The project of “Historical fencing and traditional Persian martial arts” deals with reviving the fighting techniques of Persian warriors based on an authentic and academic analysis of techniques described in Persian manuscripts from different time periods.
The martial arts of Razmafzar comprises 722 techniques of armed and unarmored combat on foot plus riding, lance combat on horseback, wrestling on horseback and horse archery. Still continues work on many other Persian manuscripts on warfare and historical fighting. Currently over 40 new manuscripts are being analyzed for this purpose. Thus, discovery of new techniques is a high probability.
Reviving Persian swordsmanship and traditional martial arts of Iran is an important project that includes different combat and fighting arts that were employed by different Iranian tribes through centuries. The system is based on years of solid scientific research in the field of Iranian arms and armor and many published books and print articles related to the field. Razmafzār analyzes the application and techniques of weapons, empty-handed techniques applied on battlefields and moral codes followed by Iranian warriors such as javānmardi principles.The techniques of this system of martial and combat arts extend from Ancient Iran to the end of the Qajar period and include:
- The use of different types arrowheads in warfare and techniques of archery (arrowheads against armor, soft targets, etc).
- Techniques related to the use of straight and long swords.
- Close-quarter combat weapons and the applied techniques.
- Techniques of heavy weapons such as axes and maces against armored opponents.
- The usage of spears and lances.
- Fighting against heavily-armored opponents.
- Mounted archery and mounted combat.
- Techniques of war wrestling on foot and on horseback.
A number of techniques were repeated in many manuscripts be it the epic stories in form of poems, battle accounts by period court reporters or fighting manuals. Razmafzār is not only based on textual evidence but also on iconographic evidence. Razmafzār teaches historical archery based on iconographic evidence and also complete Persian manuscripts on archery from Safavid period.
Dr. Khorasani has written some books: «Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period», “Lexicon of Arms and Armor from Iran: A Study of Symbols and Terminology”, “Persian Archery and Swordsmanship: Historical Martial Arts of Iran”,“Oriental and Arab Antique Weapons and Armour: The Streshinskiy Collection” and many articles.
The heart of Razmafzar is the training with the curved sword (šamšir ) and a round hide/steel shield (separ). However, one should note that the term šamšir (sword) is a general term in Persian and does not refer to any shape of its blade. Prior to the Arab Conquest of Iran and the introduction of Islam in 631 C.E., the swords used in Iran were all straight-bladed. This means that the preceding Persian dynasties, namely the Achaemenians (559 B.C.–330 B.C.), the Parthians (250 B.C.–228 C.E.), and the Sassanians (241 C.E.–651 C.E.) all used double-edged, swords with straight blades.
The teaching swordsmanship techniques based on Persian manuscripts. Analyzing different Persian manuscripts such as epic tales and battle accounts, one notes a consistency of mentioning some techniques through centuries. This could be due to conservative nature of fighting arts in Iran, many techniques continued to be applied with different types of swords regardless of their shape. It should be stressed here that epics such as the Šāhnāme [Book of Kings] by Ferdŏsi written in 10th century CE reports about the ancient Iran and their related techniques and many techniques can be traced back there. Neverthless, the contemporary fighting techniques of the era of Ferdŏsi surely have influenced the text as the miniatures of illuminated manuscripts the Šāhnāme clearly demonstrate that.The same applies to other manuscripts.
Different types of maces and axes were used by Persian warriors during combat. Both maces as well as axes were powerful bludgeoning weapons that could easily break the enemy`s armor. This means that both types of weapons were used when the enemy wore a heavy armor that could not be penetrated by swords. Persian treatises, epics, poems and historical manuscripts report that Persian warriors were able to crush the helmets and armor of their opponents using these weapons during combat.
Many Persian epics talk about the usage of knives and daggers for defeating the opponent and ending the combat. Normally, Persian epics refer to warriors who started the duel with the lance. When the lance shafts were broken, warriors continued the fight with maces or axes. Often due to heavy strikes the handles of maces were bent during the combat. In this moment, warriors started to use their swords. When the sword blades were broken, warriors then started to wrestle. Many wrestling and take-down techniques are used in combination in this type of weapons. Fighting on the ground is also practised in combination with short-ranged weapons.
Spears have always played a very important role in Iranian military history, and the lance was highly regarded as a weapon among the Iranians. Spear bearers had a long reach on the battlefield, and spears could be used effectively in war. The long reach and cheap production costs of such weapons were important factors for consideration when establishing formations of spear fighters and lance fighters. Additionally, one could learn the techniques of spear-fighting and lance-fighting much faster than other weapons, such as swords.
The combat with short swords qame and make up an integral part of Razmafzar training. The qame is a type of double-edged straight short sword. Some of the techniques used with these two short swords are reported in the stories about Iranian pahlavānān such as Pahlavān Akbar Xorosāni but other types of techniques are deducted based on the major general attacks with other types of battlefield weapons. One should note that the same as in the fight with a sword and a shield, grabbing the weapon hand of the opponent and throwing him down as well as sweeping the legs of the opponent remain important techniques in the fight with a qame or a qaddāre.
Wrestling played and still plays a very important role in Iran. Nowadays there are different types of traditional wrestling in Iran. In some of them, the wrestlers wear a jacket that’s used when grabbing the opponent and when applying different techniques. These include the košti-ye bāčuxe style of wrestling in Xorāsān (Khorāsān; a province in the east and northeast of Iran). Some styles allow strikes such as punches and kicks such as the style of de košti-ye gilaki in Gilān (a province in the north of Iran). As Persian manuscripts indicate, these arts have a long tradition. Freestyle wrestling is the national sport of Iran today.
All Persian epics and legends report that Persian champions were excellent wrestlers who knew how to use wrestling techniques in battles and as well in the duels that sometimes occurred before the battles between the champions of two opposing armies.When a champion threw his opponent on the ground and could control him, he killed him with a dagger or knife strike. Persian historical accounts emphasize the important role of wrestling in the training and preparation of warriors for battle and as well the efficiency of the wrestling techniques in combination with edged weapons in short-range combat.