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Tournament 2018 Thoughts

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My Club has just completed their 2018 open tournament. This post is a summary of my thoughts on this experience and follows from this and this posts from previous years.

As an overview, the tournament is now pretty convincingly the largest in New Zealand. A number of competitors this year called it the "national" HEMA tournament. It's not a target we aimed at but it's understandable why people think this. This year we had about 50 competitors from 6 different Clubs (not including mine) from throughout the whole Country.

I wasn't organising this year though, as Club President, I did take on my share of tasks and general cat herding to keep things moving.

This year we pretty much repeated the format of previous years so it was over two days with the Saturday full of serious competitions and the Sunday with informal fun activities. On Saturday we had:
Synthetic SideswordSteel Single SwordTournament Beginners Competition LongswordSpearMixed Weapon The ruleset is that…

Should people doing "KDF" just ignore your opponents actions?

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You sometimes come across the view that a principle of "kdf" is that you should just ignore your opponent's actions. A classic example from Facebook:

"if you purport to be fighting using KdF, there is a reason a principle is to ignore your opponent and their actions."

Ignoring for a second that the phrase "ignore what your opponent is doing" is generally the basis of all Bullshido martial arts, I was wondering what the basis for this was in the sources. For this I'm using the Hagedorn / Chidester version of the Liechtenauer recital from Wiktenauer. 
The highest basis, I think, in the treatise is from the four openings:
"Vier plössen wisse, Reme so schlestu gewisse, An alle vare, An zweÿfel wie er eparr"

Which is translated with a Wiktenaur gold star rating to:
"Four openings know, aim: so you hit certainly, without any danger, without regard for how he acts."
Which seems pretty conclusive: you attack ignoring your opponent's ac…

Giganti on Art and Science

"This profession does not require more than science and exercise, and this exercise presents the science." - Giganti

Some advice for beginners about their first HEMA class

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Recently I've been doing a large portion of the beginner's classes at my club. It's the unavoidable duty of anyone who likes having a large selection of sparring partners. I've been doing these beginners classes for years, hmmm when I think about it now, over a decade. In all this time I've definitely noticed common themes in terms of which new people do well and which don't.

So, I've put together some advice for new people going to their first HEMA class to help them along. For the TL:DR crowd: don't be weird about learning.

Don't forget to keep your ego in check

This is the biggy, especially for guys. You're about to do something new and for 99% of guys insecurities around respect are really, really important. But firstly, know you should be respected as an individual from the moment you walk in the door. If you have to "earn" basic respect as a human being, you're in the wrong place. Leave.

Otherwise, relax and remember most inst…

Express your art

"The Art is not just the specific choreography of the set plays; it is also a set of tactical principles, a set of movement mechanics, and a body of technique, intended to grant us victory in specific combat contexts. We have abundant exemplar techniques to work from, complete with clear instructions and before-and-after illustrations. With sufficient effort we can train ourselves to solve the swordsmanship problems that fall within this system’s scope, using Fiore’s techniques in accordance with his principles. Thus, express his Art." Guy Windsor.

Some thoughts on biomechanics

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TL:DR - fencing is not all about maximum force generation.

Biomechanics, or body mechanics as I call them for no apparent reason, are simply about understanding how your body moves and how this movement can be used to generate force. To summarise to my level of understanding, certain ways of moving can generate more force than others which lead to guidelines for improving your understanding of historical fencing, these include:

Righthanded blows will be stronger than blows from your leftCutting using just the wrist will be weaker than cutting from the shoulderStepping increases the force behind most blowsCutting with the false edge can break the transmission of force and therefore often makes for a weaker cut These are useful guidelines to help understand the "why" of specific techniques or overall philosophies of specific treatises.

However, they only form a component of understanding why an action might be "optimal" in a given situation. To crudely summarise ther…

Meyer myth busting: guards explained concisely

Myth1: Meyer is hugely complicated with lots of novel new guard positions
Myth1.1: Meyer is a massive departure from the earlier systems, just take his many guard positions as an example.

"the four guards work like this: the opponent is divided into four parts as has been shown previously in the illustration. The upper two are called the Ox, the lower two are called the Plow. Now when you have your weapon high on the right or left, then are standing in the Ox or Steer, and whatever you may execute by way of techniques or cuts from the Ox, you can also execute the same from all your other upper posture or guards."
"And you should not get confused that there are more than four named guards, such as Steer, Watch, Wrath Guard. These names arise from the intent, and should not be taken as being primary, as for example: I hold my weapon gathered for a stroke up above my head so that the point extends behind me, which I call the Watch - not that it is not in the Ox, but because…

Kit Review: Superior Fencing "16th C. HEMA Jacket 800 N"

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Kit Review: Superior Fencing "16th C. HEMA Jacket 800 N"

These jackets have become pretty much the standard jackets of my club and, at the last count, I think over half of our club members now use them. As far as I can see they also seem to be very common throughout the Australian clubs as well. However, most of the orders for our Club have taken place as collective efforts and one observation is that it definitely seems like Superior Fencing handles these larger orders better than an individual order (see below).

One thing to observe about Superior Fencing is that they seem to have designs that are surprisingly similar to other designs on the market but better made and with better touches. Possibly this is an advantage of making each one individually, they can better incorporate upgrades and improvements as they go. This jacket reminds me of a Neyman Fencing Renaissance jacket but it has improvements like ventilation grommets etc.

Finally, I've had this jacket for 5 mon…

It's not just about the techniques

"It's not enough to study just the techniques from whatever source we're working on but also to try to reconstruct a workable pedagogy for learning it" - Pradana Pandu Mahardhika

Anonimo Bolognese says be absolutely merciless

"The true virtue of this art consists in being intimidating, and in possessing such ferocity
as to appear to be on fire, with fierceness and absolute mercilessness in your countenance. Every slightest motion you make must exude a craving for delivering cruel blows; when you approach the opponent with such fierceness, you will completely wipe out his self-possession.” “Move in such a way as to give him the impression that every gesture from you carries the potential for inflicting a crippling wound. Make your attacks so cruel and violent that even the slightest blow is enough to fill the opponent with dread. In this art, you need to act and have the countenance of the cruelest of lions or the angriest of bears. Actually it wouldn't be a bad thing if you could make yourself look like a great devil and act like you wanted to whisk away his soul.”
Anonimo Bolognese, translation by Stephen Fratus