Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hors de Combat

I'm writing the chapter on kansetsu waza (joint-locking techniques) in my book on the science behind fighting techniques (still haven't come up with a title). I quote the following from 'the original Japanophile', Lafcadio Hearn:

Jujutsu .. is an art of self-defence in the most exact sense of the term; it is an art of war. The master of that art is able, in one moment, to put an untrained antagonist completely hors de combat. By some legerdemain he suddenly dislocates a shoulder, unhinges a joint, bursts a tendon, or snaps a bone, - without any apparent effort.

Hors de combat, what a wonderful old-world expression.

Hors de combat is a French term that is literally translated as 'outside the fight.' It is also a term that is used in international law where attack is prohibited on a person who is hors de combat. The Geneva Convention provides this description of someone who is hors de combat:

A person is 'hors de combat' if:
(a) he is in the power of an adverse Party;
(b) he clearly expresses an intention to surrender; or
(c) he has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and therefore is incapable of defending himself;
provided that in any of these cases he abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.

 Isn't that the intent of most fighting arts, including martial arts, for the techniques to put the opponent hors de combat? To render the opponent incapable of continuing their attack or to motivate them to withdraw from their attack?

What a wonderful term - hors de combat.

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