Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Nasty war crimes

Sadly it appears common for a few in all branches of SOF to stray off the reservation. At the end of the day it's really simple in theory as a soldier (or anybody) you are responsible for your actions.

However some people like to scalp dead people, which is something I could never get my head around.…/…/10/the-crimes-of-seal-team-6/

Monday, 21 November 2016

Dealing with martial arts questions during random introductions at social gatherings

Often after some great training I feel the urge to become some kind of training internet evangelist and tell or show everyone how it's done correctly etc. It's natural to feel like this, especially if you google martial arts etc. and watch the YouTube films that pop up. However, as we all know in our group there is but one main rule, well apart from the group health and safety rules which note to clip your nails, look after your training partner and not smell etc.

The main rule is don't show anything to anyone outside the group. Now we make this very clear in my new comer talk right at the start on the first night but it occurred to me today that we all have to interact with other students or teachers from other systems and we never tell you how to deal with the usual questions.


So here is how I deal with those questions. All arts probably have something positive to offer and some are very good, and when people share their stuff with you, you probably feel a bit of git for not showing them something. We also  need to be polite and the main way I answer  people when they ask me want I train in, is to call it Dutch Indonesian tai chi and I state I do it for good health. If they ask what it looks like I say we stand like a tree for two hours a day. Most people wonder off at this point as they get bored.

Demonstrations of skill

If you go to parties and people know you train in something, don’t give demos because there are three possible results or outcomes of the party martial arts demonstration:

1. You get your ass handed to you by some twelve-year-old white sash level girl who has been doing  wing chun once a week for three months.

2. You kill the twelve-year wing chun white sash level girl in your demo and get thrown out of the social gathering.

3. Everything goes swimmingly well, you don’t get beat up, don’t kill anybody and you even pull off that girlfriend pleasing throw that you never pull off in class. The trouble with this result is that we then get plagued by people wanting to join the group and we don’t really have any room. Plus, we have to keep the idiots out, you know the guys who type in CAPITAL letters on the internet forums and always know best or the “true believers” that actually know their instructor lies and probably leant his skills by watching sponge bob on TV but spend their entire day on the internet preaching to everyone about their cult.

So, when asked to give a demonstration of your skills, if you really have to, stand like a tree for twenty minutes. This works but make sure you pee first if you have been drinking.

If people have a genuine interest in training and you feel you want to be extra nice. You may suggest the nearest good training establishment for them to try out. Something healthy like the Straight Blast Gym or another local great instructor etc. You may even like to pop along with them and introduce them.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Richard's Brexit predictions

My predictions for Brexit

  1. Parliament will vote against the triggering of article 50.
  2. The current May government will fall due a vote off no confidence as they cannot meet their mandate.
  3. During the general election at least one party will offer a further referendum on Britain's membership in Europe. The party offering the second referendum will win against the odds and the usual polls.
  4. The major member states in Europe will act on the realisation that the current union is doomed if the UK leaves as they will have to go to their own parliaments to ask for additional funds to make up the short full in the UK contributions. The additional short fall contributions will trigger a parliamentary vote in their own countries.  A vote that is likely to be lost in Germany and France.
  5. Prior to the referendum there will be a modified offer tabled by the EU mainly around control of immigration. The modified offer will solely be to save and build an enhanced EU which is fairer.
  6. The new referendum will take place but with a vastly improved message, buoyed by the modified offer from the EU. Less about fear more about togetherness and unity.
  7. What ever the result of the second referendum people on both sides will wonder why the modified offer from the EU was not tabled before the first referendum but the President of the EU will remain in post.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Spanish knife fighting 1848

A passage from "The Pillars of Hercules, or, A narrative of travels in Spain and Morocco in 1848", by David Urquhart (VOL 11). This is an extremely rare technical description of Spanish knife fighting/training, written by an Englishman who learned from a Spanish master in Seville.

Page 382



A Sevillian whom I was questioning about the frequent assassinations, astonished me by denying that there were any. " What you hear of," said he, " as murders are duels." I objected the knife;—he said, " Well, the knife ; that is our weapon ; we fence, we do not stab ; the duel has its laws, the weapon its science." I thought this must be a figurative manner of describing some rude point of honour, and asked him to show me in what consisted the science. " I am not expert," he said ; " but if you are curious I will take you to a friend of mine, whom you can engage, as he is the best player in Seville; and, since the death of Montez, in all Andalusia."

I begged immediately to be conducted to the yuecador, and was introduced to the inner apartment; which—as he united the calling of contrabandist to that of fencing-master—was filled with bales of tobacco. The subject was broached as a matter of business. He was willing to give me lessons, but would not undertake to teach me. If I had natural dispositions I might learn " to play" in three months, taking Time by the forelock. I proposed commencing at once ; and next morning he came to me by day-light, at the inn— for it required a large room.

A wooden dagger is used for a foil: it is about eight inches long, and in form like the old sacrificial knife : it is held by the closed fingers, the thumb stretching along the blade, and the edge turned inward. Round the left arm is wound the jacket as a shield. My teacher, putting himself in attitude, at once reminded me of the fighting Gladiator. He thus commenced: " You must hold your right hand down upon your thigh; you must never raise it till sure of your blow. Your feints must be with the eye—the eye, hand and leg must move together. When you look here, you must strike there, and spring when you have cut, corta y huya. The left arm must be kept high, the right hand low, the knees bent, the legs wide, the toes forward, ready to spring back or forward. There are three cuts and three parries ; one point,—the point is low and at the belly—St. George's au bas venire: the cut must be across the muscle on the shoulder or the breast, or down well into the groin, so as to let out the bowels. Unless you know how to cut, it is of no use knowing how to fence.''

He knew nothing of our fencing, and was much surprised when I made application of it, and attributed the advantages it gave to a natural instinct for the art. The result was, that in a week he had gone through the whole course, and the last day of my stay at Seville, he brought two of the proficients, and we had a regular assault d'armes, the guests at the hotels being spectators. He honoured me at the introduction by saying, that he feared me more than either of his two compeers, because I sprang better than the one, and cut better than the other.

The attitudes are a study for an artist. There are not the stiff figures and sharp angles of our fencing ; but the rounded limb, the gathered-up muscle, the balanced body :—instead of the glance of the steel there is that of the eye. The weapon is concealed under the hand, and pointing down, so that not a ray betokens it. There is no boxer's fist or cestus, no crusader's helm or hauberk, no Roman's sword or shield. It seemed as if the hands and the eye of the man were equal to the claw of the tiger, or the tusk of the boar. It was a combat of beasts rather than a contest of men. There was the ambling pace, the slouching gait of the panther or the lion, or, rather, it was a mixture of the snake and the frog; gliding like the one and springing like the other. This is the war of the knife, the Pelea de Navaja, falsely interpreted war to the knife.

After missing a blow with the right hand, the knife, by a dexterous player, may be jerked into the left; but this, if unsuccessful, is inevitable death. To jerk it at your antagonist is not permitted by the rules of the game. By a sudden spring an adversary's foot may be pinned after he has failed in a blow. The most deadly of these feints is to strike the foot of your adversary sideways and so bring him down. A celebrated Juccador named Montes (not the Torero), killed in this manner eleven men, and was at last so killed himself.

The mantle or jacket round the left arm is used, not for the purpose of catching the blow, but of striking off the adversary's arm so that he may not reach. The guarding arm is always within reach, but always avoided ; for to strike at it would leave your side open, and the safety consists in keeping under your adversary. The arms of the players were all scarred ; but that was in " love fights." The edge of the knife is then blunted, or a shoulder is put to it, as in the case of the lances which they use with the bulls.

The Sevillian was right. This is not simple assassination : it is not the stab given in the dark, though of course we could only so understand a man being killed by a knife. A popular song at Seville is, the lamentation of a man imprisoned for " stabbing" another :—he exclaims against the wrong ; justifies his legitimate defence of his maja; calls upon the gaoler to testify to his treatment; and, failing to obtain sympathy, rushes to the grates and appeals to the people:—

"Si venga gente pora aca !"

There is no song sung with more fervour by the ladies.

This is the most deadly weapon I know; the dirk, the cama, the dagger, are grasped in the hand, and impelled by the leverage of the arm. The navaja may be so used, or plunged right on end like the Hindoo dagger, and also by the motion of the wrist alone: it more resembles mowing with the scythe than thrusting with a poniard : it is accompanied by the action of the sword, in which, as in fencing, the limbs come into play, and thus serves the purpose of a defensive weapon. It is the origin of our fencing ; and against adversaries not acquainted with that art, or not armed for it, it still retains all its ancient superiority :—in all cases it would be a valuable accessory to other weapons, without being an encumbrance, and serving for all the ordinary purposes of a knife.

The navaja (pronounced navakha) is a clasp knife, —those worn by professed players are a foot long when closed. There is a spring to catch it behind, to prevent it closing on the hand. When opened there is the click as in cocking a pistol, and the sound is said to delight Andalusian equally with Irish ears. The art of fencing with it is called pelea de navaja.