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Showing posts from August, 2014

Does "gentlemanly conduct" bias your practice?

"They utterly ignore the rules and customs of gentlemanly fencing, and betake themselves to mere fighting of a nature scarcely creditable to a Whitechapel rough" - Alfred Hutton, Cold Steel pg 43

The rules and customs of "Gentlemanly" fencing as outlined in Hutton and presumably ubiquitous in later fencing treatises has been hugely influential for setting HEMA custom. The format of entering measure, touching blades/saluting, then taking one step back and adopting a guard before starting an exercise or bout is deeply ingrained in many fencers practice and is clearly visible in historical fencing culture, particularly at tournaments. 
"To ENGAGE. Having performed the salute, cross the blades, and tap them smartly together twice; then draw back the left foot so as to be out of distance, and come to guard." - Alfred Hutton, Cold Steel pg 42

However I wonder if many people consciously consider the impact this is having on their practice? When you consider the era…

Attack & defend drill

Attack & Defend Drill

Partner up, find measure so that you require one step to strike your partner. Taking a short step forwards (i.e. a lunge) strike at your opponent who will defend with the appropriate parry. Defender can either remain still or withdraw the front foot when they parry. For this drill follow this cutting pattern using flicks to start with:
Cut 1: crown strike (starting from your right but ending straight down) Cut 2: diagonal strike from your top right Cut 3: horizontal strike from your right Cut 4: under strike from your right
Cut 5: under strike from your left
Cut 6: horizontal strike from your left
Cut 7: crown strike (starting from your left but ending straight down)
In this drill you take turns and you both follow this pattern so it ends up looking like this: 1.Person1 lunges and performs crown strike, person2 parries through high guard 2.Person2 then lunges and performs crown strike, person1 recovers into high guard 3.Person1 lunges and performs diagonal str…

Offensive v's defensive in Historical Fencing

"[be] ready to receive any Throw that he shall think fit to give; but wait not for it, it being safer to attack than be attacked" - Thomas Page, The Use of the Broadsword, 1746 page 46
"Avoid, if possible, making the first attack against any adversary, more especially a stranger, it being advantageous to act on the defensive" - 
Alfred Hutton, Cold Steel page 42
In historical fencing there is obviously a spectrum between systems that favour offensive actions and systems that favour defensive actions. Much like the discussion between the merits of the point and the edge it is not a case of one approach being objectively wrong and the other objectively right but about subjective personal preference. They are both just different flavours in the rich soup of historical fencing.
However both approaches do advocate fencing “securely” which means covering/protecting yourself while you act. I've not seen any treatise that advocates attacking without any concern for your d…

Oops!

Oh dear

Epic example of someone who is very skilled at individual actions/techniques but who doesn't understand how to get into measure to use them. If I was to give a HEMA lesson from the above vid it would be to consider the guy doing Capoeira as someone who usually trains by starting the bout within measure skipping the entire onset phase and as a result doesn't really know how to safely get into measure. While the MMA guy, clearly, is someone who perceives this and then does the boxing equivalent of a Wrath strike :)