Showing posts from June, 2015

Principles of fencing - Take 5

“I have first of all laid down the principles or grounds of all the Art” – DiGrassi, True Art of Defense

"the discipline of fencing grows on properly understood principles you have contributed to, rather than relying on mindless juggling," - Joachim Meyer, 1570

It often comes up as an assumption that there are “principles” of swordsmanship and all martial arts: universal rules. The idea being that all good systems of combat are a blend of an implicit understanding of these rules and the accepted norms of combat from that time.

Principles are:

Universal, meaning that they apply to every situation and weapon.Empirical, meaning that they are drawn from practice.Foundational, meaning that they allow you to build upon with confidence
I've attempted to write this summary several times and abandoned it every time as I confused myself. However this process has helped me consolidate my thoughts so I think it's time I attempted again and perhaps even might stimulate others to ed…

Philippo Vadi - On Mastery

"If you would be dexterous, and master the sword, you must be accomplished in teaching and learning" Philippo di Vadi, On the Art of Swordsmanship (1480's)

Using "the Force" in Longsword

"The Force is strong with this one." - Darth Vader, 1977

"This knightly art is grasped with the fist and practiced with the application of the entire body" - Meyer

I've been thinking about this, on and off, for a long time but only recently I've decided to really try and nut this out so I've been focusing on working out what Meyer's stances tell us about how he generates force and in my head I've broken it down as follows:  Just the arms - generating power from just the arms, this is broken into swinging from the shoulders, elbows and wrists to generate power by rotation: i.e by cutting by just dropping from Day into Longpoint would be a great example of a shoulder cut by itself. It's also composed of leveraging the handle which contributes significantly to the acceleration. Twisting the torso - allows you to generate power from the hips. This often appears to involve holding your guard out to your left or right side and then bring it back acr…

Book review: The Medieval Longsword, Guy Windsor

"Do you like swords? Do you want to know how to use them? Then this book is for you. With a foreword by historical novelist Christian Cameron, in this book renowned swordsman and author Guy Windsor will take you through the principles and practice of medieval knightly combat with the longsword."

The Medieval Longsword, Guy Windsor
I'd just like to say at the outset that I don't just read Guy Windsor books. That this, my second recent book review, happens to be another Guy Windsor book is co-incidence and it just happens that the last two books I've felt were noteworthy enough to put a few lines on the blog have been his. That said I feel like this book is everything that I felt his "swordfighting" book is not. If I was a "writer, game designer or martial artists" this is the book I would hand them.
First at $8.29 I feel that this book this ridiculously cheap. That's a fact. However, if this sets the bar for future HEMA publications I wouldn…

Kit review: titan clubbells

"But yet after he has sometime travailed with a light weapon, then it is necessary according as he feels himself to increase in strength of arm, that he take another in hand, that is something heavier, and such a one as will put him to a little more pain, but yet not so much, that his swiftness in motion be hindered thereby. And as his strength increases, to increase likewise the weight by little and little." - Giacomo di Grassi

Titan Clubbells
"Club bells are designed to be like ancient training clubs used by warriors of past millennia, providing strengthening to the bodies main muscle groups. The reason why they can be beneficial is that unlike many traditional free weight exercises, clubbell exercises are multi-plane movements, stressing the muscles from every imaginable angle! The ability to perform these swinging exercises also draws heavily on the core for support and stability, meaning that almost every club bell exercise is also a fantastic core exercise!"


Excellent blog posts at the moment

There are some excellent thought provoking blog posts out at the moment

This from Keith Farrell:

"When watching modern tournaments in person or online, for weapons such as the longsword, messer, or sword and buckler, then the fighting often looks messy... Is this a problem? To some extent, yes… But if some fencers do not behave like this, then their opponents will never learn to deal with such behaviour and overcome it. It is therefore a necessary step to have “play masters”, “common fencers”, “buffalos” or “Winkelfechter” before we can have fencers who fight in a technical and excellent fashion."

"since the MS I.33 teaches a complicated system that requires certain situations to occur, there need to be skilled fighters who can produce these conditions before the I.33specialists can begin to dominate."

This from James Roberts:
"Thus, my brief argument here is that martial skills such as using a longsword are useful in warfare, just not necessarily directly in…

Has tournament fighting improved in the last five years?

Interesting comment below:
"Five years ago it was rare to see even top-level fencers pull off complex historical techniques in a tournament setting and the winners were generally natural gifted athletes, whereas these days not only is it common to see good technique at all levels of a tournament, but people lacking in technical expertise (or athleticism, you need both) generally don’t even make it into the bracket of a large tournament. A lot of semifinal and final matches end up looking almost like exhibition matches, the level of technique is so high. Top fencers five years ago would be considered average at best by today’s standards. The human instinct to excel in competition has caused people to train harder, the opportunity to pressure-test against people outside their club has resulted in stronger and more mechanically-sound interpretations, and the constant criticism from the anti-tournament crowd has made top competitors feel they have to constantly prove that they’re mar…

Capo Ferro on pole-vaulting in shrubbery

"The truth is a disposition of precepts of fence; it must not be measured following the ignorance of some, who teach and write owing to the long use of arms that they have; and not owing to knowledge, but rather more often they make of shadow, substance; and of chance, reason; mixing gourds with lanterns, and pole-vaulting in shrubbery; but one must esteem those who constrain themselves to the truth of its nature." Ridolfo Capo Ferro, Great representation of the art and use of fencing 1610

Achille Marozzo - Will expand your mind later

"I also advise you that as you start teaching someone, you should not begin with something difficult, since that would seem too hard to them; doing so would turn them away and would cause them to not learn as eagerly as those who start with something more gradual. Anyway, I will expand your mind later." Achille Marozzo "A new work" 1536

Opportunistic v's creative

"To begin to understand how an advanced fencer thinks, we must understand the difference between opportunistic and creative actions... Opportunistic actions rely on your opponent making mistakes. Creative actions are more important since the attacker initiates what will happen next. Faced with the challenge of producing an all-important winning hit, a creative action will serve you best." Ed Rogers, Advanced Fencing Techniques 2013

The more I study the Bolognese School the more I come to understand that the "differences" between the "Italian" and "German" schools have been vastly overstated to me. In fact the more I learn the more continuity I see. Undoubtedly this is due to bio-mechanics: the optimal cutting and thrusting positions and techniques do not change, so you will find a Alta/Vom Tag position and a pflug/Coda Lunga position etc. It appears to me that the main difference lies in the tactical application of the mechanical actions rather …