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REH's Fighting Styles


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#1 NightHawk777

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 10:31 PM

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It's obvious REH was into boxing. But this type of boxing picture looks like the "old style" boxing that
was popular before the (from what I understand) adjustments made from contact with the Philipines.

If you look at boxing stances now I'm sure you'll understand what I mean.

Is it known if he was a martial arts practitioner? I always get the impression he was from reading the stories, as the fight scenes seem to have that extra something in them.

When I ask, i'm not talking about MMA and the sports type of martial arts, but actual combat style martial arts.

Posted Image

A guy having a gun with a knife backup isn't planning on scoring points in a competition, he's planning on surviving an altercation Posted Image

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Maybe I should have broken this into a different post, but I'm curious are these guys just goofing off, or did they practice an actual blade style?

#2 berserkmax

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 10:42 PM

Regarding the Three Musketeers! They?re probably doing that for 'that' reason: the Three Musketeers.

Howard loved boxing; we all know that. The pic with the gun and knife is just standard procedural on how they teach Marines--or any fighting force--when you have only your dagger and pistol. Howard was no moron, so I'm sure he knew his stuff when it came to modern warfare as well as ancient.
"Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priest and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content" (Howard--Queen of the Black Coast).

#3 Sharn

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 12:45 AM

Here lies the problem...'martial arts' as we know them today did not enter into western thought(by any large degree) until after WWII. Sure, there was the odd fellow who for various reasons may have been exposed to Eastern style fighting(which became a major feature of USMC H2H especially jujitsu) but by and large 'Gung-Fu' was very insular and typically there was no opportunity to learn more than just a brief introduction. The japanese seemed a bit more open to teach if only after the country had been'opend up'.

Swordsmanship was a dying art in the western world(for obvious reasons) and the last hold outs were US Cavalry units. Certainly REH, being as dilligent as he was to find a resource, probably found a basic sabre drill book from the heyday of US cavalry swordsmanship relatively easy to find. He probably spoke with men who had been trained in it's use. Boxing or pugilism was THE western martial art. Even Greco-roman wrestling was not mainstream in his time (though I'm sure 'wrestling ' of various sorts were known). So that leaves a very limited exposure to 'organized' martial training but more along the lines of 'brawling' being the type of 'training' and skill set REH may have been exposed to.

I think his exposure to the rough 'boomtown' types and the fighting that was a part of that almost frontier atmosphere is where the visceral quality comes from in REH's writing. I have never heard of any other 'catalogue' of combat exposure that REH could derive his inspiration from.
- A long bow and a strong bow, and let the sky grow dark!
The cord to the nock, the shaft to the ear, and the king of
Koth for a mark -
- I remember, The dark woods, masking slopes of sombre
hills;
The grey clouds' leaden everlasting arch;
The dusky streams that flowed without a sound,
And the lone winds that whispered down the passes. -
(Cimmeria, REH)
- Every hour harms, it's the last one that kills -

#4 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 04:49 AM

Greetings!

Here lies the problem...'martial arts' as we know them today did not enter into western thought(by any large degree) until after WWII. Sure, there was the odd fellow who for various reasons may have been exposed to Eastern style fighting(which became a major feature of USMC H2H especially jujitsu) but by and large 'Gung-Fu' was very insular and typically there was no opportunity to learn more than just a brief introduction. The japanese seemed a bit more open to teach if only after the country had been'opend up'.


If we say martrial arts in eastern terms,then are missing a lot.There has been plenty of martial arts in the west.Gun-fu being the most noticeable in the US! :P
Your right Sharn,eastern MA's were brought over here after WW2.But in my discipline Aikedo,I have seen very few white/black/brown/green being promoted to 6th Dan(Master)They don't mind a 5th running a school,you just can't give out a 1st Dan(Black belt) a 6th can only do that,...

Swordsmanship was a dying art in the western world(for obvious reasons) and the last hold outs were US Cavalry units.


I do not why it should be.There are only two types of attacks,Liniar and circular.


Certainly REH, being as dilligent as he was to find a resource, probably found a basic sabre drill book from the heyday of US cavalry swordsmanship relatively easy to find. He probably spoke with men who had been trained in it's use. Boxing or pugilism was THE western martial art.


That's funny.I have seen many Karate/MMA digress into a simple brawl.



Tu

#5 Sharn

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 07:13 AM

Greetings!

If we say martrial arts in eastern terms,then are missing a lot.There has been plenty of martial arts in the west.Gun-fu being the most noticeable in the US! :P
Your right Sharn,eastern MA's were brought over here after WW2.But in my discipline Aikedo,I have seen very few white/black/brown/green being promoted to 6th Dan(Master)They don't mind a 5th running a school,you just can't give out a 1st Dan(Black belt) a 6th can only do that,...

I do not why it should be.There are only two types of attacks,Liniar and circular.


That's funny.I have seen many Karate/MMA digress into a simple brawl.



Tu


Hey Tu,

Were you drunk when you responded? :P Chinese martial traditions were likely known in the US as early as the late 1800's: but only amongst the Chinese. There was no interest in teaching gwailo the fighting traditions of China. As to Aikido, I'm not really sure WTH that has to do with REH... :huh:

You do not see why it should be that swordsmanship went out of vogue in the 1930's? First take a look at the Siegfried Line during WWI. The whole noble charge nonsense was tried ad naseum there. It was found that German machine gunners are very handy at dispatching sword wielding types...so, the gun killed the sword or any interest of practical usage in war...that is why western military traditions of swordsmanship essentially died out by 1920.

Also , there's a bit more to swordsmanship than swinging the blade around or poking it at someone. I won't bother going in to the details...look up Fiore di Liberi or Hans Talhoffer. Perhaps George Silver, Saviollo, Tibault...just to name a few. Ther are only two types of attacks! Ha!

You know what Tu? You're right!!! Even dedicants to the esoterism of Eastern Martial Arts systems find that a fight in general spirals toward a chaotic brawl...as happens in MMA (8 out of 10 matches I'd say). This has nothing to do with the above question either...but hey.

Edited by Sharn, 16 September 2008 - 07:14 AM.

- A long bow and a strong bow, and let the sky grow dark!
The cord to the nock, the shaft to the ear, and the king of
Koth for a mark -
- I remember, The dark woods, masking slopes of sombre
hills;
The grey clouds' leaden everlasting arch;
The dusky streams that flowed without a sound,
And the lone winds that whispered down the passes. -
(Cimmeria, REH)
- Every hour harms, it's the last one that kills -

#6 Kortoso

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 05:08 PM

Here lies the problem...'martial arts' as we know them today did not enter into western thought(by any large degree) until after WWII. Sure, there was the odd fellow who for various reasons may have been exposed to Eastern style fighting...


I think Teddy Roosevelt learned judo under Yamash!ta sensei. But he was an odd fellow. ;)

#7 ?sir

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 07:47 PM

I don't know if Mr Howard knew German, but if he did he could possibly have stumbled across a copy of Liechtenauer's works, or Ringeck, Danzig, Talhoffer, Kal.. Perhaps he got a hold on some texts by Fiore dei Liberi? Although he probably didn't practice himself, perhaps he could've gotten inspiration for his writing from it?

Historical European Martial Arts

(We have a club in my town, and oh how I long to try that out some day..)



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#8 Mark Finn

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 12:03 AM

Guys,

Howard's knowledge of the martial arts, outside of boxing, was limited to what he read in The Ring and Fight Stories magazine. He had at least heard of Jiu Jitsu and Savate, since they both show up in his boxing stories (but if you'll notice, he's not real specific with the fights).

Outside of that, there's no evidence that he studied fencing formally. He told Lovecraft that he and a buddy went after it, but quit when the realized they didn't know what they were doing and could get really hurt.

If Howard fight scenes have that extra 'zip' in them, it's because he knew what it felt like to get punched in the head and was able to convey those feelings in his fight scenes.
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Second Edition now available from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press

Finn's Home Away From Home, REDUX!

#9 deuce

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 12:15 AM

Guys,

Howard's knowledge of the martial arts, outside of boxing, was limited to what he read in The Ring and Fight Stories magazine. He had at least heard of Jiu Jitsu and Savate, since they both show up in his boxing stories (but if you'll notice, he's not real specific with the fights).

Outside of that, there's no evidence that he studied fencing formally. He told Lovecraft that he and a buddy went after it, but quit when the realized they didn't know what they were doing and could get really hurt.

If Howard fight scenes have that extra 'zip' in them, it's because he knew what it felt like to get punched in the head and was able to convey those feelings in his fight scenes.


Hey Mark! Thanks for tossin' in your coppers. B) Without an index to "CLV2", I'm goin' off memory here, but... Didn't Bob actually stab a buddy in the hand (accidentally)? Also, I recall a letter to HPL where he talked about some sorta no-holds-barred "King of the Mountain" "pankration" (my term) bout involving a couple buddies and few other rowdies indigenous to the area. Am I way off-base?

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#10 Kortoso

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 12:50 AM

Alfred Hutton wrote some books a little earlier than REH, that some say presaged the advent of the WMA movement.

Old Sword Play
No evidence that REH read this, of course, but it "could have" been available to him. :)

#11 Mark Finn

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 12:55 AM

Hey Mark! Thanks for tossin' in your coppers. B) Without an index to "CLV2", I'm goin' off memory here, but... Didn't Bob actually stab a buddy in the hand (accidentally)? Also, I recall a letter to HPL where he talked about some sorta no-holds-barred "King of the Mountain" "pankration" (my term) bout involving a couple buddies and few other rowdies indigenous to the area. Am I way off-base?


It *might* have happened, Deuce. Could have been a stab, or a scratch, or it could have been just a close call. It's one of those incidents that no one else remembers, so it's not for sure. I don't recall a "king of the mountain" scenario, but sure, if he and his friends boxed and wrestled, it's prolly not far off the mark.
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Second Edition now available from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press

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#12 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 05:51 AM

Greetings!

There are only two types of attacks! Ha!


Sharn,please explain to me why this is not true.

That photo of REH with gun and knife,I don't think anyone should mess with him,if he misses then your carved.First rule,never mess with anyone unless backed into a corner.

Tu

#13 Sharn

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 06:18 AM

Well, if you were to simplify swordplay down to it's mere dynamic basics, hey, I can't argue that. The problem is that to say that using a sword is so stupid simple that you only need to poke and swing.... :rolleyes: That's like saying all you have to do to hit a fastball is swing the bat. Never that simple. Timing, footwork, discplacement, binding as well as blows generated by swinging or thrusting coupled with judgement and instinct are what makes one successful in using a sword or any H2H weapon(including the body). So that is why the statement that there are only two types of attacks in swordsmanship and that it would prevent the practice of swordsmanship from dying out in western military tradition is wrong. Guns destroyed western swordsmanship. Then tanks and airplanes. followed by cruise missiles and nuclear devices.
- A long bow and a strong bow, and let the sky grow dark!
The cord to the nock, the shaft to the ear, and the king of
Koth for a mark -
- I remember, The dark woods, masking slopes of sombre
hills;
The grey clouds' leaden everlasting arch;
The dusky streams that flowed without a sound,
And the lone winds that whispered down the passes. -
(Cimmeria, REH)
- Every hour harms, it's the last one that kills -

#14 NightHawk777

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 05:08 PM

Well, if you were to simplify swordplay down to it's mere dynamic basics, hey, I can't argue that. The problem is that to say that using a sword is so stupid simple that you only need to poke and swing.... :rolleyes: That's like saying all you have to do to hit a fastball is swing the bat. Never that simple. Timing, footwork, discplacement, binding as well as blows generated by swinging or thrusting coupled with judgement and instinct are what makes one successful in using a sword or any H2H weapon(including the body). So that is why the statement that there are only two types of attacks in swordsmanship and that it would prevent the practice of swordsmanship from dying out in western military tradition is wrong. Guns destroyed western swordsmanship. Then tanks and airplanes. followed by cruise missiles and nuclear devices.



Thanks for all the replies, I was beginning to think the topic was dead :)

I can buy that maybe REH was just a rowdy guy and fairly young, so maybe they had a lot of wrestling and boxing matches in the neighborhood. Hey, we did the same thing when I grew up here in the south.

But as the above poster mentioned, a casual observer might think sword play (or any weapon play) is more basic than it really is. I've read some passages in REH where he gives me the impression he understands it at a deeper level. Some of the concepts are the same in hand to hand, that is true. Maybe it is his understanding of that shining through.

When I mentioned "martial arts". I didn't mean that to imply eastern martial arts, but all types of fighting in general.

IF REH was a very heavy and thorough researcher, could we assume that he researched fighting (of all sorts) to give his stories that extra pop?

I brought up this question because it's fascinating to me how many authors out there will try to write a fight scene that doesn't feel real...and yes, i know we are really talking about fantasy :)

#15 Mark Finn

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 07:49 PM

Thanks for all the replies, I was beginning to think the topic was dead :)

I can buy that maybe REH was just a rowdy guy and fairly young, so maybe they had a lot of wrestling and boxing matches in the neighborhood. Hey, we did the same thing when I grew up here in the south.

But as the above poster mentioned, a casual observer might think sword play (or any weapon play) is more basic than it really is. I've read some passages in REH where he gives me the impression he understands it at a deeper level. Some of the concepts are the same in hand to hand, that is true. Maybe it is his understanding of that shining through.

When I mentioned "martial arts". I didn't mean that to imply eastern martial arts, but all types of fighting in general.

IF REH was a very heavy and thorough researcher, could we assume that he researched fighting (of all sorts) to give his stories that extra pop?

I brought up this question because it's fascinating to me how many authors out there will try to write a fight scene that doesn't feel real...and yes, i know we are really talking about fantasy :)


It's more than just that he was "rowdy." Howard was an accomplished amateur boxer, and was a regular down at the local ice house, where all of the town roughnecks would gather at the end of the week to blow of steam. Several eye-witness accounts have Howard making a good showing for himself in and amongst those guys.

Howard was no stranger to violence. He grew up with it. His father was a country doctor. People showed up on the porch with various wounds and injuries from time to time. In boomtowns, gunshots and knife wounds weren't uncommon. In addition to that, there were plenty of "old timers" still around; gentlemen who had participated in the Civil War, and who helped run the Comanche out of Texas, by force. Howard listened to their stories, just as he listened to the roughnecks bragging about other towns they'd been to and the things they'd done. It's stuff like this that informs the Conan stories.

As to research, let me again state that whatever he may have "researched" came from pulp mags like Adventure and fiction by Harold Lamb and Talbot Mundy. There was no library in Cross Plains, and the library in Brownwood would not have had access to old, translated from the French, manuals on dueling. Such things would have been of invaluable interest to REH, but you're talking about rural Texas in the mid 1920s to 1930s. From a civilization point of view, that would have been equal to roughly to the turn of the century anywhere else.

That said, there's no telling WHAT Howard saw or read, to be honest. He made trips to Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, New Orleans, San Antonio, and other cities that DID have bigger and better libraries. While there is some mention of what he researched on these various trips, it's by no means an indicator of everything he researched. If there was a book on Calvary Saber fighting, Howard may have looked through it. If Burton's "Book of the Sword" were on hand, you betcha, he'd have devoured it. But there was a lot of accurate info to be had from Adventure magazine; many of its contributors were former soldiers, world travelers, and men-of-action.

Let's face it: the key ingredient to Howard's fight scenes is his incomparable imagination. He could visualize violence in simple yet dynamic terms and that's what makes it seem so "realistic" when you read it.
Mark Finn
Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
Second Edition now available from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press

Finn's Home Away From Home, REDUX!

#16 the black stone

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:03 PM

howard did it with a good imagination and kept you interested. the gents that did know a great deal were e. hoffman price and otis kline[ hoffman was an expert with the epee and had first hand knowledge of cavalary saber---he served] --ralph g

#17 the black stone

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:04 PM

howard did it with a good imagination and kept you interested. the gents that did know a great deal were e. hoffman price and otis kline[ hoffman was an expert with the epee and had first hand knowledge of cavalary saber---he served] --ralph g



#18 the black stone

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:09 PM

forget name of story so forgive me--howard must have a great deal of rough and tumble/kick and gouge [this was prominent down sout at the turn of the century] in the story howard perfectly describes mountainman bowie methods and dirty fighting--the story involved blacks , voodoo , uprising in the swamps down south and might have canaan in the title[all of my howards are in the garage]---if the swordplay, i think el borak came the closest to old broadsword/saber , i wonder if howard was already in contact with e. hoffman price---ralph g

#19 the black stone

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:23 PM

"It's obvious he was into boxing. But this type of boxing picture looks like the "old style" boxing that
was popular before the (from what I understand) adjustments made from contact with the Philipines."

please explain this as i am a guro in filipino fighting systems, i have heard many theories about this but it has never been proven or stated by any professionals that said 'i learned a new style" in the phills. scientific methods of fighting[pugilism] of many kinds existed--way before soldiers went to the phil.--i have several manuals pre-1900 that show all kinds of systems and many of them are scientific [not punch for punch]---i am a fan of many filipino boxing great flash elorde, andy ganigan, and manny paquiaco, cefarino garcia[the original bolo punch]----elorde [seen him on tape had very good footwork admired by ali] but nothing that changed modern boxing---boxing changed drastically in the 1890-1920's due to gloves and the inclusion of rules that disallowed throws and grappling--so the hand positon had to change because 1] striking with a glove is different than strining with a bare knuckle blow which requires a vertical placement to avoid broken hands/wrist 2]the hand were held lower to sprawl because guys were allowed to throw other boxers--so hands had to protect higher and lower attacks --they wer held like that--ralph g

#20 the black stone

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 04:00 PM

members, guys like kline , price talked about molinets[molinellos] --this showed they had knowledge of did reseach on classical saber or old military broadsword----a molinet is a circular exercise with a sword , stick or staff that teaches you parry/riposte in one motion---it was used in saber, broadword, singlestick, la canne and baton systems of western martial arts--ralph g