european modernism

31 October 1517

Martin Luther nailed his ninety five thesis to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral. They were all written in Latin, the language of scholarship. However, it was not Luther’s intention for these to get out to the public. They were translated into German and spread without his knowledge. Luther’s intention was to reform the Catholic Church but things did not go exactly as planned. These would create a storm and kick start the Protestant Reformation.

anonymous asked:

Hi Samantha, I would like to ask for a method of practising more on reading the opponent and being slower. I feel like my skill in this is very unstable and escapes me sometimes. I feel like rushing is what I do most of the time, which usually ends up with me being dead.

Thanks for asking! This is a big subject. It is the result of what happens when people wear protective gear and lose fear of the blade, which makes it easy to become reckless when fighting. It is extremely hard to defend against an opponent who is reckless because they don’t hold back, but if you are smart in a real fight, then you will preserve some caution- especially with sharp blades. I don’t think that it’s your skill that varies, just the circumstances that you are learning in.

I think that you need a partner who wants to learn the same way, who is trying to develop the feeling in the blade. If one opponent moves faster then the other will follow so you really need to have someone who can agree to not try to “win” or try to be the fastest during a drill. You have to agree to move at the same speed, keep the bind until you have manipulated the other to a place that is safer for you. The goal is for you to learn together and not by taking advantage of the other in the relative safety of the drill.

This is all in aid of developing ‘fühlen’, or ‘feeling’ in the fight.

(For a good technical breakdown of fühlen within historical German martial arts, see Hugh Knight’s description here.)

Below: Half of the page from manuscript i:33 folio 20v, showing two fencers bound.

What I demonstrate when I teach is all centred on fencing from the bind. The historical treatises largely recommend binding and control, rather than rushing in. However the way that most of the modern sword-combat sports world* are fighting is the opposite, unfortunately. There is very little binding, even though it’s shown all the time in the fight books.

*Just what I mean: the wider international community of medieval sword-centred combat sports fighters, which comes in over a dozen forms and identities.

When fighting, if a person’s goal is to strike the other, they will rush in and be reckless. If their goal is to defend themselves from attack, they will be more conservative and efficient.

I think that part of the problem causing “rushing in” is that in modern competitive sword combat, we generally seek to score points in a hurry to win a bout.

If we changed the rules to be that we started with hit points and had to preserve them, it would make for more careful fencing. There would still need to be motivation for both parties to fight, but the focus would shift and reflect the more cautious approach seen in historical swordsmanship. The key is to still have a healthy fear of the other person’s blade. Then you learn how to be safe against the danger.

It’s the same as working with any hazardous equipment. In my industry, there are so many of these that we use all the time. For example, the table saw is a pretty devastating tool but you don’t replace it with a blunted or plastic version, or wear a lot of protection to work with it. Bulky clothes or thick gloves actually get in the way, and create more of a hazard than working with just a pair of earmuffs and safety glasses.

Instead, you just accept the potentially-fatal dangers of the tool and learn to work with it carefully, in a controlled, precise and mindful way.

Below: Carving polystyrene-foam into organic stone steps as a scenic sculptor for the film industry. I’m wearing chaps because the chainsaw can potentially kick-back, although since this is fine-detail work, the material is much softer than what I usually work with and less of a hazard. Note the fencing stance for stability, and the rotation of my body to agree with the angle of the cut.

I am not advocating an irresponsible approach to training with swords, rather to appreciate the full hazard they present and then learn to handle it.

What I’m talking about refers to historical swordsmanship in the context of self-defence, but there are many, many modern sword combat sports that exist that have already put safety factors in place to protect their athletes.

Not everyone can be good at sword sports. But anyone can be good at at fencing for self-defence.

I have experienced this kind of approach in more than a few sword clubs around the world. To see video examples of it in action you can check out Roland Warzecha/DIMICATOR’s YouTube channel, showing the active practice of swordsmanship using sharp steel and shields that as closely as possibly follow the specifications of museum artifacts.

Lastly, a philosophy that may help prevent rushing in:

You have to control your space, the circle (or sphere) around your body. This is the distance around you that you or your weapon can reach. Anything that is inside it is your space.

(This concept was developed extensively during the Renaissance though Italian and Spanish schools of fencing- the example below is from Sebastien Romagnan’s book on Destreza)

So when your opponent comes into that space, they can be in your control.
You are allowing them in. It’s the same for them- they are allowing you into their space. You just need to help them to make a mistake. Then once they make a mistake you can control them. Unless you also make a mistake, then you are both equal again. The best thing is to be efficient and make fewer mistakes than your opponent.

You can let someone into your space to trick them, or if you already have a better angle and they will struggle to defend. But it needs to be a clear decision to allow them that close to you.

If you practice understanding your circle (with and without a sword), and think about what you allow to come into it, it will give you an advantage when you practice with a partner. However, there is a lot you can do to improve your reflexes and self control for combat, explained in length by many other martial arts practitioners.

I hope that helps!

okay i started reading a book today and its like i was MEANT TO FIND IT…

cos heres how it broke down, after reading that holly black book, i went to rate it on good reads, and this book was suggested to me. i only saw the cover, but the cover alone is the reason i was like ‘ill read that’ and added it to my list:

those of you that have been around for a minute will know that whitewashing is my petpeeve, and that whitewashing book covers is an important subset of this. if theres a poc in the book, and they SHOW HER ON THE COVER, that book automatically gets my full focus (this is how i read another book ive been meaning to rec to yall), because while the trend in YA novels right now is to have white girls posing vaguely on the covers, youll know a book has a poc protag because they conveniently do not show a person on the cover

but this shit right here???? unambiguously a black girl with beautiful natural hair and a GORGEOUS cover and i fell in love right away

so, i saw this on good reads right before heading to work. and when i get there? this book has been put on display and i almost lose it lmao, im like YES. i literally dont know what this book is about, so i grab a copy from the display and sneak some peeks at it during slow times on the selling floor

turns out this book is literally about an afro-latina girl, a MIXED GIRL!! who is a painter turned street artist. this book is based in carribean folklore (yall know i love faerie shit but im always thirsty for non-european folklore in modern fantasy novels) and whats more??

anika noni rose (who, if you dont know, is the va for PRINCESS TIANA my hero ) literally is the first quote on the back of the book, with this raving review:

“I love this book for the richness of its culture, the strength of the characters, the humor and the truth of its language. Sierra is the heroine we’ve been waiting for – a pretty, brown-skinned Latina artist who is smart, strong, inventive, and unsure, all the while being heroic. Daniel José Older is one of my favorite new voices, and I can’t wait to see what he (and Sierra) come up with next.”

so im like, beside myself. i brought it home today and im already liking it a lot. im only 20 pages in and heres some facts:

  • introduced to several named characters, all of which are unambiguously poc with diverse presentation
  • the protagonist is a mixed black/latin@ girl, who wears her hair naturally in an afro and has a strong sense of community
  • her crew is all girls at this point
  • two of which are a poc lesbian couple!!!!!!!!!! (one half of which is a talented freestyle rapper)
  • the male lead is an artsy boy from haiti who seems sweet (and not creepy and forceful like ya male leads tend to be)
  • they talk to each other in casual aave that doesnt seem awkward and forced
  • painting and street art are an integral part of this story, as well as a sense of community (no convenient parental neglect so these teen protags can run around and do whatever while being strangely isolated)
  • im pretty sure the antagonist is gonna be a white guy that is a professor on their culture trying to claim their ancestor-art-magic and appropriate it for his own gain

im literally beside myself, i cant believe this book is a front of the line, mainstream novel. its (somewhat unfortunately) touted as cassandra clare meets carribean culture, but im hoping that this author takes off and claims a corner all his own without having to be defined by a mainstream white authors style

my hopes are so high i literally dont think theres a way for this book to disappoint me. 


Portuguese artist Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso (November 14, 1887 - October 25, 1918) 

Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso arrived in Paris in 1906 on his 19th birthday and became a prominent artist influenced both by cubism and by futurism. He became friends with Brancusi, Archipenko, Diego Rivera, Apollinaire and especially Modigliani, with whom he staged a joint exhibition in 1911. By then Souza Cardoso had already shown his work in the Salon des Independants. He would show there again in 1912 and 1914, as well as in the Salon d'Automne. After leaving the Parisian avant-garde to visit Portugal at the start of the First World War he was barred him from re-entering France due to Portugal’s neutrality. He virtually fell into obscurity and died from the the Spanish Flu epidemic at the age of thirty.