salvianus: (Default)
Wonderful morning's practice - I love the hols. When my little garden is quiet, it's like a little piece of paradise. My arms are longer than they were last week :-)

One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practise the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train.
Morihei Ueshiba
salvianus: (Intercisa)
Now there's a snappy title. Just marshalling some previous thoughts, any comment welcome.

Reading Maurice's Strategikon, translation by George Dennis, Maurice advises that the heavy infantrymen of each 'arithmos or tagma' (units of 2-400) should have shields of the same colour (Book XII:B4), implying that by the end of the 6th Century in the Eastern empire larger units did not routinely have identical shields for a legion or other large unit.

However, they may have had different colours with the same device: For the main force of cavalry, the emphasis is understandably upon the flags, which are to have a specific field colour for each meros (division of 6-7,000), specific streamer colours for each moira (2-3,000) within the meros "so that each individual tagma may easily recognise its own standard. Other distinctive devices known to the soldiers should be imposed on the fields of the flags, so that they may easily be recognised according to meros, moira and tagma." (Book I:2) - this does imply a unique device for each tagma within the moira.

However: "In each meros the flags or standards of each tagma should be fairly small and easy to carry.... The only distinctive feature should be in their streamers. But the flags of the moirarchs should be larger and of different design." It goes on to say that the flags of the merarchs, lieutenant general and general should all be distinctive. (Book II:14) This may be read that the tagmas have a common design, but that 'only' might be merely emphasising that field colours were common within a meros.

In his paper on Byzantine Flags, it seems that Dennis describes how more streamers were used for larger units, up to eight. The devices included circles, squares and, particularly, crosses. I'd like to get hold of it to check it out.
salvianus: (Default)
Training feels much more pleasant from one's armchair afterwards :-)

Had a great sparring session with Victor this morning. He was patiently improving on my defensive use of the shield, largely through not opening up every single time! I'm still slow to step back when a blade comes over the top and I have a strong habit of stepping into the classic diagonal attack from the right shoulder - oberhau rechts - as if I was meeting Yokomen-uchi with Kokyu-nage. Which isn't going to work with a shield & sword in my hands...

I must build up my muscles a lot more effectively - the technique just falls away as my fatigue increases & that's a recipe for accidents. I should also go back to the idea of a lighter shield for display and patrol & keep the barn door for the cavalry attacks, but muscle is always worth having.

The gambeson seems to be working out fine, although I really want to sort out pteruges for my lighter pad for Late Roman work. My huge armguards are great, but cut into my wrists a bit - perhaps I need to tie them tighter - but they don't protect the elbows and they are going to need a very loose tunic to stay hidden. Ditto my knees, which I am fond of whacking with my own shield. Perhaps bandages or strapping...

I know choreographing fights is often disliked amongst re-enactors, perhaps because of the hamfisted pantomimes you sometimes see, often accompanied by the phrase "and now, let's hear a boo for the dastardly Black Knight..." but foreknowledge of even the general pattern of the fight can encourage a novice like myself to commit more fully, but with safety. Real combat would, one suspects, be more cautious, but then your average miles would be practising for hours a day & would probably be quite the bomb compared to a re-enactor with a beer belly. I suspect the armatura could get pretty interesting. I wonder if I can persuade less expert folk like me to pre-arrange their sparring a little?

In addition, I wonder if we could add a demo of basic positions and strikes to the display, so people would appreciate the peculiarities and simplicity of the form?

Mmm.

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salvianus

February 2011

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