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Showing posts from November, 2015

Kit mod: SPES Forearm and Elbow Protectors V.2

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A follow on from this post.

My main "issue" with these was that the elbow cops were clearly designed to be worn over a padded jacket and are not really able to be worn without one. For 99% of my training I fight with a light fencing jacket or just a t-shirt so I've been looking for a way to make these work better.

In the end I hit on a solution that was so obvious I'm feeling slightly stupid about not doing this ages ago. I've got a cheap pair of skateboarding elbow/forearm protectors that I've been using for years and have generally preferred because while not so protecting they are easier to put on and have a elbow cup that works.

So, I cut off the elbow cup and sewed on a piece of Velcro and now these attach to the SPES protector with a perfect fit.

You can see what I'm talking about from these, as usual, barely adequate photos.

Re-enactment style gauntlet

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I like making things and I've got myself some basic leather working gear so I thought I'd have a go at making one of those re-enactment style gauntlets you see on the internet (see left). Like, how hard can it be right?

Well the answer is: pretty easy actually. I decided I wasn't going to bother with all that riveting non-sense and I was just going to sew it all together, which cut down on a lot of faff.

After that I made approximations out of cardboard, wrapped them onto my body and cut things off until I had the pattern right. Then I got some thick (4mm?) veg tan leather and soaked it in water until it was soft. Using a normal pair of scissors I cut out all the pattern and sewed it together using an awl and needle.

After that I lightly soaked it again, bent it all into shape with my hands and then popped it in the oven on 100. This hardened it into shape (though I burnt it slightly) and it was looking pretty good at this point:


Finally, because I'd heard that "w…

On mixing sources.

"The masters often brag about how much they traveled and the variety of sources that they learned from. It would be vain to think that we are so intelligent that we can learn the art of fencing from a single source when the masters we seek to emulate could not." - Jonathan Allen

Some thoughts on slow play.

"Fencing is, par excellence, a fast sport, in every sense of the word: speed of perception, speed of reaction, speed of movement, fast change of action, fast change of rhythm." - Zbigniew Czajkowski

As I see it the purpose of slow play is stop wailing away at full speed for a minute and bring mindfulness to your actions, to catch nuances of our mechanics that you wouldn't notice when moving fast. It allows realisations such as "oh hey, I didn't realize that I wasn't voiding my torso fully when parrying" or "I didn't notice how my elbow sticks out when I make this guard." It can explain happenings that are hard to understand at full speed like "how come I'm always thrusting short?" or "why do I always get hit in the same place?" Slow play is a great tool for finding inefficiencies in your technique and experimenting with solutions.

Is slow play something we should be proud of in of itself? No, not really. Drills inc…

Guidelines for being a Good instructor

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Inspired by this blog from Academie Duello

Guidelines for Being a Good Instructor

1. Your goal is to be a better swordsman

You should be doing this to be a better swordsman. Acknowledge that this should be at the center of everything you do, including instructing, and you're all good.  The real trap with teaching is getting sucked into the bullshit that comes with the whole "position of authority" thing. Teaching people because you like being a teacher smacks of ego. Teaching people because a large club is important to you smacks of ego. Ultimately if teaching isn't about making you a better swordsman then your motives are questionable.

2. Teach to learn

It’s that simple: you are teaching other people to improve your own Art. Partly it’s about creating useful training partners and partly it’s about field testing your understanding of sword fighting. Students can be relied upon to pick holes in your theory and force you to properly think through your practice. There…

Some thoughts on Martial Art v's Sport

Let's be honest: there is an underlying conversation which is "people who think they are good at sword fighting finding reasons why they aren't the ones winning tournaments."

Personally I appreciate the dash of reality you get from getting your arse kicked at tournaments but it's interesting to watch the online cognitive dissonance from people trying to maintain their self identification as an "authority" and justify the fact that they are unwilling or unable to put their money where their mouth is.

Apparently it's because:

1. Tournament rules are prejudiced against "real" sword fighting techniques
2. You have to do special training for tournaments and this takes time away from "real" swords training
3. A slippy slope argument about how HEMA is the next MMA thanks to "Sportification"
4. Tournament fighters lack "control" and against "real" sword fighting technique it would be unsafe
5. [insert ration…

Strength and Speed Matters

"No matter what your mother told you, you are not necessarily equal to your opponent. If your opponent is stronger or faster, you will have to adapt your strategy and mechanics. Not every technique is meant to work against every opponent. If you are smaller and weaker than average, many techniques just won’t work consistently enough to rely on. Skill makes up for gaps in natural attributes, but you won’t normally be fighting people who are significantly less skilled than you are. Unfortunately, smaller and weaker individuals need to put more work into keep up." - Ben Michaels