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So You Think You Can Fence

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Ninja
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Contestants in this elimination style competition face cinematic martial arts challenges of increasing difficulty, from one on one battles to taking down the Crazy 88.

Opponents, who wear sensors to accurately detect disabling hits use practice equipment and are drawn from the pool of applicants

theircompetitor, Sep 12 2012

Linacre School of Defence http://www.sirwilliamhope.org/
For [DIYMatt] [pocmloc, Sep 12 2012]

No tank charge? http://www.guardian...lish-cavalry-charge
[normzone, Sep 12 2012]

Pedant moment - cavalry vs calvary http://wiki.answers...cavalry_and_calvary
I had to learn this one the hard way myself..."Calvary is the name of a place, the hill where Christ was said to be crucified. Cavalry is a term used to describe horse-mounted soldiers" [normzone, Sep 12 2012]

Gethsemane http://www.poetryfo...ion.org/poem/176148
Rudyard Kipling [8th of 7, Sep 12 2012]

US Cavalry Scouts https://en.wikipedi...into_Pozorrubio.jpg
There was still quite a lot of cavalry around duing WWII. The last cavalry charge by the US Army was as late as 1942 during the battle of Bataan. [DrBob, Sep 13 2012]

Polish Cavalry http://www.polamjou...h/cavalry_myth.html
Not quite as suicidal as they have been portrayed. [DrBob, Sep 13 2012]

'Flashman at the Charge' by George MacDonald Fraser http://www.amazon.c...d=1347622407&sr=8-1
[DrBob, Sep 14 2012]

The SCA http://en.wikipedia...reative_Anachronism
[CraigD, Sep 14 2012]

Dagorhir http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagorhir
[CraigD, Sep 14 2012]


       Does anybody know the history of why fencing is a [legitimate] sport but sword fighting isn't? Fighting with actual, blunt swords sounds like a lot more fun. When you're a kid the adults will come and stop you from putting an eye out, and when you're an adult nobody else seems to want to swordfight. What's up with that? </rant>
DIYMatt, Sep 12 2012

       // Fighting with actual, blunt swords sounds like a lot more fun //   

       In fact, blunt swords aare about as far from fun as it's possible to get.   

       Cavalry swords do not in fact have a sharp edge. They are long, heavy, and blunt. If they were sharp, the blade would cut through tthe victim and might jam in bone. This could cause the rider to be unhorsed.   

       Thus the cavaly sabre is designed to inflict massive crush and impact injuries, but bounce off so as to remain under the rider's control.
8th of 7, Sep 12 2012

       Refreshing to get some serious info 8th of 7th. I could never understand from my knowledge gleaned from movies, why horses were not shot from under the riders during a cavalry charge. They make much larger targets surely and a cavalry soldier will look pretty sheepish on foot charging from a couple of hundred yards away.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 12 2012

       I hate bloodless sports. Unless it is my own blood being shed.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 12 2012

       Infantry weapons- even en masse- are surprisingly ineffective against a fast-moving target like a horse. To traverse a rifle and hold an aim is not easy; rifles are typically designed for accuracy at longer ranges, the essence of which is a stable weapon that can be held very still.   

       The usefulness of cavalry was ended by the advent of barbed wire and machine guns.
8th of 7, Sep 12 2012

       //Does anybody know the history of why fencing is a [legitimate] sport but sword fighting isn't?//   

       It's called kendo, and enjoys a modicum of popularity in Japan at least.
ytk, Sep 12 2012

       [8th] do you have any evidence for that? When rifles were introduced to warfare the old-fashioned tactic of charging with men or horses resulted in casualty rates like ~9000 killed and ~37000 wounded (plus 3000 dead horses) at the Battle of Gettysburg.
DIYMatt, Sep 12 2012

       // Does anybody know the history of why fencing is a [legitimate] sport but sword fighting isn't? //   

       Modern fencing (which, as practiced by the SCA, encompasses three different forms: foil, epeé (sp?), and saber), has its roots in the middle renaissance, when gentleman of means no longer found it necessary to resolve their differences by dueling to the death (because money and politics are more effective weapons) and began 'dueling for fun'. Like most things that start out serious and evolve into a game, style and technique gradually became more important than the need to kill your opponent as quickly and efficiently as possible.   

       'Real' swordfighting, however, is still alive and well (by this I mean midieval-Europe battlefield fighting, using broadswords and stout shields; Kendo is very different, but no less 'real'). The SCA uses rattan weapons, but there are semi-underground groups that fight with 'live' blades: real swords with filed edges and blunted points. They hurt like a bastard. Whether the participants use rattan or live steel, real swordfighting is brutal, unglamorous, and the fights rarely go on for more than a minute, diminishing the appeal as a spectator sport (but it sure is fun!).   

       // why horses were not shot from under the riders during a cavalry charge. //   

       They frequently were, but usually not deliberately. There was a certain amount of 'gentlemen's honor' involved in this, but more significant is the fact that horses were a valuable commodity; if you shoot the horse, all you have is more tough, bitter meat than you can carry with you or eat in one sitting, but if you shoot a man off of his horse, you can then take his horse for yourself. Free horse!
Alterother, Sep 12 2012

       // do you have any evidence //   

       The development of the rifled musket increased the effective range of infantry weapons, but not the rate of fire. Springfield-pattern rifles loaded with Minié balls pushed out combat ranges and increased casualties especially when couples with the "mass" tactics employed in warfare up to 1815. The era of "classical" or Napoleonic warfare is generally considered to end at Waterloo (Where the Brits and their allies gave the filthy frogs another right bashing, as usual).   

       But the rate of fire didn't change. Tactics were slow to adapt. In Napoleonic warfare, cavalry fulfilled several roles; as scouts, as a fast mobile reserve, as a flanking force, and as "shock troops". Before the advent of motor vehicles, the horse represented the only method of giving forces cross-country mobility at reasonable speeds. Some mounted troops used horses for mobility, like (originally) dragoons, who dismounted and engaged on foot.   

       The US Civil War is the first modern or "industrial" war, where technological capability and manufacturing capacity began to have a really significant impact. The war started with muskets, mass maneuver and muzzle loading cannon and ended with rail-mounted artillery, machine guns, breechloaders and aerial observation.   

       As [Alt] points out, horses - especially in war - were particularly valuable. And the reluctance of soldiers to kill an animal should not be discounted; after all, the horse itself is not an "enemy". In societies that were still predominantly rural and unmechanized, the perception and value of horses was very different.   

       Many of the equine casualties were probably caused by poor tactics on the part of commanders, and by the growing impact of crew-served weapons, perhaps firing explosive ammunition.   

       In WW1, cavalry was present but rarely able to be deployed effectively. But horses were used as draft animals by all forces in huge numbers, and even in WWII the German army was highly reliant on horse power.   

       Some figures:   

       A smoothbore musket has a semi-accurate range of about 100m, and a horse can gallop at 40km/h. The musket takes 30 sec to reload, and the horse covers 100m in ten seconds or less. So the infantryman has basically one shot, and before he's reloaded the cavalry are on him. Push the range out to the 400 or 500m of a rifled musket and he might get two aimed shots, even three.   

       A Vickers or an MG07 can fire up to 600 rounds a minute and keep that up for hours at a time.   

       Cavalry charges are not effective against infantry in prepared positions, but against a formation in the open field they can be devastating ... until the advent of fully automatic weapons, which can deploy a "curtain" of fire which will kill anything, man or beast, that it touches.
8th of 7, Sep 12 2012

       Thanks to the Poles, we also know for certain that horse calvary is not effective against tanks.   

       <note: typo left in place for posterity purposes>
Alterother, Sep 12 2012

       Obtaining that data was tragically expensive, however.   

       While there is no substitute for a practical test, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the relevant commanders should have considered their tactics in the light of evidence available some twenty years previously.
8th of 7, Sep 12 2012

       [Alterother], are you certain you don't mean "cavalry" ? (link)
normzone, Sep 12 2012

       What a dreadful faux pas. I'm rather disappointed that it was not met with more ridicule.   

       I've read two separate anecdotal accounts, one 2nd-hand and one 1st-hand-by-proxy, stating that the Polish cavalry commanders believed the German tanks to be wooden mock-ups mounted on truck chassis. Even if it is true, I can't imagine how they thought it would make a difference.
Alterother, Sep 12 2012

       [norm], considering the historic implications of" Calvary" in relation to suffering nobly endured, [Alt] may well be correct.   

8th of 7, Sep 12 2012

       Was there a specific battle responsible for causing the demise of Cavalry units and were they more or less universally disbanded overnight?
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 13 2012

       Not really. Tradititionalists stuck with horse cavalry long after the advent of mechanized warfare made it woefully obsolete. In addition to the aforementioned suicidal charge of the Polish cavalry unit against a German Panzer formation in '39 (which is officially regarded as apocryphal but is mentioned in so many memoirs and first-hand accounts that it is most likely true to some degree), the United States Army, widely considered to have been the most-mechanized mechanized military service of WWII, only traded in their horses for armored cars, trucks, and half-tracks in 1938-'41. Many former mounted-cav soldiers, especially those in recon units, used every excuse they could think of to saddle up when they found horses on the battlefield.   

       Mounted cavalry units are still around today, although they are strictly for ceremonial purposes. Modern cavalry troopers ride around the battlefield in helicopters and armored personnel carriers, although many still bear the image of a horse on their unit insignia.
Alterother, Sep 13 2012

       In 1914, during the retreat from Mons- right at the start of the war- the action at Néry showed the vulnerability of cavalry in modern warfare.   

       Both sides maintained large forces of cavalry throughout the war, but circumstances in which they could be used in their intended role of exploitation of a breakthrough occurred very rarely; only during the retreat of the German army in late 1918 did Allied cavalry forces have an opportunity to make themselves useful.   

       Following the war, many cavalry regements were converted to armoured units, or into "mechanised cavalry" using armoured cars to allow them to act as scouts.   

       Soviet forces used ponies during several winter campaigns to provide superior mobility to their troops, but the men would dismount short of the FEBA and move into contact on foot or skis.   

       Oh, and what [Alt] said.
8th of 7, Sep 13 2012

       WWI & WWII marked not only the end for mounted cavalry, but also the relegation of horses from the front lines to the baggage train. The US Army used horses for transport purposes as late as the Korean War, though not widely.
Alterother, Sep 13 2012

       During the WW2 the Germans built a GHQ Officer's Mess with stables attached for around six horses. This was in the Suez Canal Zone, presumably for the top brass. I would imagine the horses would have been for recreational purposes rather than military.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 13 2012

       //I would imagine the horses would have been for recreational purposes rather than military.//   

       Well, the battlefield can get /so/ lonely at night.
ytk, Sep 13 2012

       The scottish officers would have preferred sheep.
neelandan, Sep 13 2012

       Believe T. E. Lawrence favoured a camel hump.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 13 2012

       // the Germans built a GHQ … in the Suez Canal Zone. //   

       Can you cite a source for that? There's a suubstantial body of evidence that indicates that they didn't get quite that far East …
8th of 7, Sep 13 2012

       I was attached to this particular Officers Mess in '54. It was common knowledge the three GHQ Officer's Messes were constructed by the German military.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 13 2012

       //I was attached to this particular Officers Mess //

Ah, yes. Easily done if you aren't used to using a hammer & nails on a regular basis. Putting up a notice or something were you?
DrBob, Sep 13 2012

       // Germans built a GHQ Officer's Mess with stables attached for around six horses. //   

       I too question the geographical veracity of this statement, given that the English held eastern Egypt as tenaciously as they have since held the notion that Monty was a brilliant tactician and not simply a bumbling, self-aggrandizing opportunist, but I also posit that, given the nature of the Afrika Korps' supply difficulties, this was not a stable but was in fact an open-air meat locker.
Alterother, Sep 13 2012

       "Free French soldiers participated in the Allied North African campaign, in Libya and Egypt."   

       Well, that would explain it ...
8th of 7, Sep 13 2012

       "Many former mounted-cav soldiers, especially those in recon units, used every excuse they could think of to saddle up when they found horses on the battlefield."   

       Having owned several horses and been foolish enough to train a wild mustang, I can understand that.
normzone, Sep 13 2012

       Having had to pay for keeping just one horse, we can not.
8th of 7, Sep 13 2012

       Having been stepped on by a horse, I'm leaning towards barbequus.
FlyingToaster, Sep 13 2012

       No Dr. Bob. No Hammers or nails, I trained as an indentured apprentice chef at a London Hotel for five years and was then called upon by Her Majesty to unleash my gut wrenching, sewer blocking skills on unsuspecting British Officers in the Canal Zone. Claims I was a mass murderer were never proved. The Officer's toilet block however enjoyed a prolonged rise in popularity during my period of duty. I neither asked for or sought written confirmation the buildings had been German at the time, as you don't, taking instead the word of senior ranks as Gospel. The stable block was, however, real, with the rear wall providing the opportunity for a blessed relief on many an occasion for lads returning from a night on the town. I kid you not.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 13 2012

       Ah … it is indeed possible that the establishment was constructed by German POWs.
8th of 7, Sep 13 2012

       Of this I know not, Suffice to say it was soundly constructed using permanent materials. Now on a different tac. I recently viewed a screening of The Charge Of The Light Brigade, with Errol Flynn, where he led a troop and galloped into the fray from what I suspect would have been be a goodly distance and wondered how far it would be between Balaclava and the then Indian border. Mayhap you are able to enlighten me?
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 13 2012

       You should read 'Flashman at the Charge' (by George MacDonald Fraser), wherein our hero makes exactly that journey.
DrBob, Sep 14 2012

       Thank you for that, I shall endeavor to do so.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 14 2012

       linky. Enjoy! Your life will never be quite the same again.
DrBob, Sep 14 2012

       // Does anybody know the history of why fencing is a [legitimate] sport but sword fighting isn't? // Though not an Olympic, pro, nor School (at least any I've seen) sanctioned sport, I've had great fun having pretty serious sword fights, one-on-one, team melee, and big (200+) "wars", in 2 different club/societies: the SCA, where the swords etc are thick and blunt but hard, so helmets and armor are required, and Dagorhir (see links), where the swords etc. are padded, so they aren't. If this sounds like fun, go and watch/join in - both groups are pretty widespread in N. America, and usually a friendly, welcoming lot.
CraigD, Sep 14 2012

       Craig D. Sounds like fun. I dare say it would attract a certain following. For me though, the prospect of getting continually thwacked with a missile wielded by a stranger of questionable self restraint has about as much appeal as being hit by a lynch pin aimed squarely at the middle of my forehead with a force to cause what little brain I possess to ooze from each ear.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 15 2012

       // Having been stepped on by a horse, I'm leaning towards barbecues.// Make sure you cut the head and tail off and wipe it's bum first.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 15 2012

       As incontrovertible proof of the certifiable insanity of horse owners, not only do they engage in the highly dubious activity of keeping a half-tonne block of muscle practically as a domestic pet, they then proceed to weaponize it by nailing bloody great lumps of steel to its feet.   

       #include <EOSSAHR.H>
8th of 7, Sep 15 2012

       Owning a horse means you commit to daily care of a high maintenance animal which will over its lifespan require the same of you as the humans in your life. Nothing insane about people who shoulder all that, better than people who only stable an X Box.
Phrontistery, Sep 15 2012

       // the same //   

       Sp. "considerably more".   

       Humans don't get ill if you just look at them and then require stupefyingly expensive visits from the vet. Humans don't need the farrier every 6 weeks. Humans don't require huge amounts of feed lugging in, and the resultant steaming heaps of manure carted away. At 5 years old, many humans are capable of washing themselves, feeding themselves, dressing themselves. Horses are totally dependant throughout their lives.   

       As companion animals, dogs are infinitely superior. As transport, they are slow, hideously uncomfortable, and ridiculously expensive. As a means of converting hard- earned cash into bugger all, they are unsurpassed.   

       There is, however, a place for the horse in the modern world, and it's inside a ring-pull tin labelled "Meaty chunks in jelly".   

       Horse lovers are not insane in the accepted sense of the word. It's just that inside their tiny branes, instead of "common sense" they have a little sign that says "Horses. What a good idea".
8th of 7, Sep 15 2012

       The (very basic) cost of humans over a lifespan is paid for either weekly or monthly via your paycheck. Add to that the variable and often significant oncosts which occur in general living and the detrimental picture you're trying to paint, 8th of 7, becomes rather different. By all means have your prejudices but support them with all the facts.
Phrontistery, Sep 15 2012

       //dogs are infinitely superior. As transport, they are slow, hideously uncomfortable, and ridiculously expensive//   

       I think we can all agree with the second and third of the four points raised above, anyway.
pocmloc, Sep 15 2012

       All very true observations. In my experience, with few exceptions, it is the female of our species who is the villain of the piece, infusing dreams of owning a house on a ten acre block of land on unsuspecting hubby during the pre marriage ritual. That achieved, the Wiley creature embarks on reading aloud ads for horses from the morning newspaper at the breakfast table. Ponies for children, the best tackle,riding habit, latest upmarket horse float and towing vehicle follow, with weekend relaxation a forgotten dream for the next ten years as trips to pony clubs and gymkhanas take precedence.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 15 2012

       Strange how the bitterness and resentment never fades …
8th of 7, Sep 15 2012

       //Crouching Trellis, Hidden Haha// [marked-for-tagline]
FlyingToaster, Sep 15 2012

       Interesting to note that of the many varied submissions on the subject, little information has been offered on the scimitar sword about whether they were considered superior or inferior to the saber in battle.
Lesser Spotted Kiwi, Sep 15 2012

       I read somewhere that scimitars were curved to avoid the whole 'sticking in bone while riding without having to sacrifice sharpness' angle... and that katanas curve from the folding process when making the blade.   

       I don't know for certain if either of those statements are true.   

       Not another attempt at a logical fallacy...
Phrontistery, Sep 15 2012

       Did I end my first attempt?   

       Now you mention it...
Phrontistery, Sep 16 2012

       Hey, hey ! We were here first ! There's a queue, you know. Take a numbered ticket and stand in line like everyone else …
8th of 7, Sep 16 2012

       Churchill is said to have coined Queuetopia (1950), to describe Britain under Labour or Socialist rule.   

       He let's me call him Winston.
Well, he doesn't stop me from calling him Winston anyway.

       Scimitars and katanas are both curved to maximize the length of the cutting edge, due to the sweeping, fluid slashing style for which they are designed. Straight-edged swords are either designed for a brutal perpendicular hacking attack (midieval broadsword) or for straight, quick thrusting (the Roman gladius). Think of the difference between slicing a tomato and chopping through a side of beef. They are weapons with different intended applications, both equally deadly.
Alterother, Sep 16 2012

       What if you want to slice a beef tomato ?
8th of 7, Sep 16 2012

       6.8mm spc
Alterother, Sep 16 2012


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