The issue with HEMA
Ever since the “HEMA is dying” period that struck the community, it has bought to my mind another subject. Unlike the prior mention, this one is going to have specific backing with source material.
Before I begin, I want to clarify: I have a Masters in History. This isn’t to seem stuck up or show some game of one-upmanship. Through my studies, that you can only get with a Masters, you learn specific things about History; ways to interpret sources, how reliable they are and you begin to see History as a weaved intricate pattern, everything mixing in with everything else and these aspects (if they can even be called that) can’t exist without one another. You can’t exclude anything from anything else and everything plays in this pattern; it’s something so difficult to describe in words.
Alas, there’s something that has been bothering me quite a bit with the community. It’s not anything specific or anyone but more the mentality to approaching HEMA is general and interpreting context. Get ready for it….
HEMA is too scientific.
Yes, you heard me correctly.
Within the community there is this mentality of applying things scientifically. “Should I swing to this many degrees, within this angle to get this?”, “should I apply X, Y and inevitably I’ll get Z?”, “If I attack from this position within this measurement of time, will I get this result?”, “should I copy the treatise exactly in this position to overcome the bind like this?” The short answer is these question are irrelevant.
Let’s put aside the fact that it’s a Martial Art, not a science (which creates issues in itself) or the frailty of artistic depiction, even within the treatises due to the dimensions being placed or the wording, even when it has nothing to do with the techniques. Fiore does this a lot and that coincides with the method of legitimising oneself, for example naming predecessors or successors which follows a very ingrained legal tradition. From what’s said, we don’t actually know the extent other than what Fiore says. In many ways, it’s salesmanship, “If you want to know how to learn the ultimate martial art, come to me and I will teach you”. Martial Arts do this nowadays, how else are you going to sell a fighting form if not on the premise of self-defence?
Let’s put that aside and get to the basics when it comes to interpreting History, and it’s essential difference between itself and Science. Science is built on the premise that all knowledge is not only universal and accessible, but is based on replicating results. For example, if I do X and Y I will get Z in the majority of cases, if not in all cases. That has implications for the way people perceive certain things. In today’s age it would be discredited to think that people, for example, lived without a head and that is a valid point (to an extent, research has shown that the stomach is the only part of the body that is not subsistent on the brain operating).
History, in a nutshell, is the assessment of change through time. What this means is the study, art, discipline (whatever you want to call it) is non-scientific. In fact, it’s anti-scientific; it’s a group of assumptions about events that no longer exist that the majority of academics more or less think happened. That is based on sources but firstly; those sources might not be reliable and secondly; to actually learn about the sources isn’t to simply look at them. Think of it like reading a book by Tolken or Pratchett, you aren’t just looking at a bunch or words, you’re looking at a bunch of words from a whole other reality because the people at the time saw reality like that. The way people look at things changes through time and the fact the majority of people perceived the world in such a way means their reality needs to be taken for granted.
Let’s go back to using techniques as an example. Often it’s taken for granted that doing a technique in such a way is so obvious, it’s even scientific. Body mechanics mean the body can move in such a way, right? Well, yes and no. The concept of science didn’t exist at the time, there was no idea of a set of universal principles so the interpretation of how people saw the world also needs to change.
So, how did people see the world say in 16th Century Italy or Germany (which didn’t exist as countries)? Without getting bogged down in context (which could take a whole book), there are several indicators. There are practitioners, like Agrippa, who look at things specifically to do with measurements e.g. if I lunge, I need to do this according to this precise measurement. However these aren’t scientific, they’re based on mathematical principles. It’s no coincidence the 16th Century is the time of the Renaissance and that means a revival of classical learning which went beyond scholarly opinion. Techniques you see rapier practitioners doing are also used on things such as architecture. This is based on the principle of the ‘perfect measurement’. For example, if I measure a brick as the length from the longest finger to the wrist, that is the perfect measurement, the same goes for measuring the lengths of walls for architecture, which were usually by multiple amount of length for a certain body part. Since, according to classical learning the body indicates the perfect form, this is a justifiable reason in the eyes of those who are doing the measuring. Saviolo does this with Rapier lengths and advices that the whole length should stretch from ones hand to their opposite shoulder (something borrowed from the Spanish tradition). Even then, a lot of this derives from philosophical principles of Aristotelian thinking. People may argue that Aristole was the basis of scientific thinking phiolosophially, but in many of these cases these are misjudged. A lot of it is related to spirituality and that also applies to other cultures which may seem “scientific”. For example in India (considered today Geographically), mathematicians were able to calculate the age of universe and, in conjunction, calculate it’s span. That seems very scientific, however in it’s context it is a spiritual endeavour. The reason for doing so falls in the context of Hindu spirituality as in the religion the Universe destroys itself every 3 million years and is reborn. This is the case with many scientific basics in Antiquity, even those as emperical as Aristotle who theorised in relation to Platonic philosophy.
Then there’s the practice of Alchemy and the Occult which came before Science. Unlike Science, Alchemy works on the principle that there are certain esoteric forms of knowledge that can only be grasped by a few learned men and these come from God or the Universe. It may use mathematical or philosophical principles but only as a means to acquire said mystical knowledge. A good example is the knowledge of turning any material into gold in the Holy Roman Empire and the desire to find the eliquer for immortality in China, which resulted in the discovery of gunpowder. This is why a lot of alchemy writing is either highly riddled or so worded as to be incomprehensible. Well, the same can be applied with some practitioners who wrote in in poetry when referenceing swordplay. There’s all these descriptors and creatures and symbols and all of these share that similarity with other practices; leaving the reading highly confused. Indeed, many practitioners would throw fits if they discovered ‘common folk’ (such as Fiore) practicing their martial arts and these were specifically designed for certain readers, they weren’t inclusive writings and this is basically the definition of an occult. Even when techniques are obvious, the context behind them is not. Going back to Fiore, the moves performed as indicative of an experience swordsman because the moveset is assuming that the reader already knows what they’re doing. Again, Fiore does not aim his work towards the common fencer and advices that the peasantry not read it. This is hardly the universal thinking we have in mind today.
Another example is numerology, the study of numbers and how each numerical value has a specific symbolic or legal meaning. This derides largely from Jewish spiritual thinking that was also very legalistic, indeed that’s why the amalgamation of different numbers would result in something spiritual or access to certain spiritual knowledge that couldn’t be attained by others. That’s why if you’re going to read the bible, learn numerology. A good example is Fiore, Fiore has 12 basic stances for a two-handed sword and arguably one is filler material, why? Because there were 12 disciples at the last table, there are 12 months in the year etc. This was widely held in Medieval and Early Modern Western Societies, that such numbers held sacred properties that could access oneself to higher knowledge of the divine and it’s seen everywhere at the time; it’s not simply symbolism. To many, a combination of certain numbers (if used foolishly) was enough to summon spirits.
Science as a thing didn’t exist. If you spoke to someone about it at the time, they would look at you weird. Indeed, assuming so would be seen as an act of idiocy (unless theologically justified). To an extent it didn’t even matter due to the basic premise of ressurection.
What I’ve just said can be applied to reconstructing. Hayden White’s “Metahistory” is really good if you want to read about this issue. He uses the example of a Historical reenactment of a festival and uses different levels to represent different understandings.
On a superficial level, one would look at it and say “wow, this is how the things actually used to be in the past”. On another, one would see the criticisms but through those come to their own conclusions, but those conclusions themselves can be detrimental to reconstructing the event or art.
By the end, the position to take is one that varies according to perspective that White uses to frame how people look at History. Is it of satirical Rankian thought? Or tragic Marxist thought? Don’t worry if you don’t understand what these mean. The point is even to provide a framework is an issue within itself and all people can do is put piece together like a forensic puzzle, which is basically what history is. However, what it also shows is our perspectives on History and those of the people that lived through the time period are different and that in itself defies the reality. In many ways, that has a detrimental effect on the way people thought, felt and performed physically every day. This isn’t only in the context of diet, nourishment etc but also in the culturally specific place itself.
Interpreting: Using a historical Example.
“But Nicholas”, you may ask. “What of Biomechanics? Everyone can only hit in certain ways, right?”. Thanks for reminding me about that. Yes and no, let’s use an example that’s become prevalent when looking at fighting in History; emotions. Lindybeige (Lloyd) did a video about this and how human don’t really want to kill each other, or from a look of terror one is unable to kill. The reasoning was that based on the statistics for US soldiers who shot-to-kill in World War Two and the Vietnam War, people didn’t want to kill their enemy; also, all there are cases, such as Che Guevara who couldn’t execute people at the front because the look of terror on their faces showed the dominating person had one (unless they are a psychopath). I will show various cases and issues with looking at a ‘universal’ idea of emotions to show why this point is problematic.
Before I begin, for a long time there has been a dichotomy between ‘constructionists’, who believe that things are culturally specific and things are uniquely different everywhere, and ‘universalists’, who believe that certain principles are universal no matter where in the world you go. At the moment, we have gone past this but it provided the basis for much discussion in the 20th Century and a lot of the academic work that’s outdated still does. In fact, in many ways it’s frustrating how slow research reaches the public eye because all the theories being applied to HEMA in the way people fight emotionally and psychologically are outdated. In short these are inductive approaches which attempt to take the complexities of the past and confine them to a few generalising subjects, such as “all wars are caused by religion” (an extreme example but one still quoted). I will briefly look at three case studies as an example of this.
Case one: fight or flight
The favourite that everyone likes to bring up is “fight or flight”, which is a theory coined by Joseph Ledoux that is linked to the wider understanding of a ‘two roads to fear’ theory. Basically, a stimulus passes down the amygdala within 12 milliseconds where a rapid decision is made by the higher cognitive functions whether the perceived thing is a threat. This instils the ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction, either the body stands down and returns to normal or gears itself up for survival. It’s a two path road; one involving the subcortical region of emotions which on the evolutionary scale is very old and the other a cortical region where cognition occurs.
I don’t want to get into too much detail because it’s very long but Ledoux’s theory has either been disproven since it was made, or has been modified. For example, the amygdala has been shown to not be especially sensitive to visual stimuli. Also, there’s the question whether there is a ‘fast road’ via the amygdala or if there’s any temporal difference at all in the emotional response triggered by emotional stimuli. From further neuroscientific studies, it’s clearer that the amygdala is not responsible for ‘quick and dirty’ functions but instead is more like a switchboard from which various inputs are distributed and from that we get fight, flight, flee, befriend, submit and quisling (where one becomes so dominated they associate themselves with the dominator, like Stockholm Syndrome).
Even then, this theory is being shown to be discredited the more research we do into how the brain works. Indeed, a lot of new theories such as neuroplasticity; the brains ability to form new neuro- pathways in one’s lifetime. It also begins to shift the paradigm of the brain as a constant with specific parts doing specific things, to a network of pathways which all are contingent on each other. For example, in previous experiments where the amygdala was removed (such as patient SM), there was no fear in exposure to rpevious fears such as snakes and spiders and other typical fear inducing experiences. However, with the destruction of the Amygdala they experiences in their early life, came other aspects such lack of recognising depth when it came to personal space, having difficulty ascertaining the trustworthiness in others and lack of recognisition of negative emotions. What it showed was that certain parts of the brain no longer simply have certain functions and the brain will often form newer pathways to reconcile any damage. In other words the hardware of the brain changes during the lifespan of the person, based on experiencing whether they be traumatic, cultural, psycadelic. All of these leave traces in the architecture of the brain. More importantly, it shows the brain itself is susptible to change, something unprecedented in Neuro-science. This shows that things aren’t so universal and even the brain, what we’ve seen as a constant is now becoming perceived more and more as something tangible, which is having an interesting and existential change for the Scientific community.
Case two: Facial recognition
Another one is facial recognition, as demonstrated by Lloyd in the video mentioned earlier to do with ‘a look of terror’. That is the work of Professor Paul Ekman who was regarded as a dominant figure in neuroscience in the 90’s and early 2000’s but not so much now, in fact his work has become a subject of much frustration among many academics. His theory was that certain emotions could be universally demonstrated by certain facial expression. This was related to Darwinian thought when it came to evolutionary theory. I mean, when someone smiles they’re happy, right? Well, not really.
His experimentation consisted on getting models to pose for long periods of time with certain expressions, representing certain emotions and he would take pictures of these. He applied this to people in Central America also applied a similar principle to by using certain cultural facial types for the Dani in West New Guinea. Another was used by showing disturbing scenes in a cinema to both an American and Japanese audience, and those results found for example that the Japanese were more prone to smiling when they did experience disturbance.
In short, these results were not only inconsistent but incredibly bias. The people in Central America often had linguistic issues when interpreting certain facial features and had problems interpreting the facial features themselves. In the case with the Japanese members, many of them smiled due to knowing they were being experimented on, which destroyed any validity to the experiment or any prospect of replicability. It wasn’t the case that certain emotions can be shown by certain facial expressions, indeed research has shown being angry or being happy doesn’t mean you have to look like those emotions.
In terms of the Dani, there was no only no empirical proof to display these emotions in the people being studied but also certain linguistics we have couldn’t be translated into concepts that were understandable.
Case three: Anthropology, the Icelandic Sagas, the Maori and relating it to History
When looking at emotions in past, questions need to be asked such as; where are the centre of emotions located in the body, such as the heart? The brain? The gut? Are they located in the body at all, do they come externally? Also, there’s the issue of how they work. Do they boil and hyperventilate until they explode? Do they possess a person for a certain period of time and then subside? Is the person seen as responsible at all for their emotions? These are all valid points and apply to different cultures.
In the Icelandic Sagas, there’s descriptions protagonists swelling up. When in the Brennu-Njals Saga Thorhall Asgrimsson finds out about the murder of his guardian, ‘his body swells up, blood flows from his ears, and he faints’. A 12-year-old in the Laxdaeta Saga is ‘swollen with grief’ every time he thinks of his murdered father. Is that a sign of emotion? It would be difficult for us to imagine, though there’s good historical evidence to suggest people didn’t literally ‘swell up’. However they are valid indicators of how the Vikings saw their feelings articulated. In many cases, these play a more important role than utterances. In this case, emotions took a life of their own and possessed people once they were named. This indeed is a completely different image to how we would see emotions today.
Another case is that of the Maori. Jean Smith, an Anthropologist, did a study into how the Maori experienced self and Experienced emotions. She shows that Maori tribes, when constantly at war with each other, perceived emotions entirely differently. If a Maori warrior showed physical signs of fear before a battle, such as trembling, it was said he was possessed by atua, a kind of spirit that had been angered by the infringement of tapu, a canon of social rules. There was a ritual for ridding oneself of this possessed state: the warrior had to crawl between the legs of a standing Maori woman of superior social status. The organs of the woman, especially the vagina, had special powers which could free the warrior of atua. If the warrior crawled between the woman’s legs without shaking then he was freed of atua, and went off to battle liberated by fear. But if he still shook, the ritual cleansing was judged a failure and the warrior could stay at home unpunished. Apparently no one thought it was possible for someone to be afflicted with atua during a battle; and so we can assume that Maori warriors did not feel fear. From this, we can see that the fear of the Maori warriors is one that locates it outside the body. Fear originates not in the ‘soul’, or the ‘psyche’ or the ‘brain’, but instead in a transcendent sphere of tapu norms and higher beings.
This shows us what Barbara Rosenwein (an professor on the History of Emotions) would call ‘Emotional Communities’, whereby different groups in certain societies have different Emotional Norms and Values that differ from each other and over either overarch with other groups or differ completely (and this can often cause conflict within oneself if these values conflict too much). These are hardly universal but at the same time aren’t unique. I agree with her conclusion that there are things which are ‘hardwired’ however how those ‘hardwired’ things are articulated is like drinking an ocean with a fork.
A quick note about Neuro-placidity
In the previous section I mentioneh is thd Neuro-placidity, whice study conducted on the brain that shows that within a person’s life based on their experiences, new neuro pathways are formed. This can range from traumatic experiences such as abuse or war, to religious beliefs to psychadelic experiences with drugs.
As Jan Plamper has shown, this has caused a conflict within the Scientific community because the brain for a long time was though of as a constant with perfectly definable sections and features and the research conducted has bought this assumption to doubt. The brain is no longer a constant but is suspetible to change through time, uniquely for each individual. This brings into question whether these can be measured reliably.
Historic Examples. Case 1: the Roman Empire in the 2nd Century
For a Roman Soldier in the 2nd Century, there are testimonies about the way a Legionnary perceived their body and how it was to be used, from the Historian Sara Elise Phang. The Roman perception of the body in the Empire, for Legionaries, was one of a tight bow or ballista; the bow needs to be tightened all the time until it is let loose and this carried on into their daily lives. In other words, a legionary would tense up themselves very rigidly until they ‘let go’ like a tight bow being released. So if reconstructed, attacks would start often with a lot of tension on the body followed by a quick, explosive, cut or thrust. It would have meant a lot of tension for the individual. This is clearly different to what’s said today where it is shown that we should relax the muscles; even that in itself is an Eastern teaching which was imported to the West in the 1950’s and 60’s with famous Martial Artists like Bruce Lee.
Historic Examples. Case 2: Central African Martial Arts
In what is considered Angola today, there was the porecursor to Capoeira which was called N’golo (pronounced Engolo). Even the older form of Capoeira is called ‘Capoeira Angola’. In this martial art, there was little use of the hands and an emphasis on kicks, headbutting, dodging and atheltic/ aerobatic abilities. Before I start, I want to emphasise that this did work. A lot of people assume that such Martial Arts Aren’t practical however masters who practiced in Central Africa, and then in South America, were reverred fighters who often took a bloody toll on their opponents and they often fought multiple opponents at the same time. Unlike Capoeira now, this was accompanied by a machete in Brazil however kicks still played an important part, and Masters went to war doing this.
This is intrinsically linked with how Central Africans perceived their bodies in relations to ther religious experiences. Essentially, as with many African Religious beliefs, reality was understood like a cross in which above was the land of the living and below was the land of the dead. In this context, the land of the dead was opposite to the land of the living and the spirits of the ancestors inhabited this. For example if a person practising N’golo was very good, he was said to inhabit the spirit of his ancestor. In this religious belief, Ancestor spirits could possess bodies and therefore provide a bridge between the living and the dead. If a master was spectacular at this art, there were testimonies of him being possessed by a master who lived hundreds of years ago. This was a bridge between the living and the dead and was known as Kalunga. With this in mind, if a practitioner were to make a certain twist with his head or walk on his feet he would summon and manifest the spirits of the underworld as a result. This is the reason why a lot of capoeira is done on the hands and emphasises kicks.
This also applies to other African Martial Arts which take on anthropromorphic qualities and mimick the behaviour of animals, such as in Sudanese Wrestling or Central African headbutting.
This brings a completely different context of martial arts, one which should be respected. In comparison with European Martial Arts, the concept of biomechanics as we understand it becomes unrecognisable as does the concept of centered balance and distance to the enemy. It brings in a different perception to the body based on religious/spiritual beliefs which have an overriding result on the martial arts is conducted.
Historic Examples. Case 3: Ancient Egyptian Tahtib and combat
In Egypt, North Africa and in places like Ethiopeia and the Sudan, there exists a form of stick fighting called Tahtib, which originates from Ancient Egypt. There is the living tradition which has been translated into a folk dance that exists today and Historic tradition which is seen in depictions such as the illustrations from the sarcophegus in Abbis Abba.
In both these, there is a gearing towards spear play however the interesting aspect of the combat is all the blows taught are to the upper body. There are no blows directed below the shoulders or waist. This is also seen in the depiction of water-polo which is either head or upper body shows, but not beneath the upper chest. This is also apparent in the Equipment Ancient Egyptian soldiers used. There are no depictions of Ancient Egyptian soldiers wearing metal helmets an in many cases there is no head protection at all. Even the most important figures such as the Pharoh only wears a felt-leather cap. Even then, there’s a priority more on armour when it becomes prevalent and little on the skull which people would assume is the most important part of the body. I mean, it’s vital right? Why not wear head protection?
Again, as is the case in N’golo, there is a religious/spiritual dimension which isn’t taken into account. In the Ancient Egyptian Religion, the heart was seen as the centre of intelligence, emotion and spirituality in the body; similarly to how we would perceive the mind today. As a result, there is no effort to protect the head as well as the chest and this explains why blows to the lower body wasn’t encouraged or depicted in Tahtib, which was used as training for soldiers as a way of physical fitness and for spear usage. It may have differed in combat however from this it is evident that this had an effect on the way the Ancient Egyptians perceived their bodies an that had a direct effect on how that applied to the Martial Arts they practiced.
Conclusion, what do these cases show and how can they be related back to HEMA?
If you’re interested in more, I’d suggest reading Jan Plamper’s “The History of Emotions” which covers all these case studies and Barbara Rosenwein’s “Generation of Feelings” which talks about ‘Emotional Communities’.
The issue, relating back to HEMA, is it shows things aren’t as universal as people think they are. If human emotions, that people think are universal, aren’t then so are the perceptions of the body and the so called ‘biomechanics’. It becomes the case that not everyone swung in the same way because there’s only so many ways you can swing a sword.
I’m going to take a page out of Barbara Rosenwein’s work, “A community of Feeling”, and say that the current trend for emotions is that some things are hardwired but articulating what those ‘things’ are is like trying to drink the ocean with a fork; so it’s neither a constructionist nor universalist.
The same can be applied to Martial Arts. Yes, the body can only move in so many ways but that’s not as important as people say it is. It’s not about the fact the sword is swung downwards but how it’s swung and each culture does swing downwards but has its own way of doing so, whether Italian or Persian. That’s the important part; it’s neither universally scientific, or culturally specific that it becomes meaningless.
Just because it’s a swing downwards doesn’t meant it’s the same everywhere. For example, in Middle Eastern Traditions there is an emphasis on the ‘wrap around the head’ before going into a downward stroke both due to the design of the scimitar/ sabre but also because it culturally suits the style as well as the weapon; use determines function. A British officer in the 19th Century could pick it up and use it but due to its culturally used wouldn’t use it as well and it might end up being detrimental to the officer.
When we look at for example, the duel between Andreas (a bath slave who had stepped forward) and the Persian Champion at the battle of Dara in 530 AD, Andreas crashed into the Persian Horseman with his own, floors him and slits his throat with a knife. Are we to assume that he did it in the same way a knight would have in the 14th Century? The answer is no and the fact there’s no descriptions for doing so is problematic in itself. In fact, if it wasn’t for manuals descriptions of combat would suck due to the way fighting styles are taken for granted. When an observer sees a warrior do a downward cut, all we know is the person has done a cut downwards and it’s either hit or hasn’t; that’s the issue with source material, it doesn’t tell us how. However, from the evidence we do have, it’s guaranteed that within each culture (and sub-group) it’s going to be different.
In other words, there are some things which are hardwired but how they are articulated is an amount that’s beyond comprehension and come out looking different. There is literally a innumerable amount of ways one can perform one attack as the huge variety of cultures, empires and societies have shown.
In HEMA, the ‘art’ part is the one that often gets pushed out. According to the Oxford Dictionary, art is “Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author’s imaginative or teachnical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beuty or emotional power”.
In this context, is it not easy to see how Martial Arts vary, sometimes drastically? That it’s not simply a case of saying “x and y equals z”? More importantly, it’s a matter of seeing the art for what it is, art, and like itself it differs from piece to piece. If this were a conversation a scientist would focus on the words being said, an artist the sound. Both are opinions on how to approach the issue but, more importantly, both are as valid for doing so. The Historical mindset of how someone thought their body and emotions worked are as valid as someone who wants to strike in the shortest amount of time. Is that not what’s important? And is that not makes the Martial Arts beautiful?
The real conclusion
So after all this rambling, what is the point of this? Well:
1) People often look at HEMA too Scientifically and apply anachronistic principles to it. That’s not only non-historic but doesn’t look at things in their context. Science is useful as a tool to gain an understanding but people often treat it as if it’s a way of life and that’s really not its intention. Science can’t be a way of life. It’s actually counterproductive and needs to be stopped.
2) As a result, people often take what’s called an ‘inductive’ approach, which means that they think History can be summed up by a few universalising principles, we see it all the time. Religion, politics, and wars are something that someone might point out. However in History, they’re not simply those things. To the people living at the time, they’re so much more than those things where the categories we placed become meaningless. Indeed, these people would have taken those steps in the first place. In other words, coming to those conclusions is what someone in the 19th Century would have thought, so it’s about a century outdated.
3) People use the two points in HEMA. “Of course they did it like this”, they will say; or “Of course they hit like this” but firstly, we don’t know that and secondly, learning that means having to learn the life these people lived. What is the concept of even throwing a downward strike in the eyes of the 14th Century practitioner? Answer is we don’t know but the content and sources gives us some indication and so do the way perceived their bodies and reacted emotionally.
4) Different interpretations of the body in History has a detrimental effect on how people used their bodies and that has a direct effect on the Martial Arts they practiced.
These would have been somewhat in the mind of the practitioners at the time, this was the world they lived and took for granted.
Sometimes I think that gets lost on us.
Books as a reference:
Jan Plamper’s “The History of Emotions”.
Barbara Rosenwein, “Generations of Feeling”.
Sara Elise Phang, “Roman Military Service: Ideologies of Discipline in the Late Republic and Early Principate”
Hayden White, “MetaHistory”.
TJ. Desch- Obi, “Fighting for Honor: The History of African Martial Art Traditions in the Atlantic World”.