The Gurkha

»Posted by on Oct 13, 2019 in Fighter | Comments Off on The Gurkha

The Gurkha

The Gurkhas originated in Nepal, sandwiched between India and the Himalayas. Long been feared on the battlefield, the Gurkhas are fearless fighters known for their curved bladed knife, named the Kukri. When India was at war with the East India Company, the British forces soon learned respect for these warriors. The war ended in 1816. When the British learned of their skills, some deflectors from the Nepalese army were recruited as soldiers in the military. With William Fraser’s influence, a battalion under Lt Ross was formed – the Nasiri. As they became part of the British Army, they became known as 1st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles and having fought under Lt Lawrie; he reported back that he found them to be excellent soldiers. This force of 5000 men from different tribes in Nepal and they soon became loyal British soldiers. Other Gurkha battalions were formed the 2nd King Edward V11’s Own Gurkha Rifles and the 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles.

Gurkhas became a necessary [part of the British forces and fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and 25 Indian Order of Merit awards were issued to the Gurkhas for bravery during the siege of Dehli. Just after the Indian rebelled, they were told to relieve the British in Meerut and had a forced march to reach Meernt at 48km per day. During the siege, of the 490 active battalions, 327 were lost. In 1863 Queen Victoria recognised the Sirmoor Regiment and presented them with the Queen’s Truncheon.

The Gurkhas then fought again with distinction for the British in WW1 and WW2 when nearly 240 000 Nelapese enlisted. Later in 1947 with the Partition of India, they became part of the British Army. Other conflicts the Gurkhas have been involved in include the Malaya’s Emergency, Hong Kong, the Falklands and Afganistan.

Throughout the history of the Gurkhas, their knife, the Kukri, has been iconic and has intimidated the enemy on all fronts. The blade is of a re-curve design: it curves downwards with the sharp edge on the concave side. The length varies from 400mm to 450mm and is made from high-grade steel, the handle is of horn, hardwood or metal, and the sheath is of wood and leather. Concealed in the sheath are two small knives – one for starting a fire and the other, the sharp one, for general use.

In battles, the Kukri is used by trained warriors to kill – by dismembering the opponent or disembowelling their horses. The Gurkhas excel at stealth and quick, fatal attacks on sentries, etc. In training, recruits use wooden knives to avoid injury to themselves.

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The Strongest Warriors

»Posted by on Oct 6, 2019 in General | Comments Off on The Strongest Warriors

The Strongest Warriors

Spartacus, born in Thrace, fought for the Romans. When Rome started the war against the Germans, Spartacus decided that this was not his battle, so he deserted. The Romans did not take kindly to this, and after they caught up with him, he was sold into slavery. His ability to fight found his training to be a gladiator. His weapon of choice was a shield and a straight sword of 450mm in length. Spartacus still wanted his freedom, so he orchestrated to revolt against Roman authority with a group of the best gladiators. He was also a strategist, and he and his army stampeded through Italy, killing dozens of Roman soldiers. They then went on to free their wives. In 71BC, he was dead, and his army of 6600 was captured and crucified.

Genghis Khan

Born to a nomadic semi-tribe Temujin (his birth name) found himself fatherless in his early teens. His family were abandoned by the tribe when his father died, and he and his four brothers, one older and three younger, scavenged to survive. When Temujin killed his older brother, he became the man of the gurt.

He slowly built up his tribe by joining other roaming sub-tribes and eventually became a leader of by uniting all the tribes of Mongolia – with him as the leader. He and his warriors became an efficient killing machine, thanks mainly to their ability with the bow and arrow and with their horse-riding skills. Genghis was amongst the best. His talents with the bow inspired his men. Firing off arrows so fast that there were more than one in the air at a time, their success was the ability to shoot off an arrow as their mounts were mid-stride, giving them a stable platform for a split second, long enough to release the arrows.

Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto became a master of the katana, and he fought his first sword fight at the age of 13. As a Ronin (a wandering samurai without a master) he roamed Japan challenging all who would oppose him. His technique with the katana, which is a two-edged sword, was unmatched. His most memorable fight was against samurai Samaki Kojiro when Miyamoto delayed his appearance for about two hours, causing his opponent to become incredibly angry and flustered. Masashi faced him with a wooden sword carved from an oar while he kept him waiting and killed him with a blow to the head. He is believed to have died from thoracic cancer at the age of 60.

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Soldiers of Mongolia

»Posted by on Sep 29, 2019 in Fighter, General | Comments Off on Soldiers of Mongolia

Soldiers of Mongolia

Genghis Khan’s soldiers dominated their enemies because of their training and discipline. All soldiers were proficient with the bow and arrow, and they could have more than one indicator in the sky at a time! Their accuracy was legendary and unequalled in the world. They could even shoot backwards, without missing a target. These horsemen and soldiers carried composite bows which were made of wood, bone and ligament and were their prized possessions. When not at war they trained daily with the emphasis on the bow and arrow. Apart from their bows, they carried swords, similar to sabres and maces and axes for hand to hand fighting with the leading cavalry carrying spears which they used to thrust and also to throw.

Bow and Arrow

Mongol bows were superior to any user in the Western world and the Middle East. Twice as effective as the English longbow, they could easily reach 200 meters and sometimes as far as 250 meters (the Japanese Yumi bow) could equal this, but were much longer, sometimes longer then the archer was high!), which decimated the enemy before they could retaliate.


They could fire six arrows in a minute – one every ten seconds! They had differently designed indicators for different targets. Long-range, short-range and heads for killing. Arrows were used for penetrating the enemies armour. Some had whistles which could intimidate their enemies and some were dipped in naphtha and set alight to set fires in the where they landed. The rider’s accuracy at shooting was due to their ability to be able to release the arrow when their horse was in mid-stride with all hooves off the ground at the same time, giving a stable platform for a milli-second.

Spears & Shields

Spears were used by horsemen and foot soldiers alike. They were used for throwing and for stabbing at close quarters. The heavier horseman’s spear was 4 meters long, and the head had a hook that was used for pulling enemy horsemen from their mounts. Shields were used by all of the armies – foot soldiers and horsemen alike. The shield is small and round, made of wood and covered in horse or cowhide. These had to be light so that all the weaponry could be carried into war without hampering the wielder.

Armour

Mongolian armour was of a similar style to those used by most armies in the east. The armour was made up of plates, each three or four layers thick and glued together. These were then laced with leather cords in such a way that, if the wearer bent over in any direction, would slide under each other without hinder body movement. The affair was lined underneath with silk which had the incredible strength to stop any arrowhead from penetrating through the leather armour without injuring the wearer. The horse’s armour covered the sides, the back behind the saddle, the chest down to the knees and an iron piece covered the front of the head.

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Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts

»Posted by on Sep 22, 2019 in General | Comments Off on Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts

Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts

In the sixth century, the monks of Shaolin practised martial arts. This is first recorded at the Shaolin Monastery in the Province of Henan in China. These schools still teach the skills today – 1500 years later. Unfortunately, the monasteries today play to the tourists and some are more guilty of showmanship than the teaching of quality martial arts.

As with the teachings of Buddha, the monks teach open-handed combat. The monks of Shaolin helped the Tang Dynasty in their battles and also fought off bandits and robbers and protected the monasteries wealth from greedy government officials and jealous landowners. They also defended the coast of Japan against pirates who raided coastal monasteries for their wealth. Although the Shaolin monks practised and taught Kung Fu, other monasteries did not necessarily follow suit. There were other schools to teach martial arts, but this was the choice of the particular monasteries.

History

Six hundred years after it was first recorded that the Shaolin practised, it reached Japan. The samurai started practising Zen and with it came the knowledge of the martial arts. They realized that Zen meditation sharpened the mind, and this aided them in the fields of war. The forms of their martial arts included archery and sword fighting. However, the Japanese were practising these forms before Zen helped with concentration.

It was the practice up to the late 1500s for monasteries to have trained monks, called Sohei, to protect their possessions and their properties. These Sohei did not necessarily practise the disciplines of Zen as the true monks did, so this allowed them to kill if necessary. The Zen samurai sought perfection in the martial arts, including jujutsu, Kenjutsu, karate and practised Zen, but only to improve their concentration, but called it Zazen.

The teachings of Buddhism taught them not to fear death but accept it as part of life and showed them that material possessions were not necessary for survival. Today’s martial arts are taught in the Western world but without the connection to Zen. Japanese proponents of martial arts believe that without Zen the martial arts just become another sport.

Martial Arts in Modern Warfare.

Many armies in the western world today have some form of hand to hand training, whether it is with or without a weapon. The US Marines, for example, receive some training as recruits, but only learn the more essential skills as they progress. During the war in Vietnam, the South Koreans fought with the USA against the North Vietnam communists. Their knowledge of hand to hand combat came to the fore in confined quarters and tunnels when bigger and heavier weapons hindered rather than aided the wielders. The USA soldiers themselves were most impressed (and a little intimidated!) by the South Koreans, and the North Vietnamese avoided combat with them if at all possible.

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Buzkashi

»Posted by on Sep 15, 2019 in General | Comments Off on Buzkashi

Buzkashi

The national sport of Afghanistan involves horses, riders, and a headless goat! Started as far back as 2000 years ago, its competitors enter to show off the horses and their riding skills. It is a violent and dangerous as the riders, or chapandaz as they are known, and the horses can sustain serious injuries. This is not a sport for the fainthearted and takes a lifetime of training to become a champion. Starting at a young age and with lots of exercises, a chapandaz may get onto the field, but only the best of the best get to touch the goat carcass. Likewise, the horses need years of training before getting to compete.

Buzkashi is played by Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and strangely enough, the USA. Rules vary from country to country, but the USA has refined the sport, and a sheepskin covered ball is used in place of the goat, and the participants must go through the ball through a hoop to score. The ball has to be passed three times between the team players before a “goal” can be scored. In the past, there were not many rules, but a player could not whip the opponent or unsaddle him. Riders wear heavy clothing as padding with helmets as headgear. Boots have high heels to lock onto the saddle so the rider can lean off the horse to grab the goat.

The wealthy and riders own horses are hired but can choose any horse they want from the owner’s string. The goat or calf used in the Buzkashi is beheaded, gutted, and two limbs are removed. What is left is soaked in cold water for a day to toughen it. Players are allowed to tuck the carcass under their legs to free up their hands for control of the horses. When played in Kabul. The team has ten riders, but only five are allowed on the field in each half. At half time the next five riders take to the ground. There is a referee who ensures the rules are adhered to.

Different Countries

In Kyrgyzstan, the rules and the field size differ. Each team has twelve players and can replace the four players on the field at any time, and the same applies to the horses. The game is played over 60 minutes divided into three periods with two ten minute breaks. The players must drop the carcass in the opposing team’s goal to score. Here each individual must play for himself as there are no teams. On occasions, there may be many players on the field at a time.

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Turkish Wrestling

»Posted by on Sep 6, 2019 in MMA | Comments Off on Turkish Wrestling

Turkish Wrestling

Turkey has one of the strangest sports to hit the dirt! Wrestlers, well-oiled with olive oil applied by their opponents, dressed in knee-length shorts, made from water buffalo hide, and are allowed to put their hands down their opponents’ pants (Kispet). This gives him the advantage of having something. Initially, the olive oil was used as an insect repellent and was not washed off before a fight, and this then became traditional, even although more efficient insecticides became available.

Edirne’s Yearly Gathering

Every year contestants and spectators gather in Edirne, this year being the 658th year that this contest took place, and which lasts six days. It is time for celebrations, entertainment, including belly dancing, and traditional dance, song and music. The event has been held in Edirne since 1346 when it was the capital of Turkey and is the most extended surviving sport in the world. Other countries also enjoy wrestling, such as parts of Greece, Eastern Macedonia, and Thrace. Before the tenth-century, wrestlers were naked, and it was only with the advent of Islam that contestants were required to “cover-up”.

Yagli Gures

Yagli Gures (oiled wrestling) was first practised in the days of the Persians possible as far back as 1000BC. These days there is a substantial prize, the winner being awarded +- 100 000 Us Dollars, and if the winner can win three years in a row, he receives a 14ct Gold Belt. Businesses can also sponsor champions, adding to their winnings. In the early days when wrestling was just for fun, two competitors fought from early morning through the day, until midnight, and both died was exhaustion. Most top wrestlers train an apprentice who will ultimately take over from his master when the master retires.

Rules

Each match is limited to 40 minutes, and, if there is no winner, a further seven minutes is fought, and the winner is selected on points. In lessor categories, the contest lasts thirty minutes, and if there is no winner, a further seven minutes is allowed, and the contestant scoring the last point, known as the Golden Point, wins.

Before 1975, some matches could go on for two days until there was a winner. On the final day of the sports, the country’s President attends the games and presents the prize to the ultimate winner. The most excellent winner in the history of the competition was Alico, who held the title for 27 years.

Before the final match is contested the organisers (the municipality) holds an auction and the highest bidder becomes the “Aga” for the next year’s tournament when he is able to preside over the games, welcome guests and invites them for dinner and generally oversees the games, even to the extent of cancelling fights, adjudicating over the arguments and intervening wherever he chooses. In 2018 Seyfettin Selim won the auction with a bid of 113000 Euros, so he was the Aga for the 2019 celebrations.

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Fencing as a Martial Art

»Posted by on Sep 1, 2019 in General | Comments Off on Fencing as a Martial Art

Fencing as a Martial Art

The story of swords goes back to before recorded history when the first civilizations had swords of several types. In the Medinat Habu temple built to honour the god Amon, which was erected by the pharaoh Ramses 111, carved in relief, one finds scenes of swordsmen practising their swordplay using swords with padded tips so that there were no injuries. They carried shields and had masks on their faces and had padding covering their vulnerable parts. Many ancient civilizations used swords such as Babylonia, Greece, the Persians and the Romans.

Bronze and Iron

The metal sword developed in the Bronze Age, taking over from primitive stone weapons and the armies that had the secret were soon defeating their enemies. When iron was discovered, and blacksmith’s learned to work it into hard blades, bronze swords became obsolete as the harder iron made short work of the softer bronze. Both were milestones in the advancement of Mankind, hence the name of those eras as the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

The Romans developed their swords. The soldiers and gladiators were taught in schools dedicated to the art of sword fighting, but in training, wooden weapons were used. When Rome’s dominance of the world started crumbling, swords were still the weapons of choice. In the middle ages, training in the art became fragmented, and instructors developed them owns styles. The swords became heavier to enable the penetration of full body armour and were still preferred over firearms which were challenging to reload under pressure when unsavoury types started joining the schools to better their skills; these were put to good use by robbers, thieves, etc.

The armour worn by the nobility and the Knights became more substantial with the sole idea of penetrating the opponent’s armour. The soldier’s mobility became compromised by his heavy armour as his movements were restricted. In 1286 King Edward 1 started persecuting instructors, but the schools carried on regardless. Henry V111, however, licensed instructors to teach the skills of the cutting sword. The sword, however, had evolved into the rapier – a thin, lightweight weapon with no cutting edge but it did have a very sharp point. The blade slowly replaced the swords of those days. The Italians took fencing to another level where speed and skill outfought the heavy and cumbersome cutting sword.

Rapiers

Rapiers became less popular as fashions changed, and the long fencing sword did not match the clothing of the day. In fencing, the fighters became far more skilful due to the lightness of the weapon. Attacks were made with the point of the sword, and dextrous moves were taught to block the opponent. By the mid-1800s, the art of fencing was at its zenith, but in a fight or battle, firearms became the weapon of choice. Although the sword was replaced on the battlefield, it remains a popular sport and features in the Olympic Games.

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