Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Approaching the "Style" of CAAW II

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

Approaching the "Style" of CAAW I

Cunningham’s education in the Naval Academy surely included coursework in mathematics, such as geometry and trigonometry, required for navigation of ships in the age before computers. It is beyond question that his civil engineering education was also heavily focused on mathematics, including geometry and trigonometry. As an engineer ACC would be used to formulaic expressions (equations) as a means of describing physical events, as well relying on abstract principles to understand seemingly unrelated phenomena, Newton’s Laws for example.

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

a. Jabs

b. Thrusts

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).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Parries of AC Cunningham’s “The Cane as a Weapon” (Part IV)

In this section I intend to post some specific interpretations (based on my understanding) of Cunningham's parries to a representative sample of attacks (cut left, cut right, center thrust/jab, circular down blow).
Additionally I would highlight the conical nature of these parries.

There might be a clip of a continuous parrying training drill forthcoming.

Presumably these examples will go a long way to demonstrate that Cunningham's conical approach to parries in S&B is similar if not identical to his parrying system in CAAW, and does indeed provide cover for the entire person.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Parries of AC Cunningham’s “The Cane as a Weapon” (Part III)

An earlier work by Cunningham, "Sabre and Bayonet" (S&B), first published in the Proceedings of the US Naval Institute in 1906, has a great deal of insight to offer for understanding the parrying system of CAAW. The title of this earlier work is self-explanatory- it's a manual for training soldiers in the use of the sabre and bayonet for military combat. Presumably in creating his cane system Cunningham drew on his background in military swordsmanship, as expressed in S&B. As few would disagree that the cane system presented in CAAW has its roots in western sword methods, it should not be controversial to propose that Cunningham drew on his own approach to sword use in design of his cane system.

In S&B Cunningham presents a theoretical/conceptual basis for his approach to parrying with the saber:

“The defense is made by the partial development of a variable cone, or cones, the base being away from the body. In other systems the defense is made by the development of planes or warped surfaces after more or less intricate and unnatural motions.

No originality is claimed for this cone of defense, simply due and just recognition. The experts of all systems will resort to the cone of defense when hard pressed and their own system fails to be effective.

When a line or surface of attack is developed and is brought to intersection with a cone of defense before landing, the defense is effective and may be repeated or the attack reversed. The cones of defense are developed away from the body.”

While no mention of these “cones of defense” is made in CAAW, it can be demonstrated that the circular, upward parries in CAAW can indeed be recognized as traversing around a conical shape with the base away from the body. Looking at the juxtaposed photos of Cunningham presented earlier, “illustrating” parry right, a simple conical shape can be sketched between the starting and ending positions (which in the side-on view of the photos appears as a triangle), indicating that the parry does indeed describe a partial cone (shaded yellow).