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Old 26th June 2009, 09:17 PM   #1
Lew
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Thumbs up Shastarvidiya video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFHk...feature=related

Great video on this most interesting fighting system.

Lew
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Old 26th June 2009, 10:00 PM   #2
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Thanks Lew - that's great to see.
I don't know my history very well, but I see a lot of similar movements & tactics to some forms of Silat - it could be personal bias, but it still makes me wonder about the history of the arts and past influences....
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Old 26th June 2009, 10:07 PM   #3
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Well found Lew ,
slightly choreographed, ( that's not a negative ...5 fighters and a cameraman in the confines of a boxing ring....it would have to be ) Displays a number of moves that help to explain the form of several of the weapons...especially the axes

Regards David
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Old 26th June 2009, 10:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t_c
I don't know my history very well, but I see a lot of similar movements & tactics to some forms of Silat - it could be personal bias, but it still makes me wonder about the history of the arts and past influences....


Hi TC
my understanding is that there are several theories of martial arts 'travelling' from India to China (Bodhidharma taught his fighting arts to the Shaolin Monks in the 6th C) . However, I believe that many martial arts originated independently. The mechanics/ abillities and limitations of the human body would dictate the techniques etc would be very similar or the same to other martial arts who's origins were independent and seperate.

Regards David
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Old 27th June 2009, 06:08 AM   #5
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That is fascinating!

I think it is bogus for one to assume that there was one fountain of the martial arts for the rest of the world. I would make sense for any society engaged in war to develop better fighting arts and technology to survive. Some say Greek Pankration "inspired" Indian martial arts... a land that had been at war and mobilizing large forces long before Alexander was even born. Some say Kalaripayattu inspired Shaolin fighting. The Shaolin monks weren't different from any other monastery back in the day, and each monastery had to defend itself from brigands, and they were also resting places for travelers and war-weary warriors. Obviously a martial artist earning his keep at a monastery could teach the resident monk-militia how to better defend itself. Yet no fighting is without outside influence. Weapons, technology, and technique spreads. That and the human body moves effectively in only so many ways. Wrestling all looks like wrestling, with some local variations. etc.etc.

To say that Greek fighting, various Indian fighting style, and Chinese fighting styles didn't influence other is wrong... but others knew of and had their own style of fighting before they absorbed outside influences. While Okinawan nobles learned Tang Dynasty Kung Fu, and the Japanese in turn learned from them... doesn't make Okinawan or Japanese fighting a Chinese art. That Filipinos were taught "Kun Tao" by Chinese merchants doesn't mean Filipino fighting arts aren't Filipino. That the kuntaw of the Hoklo taxcollector in Indonesia greatly impressed the local Silat-users, doesn't mean they aren't native Indonesian fighters after they incorporated some Kuntaw...
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Old 27th June 2009, 05:29 PM   #6
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This is absolutely beautiful and, IMHO, quite useless in real war. I am not talking about technological differential ( machine gun vs. spear).
At the battle of Sobraon, British and Gurkha infantry penetrated heavily defended Sikh lines and engaged them in a close combat ( General Gough, as usual, trusted in bayonet only). Despite being outnumbered ( 15,000 vs. 40,000), the Brits prevailed quite easily. Obviously, martial arts expertise and choreography did not help the Khalsa force.
Martial arts of any kind are good only for movies, show-type competition and, occasionally, for one-on-one encounters. Wars require tactics, strategy, discipline, leadership and general fighting spirit of the troops.
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Old 27th June 2009, 07:58 PM   #7
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warriors fight as individuals, soldiers fight as units. one reason the greeks, brits and the romans tended to beat armies that outnumbered them.

it takes decades to train a warrior like that. it takes months to train a soldier to be able to kill him.
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Old 27th June 2009, 07:58 PM   #8
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I don't know Ariel. While it is true that tactics, strategy, etc are needed in war, the Moro guerillas and PI armies have been fighting using these and FMA. Also don't forget that Lapu Lapu on Mactan dispatched Magellan with superior numbers, strategy, leadership, and some martial arts. Just one example.
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Old 27th June 2009, 08:06 PM   #9
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the use of the khukuris near the end of the video was cool...
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Old 27th June 2009, 08:53 PM   #10
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David I definitely agree about body dynamics and mechanics - there are really only so many ways a joint moves and we all the same number of joints (hopefully). It was really more of a "feeling" of similarity between Shastarvidiya and some of the Silat I have seen (specifically the open hand segment of the video). Again, it's just my own limited experience. I really don't pretend to have seen it all by any means or mean to imply that one is derived from the other, but it was the tactical response that struck me: how he chose to put the movements together and the choices between manipulation and striking and vice versa along with positioning, etc. From the little history I think I understand there was an early Indian population in Indonesia and I've often wondered about aspects of Indian martial arts being reflected in the arts of Indonesia. The traditional martial arts of India have always been a bit of a mystery for me - I've just never been exposed to them. I think it would be great to participate in something like this. I understand the argument for independent martial development in cultures, and I agree with it, but then again, nothing is ever absolute. When people migrated from India to Indonesia perhaps there was some sharing of martial practices along with native development.

In regards to the whole Buddha teaching martial arts theory: I've always had a problem with that one too - no offense David. I'd love to find out the original source for those theories, whether it was oral traditions or written history. I could see how he would have taught them internal and external practices along the lines of something similar to Yoga, but as far as martial arts goes, the theory seems to ignore two major points (IMHO): the Buddhist teachings of the Eightfold Path (a dedication to peace) and the history of Chinese warfare. I just can't reconcile the contradiction and the omission.

I agree with you on your point Ariel - State warfare is a much different beast than personal combat, but a soldier still has to know how to use his tools. Even modern Bayonet technique is being shaped by classical spear usage.

Regarding the video: It's nice to see the old world arts being preserved (it seems like we already lost all the European traditions to the gun), and to also see the traditional weapons in context is priceless.
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Old 27th June 2009, 10:25 PM   #11
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Grat Clip Louie, cheers for posting.
Particularly like the twin axe moves, but he generally seems to be rather proficient. Interesting to see how he uses the Tulwar and makes short cuts to several key areas instead of one devastating 'slash'
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Old 27th June 2009, 10:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
This is absolutely beautiful and, IMHO, quite useless in real war. I am not talking about technological differential ( machine gun vs. spear).
At the battle of Sobraon, British and Gurkha infantry penetrated heavily defended Sikh lines and engaged them in a close combat ( General Gough, as usual, trusted in bayonet only). Despite being outnumbered ( 15,000 vs. 40,000), the Brits prevailed quite easily. Obviously, martial arts expertise and choreography did not help the Khalsa force.
Martial arts of any kind are good only for movies, show-type competition and, occasionally, for one-on-one encounters. Wars require tactics, strategy, discipline, leadership and general fighting spirit of the troops.

I agree with kronckew and would also like to add that fighting styles work for their environment. Japanese Samurai were undoubtedly good fighters. However they were in no way equipped (skill/weapon-wise) for the nomadic horsemanship of the Mongols. The Khalsa were often skillful individual warriors, but morale, leadership, and other factors play a big role in terms of victory... it is like a big company, even if you have a skillful workforce, mismanagement of the company will still lead to failure. It is not the fault of the skill workforce, it is the management.

Remember Hannibal's Cannae? I don't, but I've read about it... the Carthaginian force made up of loyal Libyans, Cathaginians, Numidians, as well as semi-loyal Iberians and Celts were extremely outnumbered by the Romans. Troop quality-wise, the Romans tended to be average, majority of the troops being levied citizens serving as Hastatii, but they tended to be well organized and brave as they were defending their homelands... where-as the Carthaginian forces were mercenaries and professional soldiers - obviously the majority were men who chose war as their career. Though outnumbered these men defeated the enormous Roman forces. The martial skills play a role in the individual melee between fighters.. the tactics to manage the troops just before and during the thick of battle... and the strategy to win the war. The warriors had the skills, Hannibal had the genius to win those battles... but they did not win the war.

Quote:
Originally Posted by t_c
In regards to the whole Buddha teaching martial arts theory: I've always had a problem with that one too - no offense David. I'd love to find out the original source for those theories, whether it was oral traditions or written history. I could see how he would have taught them internal and external practices along the lines of something similar to Yoga, but as far as martial arts goes, the theory seems to ignore two major points (IMHO): the Buddhist teachings of the Eightfold Path (a dedication to peace) and the history of Chinese warfare. I just can't reconcile the contradiction and the omission.

I agree. Buddha, was said to have been a great martial artist, horse-rider, etc. but it seems he had given all that up, in addition to princely life to seek the truth... That there was contact between China and India is undoubtable, but that Boddhidharma taught the Shaolin monks martial arts, and thus the rest of China doesn't even appeal to common sense. The Chinese have been warring with each other for a long time before Buddhism hit the block. Like you mentioned "history of Chinese warfare", it is a brutal affair... while in India, histories claim that farmers could plow their fields while soldiers battled in the next... China's histories seem to glorify generals' ruthlessness in destroying infrastructure, slaughtering enemies, massacring opposing lineages and all their relations, and striking with speed and cunning most of all.

War meant something different to different people. War for sacrifice, War for head-hunting. War for blood-feud. War for dynastic supremacy. War for total control. War for genocide... they entail different goals and demand different tactics. The Taiwanese warrior was a great headhunter, but he and all the social factors with him, would have a hard time coping with Chinese encroachment. The Aztec warrior was a tough m*f*, but he sought to take prisoners, not specifically to kill. Still, I am sure Taiwanese warriors did often shoot, with rifle and bow, instead of rush in with a long knife... and that the Aztecs launched volleys of darts and arrows into enemy ranks before charging. Europeans during WW1 found themselves armed with weapons demanding a different war strategy than they were used to. They had perfect war doctrine for their type of war.


My thoughts
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Old 28th June 2009, 11:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KuKulzA28
Remember Hannibal's Cannae? ... The martial skills play a role in the individual melee between fighters.. the tactics to manage the troops just before and during the thick of battle... and the strategy to win the war. The warriors had the skills, Hannibal had the genius to win those battles... but they did not win the war.

Thanks all for the very interesting discussion!

Cannae (216 BC) is my personal all-time favorite battle ...

I think however, that Cannae is more an example of getting the strategy right (and operationalizing it faithfully), rather than individual warriors besting the other guy in one-on-one combat.

For how can one explain the very lopsided outcome --
  • 86,000 Romans and allies, vs. 56,000 Carthaginians;
  • and thru Hannibal's genius as KuKulzA28 said, the latter encircled an army 1.5 times its size;
  • after which the battle site quickly turned into a enormous meat grinder, wherein 50,000 Romans were killed at a mere casualty rate of 6,000 Carthaginians!

Note how this author [Mark Healy] pointed out that many Roman soldiers were not able to use their swords at all:
"Caught between the 'vice' of the twin African phalanxes on their flanks and assailed to the fore and rear, the encircled Roman legions tried desperately to fight their way out of the trap ... It was to no avail. So compressed had their ranks become that many were unable even to raise their swords before they were cut down by the advancing army. Stepping over the dead and dying, the encircling Carthaginian forces drew the net ever tighter on the diminishing Roman force ... 'as their outer ranks were continually cut down and the survivors were forced to pull back and huddle together they were finally all killed where they stood' [Polybius]."

And thus the battle had become more of a massacre:
"The rest of that August day Cannae had become an abject slaughter, a battlefield Armageddon unrivaled until the twentieth century. The destruction of some 50,000 snared Italians in a single afternoon - more than 100 men killed each minute - was in itself a vast problem in the logistics of killing." [Parker's Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare]

For sure Hannibal's men were seasoned combatants well-versed in their individual fighting styles.

But in this particular battle, once the double-envelopment was effected, for all intents the battle and individual combat had ceased (to oversimplify things a little), and things turned quickly into a 'vast problem in the logistics of killing'.

Thanks KuKulzA28 for bringing up Cannae
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Old 28th June 2009, 12:52 PM   #14
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Default Great post Lew

A great post Lew, thanks for sharing.

I enjoyed the variety of weapons covered.
Seeing this event certainly helps put the aplications of the diverse Indian arsenal into context. Seeing these applications can to a large degree give some positive feedback on why the weapons are made the way the are.
I found the double axes and the Kukri applications most interesting.
I was also interested further when I saw a couple of Sosun Patta being used.

Great to see great historic traditions continued in the modern world.

Thanks

Gav
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Old 28th June 2009, 04:50 PM   #15
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Thanks migueldiaz for expanding on Cannae. I'll agree that it was more due to Hannibal's simple but effective strategy than the fighting prowess of his troops. However, the bravery, discipline, and skill of the Carthaginian forces had to be there for them to have survived and their ranks sag backwards to effect the trap. If the troops were not sufficiently brave and skilled to be able to continue fighting until the cavalry could hit the rear - they would have lost. Additionally, morale was definitely a huge factor. Hannibal's presence and personally leading/fighting in the thickest point of battle must have inspired all his forces, particularly the Iberians and Celts alongside him.
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Old 28th June 2009, 09:29 PM   #16
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Hi Lew,

Good to see a new martial art, and thanks for providing that link. I was smiling through most of it, because the capoeira soundtrack in the back was a cheerful non-sequitur.

That said, I would have been more impressed if they had brought out some rolled up mats for cutting, sides of meat, ballistics gel, or something else to show how deep many of those cuts would be if the demonstration was run at full force.

As a for instance, I've got a couple of very sharp khukuris, and I'm not sure whether any of them could be used successfully for those draw cuts the master mimed. Given clothes and such, I'm not sure they'd make it to skin, and I'm not sure how deep the slash would be. There's the same issue with many of the other attacks, such as the points of the axes, the tip of the khanda, and so forth.

Anyway, I'm not saying that I would want to fight that guy. The point is that we can't tell how effective the art is when he's miming blows without much force. If he had some sort of body simulators in the ring, I would be interested in seeing whether he can hit, say, four of them with full force at full speed, or whether he would have to slow down and follow through to make each attack work. And if he did slow down, would it be enough to make him vulnerable? I don't know.

That's the other reason I was chuckling. For a little while I did capoeira, and we always mimed the blows. The music of the capoeira roda in the background wasn't a total non sequitur after all.

Best,

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Old 28th June 2009, 10:19 PM   #17
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it seems to be a common problem in armed combat training... you want to get as realistic as possible without killing people... but unlike unarmed combat, weapon-based fighting has a lot more capacity to kill quickly than subdue... for example a stunning blow from a blade or club could cause bleeding and lead to death even if the intention was to stun...

what you say about the khukuris is interesting.
Perhaps there's techniques that are less practical? In Chinese martial arts, there's a lot of convoluted techniques and teaching methodology in many of the less fighting-oriented schools. Thus some techniques seen with the saber are absolutely bogus. Thanks to efforts from fighters and the practical minded, Chinese martial arts isn't dead. For example the Yang family broke the saber down two 13 techniques and took out the flashy or superfluous stuff. Also there is some situational things... some targets do not require much force to destroy... and sometimes disabling an opponent with a slash to a weak area is sufficient. Although if you have a slice to his shoulder, why not just chop it in his neck, and ready yourself for the next attack?
Perhaps the khukuri isn't the native or most popular weapon of the Sikhs? Not that they cannot use it effectively, but it reminds me of Filipino martial arts. Some Luzon and Visayan martial arts have the kris and barong in their styles, but evidence of their use in those regions is limited. For the most part it seems every region had its tactics, weaponry, and fighting skills and they exchanged and influenced one another - but the Moro arts in the south were kept mainly in their own families, not to be shared with northern enemies. I wouldn't doubt that a good blade fighter heralding from a Filipino martial art could use a barong or a kris well, but perhaps the nuances and technique specific to the kris would have been better handled by someone trained specifically in its use, i.e. a traditional Moro martial artist. That's not to say no one else can learn it... it is after all just a weapon, it's mechanics can be learned.

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Old 28th June 2009, 10:58 PM   #18
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Hi Fearn,

I have not personally trained in armed combat, my main focus area of martial arts training has been Muay Thai, but I would like to thank you for a very interesting and intelligent insight. I have been aware of Shastar Vidya for a while now, and have seed a few demonstrations, but never looked at it in that way. I suppose the difficulty in all martial arts which involve near fatal or fatal moves is practicing them.

Bally
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Old 29th June 2009, 05:04 AM   #19
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Glad I could help.

So far as the Khukuris go, I've been thinking about it, and I'm trying to think up some good, no to expensive cutting tests to see how well the khuks work on draw cuts. Tomatoes come to mind. If I can slice a tomato cleanly, I'll start thinking that some of those slices would work.

As KuKulz and Bally pointed out, there are some issues with training with weapons with unarmored opponents. I'm not deriding miming the blows for safety's sake. I'm just saying that it would be good to include breaking or cutting practice, so that the people actually doing the training know how to apply power as well as be accurate.

Best,

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Old 29th June 2009, 11:01 AM   #20
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Just some thoughts on practicing lethal weapons.

In the old days, and sometimes now, there was an initial stage of wood/reed/bamboo practice swords/sticks to get the flow and angles necessary to learn the sword. This can be seen is various cultures, but more well-known in Taiwanese and Filipino aboriginal fighting. Often a sword was expensive enough to make, let alone making realistic metal training swords.
The Chinese martial artist, Shifu Kang Zhi Qiang (Mantis Boxing), was covered in scars from slashes and thrusts by dao, qiang, etc. He was born in 1949 in Shandong, so it is understandable that the PROC was in its infancy at the time and the crack down on martial artists and the subsequent acceleration in decline (was already declining) didn't occur until later in his life time. He definitely trained the hardcore way with real weapons. Interestingly his favorite weapon was the "Six-harmonies club". The only harmonies I can think of is bruise, concussion, internal bleeding, fracture, broken bones, death. 6-harmonies probably has to do with Chinese culture and beliefs...
In many of the kalaripayattu videos out there, the students learn to spar with real weapons with real speed. Granted their goal is not to kill each other with sharp weapons, only to sharpen skills. Still though, it's impossible that accidents don't occur... some kalaripayattu practitioners and most likely their gurus have scars from live training...
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Old 29th June 2009, 05:41 PM   #21
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The six harmonies is a basic concept in Tai Chi training, and I think it's found in the Six Harmonies Praying Mantis style, which is probably where the "six harmonies club" (aka staff) got its name.

They are:

externally:
1. Hands harmonize with feet
2. Elbows harmonize with knees
3. Shoulders harmonize with hips

internally:
1. mind harmonizes with intent
2. intent harmonizes with energy
3. energy harmonizes with force

This may sound mystical, but it's a basic way of saying that you need to get your whole posture right so that you can use the big muscles in your legs, along with gravity, to strike effectively without hurting yourself.

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Old 29th June 2009, 06:09 PM   #22
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Sounds like a very Chinese way of describing proper posture!
I ought to know more about my culture and related martial arts...
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Old 29th June 2009, 06:20 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fearn
Glad I could help.

So far as the Khukuris go, I've been thinking about it, and I'm trying to think up some good, no to expensive cutting tests to see how well the khuks work on draw cuts. Tomatoes come to mind. If I can slice a tomato cleanly, I'll start thinking that some of those slices would work.
...


have a look:
Khukuri in the kitchen
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Old 29th June 2009, 07:02 PM   #24
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You know, Kronckew, I was just thinking about that video. Since I have an HI WWII khukuri (the one in the video), can I say that those cuts are harder than they look, because the blade is so wide? This guy is impressive.

That said, I'm not totally convinced, because I have done most of the work he shows (onions, peppers, pineapple, salmon) with a Chinese cleaver that was too dull to slice a tomato. As I said, I need to try slicing with a khukuri just to see how well it does with a draw cut.

The other thing I've found with HI khukuris is that some of them come with a long, thin edge. This is great for cutting light stuff, but it leads to some impressive dings when you try cutting wood, let alone bone. That's actually one of the things I'm not sure about in martial terms. If you put an axe-like edge on a khukuri so that it will go through a WWI helmet (to fit the legend), will it be able (for example) to cut someone's throat by slicing? That's what I'm hoping to test, when I get a chance. Not by cutting throats, but thanks to Steve Ferguson, I've got khukuris with two different edge geometries, and I'm hoping to do some comparison testing. I know how they do on wood, but how do they do in the kitchen? I'll let you know when I get the time to experiment.

Best,

F
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Old 29th June 2009, 07:16 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
This is absolutely beautiful and, IMHO, quite useless in real war. I am not talking about technological differential ( machine gun vs. spear).
At the battle of Sobraon, British and Gurkha infantry penetrated heavily defended Sikh lines and engaged them in a close combat ( General Gough, as usual, trusted in bayonet only). Despite being outnumbered ( 15,000 vs. 40,000), the Brits prevailed quite easily. Obviously, martial arts expertise and choreography did not help the Khalsa force.
Martial arts of any kind are good only for movies, show-type competition and, occasionally, for one-on-one encounters. Wars require tactics, strategy, discipline, leadership and general fighting spirit of the troops.



Fair point, but that is assuming that the Khalsa force were all trained in and deployed this particular martial art.

Also here is another link to the martial art:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvYU...from=PL&index=8
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Old 4th July 2009, 11:58 PM   #26
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Default Khukuri vs. tomato

Hi All,

Well, it's the Fourth of July (Happy 4th to all!) and I was cutting up some tomatoes for dinner. Ah hah, time to try cutting with a khukuri, and see how khukuris slice.

The answer: about as well as a table knife. Here were the factors that affected the test. 1. Neither khukuri was shaving sharp, as I'd been clearing brush with them and hadn't resharpened them yet. 2. The tomatoes were fairly firm romas, not squishy beefsteaks. After testing the khukuris and kitchen knives, I found that an ordinary table knife cut the roma tomato as well as the khukuris, at least in terms of the amount of force needed. Sharp kitchen knives of all sorts cut with much less force. The difference was gentle pressure from a single finger on the kitchen knives, vs. firm pressure from whole hand for the khukuris and the table knife.

Now, what can I generalize from this? Yes, it is possible to slice with a khukuri. On the other hand, it's not great, and it will work better if you have it really, really sharp (as with all slicing blades). So yes, it is more-or-less possible to slice someone's throat with a khukuri, as shown in the video. It's also possible to slice someone's throat with an axe, if it's sharp enough. I don't think that slicing is an ideal stroke for either khukuris or axes though, and I'm certainly not going to depend on it working, not that I ever intend to get into a khukuri fight with anyone. As we all know, there are better ways to use these blades.

Time to resharpen, I think.

Best,

F
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Old 24th August 2009, 12:24 AM   #27
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Thanks for doing the experiment fearn!

I wonder if there is a difference in kukri usage depending on the place and time? Perhaps the kukri was a utility blade for the Sikh/N.Indian soldier, but when a battle was to begin the next day, wouldn't he want his kukri sharpened up real good? After-all he wasn't going to be hacking at trees but a lot of unarmored men and a few armored ones? It may also be that he's doing this in the 'context' of being surrounded, and so a quick incapacitation may be better and quicker than a clean decapitiation.... after all, his own side's soldiers with their swords, maces, spears, axes, kurkis, guns, etc. can finish off a dying/crippled enemy, but a dying/crippled enemy is unlikely to kill him...

It may also be a stylistic matter. Some martial arts deem it unsafe to fully commit to a strike... and would rather win via manipulations/strategy and striking to weak targets. Perhaps it is a conservative approach?

Another thing that might affect why he is doing it that way is that he was showing manipulation techniques... and using you hand and kukri to manipulate the opponent up-close, it is very likely that in the time you take to raise your hand high to chop down, the opponent can escape and counter. Where-as transitioning right to a slice from a manipulation is quicker (but less fatal I think).

If you notice that's the same thing with the ax... there are a few chops, but when he is manipulating the opponent or the opponent's weapon, he uses a quick thrust or slice rather than rearing back and chopping. With the double axes he will entangle/disarm the opponent, then pin with one and chop with the other, or hack away with both...

Also, the video did not show the entire event, it's possible there was some more intuitive and conventional kukri use in there

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Old 25th December 2009, 11:56 PM   #28
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please seee http://www.shastarvidiya.org/

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