Yet personal preference may create such an artifact. There are many benefits of having a handle longer than your forearms, just as there are weaknesses, yet this is fluid and such a sword allows change. One must keep arms high and solid.

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Within Goliath always view the height of the arms, the extension of the arms. This must be maintained. This must be trained. Only changing upon the bind, as is natural with leverage and distance. As pictured above. It takes great endurance. Yet in any form a fighter who drops guard, drops dead. Of the upmost importance within Goliath, notice the tips of the swords. They nearly Never leave the forward direction. In nearly every technique the point is placed between self and opponent. This leads back to the hoop training I wrote of. This is the most important aspect of great sword fighting. You will see many experienced practitioners swirling their great swords around fluidly. I cannot express the silliness of this. It is not attractive nor martially sound. I ask how this differentiates from a baton twirler, simply twirling around with flash? These are the “show” fighters the masters warn of. In a sword fight, fluidity is often a bad thing. Movements should torc and jerk about, traveling paths that are not traceable. Else you simply leave a trail to your defeat. Sometimes it is best to simply train inside with the great sword, under normal ceiling height. Forcing small movements. These forced small movements are typically the only thing you will desire in actual combat. Force, force, force. The “1 inch” strike is of all importance. Strike the pell thousands times. The vortex, back and forth. Long edge and short edge are not static, they typically alternate as you reset grip and guard. Forearms and hands are to be disabled, in equal importance to torso and head.

Thus, the most important aspects of Greatswords are to master the changes of grip. Always maintain proper arm height and extension, Always! Never allow your point to travel far. Never be predictable.

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Abstract Ringen III

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The word Ringen, technically speaking, refers to Germanic unarmed combat. Kampfringen more directly the war form. I use the term Ringen as a blanket term for all Hema unarmed combat, and some dagger combat. As I seek the wholeness or the art. There are forms from various regions of Renaissance Europe. Most notably the Italian. The reason one can combine nationalities as one form is the simple aspect of technology. The technological tools, swords, armour, etc. are basically the exact same tool regardless of were in Europe you travel, at least in Western Europe. Thus form equals function. There are four combat masters I currently gravitate towards in the study of “Ringen”. Ringeck, Meyer, Auerswald, and Liberi. Each one brings a special aspect to the art. There are many masters and all should be studied. Many will show the same techniques, and here and there something “different” that is extremely effective. As the compass of Hema unarmed combat spins endlessly, I will abstractly point out variations within books, as well as various foreign martial arts styles that are similar. Due to other martial arts having unarmed masters that can be viewed. Within sword fighting the Hema compass points North. The skill level is well established. I speak of the foreign arts very generally, looking at specific aspects that apply to specific aspects of Hema. Although I speak of the foreign forms regarding different masters, they apply to all masters. Just as each master should be viewed as a whole to form an understanding of Ringen. The human body is only capable of moving soundly in certain ways. The styles will have aspects similar in movement and body mechanics, yet of course these styles are not Hema. As Hema stands alone.

The teachings of Ringeck are almost “barbaric”, in a very good way. He travels straight into maiming. His techniques are simple, combative and visceral. Eye gouges, stomps, finger breaks, testical destruction, knee breaks, ripping ears off (maybe I added that one). On and on, you can make a huge list of all the maiming dirty things one can do in combat, it becomes redundant. While a form of grappling, his is extremely “combative” in approach, to the extent he puts modern combatives to shame. As these modern styles are disconnected because of technology when you compare them to the understanding of such a man living during such times. These modern styles grasping straws from martial arts and sports that are weakening to combatives. He should be deeply studied my the men seeking to form such training crurriculims. The important aspect of Ringeck is he speaks how to kill quickly.

Meyer is interesting. His form offers many interesting throws. Once again grappling, yet not wrestling. Often using only the foot to obstruct anothers legs/feet, and force one off balance. Some of the throws will simply break your neck as executed, you will be dead before you hit the ground, his form is not sport. He offers precision, obstruction of limbs and throws in a way were there is no room for contestation when technique is done. A somewhat similar appearance can be found viewed in Muay Boran. Muay Boran displaying the leg sweeps using arms, with extremely harsh castings of ones opponents to the ground. Calling it an art of “striking” is a narrow approach. It is truly refereed to as an art of binding, understand this. Muay Boran I took up thirteen years ago. My intent to always keep “striking” strong in body far into old age (60+), God willing. Through diet, fitness and training. It is important to view techniques used against forceful and capable opponents in motion…Again, Ringen, it is unique to Hema and neither of these styles.

Auerswald, as said before is the beginning of sportification, what one would call renaissance wrestling. Modern wrestling has no place in Hema, stay away from this. While many of his techniques are not deadly, they offer you the position to quickly become so. The scope of his work offers many options and body mechanics that are important to understand. Arts that stands out in similarity are Sumo and Jujutsu. Yes, Sumo. Forget about the large men who have low levels of true fitness, were weight makes one greater only under rules. The Art of Sumo. There are practitioners of fit and “normal” physiques. Watch these men. Watch the flurry of open palm strikes as one seeks dominance of the arms. The “strikes” can quickly become deadly in approach if rules are lifted. Watch the mechanics, and men who are vastly outweighed gain control and dominance.

Liberi, the Beautiful Flower, is of excessive importance. His art is the most precise. He often maintains as much distance as possible from his opponent during techniques. In an abstract way, it is almost similar to many Bujutsu techniques. Budo is something I am very friendly with, yet keep to myself. The style of dislocations, the distance maintained, the erect form, etc. He offers a variety of joint dislocations, especially to the arms. The simple illustrations are extremely clear. Easily understood. It is one of the most important perspectives handed down to us from the old masters.

The unification of these four masters offers a large scope in the perspective of combat. While there are others, all of which are to be studied. These are four that stand out to me. The ones I currently study most. In the entirety, unarmed Hema is both unique and deadly.

Bidenhänder

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My martial arts training revolves entirely around the bidenhänder, and continues to with increased vigor. It is this weapon that I am pursuing mastery of, which runs hand in hand with the longsword, the longsword thus applying to every other object you can put into your hands. Yet, taking the true two hander to the point of mastery is shrouded in mist if you will. As there is little direct reference to it, in comparison to many other weapons. As well as no living examples to look towards, as the mastery of such a weapon takes extreme dedication of body. The balance, the strength, the form, the stability, technique, on and on. I have already written extensively of the use of stepping away from the roundabout strike using the long edge, also true of the longsword. Guards are tight in a fight, not exaggerated as in many of the books. This is true of all martial arts…

Stay tight. Duel as if there were a three foot hoop somewhere in the middle of your sword, centered with your solar plexus. One can actually create one and place between themselves and a sword pell. And now pass through nearly all stances, strike, fight, wind about. Your balance point scraping along the hoop. You will be able to take nearly all stances, passing between each one, all strikes, yet they will become extremely tight. Inches of movement instead of feet. Ask yourself what makes you feel stronger and more guarded. “Death circle” attacks can appear powerful, and upon the battle field you may open up the conflict in such a way.When outnumbered such attacks may be used in a controlled way. One can overwhelm an opponent/opponents with such a skillful flurry of attacks. Yet, things change when dueling with someone skilled. Always remain smart about what is going on. This applies to all sword combat.

Training with both left and right hands must become first nature. It simply must. And one must ask themselves, should the naturally powerful hand be under the cross, or pommel? Do I even have a hand that is more powerful anymore?

The short edge should be used as frequently as the long, if not more. In sword combat the ideal place is to have your blade inside of your opponents blade, thus between his sword and body, his sword controlled at the outside. Pivoting your balance on his sword from your pommel hand, striking him with your false. If you find your sword outside of his, and his outside of yours, then both are guarded, until this inside space is taken. Many may attempt a round about strike, stepping to his outside, yet this can be the toss of the die. One typically wishes to lead with thrusts, finding that inside space. When striking down or up, you still wish to control the inside space. It is a matter of who appears there first, who binds properly and feels intent, who takes better foot position and distance. He who controls the distance is of all importance. With the True Two hander, this is the purpose of lugs on the blade. A secondary cross guard. There is debate about this and there should not be. The ignorance of others should never bother you. The lugs are for binding while controlling distance. Not for half swording, halfsword places your hands above the lugs. One can place hands under the lugs, yet then it becomes spear like, a slightly different use.

There are several references to the True Two-Hander found within various German books. Meyer, although the longsword, is simply the foundation that all Hema practitioners should study, in the martial arts appearance and form, yet not the arts wholeness. Applying to any blade you take in two hands. Goliath is the bidenhänder, as the art is clear enough to take proportions literally. A few others mention the weapon, with techniques, and insight. There are Iberian writings describing the use of such a weapon. There are also Italian teachings with illustrations. All to be explored at a later point. The picture I included is from a late fight book, 1653, the Alfieri fight book. Mainly on the subject of rapier, yet with a section of the True Two-Hander. With what may appear strange techniques. One must apply in motion, and take what you will.

The key is to simply train this weapon to exhuastion, there is always more to learn, always better handling to obtain. To be both smooth and balanced, yet spastic and jerking the blade about. I train with one that measure 75 inches in length, this is the large end of the spectrum. The handle being any longer I would not be able to properly clear underneath my arm. I am 6’ 2” in height. The weapon is extremely impressive when one is skilled and balanced, moving with the weapons balance point. When one is not, it appears cumbersome and unbalanced. Thus it must be trained with repeatedly. High repetition, burning muscles, and exhausted breath. In order to not deal with such fatigue while actually performing in combat. I train with it seven days a week, alongside a multitude of other practices. It empowers every single aspect of my martial arts abilities.Training style is your choice.