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Kit Review: Absolute Force Fighter Gloves

"This gauntlet offers serious protection and mobility to those who need it! A deeply bifurcated finger shell, lobster tail (3 Finger Style) articulation and a reinforced thumb make our glove a force to be reckoned with. After beta testing the initial sets we came back with our improved model that has taken to heart what you the community said you wanted in a gauntlet. Available in M and L."
You can find it at: http://www.afinternationalsporting.com/product_info.php?products_id=169&cPath=8

Firstly abit about the Company. Ordering from the USA was no problem and they responded well to email inquiries. The postage was swift and well packaged. Total kudos for AF for making a range of HEMA specific items.

Pros:

It's deifnitely nice and light, so a big win on that regard.

Protection wise it's also quite good - it can take a snipe at the hands, though I wouldn't trust it to take a full Wrath cut. The reinforced thumb is a good touch.

Cons:

I don't like it.…

Kit review: "Axel Pettersson" Fencing Jacket - From SPES

http://histfenc.com/productcart/axel-pettersson-fencing-jacket

"A fencing jacket designed with the help and suggestions of Axel Pettersson, to serve the needs of the Swedish schools of historical fencing ("Gothenburg Historical Fencing School" in particular). "


A quick review of this bit of kit. Firstly though before talking about the jacket. Ordering from SPES, a Polish company, couldn't have been easier. They were quick to reply to any question, their English was excellent and the shipping was super fast.

Pros:

1. It's a real pleasure to don something that was not designed for re-enactment. There is velcro and a zip rather than fiddly little ties or large metal buckles. There has obviously been no concession to creating an "authenticity" look in terms of machine stitching and it is a very solid garment. While the design has dispensed with the re-enactment orientated guff the cut and fit of the arms has clearly been inspired by historical desig…

How to stand

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"4. Camp (as in fencing) or stand low with your toes out, knees bent. and your left elbow close to your body"
 The Inn-Play: or, the Cornish Hugg-Wrestler by Sir Thomas Parkyns

I came accross the above quote online and it got me to thinking. I don't think Meyer, or any German treatise, tells how you should stand down to the details of how to point your toes. Comparing the quote to the images in Meyer the main difference would be that when in Beginning and End stance you extend one leg out straight and bend the other as a base.
It was the feet that I found interesting and what Meyer does, varying from a few degrees off centre to almost 90 degrees turned out, it's a very broad church. This is the kind of variation you see in the treatise in all different stances:








 From some testing it appears to me that turning either foot 90 degrees improves your options for lateral movement while keeping your foot more forward facing improves your options for forward/backwards …

Sword fit

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I found a length of steel barrel in my garden (1m long, 2inch diameter, 5mm thick bit of steel) and for a while I was using it as a sword waster. Recently as the weather has been less than perfect I started developing these little exercises as my rainy day indoor training. It's quite straight forward, all without stepping:

Exercise 1: Zornhau











Start in the guard of the Day (here I adopt the guard from Goliath because I don't want to put a hole in the ceiling!) and push the barrel through into longpoint. I don't let it drop below the horizontal. I'm doing it nice and slowly, in complete control and repeat until I can feel it in all the muscles in my forearms.

Exercise 2: Krumphau











Simply moving the barrel from one side to the other and back again, don't let it drop all the way til it's pointing at the floor, make sure you maintain control at all times. Again, repeating until I can feel it in my muscles

Exercise 3: Zwerchhau











I keep the arms extended and the "c…

Excellent book

If you haven't read the "Little Book of Pushups" by Guy Windsor do so immediately. Very cool.

Footwork in Meyer

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"All combat happens vainly, no matter how artful it is, if the steps for it are not executed correctly" - Joachim Meyer



There are three steps in Meyer:
The step

The basic "step" is outlined in detail in the Dussack cutting drills rather than the chapter on stepping in the Longsword. 

Basically to go forward you move your lead foot forward a pace. Job done.


This step might not seem like much of an action however if you start in Beginning stance and throw all of your body and weight behind it into a forward leaning position in End stance, you can generate a lot of power while only moving a short distance. 

After that there seem to be several options: 

1. you can recover this lead foot, like a mini-lunge
2. or take another step forward on the lead foot (particularly in the Rapier) to a proper lunge distance
3. or gather your rear foot to take another step forward

"pull your rear foot up to the forward right one, so that you have another full step forward with your right …

Some thoughts on using the Guards in Meyer

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"you must not remain in one guard, but always move from one to another and transform one into another, it will behoove you to pay good attention to how these guards follow from one another" - Joachim Meyer
"now as regards the postures, I would not have you remain long in any of them, since they are not invented or devised for this purpose...linger in that furthermost point for just a bit, almost only for the blink of an eye" - Joachim Meyer
Meyer is clear that the "guard" postures are not points that you hold but points that you transition through while making your cut or thrust. They represent moments in time where if your opponent reacts and your intended action doesn't look so good, you can change your intent. They also communicate your intent to your opponent who will have to react, in fairly set ways, to your projected intent. This conversation is the Art. 

The human brain is hard wired to spot something that isn't moving suddenly bursting int…

Using stance in Meyer

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"whichever leg stands in front is bent and the rear is extended to create a strong base" Andre Paurñfeyndt
How to stand and how to move your body
Meyer has three ways to stand or stances; beginning, middle and end stance.  Meyer doesn't describe these positions, he leaves you to deduce this from his excellent woodcuts. Andre Paurñfeyndt, as above, does explicitly state how you should stand in his twelve teachings to the beginning fencer. Meyer, ever a fan of bells and whistles, obviously goes one further and also has a reversed or beginning version of this basic stance. 

Beginning and end stances are the position of balance at the beginning and end of a cut. Starting in beginning stance, you cut through until you reach the end stance. 
End (see right) – characterised by the bent front leg and straight rear leg, as per Andre Paurñfeyndt. The Upper body starts at vertical and can lean forwards as it completes the cut until it is 45 degrees or more from vertical. The back is…

Fundamental Fitness

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light-footed - having a light and springy step flat-footed - unprepared and unable to react quickly
My basic fitness re-training for my Western Martial Arts started in what some might consider being a slightly unusual place: re-training my feet.
I was (still largely am) quite flat-footed and generally unbalanced so before I even consider touching a sword again I needed some fitness training to improve my ability to move my feet lightly, swiftly, with balance and power. All my future training would benefit.
It’s long been remarked by Historical Fencers that people back in the day (prior to the 1970’s) didn’t wear padded shoes, so most clubs encourage people almost as a tradition to wear flat soled shoes. However from my experience, as someone who has generally worn flat soled shoes (converse, samba etc), this doesn’t really have the desired drastic improvement effect.
So, after being introduced to Vibram five-fingers by Stuart Peers (http://youtu.be/-ZqfvGxaboQ) and buying a pair it occurr…

What are the fundamentals?

“A Man may remember the whole parades of the sword, and yet not be able to act with such judgement as another, who perhaps has but an indifferent memory, yet knows the sum and substance of the art.” - Archibald MacGregor
After many years of studying different manuscripts and practising different techniques I faced a conundrum: I could still be given a run for my money from someone who had only been in the club for a couple of weeks.
My experience was that certain people could walk into the class, pick up a sword for the first time and within a week or two be beating everyone in the class, beginners and experienced alike.
Why? Generally it was as simple as they had above average fitness. 
This gave them the strength to move the sword with ease, they would have the stamina to hold their guards, the power to snap out the cuts and parries at speed. They would not be panting and dropping into low guards after 30 seconds. Thus they quickly picked up the basic technique and soon, as a result, …

Musing on the study of WMA

Life is short, this is God's way of encouraging a bit of focus.  ~Robert Brault
Most people do not have the luxury of being able to study or train full time. It is an activity that we fit in around day jobs, study, family, children, second jobs and all the general hubbub of our lives. Therefore when we devote ourselves to poring over manuscripts in the wee small hours, snatched sessions of personal training, or training sessions: we need to be sure we’re getting the most from our time. The purpose of this article is to draw from my own experience and to offer some practical advice to help people get the most from their time.
So to start off I would recommend you ask yourself the fundamental question: “what are your goals?” I think most people who want or who do study the martial arts draw from a variety of different motivations and I think with a bit of reflection you can make these explicit and then rank them in terms of importance.
To give an example, for me, it boils down to thre…

Welcome

Welcome.
This is a blog for my thoughts on the general study of Western Martial Arts and on the treatise of Joachim Meyer in particular.
Deeds not words is my theme: a practical contribution to the common cause rather than criticism of the contributions of others. 
I have much to learn and welcome proven learning from everyone of experience. If my ideas are different from your ideas, or if you are inspired by my ideas, I want to hear from you.