James Wallhausen - Knightly Martial Arts (book)

Liechtenauer lineage and related sources (eg. Sigmund Ringeck, Peter von Danzig, Paulus Kal, Hans Talhoffer), interpretation and practice. Open to public view.

James Wallhausen - Knightly Martial Arts (book)

Postby Peregrine Dace » 15 Dec 2011 15:19

Hi all
Just came across this book while browsing Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Knightly-Martial- ... 91&sr=8-54
there're no reviews and I haven't heard anyone talking about it. Has anyone who knows the Lichtenauer tradition read it?

Perry
Last edited by Peregrine Dace on 15 Dec 2011 18:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby KeithFarrell » 15 Dec 2011 15:28

It is a terrible, terrible book. I only just finished reading it, and it is abysmal. I will be writing up a proper review of it at some point soon, but the general gist of my review can be summed up simply: it's all wrong. That's not in terms of interpretation of technique (although I would say that a lot of that is wrong as well...) but his entire book is based on factually incorrect statements, incorrect citations and attributions, terrible translations (I find his translation of parts of the markverse and glosses to be even more difficult to read and understand than the original German!) and lots of sweeping statements and generalisations that he claims to prove but never actually proves or demonstrates or cites any sources...
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Alex B » 15 Dec 2011 15:37

Damn you Keith. I was just about to post to say that it was terrible, but you beat me to it.

Keith lent me his copy briefly so I could read some of the 'highlights', and I have to agree with him. Spend your money on something else.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Peregrine Dace » 15 Dec 2011 18:27

Yeah, some of what I saw in the preview seemed...a little off.. but I don't know the source texts well enough to have been sure. Thanks, perhaps put a review up on Amazon too.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby admin » 15 Dec 2011 20:34

Can I just say that it is refreshing to read a HEMA book review that plainly says that a book is terrible. I look forward to the full review! :)
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Herbert » 16 Dec 2011 09:01

By all means - post a review on amazon!


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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Andreas Engström » 16 Dec 2011 09:09

From what I've gathered when debating him on diverse fora I'm not terribly surprised.

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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Michael Chidester » 16 Dec 2011 20:53

When I saw this I thought it referred to Johann von Wallhausen, and was surprised to see Keith tearing into a fencing manual so brutally. :)
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Motley » 16 Dec 2011 21:13

Michael Chidester wrote:When I saw this I thought it referred to Johann von Wallhausen, and was surprised to see Keith tearing into a fencing manual so brutally. :)


You* are getting your topics mixed up...

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=18011

* it confused me at first too.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby the_last_alive » 16 Dec 2011 21:44

Motley wrote:
Michael Chidester wrote:When I saw this I thought it referred to Johann von Wallhausen, and was surprised to see Keith tearing into a fencing manual so brutally. :)


You* are getting your topics mixed up...

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=18011

* it confused me at first too.



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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby KeithFarrell » 16 Dec 2011 22:14

I'm sure Johann von Wallhausen knew what he was talking about :D unfortunately the same cannot be said for our modern Wallhausen. I wish I could say better things about his book, I really do, but I simply cannot.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Rakkasan » 22 Dec 2011 23:48

I actually enjoyed his discussion of Aristotelian times in Dobringer...
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby KeithFarrell » 23 Dec 2011 00:35

I thought it was interesting, certainly. He just never *proved* it while consistently claiming that he had. That is my problem with quite a lot of his sections: they are quite interesting theories, often quite compellingly written, but he never quite manages to *prove* anything, and in fact quite often gets his evidence wrong. It's a real shame, because if his basic information was correct and if he took the small additional step of actually proving his points rather than just claiming to have proven them, then his method of analysing Liechtenauer's system would be pretty good. He's just a couple of redrafts away from a good book if he took the necessary steps to correct his mistakes and to complete his proofs.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Barca » 23 Dec 2011 01:51

I think there is some pretty harsh reviewing going on here. I'd really like to see more specific discussion of chapters or passages critiqued with some academic rigour.

FWIW I enjoyed the book (even though I don't agree with all of it) and, like Jake, I also enjoyed (and agree with much of) the chapter examining the Aristollian origins of time and motion in Liechtenauer's art.

I'm not sure any of James' (or anyone else's) KdF theories can ever really be 'proven' (if you use the commonly understood definition of proof applied to mathematics and science). But I think, as a deeper analysis and attempt to get at 'first principles' James' book goes much further than any other published treatment of Liechtenauer's art to date that I've read.

I have nothing against any of those other previously published KdF books, but IMO they mostly skim along the surface at a technique level, rather than delving into the underlying theories of acting and reacting (i.e. agents and patient agents), time, space and motion (i.e. vor and nach not just as initiative or control, but linked to the occupancy and control of physical space etc). This is an important thing James' book attempted and I think he did it reasonably well.

My 2c FWIW.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Rakkasan » 23 Dec 2011 19:01

Short review by Jake.

Pros: In-depth discussion-provoking treatment of Wallenhausen's theories about Liechtenauer's teachings from 3227a.

Like Bill, I really appreciated James's efforts at getting "under the hood" of "Dobringer's" version of Liechtenauer's teachings. I recommend the book for no other reason except that it provokes a great deal of pretty deep discussion and debate and proposes some ideas that are waaaaay different from what most of us probably hold regarding Liechtenauer's teachings. I really loved this about the book, even though I think intelligence discussion of much it would need to be in person or not at all.

Cons: Grossly self-referential, poorly edited (both copy and content), repetitive, and almost obscenely self-assured.

Like most self-published books, James's Knightly Martial Arts needs an editor. Not just a copy editor, which is a daunting task for a book of that size, but rather to really help the book focus its main ideas and its supporting proofs. The format/organization is confusing in places, and James's ideas are so eye-popping that any little thing can make a difficult train of thought nearly impossible to follow. A big portion of my "IRL" job is writing and editing, and I can say with some confidence that this book would be clearer and more forceful if it were at least 30%--if not 60%--shorter.

The book's other primary sin is its near-constant reference to the "Science of Eskirmologics," which, as far as I can tell, is James's invention. I think his ideas would sound more credible if they were framed under Eskirmological "Theory" rather than "Science," since, as a previous poster noted, proving something in a field which is utterly dominated by hypotheticals is probably not possible. He also uses several terms that, although not technically incorrect, have dominant meanings which present the reader with a different idea than what I believe the author intended (the best example of this is James's use of the term "cybernetic," which, IIRC, he uses to mean something along the lines of "referring to a system of systems" and not the more pedestrian image of a titanium-skulled Austrian, etc.).

I actually heartily recommend the book despite its flaws. I should like to see a more serious edition published by a third party which could curtail some of James's enthusiasm and help him really present his ideas in a manner that sparks conversation...regardless of whether or not I think he's right about any of it.

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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Michael Chidester » 23 Dec 2011 19:31

Sounds like he's probably using that term correctly--robotics is just one minor example of applied cybernetics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybernetics
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Rakkasan » 23 Dec 2011 21:09

As I said--it's not that the use is wrong, it's that it doesn't carry that meaning to enough readers. The purpose of this type of writing should be, IMO, to be understood. If readers don't understand you, then you're failing at your basic purpose...regardless of how correct one might be in principle.

Easier said than done, sure.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby Angantyr » 24 Dec 2011 11:14

Would it be worth getting just for the part about Aristoteles, and then to look at the rest as an alternative to "mainstream KdF"? (I love differing views, it gives new perspective on everything.)
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby KeithFarrell » 24 Dec 2011 13:24

Barca wrote:I think there is some pretty harsh reviewing going on here. I'd really like to see more specific discussion of chapters or passages critiqued with some academic rigour.


I will do a proper review when I have the book to hand again, and will ensure that I can provide evidence for each of my statements about the book. Thanks for the brief review Jake!


Angantyr wrote:Would it be worth getting just for the part about Aristoteles, and then to look at the rest as an alternative to "mainstream KdF"? (I love differing views, it gives new perspective on everything.)


I think it *is* worth reading through. He presents some very interesting ideas. Like I said above, if his basic information was right then his method would be excellent. I think it is worth observing his method and taking learning points into one's own practice or observation of Liechtenauer's system. If nothing else it is a completely different approach to anything I have seen before and it is a valuable read from that angle.


Rakkasan wrote:I actually heartily recommend the book despite its flaws. I should like to see a more serious edition published by a third party which could curtail some of James's enthusiasm and help him really present his ideas in a manner that sparks conversation...regardless of whether or not I think he's right about any of it.


I would agree with this. As I said above, he is just a couple of redrafts away from a good book. If he had an external editor or publisher then I'm sure they would force him to make some necessary changes that would improve the book dramatically.
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Re: James Wallhausen

Postby James Wallhausen » 17 Jan 2012 14:34

If there's anything guaranteed to prompt someone out of 'lurking', it's seeing one's name as a thread title...Might I suggest that Peregrine or the forum mods change the title of the thread to something along the lines of "Book: Knightly Martial Arts" or somesuch?

I appreciate the remarks here, and pleased to see some discussion about my work taking place. Thanks to Jake and Bill for their thoughts - I'm pleased to see that you guys appreciate what I was attempting to achieve. One of the most interesting points which stood out for me was:

Rakkasan wrote:...James's ideas are so eye-popping...


What parts of the work did you find particularly "eye-popping"?

It seems I have gathered some critiques here, which I feel obliged to address. One of the reasons for self-publishing was that few traditional publishers were keen to consider a work on martial arts for a) such a niche market, and b) which wasn't full of pictures. My aim was to get beyond technique, but also to get beyond "source" discussion and begin teasing away at the Combat System at the basis of all those documents. It seemed that my Systemic approach to this topic was worthy of sharing, so I embarked upon writing, proofing, editing, laying-out, designing and illustrating myself (I did receive some help, but the bulk was done by myself). It was a tall-task for one man to complete, but I was pleased with the final work. For this reason, I will be the first to admit some problems with aspects of the work, but as an entity in its own right, in context with other works hitherto produced on the same subject; I'm still rather pleased with it.

It was produced for a mainstream martial arts audience, and so citations or academic style references were kept to a minimum. It's a real shame that martial artists tend not to read. Therefore books of this nature are not common, but I'm very pleased to say that based upon feedback I've received over the last few years, it's certainly extended Liechtenauer's Combat System to a wider martial arts audience!

On the matter of 'self-referencing', I was inclined to reference my own work on the topic of Systemics, since application of this field of understanding to the topic is rather thin on the ground. If anyone is aware of a work which discusses the martial arts in terms of translational force (volumes and direction) as the model for strategic technique, then I will be the first to cite this instead.

I for one am looking forward to your review Keith...Any objective, substantiated criticism is welcomed heartily from me. If you are able to steer the work in a much better direction, then I'll be excited to hear your thoughts! Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

All the best,

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