Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

This is coolbert: Another anachronism of warfare that lasted for about 3000 years is swordsmanship. Ability to handle the sword in war was paramount for literally millenniums. Bronze swords gave way to iron swords which gave way to steel swords of considerable refinement and metallurgy. And various styles of fighting were developed along with the various types of swords. Broadswords, rapier and dagger, foil and epee, all had their schools of swordsmanship with very sophisticated training and instruction. In the Renaissance period, the Spanish schools and the Italian schools were just examples of the high level of swordsmanship achieved in Europe. Asia too with the various martial arts disciplines incorporating swordsmanship demonstrate the importance of the sword to many cultures throughout the world.

The usage of swords has all but disappeared throughout the world. But not entirely. The Tuareg nomadic people of the Sahara to this day still carry swords with them. To what extent these weapons are carried for merely show, or are still used from time to time, is not clear. On the island of Borneo, however, swords are still used in combat, and are even the preferred weapon. During the recent fighting between the indigenous Dayak peoples of Borneo, and the immigrant Madurese people, swords were used by the Dayaks with proficiency and evidently relish. It seems the Dayaks have always been head-hunters and many instances were recorded during the fighting of heads being taken by Dayaks wielding swords!

Another recent development has been the attempted revival of European martial arts. Most of these martial arts center upon sword play, as was taught at say the Spanish or Italian schools. Europe does indeed have a long tradition of martial arts of varying types, these forms having been forgotten or eclipsed by the many Oriental imports such as Kung Fu or Tae Kwon Do. The Filipino "true" martial art of Arnis is another example of where swordsmanship is being resurrected. Arnis is a cross of Spanish fencing, Filipino knife fighting, and traditional unarmed hand-hand combat.



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