International Sword Press & Dance Lessons

We’re all over the map this week, but we have selected a ‘dominant theme’ for this slightly lengthy effort! Respects, Wes


Romantic Sword


BIRMINGHAM WEEKLY (Alabama) 13 October 11 Garden Variety Gallantry

We often read of European knights swearing oaths on their hilts – the sword representing the very best of honour and spirit of chivalry. Well, making promises on a blade has a similar echo within the hearts of our neighbours to the south.

In one southern city, they speak of the ‘sword in the tree’; a legacy of love and pathos left over from their terrible civil war. Apparently, a young gallant, finding the call to duty irresistible, decided to enlist against the wishes of his mother and sweetheart.

On leaving home; “The boy kissed the girl, jumped on his horse, then pulled out his sword. He plunged the sword into a sapling.
“I’ll pull it out when the war’s over,” he told the girl. Then he waved at them all and galloped away.”

He never returned.

Full story and photo at URL.                                                                                                  


Fighting Swords


САРАТОВ БИЗНЕС КОНСАЛТИНГ / SARATOV BIZNES KONSALTING (Russia) 29 August 11 Состоялся турнир “Меч Поволжья”

I was remiss in not linking the results of the ‘Sword of the Volga’ tournament that finished this fall: with awards being given in Sword and Shield, Single Sword, Spear and what appears to be a ‘small group’ competition. Winners here move on to the ‘All Russian’ competition.
In Russia, historical fencing (Историческое фехтование) appears to be very much a growth industry for both the number of practitioners and the complexity of the fighting kit. What doubly impresses me is the number of ‘civilians’ that come out to watch these bouts – and the support that these fight groups get from their civic governments.

We should all be so lucky … or deserving! Photos (and winning fighters) at URL.


“Dance Dance wherever you may be …”


I was always admonished by my Master-at-Arms that in those rare times that I was not blundering or lumbering about in the Salle, studying fight books or attending to my kit; I should be somewhere else – dancing – in an effort to bring some control, balance and perchance some artistic grace to my movements.
There is a long established historical tradition joining swords and dance – for very good reasons – and apparently the link between the two continues today …


From History: “Feudal armies were mobs with no feel for acting in concert with other men: This disciplined technique was far more advanced among the Arabs, however, and some English Crusaders apparently decided that Muslim foot soldiers had learned to move together because they often danced together to the beat of cymbals and drums. They took those dances home in an attempt to teach their own peasant soldiers to act in concert with their fellows. The memory of those attempts to turn mobs into military units lives today at British festivals, where groups of men known as Morris Dancers dance in lines with bells on their legs and sticks as weapons. Few watching them relate the Morris Dances to the “Moorish dances” from which they came”.     Robinson, John. Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades. M. Evans and Company, Inc. New York, NY. 1991. p. 45.

BATTLEBORO REFORMER (Vermont) 27 October 11 Green Mtn. Mummers present Halloween weekend sword dances

The 12 member’s of the men’s sword dance troupe ‘Green Mountain Mummers’ are keeping some of the old traditions of northern England alive on our side of the big pond. For the past 35 years they have been performing for one day a year, demonstrating the unique choreography and ‘social relevance’ of the sword-dependent ‘Morris Dance’.


GULF NEWS (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) 14 November 11 Tradition comes alive as Emiratis use swords to win 16th century fort

And as presaged by the fore-mentioned Crusaders, aficionados of cultural history within the mid-East maintain their own unique tradition of sword dance.
The Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition was instituted as a national competition in 2010 to promote and maintain the tradition of this sword culture within the UAE.

“I taught my son the sword dance because I wanted him to be a strong fighter.”…


And to end this weeks’ offering – for the sword-armed, socially well-rounded gentleman: “…take a man who is handling weapons and is about to throw a dart, or is holding a sword or other weapon in his hand: if immediately he takes a position of readiness, with ease, and without thinking, with such facility that his body and all his members fall into that position naturally and without any effort, then, even if he does nothing more, he shows himself to be perfectly accomplished in that experience. Likewise in dancing …” p.46                   Castiglione. The Book of the Courtier. Anchor Books, Garden City, NY. 1959, p. 46