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.