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Thread: Turkish Fencing

  1. #1
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    Turkish Fencing

    Yes yes, I'm on a turkish kick. I've been thinking about the idea of historical swordsmanship manuals from the middle east for a long time. Knowing the history of that area, it would seem that there would be dozens more manuals from the middle east than from Europe for the same time period given how advanced the region was at the time.

    I ran a search here on swordforum and came up with a couple of manual names:

    Munyatu'l-Ghuzat
    Nihayat al-Su'l wa al-Umniyya fi 'ilm al-furussiyya

    Also a translation called, "Muslim Manual of War" by George Scanlon is around somewhere.

    Does anyone know where to find these books or if they're published on the internet the way the western manuals are. I can't read arabic, persian, or turkish, but I'd still be very interested in these texts.

    I also found this link: http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/turkishfencing.htm

    Anybody have any advice or links?

    Thanks,

    Alina

    Edit: Unbelievable. My university has a copy of the George Scanlon text!!
    Last edited by Alina Boyden; 06-02-2004 at 02:34 PM.
    When wrestling is ended, the owners and the winner camels return home with proud and happiness while spectators are delighted of having an exciting day.

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    Please let us know

    What you think of the text, I for one would be interested in what you uncover as this is something I know nothing about but would love to learn more.
    "It is not in my power to effect this change. I haven't the might. I am not the answer, I am only the Question"-DK2

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    Re: Please let us know

    Originally posted by Bret B. Dusic
    What you think of the text, I for one would be interested in what you uncover as this is something I know nothing about but would love to learn more.
    My library has it listed as being checked out but I've put in a request for it, so I should have it before too long. I'll definitely post all about it once I've read it. It is edited and translated so my ignorance of middle eastern languages shouldn't prove too much of a problem.
    When wrestling is ended, the owners and the winner camels return home with proud and happiness while spectators are delighted of having an exciting day.

  4. #4
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    De Re Militari

    This site has a collection of resources on Ottoman warfare (among other things), including excerpts from a couple of manuals (not the sword fighting sections, though)

    http://www.deremilitari.org/RESOURCE...manwarfare.htm
    But swords need no demonstrations.
    -Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

  5. #5
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    Re: De Re Militari

    Originally posted by Adam Rose
    This site has a collection of resources on Ottoman warfare (among other things), including excerpts from a couple of manuals (not the sword fighting sections, though)

    http://www.deremilitari.org/RESOURCE...manwarfare.htm
    Yeah I've run across that site. The lack of the swordfighting being the main issue. *sigh* Thanks for the link though, this site does have some good info.
    When wrestling is ended, the owners and the winner camels return home with proud and happiness while spectators are delighted of having an exciting day.

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    Take note of the "Postura Africana"...

    Hello Alina,

    The following info is comparatively minor, but nevertheless will hopefully add to your knowledge on this rather sketchy subject...

    Civilian Spanish rapier masters, like other fencers, often described the peculiarities of their various opponents. In the 1675 treatise by Mendoza y Quixada, the author includes illustrations of ethnospecific guards (which can be seen on pg. 83 of Anglo's Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe), including French smallsword ("Postura France") and Italian smallsword-and-dagger ("Postura Italiana"). Of more interest to you might be the so-called "Postura Africana", which shows a Moor standing right foot forward, his saber held aloft ready to deliver a downward blow, and a dagger held in his left hand. This is obviously an "open ward", similar in concept to the guardia alta of Marozzo or Viggiani, the jodan kamae of kenjutsu, or of course the "open fight" of Silver. A similar drawing of a Moor or Turk, in a similar stance (sans dagger), may also be seen in Narvaez's manual of 1600.

    Like I said, it's comparatively minor, but it's still something.

    Peace,

    David
    "Pray forget not to have your Broad-Sword, made according to my Pattern; for the Parliment has, and it will with your Postures in my wrestling-Book, cut the Small-Sword out of fashion" --Sir Thomas Parkyns, to Lord Thomas Manners, 1720


    "We begin with the Small-Sword, which we must allow to be the nearest Inlet to the relative Arts, and when we are upon the Back-Sword, their near Affinity will appear more clearly." --Captain John Godfrey, Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence, 1747

  7. #7
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    I picked up Scanlon's translation. The text does not include use of weapons or images. It is basically an "Art of War" text concerning strategy and tactics. He quotes a list from Helmut Ritter's book "La Parure des Cavaliers und die Literatur uber die ritterlichen Kunste" Der Islam, XVIII (1929)

    I won't repeat the entire list here because it is very very long. However, there are a great many texts from the middle east concerning the use of arms.

    6. Kitab al-furusiyah bi rasm al-jihad:
    "This is the basic work of the great tournament master and lance-jouster, Najm al-Din Ayyub al-Ahdab al-Rammah (d.694/1294AD). It was the source book for all future works on the subject of cavalry exercises, tournaments and battle formations. No less than thirteen manuscripts, covering the whole or parts of the treatise, exist, many of them illustrated. Of particular note is the exhaustive treatment of offensive and defensive lance and javelin play."

    8. Tuhfat al-mujahidin fi al-'amal bi al-mayadin:
    "This work by Lajin al-Husami al-Tarabulsi incorporates the work of Najm al-Din al-Ahdab and adds several variations on tournament exercises and lance-play. These jousting exercises (band, pl. bunud) are illustrated in many of the manuscripts. Brockelmann ascribes this work to Muhammad b. Lajin al-Husami al-Tarabulsi but Ritter contends that there are 2 different authors involved.

    9. Bughyat al-qa sidin bi al-'amal bi al-mujahidin:
    "This work of Muhammad b. Lajin al-Husami al-Tarabulsi al-Rammah is quite similar to no. 8. Numerous illustrations of cavalry exercises with weapons; of tournament play, and types of single combat."

    12. Kitab fi al-ghazw wa al-jihad wa tartib al-la'b bi al-rumh wa ma yata'al-laq bihi:
    "Another work of Najm al-Din al-Ahdab al-Rammah, illustrating the seventy two basic lance exercises, both astride and afoot."

    Mentioned before in this thread:

    15. Nihayat al-su'l wa al-umniyah fi ta'lim a'mal al-furusiyah:

    "The author, Muhammad b. 'Isa b. Isma'il al-Hanafi al-Aqsara'i (c.800?/1400?), based this exhaustive work on the military handbooks of Najm al-Din al-Ahdab. Ritter considers it the most important of all the sources in Arabic on Muslim military organization, training and theory. It is divided into twelve lessons (ta'lims) whose titles indicate the amunt of material covered in the text:
    Lesson One: Archery
    Lesson Two: lance-play and maneuvers with lance
    Lesson Three: exercises in the use of sword and shield
    Lesson Four: numerous problems relating to the use of the shield
    Lesson Five: handling of the mace and sword
    Lesson Six: military play and exercise for cavalry
    Lesson Seven: various kinds of weapons, and problems relating to soldiers in the field
    Lesson Eight: recruiting and formation of the army
    Lesson Nine: disposition of the army in the battlefield in accordance with circumstances
    Lesson Ten: ruses of war and fatally poisonous smokes
    Lesson Eleven: division of booty and problems of Islamic law
    Lesson Twelve: various branches of knowledge required by fighting soldiers"

    He further mentions that Dr. Lutful-Huq has an edition based on five of the nine manuscripts. Also one of the manuscripts - the best of them according to Scanlon - is British Museum Add. 18,866.

    Those are just the ones that immediately struck me to write down. I apologize for any mispellings, I don't speak arabic. I guess now the only problem is tracking all of these texts down.

    Alina
    When wrestling is ended, the owners and the winner camels return home with proud and happiness while spectators are delighted of having an exciting day.

  8. #8
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    Re: Take note of the "Postura Africana"...

    Originally posted by David Black Mastro
    Hello Alina,

    The following info is comparatively minor, but nevertheless will hopefully add to your knowledge on this rather sketchy subject...

    Civilian Spanish rapier masters, like other fencers, often described the peculiarities of their various opponents. In the 1675 treatise by Mendoza y Quixada, the author includes illustrations of ethnospecific guards (which can be seen on pg. 83 of Anglo's Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe), including French smallsword ("Postura France") and Italian smallsword-and-dagger ("Postura Italiana"). Of more interest to you might be the so-called "Postura Africana", which shows a Moor standing right foot forward, his saber held aloft ready to deliver a downward blow, and a dagger held in his left hand. This is obviously an "open ward", similar in concept to the guardia alta of Marozzo or Viggiani, the jodan kamae of kenjutsu, or of course the "open fight" of Silver. A similar drawing of a Moor or Turk, in a similar stance (sans dagger), may also be seen in Narvaez's manual of 1600.

    Like I said, it's comparatively minor, but it's still something.

    Peace,

    David
    Actually that's probably the most helpful reference anyone has dug up so far. You wouldn't happen to know a source for the Narvaez manual would you? Is the moor also pictured in Anglo's book? I have it back up at school but I can't go look it up right now. Thanks,

    Alina
    When wrestling is ended, the owners and the winner camels return home with proud and happiness while spectators are delighted of having an exciting day.

  9. #9
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    Re: Re: Take note of the "Postura Africana"...

    Hi Alina,

    Originally posted by Alina Boyden
    Actually that's probably the most helpful reference anyone has dug up so far.
    Nice!

    You wouldn't happen to know a source for the Narvaez manual would you?


    Online, no--but you can see the pertinent Narvaez pic on pg. 34 of the Diagram Group's Weapons book, and on pg. 48 of Arthur Wise's Art and History of Personal Combat.

    Is the moor also pictured in Anglo's book? I have it back up at school but I can't go look it up right now. Thanks,

    Alina
    The Moor in the "Postura Africana" is shown on the page taken from Quixada's manual, which appears on pg. 83 in Anglo's book. This particular excerpt from Quixada's treatise contains a lot of different illustrations of guards, weapons, footwork patterns, and so on--the drawings of the various ethnospecific guards are small, and at the very top. You could easily miss them if you were just skimming through the book.

    BTW, the "Postura Italiana" that I said shows smallsword and dagger might actually show rapier and dagger--I just looked at the pic again, and I'm basing that on the length of the weapon shown (as well as the fact that the rapier remained popular with the Italians thru the 1600s). The "Postura France", however, appears to show a smallsword.

    Good Luck,

    David
    "Pray forget not to have your Broad-Sword, made according to my Pattern; for the Parliment has, and it will with your Postures in my wrestling-Book, cut the Small-Sword out of fashion" --Sir Thomas Parkyns, to Lord Thomas Manners, 1720


    "We begin with the Small-Sword, which we must allow to be the nearest Inlet to the relative Arts, and when we are upon the Back-Sword, their near Affinity will appear more clearly." --Captain John Godfrey, Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence, 1747

  10. #10

    about Turkish Fencing

    Nice job on finding those sources about middle-east fencing. However, those sources would be inadequate. It is very hard to find source about Turkish fencing on the internet with nice pictures of fencing practice. There are hundreds of manual n the Ottoman Archives in Turkey but they are not to be exposed to public un til the late 90s. Therefore, it is less likely to find something about them on the net. Since Ottoman Empire was the mst advanced of its time and had more focus on documenting everything it would be the best t access the archives and we could find "army manuals" of the Ottomans describing fencing with details and also with nice "miniature" (a kind of painting style in the Ottoman/Turkish traditional art). I have seen some of them with miy bare eyes but they were not to be sold. These manuals not only describe the fencing styles but also describe hw to make a sword and which sword good for what. Since the Ottoman army had complex varietities I think they needed such detail for janissaris, azabs, sipahis and other soldier types. I will be searching for these manuals when I go to Turkey, again.

  11. #11
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    Re: about Turkish Fencing

    Originally posted by s.kandas
    Nice job on finding those sources about middle-east fencing. However, those sources would be inadequate. It is very hard to find source about Turkish fencing on the internet with nice pictures of fencing practice. There are hundreds of manual n the Ottoman Archives in Turkey but they are not to be exposed to public un til the late 90s. Therefore, it is less likely to find something about them on the net. Since Ottoman Empire was the mst advanced of its time and had more focus on documenting everything it would be the best t access the archives and we could find "army manuals" of the Ottomans describing fencing with details and also with nice "miniature" (a kind of painting style in the Ottoman/Turkish traditional art). I have seen some of them with miy bare eyes but they were not to be sold. These manuals not only describe the fencing styles but also describe hw to make a sword and which sword good for what. Since the Ottoman army had complex varietities I think they needed such detail for janissaris, azabs, sipahis and other soldier types. I will be searching for these manuals when I go to Turkey, again.
    Excellent. You bring up a very good point as well, something I had neglected earlier. The Ottoman Empire lasted until the 20th century. As such, there are probably Ottoman military manuals dating back from the 15th century all the way to the 20th. That could be an incredibly rich store of fencing techniques. More importantly however, it represents a coherent historical timeline of the evolution of Turkish fencing and by extension "Islamic swordsmanship" (if such a thing exists). Those materials could provide for us the best solid evidence for middle eastern swordsmanship styles and evolution. I'm thinking I might need to learn Turkish and look into these things.
    When wrestling is ended, the owners and the winner camels return home with proud and happiness while spectators are delighted of having an exciting day.

  12. #12
    Hi Alina,

    Have you ever heard of Turkish Sword and Shield Dance?
    If not, you should check out this website:

    http://www.kilickalkan.org/
    Last edited by Sancar Ozer; 11-05-2005 at 05:50 PM.

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    Mameluke / Ottoman Swords

    Hi everone

    Can any body please help me find sites where i can buy antique mameluke or ottoman swords, i'm still new here in the US. I would also appreciate of anybody can tell me about any modern day swordsmiths that make replicas of these words in the US.
    Thanks
    Seif-Eldin

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