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Charge!—The best guards for running into battle

This might not be something you think of immediately when you start any kind of historical fencing. Most sparring takes place in duels between two people. You start off at a nice, safe distance from each other and then step into measure when you're ready. Group combat is fundamentally different. If you don't reach the … Continue reading Charge!—The best guards for running into battle

Studying history is like learning a new language

The two biggest mistakes you can make learning a new language or studying history are thinking, "They're exactly like me," and, "They're nothing like me." It's so natural to drift between these two extremes in both scenarios and yet I think that the more we're conscious of our tendency to think in this way, the … Continue reading Studying history is like learning a new language

Knife vs sword—do you have a hope?

No. Well that was easy. The answer's still no but I'd like to explore why that's the case. I'd also like to explore why, if you're so unlikely to succeed, we have sections on this in historical manuals. If you are so likely to fail, what's the point in trying at all? So let's back … Continue reading Knife vs sword—do you have a hope?

Give up and sleep in… or not—Marcus Aurelius

"At break of day, when you are reluctant to get up, have this thought  ready to mind: 'I am getting up for a man's work'... Or was I created to wrap myself in blankets and keep warm? But this is more pleasant. Were you born then for pleasure—all for feeling, not for action?...But one needs … Continue reading Give up and sleep in… or not—Marcus Aurelius

Counter-cutting—newb error or legit technique?

I hear so many instructors telling people off for trying to block a cut by swinging wildly into it. Is that really a problem though? And if it is, does that mean counter-cutting is useless or is there a way to do it properly? So yeah, it probably won't surprise you to learn that swinging … Continue reading Counter-cutting—newb error or legit technique?

Feint high, strike low—the oldest trick in the book

The four-move checkmate of the fighting world—if you don't know it yet, you should and if you do already, it's worth discussing in depth. Who knows? There might be ways you can improve it. What is it though? At its heart, it's the most basic feint you can do. What's a feint? A feint is … Continue reading Feint high, strike low—the oldest trick in the book

Gaelic is thriving—Gun Dochas

Bit ironic for a title given the name of the song, Gun Dochas, literally means without hope. And yet, there are so many ways you can connect with this song that it's mind blowing. You can have no Gaelic at all or spend hours appreciating all the twists in a single line. This song will … Continue reading Gaelic is thriving—Gun Dochas

Poetry, swords and the Finnish National Epic—the mystical roots of HEMA

What does the Kalevala have to do with longsword fighting? It's Finnish, longsword sources are in German and Italian, what's up? When reading about the Kalevala I realised a number of things about magic in pre-industrial societies. I think I've realised what, in a very real sense, it was for. Or at least one part … Continue reading Poetry, swords and the Finnish National Epic—the mystical roots of HEMA

The best Gaelic song in the world—An Eala Bhan

Gur duilich leam mar tha mi 's mo chridhe 'n sas aig bron Sorrow is with me because my heart and I are full of sadness Sounds a bit melodramatic until you realise the guy who wrote it was living through the trenches of World War One at the time. An Eala Bhan is perhaps … Continue reading The best Gaelic song in the world—An Eala Bhan