DIY Indoor Training Longsword

  The longsword is a powerful piece of historical weaponry. Its mystique has captured our attention for hundreds of years and is consistently prevalent in both ancient texts and today’s pop culture. A typical training longsword is steel, between 40 and 50 inches in total length, and can take up some serious space when you…

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Lord Baltimore's Challenge Logo

Lord Baltimore’s Challenge Event Report 2019

At the beginning of July I had the pleasure of once again being a Ring Director, Judge, and Instructor at Lord Baltimore’s Challenge in Washington, DC. This event aims to be a meeting of Historical European Martial Arts practitioners from HEMA clubs and from historical re-enactment backgrounds (primarily the Society for Creative Anachronism). The focus…

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Getting the Most from Mixed Experience Levels

We were all newbies once. We were all the person who worried that our lack of skill was holding others back in their practice. And in some cases maybe we did. It is difficult to manage levels of challenge within a mixed level group. The needs of the experienced practitioner and those of the newcomer are quite…

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The Three Ms of Excellence

The idea of pursuing personal excellence is great, but functionally how do you do it? I’ve written about beating the boredom of repetitive drilling, and promoting an excellence mindset. Yet when you get the opportunity to really up the quality of what you’re doing, where do you focus? Below is a piece of guidance material I…

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Is There a Link Between Ballet and Fencing?

I have long heard that ballet has its origins in historical fencing. It’s a romantic idea and as someone who both teaches martial arts and dance (though not ballet) I certainly find tons of parallels in how they are both taught and practiced. The positions of modern ballet certainly bare some resemblance to classical and…

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The Skills of Excellence

Excellence is the evidence of diligent, attentive, and purposeful practice. Not all of us will achieve excellence, nor is it a requisite for enjoying or being fulfilled in martial arts. In fact I would say that much of what holds people back from excellence is that in many ways its pursuit can be grueling, repetitive,…

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What is a Modern European Martial Arts Master?

Recently I was asked in an online thread what I thought constituted a modern master of Historical European Martial Arts and whether I thought there was worth in the creation of modern masters or the use of the master title at all. In short to all: Yes. A Little Backstory on Fencing Mastery Before I…

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Is Full Speed and Full Contact Required?

A good friend of mine is a special forces combatives trainer. I asked him how much of their training is devoted to full-speed and full-contact simulated sparring. He told me “no more than 5%”. For him it was a matter of balancing value and risk. Full speed, full contact sparring has the value of exposing…

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Slow Down Sign

Why Go Slow? The Benefits of Slow Sparring

This past week, at our 50-hour instructor intensive, I introduced a new batch of students, who travelled in from various places around the world to the method and benefits of slow sparring. Slow sparring is exactly what it sounds like: sparring done slowly. It has proven itself to me to be a tremendously valuable training…

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Training to Defeat Intense Techniques

One of the most challenging things to deal with in sparring is the mental or emotional intensity of a very forward motivated opponent, someone who throws powerful blows, or someone who comes very ferociously. Commonly people respond in one of two ways: Freeze or pull away, failing to make a cover. Making a single simple…

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Event Report: L’Arte delle Armi

“Although military discipline and art may be noted plainly and clearly in many courageous knights and greathearted fighters, it can also be seen that they are unclear to many talented people, owing to their inexperience. Thus, sometimes in discussing or using arms, they fall short due to ignorance, rather than to malicious intent.” Achille Marozzo,…

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Building the Swordplay Grand Slam

Tennis, one of the few internationally followed duelling sports, has four major tournaments throughout the year that are held in esteem above all of the others. These events, “the majors”, are hosted in four different countries and played on four different surfaces: Wimbledon (grass), French Open (clay), US Open (Decoturf), and Australian Open (Plexicushion). Each…

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Brutality in Martial Arts

Musings on Brutality in Martial Arts

I’m not a fan of brutality in modern martial arts practice.  Aggression brings unnecessary risks and injury, overvalues intensity over grace, and makes martial art less accessible to the unarmoured (both physically and psychologically). Wasn’t Real Historical Fighting Brutal? I won’t argue that there is no historical precedent for brutal, cruel, and ruthless martial art…

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Scholar Benjamin Davis and Free Aaron Lomontagne partners

The Unlimited Catalog of Partners

There are many types of partners you could end up sparring with. For example, if you had a sparring partner who always, consistently, threw cuts right as you stepped into their measure and stopped when you stepped out, then you could know that you could always go to them to practice your parries. Or, if…

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