Test Cutting with Albion Talhoffer

•1 October, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Testing out a new sword. I tried to focus on being more fluid in this session. I found that, at first, I tended to ‘power’ the blow by cocking my hands back. I did find however, that not only was this a bad telegraph, it also made for a poorer cut. I think, if I can overcome this habit and get my ‘test cutting’ technique good on an unconscious level, my sparring will be improved. I just need more bottles (or mats).


Fechtkunst Training Report- 30/07/09

•1 August, 2009 • 1 Comment
  • Thumb grip to normal grip transitions through out the 4 primary guards.
  • Absetzen- Using Pflug and Ochs as aggressive defence to basic cuts against one’s four openings.
    • Zucken- using weak vs strong when your point is deflected, and replying with a short edge cut.
      • Remember each intent in the sequence.
  • Parrying an oberhau from Alber using a short edge Unterhau and Long-edge riposte.

Next week- sparring at the appropiate level.

The ‘My Weapon is Better Than Yours’ Fallacy of Phalluses

•1 August, 2009 • 2 Comments

I’ve been meaning to rant about this topic for a while.

Throughout my time as a HEMA swordsman I’ve often heard people say something like-

Why do you do longsword when ‘weapon X (often sword and shield, spear etc)’ will beat it?

I’m not here to agree or disagree with such a statement. What I want to say is, what does it matter?

Let us assume someone using ‘weapon X’ will always defeat someone with a longsword. So what? Where the hell are you going to get into a real fight where weapon X is used against a longsword?

In a self defence situation?

Unlikely. Do you carry your spear or sword and shield around the town? Even if you did, does anybody else carry a longsword around? Is a trained longswordsman going to break into your house? If so, do you have your ‘weapon X’ at the ready? Are they suitable to use in a common house? What is the legality of using a longsword or ‘weapon X’ against a lesser armed intruder? Are there better things to use than medieval weapons?

In the SCA?

Yes and No. Within the SCA context would be the yes; certain weapon systems may confer advantages for one to win competitions. However, since SCA isn’t HEMA, nor operates like HEMA schools, the point is moot as it isn’t HEMA systems being put to use in a competition.

In a HEMA competition?

Possibly. Thing is, HEMA competitions are generally done to test the skill of the person, not the weapon system. Thus participants are usually restricted to weapons of similar effectiveness. Competitions with vastly different weapons are considered a novelty and not a equal playing ground for tests of skills.

In an open weapons tourney?

So you can shoot a swordsman with a pistol. Congrats, very skillful.

Longsword is a hobby. It is also a great weapon to understand the basics of fencing and once mastered it’s easy to learn another weapon system.

I do it for fun, not to be a ‘super duper medieval tough guy who can wield the ultimate weapon X’.


The One True Weapon X: Axe and Trowel.

Steel Longsword Fencing

•4 November, 2008 • Leave a Comment

We have filmed some blunt-steel longsword fencing this month, as soon it will get too hot to wear the appropiate PPE. Steel freeplay is something I have neglected of late, mostly due to being too lazy to gear up for it. The past few sessions have made me realise how much I need a new blunt sword. My current one, whilst being no ‘spatula’, has a variety of flaws. Its handle is too short, which is very troublesome when wearing protective gloves; the rotational nodes are slightly off my ideal sword; and it weighs at least 250 grams too much. What I need is something like an Albion Liechtenauer.

Enough whinging, here is the video. (It might be worth going to youtube and view in ‘high quality’)

New WMA Blog

•25 October, 2008 • 1 Comment

Another fish crawls out of the murky internet sea.

Baskethilt Broadsword Boy

Good to see. I hope these blogs keep up regular posts.

If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve also added some more existing blogs in the links column. More may be added as I find them.

Closed Source HEMA

•24 October, 2008 • Leave a Comment

After writing my post on Open Source HEMA I remembered the discussions about the ARMA’s new Krumphau interpretation. To summarise, an ARMA member stated there was a new and improved version of the Krumphau being proliferated in the organisation, but was not at liberty to divulge it to the general public under request from the interpretation’s creator. Now this caused some consternation amongst certain people. The HEMA community has had it quite good in terms of public release of information, and the revelation that someone is keeping something secret can cause people to feel ostracised.

So are people morally obliged to share their research? Of course not, I find such a notion ridiculous. Would they benefit from sharing? My post on ‘Open Source HEMA’ made a case that it would, but when is something really closed, and what are disadvantages to sharing?

Whilst having released a massive amount of information into the public sphere, the ARMA is keeping some of their interpretations secret. Fair enough, say I, I’m certainly interested in what they have, but I’m not going to throw a tantrum if they don’t tell me. Does this make their interpretation at risk of being weakened by no open testing? Perhaps, but look at the membership numbers of the ARMA- They have several hundred members to test an interpretation on. So even if it is ‘Closed Source HEMA’, they may produce more robust interpretations than a small amateur community using ‘Open Source HEMA’.

So what benefits does a group or person get from withholding an interpretation or information? We don’t fight with swords anymore, so it’s not self-preservation. I don’t believe it can primarily be for money or employment, as whilst there are some teaching full-time, HEMA isn’t at a ‘big-bucks’ level (yet). So it has to be prestige. People don’t want their interpretations, which were developed through long hours of sweat and study, to be stolen or claimed by others. A way to ensure credit is to publish first, which takes time. Hiding your methods from outsiders can also help you win things like tournaments (assuming your methods are good), gaining you or your group prestige. Prestige can potentially lead to more members and even free trips overseas to teach. Finally, those teaching full-time, may feel an obligation to their paying customers not to share their methods with the non-paying public.

Groups and scholars with a solid foundation in martial arts and scholarly study can get away with being closed off to a degree. They have sweated and studied for many years and many have shared their ideas in closed ‘skilled’ HEMA circles, which can more beneficial due to the higher level of feedback compared with an assortment of youtube style comments you may get from the public. I do not, however, think ‘Ronnie the Re-enactor’, who has been studying ‘Talhoofner’ whilst eating his daily fat burger, could get away with creating an effective fighting art without outside help.  So in conclusion, I still think an interpretation will benefit from being proliferated as much as possible, but I understand why some may choose not to do so.