I had the opportunity a while back to experiment with combining spear and shield both in single duels and in larger skirmishes. I wouldn’t say I’ve solved it definitively but I think I’ve got a few points worth adding to the discussion. Let’s start with one-on-one duels. This is where I think the biggest disagreement … Continue reading Spear and shield—some thoughts
So I was re-watching Game of Thrones these last few weeks, you know, as you do, and I saw an interesting fight scene. It reminded me of something I’d learned from studying primary sources in history from a lot to of different cultures and times. Basically, fighting in reality doesn’t play by nice rules where … Continue reading “But I blocked it!”—when your defence fails you
Get a longer weapon. That’s for starters. I’ll explain more in a second but, seriously, if you could pick one thing before going into a fight like this, that’d be it. If you’re fighting solo against more than one opponent, you need every little trick and twist to get the odds even slightly back in … Continue reading How to fight multiple opponents
You would have thought that disarms were fairly straightforward; find some tricky way to take their sword off them, they lose the sword, end of story. Sometimes disarming someone is that simple but there are times when being disarmed is the least of their worries. Let's start off with what a disarm is and when … Continue reading A hidden benefit of disarms…
Last week it might have seemed that I thought very little of the guard Long Point. Not true! It's incredibly useful so long as you understand its strengths and weaknesses (like all guards) and use it effectively. So if running into battle in Long Point isn't the best way to use it, what is? To … Continue reading The Benefits of Long Point
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
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?
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?
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
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