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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That NY Times Article, Outreach, and Public Image

by Bill Grandy

A couple of weeks ago the New York Times published a wonderful piece on Longpoint 2014. The article included a well done video showing off the longsword event. Within a day, the article went viral, appearing everywhere from MTV to the front page of Reddit, and was being re-posted and shared by many other news sources and blogs. Celebrities such as Lucy Lawless (of Xena Warrior Princess fame) and even the MythBusters were linking to the article on Twitter and Facebook.

If you have not seen it yet, it can be found here. You can also see a direct link to the video (minus the article) here:

The overall effect of this article was overwhelmingly positive. Public visibility was high and HEMA was shown in a professional and exciting light. HEMA groups all over the United States were reporting that they were being contacted by people who saw the Times video and started searching out groups in their area. My own school has seen numerous people seeking us out, and I myself ended up on the air of the east coast radio show Elliot in the Morning discussing the event and HEMA because they had seen the article. All in all, this was great publicity for those of us practicing historical fighting arts.

So… what now? Continue reading