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Penny Dreadful: a syncretic masterpiece

I think the reason I enjoyed Penny Dreadful so much is because I have planned to do something similar. I’ve planned to get disparate stories related by some overarching culture or connection and fuse them together into something unique—sometimes faithful, sometimes subversive, something that discusses the issues of the originals and yet raises fresh questions … Continue reading Penny Dreadful: a syncretic masterpiece

Those who overswing

You’ve heard of overreaching but have you heard of overswinging? It seems straightforward right, if you swing you can overswing. Anything you can do, you can overdo. The principle is rather straightforward but, as with many things in sword fighting, it’s easier to understand in theory than apply to your own fights. Maybe you need … Continue reading Those who overswing

Horses vs shieldwalls—what actually happens?

I’ve ridden horses. Horses are smart. When they said horses wouldn’t charge a line of men who stood firm, I believed them. And then I went on a holiday to New Zealand and got to ride one of the horses that was in Lord of the Rings. And there they told me the horses had … Continue reading Horses vs shieldwalls—what actually happens?

Panic blockers—a word of advice

What’s the safest thing you can do in sword fighting? Surely it’s to block all the time. Surely if you do nothing but block, you’re safer than if you do anything else. Yeah, nah. So a thing I find many new swordsmen, or many amateur swordsmen, do is block too much. It doesn’t sound like … Continue reading Panic blockers—a word of advice

Troy (2004) or Troy: Fall of a City—why I like both

For the longest time, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Why do I like both of these adaptations, fairly equally, but for different reasons? I get the hate some people have for the 2004 film, and I get the hate some people have for the more recent BBC series, but I think they set … Continue reading Troy (2004) or Troy: Fall of a City—why I like both

Why I love rebattas

I’ve been meaning to talk about rebattas for a while. Like years. Still, you’ve survived without them. And that’s the thing—rebattas aren’t necessary in swordsmanship, but they’re certainly lots of fun, and they’re something everyone should learn. What is a rebatta? What is it to rebat another’s blade? Essentially, it’s a form of counter cut … Continue reading Why I love rebattas

SPQR—a book for the masses

Once upon a time I cut my teeth reading historians like Scullard, Cary and Gibbon. They were good chaps, in their own way, but their time is beginning to wane. We might well say when Byron falls, Rome falls and when Rome falls—the world, but the stuffy old professor approach to classics is finally making … Continue reading SPQR—a book for the masses

Fighting the stabby newb

Facing a master swordsman is terrifying, as is facing someone with a spear when you only have a shortsword. But there’s a danger you might come across that you underestimate, someone who trades you blow for blow or, worse, hits you without being hit in return—and it’s the first time they’ve ever picked up a … Continue reading Fighting the stabby newb

Mary Queen of Scots—Great Film

Go see Mary Queen of Scots. See it for the acting, see it for the history, see it for the Gaidhlig and, most importantly, see it for the unique story it tells. Even if you know what happens, the way they tell it is profound. Very few stories have the message this one does, and … Continue reading Mary Queen of Scots—Great Film

Shillelagh Bataireacht—some thoughts

So, over the last few months I’ve been getting into Irish Bataireacht—that’s shillelagh stick-fighting for the non-initiated. It’s like no martial art I’ve seen before. Trust my ancestors to come up with something so profoundly strange. That’s the Irish for you, aisteach ach alainn mar sin fein! What’s it all about then? Basically, it’s about … Continue reading Shillelagh Bataireacht—some thoughts