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Old 19th November 2011, 03:37 AM   #1
Stan S.
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Default Fighting Techique?

It is known that in traditional Indian hand to hand combat a sword (tulwar) was usually accompanied by a defensive side arm, usually a shield, less friquently a katar, or some other dagger. It is also my understanding that due to a greatly varied quality of blades and a rather questionable defensive attributes of a tulwar hilt, Indians did not block with their swords. In other words, tulwar is a strictly offensive weapon. The question is, what did they do in a fight when the shield/katar was lost, damaged, or otherwise not available? Any opinions?
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Old 22nd November 2011, 03:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan S.
It is known that in traditional Indian hand to hand combat a sword (tulwar) was usually accompanied by a defensive side arm, usually a shield, less friquently a katar, or some other dagger. It is also my understanding that due to a greatly varied quality of blades and a rather questionable defensive attributes of a tulwar hilt, Indians did not block with their swords. In other words, tulwar is a strictly offensive weapon. The question is, what did they do in a fight when the shield/katar was lost, damaged, or otherwise not available? Any opinions?


Salaams Stan S. I imagine that losing ones shield could have disastrous results since not only was the defence not available but the balance of the swordsman dramatically altered. If no buckler is available the arab technique employed especially in the UAE was to use a sandal to deflect incoming strikes. I suspect more fighters lost their sword than their shield..but in either case .. not good.

Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 22nd November 2011, 08:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Stan S. I imagine that losing ones shield could have disastrous results since not only was the defence not available but the balance of the swordsman dramatically altered. If no buckler is available the arab technique employed especially in the UAE was to use a sandal to deflect incoming strikes. I suspect more fighters lost their sword than their shield..but in either case .. not good.

Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


A sandal, eh? How interesting! Somehow I get this mental image of Jackie Chan using all these ordinary objects (like shoes) in a fight scene in one of his movies But seriously, this makes perfect sense, and is not unlike European manuscripts showing fencers from the Renaissance times using a cape wrapped around a left hand to deflect opponent’s blows.

Would it be safe to assume that when not on the battlefield, a man carried a sword without a shield (such as during the peace times in an urban setting), and the contingency plan was to use an article of clothing in combination with a sword should he come under attack?
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Old 23rd November 2011, 07:13 AM   #4
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Hi all,

This reminds me of the famous battle of "Sinhagad" near Pune, Maharashtra, India fought between the Mughals led by Udaybhan and the Marathas led by Tanaji Malusare.

In a fierce dual that started between Udaybhan and Tanaji; Tanaji's dhal(shield) broke and he was unable to get another one on time. So he started taking the attack of Udaybhan on his left hand on which he had tied a shela (a long cloth usually used as a waist band).

It is worthy to note that both Udaybhan and Tanaji died of battle wounds and Tanaji had lost his left hand owing to the severe strikes of sword...!!!!!!
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Old 23rd November 2011, 06:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan S.
A sandal, eh? How interesting! Somehow I get this mental image of Jackie Chan using all these ordinary objects (like shoes) in a fight scene in one of his movies But seriously, this makes perfect sense, and is not unlike European manuscripts showing fencers from the Renaissance times using a cape wrapped around a left hand to deflect opponent’s blows.

Would it be safe to assume that when not on the battlefield, a man carried a sword without a shield (such as during the peace times in an urban setting), and the contingency plan was to use an article of clothing in combination with a sword should he come under attack?


Salaams,
The interesting question relates to when was the shield dispensed with ? The sword became Iconic and carried as a badge of office thus the shield was seldom carried on normal visits for example to the Royal Court or meetings with dignatories.. Rather than carry a hefty great weapon( and shield) into meetings of court I imagine that the term court sword (for the lightweight court sword worn more for show than anything else) evolved. In the event of a weapons encounter anything would be better than nothing and a cloak could be a useful parrying device or another short sword or perhaps bollock dagger in the shield hand.. thus fighting with 2 blades which I believe was a style of combat.

An entire combat technique formed around sword and buckler use in Europe (and in fact, though differently, in Oman) and that combination would often be carried.

bhushan_lawate ... Salaams,Very interesting to read of the battle you depict...

Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 06:32 PM   #6
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I don't practice any Indian martial arts, but fighting is fighting...

One can use footwork, spacing, and timing to avoid being struck - and deflections/blocks with the blade if necessary. When at a diagonal to the enemy, you aren't in their optimum striking area and they must adjust to both attack and defend most effectively - there they are vulnerable. One can use spacing by being just within range of the enemy, then leaning back (like a pendulum affect) to avoid being struck and then leaning back in to destroy the enemy. And timing... angling away while striking at the enemy arm, wrist, hand, knee, etc. while their strike is coming is a good "buzz kill" for your opponent. Of course blocking and deflecting with blades isn't ideal but there's different techniques for that as well. And of course, do not forget kicks to the groin, knees, and shins when close. If you have a superior angle, timing, and cripple the enemy's rooting - it's hard for them to effectively attack you. Also, anyone mid-movement or in transition is vulnerable to an attack - thus if your timing is on point, you can catch them at the moment they are least prepared to defend. Fakes and feints are also useful. THere's a whole arsenal of tactics and principles - obviously however, a shield would help a lot, though it makes it harder to grab.
In Chinese martial arts, when concerning the dao/saber, they say when dan dao (single) watch out for the free hand ('cause of grabbing), and when shuang dao (double sabers) watch the feet...

But then again, in military settings Chinese have often used shields - it's usually in civilian settings and late-Qing/early Republican that swords were used without shields

How do you think the katar-tulwar warriors do it? Katars aren't the ideal blocking tool either...

Last edited by KuKulzA28 : 23rd November 2011 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 06:48 PM   #7
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How do you think the katar-tulwar warriors do it? Katars aren't the ideal blocking tool either...[/QUOTE]

Well I think the katar was used as a parrying dagger much like the European left handed dagger was used in a duel. In fact the scissor katar may have come from this type of trident left handed dagger?
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Last edited by Lew : 23rd November 2011 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 07:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lew
Quote:
Originally Posted by kukulza28
How do you think the katar-tulwar warriors do it? Katars aren't the ideal blocking tool either...


Well I think the katar was used as a parrying dagger much like the European left handed dagger was used in a duel. In fact the scissor katar may have come from this type of trident left handed dagger?

If that's the case then I am unfamiliar with parrying-daggers, etc.
I was also under the impression that the three-section daggers/katars were more fragile?

I also thought that there were forms/techniques for using the long blade to tie-up or get past the opponent's main weapon and using the katar to finish them. However, I'm sure there were many many different styles and preferences as far as shield, katar, or both in same hand, left-handed dagger, dual tulwars, single tulwar, etc.

Might be time to do more research and learn even more
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Old 24th November 2011, 12:18 AM   #9
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Here's a suggestion for the use of shields.

They're much better than swords at blocking arrows.

Once decent muskets came along, effective shields became unmanageably heavy, as did armor. Lugging a flintlock and a shield for hand-to-hand combat is a bit awkward, and I'm willing to bet that this is when shields were largely discarded.

F
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Old 24th November 2011, 01:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lew
How do you think the katar-tulwar warriors do it? Katars aren't the ideal blocking tool either...


Not of the same era but the Tanjore Katar are an awesome defense and the hooked monster head terminal on the guard makes for a great catcher of blades too, to have one in each hand awesome.

When one looks at the hand straps on the back of the dahls/bucklers, anyone could well hold both a Katar and a buckler....then there are those Bengal shields with the spikes/blades too.

I have seen one of these 'tri bladed' EU parrying daggers that open to three blades adapted for or made in Eastern style, I think it is seen in Islamic Arms and Armour from private Danish Collections....will need to check when I am with my books though.

Great thoughts on the scissor Katar Lew.

Gav
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Old 24th November 2011, 03:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebooter

When one looks at the hand straps on the back of the dahls/bucklers, anyone could well hold both a Katar and a buckler....then there are those Bengal shields with the spikes/blades too.



Good one! I never thought of that but you are right - the handle assembly on a dhal is not unlike a katar grip. I can now see how one coudl hold both in the left hand with only the tip of katar extending past the edge of the shield crating a deadly point. Perhaps this is how madu shield came to be? And speaking a madu, this is trully a defence with which you don't even need a sword!
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Old 24th November 2011, 04:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fearn
Here's a suggestion for the use of shields.

They're much better than swords at blocking arrows.

Once decent muskets came along, effective shields became unmanageably heavy, as did armor. Lugging a flintlock and a shield for hand-to-hand combat is a bit awkward, and I'm willing to bet that this is when shields were largely discarded.

F


Good observation! You're right. Shields began to dwindle as firearms became more prevalent. Dedicated hand to hand weapons started to diminish when firearms got even more effective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freebooter
Not of the same era but the Tanjore Katar are an awesome defense and the hooked monster head terminal on the guard makes for a great catcher of blades too, to have one in each hand awesome.

Just curious, what time period were those most prevalent?
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Old 24th November 2011, 04:42 PM   #13
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The Indian shield (dhal) was used as noted, of course to block cuts and in parry....much as with sabre of the steppes and Central Asia, the horseman used the draw cut. As far as I have known there was little or any 'scheduled' parrying or sword to sword contact with tulwars, shamshirs or these types of swords....parrying was the work of the shield.
It seems most of the 'fencing' techniques described here with left hand dagger (gauche) are from European styles, and would suggest or involve sword to sword combat. Obviously, in the heat of combat virtually anything can happen, and combatants can and will resort to use of any means or object if thier weapons become compromised.

The katar was intended largely as a close in fighting weapon, actually in most cases more of a misercorde (coup de grace) as described in some references.
The large katars of the Deccan and South were actually used as slashing weapons, as were the patas as used by Mahrattas, often in pairs in rather a 'windmill' fashion, in demonstrations at least....unsure if such techniques used in actual combat, but as noted, probably circumstantially they may have been.

Personally I cannot imagine a katar as a parrying weapon, but it seems that some of the innovative forms with splaying sections of blade and multiple blades did imply such use after the introduction of European weapons and form. As described in "Schools and Masters of Fence" (Castle, 1884) many of these 'left hand daggers' of innovative character were more for show than actual use in Europe, but again those observations can be presumed only in degree.
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Old 24th November 2011, 05:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
The Indian shield (dhal) was used as noted, of course to block cuts and in parry....much as with sabre of the steppes and Central Asia, the horseman used the draw cut. As far as I have known there was little or any 'scheduled' parrying or sword to sword contact with tulwars, shamshirs or these types of swords....parrying was the work of the shield.
It seems most of the 'fencing' techniques described here with left hand dagger (gauche) are from European styles, and would suggest or involve sword to sword combat. Obviously, in the heat of combat virtually anything can happen, and combatants can and will resort to use of any means or object if thier weapons become compromised.

The katar was intended largely as a close in fighting weapon, actually in most cases more of a misercorde (coup de grace) as described in some references.
The large katars of the Deccan and South were actually used as slashing weapons, as were the patas as used by Mahrattas, often in pairs in rather a 'windmill' fashion, in demonstrations at least....unsure if such techniques used in actual combat, but as noted, probably circumstantially they may have been.

Personally I cannot imagine a katar as a parrying weapon, but it seems that some of the innovative forms with splaying sections of blade and multiple blades did imply such use after the introduction of European weapons and form. As described in "Schools and Masters of Fence" (Castle, 1884) many of these 'left hand daggers' of innovative character were more for show than actual use in Europe, but again those observations can be presumed only in degree.



Salaams Jim, Excellent letter thank you. As usual well researched and accurate. There is a misconception that a shield is only a parrying and blocking weapon. I have seen a video clip on forum of the shields use as a striking weapon to the head and neck targets using the edge ~


As usual demonstration swordwork employing windmill tactics was a martial skill thus therefor used in actual fighting. Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 24th November 2011, 05:21 PM   #15
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Here is an older posting regarding Tulwar fighting technique which you may find interesting....

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ght=indian+hand

Kind Regards David
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Old 24th November 2011, 10:31 PM   #16
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Thank you, David. Unfortunately the videos seem to be password protected, so I could not view them You wouldn't happen to have a password?
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Old 24th November 2011, 11:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan S.
Thank you, David. Unfortunately the videos seem to be password protected, so I could not view them You wouldn't happen to have a password?


Hi,
previously they were not password protected , which is a shame they were quite good. Generally searching for 'Gatka' will yield results on youtube etc but quality varies enormously.

Here are a few ....not all sword though

http://www.woma.tv/movies/1SH/gatka...-grappling.html
http://www.woma.tv/movies/1SI/gatka...-n-shields.html
http://www.woma.tv/movies/1SK/gatka...-of-spears.html

Kind Regards David
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Old 25th November 2011, 03:27 AM   #18
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Perhaps looking for Niddar's videos of Shastar Vidiya would help shed some light. He often makes a big emphasis on timing, footwork, and spacing, and many of his demonstrations are without a shield in hand...

Just a thought
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Old 25th November 2011, 05:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams Jim, Excellent letter thank you. As usual well researched and accurate. There is a misconception that a shield is only a parrying and blocking weapon. I have seen a video clip on forum of the shields use as a striking weapon to the head and neck targets using the edge ~


As usual demonstration swordwork employing windmill tactics was a martial skill thus therefor used in actual fighting. Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi.



Thank you so much Ibrahiim!!!
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Old 27th November 2011, 08:36 PM   #20
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Extracts from 'Britain's Gurkha War' by John Pemble;
In an incident at Kalanga dismounted 8th Royal Irish Light Dragoons, who where at the forefront of an attack became over extended;
'Nepali soldiers were swarming over the walls of the fort to support their comrades. Khukuri unsheathed, they engaged the oncoming Dragoons in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle, thrusting within the point of the sabres and parrying every swipe before it could be completed with shields born on the left arm. These they wielded with dazzling dexterity' within a few minutes, fifty eight Dragoons were lying wounded and four dead.

Parsa Ram Thapa engaged in combat with Lt. Boileau, wounding him with a sabre thrust in the thigh; but a quick-thinking sepoy, Rama Sahai Singh, swiped at Thapa from behind, when Thapa turned Lt Boileau cut him through the skull.

At Niakot Captain Croker in personnel combat killed the Nepalese chief Suraj Thapa, and Ensign John Ship engaged Sarda Krishna Bahadur Rana 'I made a feint at his toes, to cut them; down went his shield from his face, to save his legs; up went the edge of my sword smack under his chin'.

At Malaun Captain Charles Shower's in an effort to spur his men on (1st/19th Native Infantry), ran forward and challenged a Nepalese Officer, he soon had the upper hand, run him through with his sword. However, he couldn't get the sword out, and some Nepalese soldiers sprang forward stabbing him to death (probably spear), his sepoy's retreated. However Captain Shower's had earned the respect of the Nepalese, and as a consequence when the bearers went to collect his body the next day, they found it on a bed of leaves wrapped in fine cloth, as is the custom in such circumstances.


Through the Indian Mutiny;
The Memoirs of James Fairweather, 4th Punjab Native Infantry 1857-58, by William Wright
Quote from the War Correspondent W.H. Russell in 1858 whilst visiting the hospital in Kiddepore ‘On enquiry, I found that a great proportion of the wounds, many of them very serious and severe, were inflicted by the sabre or native tulwar. There were more sword-cuts in the two hospitals than I saw after Balaklava.’

‘Major Coke (1st Punjab Infantry) received a severe wound in the shoulder ... His native adjutant, Mir Jaffir, was wounded was wounded at his side, and received another bullet through his shield ...’ (Billy Paget CO of the 5th Punjab Cavalry, and friend of Fairweather)

On the journey from Calcutta to Lahore, in the Punjab, Fairweather notes; ‘The people working in the fields, in many cases with shields on their backs and tulwars by their side.’

Fairweather on the men in the regiment; ‘The men of the regiment were from all the fighting classes – Sikhs, Pathans, Dogras, Punjabis, Mussulmen, and Hindustanis (a few). They were armed with the Brunswick two grooved rifle and a sword bayonet, but many of the native officers and some of the men carried also their iron tulwar with a shield on their backs.’

Authors notes reference Dighton Probyn VC (CO 2nd Punjab cavalry) and John Watson VC (CO 1st Punjab cavalry), they were great friends and great swordsman both using curved sabres (from what I can judge they were of the Shamshir/Mameluke design), ‘hit first and hit hardest’ was their only rule.

At the battle of Bareilly Fairweather notes that 'the Ghazis were so drugged with bhang that they did not know whether they were striking with the flat or the edge of their swords'

(General Campbell, still carried a pipe backed 1796 LCS, On the 10th October 1857, the mutineers posing as jugglers etc did a surprise attack at the camp in Agra. The senior Officers were having breakfast in the fort, and some were slow to respond. However the Adjutant-General Henry Norman borrowed Sir Colin Campbell's sword cutting down two mutineers as he galloped to help repel the attack)

From; new.fibis.org;
Just as the 42d reached the old lines, they were met by the Punjabees in full flight, followed by a lot of Gazees carrying tulwars and shields.

Ian Coghlan; 42d Royal Highland Regiment, Am Freiceadan Dubh "The Black Watch", VII 1856-1869;
At the battle of Bareilly General Sir Colin Campbell had a close escape (9); His eye caught that of a quasi dead Gazee, who was lying, tulwar in hand, just before him. The Chief guessed the ruse in a moment. “Bayonet that man!” he called to a soldier. The Highlander made a thrust at him, but the point would not enter the thick cotton quilting of the Gazee’s tunic; and the dead man was rising to his legs, when a Sikh who happened to be near, with a whistling stroke of his sabre cut off the Gazee’s head at one blow, as if it had been the bulb of a poppy!! The Gazee’s were fine fellows, grizzly bearded elderly men for the most part, with green turbans and cummerbunds, and every one of them had a silver signet ring, with a long text of the Koran written on it. They came on with the heads down below their shields, and their tulwars flashing as they whirled them over their heads.

Last edited by sirupate : 27th November 2011 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 27th November 2011, 08:41 PM   #21
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I had the pleasure of meeting Nidar Singh, and comparing kukri and sabre techniques, he certainly had defensive techniques with the Tulwar.
Also his use of the Dhal was much like in Nepal were the dhal was both offensive and defensive in its use, size being a factor in its effectiveness offensively.
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Old 14th December 2011, 10:59 PM   #22
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Found an awsome video of a gatka fight with katars and small dhals. It starts with a stylized dance routine so be patient

LINKY
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Old 15th December 2011, 12:16 PM   #23
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Whenever I have the Sikh's demonstrating their Martial arts, it always seems very stylised, but In India in reports by the British they had a good reputation with their Tulwars, as in post on the 27th.
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Old 15th December 2011, 05:15 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhushan_lawate
Hi all,

This reminds me of the famous battle of "Sinhagad" near Pune, Maharashtra, India fought between the Mughals led by Udaybhan and the Marathas led by Tanaji Malusare.

In a fierce dual that started between Udaybhan and Tanaji; Tanaji's dhal(shield) broke and he was unable to get another one on time. So he started taking the attack of Udaybhan on his left hand on which he had tied a shela (a long cloth usually used as a waist band).

It is worthy to note that both Udaybhan and Tanaji died of battle wounds and Tanaji had lost his left hand owing to the severe strikes of sword...!!!!!!



Fascinating post, Bhushan, and thank you for that bit of Indian history.

Interesting to note the parallel between this bit of recorded history and Stan's post recalling the use of one's cape or cloak during the Renaissance. I guess tactics are tactics, or as KuKulzA28 succinctly put it, fighting is fighting.

Has anyone ever encountered a small dhal that exhibits obvious signs of having been struck?
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Old 15th December 2011, 05:46 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
Whenever I have the Sikh's demonstrating their Martial arts, it always seems very stylised, but In India in reports by the British they had a good reputation with their Tulwars, as in post on the 27th.


It is stylized because unfortunately Indian martial arts is a dead art. However, there must be some elements of the "real" thing in Gatka and Shastar Vidya routines. While you really can not compare them to an actual fight (for instance, it is clear from all available videos that opponents goal is to strike the others shield rather than inflict bodily harm), I would imagine that the relationship between Gatka and a real duel is not unlike that between Olympic fencing and the renaissance fencing. I am not putting down the sport, nor am I comparing it to a dance routine (I myself am a fencer with almost a decade of experience under my belt). I am just trying to emphasize the point of Olympic fencing being very different from the duels held amongst Western aristocracy of a few centuries years ago, which in turn would be quite different from mass melees on the battle fields of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laEspadaAncha
Has anyone ever encountered a small dhal that exhibits obvious signs of having been struck?


I have handled a brass dhal once with what looked like a long narrow dent running diogonally from left to right slightly spliting the edge/rim one one side and extending almost to the center. As much as I want to consider it being left by a tulwar blade, there is no way to verify this. It is the same as with many swords that may show "signs of use" such as nicks aroudn the sweet spot of the edge. While these could convince some that a sword was used in a battle, I always say that they are just as likely result of a previous owner's teenage son who used it to whack bushes in the backyard

On the other hand, I would love nothing more than to see a dented shield with an imprint of human teeth in the dent

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Old 16th December 2011, 03:02 PM   #26
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Stan S;It is stylized because unfortunately Indian martial arts is a dead art. However, there must be some elements of the "real" thing in Gatka and Shastar Vidya routines. While you really can not compare them to an actual fight (for instance, it is clear from all available videos that opponents goal is to strike the others shield rather than inflict bodily harm), I would imagine that the relationship between Gatka and a real duel is not unlike that between Olympic fencing and the renaissance fencing. I am not putting down the sport, nor am I comparing it to a dance routine (I myself am a fencer with almost a decade of experience under my belt). I am just trying to emphasize the point of Olympic fencing being very different from the duels held amongst Western aristocracy of a few centuries years ago, which in turn would be quite different from mass melees on the battle fields of the time.

When I met Nidar Singh earlier on this year, his explanation of technique was definitely Martial, and it was interesting comparing his sabre technique to British cavalry of the early 19th Century. Also his explanation of the way they use kukri was all about killing, and again interesting to compare his with ours.
Certainly at the battle of Aliwal and Sobraon the Sikhs performed well although their cavalry was easily dealt with by the cavalry under Sir Harry Smith, and the Sikhs reputation was excellent in the Indian Mutiny (by then I would suspect some British influence), so when did Sikh Martial arts stop being taught in a traditional way?
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