European Martial Arts?

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European Martial Arts?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-10-24 06:15am

I was wondering. Nobody hears much of European martial arts, at least I don't. We have swordstuff, but no Western version of jiujitsu and such. Whereas in Asia, even when swords and other weapons are fairly common, you've got martial arts everywhere. Was there anything ever like that in Europe?
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Thanas » 2011-10-24 06:42am

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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby LaCroix » 2011-10-24 07:06am

Along with the lesser known western martial arts of Pygme (Boxing) and Pale (Wrestling).
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Eleas » 2011-10-24 08:07am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:I was wondering. Nobody hears much of European martial arts, at least I don't. We have swordstuff, but no Western version of jiujitsu and such. Whereas in Asia, even when swords and other weapons are fairly common, you've got martial arts everywhere. Was there anything ever like that in Europe?


As mentioned above, we have Pankration or Mu Tau, Boxing, and Wrestling. We have the integrated unarmed components (grappling, locks, submission holds) of Tallhoffer and most likely every other martial arts school. Furthermore, we have la Savate, a french discipline that teach defense by fists, feet and cane. Finally, we have systems revised in the West during modern times, such as Kick Boxing.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-10-25 12:05am

Ancient Greek wrestling, boxing and wrestling. And French fist/feet/cane things. But it doesn't seem to be on a similar sheer quantity, or prominence, as Eastern martial arts where it is seen practiced everywhere and anywhere, and where there are all sorts of varieties from place to place. Is this just because media exaggerates Eastern martial arts due to the whole Bruce Lee thing? Today, we get boxing and wrestling, whereas in Asia you've got kung fu, jiu jitsu, judo, tae kwon do, karate, aikido, eskrima, muay thai, sumo (haha), and a whole slew of others.

Is it because Asia is just huge and filled with a whole load of people?
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Spoonist » 2011-10-25 02:56am

@the OP
Plenty of them, most lost due to better systems/tech coming along. In asia it seems that tradition is a value of its own, regardless of whether the tradition itself is useful or not.

Historically it seems that yuros have a much more barbaric/practical approach. It never was about the spirit/ki/whatever it was almost always about brute results - winning, and most of the disceplins that did exist was a direct result of standing militaries - ie battle in formation. Something which most of the asian martial arts suck at because they focus on single combat. (Exception - bows).
So you could say that team sports is the "proud" continuation of yuro martial arts.
But that would be missing that yurozone did away with most of those grand traditions with the advent of firearms etc and did so over a longer period of time. So that what used to be traditions were looked upon as yesterdays trash. Then came along rapiers and a much more "civil" way of resolving personal combat.

Now if you really want some sort of comparison that has an effect on popular culture you could look at jousting tournaments etc. With all the different forms it took you easily have at least as many as is popular in china.


Up here in the cold north we still have glima with a millenia of traditions. But that is something that most scandinavians wouldn't even recognize if they saw it live.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Panzersharkcat » 2011-10-25 04:10am

Continuing on what Spoonist said, there are several articles at ARMA detailing this. Just two right here:
The Death of a Martial Art? Talks about increase of cheaply manufactured weapons decreasing the need for martial arts.
Hype . . . As Ancient An Art As Sword Making Details a bit about Japanese traditionalism and why the basic design of the katana never really changed. Not completely related to the issue of martial arts but the attitude behind it kind of applies.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby LaCroix » 2011-10-25 06:02am

Let's have a look at the European martial arts:

Various styles of pounding people with fists and feet.
Various styles of grappling and wrestling, often combined with the above.
Various styles of a multitude of close combat weapons.
Various styles of ranged combat.

And when we look at the Asian side, we find.

Various styles of pounding people with fists and feet.
Various styles of grappling and wrestling, often combined with the above.
Various styles of a multitude of close combat weapons.
Various styles of ranged combat.

The only difference is that they call it Yuang's kung fu, Wu's kung fu, Yeong's tae kwon do, Yamamoto's Karate, Yoshi's Aikido, etc, while the Europeans call it Boxing, Kick-Boxing and Wrestling. (And there were a shitload of them, as every unit was trained differently, which would qualify as "Style")

Asians simple have more "brand-mentality", calling the essentially same thing with little variety an entirely different Martial art.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby bz249 » 2011-10-25 07:23am

Guns.

There were a plenty of swordfighting schools/traditions in Medieval, Renaissance and Early Baroque era, however when guns became reliable they mostly died out since they were moderately useful after that. What remained is current day sport fencing.

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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby PeZook » 2011-10-25 10:45am

bz249 wrote:Guns.

There were a plenty of swordfighting schools/traditions in Medieval, Renaissance and Early Baroque era, however when guns became reliable they mostly died out since they were moderately useful after that. What remained is current day sport fencing.


...

Way to ignore the entire thread, dude.

It's not like people gave dozens of examples of European martial arts (armed and unarmed) styles and schools, from antiquity to the modern age, right? :D

Is boxing, kickboxing and wrestling dead now? I'm sorry, I didn't seem to get the memo...
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby bz249 » 2011-10-25 11:57am

PeZook wrote:
It's not like people gave dozens of examples of European martial arts (armed and unarmed) styles and schools, from antiquity to the modern age, right? :D

Is boxing, kickboxing and wrestling dead now? I'm sorry, I didn't seem to get the memo...


As compared to the Renaissance, yes European martial arts mostly (strong emphasis here in this word, it means than there were much more martial art forms, and a higher percentage of the population practiced one or more forms then than now) died out. Guns gained prominence later in Asia, and as a result of that more tradition survived.

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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby PeZook » 2011-10-25 12:41pm

bz249 wrote:As compared to the Renaissance, yes European martial arts mostly (strong emphasis here in this word, it means than there were much more martial art forms, and a higher percentage of the population practiced one or more forms then than now) died out. Guns gained prominence later in Asia, and as a result of that more tradition survived.


You did say all that's left is sports fencing which is, well...not true. Not only are we seeing a rebirth of medieval armed fighting styles thanks to the rediscovery of several important training manuals, Western militaries have continuously been practicing their own hand-to-hand styles up to this day, improving and augmenting them.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-10-25 01:23pm

For that matter, in many cases the unarmed fighting styles never died at all- they remained present, as forms of entertainment if nothing else. The catch is that different styles didn't get brand names: Russian fist fighting might be very different from English fist fighting, and yet either way the combat gets called a 'fist fight' in translation.

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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Alyrium Denryle » 2011-10-25 01:59pm

The simple answer is yes. The complex answer is that throughout the middle ages (the period I am most familiar with), there were martial arts forms every bit as well developed as they were in Asia. Manuscripts have been found, the earliest ones dating to the late 14th century, detailing standard drills and techniques for armed, unarmed, armored and even mounted combat with the whole rack of medieval weapons. There were actually schools that students could go to in order to learn the most effective way of pulling someone from their horse with a halberd and driving a dagger into his eye-socket in the ensuing grapple, and the masters of these schools were used to train knights, professional soldiers, and street toughs. The term swashbuckler actually comes from the dueling traditions of renaissance europe, where young men trained in these schools would walk around with a sword and buckler at their belts ready to kill eachother over disputes of personal honor.

With the widespread use of the cheap gun/bayonette combination, and national armies built by fully fledged modern nation states, this tradition waned until private duels to first blood with weapons like the epee, sabre and foil were all that was left, and eventually even that faded into history and became modern sport fencing.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby PeZook » 2011-10-25 02:11pm

On the other hand, the gun/bayonet combination spawned its own distinct class of martial arts revolving around the use of the bayonet in combat. This continued to evolve with no break at all. While today armies no longer teach sophisticated bayonet drills, special forces keep hand to hand fighting alive, though modern military styles try to crib as much as possible from all martial arts traditions, not just western or eastern ones, in order to create the killiest moves possible.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby LaCroix » 2011-10-25 06:59pm

PeZook wrote:Western military styles try to crib as much as possible from all martial arts traditions, not just western or eastern ones, in order to create the killiest moves possible.

This quote is the defining point. Asian martial arts was always about conserving the tradition, while Western martial arts always were only about quick&efficient. Whenever something new came up almost everybody immediately switched to the new weapon and almost completely abolished the old styles, creating various new styles for the new weapon. (Apart from all-time classics that were kept alive as secondary armament, like sabre, lance(as bajonet) and knife...)
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-10-26 04:22am

So... it's a bit like how today in the West it's all about mixed martial arts? They've never been prone to going "dragon jitsu futsu fujitsu clan of fist punching" and have preferred to label and combine these things under a far more generalized umbrella? So in the West, even centuries ago, they've been less about specific schools with specific names and more about (proto-)MMA or something similar to how they're doing MMA today?
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Spoonist » 2011-10-26 07:13am

:wtf: Was my post invisible or what? Why did three people just repeat what I said without adding new stuff?
Shroom Man 777 wrote:So... it's a bit like how today in the West it's all about mixed martial arts? They've never been prone to going "dragon jitsu futsu fujitsu clan of fist punching" and have preferred to label and combine these things under a far more generalized umbrella? So in the West, even centuries ago, they've been less about specific schools with specific names and more about (proto-)MMA or something similar to how they're doing MMA today?

Yes thats the effect, but not really the reasoning. Modern MMA was a brazilian response to the tons of BS in asian martial arts, its more of a "prove it" attitude vs claims like ki/qui/chi power etc. Just like when kung-fu practicioners tried it in muay-thai and got literally kicked out.
But historically yuros have always loved military style "games", with rules etc. See the olympic games etc. However there has always been so much competition from deviation in the continent so that traditions that didn't remain competitive would be lost. Add to that the language barriers etc, whatever the french master said wouldn't necessary be well received by the brits etc but rather "translated" and changed.
Bows would be a good example of the core difference, there has 'always' been archery competitions but due to tech changes in how the bows are made, the style of the competition has changed. So throughout the centuries yuros adapted the competition & rules to the tech. Then compare that to the japanese horse bow tradition, Yabusame, who mix in religiuos overtones and which is super ortodox when it comes to form, like materials, clothing etc. Compare the 'modern' yabusame yumi bow with the archery bow yuro style.
ImageImage
Its simply not the same attitued and/or culture that produces two such results.

Same thing with almost everything, for modern actual knight jousting in full armor with lances, then of course yuros use the latest tech in making them etc, with enhanced safety etc.
While looking at kendo, it was an outrage when the protective gear changed looks. Or all of that handmade voodo stuff surrounding katana making.
Simple approach and attitude. Don't underestimate the importance of culture and Confucius.

Look at the millenia old Glima that I mentioned before, the champions look like this:
Imagemodern gear, modern shoes, modern made belt (although outdated coloring due to flag colors).
Imagine that in asia... Like when that haiwanese joined the sumo leage, there where cries of outrage all over japan and only when he fully adopted the tradition style was he "accepted". Think what would have happened if he had showed up in olympic style gear...

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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby DudeGuyMan » 2011-10-27 01:01am

LaCroix wrote:Asians simple have more "brand-mentality", calling the essentially same thing with little variety an entirely different Martial art.


I have to agree with this. There's enough variation in styles among professional boxing alone to make up a whole litany of martial arts IF one were really so inclined. The tall stand-up style of boxing taught by Emmanuel Steward is totally different from the crouching, rolling "peekaboo" style taught by Cus D'Amato and employed most famously by Mike Tyson.

Hell there was even a guy who made a nice little career for himself over the last ten years or so fighting in a bizzare, dancing, "drunken boxing" style as seen here. He actually won some fights like that.

Of course nobody ever named it Augustus Style Drunken Wanker Box Fu Do, they just went "Man look how weird that guy fights."

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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-10-27 04:01am

H'okay, shifting aside from the "why is this like this in Europe" to "why is it like that in Asia", why is it like that in Asia with all the varieties of styles and techniques?
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-10-27 05:38am

Also, I wouldn't be quick to discount the whole chi/ki/qi concept. Yes, it might not be as applicable in actual physical combat, but that chi thing is basically some kind of catchall terminology for "momentum" or "motion" or "circulation" and I think to those ancient Chinese guys, it actually might have more in depth and sensible meaning than the "lol energy field" translation most people use.

And that might have something to do with, yeah, the heaps of spiritualism associated with a lot of Asian martial arts. The thing is, Asian martial arts isn't just confined to applications like "how to beat guy up in brawl", but often times its also used in other aspects like medicinal or therapeutic uses to improve circulation or posture (hence the chi stuff), and in spiritual aspects as a form of meditation where, as opposed to counting rosary beads or saying hail mary a thousand times, Asian monks will instead do physical motions (hence even more chi stuff). And then there's also the totally non-spiritual assbeating side of it.

I think a lot of the whole derision comes from Western misunderstanding of these concepts, and the fact that a lot of those teachers who came to the West ended up espousing bullshit to gain attention. The West's exposure to Asian martial arts came during the 70s during the whole New Age wave, right? Plus sensationalism and all that stuff.

I'd argue that without the superstitious/medicinal/religious aspects, the promotionist bullshit, and the Hollywood pop-culture sensationalism, there really isn't much difference between the actual techniques of Eastern and Western martial arts. Some of the aikido maneuvers I've seen (and been subjected to) are pretty much identical to the postures of some Greco-Roman wrestling statues (that I saw in pictures).

So, part of it is because Asians applied martial arts to medicinal purposes and religious purposes. You don't see medieval Western physicians prescribe Greek wrestling to people in need of exercise or physical therapy, and you don't see priests or nuns do physical drills to commune with god.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Eleas » 2011-10-27 06:34am

There's a religious aspect to Western martial arts too. Look at Medieval times. The knight -- the Christian knight -- was the foremost symbol of Christianity, and he too was attributed supernatural abilities.

Difference is, in the East, it was the mystical wisdom or enlightenment of the swordsman/what have you that enabled these feats. In other words, if you couldn't do them, it was because you hadn't studied hard enough. Whereas in the West, it was by God's Grace that you would ultimately prevail, and that's a bit harder to work at. Practice was still stressed, but it wasn't mysticised to that degree, meaning it would be permissible to update the styles to suit your needs.

Religious thinking brings a certain kind of rigidity to the proceedings. Just as only certain people (great masters) had the clout to make changes in the martial art, so only certain people (cardinals and the Pope) had the clout to make changes in Scripture. Change the art presumptuously, and you'd invite feuds from the students of that school, which could easily be fatal. Change Scripture presumptuously... well, wars have started over less.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby LaCroix » 2011-10-27 08:31am

The 'fighting scholar' of asia is usually a twist of cause and effect. It wasn't so much that just by learning kung-fu, you became a scholar, but (usually) only (wealthy) scholars had the time to dedicate themselves to fighting in order to keep their educated bodies healthy. Usually, these people were doctors, already, who learned kung fu as hobby. Also, schools often were wealthy, had wealthy students, and the master's children usually were prime-students, and had spare-time for education, so the circle closes in multiple loops.

Also, if you want to use your body and to inflict maximum damage, you need to know a lot about bodies. Then, by knowing how to treat stuff that can occur during training, or common illnesses that ailed their students, they became doctors by need, which gave them a reputation. Actually using and expanding this knowledge in order to get another way of putting rice on the table in addition to teaching made this a profitable quest. And since you didn't need a diploma on the wall to be regarded as the one who can help you when you're ill, they grew into the local healer roll. Then, with a bit of accumulation of knowledge over the years - wealthy doctors who teach kung-fu, as well.

Basically, it's like asking why children of knights and clergy usually became knights or clergy. High-valued jobs create wealthy offspring that can get into high-valued jobs. Sometimes, someone works his way up and then injects his offspring into the same old circle...
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby LaCroix » 2011-10-27 08:39am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:you don't see priests or nuns do physical drills to commune with god.

The Templar knights disagree...

Also, the Bible is clear that we are to take good care of our bodies
Corinthians 6:19-20 wrote:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
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Re: European Martial Arts?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-10-28 03:32am

The question is, do they do physical drills to commune with god? Is the act of methodologically swinging a sword or punching a fist regarded in the Western knightly orders in the same way as how in the Eastern martial monk orders the movement of body enhances circulation and energy and spiritual shit and is some kind of mind-calming meditative and spiritually centering act?

I don't know about the religulo-martial aspects of Western knightly orders, aside from "it is a holy task to stab Muslims in the face". Do they have anything at all remotely like the meditative physio-religulous aspects of tai chi or yoga, or some kind of "religious meditative prayer-calisthenics"?
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