The Riddle of the Sword
I watched part of a documentary program the other night about the sword in world culture.
It talked about a number of things, but what interested me the most was the resurgence of european martial arts. The fascinating part of watching historical documentation of martial swordplay was that it became lost not because of the gun, but because swords were becoming “out of fashion”, with european aristocratic society. The resurgence that is happening now, is due in large part to one or two individuals who challenged historians and their views of how the sword was used. One case in point that was argued: Because the human body only moves in so many directions, martial arts of the sword in Europe was the same as martial arts sword styles more widely known in asian cultures. I did not know how to see that point. I could see how drawings that were made of martial sword arts of medieval europe could be translated into form, and even that of ancient Greece and Rome, but I was still unsure of specific fighting styles. My argument stems from the facts related to the hegemony of asian martial knowledge that has been absorbed into western culture. Only 30 years ago, this knowledge was unknown by westerners. I find it difficult to harbor the thought that these styles were the same from different cultures just because of the way the human body moves. I felt that to arbitrarily state this fact, was tantamount to saying that asian and western culture is exactly the same. For a very long time, it has been known that western cultural styles of combat were devised using a push stroke, while asian styles were derived from a pull stroke. Just the mere differences in these styles would change the position of the body, as well as how the sword is being used.