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Welcome to The European Historical Combat Guild web site

The Guild brings together individuals and groups studying and teaching historical combat. through the Principles and philosophies advocated by John Waller.

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Latest Blog Posts

A Case of mistaken Identity

Don't mistake hard and fast, for "liveness" or pressure testing.

One can see people doing drills and exercises, generally with some protection, sometimes only minimal levels of protection, doing drills hard and fast.
It can look impressive. the speed and force being used makes it look exciting and creates a sense of
"Reality" ©™®.

However look beyond that....

  • Look at the distancing, are launching the attack out of distance? 
  • Look at the timing, is the responder anticipating the attack they "know" is coming? 
  • Look at the attack, is there a wind up that serves as the feed cue for the responder or is it bigger than it should be to give the responder time to make it work? 
  • Look at the preparations of both, are they maintaining an appropriate focus and transition into and out of the exercise or is switch on switch of? Do they both take time to "settle" before the actions or is their a continuous transition through Approach, Close and Entry
  • Look at the actual energy being used, is it forceful but stopping at the point of contact? Or is the responder actually dealing with or redirecting the continuous force?
  • Look at what happens after the "block" does the attacker just stop? Or do they stay present and "in the fight". Also how do both parties come out of the contact, do both stay present or do they switch off?
  • Look at the Protective equipment, are they using it to help them do the technique. Do you believe they would do the actions in the same way without the protection?
If even one of this is faked without a clear and stated reason, then it really doesn't matter how Hard and Fast it seems, it's not any more "Real" ©™®. than a slow drill done with all of the above.

However we an be fooled hard and fast can seem real but really they are extras and are easy to use as fake sincerity especially when both parties have confidence. However confidence doesn't always correspond to competence and when it comes to creating an illusion or deceiving people as I was told... "Once you learn to fake sincerity, everything else is easy" 

Interpretation... or making stuff up?

A short last post for 2013.
This is one of a number of pieces that have been sitting in the Drafts folder, that I intend to get published as we enter the new year.
I hope that  you have all had a good 2013 and will have a better 2014...

I have seen some videos recently, and have again been reminded of the issue that comes back to the interpretation of sources...
When a video is posted claiming to be an interpretation  of some images from a MS. and then the live action shown. looks nothing like the images shown.

While I understand the idea extrapolating concepts, principles, tactics etc from techniques. However if one is going to show specific illustrations, I believe it holds that the moving interpretation you shown should contain moments where the illustrations are reflected.

For example is the MS shows the technique being done from behind someone who has been turned in the set up, then the "interpretation" shows a technique being done from the front of the opponent, then it really is not an interpretation but an extrapolation. The same thing with hand and foot positions, either do the action as illustrated and then explain why you can or may need to do it differently, or don't show the illustration.

Otherwise all I am seeing is stuff that has been made up claiming to be something it is not.

Of course once you have done a faithful interpretation of the technique etc. then show how it may be applied in different ways and under varying circumstances, but show it being done the original way first

Nature, influence, lineage

The image below was shared on Facebook
It has obvious connections to positions seen in the Works of Fiore dei Liberi, if you are familiar with them, you can see it.

Various comments arose, going over the areas of the universal nature of certain actions and positions due to the morphology of the human body, the nature of influence and transmission in the form of lineage or teaching and the concept of a pan European combat "style".

I find it interesting that when similarities between actions in different cultures, for example medieval Japan and Medieval Europe are observed and highlighted the general response is... well because the human body is basically the same the world over... so it's not surprising that we will encounter things that look and/or operate the same way. However if someone suggests that their may be some connection via lineage or direct transmission...we consider then to be a bit strange.

Yet when the same thing is observed in a similar culture or time frame and where despite cultural differences there is over lap and similarities, the attitude often flips. Now people look for and suggest, linear transmission, direct influence... Now... if one is suggesting that the similarities could be down to morphology, and facing the same problems and having the same tools to solve them often producing similar results, is treated as a little strange!

I am not holding with any faction or view point, just airing an observation on the workings of the human mind.

Learning while you sleep....

I have known for some time that the process of acquiring a new skill is a process of mapping it in to your nervous system, forming and strengthening the connections between the nerves, in the brain and to the muscles that make the action happen. I also knew that part of the efficiency of the nerves function is based upon the proteins that form the "insulation" to the nerves that insure that the signals the signals through the nerves are stronger and faster.
What I had not realised or thoroughly considered was the importance of sleep to this process. Research has shown that it is during sleep that this mapping takes place and when the proteins are produced.

From Stages of Motor learning (2005) Andreas R. Luft and  Manueel M. Buitrago
Successful learning of motor skill requires repetitive training... This article covers the growing evidence that motor skill learning advances through stages, in which different storage mechanisms predominate. the acquisitions phase is characterised by fast (within session) and slow learning (between sessions). For a short period following the initial training sessions, the skill is liable to interference by other skills and by protein synthesis inhibition, indicating that consolidation processes occur during rest periods between training sessions.

When you are practising a skill to acquire it your brain will be trying out different things to ascertain the best way to do them. As it finds things that work it then refines them. However to make lasting changes takes time and happens through a process know as Consolidation. Consolidation is taking place at all time, but appears to be most effective during sleep.

It's Practice, with Sleep, That Makes Perfect: Implications of Sleep-Depnedant Learning and Plasticity for Skill Performance. (2005) Matthew P. Walker and Robert Strickgold
Practice is often believed to be the only determinate of improvement. Although repeatedly performing a new task often results in learning benefits, leading to the adage "practice makes perfect", a collection of studies over the past decade has begun to change this concept, Instead, these reports suggest that after initial training, the brain continues to learn in the absence of further practice, and that this delayed improvement develops during sleep.

The study concludes;

Although the functions of the sleeping brain remain uncertain, rapidly increasing literature now supports the role of sleep in modifying and improving memory  These reports provide an abundance of converging evidence indicating that sleep dependant mechanisms of neural plasticity lead to skill memory consolidation and consequently to delayed performance improvements. Different forms of simple and complex skill memory appear to require subtly different types of sleep for overnight memory enhancement, and several studies indicate that within the first 24 hours following initial practice is essential for consolidation to develop.

More recent research suggests that for greatest effect one should sleep, even just a power nap, within four hours of practice, otherwise the body/brains ability to consolidate is impaired. It would seem in light of this that evening training sessions, if you then get to bed within four hours of finishing, is actually a good idea! ;)

Interference occurs when one doesn't sleep properly or within the suggested time, and the consolidation is inhibited has the brain is having to deal with more present issues, also as noted the production of the proteins involved takes place during sleep. Also if you practice or use another similar but conflicting skill soon after training it causes Interference of the consolidation process. It seems that four hours is the boundary line after which such practice won't cause Interference. If you can wait four hours until using the conflicting skill, then interference doesn't occur and if you can get a nap as well..... so much the better! ;)
It should also be noted that once a skill has been acquired then both skills can used and practised with less or no effect

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