Posted by Angerboda Sun, March 24, 2019 01:04:28
Stav has been of great importance to me for around half my life, it has taught me a lot and opened doors to fantastic places I would never have ventured into without Stav. I have spent a lot of time writing about Stav, with the intention of sharing knowledge of this amazing tradition. I also teach weekly with the ambition to establish a new generation of teachers in Sweden. All my engagement has been completely without monetary interest, because I feel that Stav is too important to make profit on, and too valuable to be forgotten.
One of my ambitions with writing has been to address many of the misunderstandings and really ignorant claims that people has posted online for the last decades. In a Swedish context it has worked quite well, and Stav has gained some well-deserved respect in the heathen community.
Out of interest of how the tradition is perceived I occasionally google Stav to see what is out there, it inspires my writing. Most of what is written about Stav does not really give a flattering image of the human nature, however it still teaches a lot of how the flawed mind perceives the world. Too many people are obviously not capable of actually dong research and coming up with a reasonable evaluation of the information. Somehow they also seem to be of the opinion that their flawed image needs to reach others; and those seem to share the same limitations, since they only can evaluate second hand sources.
One article that shows up highly in the results is posted by someone that labels himself as the “pedantic swordsman”, who completely lacks understanding of what stav is, but still feels he has the mandate to label it as a joke. Unfortunately his research seems to be anything but pedantic; and his analyses really makes him look like a joke, at least to anyone who has actually bothered to study the topic he rants about.
The first thing he does, probably out of ignorance, is to present the classic straw man; by claiming that the stav community has claimed that Stav is a Viking age martial art that has frozen in time. No such claims has ever been made. We have claimed that Stav is a living tradition, who´s orally transmitted history puts it far back in time; but we have never claimed the oral history as cold hard facts.
Based on this straw man, he presents the idea that a closed tradition, kept within one family or region, would completely degenerate since it would not be in touch with the unforgiving reality of combat. He also claims that it would degenerate since it would not have been a part of the evolution of warfare that happened all over Europe.
From there he makes a complete illogical leap of thought, and claims another thing to discredit stav; the fact that the classical weapons used in the Viking age context is absent within the tradition. Maybe that should have been a hint if anything? Weapons such as shields and Viking type swords fell out of fashion in Scandinavia shortly after the Viking age. Any tradition that claimed linage that used these weapons; would as a matter of fact come across as anything but a living tradition.
He also misses the fact that Stav works with principles, the two handed staff and the one handed stick is basically a substitute for any bladed weapon. Within the Stav philosophy, the idea is that when you understand the basic principles with the aid of a stick or staff; there are only small adjustments when utilizing bladed weapons. This also fits very well with what is known about martial arts in mediaeval Scandinavia.
From an historical context, most people of Scandinavia during the mediaeval period would probably not train with live weapons, simply because they were too expensive. A sword would probably hold about the same monetary value as a modern tank today. The most common bladed weapons of Scandinavia were the axe and the spear; which by a coincidence happens to be to most important sharp weapons within Stav.
There is no doubt either that the traditional Stav practitioners evolved together with the world around them. The Hafskjold family was a family of statue, traditionally educated at one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. Many were also involved in the military. So, the idea that they were not present during the evolution of combat is just a silly claim by someone who has no idea what he is talking about.
There are many similarities between Stav and other Scandinavian martial arts. One good example is traditional Swedish bayonet fencing, which is another living traditional martial art. The strongest parallels to Stav is have seen to date, is what I have found in the 19th century Swedish military manuals of bayonet fencing.
The pathetic swordsman also uses one of the classic arguments to discredit stav; the fact that Ivar Hafskjold has spent many years in Japan training in Japanese martial arts. If you really think about it, what is the problem with someone who has one background of martial arts, seeking out another tradition to compare and to learn? Especially when fate has put him in one of the few places on the planet that still has many living traditions of weapon arts?
Just as his ancestors, Ivar trained in the best martial art he found available; and just as his ancestors he kept the philosophy and concept that was taught within his family. There is nothing in Japan that slightest resembles the philosophy behind stav.
At one point I actually asked Ivar the straight forward question; what is the difference of Stav now compared with before you went to Japan? The answer was that when he was young stav worked great against other stav practitioners, but not always against other styles of martial arts. His experiences in Japan helped him to tweak some details, and now he felt it would not matter what style the opponent came from.
Stav has a unique and highly elaborated philosophy that is intertwined with the martial art. I have seen nothing comparable, this is not something that comes up in a short period, and it takes time for something like this to evolve. The Pathetic swordsman next claim is that the philosophy within Stav has nothing to do with historical sources of Scandinavia, and claims that it is new age. Anyone who has bothered to research all these ideas woven around Stav, will find strong parallels in historical Scandinavia.
One good example is the runic calendar I have described before in this blog, which is encoded in the core of Stav, and therefore it is a good indicator of the age of the system. As I described this cannot have been created after the year 1700 in Norway, because this type of runic calendars died out at the time due to the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. There is no other examples of such an elaborate perpetual living Norse calendar today, neither any recreated ones. We have two options! Either, the calendar and the system around it, was recreated by a genius; or it comes from a living tradition. If you then consider all other aspects of Stav´s curriculum, it is very unlikely that it is anything but a living tradition. But, please bear in mind, I am not putting a date of the age of the tradition; I am simply arguing that it is not a modern construct.
There are many components and ideas within Stav that one could date individually, and by considering them in context one would probably be able to estimate a reasonable birth date for the tradition. But to do this properly one would have to spend years studying Stav, and reading up on Norse mythology, history of religions, runology and Scandinavian folklore. Then spend a lot of time putting these finds on paper. But it would still defeat its purpose, because what is the point of putting a date on an esoteric tradition? For the practitioners it makes absolutely no difference.
Next the pathetic swordsman claims that he
has checked some videos of Stav, and what he sees is a joke. Well, here I have
to partly agree, there a lots of really poor videos of Stav out there. In some
cases, the level of the martial art displayed in the video is not the best. In
other example´s the filming is not the best. On top of that, a two dimensional
video has it limits when it comes to portraying martial arts. To really present
a marital art on video in a fair way, one would need a professional production
with only high level practitioners; this has not been done to this date when it
comes to Stav.
I regularly get requests to do video presentations, but I always decline. I do not feel I have the resources to do it in a way that presents Stav in a good way. Besides, why would I share the practical applications of Stav with random people online?
There is only one way to experience any martial art, and evaluate it, and that is to seek out an instructor and actually train with them. Those who are serious enough will seek out a qualified instructor; there are probably less than ten of us in total. For some reason, very little of the criticism towards Stav actually comes from people who has tried it out.
For me personally Aikido does not appeal to me. I do not really like what I have seen. This is based on me visiting a few Aikido dojos, and also training with several fairly experienced Aikido practitioners who has sought me out to learn Stav. So I do have some personal experience, but still do not feel I am in a position to criticize Aikido as a martial art! I simply know too little about Aikido! Yet, this pathetic swordsman, who has absolutely no experience of stav, believes he are an authority to label it as a joke?
This guy labels a martial art he knows nothing about as a joke, based on random stuff he has seen on Youtube? And perhaps he has read a few articles written by his English speaking countrymen!? Who in most cases has shown a limited understanding of the deeper aspects of Stav, to put it gently!
England is both the savior and curse when it comes to stav! If Ivar Hafskjold would not have moved to Japan and then to the UK; he would most likely never have shared his family tradition. But the English context is a curse, because a lot of people, even highly experienced practitioners; lacks an understanding of fundamental aspects of stav. A lot of bold claims were made that was not really accurate, and a lot of perspectives shared was not the traditional perspective. But still, a poor presentation of something, does not excuse poor criticism.
Just as the pathetic swordsman, I will end by explaining the need for this rant; it is because his flawed and ignorance disrespect the art, and the people who lived and died by it. And the people who diligently practice it today! He also disrespects the keeper of the tradition, who has shared it openly without any personal gain what so ever; on the contrary he has for the last 25 years been discredited by ignorant people just like this one.
The pathetic swordsman accuses stav of fanaticism usually found in cults, which again misrepresent what Stav actually is! A philosophy of the free mind and body, with a lot of thought parallels with Hermeticism. The perspective within the tradition encourages the practitioners to research it and evaluate it and criticize it; which I and other have done with enthusiasm! I have spent countless hours actually researching stav, and the components within it. And I have spent countless hours of writing about Stav
To this date, I have published 33 blog posts in Swedish and 10 in English; this is the most indebt resource on Stav anywhere! This would be the best starting point for anyone that wants to expose Stav. Hack job criticism is not good enough anymore! You need to try harder.
So, just as the pathetic swordsman encourages; anyone who's interested in the subject; read, read, read, and read some more. Please read my articles with a critical perspective, and please point out any flaws you find within them. But even more importantly, never let any random and arrogant prick on the internet decide for you what is worth your time.
The ironic thing to it all, is that this pathetic
swordsman seem to have a huge interest in both European martial art and
Scandinavian spiritualty; yet he slams the door in his own face to the only system
that actually integrates both these aspects into a meaningful product. Which also
is a lesson to be learned.
Stav is the only variety of Norse spirituality available today that integrates all aspects into a coherent system, were everything from the mythology to the runes, to the cosmology to the festivals follow the same path. Stav is probably the only variety of Norse heathenism that qualifies to be labelled as a genuine denomination of this religion. One problem is, that parts of the English speaking Stav community has failed to label it as such, and they are guilty of mixing stav up with New Age and all kinds of stuff. But this is a flaw of the practitioners, not the tradition itself.
Since I always aspire to be descent, even
though I occasionally fail miserably; I have tried to find an email to the pathetic
swordsman, but I failed to find one on his web page! I do not understand why
you publish stuff without giving people an ability to contact you! If anyone is
in contact please forward this link.
As I see it; he has two options. Either he acknowledges that he had no idea what he was ranting about, and removes his article from the net. Which would make this article redundant.
Another option is of course that he reads through my blog, and follow up on his previous post. Which would be refreshing! I have almost blogged for five years, and up until this date no one has opposed. Going into debate would require a lot on his behalf, and I doubt he has the commitment! It is just so much easier to post bullshit on a topic you know nothing about and never bothered to research.
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