Posts from July of 2008

And Yet the Blade

Posted July 14, 2008

In our day and age many historically favored pastimes are rejected in favor of more "sophisticated" amusements. One example is the art of Celtic dance as preserved in the still practiced Scottish Country dance. Though there are thousands of practitioners worldwide, this art by and large has fallen off in favor of more modern "dances". It was enjoyed by people of all ages at various social functions. It provided simple dances for beginners and young ones, and yet still had compelling numbers for those whose greater skill called for more challenge. This has always led to personal development in both physical and mental realms (believe me, Scottish dance can be quite a mental en devour).

Another example of such a historical pastime is the age-old art of fighting with the longsword. The original weapon we here refer to was developed by the Germans and was used to great effect against Roman invaders in instances such as the little known battle of Touteberg forest. Germany having once included the modern nations of France and Spain (among others) as well as exerting a heavy influence on Great Britain by the Anglo-Saxon migrations may also take credit for later derivations of the weapon throughout Christendom. The most well known variant must be the standard European longsword popularized sometimes as "the crusader sword". It had a straight, broad blade, a cross-guard for protecting the hands, and a somewhat thinner blade than the length and breadth of the weapon would seem to demand, relying rather on precise geometric patterns to absorb the force of an opposing object (weapons, armor, etc).

Another well known strain of this line of weapons is found in Scotland. This weapon (known as the highland claymore) was rather shorter than other longswords in use throughout the middle ages, probably due to the marshy and mountainous nature of the territory it was generally used in. The claymore also had a distinction in the design of the cross-guard in that rather than branching out from the weapon at a right angle the two arms rather bent toward the blade at a varying degree, presumably to allow greater freedom to the wrists in combat. The shortness of the weapon inevitably led to its being lighter than the normal variant and therefore would render itself more easily balanced causing the claymore to be a faster and more agile (if not stronger) blade.

The great exception to this pattern is the famed Wallace sword. Named so after its owner William Wallace, this monster was more than a foot longer than its contemporary counterparts, probably due to the fact that the owner was himself of prodigious size and of legendary strength. This weapon when wielded by its master, would cleave through raised sword, shield, arm, helm, and skull.

In contrast modern fencing incorporates the techniques and weapons of a somewhat later period, namely the rapier and sabre. As firearms caught on, broadswords such as the claymore and other European longswords became cumbersome in a battlefield quickly being ruled by the speed of the warrior rather than the temper of his steel. The rapier was a straight, one-handed weapon used primarily for thrusting and sometimes useless for cutting except in cases of extremely tough steel. The sabre or saber as it's more commonly spelled today was designed as a cutting or slashing weapon. It was often fashioned as a backsword meaning it only had one sharpened edge and sometimes with a curve. This curve would shorten the length of the weapon making it more mobile without decreasing the actual blade length. These were a favorite amongst cavalry. The three categories of modern fencing are foil, epee (both taken from the rapier I believe), and the sabre. The actual weapons wielded by practitioners of this more modern art are merely stout wires with electronics wired in (for scoring).

The weapons I started learning longsword with (see my other sword post) were fashioned from two hockey sticks due to the toughness of the wood and that we just happened to have two lying around. They were measured for size based on a standard highland claymore. Even though these are much lighter than steel one half-hour's exercise will try one's arms sorely. Just this simple practice has given me a greater respect for my ancestors who wielded such a blade. We have recently acquired padding for the blades, allowing us to start full-force, full-speed training.

Fighting with longswords gives a greater appreciation for one's ancestors as well as strengthening the body and mind of the combatant. I hope to continue with my siblings and perhaps introduce other friends and relatives into this enjoyable exercise.

Bullets That Don't Shoot

Posted July 08, 2008

Airsoft is seen by some as merely entertainment, something to be done in pursuit of fun. Some would even criticize it as promoting a dangerously aggressive attitude and violence. Others view it as a tool to be used for introduction into the real and often needed world of firearms. Airsoft in short is often misunderstood as merely a game.

But first some history. Airsoft was invented by Japanese gun enthusiasts who were prohibited from using firearms due to gun control laws. Instead of giving up their manly exercises they invented a harmless weapon that simulated the action of its real counterpart. This is why most airsoft guns are modeled directly after real-world firearms. This has caused some concern that these 'toys' might lead to dangerous consequences with law enforcement. Airsoft eventually was adopted by other countries but Japan is still known as having the highest quality weapons (and possibly the most expensive).

One popular way to do airsoft is "mil-sim" which is where they simulate real military action, sometimes from historical conflicts such as WWII.

Although I see airsoft as an enjoyable pastime, I don't see it as an alternative to real firearms, nor merely a pleasure pursuit. Airsoft in my opinion should be used as a training tool for potential armed conflict. Historically, those who possess the ability to defend themselves come out victorious while those who allow this freedom to be restricted are eventually subjected to the worst tyrannies. Therefore I believe that all people, men, women, young, and old should train themselves (as age-appropriate) to defend themselves both in armed combat with firearms, blades, etc, and unarmed using martial arts such as krav maga, jujitsu, and muay tai.

One application for airsoft is in studying tactics. I made the point to one skeptical friend that you can't shoot a real gun at people (referring to training partners, not attackers). By having such weapons one can simulate firefights and train in scenarios using squad tactics and communication. All for a lower price than buying the real thing. Some might point to "simunition" as an answer to both problems but again, simunition and real firearms are more expensive than airsoft guns and 6mm plastic BBs. Also, you can't give a 6 year old boy an AR-15 to teach him about firearms since it's not an age-appropriate tool. A better choice would be to buy a low-power airsoft gun and let him practice tactics, safety, and handling techniques. Then once he has mastered these he can graduate to learning how to handle a real firearm. This is where I think airsoft would be most useful.

Young people can gather locally to "play" airsoft and learn squad tactics and safety together. Then should a real conflict come they would not only know the tactics and communication routines, they would already be prepared to operate side by side.

Governments naturally fear an armed populace. It endangers their dreams of absolute control. Our founding fathers dreamed of a strongly decentralized country where each man would defend himself and when needed band together with his neighbors for a common purpose. Modern philosophies have striven for decades to replace this concept with a strong centralized, all-knowing, all-seeing, benevolent state. Christians especially should recognize that man in his fallen state can not be trusted. He must be held accountable whatever his status, be it peddler or president or supreme court justice. All have fallen short. We must not put our trust or fear in what man can do.

Fact or Fiction?

Posted July 01, 2008

Works of fiction are sometimes criticized as being irrelevant for a Christian trying to spend their time doing for Christ. However I would point out that such works open doors for rather intriguing intellectual study.

Let's take fantasy for instance. By creating a new universe with its own laws of nature (and super-nature) the author now has greater freedom to take his readers into usually unattainable regions of thought. This is why the fantasy genre is often so attractive, especially to young people. It gives another plane of existence to understand.

Modern fiction as most of you know is rapidly deteriorating. This has added to the unflattering perception of this style. In spite of that, this author still maintains that fiction should not be condemned merely for being fiction. Christ spoke in parables which were fictitious stories. Might not a lesser person use the same medium? We are created in the image of God let us not forget.