Sword Press from the Atlantic

WMA on the Atlantic Coast dominates this cull – along with Wes’s wistful musing for the week.

Recreating a ‘fun’ death?

THE RECORD (Woodland Park, New Jersey)  09 February 12  Swordsmanship on display in Leonia (Melinda Aranda and Carol Karels)

WEMA authority, author and stage fight instructor Jack Kirby was recently interviewed about how he came to the art and his vision of it.

Q: Can you recommend movies with authentic sword fighting scenes?

A: “The Duellists,” with Harvey Keitel, features six to eight duels. The small-sword duel is the most accurate I’ve seen in a movie. There are some really fun fights in Princess Bride or Rob Roy which are not historically accurate, but still entertaining.

Q: What special skills are required of a fight director?

A: You need to choreograph the fight so that it enhances the story. It must have a beginning, middle, climax and end, like a small play. You are a magician, tricking the audience, if only for a moment, into believing the character is hit or mortally wounded. To accomplish that, you need knowledge of anatomy and how people die, so that you can help the actor portray it correctly.

“My interest in stage combat began first at 15 when I attended a Renaissance Fair. I watched a human chess match in which two (human) chess pieces duel with swords over a square (all staged of course)*.”

*We were intrigued to see this quote, since it brought to mind some recollections from my own mis-spent past about how ‘neat’ it would be to actually recreate a ‘steel-on-steel’ chess match!


Many Reasons to take up many Swords

THE CAPITAL (Annapolis, Maryland) 30 January 12  Club studies and fights with ancient weapons (Theresa Winslow)

Swordsmanship with it’s 20 regulars (six of which are women) meet twice-weekly to practice the 14th-century German longsword, 17th-century Italian rapier, 18th-century French smallsword, 19th-century Italian duelling sabre and 19th-century French and Italian duelling sword.

The article focuses on the raison and opinions of various group members as to why they chose WMA as their chosen discipline.

“I’m really a 5-year-old boy and I get to hit people with swords,” said Molly McClanahan, a Game Shop employee and graduate student from Shady Side.

“It’s athletic, it’s fun and there’s a lot it can teach us about history,” said Ed Toton, a systems engineer who came all the way from Virginia.

“This is my football,” said Brian Ames of Pasadena, who works at a Coast Guard yard.  “It’s actually a much more elegant weapon than I thought,” he said, longsword in hand. “Everyone thinks it’s smash, smash, smash, but it’s not.”

Included in the report were two items near and dear to Our own heart; the fragile, law-and-order little thing that We are:

Bruises and a broken finger or two aren’t uncommon.  “Man, it hurts when you get hit,” said McClanahan. “It’s physical in a way I’m not used to. Once you realize it hurts, you (try) not to let it happen to anyone else.”; and

“T-shirts and workout wear peeking out of gym bags is expected.  The hilts of weapons are not”.

Personal Security AND Public Security are both important if the art is going to continue to attract new students within an supportive (and hopefully interested) society.


From the Dustbin of History – The Philosophy of Duelling

We try as best able and content allowing, to feature press that is ‘current’.  However, from time-to-time, We stumble (much like most of my fencing) upon something relevant that may still be of modest interest to some.

THE AGE (Melbourne, Australia) 28 April 07  The duel life (Dr Jeremy Moss)

Philosopher/fencer Dr Moss offers us his interpretation of the history, ‘raison’ and appeal of fencing – from a refreshingly unique point of view!

“It is often said the reason people are fascinated by duelling with swords and other such violent confrontations is not because they offer the possibility of killing, but because of the thrill of facing death and living to tell the tale.

Perhaps this is why fencing, as the duel’s direct descendent, continues to retain its allure. People are drawn to swordplay in films, novels and on the fencing piste itself, as there is something fascinating about squaring off against an opponent, weapon in hand.”

“…duelling has often aroused fierce moral debates. Philosophers in particular (as custodians of morality) have had a charged relationship with duelling and fencing. Rousseau and Schopenhauer found duelling ridiculous and the physical requirements of fencing laughable. Jeremy Bentham, on the other hand, sided with Kant (a remarkable thing in itself) and Hobbes in thinking that killing someone in a duel was not the same as murder, and an acceptable way of settling a debt of honour. Rene Descartes wrote a treatise on fencing, now sadly lost.”

“Interestingly, it is not fear of getting hit that is hardest to overcome for the novice fencer, but fear of harming someone else. No matter how many swashbuckler films we see, a reluctance to thrust a length of steel into someone’s chest is hard to discard.”