Resources on Medieval Literacy Part III

Resources on Medieval Literacy Part III

While the 13th Century was still very generally speaking a period of prosperity, in which the European population peaked, the 14th Century was characterized by disasters, (famine, economic disasters, climate change and plague), wars (esp. the arrival of the Turks in...

Polish Hussar Saber

Could one find a more Polish weapon than the Hussar szabla? Literally, when someone thinks of a saber from Poland, he probably thinks of this very specific weapon, that is (not fully accurately) attributed to the famous winged hussars. It is the katana of the eastern...

Fencing and Modernity

What is a Fencer? Part II The sword is one of the most powerful symbols of our culture. But how does the sword and fencing fit into our modern world? And what defines modernity? Today, we take a deeper look at what it means to be a fencer. We dive into the soul of men...

Concerning the Dynamics of Swords

There are two major models that specify the point at which a sword should ideally hit its target. One model focusses on the sword’s vibration, particularly the nodes of the fundamental flexural vibration; the node which is closer to the sword’s point is often called...

Extensive article on basic Meyer dusack added

I have just added a 28 page article based on my dusack workshop. It is entitled Meyer dusack – the dusack in motion. It is a simple introduction to some of the most basic principles underlying Joachim Meyer’s dusack fencing. It contains brief texts...
Choreographing HEMA for film

Choreographing HEMA for film

A director who was filming a documentary about a historical battle on a ship recently approached me. So, this is an attempt to share experiences so that we can learn and develop our methods. I know that there are quite a few people within the HEMA community working...

Historical overview of the Vadi family

Historical overview of the Vadi family Chronology from the X to the XIX centuries House on which the Prestige of Aristocracy was bestowed, raised the banner of Nobility Editor’s note: Philippo di Vadi Pisano was a 15th century Italian fencing master famous for,...

Is it possible to be a full-time HEMA coach? Part 1

At first I wanted to write only one article that would cover some frequent questions about how to start your own HEMA club and turning it into a job. As I researched the topic more, I noticed that there is no way to put it all together as there is so much useful...

On Tournament rules

Well I guess this is the “hot potato” of the HEMA community! I am sure that a lot of other people before me and surely a lot of others after me will deal with the subject. First of all I have to let you know that I never participated in any tournament due to...
Resources on Medieval Literacy, Part II

Resources on Medieval Literacy, Part II

The 13th Century: Commercial numeracy and literacy. Lay literacy and the first public schools. The Beguines of Flanders. The second life of the translation school of Toledo. Writing in the vernacular. Eyeglasses. The commonplace book. The Universities. The Fourth...
Resources on Medieval Literacy, Part I

Resources on Medieval Literacy, Part I

Resources on Medieval Literacy, Part 1 When we talk about Historical European Martial Arts we obviously tend to focus on the martial first and foremost. Most HEMA research emphasizes the content of the manuals themselves, parsing and reparsing the author’s words and...

Concerning the Sharpness of Blades

A high level of sharpness of cutting tools is preferable, just as it is for edged weapons. While tools are generally used in well defined situations for which they are optimised, edged weapons, particularly those with longer blades, have to meet conflicting...
HEMA and politics

HEMA and politics

Looking at the recent “sexistic HEMA banner debate” I really feel a concern about how quickly these women and men who object have been disregarded as rabid feminists by some. For some reason that happens quite often with feminism. Feminists are regarded as...

Some Fencing Rules

The following translation of the manuscript Cod. Guelf. 264.23 contains the notes of an unknown German speaking student about his fencing lessons at the knight academy at Sorø (Ritterakademie Sorø). It was most likely written over the period of several months to...
Creativity, stress, and a stiff upper lip

Creativity, stress, and a stiff upper lip

Why is creativity important in fencing, and how come it shuts down when we are stressed? And what has that got to do with making sure you have waxed your moustache before facing mortal danger on the battlefield? Creativity is what we call the ability to create...
Longswords and their data

Longswords and their data

For the past year or so, I have been gathering data on longswords. These come from a wide range of different source, from the dark nooks of the foreboding internet to dusty tomes found in libraries. The quest has yielded around 60 longswords dated from the 13th to the...
A tear in our beer for Sir Richard Burton

A tear in our beer for Sir Richard Burton

With no little shame, and for lack of time, I would today just very briefly like to suggest a toast for one of the more colourful, and bad-ass looking HEMA pioneers of the British Empire, Captain Sir Richard Burton, explorer, translator, soldier, fencer, orientalist,...

Unfolding the cape

Neither a real weapon, nor a simple cloth: the cape in Italian martial arts. The cape is an item of clothing, subject to the rules of fashion and climate, and cannot be described appropriately by measures and rules, therefore it may have various shapes, lengths and...

French fencing guilds

French fencing guilds of Paris, Lille, and Amiens in the 16th and 17th century Translated by Pierre Pichon Edited by Jean Chandler, SDA NOLA, New Orleans & Roger Norling, GHFS/MFFG Finally we have here English translations of French fencing guild documents from...

In memory of Lt. Egerton Castle

On this day Sep 16 1920 one of our greatest HEMA Pioneers, Egerton Castle died. Together with men like Cpt Alfred Hutton, Baron de Cosson, Archibald Corble and Kpt Emil Fick and some 50 more men around Europe, he struggled to learn and understand the martial arts...

The chronology of fencing books

At various points discussions have surfaced again and again, which question the chronology of the fencing styles and schools of late medieval and renaissance times. The question, who could have been the first fencing master and who “invented” a certain kind of...
Smallsword… for we are many.

Smallsword… for we are many.

“Draw not your Sword but to serve the King, preserve your Honour, or defend your Life.” “Art of Fencing”, Monsieur L’Abbat, 1696 (Andrew Mahon, 1735) To begin examining this weapon we can start off with the famous quote from the Biblical parable:...

Joachim Meyer’s dagger system

Note: This is a working document and will continuously be updated as we work with our interpretations of Joachim Meyer’s dagger teachings. Similarly to how I worked with his staff teachings I will attempt at systemizing the principles and techniques taught and...

What is a fencer?

I know I am not the only one who feels fencing is more than training, research, techniques, sparring, and competitions. Being a fencer means something—but what, exactly? Some of the best people I know are fencers, and their personalities are a part of their fencing....

Simple Staff Method and Drills

I first learned staff in the late eighties, and although I was not that interested in the provenance, as I recall my master learned it in Scouts as a child. I never had any documentation for it, but it was a simple system consistent with what I have subsequently seen...

Flower of Battle

Here is an excellent lecture on Fiore Furlano de Liberi, Ludwig von Eyb and more, by Michael Chidester, held at Fechtschule America 2013. Well worth watching, no matter if you focus more on the “Italian” or “German” aspects of the fighting...

Die Vorpal-Klinge!

This short movie shows a glimpse of the world of the Collegiate Fencing, the still living child of the Fechtschule tradition. For more reading, look at the excellent article An overview of German collegiate fencing traditions by Jörg Bellinghausen. Also the article...
Save the wrestling! A short history of wrestling

Save the wrestling! A short history of wrestling

In a somewhat surprising decision the Olympic Committee has now decided to exclude both Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling from the Olympic Games, while still retaining other considerably less traditional sports and opening up for adding a more modern sport. To us...

The Plagiarism by Nicolleto Giganti.

A few years ago I translated the first book of Mr. Nicolleto Giganti into Castilian. The book I used for the translation was printed in 1644 by Zetter in Frankfurt with the text translated into German and French. I must confess that this fencing felt quite lively and...
In memory of Cpt. Alfred Hutton

In memory of Cpt. Alfred Hutton

  Today we raise our glasses to the memory of the 19th cent. HEMA-pioneer Cpt. Alfred Hutton who died on this very day, at the age of 71, on Dec 18 1910, 102 years ago. Cpt. Hutton was an officer of the King’s 1st Dragoon Guards as well as an antiquarian...

Remember Mair

On this day, December 10, 433 years ago, Paul Hektor Mair was hung at the age of 62, convicted of embezzlement of the city of Augsburg’s funds. He had spent the money on a lavish lifestyle, often throwing big parties with important people, likely in order to...

The Rose and the Pentagram

This article is written to accompany the recent article about the mysticist, and possibly even fencer and a Freyfechter, Heinrich Agrippa. If you haven’t read the article, it is suggested you do so, before reading this article. Die Rose (the Rose) is a...

The OODA Loop & HEMA

“Knowledge is not power. Power alone is power. What knowledge does is provide the means to determine where to focus that power, for maximum effect.”  – Carl von Clausewitz [3] The gears of war turn throughout the Ages as combat perpetually evolves....
About the flat parry

About the flat parry

In the world of historical fencing, and particularly the fascinating field of research, we sometimes face scholars who express less well-founded hypotheses on certain topics. The question of parrying with the flat instead of the edge, for example, is a recurring topic...
Didrik von Porat

Didrik von Porat

For some time now I have searched and collected information about the Swedish fencing  Master Didrik von Porat. This is what I have found out. According to his Letter of Nobility, which he got when he was knighted, Didrik von Porat was tutored during his youth. In...
Teaching martial arts

Teaching martial arts

Quite recently, while exchanging all sorts of points of view with everyone’s good friend Roger Norling of GHFS, and upon stating that Jogo do Pau’s footwork does not entail any deliberate positioning of one’s feet, but simply managing one’s body in order to manage...

Strengthening exercises

Here are some very crude video clips we shot today of the strengthening exercises we have begun working with in the Meÿer Halben Stangen class at Gothenburg Historical Fencing School. Since they are relevant to longsword practice, the article is cross-post into both...
Chronicon Helvetiae

Chronicon Helvetiae

Just some brief reflections on  images from Chronicon Helvetiae by Christoph Silberysen, dated to 1576, currently kept in the Aargauer Kantonsbibliothek in Aarau, Switzerland. Christoph Silbereysen (* 1541 in Baden AG; † 1608 in Wettingen)  was  abbot of the...
Sparring swords – Introduction

Sparring swords – Introduction

What defines a good sparring weapon? A common notion is that it should be as close as possible to the real, sharp weapon it simulates, but be designed with safety in mind, thus lowering the risk of permanent injury. However, since a sharp weapon is designed to injure,...