We’ve always found it fascinating to discover how our peers come to sword play, and to what specific discipline within it.
We all know of someone of Spanish or Scottish background who is a dedicated student within the oriental martial arts and techniques of kendo, gumdo or jian shu. Within the Academie Duello, we have students of various Asian and Indian heritages’ happily lunging against each other using only the very best in renaissance Italian technique. Swedes study the Danish axe … and German long sword. And now the Russians are leading the rediscovery of Polish traditional sabre fighting.
An affinity for one style of swordplay over another is not necessarily related to our cultural, ethnic or historical past. It’s the result of somebody reading, watching or experiencing something interesting, and then thinking ‘I’d like to do that’.
And it is up to us and our salles to capitalise on that initial interest by reinforcing it with skill development and professional support – and hopefully end up with a new sword fighting peer of whom we can say: “X is really good with La Verdadera Destreza in the close-in fight. She’s Iranian? Oh … I didn’t notice.”
Old Skills in New England
NEWBURYPORT NEWS (Massachusetts) 20 September 13 Getting medieval in Danvers – Historic martial arts come to life in tournaments, clinics (Will Broaddus)
Those of you that participated in the Boston Sword Gathering have found it under the new title Iron Gate Exhibition 2013. The most significant change other than the name is that the participants in the long sword, spear and dagger competitions have doubled from 50 to a hundred.
“It’s been growing very rapidly,” said organiser Jeff Tsay of Forte Swordplay. “Ten years ago, we would have been shocked to see the explosion and proliferation of schools and events, and the sources that have become available.”
“We want to see a better quality of fighting”
Eternal Questions: Thrust or Cut?; Straight or Curved?
HURRIYET (Ankara, Turkey) 21 September 13 The Ottoman sword – a cut and slash weapon (Niki Gamm)
So, why feature a Turkish sword in a WEMA/HEMA blog?
Most medieval and renaissance ‘duels’ were probably fought with similar blades types: dagger versus dagger, rapier versus rapier, sword and buckler versus … well, you get the drift. And it is under those conditions that we seem to do most of our training, regardless of the school or fechtbook followed.
But in war, it was more likely than not that you would get involved in ‘dis-similar weapon fighting’: Crusader arming sword against Mamluk kılıç, German long sword against Hungarian sabre; Austrian lance against the Swiss halberd, etc. In combat, fighting against a different blade type and technique was probably the norm for most anyone campaigning outside of their own ‘country’.
A significant part of being a skilled sword fighter is one’s ability to adapt to the weapons and style of your opponent; taking the initiative in such as way that you can use the strength of your weapon and techniques against the weakness of the others’. (Make him/her react to you). To do this effectively, an understanding of the swords used by those ‘on the other side of the hill’ is at least desirable, if not essential.
Of note within this item is a description of the Turkish-style cross guard: “it was designed to prevent the wielder’s hand from slipping down along the blade. It never developed into the type of cross guard that in European swords helped protect the hand from being struck.”
And a note for collectors of any type of sword: “Since wooden grips tended to decay over time, they were usually replaced. Therefore, discordance is often visible between the blade and hilt of most old swords.”
Hot Passion for Cold Steel.
ЧЕСТНОЕ СЛОВО (Novosibirsk, Russia) 04 September 13 Пуля — дура, кончар — молодец, там, где пика — конец, а где сабля — венец! (Яна Доля)
Voluntarily visit the sometimes sunny ‘Chicago of Siberia’, the third largest city in Russia – and you can attend the Phillips School of Polish Saber (no website that We can find) in Novosibirsk – the largest salle of its’ specific type in the world!
This long and detailed item describes how Russians came to find themselves to be the ones to rediscover and protect the traditional swordplay of 16th C Polish swordplay; how interest in the art is being revived because of Polish movies on historical subjects (sound familiar?); and how the school prepares its students both for serious historical swordplay … and as potential actors for the increasing numbers of sword-related films being shot in eastern Europe. (Apparently the Poles have an excellent reputation for staging ‘realistic’ sword fights … in masse … during their movies).
The master of the school hopes that with increased interest and more study, that sometime in the future there will be enough people and expertise available to conduct swordplay competitions in a historical Polish style.
061 (Zaporozhye, Ukraine) 16 September 13 Запорожцы смогут увидеть казацкие олимпийские игры
And riding hard right behind the Polish sabers, the Russian Cossack peoples are rediscovering their own martial heritage and traditions – and the saber swordplay that comes with it!
In this years’ 06 October ‘Cossack Olympics’ saber fencing, lancing a target from horseback and throwing knives will feature predominately. And that is good!
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was recently gifted with a historically important sword during his recent visit to Aceh.
We’re a bit nonplused though by the indication that the ‘cultural’ artefact had been subsequently ‘engraved’ with a political message.
The respect for swords as symbols of national or ethnic pride can be found near everywhere in the world. The government of Turkey was recently approached by Moldovan officals to consider the return ‘loan’ of the sword of their national hero Stefan Cel Mare, which the latter had surrendered to the Ottoman Empire c.1503 as part of his effort to ensure independence for his country.