Weapon fixation

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Weapon fixation

Postby Paul » 11 Apr 2006 08:09

I thought this quote deserved it's own topic:
Einar Drønnesund wrote: It might also actually be easier getting into that position in that situation than in an unarmed fight. The fact that there is a dagger involved might draw attention away from what he is doing to position himself before stabbing, because the victim is so focused on the weapon.


Modern people studying martial arts, especially weapons arts, tend to be focussed on the weapon way too much. To the point of not even seeing an incoming kick. Clearly this is an undesirable thing and this has to be unlearned.

However, the average medieval swordsman was probably much more familiar with all sorts of bladed weapons than we are.

So I was wondering, how much weapon fixation does one see in the manuscripts? Is that unhealthy? How do you deal with it when teaching?
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Postby Stunt Weasel » 11 Apr 2006 08:24

Hey Paul, that's an excellent question. I think training all of the grappling and striking skills right in amongst the blade techniques from the get go is the key. If you know from day one that you are going to get tripped, tossed, arm-barred or kicked in the coddes as often as you are likely to be stabed and/or cut in a fighting situation with swords ... then you will definitely be aware of those things a little later on in training when you get about to sparring.

Of course, then some people may fixate too much on wanting to close to grapple ... :?

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Postby Kim Young » 11 Apr 2006 08:48

At ASG we are taught to 'look through' our opponent rather than 'at' them (centering on their chest rather than their eyes). I used to be a really bad 'sword-starer' until one of our assistant instructors demonstrated how much sooner you can detect movement by not by focussing on one spot.

I think Guy Windsor explains the optics responsible for this in 'The Swordsman's Companion', but I haven't got it to hand. As far I remember, he refers to the 'eye' over the heart on Vadi's signo illustration and says it was a hint to use your 'inner eye'/sixth sense.

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Postby Stunt Weasel » 11 Apr 2006 09:39

At ASG we are taught to 'look through' our opponent rather than 'at' them (centering on their chest rather than their eyes). I used to be a really bad 'sword-starer' until one of our assistant instructors demonstrated how much sooner you can detect movement by not by focusing on one spot.

Regarding visual focus in a fight, I often use the analogy of driving a car on the freeway ... if you stare at the license plate in front of you so that you don't bump into that car, you won't be aware of what the cars to either side of you and behind you are doing and you'll have lost sight of a very very important bigger picture. It's like almost certainly ensuring an accident because your focus on the road was too narrow. In a fight, I like to keep my eyes moving and alert, not locked on an opponent's sword hand or eyes or chest or wherever.

I disagree with the idea of "looking through" an opponent though, with this centering on the chest concept ... the eyes are one extremely important element to watch in a fight. They give away a lot unintentionally (no matter how good a poker player the fighter may be) and to be aware of and use this can be essential. I like to try to take in the whole of the body as much as possible when sparring (I'm not always successul naturally and I do sometimes have a tendency to get distracted by twitchy sword movements, but thats another issue). My focus is primarily aimed at movements of the eyes, shoulders, hands, knees and feet.

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Postby Abomination » 11 Apr 2006 09:47

Stunt Weasel wrote:I disagree with the idea of "looking through" an opponent though, with this centering on the chest concept ... the eyes are extremely important to watch in a fight. They give away a lot unintentionally (no matter how good a poker player the fighter may be) and to be aware of this is essential.


Tricky if they are wearing a mask

Stunt Weasel wrote: My focus is most notably aimed at the movements of the eyes, shoulders, hands, knees and feet.
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Postby Kim Young » 11 Apr 2006 09:50

The car's a good analogy. :)
Still not convinced about looking at the eyes though. If you can read your opponents eyes, they can read yours. Personally I find facial expressions (and perceived emotions) distracting.
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Postby J Marwood » 11 Apr 2006 10:00

No one has ever hit me with his eyes...


On the subject of weapon fixation - I think it is fairly common, in fact it is something I have seen a lot in sparring. A rapid change of distance (and appropriate tool) often causes a brief pause as the fighters re-evaluate what they should be doing and 'switch mindset'. Boyd's OODA loop model explains this very well.
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Postby Stunt Weasel » 11 Apr 2006 10:06

Tricky if they are wearing a mask

True. I've never fought wearing a mask except in sports fencing and those were such that you could *just* see through them to read an opponent's face and eyes. It made a big difference, I can tell you. Eyes can also communicate what the other person wants to project imagewise, as in do they want to look confident or gull you in. It's something I've always felt personally, but I also hear it time and time again from master martial artists and a few world champions, too, that the eyes are the key to winning most fights. It's a two way street, but if you make use of it (in *my* experience) then you're usually better off.

:)

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Postby Stunt Weasel » 11 Apr 2006 10:10

As for weapon fixation, a trick I used to use on people who had this problem (and it was used once or twice on me before I caught on) was to inch forward during the fight, leaving the sword behind subtly so that they paid attention to where the tip of the sword was and not the fact that my arm could simply extend and touch at will. A very successful ploy once around!

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Postby admin » 11 Apr 2006 10:35

Stunt Weasel wrote:Hey Paul, that's an excellent question. I think training all of the grappling and striking skills right in amongst the blade techniques from the get go is the key. If you know from day one that you are going to get tripped, tossed, arm-barred or kicked in the coddes as often as you are likely to be stabed and/or cut in a fighting situation with swords ... then you will definitely be aware of those things a little later on in training when you get about to sparring.

Of course, then some people may fixate too much on wanting to close to grapple ... :?


I agree with all this.
I think it is common to fixate on the weapon now - I don't think it was then.
When we spar we try to use everything - just this sunday I was kicked twice during longsword sparring, but in both cases I hit the other guy in the head with my sword - so in that case he was fixating too much on the kick - I do not think I was too fixated on the weapon because I moved back enough to remove the power from the kick (plus I can certainly survive a kick to the ribs), while keeping my weapon in a good place to stay covered and ultimately hit my opponent in the head while he is recovering from his kick.
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Postby admin » 11 Apr 2006 10:41

As James said though, I have certainly sen some silly examples of weapon fixation - two people trying to use their swords two-handed at a distance where they should have been halfswording, one-handed stabbing, grabbing, wrestling and throwing.
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Postby scholadays » 11 Apr 2006 11:08

admin wrote:As James said though, I have certainly sen some silly examples of weapon fixation - two people trying to use their swords two-handed at a distance where they should have been halfswording, one-handed stabbing, grabbing, wrestling and throwing.


Two people collaborating to retrieve daggers from under a third before attacking one another with them!
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