Musings on Fencing
a calm, lengthy, intent consideration
Over the years I read many great quotes that I want to keep. I find them useful and I wish more people could see them. Sometimes the individual wasn't talking about fencing but the statement is quite applicable.
I will organize this repository at some point. Till then, they are random.
"Fencing, like all the arts, must be studied with passion and seriousness. With the word 'modernism' they do not kill the great figures of fencing... The great ones remain in history, the small disappear, forgotten for always. The duel is ours. Long live classical fencing founded upon immortal customs!"
--Eugenio Pini, in a letter to Nedo Nadi, 1932
On earlier thinkers' theories on the first cause:
"These thinkers, as we say, evidently got hold up to a certain point of two of the causes which we distinguished in our work on nature--the matter and the source of the movement--vaguely, and with no clearness, but as untrained men behave in fights; for they go round their opponents and often strike fine blows, but they do not fight on scientific principles, and so these thinkers do not seem to know what they say; for it is evident that, as a rule, they make no use of their causes except to a small extent."
On the search for understanding through first principles:
"But the science which investigates causes is also more capable of teaching, for the people who teach are those who tell the causes of each thing. And understanding and knowledge pursued for their own sake are found most in the knowledge of that which is most knowable; for he who chooses to know for the sake of knowing will choose most readily that which is most truly knowledge, and such is the knowledge of that which is the most knowable; and the first principles and the causes are most knowable; for by reason of these, and from these, all other things are known, but these are not known by means of the things subordinate to them. And the science which knows to what end each thing must be done is the most authoritative of the sciences, and more authoritative than any ancillary science; and this end is the good in each class, and in general the supreme good in the whole of nature."
From Sifu Fong's first book on Gung Fu:
Student: Are classical and non-classical styles of Wing Chun separate styles?
Sifu Fong: Classical and non-classical are not separate styles; they are both combined in every style. To develop a good foundation, you must follow a step-by-step training procedure in order to get the best results. If someone doesn't want to put time into the basics, what I call classical, then he will never reach a high level, what I call non-classical. This is the same as a baby who doesn't know how to walk but wishes to run. Non-classical is that point you reach after many years of practicing the fundamentals. When you reach that level, you can use your own way to defend yourself, your own ideas. You control your own techniques.
Student: One more question, is there a difference between being a scholar and martial artist?
Sifu Fong: Definitely, because to be a scholar one must develop only intelligence. But to be a martial artist, one must develop a sharp mind and coordination, and this is more difficult.
Faculties that the pupil must have
First you need nerve, a lot of confidence,
Calm, cold-blood, perseverance.
One should also put pertinence
And discernment in each movement.
Although quick, the hand must always be light;
But it must especially be prompt and severe.
In these conditions you will understand then
That the mind can command the movements of the body.
In its activity, the arm must be free,
And the body, without stiffness, keep its balance.
A start decided with judgement,
Always makes the development easier.
But if you use force, roughness,
Abandon softness and suppleness,
You will never reach this ease,
And balance loses its solidity.
Anger harms you, as well as softness,
The soul loses action and the mind speed;
The mind becomes narrow, the body stiff,
Both body and mind will lack vigour.
Then, ambition comes to life by offence
The sword no longer tries to take defence.
And this trouble, born of anger, always
Drags the fencer into sword clashing.
With pain I see the great art of fencing
Weaken each day in public esteem;
May we save it, for it is drawing to the end!
Physique is all, the morale speaks in vain.
Systems of gymnastics created by taking 'the best from all' are to be shunned; first, because General Kinesiology recognizes no one system, unless it corresponds to the laws of gymnastics, and scientific gymnastics must always be the same the world over; second, because these so-called systems have all been gotten up by persons who knew next to nothing about the systems whose best elements they claim to have extracted, and certainly it is impossible to choose the best from that of which one knows scarcely anything.
Baron Nils Posse, 1890.
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
- Ira Glass
You need 100 percent honorable selfishness toward you. You're here to learn a tradition that goes back two millenia.
Combat for Stage & Screen Class in NYC