Sunday, October 5, 2008
ANDREW CHASE CUNNINGHAM, M. Am. Soc. C. E.*
DIED JANUARY 13TH, 1917.
* Memoir prepared by P. T. Chambers, M. Am. Soc. C. E. .
Andrew Chase Cunningham, the son of Thomas and Celeste (Chase) Cunningham, was born at Mohawk, N. Y., on February 15th, 1858. He was appointed to the
From October, 1885, to April, 1886, Mr. Cunningham occupied the position of Topographer on preliminary and location surveys of the Lincoln Branch of the Missouri-Pacific Railway, and from May, 1886, to September, 1887, he served as Draftsman with the Massillon Bridge Company,
From November, 1890, to May, 1892, Mr. Cunningham was Chief Inspector for Carnegie, Phipps and Company, of
In May, 1892, Mr. Cunningham associated himself with Charles F. Stowell, M. Am. Soc. C. E., at
Mr. Cunningham continued to serve in the Bureau of Yards and Docks as Principal Assistant to Admiral Endicott until April 6th, 1907, when he was ordered to the Navy Yard,
On July 10th, 1913, Mr. Cunningham left headquarters at
While on duty in the Bureau of Yards and Docks of the Navy Department, and previous to his detail as Civil Engineer Officer at
obtained letters patent on a floating dock of his own invention. He was, indeed, of an inventive turn of mind and secured patents on several of his ideas, one of the best known in the Navy being that for a coal-tar paint.
Mr. Cunningham was affectionately known as "Andy" by his friends and associates, and was universally liked. His genial nature, combined with his diplomatic spirit, caused him to be much in demand on boards of officers for the adjustment of disputes or for changes in contracts.
While at the
Mr. Cunningham was married, at Middleville, N". Y., on June 18th. 1879, to Miss Jessie E. Thomas. He is survived by his widow and two sons: John Howard Cunningham of
Saturday, March 15, 2008
" In these pages will be formulated a system of defense and attack with the cane which is simple, effective and easily understood, which may be acquired without the necessity of an instructor. A full comprehension of the system alone will be of use, and such practice as can be given to it will greatly increase its value."
That "without the necessity of an instructor" clause was the inspiration for the title of this post, which pops up in the marketing of instructional materials in diverse fields from time to time. Perhaps "Cane for Dummies" might be more current, whatever the case, the idea is that one can learn something , or teach themselves a subject, without recourse to a teacher, instructor or expert. Many approach such claims with healthy skepticism, which is well founded, as most of the time the things being studied are hard enough to learn with the benefit of an instructor.
Then from S&B:
"A military system of fencing should be simple, effective, and quickly and easily learned. Its transmission should be possible without a fencing master, and its principles so simple and correct that even one not greatly skilled can teach others to become skillful."
I don't need a fencing master? More from S&B: "This system is based on what may be called a natural or instinctive method, and the expansions which would most naturally follow from experience and observation. "
Experience and observation, you mean learn through experience and observation?
"From this general description of the proposed system the following manual and explanations will be readily comprehended and mastered by even those who have given no great attention to swordsmanship. "
I don't need to be an expert before I can work on my own?
But what if I start doing something that isn't "in the sytem"?:
"The fact should be recognized from the start that the work is of an individual nature and that the perfection of the individual is the object desired. Correct understanding and execution should be the aim rather than entire uniformity and the reduction of the matter to a mere form of drill."
Sunday, March 9, 2008
After the section on parries, there follows a series of sections on the following topics: return attacks, counter parries, feints, passing the cane and footwork. Each of these sections covers its topic in isolation; there is no discussion of how the topic at hand is integrated with any of the other previously covered topics. Additionally, these sections are relatively abstract as they tend not to discuss a topic in a specific application to a defined situation, but generally, without a context. Essentially ACC lays out the principles, fundamentals or underlying concept of each of the topics covered, without yet presenting the “canon” techniques of his system.
Following the section on footwork, a series of sections are presented, the titles of which suggest that perhaps some concrete technical material is to be revealed: ‘Attack and Defense’, ’Defense to Front’, ‘Defense to Right’, ‘Defense to Left’, ‘Defense to Rear’, ‘Defense in Two or More Directions’. However these sections, far from presenting any specific curricula, discuss the tactical considerations of the three guards (Left, Right and Double), in the directions named in the section titles. Having reviewed the vast majority of the text, there are still no specific lessons, or concrete response sequences to deal with defined attacks.
In fact, there are but two sections left in the text: ‘Special Cases’ and ‘Exercises’. ‘Special Cases’ describes responses to specific situations that ACC felt require detailed consideration: ‘Off Guard, Front or Rear Grapple’, ‘Guard Against a Dog’, and ‘Guard With the Hat’. With each of these special cases ACC comes closest to the “If this happens, respond as follows”, recipe-like approach of a great majority of self-defense texts. In the ‘Exercises’ section ACC finally presents a number (36 or 37) of specific action sequences, which ACC describes as “but a few of the combinations that can be made” , however he does so without context, or much in the way of description of the specific application of the sequences.
It is this final section (‘Exercises’) where it becomes clear that ACC is following the basic structure of a Mathematics or Physics text, where concepts, principles and fundamentals are presented for the student, followed by “problems” or “exercises”, for the student to put into practice the material previously presented to create “solutions”. If we look at the introductory paragraph for this section, there is support for this premise from ACC: “their practice (the exercise) will give a fuller understanding and appreciation of the system.” Consider also “A reasonable amount of practice will make self-defense with the cane an instinctive matter, should it be needed. “ Taken together with the statement in the beginning of the text that a teacher is “not required,” to acquire defensive skills, we see that ACC expects the student to formulate “solutions” by a study of the principles presented in the text.
It would seem that, analogous to the old parable from western spiritual traditions, ACC is teaching the reader how to “fish”, or think for himself, in order to come up with specific defensive solutions, instead of giving away a few “fish”, specific technical sequences.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Following the systematic nomenclature for striking and the analysis of target selection for strikes, CAAW moves to the topic of parries. The presentation of the basic parries by ACC, which have been discussed in previous posts, is a perfect example of the formulaic or conceptual approach. Without re-quoting ACC (relevant post here), suffice to say that unlike the classical approach common to most sword-based cane systems, with a specific and unique guard or ward for every strike, ACC simply proposes two motions which that may adapted to work against strikes to “the entire person.” It is up to the reader to work-out the “solution” (parry) to specific “problems” (attacks) using the principles presented in the text. As ACC writes in the introduction to CAAW:
“In these pages will be formulated a system of defense and attack with the cane which is simple, effective and easily understood, which may be acquired without the necessity of an instructor (underline added).”
Learning from training and study, without the necessity of an instructor or “master” is a sentiment which ACC expresses in S&B as well. For Example:
“A military system of fencing should be simple, effective, and quickly and easily learned. Its transmission should be possible without a fencing master, and its principles so simple and correct that even one not greatly skilled can teach others to become skillful.”
ACC clearly anticipated that many who were reading his works would be engaged in self-study, which was clearly acceptable in his thinking. In fact the possibility that such self-study may lead to individual differences in style was anticipated and encouraged by ACC. From S&B we have:
“The fact should be recognized from the start that the work is of an individual nature and that the perfection of the individual is the object desired. Correct understanding and execution should be the aim rather than entire uniformity and the reduction of the matter to a mere form of drill.”
Clearly the idea of a distinct “style” is not of a concern to ACC, as long as the underlying principles and (presumably) mechanics are sound, stylistic concerns can be ignored. This viewpoint (by ACC) is consistent with the idea that the style of CAAW is similar to a mathematics text. An approach which teaches principles and concepts to arrive at solutions for individual “problems”, as opposed to presenting individual solutions to every possible problem.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
It is the position of this author that ACCs’ presentation of his system of defense with the cane is expressed in the formulaic and principled style similar to that of an introductory math, physics, or engineering text. This proposed approach differs from the common, “recipe” approach of many modern and early texts on self-defense, where the content is presented in the format of “when the assailant does X, you do Y.” In this proposed “formulaic” approach, material is presented generally or abstractly with little or no reference to specific application or situations. Underlying rules and principles are described which can then be applied to specific concrete examples, much the way a physicist can apply the concept of friction to diverse physical phenomenon.
ACC’s topical presentation and writing style regarding methods of attacking exemplifies this formulaic or principled approach. Just sampling the topic headings of the relevant portion of CAAW is illustrative of this style (outlining format added by author):
1. Kind and Direction of Blows
c. Upper Cuts
d. Right Cuts, Left Cuts, Down Cuts
e. Diagonal Cuts
f. Circular Cuts
g. Back-handed Cuts
2. Character of Cuts
a. Snap Cuts
b. Half-arm Cuts
c. Full-arm Cuts
d. Swinging Cuts
e. Cuts in general
3. Points of Attack
ACC characterizes strikes abstractly, by direction, mechanical aspects of delivery, and then finally are targets (applications) discussed. It would appear that ACC is creating a classification scheme, or nomenclature, for cane or stick strikes, which is quite capable of being applied generally. If this was unintentional on the part of ACC, it still works well as a very comprehensive system of description for single-handed cane or stick strikes. For example, the “cinco tero” or “X” system common in many Phillipino systems can be described as a collection of diagonal cuts and a center jab or thrust. The “+” variation of the cinco tero is a collection of strikes comprised of left and right cuts, a downward cut, an uppercut and a center jab or thrust. (Authors note: having made the effort to apply “Cunningham nomenclature” to many cane, and stick, systems and I have found it a rather straightforward exercise).