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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

Longsword vs Katana—a fight changing technique

There's a lot of similarity between Western and Eastern sword arts. Anyone who trains with or spars against both will tell you that. But what about where they're different? Is there anything fundamentally different about them, so different it can change the course of the fight? Let's find out. I'm talking here about using two-handed … Continue reading Longsword vs Katana—a fight changing technique

Poetry alert—why we should all be reading Catullus

μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος Sing of the rage, goddess, of Achilles, Pelleus' son. The first words of Western literature. The first words are a calling to the Muse to inspire the tragic story about to be unfolded. As I said last week, it's the Muse who ultimately drives our creative efforts. None understand this better than poets and … Continue reading Poetry alert—why we should all be reading Catullus

The limits of HEMA—Archery in group combat

When you think of reconstructing medieval combat, the first thing you think of is probably going to be sword fighting. Either that or jousting. If you take a bit longer to think about it, you'll probably get to massed battles with spears and shields and that kind of thing. We look to HEMA clubs and … Continue reading The limits of HEMA—Archery in group combat

How I deal with Writer’s Block

Firstly, yes it is a thing, though something rather nebulous. There's no one answer to fight it either—nothing works all the time. I've found it's like taking antibiotics, the stronger the stuff you use to fight it, the more it will mutate and find new ways to get you. Still, I personally think there's a … Continue reading How I deal with Writer’s Block

Why axes are underrated

You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw an axe at you! It doesn't quite have the same ring, does it? Axes seem like the older, less understood cousins of the sword that don't get talked about much. Sure they might have a movie appearance once in a while … Continue reading Why axes are underrated