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Did Gauls use Savate kicks in fighting the Roman Legions?

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to fight like a common peasant in a bar room brawl is completely foreign to their mindset. I do agree that a real melee might be less than chivalrous, but that doesn't change the nature of beast - or the culture that breeds them.

 

Common misconception that people in historical martial arts have often corrected(and I myself was once believed this claim)

You missed the point. Dirty fighting in any period including the Roman always goes on, but that doesn't qualify as a martial art. What the 'people in historical martial arts' conveniently forget that fighting as an art is not about violence on the battlefield, nor even the alleyways, but a method of physical efficiency and self-improvement. Does come in handy sometimes I guess, but a little ahistorical for the cultures we've discussed.

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Guest ParatrooperLirelou
to fight like a common peasant in a bar room brawl is completely foreign to their mindset. I do agree that a real melee might be less than chivalrous, but that doesn't change the nature of beast - or the culture that breeds them.

 

Common misconception that people in historical martial arts have often corrected(and I myself was once believed this claim)

You missed the point. Dirty fighting in any period including the Roman always goes on, but that doesn't qualify as a martial art. What the 'people in historical martial arts' conveniently forget that fighting as an art is not about violence on the battlefield, nor even the alleyways, but a method of physical efficiency and self-improvement. Does come in handy sometimes I guess, but a little ahistorical for the cultures we've discussed.

Thhis should do some clairfication.From

http://www.thearma.org/essays/TopMyths.htm

 

 

 

2. Medieval and Renaissance fencing were not real "arts" of codified fighting systems based on any higher scientific principles, but just collections of "tricks" and unconnected techniques with some wrestling thrown in.

 

False. The prejudice that Medieval or Renaissance close combat skill was based on little more than heavy weapons and strong blows and lacked any larger "art" of established principles and systematic concepts is largely the result of ignorance by 18th and 19th century fencing masters and fencing writers. Having transitioned to narrower and more specialized applications of swordsmanship, they lost not only the old skills but understanding of how and why they existed as well as by what manner they were taught and practiced. From their perspective, primarily focused as they were on gentlemanly duels of single combat with single identical swords under fair conditions, their perspective was skewed and flawed. With little surviving from pre-Renaissance fighting arts, they interpreted unfamiliar armors, weapons, and heavier sword types designed for battlefield or street fighting only through the prism of what little they understood from their Baroque fencing style. That they did so with typical Enlightenment-era presumption or Victorian-era arrogance is understandable, though incorrect. The influence of their view survives to modern times. Today however it is an established historical fact that Medieval and Renaissance fighting was highly systematized and incorporated a diverse range of personal combat skills and weaponry well outside that of the more limited craft of 18th and 19th century fencing. See: Historical European Martial Arts and Renaissance Martial Arts Literature.

 

3. Medieval and Renaissance unarmed fighting methods were less developed and less sophisticated than elsewhere in the world.

 

False. There were a variety of grappling styles and wrestling sports practiced across Europe since ancient times. The surviving manuals and illustrated study guides featuring these teachings reveal a sophisticated understanding of unarmed self-defense and combat wrestling techniques, including understanding of: throws, joint locks, groundfighting, wrist locks, open hand blows, kicks, bone breaking, and even pressure-point manipulation. Though they emphasized grappling over pugilism and a preference for the power of armed over unarmed fighting, to argue any of this is somehow "less developed" or "inferior" to other versions is a non-falsifiable premise since we cannot truly know the full extent and skill of Medieval and Renaissance combatives and their modern reconstruction is still in its infancy. The reason these skills faded and were lost is almost entirely due to the impact of handguns and other firearms on Western civilization. See: Grappling & Wrestling in Renaissance Fencing.

 

 

20. Formal duels of honor were the preferred means of settling fights in the Renaissance.

 

False. The term "duel" can apply to a wide range of ritualized and formal fighting from judicial combats to street fights to formal duels of honor in the Medieval and Renaissance eras. The history of duelling in the Renaissance period has however tended to focus upon those accounts by a few chroniclers of the aristocracy who recorded the duels of nobles for their audiences of upper class peers; the ones with the leisure time to concern themselves with codes of honor and formal challenges to their reputation, character, and social status. These works have tended to focus upon formal duel and challenges and not on the more common everyday scuffles, street-fights, rencounters, affrays, ambushes, brawls, drunken violence, and assassinations, which predominated. Men went about armed after all not so they could just agree to formal combats at some later appointed time and place, but because they lived in a very violent world where self-defense was a necessity against the daily possibility of personal assault. Going about so armed probably prevented as many of these fights as it aggravated. However, popular culture and fencing histories since the 19th century (a time in which formal duels increased to become the norm at the same time their danger and lethality actually decreased) has tended to emphasize duels among cavalier gentlemen as being the standard of the period. This imprecise view more or less survives still today.

 

21. Only nobles fought duels.

 

False. Commoners as well as nobles in different parts of Europe fought different kinds of duels, both official and ad hoc. Judicial duels between commoners often had special rules in place concerning the conditions as distinct from those permitted nobles. Challenges to single combat between commoners, whether as sudden street-fights or more private affairs, both emulated as well as influenced the duels of honor among the aristocracy.[/Quote]

 

 

 

In the field of martial arts, one thing to remember is that martial arts all developed out of the battlefield and random brawls. Basically a Street Fighter according to the martial arts community is already a martial artist in his own way as he has developed his own style of brawling(and keep in mind that while street fights among prisoners and battle hardened fighters seem like unsophisticated brawls, if one observes closely there is a wide variety of sophistication and strategy being used). As for the comment on this concept of martial arts being ahistorical, one thing to remember thats often repeated in the Martial Arts community(not just European martial arts, martial arts in general):

 

"The Human body can only moves in so much ways."

 

In other words many basic principles apply to all ages of mankind when it comes to unarmed martial arts regardless of differences in time period and culture. To put as an example, the Greeks(thousands of years before us) were already shadowboxing as were Roman Boxers basically like modern Boxers do. While there's differences and variations of a certain technique in different cultures and style basic things still apply to all styles albeit with certain variations (such as some crucial differences between a Boxing Jab and Karate Jab).

 

So while the concept of imposing modern military concepts on the Roman Legions is dangerous(I full heartedly hold on to this and completely agree with you on the Roman Legions), martial arts and hand to hand combat is overall a different story.

Edited by ParatrooperLirelou

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Guest ParatrooperLirelou

Just observed a few videos of kicks in various styles and observing fighting matches in the past few days, and from what I seen its safe to assume that Savate was not of Oriental origin. There are just certain differences and variations in the way the kicks are executed and the stance of fighting.Well I can't blame anyone for thinking it be of Asian origin considering all the popular stereotypes of martial arts being an exclusively Eastern Asian thing.

 

Man, I really wish that the myth of Asia having a monopoly on martial arts be dispelled.Even in parts of Europe such as Scandinavia and even Africa, one can find practitioners of ancient martial arts or what remains of it such as Glima and the Muslim Baraqah.

 

However the Gaul question remains unanswered and I've been getting up books and whatever think I can find and will be doing serious research on the Gauls and their style of wrestling/fencing. Guess I'll be gone for a few days. ;)

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Did the gauls use savate kicks, you mean? No, they didn't. There's a general consesus on that.

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Yeah, I'm pretty sure such a feat would have been mentioned by the various Mediterranean commentators who saw the Celts in action.

 

And none of the pro-Celtic revisionist scholars out there, who are otherwise happy to credit the Celts with all manner of improbable achievements, have ever suggested they invented a western martial arts tradition.

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On 5/26/2011 at 5:30 AM, Melvadius said:

 

I would agree on this point. Having fought for several years under full contact Medieval Tourney rules I would only add that anyone trying to kick an oppenent while in full armour probably needs their head examined. If the ground is at all uneven or boggy you need to keep your feet firmly planted while swinging your weapons or defending yourself. Lose your footing and you literally are dead meat in the face of an armed and still firmly upright opponent.

 

BTW given how complete the protection was around the eye's on some medieval knights combat helmets eye-gouging would seem an activity with very limited currency - enough said B)

I'd like to chime in this is so wrong. Because not only did the Samurai and Chinese armies have leg attacks such as stomps on ankles and such in their sword systems while wearing full armor, but even armies that used plate mail such as the Ottomans and Indians used kicks in their sword system. Even sparring in full armor.  In addition you also forget dueling where ground is even and you seem oblivious that Viking swordsmanship often involved kicking an opponent's shield to knock it away or make a person unbalanced and fall to the ground. At the bare minimal make them lose balance enough for your sword or other weapon to KO them or exploit a weakness caused by your kicks, sweeps, stomps, etc on their shield or on their exposed leg so you can stab through their now exposed neck and other places as a result.

And of course you forget duels on fair even grounds where kicks become safer and common esp frontal stomp kicks done in the style of Leonidas at the start of 300 which was common as a follow up to sword strikes or to strike an exposed point at a precise moment when your enemy made a slip up in footwork.

 

BTW for someone who claims to have experience in fighting armor I am so surprised you are ignorant of the fact that not all nights fought in visors and to start with not all helmets have visors to start with. I mean Mongol systems have techniques for poking through a guys' eyes while fighting in full armor against each other with fingers. This is not counting the fact even knights who wore visors as much as possible did not necessarily wear it at all times and some times took it off when sight got dim such as smoke surrounding a castle's breach because of gunpowder explosion destroying the walls.

 

And again like kicks being used duels to the death which did not always have full sets of armor.

 

You also ignore that knights can do cartwheels and other acrobatic feats. Even in battle there are instances. So why is kicks so ludricrous?

 

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On 5/25/2011 at 8:52 AM, Ursus said:

 

 

I don't mean to come across as sounding ascerbic, but ... I think its all poppycock. What good are some karate kicks against a wall of shields and stabbing swords formed by the Roman legions? If Gauls fought this way against a legion in formation, they'd simply get their feet chopped off.

Except the Ancient Greeks esp the Spartans fought with kicks even in organized formation and even developed a brutal deadly techniques capable of hurting a man in armor under the right conditions with right timing, precise aim, and specific technique (not just leather and chainmail, but even plate armor) .

If the ancient Greeks,  in particular the Spartans, had a technique for breaking shields, what makes you think the Gauls and other groups didn't? Esp since the Romans used stomp kicks too.

Its a video game but they hired experts in ancient Roman Swordsmanship and historians of ancient Rome to help with a lot of the motion cap movements and in-game fight choreography and gameplay mechanics. As you see the ancient Roman martial arts Reconstructionists themselves say that kicks were used in Roman swordsmanship and Ancient Warfare.

 

You also are taking the kicking things by Gauls out of context. The Gauls still used their swords as primary weapons. But they used kicks as a strategy for disrupting enemies including those holding shields in a formation as well as part of a combo to prepare a killing blow or to knock an enemy down after failed sword attacks you throw fails to hurt him but leaves him vulnerable and often out of balance from proper stance. Not thrown as solo attacks as in a kung fu movie but used as a system in swordsmanship is how the Gauls probably used kicks as the Ryse video shows the Romans doing.

 

 

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On 5/25/2011 at 7:23 AM, caldrail said:

The gauls fought as pretty much any other iron age tribespeople. They yelled in a bloodcurdling fashion, rushed forward with a sword, and based their attack on intimidation and slicing motion. Don't underestimate the importance of the sword in celtic mythos. Such weapons often carried a mystical status, sometimes even magical, and form a popular sacrifice in water to find favour with the gods.

 

 

Just because swords were the primary weapon doesn't mean that they didn't know about stuff like elbow thrusts, stepping on an enemy's foot, and punching.

It may be a move and the setting takes place centuries after the fall of Rome but the specific choreographer in this movie not only has experience in ancient warfare stuff but the style he specifically used for the movie was primarily early dark ages from the Irish and Brittanic Isles. Which not only was an iron culture but plenty of tribes in the region still had plenty of Celtic roots in their lifestyle despite Roman colonialism. This is not counting the fact experts agree that the Irish from this time fought similar to the Gauls and other Celtic peoples albeit more organized but at least the swordplay was almost the same and the experts also specialized in Scottish and Welsh historical styles which have some lineages that surprisingly survive to day and both Scots and Welsh are of Celtic origins. So this should be an apt comparison to how Gaullic swordsmanship would have been (esp since Gauls were a Celtic culture) and as you see stomp kicks and such were used in the sword duels.

 

Nevermind the fact elbow thrusting attacks, soccer kicks, knee strikes, etc are common sense anyway and you don't need training to do them. They esp become completely fluid when you are holding a weapon, not even a sword but an improvised one like a heavy tree branch and brook stick since they are often the only way you can attack when both your hand are occupied by an object in fighting.

 

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Roman legionaries fought in specific styles. If we consider legionaries of the Gallic Wars, then they are using a weapon in the right hand - either a pilum or a gladius, as required - and a tall rectangular shield in the other. The shield is not exactly light, and Roman soldiers were punished if they dropped it. Of course the shield might well be used to impact an opponent, or if the soldier is quick witted enough, possibly even the edge might have seen some creative use unless the ranks were still well ordered.

In that era, soldiers were quite rigid in formation, always standing shoulder to shoulder with training to stab with the gladius at the face, legs, or lower torso of their opponent using the gap between shields (a more open style of fighting was a later development). I suppose in desperation or aggression soldiers might well try anything especially  if seperated from their companions, but Arrian records a fight between legions in which pushing and stabbing went on for a while before both units withdrew a short distance to regain their breath (where's the balletic changeover depicted in Rome?), before rushing back into the fray, neither side relenting, repeating this until one or the other side broke due to exhaustion or casualties.

Some fighting tricks were taught by gladiators, and some moves were added to the standard canon such as a kneeling upward thrust, but remember the context of the legionaries equipment and fighting styles. 

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