“… every night almost some one or other, who either heated with wine, or made choleric with the loss of his money, raises a quarrel, swords are drawn, … ”
The recently completed Para Olympics Wheelchair Fencing competition did bring to mind an item I once read about a fencing master demonstrating his abilities by taking on standing-challengers while remaining seated. This in turn resulted in some modest research into historical examples swordsmen of having to resort to blade work while seated.
And while nothing specifically on historical, seated-swordplay the topic came to mind – there are enough historical references to swords, chairs and tables; card games, dice and drinking; to make it apparent that there must have been incidents when people pulled knives or swords on each other while at least one person was still seated.
There are historical examples of kings, princes and generals attacked during audiences while sitting on a throne ...
(and maybe, possibly worse, while just sitting on ‘the’ throne.)
If you’ve not tried swordplay from a chair, it is interesting to attempt a couple of times; if only to demonstrate how footwork and blade work in measured combination are so necessary to the proper exercise of HEMA.
Then again, it is also entertaining – to say nothing of instructive – to experience under controlled circumstances what it must have been like for a few of our ancestors who were drawn to combine a pint or two with ‘games night’ while sitting quietly at the table.
“Plied with wine, and constantly toasting various ladies by name, the gull grew blinder; Wildfire observed the bully slip the ace of spades under his open hand that lay flat on the table … At that moment, Wildfire, who had silently unsheathed his sword, … nailed the bully’s hand with it to the table.”
Swordplay is Not ‘Sharesies’!
THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN GOAT (Valemount, British Columbia) 01 September 16 Live by the sword
Greg Reimer fights both longsword and the locals attention on the local salmon run. Both he and Brooke Taylor get Swordfight Canada established as a regional source for Italian Longsword instruction. In the article, Greg reveals some of his theories on instruction, about the people who are drawn to swordplay, and establishes his credentials as a ‘master’ well able to safely instruct most any student in the art of blade borne mayhem.
“If we hit each other, nobody wins,” says Reimer. “I need to recognize opportunities, and take them when they’re presented.”
Make Some Noise for …. Longsword!
STAR PHOENIX (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) 30 July 16 Friends in arms: Saskatoon club hosts a historical sword-fighting tournament.
Further east, Saskatoon Historical Fencing held their Western Passage of Arms tournament over the summer and were hoping for a ‘dozen’ participants. President Kelly Bjorndalen discusses the local and growing interest in HEMA and his groups approach to training men and women in the art. Of interest, it seems to be Bjorndalens’ opinion that, notwithstanding the growing interest in swordplay, the art in his region will face challenges that he doesn't "think it’s going to get very far without spectatorship.” It’s an interesting idea, does the growth of HEMA depend on a ‘fan base’ like modern sports leagues? Russian entrepreneurs seem to be making a good, profitable go of it.
Clashing Claymores with Kiwis?
STUFF (New Zealand) 05 September 16 Game of Thrones comes to West Auckland with a sword fighting school
Jeasy Sehgals’ Imperial School of Swordsmanship seem to offer an eclectic variety of instruction for any cleave-craving-Kiwi. Traditional medieval swordplay, stage(d) swordplay and sword-based fitness programs are taught in the salle, and their efforts and special classes are augmented by bringing in accredited ‘specialists’ from overseas.
Recruiting as he does from a small population ‘fan base’, it should be interesting to see where Mr Sehgals’ three-year-old school is, three years from now.
LA INFORMACION (Toledo, Spain) 12 September 16 Tiradores de esgrima histórica de Irlanda, Bélgica o EEUU participan el 24 y 25 de septiembre en un encuentro en Toledo.
Spain’s largest HEMA group, the Asociación Española de Esgrima Antigua hosted Spaniards, Europeans and Americans to their Encuentro Internacional de Esgrima Histórica AEEA 2016 in Toledo. (The city apparently gave the Association a lot of ‘real’ support to help with the conduct of the competition. So now it needs a civic support and a fan base.). The article does not reveal much about the competition itself, but it is instructive in demonstrating just how well established and wide-spread HEMA salles are in Spain. The art is well established there, that federal officials are trying to determine how to make Spain ‘the’ world’s destination of choice for HEMA-related tourism!
Order of the Hatchet for Modern Times?
VILLAGE VOICE (New York, New York) 11 May 16 Fecht Club: New York's Women Warriors Kick Ass
I have no idea how I missed in the spring, my apologies.
In May, Tanya Smith hosted Fecht Yeah, the nation's first-ever HEMA tournament created exclusively by and for women. "I have made a personal choice to 1champion women's events. I still fight men, but I go out of my way to participate with women."
Within the article, we’re introduced to Ms Smiths’ concepts of why a womens’ HEMA competition venue is required, and some of the challenges that she faced from our community in getting Fecht Yeah underway.
Ex-Yoga practitioner Tiby Kantrowitz has the best line in the long item, "It's easy to Zen out with twinkly music, incense, and soft light. But can I maintain the same equanimity when there's some six-foot guy" — she's four-ten — "with a sword who's trying to brain me?"
Viking Values with Hurstwic
WORCESTERMAG (UK) 15 September 16 Hurstwic brings Viking history to life
William Short’s well-established Hurstwic continues to teach about all things Viking-related including the Viking variation of HEMA. Like so many others in our art, Shorts’ initiative was affected by the 2013 closing of the late-lamented Higgins Armory Museum, but seems to have settled well and is back to supporting world-wide groups using his interpretation of Viking training.
“My goal is to learn how Vikings fought and used their weapons,” said Short. “The focus is how they fought and used their weapons, but that expands to pretty much everything related to Vikings – who they were, how they thought, what was important to them, their daily life.”
“there are no traces of human activity in the area”
ICELAND REVIEW (Reykjavík) 07 September 16 Viking Sword Puzzles Archaeologists
A Viking Age sword was recently discovered in southern Iceland … but not buried or otherwise concealed nor covered … and in an area with no record of human habitation! Inquiring minds want to know!
Maybe a 'gobhar' Dropped It?
DAILY MAIL (London, UK) 09 September 16 Revealed: Gold-hilted sword found beneath a Scottish football pitch may be 4,000 years old
A suspected 4,000 year old Bronze Age sword with a gold hilt has been uncovered on the site of a new football pitch (‘soccer field’ for our American peers).
“In a tavern, however, the navaja would not be the prudent man’s first line of defense. This was particularly true if he’s had a few glasses of jerez. For one thing, his reflexes and balance might be impaired. … Thus, when in a tavern, and at any place engaged in drinking, a man’s first line of defense was often a chair.
In many traditional escuelas de armas blancas and salle d’armes of the 19th century, the tactical use of a chair against a sword or knife attack was a standard component of the training.”
1. Singer, Samuel Weller. Researches into the history of playing cards; with illustrations of the Origin of Printing and Engraving on Wood. London UK: T. Bensley and Son, 1816 p. 334
2. Cohen, Richard. By the Sword: Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai Warriors, Swashbucklers and Olympic Champions. New York NY: Modern Library, 2008. P.177 “Italians .. loved duelling … In the ten years between 1879 and 1889, 2759 duels were reported there … .” There is no mention if alcohol was involved.
3. Thornbury, G.W. “The Little Black Box”, The National Magazine, Volume III London UK: W. Kent and Co. 1858. p. 60
4. Loriega, James. Sevillian Steel: The Traditional Knife-Fighting Arts of Spain, Boulder CO: Paladin Press. 1999.