Category: Teaching

On Individual Lessons in HEMA

Ours are fighting systems that are under (re)construction. Those of us who consider themselves researchers ponder their brains out in order to understand martial instruction from the past – often several hundred years old– preserved in old books and pictures. This may sound a daunting task, but the last decades show that it is not hopeless. In the case of some fighting systems with a broad source base, such as the medieval German Kunst des Fechtens or the modern era Scottish broadsword, we have been able to reach a level of understanding in which controversies revolve around tactical and...

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Announcing: The awardees of the HEMA Scholar Awards 2017

Finally, after a lot of hard work by the jury, and some delays in the organisation, we are extremely happy to present the awardees of the 2017 HEMA Scholar Awards, given for outstanding research published in English in 2016. Want to know who they are? Run off to the web site and have a look! And please share the hell out of this, wide and far! On behalf of the organisation, I would like to thank the jury, the sponsors and everyone who has sent in nominations! http://thehemascholarawards.com OUR SPONSORS: The HEMA Shop PBT Historical Fencing THOKK SPES Sparring...

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Articles on HEMA pedagogics

A couple of years ago I felt that there was too little discussion on pedagogics and teaching methodology in HEMA, a feeling I still have even if it is slowly improving, and for this reason I wrote three articles on this particular topic. This material I have also rewritten to some degree for a new book which also has several other chapters added already.

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Training videos from the GFFG

The training we do at the Gothenburg Free Fencers Guild is divided according to different areas of focus, like e.g: footwork, body mechanics, weapon mechanics etc. For this we do not always carry weapons, instead stripping away anything but focus on the particular movement, while also trying to keep things fun. Sometimes other tools are used, to emphasize the effects of the movement, like ropes and balls. Since we hope to inspire others to share their own exercises we have recorded ours, as our beginners practice them, and have uploaded them to this playlist on YouTube. This playlist also...

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Book on cutting with medieval sword released

Long in the works after many years of dedicated work on the topic, renowned US HEMA instructor Mike Edelson has finally released his book on how to cut with medieval swords. The book is described as follows: “For centuries, masters of defense throughout the world jealously guarded their knowledge, sharing it only with their students and patrons. But it was not just their techniques that they wanted to keep hidden–their most closely guarded secret was not what to do with a sword, but how to do it. This book lays bare the principles of the use of the sword...

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Johann Georg Paschen’s Rapier Lessons: Developing a curriculum for teaching rapier fencing

This article will present an analysis of Johann Georg Paschen’s (1628-1678) Kurtze iedoch Deutliche Beschreibung handlend von Fechten auff den Stosz und Hieb (Short though clear description treating of fencing on the thrust and cut) published in 1661 in Sachsen. Paschen was a prolific author: in addition to treatises on fencing, he also published books on wrestling, spears, flags, gymnastics, military fortifications, and cooking (Conan 1). Despite his wide-ranging interests, his fencing text gives little direct information about him and his pedagogical background.  In what follows, I will explore how Paschen converges with and diverges with the Italian rapier tradition...

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The point of sparring

While sounding like a simple thing to define, sparring can have quite a few and very different goals and purposes that are sometimes hard to keep in sight in the heat of the sparring session. With experience this becomes easier to separate as you get accustomed to the intense situation and learn to handle it, but especially in the beginning it is easy to forget what you are actually doing, or mistaking it for or even wanting, it to be something else. So what are these different goals and purposes of sparring then? Let’s have a look at some of...

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“Take great pains in your knightly practices” – A brief review of Medieval and Renaissance training methodologies

Few men are born brave; many become so through care and force of discipline. – Flavius Vegetius Renatus Many pages have been written on the subject of medieval and renaissance combat treatises, every year new translations, books, essays and blogs are added to the bibliography of weapons and combat during the Medieval Ages and the Renaissance. However, the subject on how knights and period fencers trained, especially as related to physical conditioning and strength remains nearly unexplored. There is a mildly generalized understanding that these groups trained their bodies swinging heavy weapons, moving large and heavy objects and throwing...

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Troublesome Student -The Winner, the Solver, the Heretic

As a teacher, you prepare to show a student a technique from the treatise of your choice. You have art, text, and experience, you’re qualified, you know what you’re doing. Everything is set as you prepare to share your hard-earned wisdom. Besides! Said student came to learn from you- so that’s something! And yet, as you demonstrate the technique, slowly, the student decides to thwart it. – And now I have your arm behind your back, from here…. – I’d totally just grab your nuts or wriggle out of it like this. – That’s great. I suppose the only way...

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All is Not Lost; Or HEMA on the Cheap

My first contact with what I know now as HEMA took place in the spring of 2009. I was attending a military re-enactment event at Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg, Virginia. One of the re-enactors gave a demonstration on Fiore de Libre’s Armizare. I was intrigued by the combination of unarmed and armed fighting techniques as well as the fact that these methods had been preserved in medieval manuscripts. There were a couple problems with trying to learn from these manuscripts.  I was put off by the lack of good translations available and lack of clubs to practice these martial...

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How computer based systems can help improve our fencing skills.

Prolog: Epic Meaning The goal of every HEMA-fighter is to “survive” a duel – fought with protective equipment and as little rules as possible – achieved through years of training, practice and research. Certainly not an easy task as each group, club and organization emphasise different core areas in the art of fencing. Some want to fight as realistically as possible, others want to establish a tournament system, while still others have their focus on entertaining spectators. Our association pursues a clear goal: Focus on the human being, while observing individual and human capacities and encouraging continuous development. This...

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From WHAT to teach to HOW to teach: A coaching contribution for the HEMA of the XXI century

Tactical intelligence tends to be made out to be more complex than it actually is, by being seen as weapon specific. Furthermore, it also tends to lack specific and straight forward training guidelines … which has tactical skill being frequently cast aside as a natural ability that one either has or hasn’t. As you can easily get, I don’t share this view. I view tactical training as mostly non weapon specific (through universal combat concepts such as distance, reaction time, strikes’ angles, reach, etc) and, additionally, as something that can be systematically trained in an effective manner by relying on very specific guidelines. Ultimately, this might be seen as a body of knowledge that embodies a kind of fencing mixed martial arts approach if you will. This is my stance, and the latest DVD I’ve released focuses on just that, presenting many guidelines geared towards shedding a better understanding of the: Nuts and bolts of combatants’ tactical tools, Decision making process that oversees their usage.   This overall summary mostly suffices for pragmatic sparring (output) oriented trainees and instructors who are looking for a short-cut to 15 plus years of brainstorming on my part, meant to provide an informational edge in training so as to achieve improved sparring skill. However, if you are interested in learning more concerning what brought about this project, its historical ties with HEMA and its contents, do continue reading. JdP & HEMA: A difference in focus...

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Bored Students

The most knowledgeable of instructors can also be some of the least effective teachers. There are many reasons for this, but today’s article will focus on alleviating boredom in students. First, what is boredom? It is when a student is no longer actively engaged. What does actively engaged mean? It means a student is actively using one or more of their senses when taking in information from the lesson. Why does a student cease being actively engaged? Let’s look at the senses of Hearing, Sight and Touch, to answer that. Hearing One of the easiest ways for an instructor...

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HEMA Pedagogics Part 3: How to create a good learning environment

This is the third part of my brief article series on HEMA and pedagogics. Starting with the first HEMA Pedagogics article where we looked at the gymnastics and pedagogics pioneers that laid the foundation for modern teaching we then looked closer at the implications of the 15 points listed at the end of that text. With this small foundation on some different modern pedagogics, here is a fairly pragmatic list of some of the things I think are important to strive for, based on what has already been discussed. Create a joy filled and relaxing mental environment If it is the first time, then welcome the students properly and...

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HEMA Pedagogics Part 2: The implications

Continuing from what we examined in the first HEMA Pedagogics article where we looked at the gymnastics and pedagogics pioneers that laid the foundation for modern teaching we will now look closer at the implications of the 15 points listed at the end of that text. Again, while this article is more aimed at instructors of HEMA, it is also quite important for practitioners, as it also describes the needs,  roles and responsibilities of the practitioner. So, without further ado, here are the key elements. People have a natural desire to learn  Our desire to understand our surroundings is an integral part of...

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HEMA Pedagogics Part 1: The Pedagogics Pioneers & The Role of a HEMA teacher

This three-piece article, while aimed more at teachers of HEMA is also relevant to students of HEMA, since we are all students and the difference between learning and teaching can be a fine one. Furthermore, the article speaks just as much about learning as it does about teaching and how we learn is important to understand for all of us on a personal level. Finally, the future of HEMA depends on all of us, on how much and how well we study and are willing to share ideas, debate and fight. *** Few instructors in HEMA actually have a formal teaching background with education...

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From Treatise to Exercise- a model for turning text into action

An often overlooked aspect of historical fencing is how to go about turning all the information contained in a fencing text into a structured means of teaching and learning. At first it seems as if this would be pretty obvious- do what the text tells you and mimic what you see in the pictures. However this can often lead to incomplete understanding and poorly honed skills with a lack of the fundamentals. What if you want something more? This is where you need to develop your analytical skills and read between the lines in a text or treatise in...

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GHFS’ guide for instructors now available in English

It is with great pleasure that I am able to present How we train – a guide for instructors in English. This is our primary study material for instructors on how to teach in our club, and I hope that people outside of Sweden will find it useful. This text came about as a result of my own need to write down my thoughts on training methodology, and I then realised that there was much that I didn’t know. So I started to do some research, and adding things to my own ideas. Writing How we train was very much a learning experience. I hope that I will continue to learn from the community, from my students and fellow instructors, so that I get the pleasure of updating and revising this text many times over in the future. I also hope that all of you interested in this subject will join me in a conversation on how we teach and train HEMA. If you have input, criticism or just want to share ideas, please don’t hesitate to write to me. There are a few people that I have to mention for their outstanding work. Axel Pettersson translated the English version, and I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to him for taking the time to do it. I would not have been able to do it myself, and just as...

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Post your thoughts on HROARR

The beauty of posting your texts on HROARR is that we then can have lots of HEMA articles published under various categories, even quite specific ones, where people post their thoughts and research, and all of it is searchable for the whole community. This makes everything so much easier to find, while it exposes your ideas to almost the whole community and creates a synergy effect where people work together internationally, across all borders. This is so much better than having everything spread out on various blogs, forums and club/organization sites or even unsearchable pdfs or word docs. Note that...

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