Pigeonholed Sword Press: News for February 2016

Bob Brooks - President of the British Federation of Historical Swordplay
Bob Brooks -- President of the British Federation of Historical Swordplay

Let’s see now; what is "proper" historical swordplay? There are many definitions:

  1. Swordplay as it is strictly interpreted from a specific fightbook.
  2. The swordplay (tempered with safety concerns) employed by the SCA in their efforts to accurately recreate an overall (family-friendly) "feel" of being in the Medieval or Renaissance period.
  3. Swordplay as a martial art-driven, "totally different" fitness program.
  4. Organised swordplay as a "camaraderie"-focused event. (Think of your mixed volleyball league.)

Each definition brings a different approach or "flavour" to swordplay -- from the intensely academic to the brutally functional, and from the deadly serious to the very laissez-faire, fun point of view.

Every approach brings a different variety of personality types and personal circumstances to the greater group of people interested in the art. Of course, some will move easily between one or more approaches in their swordplay over the course of a lifetime, while others might elect to remain comfortably within their respective "niche".

Regardless of which group one might belong to, for the community as a whole, we should keep in mind that "we’re all in this together". As long as we manage that, no matter what league of commitment we prefer, the art, study and practice of HEMA will be in good (and a growing number of) hands for some time to come.

Wes 5th Tournoi HivernalLa belle beating

CBC (Montreal, Québéc). 21 February 16. "Montreal Medieval tournament wraps up after weekend of swinging swords."

The Fédération Québécoise de combats médiévaux wrapped up their 5th annual Medieval Combat Arts tournament hosting male and female fighters from all over the world. (With their own Bénédice Robitaille replaying her first place success achieved in Poland last year!)

The organizers ran a challenge very familiar to those that participate in the Battle of the Nations series of competitions -- the FQCM being an annual attendee at that event.

Medieval Manitoba - and that's a good thing

CBC (Winnipeg, Manitoba). 14 February 16. "Winnipeg class teaches students how to use medieval weapons."

Cody Skillen of Winnipeg Knightly Arts is interviewed as to his take on movie swordplay, the use and imitations of different training swords and how to best protect yourself against them, the idea of HEMA as a spiritual art, and why people in his area are undertaking the sport. We found his response to what is the best technique to use in any fight intriguing -- we army types prefer whenever possible not to react to the initiatives of our foe as much as we try to get him to react to ours!

Casual Cutting on Campus

Wes BlademasterUTAH STATESMAN (Logan, Utah). 01 February 16. "Stabbing with style."

Utah State University Medieval Fencing Club as coached by Olympic-style trained Dan Wheeler is one of our peer organisations that caters to camaraderie first and foremost, though its 18 members to seem to vary in how they approach the art and participation in local swordplay and SCA events. Serious study of the art is important, and for many of us, it’s a means of understanding what it really took to be a competent historical swordfighter. But it is great to see that there are groups specifically designed to allow those with minimum time (and the potential for only being in the group for three years) exposure to historical swordplay. In this club, they may develop a love for the sport -- and hopefully, the art -- and come back to us once they’ve "settled" professionally. Not all salles can accommodate the social requirements of all potential students.

We remain unconvinced, however, that the rapier is the correct choice during any Zombie apocalypse! (Let's face it, cutting weapons -- a sidesword and shield, or a longsword -- would be far more efficient.)

Cutting Words

DEUTSCHLANDRADIO (Köln, Germany). 23 February 16. "Historiker beim Fechtkampf -- Die schneidende Kraft des Wortes."

Historians, academics and swordplayers in Chemnitz are gathering together to decipher the reality of the sword fighting techniques contained in the medieval works of Joachim Meyer and other some other Fechtbücher. One of the relevant observations is that the thirty-second matches happened so fast that most observers might not have been able to follow the movement of the blades involved.

Blade Bling?

ARCHAEOLOGY (Palm Coast, Florida). 17 February 16. "Anglo-Saxon Gold Mount Discovered."

Academic concerns over the authenticity of some old swords discovered in modern times notwithstanding, it’s wonderful to read that there are some incontestably-legitimate discoveries being made involving old blades. The recent discovery of 6th-to-7th century sword furniture will add to our period sword knowledge and reinforce our hope that there are whole armories of swordplay material still "out there", (or rather, "under there"), waiting to be discovered.

So, what bling did you get your sword-wielding partner for Valentine’s day?

Location! Location! Appropriate Location!

SALMON ARM OBSERVER (British Columbia). 16 February 16. "Salmon Arm student carrying prop sword becomes centre of police drama."

Unfortunately, public perceptions count, and can result in innocent but ill-considered calls to authorities demanding intervention in some harmless activity. Swords, for props or sport, do carry a reputation with them -- and yes, have potential to inflict harm. (We as a community know that better than most.) Conduct yourself appropriately in public (no "open carry" of your halberd, please!)


  • Wes Cup IskorostenMeanwhile in Russia:
    • Fight Club Avalon prepares to take a run at the "Battle of the Nations".
    • Eastern Russia's "Blade Master" competition will have been completed before this is reported.