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).

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