Summertime Throwback: Historical Swordsmanship on Virginia Time Travel (2011)

by Bill Grandy

Summertime might be a time of beaches and vacations for some, but for the team members of TheHEMAists, it’s the busiest time of the year. Every summer we need a small break, so expect to see a Summer Throwback each year, where we’ll revisit the “olden days” of our HEMA past. Sometimes this will be in the form of articles from publications or sites that any of our authors have written for, or sometimes it will be videos from a time before existed. So enjoy a little blast from the past as our team takes a short break from the site. We promise we’ll have something new for you very soon!

In 2011, a local TV show called Virginia Time Travel contacted us at the Virginia Academy of Fencing. The show focuses on everything dealing with history, from the rebuilding of old landmarks to the reenactment of historical battles, so our Historical Swordsmanship program was a big interest to them. David Rowe and I were invited onto the show to demonstrate some of the various weapon styles that we teach at VAF and also to discuss the world of Historical European Martial Arts.

This little episode spread incredibly far and was quite popular to non-HEMA audiences. People who had never heard of our arts were suddenly contacting us from all over the world and asking where they could find HEMA groups in their area. The episode unfortunately only shows a very small fraction of the techniques that David and I demonstrated. Even more unfortunate was that this was back in the days when our uniform was black, and we did not realize the show had a black background, rendering David and I practically invisible (I prefer to say that we are actually ninjas). The televised version was of much higher quality than the YouTube counterpart, where the black background was not an issue, but alas, it is not available. Nonetheless, the online version is still clear enough, and it introduced Historical European Martial Arts to a wide audience that had not previously known of us. If you never saw it, please enjoy!


About the author: Bill Grandy is the Director of Historical Swordsmanship at the Virginia Academy of Fencing, where he has taught professionally since 2001. His HEMA studies began in 1998 (back before anyone called it “HEMA”), though he practiced modern sport fencing since the late 1980’s, and spent most of the 1990’s practicing Aikido before eventually giving up both when he found his true passion with the historical western fighting styles. His specialties are the German Liechtenauer tradition of swordsmanship as well as the Renaissance Italian rapier, though he tries to find time to work with numerous other weapon arts whenever he can. Bill has travelled extensively to study both period fencing treatises as well as antique arms and armor, and he is also invited regularly to teach at major HEMA events.

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