Showing posts from 2013

Phases of combat in Longsword - Some thoughts on the middle measure and withdrawl

"a serious over emphasis on defense before closing and a serious lack of emphasis after closing -- either one will get you mauled, if not killed." - Marc 'Animal' MacYoung

I have previously suggested that how longsword practitioners approach the onset phase of combat could be improved to make the system work better. Working with this has also been generally successful but it's also led to me refining my approach to the middle measure.

Middle measure should be the killing zone because unless you are being spectacularly masterful or your opponent is being particularly unskillful it is extremely unlikely that your attacks from the onset will land. This is simple geometry/body mechanics: an onset attack involves stepping and cutting which is a far more complicated and therefore slower action than simply cutting without needing to step. Within middle measure, where there is no need to step, you can crack out your cuts faster than your opponent should be able to react…

Good response

This: to my mind is the best way of responding to the USFCA certification.

If you don't like something, do it better.

Kit mod: heavy sparring glove

See the follow up post here with the completed heavy sparring glove.

So I've given up waiting for someone to produce a HEMA glove that is lightweight, fully mobile and fully protecting. There are many out there, just beyond the horizon, that are promising but time drags on and nothing happens. Therefore I recently had some inspiration and decided to simply pool two different purchases, neither of which was good, to make something that works.

Initially I'd bought these "Cherburg Gauntlets" and I'm not going to review them as basically they are unsuitable for HEMA or any swordsmanship. It's obvious that whomever designed them never used them with a sword in their hand as the shell does not allow you to grip or swing a sword correctly.

I also had the Absolute Force HEMA gloves which you can see my review here. Again I was not happy with them.

It occurred to me however that between the two I probably had the workings of one good set of gloves: if I could take the …

Kit mods: HEMA plastron

When considering potential injuries in historical fencing with the highest risk after head injuries, for which we have excellent protection with the fencing mask, it occurred to me that the trust with a relatively inflexible long sword to the torso was very high up there. Even a heavily rounded point will piece a human body with enough momentum behind it and in the unfortunate situation that both fencers are stepping towards each other at the same time as the thrust; well it doesn’t bear thinking about.
While there is plenty of padding available it’s really hard armour that’s required here. Fortunately plastic plastrons for sports fencing are easily and cheaply available such as this:
Problem is that this only covers the upper torse and getting accidentally disembowelled doesn’t appeal to me much either.
So, my solution was to wear two plastrons one as normal across the chest and the other upside down to cover…

Kit review: budget light training gloves

"Motorcycle Motocross Racing Gloves Tactical Black

1. Special ergonomic design with carbon fiber hard shell protection, taking into account aesthetics and security. 

2. 3D-dimensional breathable mesh fabric, comfortable is not hot. 
3. Neoprene embossed design, attached hand is not easy sliding. 
4. Four fingers high breathable mesh design and a rubber block sliding full protection.
5. Ergonomic, hand-dimensional drop resistance protective hard shell, shock-absorbing foam has a better than general protective effect. 
6. Fingers type version with a rare song refers to the design, so that gloves fit perfectly with his hands more,feel manipulated hundred percent. 
7. Fingertip impact protection attached leather, laminated safety within the reflective point of the night. 
8. Palm of your hand the entire piece Bucharest slip resistant seamless design particles, and reduce the effect of strengthening the non-slip fall car torn off cause the seams. 
9. Tiger's mouth suede protection and redu…

Kit Review: Heron Armoury - Meyers Longsword

This is a custom sword made by Tim Noyes aka Heron Armoury.

A little about Tim. I've bought perhaps a half dozen swords off Tim over the years. As a supplier of re-enactment swords he's might be a little off the beaten track for some HEMA practitioners so to put him in context he is probably the best there is in the middle end of the UK re-enactment sword market. This includes the usual favorite re-enactment suppliers like Armour Class or St George's Armoury.

In my experience Heron Armoury is slightly cheaper than most mid range sword suppliers, re-enactment or otherwise. Also unlike many mid range suppliers he doesn't usually have a 6 - 12 month waiting list. His swords also don't have such a mass produced and "off the shelf" feel as say St George's Armoury or Albion Swords.

My experience of Heron Armoury swords are that they are solid, reliable lasters. They do not burr easily and I've never heard of them breaking. Often times they show their w…

Great quote

"We do a lot of errors ourselves. So we should tolerate those who do bullshit in our eyes. Only by showing something better in a way that attracts students, we can overcome bullshit and by this we force even the charlatans to learn themselves and change to promoters of the art." - Johann Paulus Kal (from Facebook)

Awesome article

Here: "Guard position isn't just something you simply do. I've seen many a man strike a fierce pose, a grimace on his face. And not have a clue as to why he's even doing it. Perhaps too many movies. You see each 'on guard position' you are taught to assume has a vital purpose."
"Simply study (and realize) the true basis of all of this material which we all so diligently pursue is just human motion, dynamic human motion. Nothing more, nothing less."

Interesting article about knife that could just as easily have been written about sword. 

Thrusting in Meyer's longsword

"I will here remind the friendly reader at the outset, since there is a great difference between sword combat in our time and how it was practised by our predecessors and the combat masters of old, that this account of the cuts will only cover what is currently in use and pertinent to the sword. And as to the practice of former days, when they fought dangerously both with cuts and thrusts, I will discuss it in its proper and separate place." - Meyer

Meyer is interesting when it comes to thrusting. He directly says thrusting has fallen out of fashion and it's a great difference between his art and the art of the past. Some people have taken to mean that Meyer does not "do" thrusting, that the whole system is a type of "sport" fencing and therefore flawed.

However, in true HEMA style, I would argue that this is incorrect.

Mainly because there are examples of thrusting in his long sword, these are just a couple I found within a couple of minutes flicking …

Great little article

This is a great little article on cutting by Eric D. Mains. Beautiful presentation.

Love the quote: "In true HEMA fashion, I disagree"

Check out the awesomeness...

Image new sword, on route from Tim Noyes.

Fundamental technique: alignment and stance

Reading Louis Preto's book has got me thinking about a few things, as all good books should :)

This picture represents how I tend to align myself when I fence, in a pretty much straight line directly at my opponent (represented by the diamond) with the weight squarely on my front foot:

However from reading Preto I notice he has an alignment more like this:

His stance is wider and his alignment is more in the centre of his body.

After checking Meyer I think both alignments can be seen but perhaps the narrow alignment is adopted in the End stance and the wider alignment is associated with the middle stance, possibly for receiving blows and perhaps as a stronger base for throwing multiple cuts.

I've been trying Preto's stance and I find it is more grounded and balanced allowing for more stength and speed. It does however present a slightly shorter measure, it reduces your ability to move so quickly forward (but this could be an experience/training issues) but it allows for m…

Book review: Understanding and developing footwork - Luis Preto

Understanding and developing footwork - Luis Preto.

"Footwork has always been regarded as one of the most important elements to the success of a Martial Artist's performance. However, almost all comments heard about this topic are, usually, generic at best: "great footwork", "amazing speed", "better footwork", thus failing to build a better understanding about what makes up effective footwork. This easy to read book with over 100 photos looks to shed some light on this issue by analysing and systematizing: * The variables that make up effective footwork * The difference between offensive and defensive footwork * The relationship between footwork when using weapons of different length * How to learn footwork so as to have it transfer into sparring"

I ordered the book from Preto's website and by HEMA book standards it was relatively cheap. Postage was reasonable and it arrived in good time with recorded delivery.


It's a relatively…

Equilibrium is death

From my experience there is a school of thought I commonly encounter, what I call in my head the "conversation" approach. This is where one persons makes an action, your opponent makes a response and then you respond back and forth like having a civilised conversation. This mental approach can be detected most easily in two areas, in the onset and in the bind. It looks like follows:

1. Two people advance to just outside of measure
2. At an agreed signal or after a certain amount of circling one will adopt a guard
3. Then the other a counter guard
4. The attacker will then attack
5. The defender will take a defensive action
6. A bind is formed
7. Both partys push backwards and forwards for a bit "feeling" in the bind
8. It all ends up in a heap with scrappy cuts in the bind or semi-half sword wrestling 

The problem with this approach is it encourages equilibrium, where the person with the initiative is continually giving it up so their opponent can respond and potentially t…

Kit review: Tinker Pearce Norman Sword

"Designed by Michael "Tinker" Pearce and made by Paul Chen / Hanwei to Tinker's exacting specifications, this sharp Norman style sword is balanced to optimize cutting ability and authentic handling characteristics. The disctinctive brazil-nut pommel is peened to the full-length tang. The blade is forged from 5160 high carbon steel marquenched to HRc50-52, allowing superior edge retention. The grip has a cord-wrapped wood core covered with leather. The wooden scabbard is covered with leather and has steel fittings. A very light and fast sword with a slender grip for great control. "

Leaving aside the technicals I have bought the sharp version of this sword for a deal off the New Zealand version of ebay and then, after being impressed with it, I bought the blunt version also.


Both sharp and blunt versions, they just well designed swords with the closest feel to a historical design for a "mass produced" sword that I've yet handled.

In terms…

Musing on the Study of HEMA 2

"Whatever this tool in the hand of man will produce depends entirely on the nature of the goals alive in this mankind." - Albert Einstein

In my opinion most of the current big debates and antagonisms in the wider HEMA community stem from having ambiguous goals and the fact that many do not understand that the Historical European Martial Arts (plural) are tools that were intended for and can be used for many different purposes.

Its easy to see why people get frustrated, they understand (sometimes incoherently) that they are trying to achieve something (let's say, to accurately recreate a practical fighting art from a treatise) and when others also use the same treatise to different ends (cherry pick technique to get better at fighting in modern tournaments) they feel like these other people are trying to deviate them from their One True Goal.

In these arguments about the use of HEMA those people who espouse the One True Goal are confusing the means (HEMA) with their own …

Kit Review: Light Sparring Gloves

"Made from the same high-quality leather and stitch construction that sets our Swordsmans' Gloves apart from the competition, we have added a super-dense martial arts foam, along the fingers, thumb, metacarpal bones and wrist. The quilting pattern is specially designed to allow for superior mobility in the hand, fingers, thumb and wrist." You can find at:

Ordering from Revival in the USA is fine, though their postage is a little on the pricey side. Despite some dodgy behavior in association with payment of authors through Chivalry Bookshelf they receive a lot of kudos from me as the original HEMA goods supplier.

Edit: after posting this I decided my gloves could do with replacing and placed a order for new gloves. When they arrived it turned out that I had been sent two right hand gloves. Unfortunately since then despite emailing them through several different stated email addresses I haven't been able to get a response to re…