What is a "system?"

You sometimes hear about "Meyers System" or "Foire's System." But what does that mean, what is a system? A system is a series of general principles, rules or a framework that acts as instructions for an optimal way of fighting. An exceptional  HEMA sourcebook will layout this system reasonably clearly and explicitly. This is why, on the whole, I prefer sources like Meyer, Di Grassi or Silver. Systems are different from fundamental fencing concepts (time, measure, body mechanics) which are the language used to describe all systems. A good HEMA sourcebook will have a good understanding, more or less, of these fundamental concepts and will be able to describe them in these terms. There are also techniques and combinations of techniques (plays), but these are not the "system" - they are examples of what could happen if specific circumstances are put through the system. I feel like plays are useful to determine if you have understood the system co

It makes no sense to promote someone to a high rank if they cannot fight well

It is often pointed out that a purple belt knows almost as many moves as a black belt – he simply does not perform them as well, or combine them aswell, or at the correct time. Also, some fighters do very well with a small collection of moves that they can apply well in any situation – should they be ranked lower that another fighter who knows a lot of moves but applies none of them well? A more objective method is to test fighting skill. If one fighter always defeats another when they grapple, this might be taken as firm evidence that he deserves the higher rank... Rather, the extreme informality of the Brazilian style is a direct reflection of the fact that it is impossible to provide clear cut rules as to how people ought to be graded. The most we can do is to provide very general criteria. The individual decision must be left to an experienced instructor who will take a range of criteria into account. For example, the size and strength of the student, depth of technical knowledg

Execute your devices with heed

"You must be well instructed in the four openings, if you wish to fight at all surely. For whatever cuts and devices you may execute, however good they may be, if you do not know how to break off in each quarter, and to transmute the intended devices, transforming them into another more appropriate attack, always depending on how he fights against you and counters your devices, then it can befall that you are planning on one device for a particular opening, and yet he conducts himself against you such that another opening is more accessible; this opportunity will escape you, if you execute your intended devices without heeding other opportunities." Meyer, Forgeng page 105

The living Art - Devon Boorman

"When a practitioner is able to spontaneously generate techniques to respond to unique situations they are practicing a living art rather than going through an exercise of scholarship." - Devon Boorman

Superiority in Fencing

"in Arms as many ways to defend onself as there are ways to attack and that superiority and safety are only produced by speed and the manner of taking the tempo." Jean De Brye, The Art of Fencing Reduced to a Methodical Summary

Tournament 2018 Thoughts

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 Sidesword Steel Single Sword Tournament Beginners Competition  Longsword Spear Mixed W

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

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 ig