Review of the DOHEMA sword sheath

Albion Talhoffer
Albion Talhoffer in a DOHEMA sheath. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2017.

I was recently given a DOHEMA sword sheath as a gift. The item was not given to me for reviewing, but I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts about it.

The DOHEMA sheaths by Black Armoury are made from a modern synthetic material, they come in a functional matte black colour, and they work very well. A sheath is not a very complicated piece of equipment, and these do exactly what they are supposed to do!

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Safe training swords part 3: the schilt / ricasso

Sparring Gloves and an Albion Meyer
Sparring Gloves and an Albion Meyer. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2015.

This is the third part of a short series of articles on safety features on swords. The first part was concerned with “tipping solutions” for the point; the second part was concerned with measuring flexibility for the thrust; and this part is concerned with protecting the hands and fingers.

This article in the series is focused more on longswords, although it applies perfectly well to any training sword that does not have a complex hilt, such as messers or other medieval swords.

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The importance of books 07: Jake Priddy

Jake Priddy. Image from the Iron Gate Exhibition website.

This is a series of interviews with well-known HEMA practitioners from around the world. The subject is the importance of books in the HEMA community. Personally, I think books are immensely important to the community (and in general!), but I am interested to find out more about how other people see the issue.

This week’s interview is with Jake Priddy, who is an instructor at Body and Blade Swordsmanship in the USA.

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Review of the Carnage Claymores broadsword

Carnage Claymores broadsword. Image from the Carnage Claymores page on Facebook.

Carnage Claymores is a new smithy that has opened in Scotland recently, with a focus on making Scottish swords for the HEMA community. Thomas McConnell is the smith behind the company; he is also the instructor at the Highland Broadsword Fencing Angus club, and he participates in and teaches at events across the UK.

The broadsword that I received for testing, feedback and review is the prototype for his “standard” broadswords that will be intended for people who want a relatively cheap and cheerful steel broadsword for training. Read more

Meyer’s four openings drill (aka Meyer’s square)

meyer-four-openings-square
Meyer’s diagram for attacking the four openings. This modern image is courtesy of Ilkka Hartikainen, who very kindly made it available for use by the community.

In his 1570 book, Joachim Meyer included a brief paragraph and a small diagram to describe an exercise for learning how to strike to the four openings (the Vier Blossen) on an opponent. Both the diagram and the exercise have become popular in the current longsword community, with an increasing number of people asking what it is and how to use it in training. This article will explain how to use the exercise in a constructive fashion, as well as highlighting some common errors and problems.

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The importance of books 06: Fran Terminiello

Fran Terminiello. Image from the School of the Sword website.

This is a series of interviews with well-known HEMA practitioners from around the world. The subject is the importance of books in the HEMA community. Personally, I think books are immensely important to the community (and in general!), but I am interested to find out more about how other people see the issue.

This week’s interview is with Fran Terminiello, who is an instructor at the School of the Sword in England, and who is one of the organisers of the Esfinges movement.

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Knowing when NOT to win

Keith Farrell and John McCann
Keith demonstrating a technique with John McCann during a longsword lesson. Photo by Philippa Ramsay-Bagg, 2012.

When we are sparring, and certainly when we compete, we want to apply our skills successfully and we want to “win” the fight. This is only reasonable, and it is also the purpose of many sparring exercises, where learning the skill involves learning to utilise it in a fashion that leads to success – in other words, “winning”.

However, there may sometimes be situations where trying to “win” is not the right thing to do. This article will seek to examine a few of these situations, in an effort to provoke thought and discussion about the ethics and practice of martial arts.

It is probably necessary to emphasise that while certain strategies are appropriate in a real-life, life-or-death situation, different strategies are more appropriate (and perhaps even more legal…) while training with people in the salle or at an event. Therefore, when I talk about “in a fight” in this article, I mean a training bout between two fencers in the training hall or at an event.

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The importance of books 05: Piermarco Terminiello

Piermarco Terminiello. Image from the School of the Sword website.

This is a series of interviews with well-known HEMA practitioners from around the world. The subject is the importance of books in the HEMA community. Personally, I think books are immensely important to the community (and in general!), but I am interested to find out more about how other people see the issue.

This week’s interview is with Piermarco Terminiello, who is an instructor at the School of the Sword in England, and who is a regular and well-decorated tournament competitor as well as a published author.

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Buying gear on a tight budget

feder in a field
A feder in a field, at the AHA Loch Lomond 2013 event. Photo by Elliot Howie, 2013.

I was brought up as a stereotypical Scotsman, making many purchasing decisions with my wallet-brain. This meant I almost always went for the cheapest option, and didn’t even consider more expensive options. However, this also meant that I ended up making poor decisions and often ended up buying more expensive equipment in the end, so I wasted quite a lot of money in the process.

Buying equipment on a budget is an issue that almost everyone will face at some point in time. The budget may be very tight, or it might have quite a bit of space in it for more purchases, but inevitably everyone will reach a point where they will think “what can I afford, and should I maybe take a cheaper option?”

Often, and most especially when starting out, I believe that the best policy is not to skimp on certain purchases. It is far better, for many reasons, to save up for a little longer and to buy something better as a result.

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The importance of books 04: Jack Gassmann

Jack Gassmann. Image from the Rossfechten Symposium website.

This is a series of interviews with well-known HEMA practitioners from around the world. The subject is the importance of books in the HEMA community. Personally, I think books are immensely important to the community (and in general!), but I am interested to find out more about how other people see the issue.

This week’s interview is with Jack Gassmann, who teaches at events around Europe, and who is a regular and well-decorated tournament competitor as well as a contributor to the Acta Periodica Duellatorum journal.

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Review of “Sword and Shield” DVD by Roland Warzecha

Sword and Shield DVD by Roland Warzecha.

Sword and Shield: Basic principles and technique of medieval buckler combat is a DVD by Roland Warzecha and Tobias Wenzel, published through Agilitas in 2011. The subject is fencing with the medieval sword and buckler in general, as opposed to concentrating on a single source such as I.33 or Lignitzer’s treatise.

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Trying to simulate a real fight

Keith Farrell and Ciaran O'Sullivan
Keith Farrell and Ciaran O’Sullivan fencing with longswords at Edgebana. Photo by Thomas Naylor, 2016.

When people design rules for a HEMA tournament, a common idea is that the competition should simulate a real fight as closely as possible. This always involves a series of assumptions about what a “real fight” is, exactly, and also about how a person will react after receiving a hit.

I believe that this is too problematic a goal to be useful to the current HEMA movement, and in this article I will explain my reasons.

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The importance of books 03: Peter Smallridge

Peter Smallridge. Image from the Afterblow website.

This is a series of interviews with well-known HEMA practitioners from around the world. The subject is the importance of books in the HEMA community. Personally, I think books are immensely important to the community (and in general!), but I am interested to find out more about how other people see the issue.

This week’s interview is with Peter Smallridge, who teaches at KDF Tonbridge in England, and who is a regular and well-decorated tournament competitor.

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Unhelpful advice 2: it is alright to take a hit to give a hit

christoph-and-kieren-longsword
Christoph Busche and Kieren Smith working on the Duplieren with the longsword. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2016.

This is the second article in a short series, discussing common pieces of advice that sound helpful but in fact can be detrimental to your practice of some HEMA systems.

A common piece of advice in some unarmed martial arts is that it is alright to take a hit as you give a better hit to your opponent. This certainly makes sense in some flavours of boxing,[1] for example, where taking a weak punch to your non-dominant shoulder is not the end of the world, and if that enables you to deliver a simultaneous strike with your dominant hand to your opponent’s face, it is perhaps quite a reasonable trade.

However, in martial arts with weapons, this piece of advice does not hold up quite so well, for physical reasons, and for some historical reasons as well.

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