A Kinder, Gentler Sword Press?

Women – don’t mess with them!  They’re out in force this week – thrusting, stabbing, falling off of things, falling onto things and taking a fall. If my modest experience with local WMA/HEMA groups is any indication, we have one of the few martial arts that encourages, nay – requires at times, both genders to fight as equals before their peers.  Chivalry and professionalism ‘should equalise’ some of the weight and height disadvantages.But our female peers fight everyday against a situation that we males face intermittently: From time-to-time, you’ll fight somebody significantly larger and heavier than you.

Deal with it.

And they do.


Fight Me, Fight My Horse!


HORSE YARD (Australia) 16 July 12  Going Full Tilt In History’s Extreme Sport

An equestrian journal does a feature on Australian Rod Walker, 20-year veteran of jousting and head coach for the Black team on A&E’s Full Metal Jousting.  Mr Walker also runs ‘Full Tilt Jousting’, a demonstration/re-enactment group which tours down-under – and includes some of the 200 competitive jousters who ride worldwide.

Of particular interest are his opinions on the ‘historical authenticity’ of his chosen steeds, vice those more commonly used in the USA.  As you can expect from a riding magazine, a lot of the discussion centres on horse training and care – but given that one’s steed is an essential part of this sport, it’s a welcome reminder that jousting is very much a ‘small team’ sport.

Oh yes, there are no male/female divisions in Jousting and plenty of girls get in on the action – but there is talk of putting in place ‘weight divisions’ to even things up a bit during full-contact impact at speed!


She just ‘died’ on stage.


NEWS REVIEW (Sacremento, California) 05 July 12  Death by sword fight – King Arthur (Kel Munger)

A theatre review of the Sacramento Shakespeare Festivals’ King Arthur – with some pertinent sword-play related points.  To those of you of the ‘kinder and gentler’ gender thinking about the utility of taking any stage-combat course – this particular play is supported by more than one fair-maiden holding her own behind a hilt – as well as a few that didn’t!

“More people should die in a sword fight,” said (a) very young man. “But at least they make a lot of sword noise.”

And within this item there is a truly inspired picture caption!


Dance like a Foilist, Sting like a Bee!


BLICK (Zurich, Switzerland) 28 July 12  Florett-Schreck –  Fechterin am Hals getroffen

German foilist Carolin Golubytskyi took a truly scary, boxing like, ‘uppercut’ blow from a bell guard during her Olympic match against Italian Elisa Di Francisca.


Your Symposium is in Vancouver – Your Kit is in Seattle!


BOSTON GLOBE (Massachusetts)  24 July 12  Tran-sporting – Athletes with hard-to-pack equipment need more than just a passport (Shira Springer)

Though our versions of sword play differ significantly in technique, contact and rules; Olympic-style fencers and WMA/HEMA students do share a common problem.  To get to most of the interesting (and necessary) competitions or symposiums, we have to fly – as does our kit.

Olympic athletes are going through the moving-kit grinder now – trying to get high-end javelins, bows, horses and swords safely through recently hired and pressed baggage handlers and then customs staff determined to ensure that the games stay safe.

“Transportation Security Administration agents think archery bow strings look like a detonator cord.”

{Wearily, Wes climbs back up on his soap box}  Pack well to protect your kit, but make sure that it is accessible and re-packable in case Customs staff want to take a look at things … at their convenience.  Be polite – give the authorities every chance to see that you’re a martial arts scholar with a unique but legal interest – and are no threat to anyone … well, anyone not holding a sword pointed at you anyway.  Arrive early and document, document, document



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR (Boston, Massachusetts) 09 July 12 Army uses ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ as inspiration for new body armor for women

It may seem that the television hero Xena and planned military body armour fittings are a stretch when it comes to talking about our requirements within WMA/HEMA studies, but I like to think it’s about to become the ‘norm’.  With more and more women now participating in the art through full contact jousting and ‘sword and shield’ disciplines (the Academie Duello has women that have qualified for their Red Cord for some time now), it’s hoped that the various WMA/HEMA ‘armourers’ might take a look at creating protective kit more suited and functional for our female, body-bashing peers.