Thoughts...?

Western(esse) Martial Arts / Numenorean Martial Arts....

Combat and self-defense in Middle-earth

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Ursus
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Thoughts...?

Postby Ursus » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:27 am

So I've been typing away on the impending sword and buckler class and prepping for photos and all the while something just hasn't been clicking. What it comes down to I think is this. While sword and buckler is the poll winner and I'm more than happy to do the class on that subject, it just doesn't seem to fit with most folks on here in regards to rangering in general. What I mean is that most of you who carry swords seem to prefer a lone arming sword. My original idea was and is to focus on fighting applicable to a ranger and the weapons that would be carried day to day and on long treks where stealth is a must. To me a loud clanging buckler doesn't really jive in that respect. I'm just guessing but based on what I've seen not many carry a buckler on the trail or likely have plans to adopt one, I could be wrong of course. My other train of thought in all honestly is that there are dozens of well done tutorials on the web on the use of sword and buckler should anyone desire. There are not however very many on the use of a lone sidesword/arming sword. And none that gear it towards a ranger. This would in my opinion give us something more unique that belongs to us and caters more to the needs of many on the forum. In the end I hate to think of training rangers in an martial art form that they can really use via their persona or needs on the trail. SO what I'm requesting is a simple show of hands. Yes for pursuing the class on sidesword or No in favor of sticking with sword and buckler.
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Harper » Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:53 am

Here are some of my thoughts...

A Ranger's arms and armor should be mission specific.

I think Ranger combat can be categorized into three basic categories:

1. Rangers afoot on normal patrol. On this type of mission, the Ranger is lightly armored, if at all. He relies on speed and concealment. His primary weapon would be the bow. Secondary armament would likely include a long knife/long seax/short sword and an axe/heavy hawk. All of these implements can be used for other purposes: hunting, camp chores, etc. This would be important if they had to lug them around with their "house load" (blankets, food, etc.). Swords only have one real function--to kill men/creatures. Their weight and length make them seem impractical in the wilderness. I think that their primary emphasis would be on the bow and a two-handed fighting style for melee. I can also see a quarter staff depending on the terrain.

2. Rangers on a war time footing. Rangers would be more heavily armored and would likely have a shield and maybe chain mail and a helmet. They would also likely have a sword in addition to their bow and a secondary weapon. A short sword would probably be better for formation work. In this kind of scenario, they would know that trouble is immanent and the additional weight would be justified. The Rangers in Ithilien in RotK are a good example.

3. Rangers ahorse. In this scenario, stealth and weight considerations are moot. A longer sword is necessary. A spear would also likely have been carried. Armor would have been heavier and likely have included chain, helm and shield. An example would be the Grey Company.

I really don't see sword and buckler--even though it's cool. Sword and shield, yes. But I think that the arms used by Rangers for hand-to-hand combat the vast majority of the time would have been a long knife/seax/short sword in combination with an axe/hawk.
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby BrianGrubbs » Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:42 am

Count me as a Yes for the sidesword, your reasoning is sound.

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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Peter Remling » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:25 pm

Sidesword is fine with me.
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Elleth » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:38 pm

Short answer: "yes" for sword alone.

Slightly longer answer: To second Harper, sword plus long knife / hatchet / etc would be even better.

Verbose answer:
I think if Middle Earth were real, bucklers (or some variety of small portable shield) would be as common a sidearm - even for Rangers - as they were in our own real medieval period. So it does make sense to me.

But just as the Victorians had not-quite-right ideas for how Romans or Knights looked, so our own mental images are colored by books and films, and are as such I think always a little biased towards stage fencing. But we don't pattern our hobby strictly after real medieval huntsmen, or real "Third Age" late-neolithic heroes. So I'm more than happy with the more Ranger-archetypal approach of arming sword alone, provided it's internally consistent and practical.
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Ursus » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:32 pm

Elleth wrote:Short answer: "yes" for sword alone.

Slightly longer answer: To second Harper, sword plus long knife / hatchet / etc would be even better.

Verbose answer:
I think if Middle Earth were real, bucklers (or some variety of small portable shield) would be as common a sidearm - even for Rangers - as they were in our own real medieval period. So it does make sense to me.

But just as the Victorians had not-quite-right ideas for how Romans or Knights looked, so our own mental images are colored by books and films, and are as such I think always a little biased towards stage fencing. But we don't pattern our hobby strictly after real medieval huntsmen, or real "Third Age" late-neolithic heroes. So I'm more than happy with the more Ranger-archetypal approach of arming sword alone, provided it's internally consistent and practical.


If there is enough interest, I think the best way may be to do them both side by side. The two have many similarities that can easily overlap. All I have to do is add a few extra pictures and explanations.

I do think bucklers would be a common enough item as well. In my experience shields of any size just don't play well in the woods or with my pack.

Well there is nothing that really stops me from doing a session on sword and dagger sometime in the future. Honestly though I feel many people over hype duel wielding for the same reasons you stated such as film, rpg's ,and modern fantasy literature. I believe many people widely underestimate having a free hand to grab, grapple, and throw with. A quick bind with the sword combined with a well timed and placed shove from the off hand, even from a person of small stature, can (and has) put a man my size on his backside on more than one instance.

I probably wont do anything on hawk and knife as I don't really work with it as much as I used to when I was really heavy into the colonial stuff.

So I'm more than happy with the more Ranger-archetypal approach of arming sword alone, provided it's internally consistent and practical.

Trust me on this, I wouldn't teach anything that wasn't the real deal
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Greg » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:33 pm

Harper wrote:Here are some of my thoughts...

A Ranger's arms and armor should be mission specific.

I think Ranger combat can be categorized into three basic categories...
[deleted for space]
...I think that the arms used by Rangers for hand-to-hand combat the vast majority of the time would have been a long knife/seax/short sword in combination with an axe/hawk.


The main problem with this description is not practicality, but authenticity. Some of the biggest issues we face in our attempts to create as accurate an impression of Tolkien's Rangers are that not everything he wrote is perfectly practical. Some of our references seem ungainly in the field...it was easy to write about Aragorn as a very well-travelled character on foot, but it's much harder to carry everything necessary to mimic him. To that end, EVERY Ranger character Tolkien ever wrote carries a sword. It may seem more practical to carry a bow and a long knife, but strictly speaking, this is a weapon combination that is Elvish in nature, and particular to Mirkwood (see: Legolas). For this reason, I carry a sword with me on every single outing I take, and its usefulness be damned.

Historical European Martial Arts are not based around back-country travelers; they are based on civilian and military combatants living within Civilization, fighting with swords and other combat-specific implements. There are no High Medieval treatises on Knife and 'Hawk because, frankly, that's a mostly early Americas pairing. So, for our purposes here, we have the materials set in front of us from Medieval/Renaissance europe, and we have the materials set in front of us from Tolkien. Rangers carried swords, and swords have a western European martial background. That's why this training sequence is headed the direction it is.

Are the other options practical? Sure! Can they be argued as plausible? Yep. Are they 100% Tolkien reference-able? Sorry, nope. Will that stop you? Of course not!

Ursus, I had it in my head that I'd work with the buckler for historical precedent, and then on my own time adapt Talhoffer and etc.'s off-hand work with the dagger into what I'd taken from I.33 in place of the buckler. If you're willing to take the guesswork out for me by working disarms and other off-hand measures into work with the single arming sword, I (and my new blade which is nearing completion) would be indebted to you. [Note: The vambrace IS a Tolkien-justifiable piece of gear/armor...something to think about! Prince Iimrahil wears vambraces (metal ones, no less.)]

Looking forward to whatever you're able to put together!

EDIT:
If there is enough interest, I think the best way may be to do them both side by side. The two have many similarities that can easily overlap. All I have to do is add a few extra pictures and explanations.

That's what I was hoping for. Sounds great.
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Manveruon » Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:25 am

I love where this discussion is headed, and I am extremely excited for the eventual lessons! I agree with much of what has been said above. Since I lack any practical first-hand knowledge of these types of Western martial arts, I can't speak from experience, but I can at least say that I think the arguments made seem well reasoned, and make sense to me.

I, for one, really do want to learn sword and buckler, just because it seems to be an interesting and effective fighting style, but I agree that it doesn't seem to jive perfectly with the particular Tolkienian impression we do. That said, I think learning it from a practical standpoint, alongside lessons specifically geared towards single side-sword sounds like a really great plan. This is honestly the type of sword work I've been hoping to find someone to teach me for a long, long time.

In short, I'm psyched. Bring it on!
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Eledhwen » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:53 am

If I were to fight in an organized fashion against enemy formations, shortsword and shield, no question.

Barring the above, if I had to go single sword, it would still be a shortsword.

If sword is optional, Elven hunting knife and either 'hawk/belt axe or shortsword.

As a Ranger though, I'd let other, younger Rangers deal with organized formation battle and stick to skirmish/interdiction roles....like Recon.

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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Eric C » Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:40 pm

Eledhwen wrote:As a Ranger though, I'd let other, younger Rangers deal with organized formation battle and stick to skirmish/interdiction roles....like Recon.

Eledhwen


I like the way Eledhwen thinks. :lol:

I would be all for doing both side-by-side. I know I don't put much into the discussions these days, but I'm still around. Whatever you do, it will be a good learning experience for me.
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Harper » Sat Apr 23, 2016 7:34 pm

I seem to have unintentionally struck a nerve.
Greg wrote:For this reason, I carry a sword with me on every single outing I take, and its usefulness be damned.

Carry it to Glory and Good Fortune my friend!

But I still stand by analysis.

Greg wrote: To that end, EVERY Ranger character Tolkien ever wrote carries a sword.

This is true. But he really didn't write that much about Rangers. Aragorn was certainly a-typical. He carried Narsil because it was far more than a weapon to him. The two other areas where Tolkien writes about Rangers in detail are where the Grey Company is riding to war and where the company-sized Rangers of Ithilien were engaged in outright guerilla operations against the forces of Mordor. My analysis clearly advocated the use of heavier arms and armor where Rangers were on a war footing and/or mounted. It's both appropriate and necessary in those instances. However, Tolkien is silent on what Rangers carried in situations short of open war. That is where the question of practicality comes in. We have to remember what Rangers did and how they operated in times short of open warfare.

Greg wrote:It may seem more practical to carry a bow and a long knife, but strictly speaking, this is a weapon combination that is Elvish in nature, and particular to Mirkwood (see: Legolas).

I have to disagree with you here. Legolas certainly carried this combination. That should tell you something right there. As a Prince, he could have had any weapon he wanted. Yet, he chose this combination.

A hunter--from pretty much any culture--that carried a bow for hunting typically accompanied it with a long knife/short sword. If for no other reason. they would use it to dispatch game that was taken with their bow. A longer knife/short sword would have made it both easier and safer. This no doubt carried through to the battlefield. Historically speaking, archers in medieval armies are almost always described as having some type of short sword. I even remember seeing pictures of blades called an "Archers Short Sword."

Greg wrote:Historical European Martial Arts are not based around back-country travelers; they are based on civilian and military combatants living within Civilization, fighting with swords and other combat-specific implements.

But we are discussing HEMA with respect to Rangers, right? Because that is exactly where Rangers operated.

Greg wrote:There are no High Medieval treatises on Knife and 'Hawk because, frankly, that's a mostly early Americas pairing. So, for our purposes here, we have the materials set in front of us from Medieval/Renaissance europe, and we have the materials set in front of us from Tolkien. Rangers carried swords, and swords have a western European martial background. That's why this training sequence is headed the direction it is.

Yes, at first glance, it is reasonable to say that a knife and hawk pairing is mostly identified with early America. I even hesitated using that description in anticipation of this very reaction. But go back further. The hawk is an axe. It traces back to the Francisca. They were used in medieval Europe. In fact, France and the French were named after these axes. It was also used by other Germanic peoples. I assure you that they had long knives/short swords. It is no stretch to say that axes and long knives/short sword were used in combination. Recollect also that the American Indians got these hawks from the French and English. So the pedigree is certainly established. If you prefer, drop the word hawk and just use the word axe instead.

Whatever way this training sequence takes, I would like to thank Ursus in advance for the time that I know he is going to devote to it. I'll be watching with great interest. In case there is any doubt, let me state: I like training with swords.But I still stand by my analysis.

Eledhwen wrote:If I were to fight in an organized fashion against enemy formations, shortsword and shield, no question.

Barring the above, if I had to go single sword, it would still be a shortsword.

If sword is optional, Elven hunting knife and either 'hawk/belt axe or shortsword.

As a Ranger though, I'd let other, younger Rangers deal with organized formation battle and stick to skirmish/interdiction roles....like Recon.


Spot on!
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Greg » Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:08 pm

Harper wrote:I seem to have unintentionally struck a nerve.


Oh, no no no. No nerves struck, no feathers ruffled. Healthy discussion. Sorry if I came across that way.

That is where the question of practicality comes in. We have to remember what Rangers did and how they operated in times short of open warfare.


A just motivation to read into it. Love these discussions!

I have to disagree with you here. Legolas certainly carried this combination. That should tell you something right there. As a Prince, he could have had any weapon he wanted. Yet, he chose this combination.


True, he could have carried anything...but I feel like the combination was meant to draw attention to the abilities of elves...like Legolas, being superbly coordinated and gifted with physical abilities beyond the capabilities of men, and as such was able to fight at Helm's deep, all arrows spent, against Uruk-hai armed with full size blades, with just a knife. I certainly wouldn't want to engage in that fashion.

Greg wrote:Historical European Martial Arts are not based around back-country travelers; they are based on civilian and military combatants living within Civilization, fighting with swords and other combat-specific implements.

But we are discussing HEMA with respect to Rangers, right? Because that is exactly where Rangers operated.


Yes, we are, you're correct. I wasn't saying that to say we're studying an art out of context for our uses...I'm just saying we don't have a period fight manual that approaches forest warfare, so we have to do the best we can with what we have.

Yes, at first glance, it is reasonable to say that a knife and hawk pairing is mostly identified with early America. I even hesitated using that description in anticipation of this very reaction. But go back further. The hawk is an axe. It traces back to the Francisca. They were used in medieval Europe. In fact, France and the French were named after these axes. It was also used by other Germanic peoples. I assure you that they had long knives/short swords. It is no stretch to say that axes and long knives/short sword were used in combination. Recollect also that the American Indians got these hawks from the French and English. So the pedigree is certainly established. If you prefer, drop the word hawk and just use the word axe instead.


All I'm saying is that there isn't a historical manual for us to study. The axe has been around forever...no question there. But if we're to pursue authentic martial arts of the period, there's just no extant manual that deals on the topic.

Cheers!
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Eledhwen » Sun Apr 24, 2016 12:02 pm

It is true there are no known manuals on the use of 'hawk and knife. Then again, medieval Rangers and Foresters did not act like ME Rangers at all. St. Huberts' Rangers has articles concerning much of this sort of thing, well researched. A medieval forester essentially protected the lands assigned from poaching, noted problems to attend to, etc. Medieval Rangers were mostly mounted archers 'ranging' across the enemy countryside...rather like the Reavers along the English Scottish border.

Medieval rangers did not carry about bedrolls, to the best of our knowledge, and were not free to go wither they would at any time. Outlaws could, but not assigned people.

In ME, we have a combination of the medieval Forester, the North American Colonial Ranger, and a solid dose of fantasy to hold it all together. A rather delightful combination, to my mind.

In the end, studying knife and hawk is as valid as rangering around freely....neither have evidence in the true medieval context. The one is at the heart of being an ME Ranger, the other is conjectural, but in the milieu of Middle Earth, very possible.

This is why I keep my historical reenactments absolutely separate from my Middle Earth Ranger pursuits. They may, and do, overlap, but I do not combine them. No back quivers in the middle ages, that we know of absolutely. Waist, sure. Belt, sure. Arrow bags, sure. Back quivers as we know them today? Not so much. But they exist in the world of Middle Earth...and let us face it, we love them.

For me, and only for me, Middle Earth is where I get to loosen the strict confinements of historical reenactment.

Also for me, this is true of weapons and weapon styles.

Where we set the restrictions on what we desire from Ursus will be an interesting debate.

That is pretty much all I have to say on it at this stage.

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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Elleth » Sun Apr 24, 2016 5:25 pm

Then again, medieval Rangers and Foresters did not act like ME Rangers at all ... a combination of the medieval Forester, the North American Colonial Ranger, and a solid dose of fantasy to hold it all together. A rather delightful combination, to my mind.


Fascinating, isn't it?

I recall being more than a little shocked when I found out just how..well.. managed the forests of medieval England were, especially in the post-Saxon era. I'd always assumed it was like the Robin Hood books I read as a child, where the forests were big chunks of wilderness between tiny villages. To find they were as often glorified woodlots was a little disappointing. :(

Anyhow, the forests of the ruined North Kingdoms are I think much closer to those of the frontier era Americas, though perhaps on a grander scale yet. There may have been management once, but the hands that tended the woods are long gone, and the trees themselves show only small memory of their presence. Add to that the ongoing raids of different peoples keeping anyone from settling in too deeply, and the "colonial woodsman" is not too far from what must have been I think.... perhaps with a dose of the deep old forests of Tacitus' Germania, in the deeper places where neither man nor orc dared to go.

What that means for arms, I've no idea. But I'm eager to see what Ursus puts together. :)
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Re: Thoughts...?

Postby Greg » Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:11 pm

Alright, let me start over. Somehow, I feel like I've dug myself into a hole here, because frankly, I don't disagree with anything that's been said about the Colonial similarities, etc. I think I just began wrong, and placed the limitations on the text, rather than where they should have been...on Ursus.

The point I think I was trying to make was that Ursus is a student and teacher of historical european martial arts. To that degree, we are limited in what he can instruct that would be applicable to our hobby.

Sorry for the derailment...you all know as well as anyone that the combination of history and imagination is why I keep coming back here.
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