Armour is a great thing. It keeps people from dying. The history of combat is in many ways the history of armour. Looking back it’s a historical arms race between the weapons used and the armour used. Let’s look back shall we, at the symbiotic relationship between swords and armour and carry it through to the present day. Continue reading
One of the more common and interesting discussions in swordplay is that of which weapon is the “best.” It seems there are as many opinions as there are weapons. Some think the rapier is best, because of its reach and preeminence in the a one on one duel. Some argue for the longsword for its versatility and power. There is the side that likes the basket hilted broadsword for hand protection and ease of carry. Some people even say the katana is best because they know nothing about swords. It’s always a fun conversation. Continue reading
Bring me to a Fencer, I will bring him out of his fence trickes with good downe right blowes
-George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence
Singlestick is a game with simple rules. It has been practiced for centuries in Scotland. You stand, without moving your feet across from your opponent with the stick for which the game is made raised and protecting your head in the position the Scots called St. George’s Guard. Your opponent does the same. On the command of “go” you attempt to strike each other on the head with enough force to draw blood without him striking you in return. There are occasionally variations, but that’s the gist. Singlestick is a game with simple rules but endless complexities and strategy. Continue reading
I made something of an ironic point last week when talking about the rapier. And now I’m going to spoil any hint of cleverness by calling attention to it. You see, if George Silver is known for anything these days it’s for hating the “Italianated” Rapier yet I used his Universal Governors as a reason to teach it.
It’s not often these days that you’ll see me practicing Italian Rapier. Lately, though, I find myself drawn to it and feeling the need to study my Capoferro once again. A big part of that is that I have been giving much thought to the ideal sword to first pick up. I often consider what sword style is the best to teach someone who has no previous training and for a multitude of reasons I keep turning to Capoferro’s Rapier. I have no doubt that there as many opinions on this subject as there are instructors, but I thought I would lay out my reasons for starting new students on this particular brand of swordplay. Continue reading
The weather has been wet and cold (in Vancouver, shocking I know) and not terribly good for the care and feeding of swords. Since I’m not allowed to swing them around in the house (I have no idea how that light got broken, I swear) that means I haven’t been able to keep up practice as much as I would like. Fortunately, there are other arts I can work with regardless of weather. As an added bonus it’s a great way to make sure the dogs get a good run. Continue reading
The I.33 manual is a pretty cool look in to history. A medieval document seemingly written by monks and for monks that totally shatters any idea of these folk were as gentle as we might now like to think. The modern view of medieval monks is that of a life of quiet contemplation, scholarly works and prayer. And yet we have I.33, which shows images of these same monks fighting with sword and buckler. So is I.33 an aberration, or does it show us a side of monk life that we wouldn’t otherwise see? Continue reading
If you’ll permit me a brief indulgence, I just want to mention that this is the 50th post on this blog. Huzzah for me. I wasn’t sure, upon starting, that I would be able to keep it up for this long (insert your own inappropriate comment here), but rest assured I have no intention of stopping now. The post for today is tangentially related to that particular reflection. Indeed, reflection is important and thus it befits us to examine and study the past. To this end practicing traditional arts is a valuable pastime.
This is, of course, part of why I study swordplay and recently I was able to try my hand at a whole new traditional art. Sword making can be done almost entirely on machine these days. And yet there remains a dedicated cadre of blacksmiths who still use traditional methods. I was recently fortunate enough to try my hand at some simple bladesmithing and look forward to my next attempt. Continue reading
There is a funny thing that happens in martial arts. At beginning levels all students seem to want to learn new techniques. New techniques, all the time. As an instructor, it’s sometimes a challenge to restrain yourself from indulging them. There is that niggling insecurity (at least with me) that by showing new students things too slowly you’ll lose their attention. This is a problem for more than a few reasons, the most immediate of which is that those students who get bored by the basics are probably not worth training unless they can be convinced to change their mind. Continue reading
It’s often and not without merit said that the point is the most dangerous part of the sword. Especially with European swords we see a great emphasis put on thrusting attacks. Now since people had armour as well as swords, attacks could be deflected fairly effectively whether the point or edge were used. Naturally the knights of old had a solution to this. They figured out that if you hit the person with the pommel of your sword, the extra force provided by the weight of it would destabilize your heavily armoured opponent enough to win you the fight.