Byzantine Martial Arts: The Syrian Block, the attack of the Kataphracts

Byzantine Martial Arts: “The Syrian Block” a Roman ( Byzantine ) technique written in a Mameluke fight manual.

For the English speaking friends we translate here in English language what the coach said in Greek language on the beginning of video:
(Beginning speaking) Hello everyone, today we will see ”the syrian block or deflection” which is written in a manual of the Mamluks and this technique had been used by the Byzantines as well, thoughout the Byzantine Empire. It was for the cavalry men and specially for the Cataphracts. Supposing that I am a horseback, having the spear under the armpit to hold it, it’s my guard position. If there was an attack from bellow right, you could parry like this and thrust the opponent. To change the guard position on the left, it’s like that and this is the drill. Let’s see how it works.

‘’The Syrian block’’, a byzantine hoplomachia’s technique which is written in a fencing manual of the Mamluks.

It’s known that there is not any byzantine hoplomachia’s manual saved nowadays with descriptions of exercises or techniques used by the Byzantines. The only manuals available are:

a) The longsword fencing manual of the German fencing Martin Syber, who says that the techniques that he describes had been used by the Greek fencing masters as well.
b) The manual of Johann Jacobi von Wallhausen who lived during the Renaissance and wrote a manual, where he decribed the way that the Romans were trained which is based on Vincentius’s ‘’Armatura’’.

Except all these things, there is also the late medieval fencing manual, named ‘’Nihayat al-su’l’’ and it’s a book which has to do with the horseback art of the Mamluks. It was written by a refuge from Anatolia or Iran (Persia).

On this book, the author describes a technique called, ‘’the Syrian block or deflection’’ and says that is a Roman (Byzantine) technique.

In this video, you will see the theory and the explanation of that technique and its practice too. Although, it’s written that it’s used by a horseman, it can be done by an infantryman as well.

I would like to thank Mr. Mercurio Mansa Myrie, who is an instructor and a researcher of the Historical African Martial Arts Association (HAMAA), and Mr. Evan Schultheis reenactor and historical researcher, for the information he provided me and helped us on our research for Byzantine Martial Arts.

Coach: George E. Georgas

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