The European Historical Combat Guild

Investigating Europe's Historical combative methods and behaviours

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Protective gear and what it can do to how you perform...

Back on this subject! There are a number of discussions going on about this, and a few "names"have recently come out in favour of training with minimal or no protection, there is a growing number of people doing this. This post was originally written some weeks ago...

I read not long ago on a FB thread, someone saying that they had done some fencing recently. Announcing that is followed the "Safety Last" format which I took to be at least a slight dig at the on going moves by some to fence and spar in minimal no additional protective gear.
 Having said that it was fun and interesting he then pointed out that he lost by a certain number of points but then put that down in part to the lack of protective gear making him fence cautiously.

Aside from the idea that had the weapons been sharp and the intent to kill or maim, then he may have lost even sooner, with few hits against him,  I was struck again by the obvious disconnect revealed by the statement.

At what point would one not expect fight with sharp and potentially deadly weapons not to be carried out cautiously. Certainly in comparison to safe sparring and certainly where one was accustomed to wearing protective clothing.

The second disconnect for me was while acknowledging that the cautiousness was caused by difference between the normal and the new one but then not seeming to recognise or acknowledge that the current approach was at fault, instead rather blaming the way it had been most recently tested it, the one closer to the actual experience being trained for.

I'll try not to sound like a broken record;
  • If you are training for un-armoured fighting then you should fight un-armoured,
  • If you want to spar/fence/free fight (as opposed to training specific actions that may require protection), but do not have the confidence to do so with out adding lots of protective equipment then seriously consider whether you are at a level of skill to be considering free-play in the first place.
  • Remember that how you train conditions you on a deep level for what you expect to actually happen.
  • Don't forget that the mind set with the real potential for danger is going to be markedly different from when you feel safer. 
  • Remember to not confuse the built in flaw (the things one does so you and others don't get broken in training) for reality.
The comment in the thread sounded like someone who was shocked that having inly ever driven a car around an empty parking lot, suddenly stating their driving was worse when they drove on a busy street for the first time, because it made them more cautious and then kind of blaming the busy street.

We should bare in mind.

  • Wearing protective gear can not but change how you approach a dangerous situation.
  • Our forebears seem to have conducted training unprotected, at least when training for unprotected fighting.
  • The Guild advocates unprotected training as the main method.
  • If you feel that you can not train without protective gear, then look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. Or think on the skill level you have and what you are expecting to do.
  • Just because most people want to play sword tag, doesn't mean it is the only or best way to train.

Be safe be sensible be real.

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