Within Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), our serious scholars often suspect that our community suffers to an unknown degree from ‘lost treasures’. Precious books, scrolls, weapons and armour are frequently believed to have fallen to the decaying effects of time. Poor storage, war, long winters (think fireplace fuel), flood, fire, and hoarding in private collections are just some examples of the natural or man-made conditions that might result in the disintegration of precious objects fashioned from paper, leather or steel.
But even today, our community suffers from ‘losing’ some of the most interesting academic initiatives initiated by our peers doing work in areas of interest to us.
Over the years, I have attended a variety of swordplay symposiums that have boasted a concurrent academic track or at least a supporting lecture. But there are neither post-event papers nor videos — not even a synopsis printed from which our community could benefit. Some truly excellent work is being done in a variety of places all over Europe and North America; and for the most part it is ‘lost’ to us as soon as we pack our kit for the return flight home.
HEMA – The Next Generation.
LIPPI ZEITUNGSVERLAG (Detmold, Germany). 16 April 15. Historisches Kampftraining im Freilichtmuseum.
A regional Archaeological Open Air Museum is involving local youth in the rediscovery of their HEMA-related heritage. Last month they put on a participatory seminar on the use of swords, shield, axes and spears.
It would be interesting to see the same group in five years to see just how many stayed with participating in swordplay.
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE (Salt Lake City, Utah). 11 April 15. Swords cross in friendly competition at Liberty Park.
The United Clans Swordsman Association and the True Edge Academy of Swordsmanship held a competition, but the article lacks how many participated and with what weapons. However, it does demonstrate that the HEMA community in Utah is alive and … combative. Utah HEMA. Who knew?
Listen Up, I’ll Only Say This Once!
TUTTOGGI (Spoleto, Italy). 01 April 15. Scherma Storica Perugia, Torneo a Squadre Medioevale a San Francesco al Prato.
Sala d’Arme Achille Marozzo held a weekend HEMA symposium which featured an enviable collection of practical swordplay demonstrations, classes on sword technique, and a truly intriguing lecture program … all of which were capped off with the by-now traditional tournament among attendees.
Given the wealth of presentations on our art that take place in various international venues, our community really needs to look at some way to get these lectures out ‘virtually’, so those of us that cannot make it to the venue can still benefit from the unique work being presented!
Home Team Swordplay
GAZETA DAS CALDAS (Caldas da Rainha, Portugal). 27 March 15. Esgrima histórica desenhada ao vivo nos Silos.
Not only does the recently established, seven-member group Ordo In Armae intend to increase public awareness of and participation in HEMA and stage combat, but they’re also trying to provide a unique tie to their city’s specific history and culture.
Old World Skills with New World Utility?
TIME (New York, New York). 13 April 15. A Sword-Wielding Polish Prince Just Challenged a U.K. Politician to a Duel.
Polish prince Janek Żyliński, the son of a celebrated Polish cavalry officer, has formally challenged an English parliamentary candidate Nigel Farage to a 18th-century style sabre duel because of the latter’s slights against Polish immigrants.
“It is an impressive sword,” Farage said .
A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!
IRISH EXAMINER (Blackpool, Ireland). 25 March 15. Pair of knights hitchhike to Galway battle site.
Best job in the world? “Mr Halpin, who has a masters degree in combat archaeology.”
COME ONE, COME ALL – BATTLE OF THE NATIONS (BOTN)
SUNSHINE COAST DAILY (Maroochydore, Australia). 18 April 15. Medieval warriors play a pretty rough game.
The 17-member Australian fight team is completing final preparations for their participation in the BOTN in Prague. Team Australia is confident that there will be more national interest in their efforts as more people learn about the competition — which they are about to do courtesy of an imminent television program featuring medieval combat and BOTN.
Reportedly, injuries are “…nothing worse than you’d get in a game of rugby,” Paul Smith said. “Although in a game of rugby, you don’t have someone hitting you with a heavy sword.”
OSTFRIESEN-ZEITUNG (Leer Logabirum, Germany). 30 March 15. Also pushing and shoving is allowed.
And for their part, the European contingents are also putting finely-honed edges to their fitness and tactics for their own efforts on BOTN. Six German and Dutch swordfighters met together to benefit from a joint full-contact combat training effort.
What is valuable from this article is the training considerations that teams wrestle with (no pun intended) this close to the actual fight date; they don’t use their swords in practice melées but depend on pushing, shoving and blows with padded weapons. “We do not want to risk a serious injury just before the World Cup.”
And not surprisingly, like in so many other salles and clubs, the Dutch team has a courting couple that train, and doubtless fence together. (“So, how did you two meet?” “She hit me … hard!”)
ZPRAVY (Prague, Czech Republic). 28 March 15. Zápasníci s meči a v brněních bojují na krev, to je HMB.
And still with the BOTN theme, the Czech Republic’s Tomas Gajdošík discusses how his national team is preparing to take on 35 national competitors. If I understand the item correctly, Gajdošík alludes to the tournament as, while inspired by HEMA, more of a ‘MMA-style melee’. He also makes some points about the difference between his preparations and those peers who practice LARPing.
The Czechs placed 25th two years ago, and 17th last year.
And BOTN is not the only tournament in town
THE STAR (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia). 10 February 15. These men put on real armour and have a real medieval fight.
In late January, 30 teams gathered to fight out bragging rights for the medieval combat tournament “Rise of the Knights III”. And from the looks of things, it’s much like BOTN when one considers international participation, combat technique and fighter intent.
“We had one guy sent to hospital with a cut near the eye, lots of bruises, a broken arm, and a broken leg,” said Adam Nawrot, vice president of the International Medieval Combat Federation.
“All sorts get involved, from computer geeks to bankers and lawyers — there’s even a rocket scientist in the Germany team.”
KSL (Salt Lake City, Utah). 07 April 15. Utah woman [Nicole Vowell] crowned medieval combat world champion.
Amy Graham, 48, of the USA Knights, was acclaimed World Champion after her bouts during last years’ International Medieval Combat Federation competition. And this after being a HEMA student for only three years.
Even more impressive than being a full-contact combatant at near 50, Ms Graham is a survivor of major surgery … and coming to her current fighting weight after once weighing nearly 400 pounds!
Best of Five?
HIST MAG (Warsaw, Poland). 29 March 15. 5 najbardziej nietypowych broni średniowiecza.
And just for interest, one Polish journal’s take on the five most imaginative and unusual weapons of the Middle Ages; the extendable hammer being my personal favourite.
Quick, What’s The Russian translation of ‘Ulfberht’?
PHYS ORG (Douglas, UK). 21 April 15. Russian archaeologists find oldest crucible steel weapon in East Europe.
As fragile as fight-books of old may be, we are fortunate that some of the subjects of those same tomes are not!
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