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For the past 8 months I’ve set myself a challenge: To inflict the least amount of pain that I could to whomever I would fence or drill with.
It’s quite a contradiction when you think about it. Not only do I practice a martial art that involves hitting people with a sword and often score for doing so in competitive environments, but the other person also has a sword which they intend to strike me with.
The unfortunate part is that in most cases, competitive or otherwise, my opponent doesn’t care about keeping me safe as they get tunnel vision about winning, which is exactly what I hope to change one day.
When doing martial arts, it is important to understand that you are the main thing keeping the other person safe: not their gear, not them, but you. You truly are the difference between safety and a concussion or a broken bone.
The fact is, it is extremely easy to cause damage. Striking at the hands or arms with intent is likely to fracture a bone even through protective gear. See this example where a strike in a tournament led to...
(Note, in this piece I’ll be examining a piece of terminology commonly used in the Liechtenauer fencing tradition. This discussion, however, includes generally good advice that can be translated to other traditions and martial arts.)
“And this strike breaks all strikes of a Buffalo – which means peasant – that come downwards from above, as most peasants usually do.” - Nuremberg Hausbuch (MS 3227a)
Through the various glosses of the Liechtenauer fencing tradition we are told of the “buffalo”- a type of fighter who lacks important technique and may try to compensate with strength.
It happened several times as I read the manuals and looked at my own fencing that I’ve asked myself: “Could I be the buffalo master Liechtenauer mentioned?” - “It can’t be” - I thought, after all “I’m learning proper technique and fighting as taught in the glosses and therefore I can’t be a buffalo.”
Or can I?
I propose the two are not mutually exclusive: one can study the glosses to learn technique and even execute it in sparring situations, yet still be the buffalo the masters warned us about.
You don't need a partner to do longsword drills. Joachim Meÿer gives us a wonderful tool which we can use to create a large amount of useful drills.
The Meyer Cutting Diagram, aka the Meyer Square.
The numbers create a sequence, their position mark an opening. Cut at a number and move to the next.
Looking at the outer sequence, 1 marks an opening on their upper left side (your upper right), the next is the exact diagonal opposite, their lower right. Next go opposite but not diagonally, their lower left and finally the last opening at their upper right.
Here is some of the translated text:
"step and strike first from your right against his left ear, as soon as the...
Recently I came to act on a singular selfish and childish desire: "I want to play with swords". Unfortunately to get the most satisfaction from playing with swords you need a minimum of two people and the more the merrier, as a variety of people adds a mix of different skills and extra challenge which leads to more fun and insights. It is this that led me to start a local HEMA group.
Let's take a step back for a moment: I have been playing with swords for the past year and a half now, so what changed? In March this year I moved from Guildford (UK), where I studied with the School of the Sword and English Martial Arts Academy, to Mountain View, USA.
Being new to the area, I looked to continue my studies and found two accessible locations: Davenriche European Martial Arts School and Schola Saint George. The first is a well structured institute and the other a casual weekend meetup group ina park. For various reasons I decided I wanted more, and set out to get more people into HEMA.
It's worth noting that I label my meetups...
If you are interested in Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) and need help in choosing what to buy, then this is the post for you.
There has been a lot of talk about HEMA equipment and safety recently, partially regarding what is "appropriate protection" and on what is "good equipment". As I am running a small club that practices HEMA at Google and have experimented with quite a bit of equipment myself I decided to create this post both for my students to have as reference and for other people in the community.
I'll start by going over what I consider as appropriate protection and the risks we wish to prevent and then continue on recommending specific equipment to buy.
Before we ask ourselves what is the protection that is appropriate, let us examine what we are doing and what are the risks involved.
There are different ways to practice HEMA, from purely technical drills at one end of the spectrum, to controlled flow sparring at the middle and full force sparring at the end of the spectrum.
Please mind your own and your partner's safety. You should always remain controlled and remember...