Saturday, January 30, 2010

The "Art of Defence" Explained

In the time these arts were used, “Defence” was often synonymous with fighting in general; Anything one must do to defend oneself, including offensive actions within combat. By way of meaning, Art of Defence is a direct translation of the contemporary Germanic Kunst des Fechten. Therefore, the Art of Defense is the Art of Fighting, and “defense” is not relegated to the purely “defensive” techniques, such as parries, that most would generally more exclusively consider it today. Therefore, in the 14th-16th century English martial arts texts, one will not find much reference to “defenses” per say, but abidings, wards, etc.

The Art of Defense vs. “Self” Defense?
In the modern era, self defense is born. Well, not so much born as it is the abiding, emaciated husk of the Art of Defense. As I have expounded upon in previous articles, prior to the industrial revolution, there was little, if any, separation between “civilian” and “military” martial arts that there commonly is today. This of course is primarily due to the ascendance of firearms combined with a certain complacency of the non-military population (now separated due to the ascendance of exclusive standing armies, rather than the more inclusive and leveling feudal system). More to the point, however, is that for most of history Western peoples commonly trained in one Art, generally speaking. That is to say, they trained with the same fighting skills and carried the same weapons that they would use to defend themselves on the street, to defend their families at home, and to defend their country when called upon to do so.
This is all opposed to now, when a large portion of the Art of Defense has become obsolete; Swords replaced by rifles, etc. and many civilian populations have been subjugated to a degree that on one level or another, they cannot function in a military role as effectively as their nation’s standing military forces, often being completely disarmed. The carry of even a simple dagger or dual purpose fighting knife is no longer custom, but often illegal, as is the use and carry of firearms; Often at best requiring special permits. This makes certain weapons and weapon arts taboo in a society, and forces a great divide between civilian and military fighting arts.

In the civilian arena, what this leaves is a deluge of governmentally kosher schools of fighting arts. As primarily unarmed schools, a few of which have some focus on ancient and obsolete weaponry, these are no longer so versatile as to practically defend more than one’s individual person. Thus, “self” defense is born. Let’s face it: If we were to imagine the most effective modern self defense school for civilians, it would focus on the combative use of the handgun, among other things, in the same way a public school of 600 years ago focused on the sword. However, this being rendered largely impractical and taboo by governmental influence, we are forced into wishful thinking and the practice of the most fundamental (and honestly, least effective in many of the most dire of real-life circumstances) of all the Art of Defence; unarmed combat. Though also the most essential aspect of any fighting art, it is, and has always been, the last resort.

We are forced, by a culmination of different factors, into our last resort now.


Copyright Jan. 2010, Casper Bradak