Category: Training methods

Fighting Successfully – Bridging The Gap Between Technique And Free Play

Did you ever face the situation that you trained a technique over and over, again and again and it just straight out refuses to come out during free play? Then you know the frustration if expectations and results don’t match.

Failing time and time again, because you can’t pull of what you should be able to doesn’t feel nice. It can be devastating and lead the most dedicated of us down a path of frustration. It can be a reason why people quit HEMA altogether.

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Making a wooden dummy for swordsmanship practice

The wooden dummies we use for sword practice are to us what the boxing bag is for a boxer. They are a great tool for practising basic techniques such as cuts and thrusts, and improving precision. Construction These wooden dummies consist of a stick that is suspended in such a way that it moves easily when you chop at it, but still returns quickly to it’s original position. The stick should be slightly thicker and heavier than a regular broomstick to give sufficient feedback when you hit it. Drill a hole in both ends so it can be suspended between the floor and the ceiling. The upper hole should be big enough for two cords so there is something to catch the wooden dummy if the main cord wears down and snaps (which will happen sooner or later). The stick is tied up to the ceiling with a cord through the upper part. The lower part is secured to the floor or a heavy weight by another cord. Adjust the cords so that there is a suitable amount of flexibility to the dummy. When you hit it you want it to move easily without too much resistance, but you should still get a decent amount of feedback. Do not use a cord that is too thick – I use a 3 mm polyester cord which works well. This design...

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Free Fencing exercises

In our Meyer staff class we have been forced to develop methods that meet the simple fact that in staff fencing you are actually training with the actual sharp weapon and no protective gear will keep you safe from potentially crippling harm. Consequently we have needed to find ways of coming as close as possible to full contact sparring, using all available techniques, without too high a risk of actually injuring each other permanently. For this I have defined two methods that are close, but distinctly different in nature; sparring and free fencing. Both are quite easily applicable to whatever weapon...

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The Art of Control – Fechtschule Manifesto 2

Fencing with the Sword is nothing other than a discipline, wherein your force strives together with your sword  in placement so that one with the other, using care and agility, artfulness, delicacy and manliness, are at need the same both in strikes and in other handwork one is obliged to, excepting when one is not in a serious situation, thus by such discipline one will be more dangerous and more skillful, and when needing to protect one’s body be more effective. -Joachim Meyer 1570 The  words above are what first drove me to write the original article, I believe what we need to know about how to conduct out art is right there in that quote for us to follow if we choose to. That is really what it boils down to, the desire and will to do it. Without a conscious decision to use control it is not going to be evident. It is a skill we must decide we want as a beginning, the first few steps on a path towards a goal we can see clearly in the books and we desire to emulate. Now that we have established this goal of seeking to experience the art the way our ancestors did in the Fechtschule, or if not that at least the method with which they trained for the Fechtschule events. Clearly they were able to...

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Art of Control (Fechtschule Manifesto) Part 1

“Fencing with the Sword is nothing other than a discipline, wherein your force strives together with your sword in placement so that one with the other, using care and agility, artfulness, delicacy and manlyness, are at need the same both in strikes and in other handwork one is obliged to, excepting when one is not in a serious situation, thus by such discipline one will be more dangerous and more skillful, and when needing to protect one’s body be more effective. This can well and properly be divided into three main parts, namely the beginning, the middle, and the...

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The Wreath or the Cash? On Tournament fighting

“Ey fåår Fächtare Krantz förn ändas Manlige Strijden. The Fighter shall not receive the wreath until the manly battle is ended (according to the rules).” -2 Tim 2:5. I sincerely consider tournament fighting to be vital to our efforts in recreating the historical European martial arts, but I also believe that tournaments can be quite damaging to the fencing and HEMA when done incorrectly, too early and for the wrong reasons. This is a controversial topic, as the tournaments are very popular, but this is not an attack on individual fighters or tournament organizers. We are all to varying degrees guilty of the sins...

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Doing what we are told or what we are taught?

Here’s an old but still always relevant question for us HEMA practitioners to ask ourselves: When we read the old fencing treatises, should we only practice what we are told to do in the treatises or should we try to continue with the next step of playing with it and even do things that we are not explicitly shown or suggested to do in the various stücke? To be able to explore this question; here’s a specific topic that constantly keeps returning in various debates: Meyer is said to not be teaching thrusting with the longsword. Yet, we know for...

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The tools for the job

To understand the body mechanics involved in a technique we not only have to train our bodies so we are strong and agile enough, we also need to use tools that work together with our bodies in the appropriate manner. This may seem obvious but is really not and it can become quite apparent when interpreting the sources with tools that have very different characteristics. One such example is how you can train Joachim Meyer’s Halben Stangen Techniques with a regular staff and build your understanding solely on that. However, since Meyer is actually preparing us for the use of the Halberd, we really need to have that in mind and even practice the body mechanics that are required for a considerably more “forward-heavy” weapon, like a proper halberd. Then, it becomes apparent how you need to move to be able to do the Kreutzhauw, where you cross-cut without crossing your arms, like with the Montante. Another such example that I am currently very curious about, as I am exploring the body mechanics of Meyer’s longsword, is what the characteristics really are for his longsword? We know that they were quite long, at least in his treatise of 1570, reaching well into the armpit and with a hilt the length of your forearm. Judging from the pommel size and tapering of the blades shown in the illustrations they do not seem to be...

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