Why I hate tournaments…

… and why they are the best thing that has ever happened to my training.


By David A. Rowe

Team VAF regularly competes at Longpoint every year


I hate tournaments. I really do.  I hate sloppy fencing. I hate ugly form. I hate awful judging. I hate crappy attitudes. I hate silly drama. And I really hate the politics. Most of all, I hate losing. I’ve lost because I was tired and exhausted.  I’ve lost due to bad judging. And I’ve lost because the other fencer outclassed me.

What I really hate is losing to the guy who is better at playing the game than me.  Everyone knows who I’m talking about; he’s the guy who probably never drills, has probably never seen a manual, let alone read one. He’s good because he’s an athlete.  He wins not because he is a better martial artist, and not because he has a better grasp on the sources.  He wins because he is better at winning tournaments.  He is better at the playing the game.

For a long time, the only views I had regarding tournaments were negative.  I thought they polluted the art. I thought they were silly. I thought the people competing in them had no idea how to fence in a so-called real sword fight.   Having never really tested myself before, I thought I was pretty awesome. And then Longpoint 2011 happened.

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The Art of Translation, Part 1: What Makes a Good Translation?

by David Rowe

“The Art of Translation” is an ongoing series of articles covering translation as it pertains to HEMA source material. It will feature tips, resources, original translations and more.

At least it’s better than Google translate.

Scholars and practitioners of Historical European Martial Arts, unlike other forms of martial arts, are reliant on the historical treatises which document the fighting styles that we study. For most of the arts that are practiced within HEMA, we lack the direct, extant living tradition handed down over generations, passed on from master to student as you can find in classical Asian sword arts. Because of this, HEMA practitioners are at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding the arts that we study, as most HEMA treatises appear to have been intended not as how-to guides for beginners, but as study aids, teachers’ notes, or advanced instruction for competent fencers.  Attempting to learn to fight solely from a book is already nearly if not entirely impossible, and most practitioners will find it necessary to borrow from living traditions to fill in or inform the gaps that exist within the treatises. While that topic is worthy of its own article, the goal here will instead be to discuss what qualifies a translation as being an accurate representation of the original text in the study of HEMA. Continue reading