Skip to main content

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 martial artists as well as sportsmen, which has resulted in a lot of impressive discoveries and advancement." 
Michael Chidester, HEMA Alliance forum

Certainly that summarises my limited experience of tournaments prior to five years ago (when I conveniently emigrated) and it's heartening to hear the opinion that this is no longer the case. 

Now, here's an interesting website to go with the above: and when I have a free evening I intend to put Mr Chidester's assertion to the test and see if the standard of tournaments has improved :) 


Popular posts from this blog

Kit mod: heavy sparring glove 2

This is a follow on to heavy sparring gloves and SPES arm protectors.

Finally: a pretty good HEMA glove.

Essentially I've created this final stage by removing the cuff from the gauntlet and attaching Velcro so the SPES arm & elbow protection attaches to the gauntlet. The Velcro attaches under the lip of the arm protection providing a solid join between the pieces.

My photography is lame but I hope you get the idea:

Good protection.

I would say that this setup has good protection from injury from sparring blows from fingers to elbow. Against full force blows it takes it down from injury to some mild discomfort and possibly light bruising, against moderate blows you feel some pressure with no discomfort. The fingers are where I've invested the heaviest protection but there is still some room for improvement.

Light weight

Because the weight is distributed along the length of the arm rather than at the wrist/hands end and because they can fit quite tightly to your body they seem…

Halberd Waster

Several times through my historical martial arts career I've got it into my head that I'd like to do halberd. However, the issues with a suitable waster have tended to put me off, specifically creating anything that can be used at something approaching full intention. The issue is that if you make the head from the usual materials (steel, aluminium, wood, leather etc) you have to exercise extreme caution at very slow speed because all you've made is a giant heavy mace on the end of a 6ft lever.

Recently I was working on making foam swords for another side project and while doing this it occurred to me that foam was the obvious solution to the halberd head issue. Pretty quickly I developed this simple waster.

The head is cut from EVA foam matting. This material is importantly both ultra light and pretty robust. To get a good strength I cut two head shapes out and stuck them together. The bracket to attach the head to the pole is just PVC piping with a slot cut into it for th…

Absolutely no absolutes

The more I study and learn of historical fighting, and the more I teach, the more I become careful in throwing around "absolutes" in terms of technique. I find that to say that something is "wrong" is a sub-optimal way of thinking about fencing that hinders development. Rather I like to highlight that everything is situational, i.e. with a proper understanding of the principles of fencing that there is often a time and a place where a particular technique is optimal and that you should not completely discount anything.

For example:

(and I'd like to make it clear that I'm not being negative on these examples, I liked and remembered both these videos I'm just using them to illustrate a pedagogical mindset.)

In this interesting video, the view is put forward that you should cut and step at the same pace to ensure that your hand and body land together. This is so that you cut with maximum strength and for reasons of balance.  The idea of not stepping and cu…