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Footwear & Melee Tactics
A Vintage Machete Duel Between Kestle & LaFond
© 2015 James LaFond
Martial artists tend to train in footwear in which they will likely not fight. Really, how many MMA people can expect to be barefoot in a brawl?
How many karate people will be attacked in a parking lot while bare foot?
How many construction workers will be wearing kung fu slippers or wrestling shoes when they see a lady getting mugged?
In ancient times it was no different. In the arena [sand] gladiators that went barefoot had the advantage over booted and sandaled types. In the following film clip in which Damien and I are fighting as two thraex [Thracian-style] gladiators, we were wearing very different footwear. At the time my doctor told me not to fight without jump boots on as my ankles were fairly shredded. I did most of my sparring and fighting at the time on concrete and asphalt, with some on grass. For martial arts school mats and floors I had a third pair of boots soled with dancer’s felt. See how the soft felt interacts with the waxed floor of this gym to make me look like I’m fighting on ice. Damien immediately perceived my low line stability problem when slashing with this high commitment blade and used this as a means to an end—mine specifically—by using low line foot checking to put me on the floor and finish me.
Note his use of the knee to pin me, which is very important when fighting with both hands full. He also told me that if I ever made him fight in that gay looking ‘smurf’ helmet again he would kill me for real. Also note that Damien had better hand discipline, keeping his blade and shield more closely together. separation of blade and shield is a sign of weak weapon integration. I had more reach and was a better long range fighter and was falling into a range trap by not using my shield aggressively enough and depending on the forehand that was unbalancing my already poor footing. he would probably have beat me on my feet if I had appropriate footwear. He has taken me out with groin kicks before in such small blade and shield bouts.
As range based combat read this as James having a slight long range advantage, Damien a slight mid-range advantage, and Damien owning close range, making this a 3-1 engagement favoring Damien without the footwear issue, which rendered it a 4-1 affair.
The machetes are modified sugar cane machetes. If you want to imagine what the end looked like for many a slave owner during slave uprisings on San Domingo and Cuba, imagine this hooked machete with a square-cut front, and a white boy on his back with no face cage.
The shields are made from woks. The helmets are Bauer hockey helmets with the face cage enclosed with painted iron bailing wire. And ladies, my skirt was custom tailored by a heterosexual woman rather than a gay man, so it actually fit.
Robert Gyer and pro middleweight Tony Cygan are in the background.
Combat For Men
modern agonistics
Bag Work
son of a lesser god
dark, distant futures
on the overton railroad
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