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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Martial Mythologies: And The Horse You Rode In On

I was reminded of this while reading another martial arts blog. I really have no idea where this one originates, since, as martial mythologies go, it is possibly the singularly stupidest idea I've ever heard of.

Somewhere along the line, someone started advancing the idea that high flying kicks, like those seen in Tae Kwon Do, were developed/intended for use as anti-cavalry techniques. The story goes that, when faced with a charging horseman, the masters of old supposed leaped into the air and kicked the cavalryman out of his saddle.

To paraphrase Christopher Lee "I am unable to understand the thought process that would lead to that statement".

Seriously. Look at horse. Pictures are okay, if you can, go find a stable. If you live in a city, find a mounted cop. Stand next to a horse. The biggest horse you can find, preferably, because war horses by their nature tend to be rather large. A very small horse (not counting miniature horses, which clearly, are not meant to be ridden by human beings) will still break five feet in height at the shoulder. Larger horses can be up to a foot taller. Oh, and big horse can weigh close to (or more than) a ton.

That’s not even stacking an armored rider on top of the damn thing.

Even if the rider is unarmored, with the rider on top of the horse, you’ll need to add another foot or two to get to the target. Which means that to even HIT the rider, you need to have people propelling themselves upwards of seven to nine feet in air.

The current world record for the high jump is 2.45 meters, or about eight feet. That’s a superbly trained athlete, with a huge amount of time, dedication, and focus. Plus modern nutrition and training on top of it. The average person isn’t going to come close.

Even if someone was able to leap that high, physics is still not favoring them. Slamming your foot into an armored man who is being propelled forward by a near ton of horse is likely to hurt you just as much, if not more, than him. I guess it’s possible that, in the absence of stirrups, you’d knock the cavalryman off his horse, but you’re unlike to be in a position to do much of anything afterwards. I mean, besides lie there and hold the shattered remains of your leg together.

The notion is just insane.

If you’re still not convinced, go trip down to your local renaissance fare, and watch the jousting. Yes, I know, those are guys doing European Medieval Combat, not Asian Medieval Combat. I don’t care. Go look, and tell me if you really think you’re going to be jump kicking someone on one of those horses. If you try hard enough, I’m sure you could find someone willing to let you try the experiment.

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