Guy Windsor asked some questions in his blog asking for replies you can find my streamed answers below. You may want to add your own replies to guys blog HERE
1) When is it ok to stab someone in the face with a sword?
When they are trying to stab you or someone in need of protection or assistance, in the face with their sword or other life threatening object.
2) What is the one thing you find most useful about swordsmanship training outside the salle?
Not sure I can qualify it down to one thing. Also I have in effect been doing this my whole life and without sounding too grand, I make no distinction of in or out of places where one is specifically training.. to me it's all degrees. The Principle or Principles that would be the most important, and to me they are flip sides of the same coin would be Awareness/Intent
3) How important is history to you in your practise of swordsmanship?
History is important for everything in my opinion , you can not truly know where you are unless you know from whence you came., whether as an individual, a society/culture or as a species. Given that the practice of historical martial skills is the resurrection of dead arts, without striving to make sense of the historical context that created them means that one is dealing with.... a zombie for lack of a better metaphor
4) Can a duel settle a matter of honour?
First define honour! wink emoticon The define the ways it can be attacked or diminished and then the ways that it would be ok to defend or regain those notions of honour. Perhaps If one can define what it is then it may be possible to deal with in the infringement of ones personal honour by someone else who shares that view point with a physical contest. From my feelings of honour, and in the modern world we live in I find it hard to reconcile a notion of honour with a physical contest, of a duel, which is a Monkey Dance (see Rory Miller) with cultural trappings layered on in am attempt to make it more acceptable. In the Historical context I can understand the aspects that drove people to duel, as notions of self defence , or the defence of self then encompassed both he notion of defending ones physical self and well being and the self by which you identified yourself and held your position in society. To quote from El Cid, "Can a man (person) live without honour?" Perhaps and perhaps not but then the question is At what point can anyone other than yourself be held responsible for it or harming it. It is my thesis that when people talk about matters of honour it s not to do with personal honour but rather social reputation. One then also needs to consider the social aspect that produces the notion of reputation/honour
5) Can violence be beautiful?
Define Violence and define beauty, then define the context within which those aspects are taking place. The violence of nature, a storm, raging seas or rivers can have a beauty when viewed from the outside. The appreciation of the beauty can soon disappear once inside it or on the receiving end of it. But then we have to consider how one is accustomed to the nature fo the violence were discussing. I would put forward that aspects of the physicality of violent actions etc can have a beauty of efficiency and effect in the notion of how it neutralises the danger, threat or situation. But if we are discussing the violence in the sense of what it actually does to other living beings, and leaving then broken maimed or dead, and ourselves and our surrounding covered in the gore a bodily fluids.... if we find that beautiful.... well what does that make us
6) To what extent is the practice of swordsmanship the cultivation of virtue?
First define virtue or rather virtues. The practice of any skill, especially one that involves person risk will or should cultivate discipline and awareness, and a clarification of Intent amongst other things, if only in the field being studied. Whether that bleeds over and affects the individual outside of the field will depend on the individual.
7) Is the study of ethics necessary for martial artists?
The consideration of ethics is something we as humans should all do. As people developing the skills and mindsets for harming, crippling and killing people then it is of even more importance, for if we don't then we are just playing at it like fantasists playing make believe. There is the argument put forward that not all the arts we study were intended with such serious goals, but even then if we do not consider the actuality of the game that were are playing then we are just as bad.
This is from the Japanese text The Sword and The Mind translated by Hiroaki Sato
This work is a synthesis of the ideas of 3 swordsmen of the 16th in to the 17th Centuries, Hidetsuna, Muneyoshi and Munenori
"Give special attention to the movement of your opponent's eyes. It is even said that you must make it your own. Unless you can follow your opponent's eye movements with absolute calm, whatever you may have learned about sword handling will be of no use."
While one could apply a more open or vague interpretation to this, for me the intent is pretty clear.
This is from Matthew J. O'Rourkes A New System of Sword Exercise, with a manual of the sword for Officer (1872)
In making the cuts, care should be taken to extend the arm, to keep the thumb on the back of the grip, to keep the hand well in front of the centre of the body, and fix your eyes* steadily on those of your opponent.
*many authors lay down the rule that their pupils shall "glance" at the part of the person they intend to direct a cut or point. The absurdity of this must be apparent to the merest tyro. To do this would be equivalent to giving a verbal notification to guard a certain place, and would would be utterly opposed to the vital principles underlying the entire practice. The great aim of those which desire to excel as swordsmen should b to so far disconnect th hand from the eye that the muscular movement of the one will have no perceptible effect on the other. This can only be acquired by long practice, and so great is the advantage to be derived from it that when swordsmanship was at its zenith , and the first gentlemen the world staked their lives in the skull and dexterity with which they could wield their swords, it was deemed the very acme of the art to be able to deliver a "pass" without any movement of the eyes.