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

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BladeFit: The Sword Ladder

by Bill Grandy

BladeFit is a reoccurring article showing quick fitness exercises for Historical European Martial Artists. These exercises can be worked into a fitness routine, used for your pre-class warm-ups, or just inspire you to start moving. Some will be modern-made exercises, while others will be more historically inspired.

Is there ever really such a thing as owning too many swords?
Is there ever really such a thing as owning too many swords?

To start the Sword Ladder, lay out as many swords as you have available onto the floor, parallel to each other, so that you have a “ladder” that you will do exercises with. This is a good warm up for a full sized class where everyone puts down a weapon. You can do this with as little as four or five swords. Alternately, you can use dowel rods or even sticks and branches if you train outdoors.

Once you have your ladder, the first and simplest exercise is to jog through it, making certain to never step on any of the swords. This exercise can be done with a commercially available running ladder, which is certainly a worthwhile purchase. However, having swords on the floor forces people to be much more careful about how they step so that they don’t trip, which is part of the exercise.

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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

Longpoint 2014: VAF Highlight Video

by Bill Grandy

longpointhighlights2014-2

Last month, from July 17-20, the fourth annual Longpoint tournament was held in Ellicott City, Maryland. This amazing event is one of the largest in North America, with tournament events covering a wide variety of HEMA styles. This year Longpoint hosted over 150 attendees and featured world class instructors, workshops, and multiple tournaments, including three Longsword competitions (Open Steel, Women’s and Synthetic), along with Singlestick, Messer, Ringen, Paired Forms, and a Longsword Cutting Tournament.

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“Say it Right!” Common German HEMA Terms (Part 1)

by Dagi Johnson

“Say it Right!” is an ongoing series to help English speaking HEMA practitioners pronounce foreign terminology. Voice overs will typically be native speakers of the language. It should be noted that, just like in English, there are multiple dialects within any language, but this series will give students a starting place so as not to completely butcher another country’s tongue. It should also be noted that historical spellings are often different than modern ones, and sometimes multiple spellings can be found of a single term. For the sake of consistency, we have chosen to use modern spellings whenever possible.

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BladeFit: The Sword Burpee

by Bill Grandy

BladeFit is a reoccurring article showing quick fitness exercises for Historical European Martial Artists. These exercises can be worked into a fitness routine, used for your pre-class warm-ups, or just inspire you to start moving. Some will be modern-made exercises, while others will be more historically inspired.

The Sword Burpee is a simple variation on the standard burpee. A burpee is performed first by squatting down, placing your hands flat on the ground and kicking the feet back so that you end in a plank position. It is optional whether or not to do a push-up from there. Then you quickly push your feet towards your hands and jump upward with your hands held high. This is an excellent exercise for explosive movement and cardiovascular development. Continue reading

Henry Angelo’s Ten Lessons of Highland Broadsword (Part 1)

by Jonathan Gordon

If there is one nationality that conjures up the image of swordsmanship, I’m willing to bet it would be the Scots. The gap between popular culture (Highlander, Rob Roy, Braveheart) to reality, though, is one that is often overlooked. Recently a few of us within the Virginia Academy of Fencing have begun a group to study the weapons and fighting techniques of the 18th Century Scottish Fencing Masters. We began with the use of the Scottish broadsword of the late 18th century.

Baskethilts
Two reproductions of baskethilt broadswords.

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