Open Source HEMA

I came across this article today by Bruce Schneier. Bruce, a supporter of open source cryptography, talks about this sort of thing in his book, Secrets and Lies– Company X has protected its product with an expensive in-house but shoddy encryption system. Knowing this they try to keep the encryption system secret, but since the product has to be released into the public to make money, it is soon cracked. Had company X used a well known and widely tested encryption, their system would of had less flaws in it. Company X failed to adhere to the Kerckhoff principle.

The Kerckhoff principle states that a crypto-system should be secure even if everything is known about it, except for the key. It is security through design, not security through obscurity. As Claude Shannon put it “The enemy knows the system”.

This is why I approach my HEMA interpretation in a ‘Kerckhoff Principle’ way. I want to pressure test my interpretation against as many opponents as I can. I want all to see that I am prepared to put it out there, into the public eye and take what comes. Friends have said to me they don’t like to be filmed as they are afraid people could find flaws in their style and exploit it. I dare people to watch my videos and find flaws in my style. If people develop ways to beat my system, then I only ask that they beat me with their system, so that I can learn from it and make my system more robust, feeding back to them what I have found. That way we can grow together.

I want a system of reliable, flexible and robust principles that makes me a good martial artist, not a system of one-shot hidden tricks to fool opponents in tournaments. If you need to hide your system for it to be effective then I pity you. I haven’t hidden mine, and I have won several tournaments, against various groups, using various rulesets, with various simulators. So if you are at home, brooding over your interpretation and afraid to show others, I ask you to take that first step and put it out into the open. Sure, it may get savaged by wild HEMA internet dogs, or even stolen by HEMA fairies to raise as their own, but it will allow your system to grow and become more robust, making you a better martial artist.

I suppose one has to ask oneself what their goal is with this HEMA business. Ego or self-improvement?

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~ by Magnus on 21 October, 2008.

One Response to “Open Source HEMA”

  1. Hi, just want to say I agree with your thoughts. In order to become better it is necessary to have others find the flaws. A perfect example is pro sports teams who study footage of their upcoming opponent. I applaud you for your honest and willingness to put it(your system/style) out there.

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