The experience of running a full-time HEMA school in Glasgow

sparring with singlesticks
Keith and Jamie sparring with singlesticks at the Vanguard Centre. Photo by Jonathan Spouge, 2018 (edited by Keith Farrell).

Although I’m currently based in Liverpool, I am responsible for all the paperwork and business admin for a full-time training centre that teaches HEMA in Glasgow, as well as offering archery and blacksmithing activities. The Vanguard Centre is located just south of the city centre in a railway arch beneath the train lines leading into Central Station, and it is a very cool place to spend some time!

Running a full-time venue like this is a lot of hard work, but it has some very rewarding moments too. Since many people toy with the notion of becoming a professional HEMA instructor at some point in their future, I thought it would be interesting to share some of my experience.

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How I keep fit while working from home

Keith Farrell cutting with a sharp longsword. Photo by Daria Izdebska, 2017.

I am often asked how I manage to keep fit while working from home. I am also often asked what I do to train myself to do HEMA better. It is the same answer to both of these questions! Hopefully by sharing my thoughts and approach, it will help other people both to keep themselves a little healthier during the working day, and to see more opportunities to do relevant training for HEMA.

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Some thoughts on corporate sponsorship for the development of the HEMA community

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

Recently there was a Facebook discussion about corporate sponsorship for individuals in the HEMA community, which was quite an interesting topic. James Conlon posted the following question:

“Inside the world of Longsword Fighting” by The New York Times was posted on YouTube over 3 1/2 years ago. To quote Jake Norwood “We need about a million dollars, is what we need. To actually pay for staff… hey Red Bull, right?”

With the exponential growth seen in HEMA over the last couple years is corporate sponsorship a reasonable expectation at present or within the upcoming years? Is corporate sponsorship something that HEMA as a community even wants or needs? What would the foreseeable pros and cons of corporate sponsorship entail? Could corporate sponsorship lead to more of a sportification of HEMA or would HEMA potentially lose its close knit aesthetic that so many of us have come to love?

My thought is that any funding or corporate sponsorship that leads to general development and improvement of the community is a good thing, whereas any funding that leads towards polarisation or isolation of communities, clubs, events, activities, etc, is probably best avoided.

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Book Review: Sport and Physical Education in the Middle Ages

Sport and Physical Education in the Middle Ages by Dr Earle F. Zeigler.

This article was originally posted on Encased in Steel on 4th March 2016. It has been modified for reposting here.

A while ago, I bought what promised to be a fascinating book with great relevance to the study of historical fencing: Sport and Physical Education in the Middle Ages, by Dr Earle F. Zeigler.[1] Unfortunately, I have very little positive to say about the book, as it was full of glaring problems and issues. This review is going to explain just how poorly the book has been put together, and will attempt to show why proper attention to editing and adherence to reasonably high standards are important, even in self-published works.

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Your organisation on Facebook: do you need a page or a group?

Most people who run a club or community of some description realise that they really should have some kind of presence on Facebook. But what kind of presence? Is it a “page” you need, or a “group”? What is the difference?

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Doing it right, or just doing it

Mark Wilkie and Keith Farrell
Mark Wilkie and Keith Farrell fencing on the banks of Loch Lomond. Photo by Daria Izdebska, 2012.

This article was originally posted on Encased in Steel on the 1st of January 2016. It has been modified a little for reposting here.

One of the ideas that causes problems for a lot of people across the world is the idea that whatever you want to do has to be right, or perfect, before you begin.

People delay opening a business until the “perfect” moment, and then never quite manage to open up. People keep planning their novel, adding more and more detail to their world, but never quite end up writing the story. People decide that they don’t want to put themselves forward as an instructor of HEMA until they understand it properly – and so clubs never quite take off.

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5 business lessons from studying longsword

Ben Kerr and Keith Farrell
Ben Kerr and Keith Farrell posing for a photoshoot, with suits and swords. Photo by Reuben Paris, 2010.

This article was originally posted on Encased in Steel on 27th March 2015. It has been edited and improved for posting here.

For the last several years I have been running my own business. For a few more years, I have been learning Liechtenauer’s longsword fencing methods. Recently, I have noticed several parallels between my studies of longsword and the business lessons I have learned from being an entrepreneur. The same lessons would also be valuable for someone considering the idea of opening up a new martial arts club, perhaps even with the idea to run it as a business.

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Good and bad things about flying

A plane taking off. Photo from the Stansted Airport website.

I do a lot of travelling for my work. HEMA events happen in many different countries, and often the only practical way to reach them is to fly. I used to hate flying, with a passion, but I have come to terms with it over the last few years, and now there are even some things I have learned to appreciate about it. Read more

Review of Lambert & Lambert Antiques

I recently bought an antique sword from Lambert & Lambert Antiques, and have been delighted with every part of the process.

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