Using lighter swords in training

Liverpool HEMA lesson
Ben and Marc performing an exercise during a lesson at Liverpool HEMA. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2018.

This article was originally posted on Encased in Steel on 25th March 2016. It has been edited and improved for posting here.

I often hear the advice that you should train with a heavier sword, in order to improve your strength, balance, coordination, stamina, whatever. In fact, this notion is recorded as early as Vegetius, who wrote about Roman training methods.

In this article, I will argue that lighter swords are in fact more beneficial for beginners, and that people should not rush into using a heavier sword before they are ready.

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

Initial thoughts about the proposed Offensive Weapons Bill 2018

Since October last year, Matt Easton and Keith Farrell have been working hard to mobilise the UK HEMA community to respond to the government consultation on the proposed Offensive Weapons Bill. Now that the wording of the proposed bill has become available on the government’s website, here are our initial thoughts on specific parts of the bill, and some conclusions that we can draw from it.

The government has moved forward with its proposed legislation (the draft Offensive Weapons Bill) to ban the delivery of bladed articles purchased online to residential addresses. The Home Office has released the first draft of the new Offensive Weapon Bill on 19 June 2018.

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

What sabre system should you study?

Liverpool HEMA lesson
Singlestick play at Liverpool HEMA. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2018.

If you have been intrigued by the idea of starting to fence with the sabre, then a common question is what sabre system to study? There are so many different systems that have been written about, so what sabre system is good for a beginner? Read more

Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

Short Biography: Johann Justus Runkel (1751-1808)

Signature of J.J. Runkel. Image from the Swords Collection blog.

I am interested in working with antique swords, since studying the original items can tell us much about the construction and use of swords in history. I have a small (but growing!) collection of antique swords, and some of them bear a signature on the spines of the blades, indicating that a “J.J. Runkel” had something to do with the manufacture or sale of the swords. This was an avenue for research, and so I endeavoured to find out more about this person, so that I could understand the antique swords in my collection a little better. This article presents my findings as a short biography of this interesting character from history.

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

The importance of books 34: Alen Lovrič

Image by Thomas Kelley, from unsplash.com

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 Alen Lovrič, who is a well-known international fencer and reviewer of fencing equipment.

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

Ethical considerations with antique swords, part 3: storage

A typical 19th century Indian tulwar, from the Triquetra Collection.
A typical 19th century Indian tulwar, from the Triquetra Collection.

This is going to be a short article, presenting an ethical consideration. Previous articles in this series discussed the problem of people sparring with antique swords, or using antique swords for cutting; in this article, the focus will be on storing antique swords.

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

Ethical considerations with antique swords, part 2: cutting

A 1796 pattern British light cavalry sabre, from the Triquetra Collection.
A 1796 pattern British light cavalry sabre, from the Triquetra Collection.

This article was originally posted on Encased in Steel on 12th February 2016. It has been edited and improved for posting here.

This is going to be a short article, presenting an ethical consideration. The previous article in this series discussed the problem of people sparring with antique swords; in this article, the focus will be on using antique swords for test cutting.

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

Ethical considerations with antique swords, part 1: sparring

An 1885 pattern British cavalry sabre, from the Triquetra Collection.
An 1885 pattern British cavalry sabre, from the Triquetra Collection.

This article was originally posted on Encased in Steel on 29th January 2016. It has been edited and improved for posting here.

This is going to be a short article, presenting an ethical consideration. Some HEMA groups who study sabre have collected antique sabres, filed them down and blunted them for safety, and then have used these antiques for their training and sparring activities. Perhaps this was more common a decade ago than it is now, but every so often I come across references to the idea when people are discussing where to buy a good training sabre.

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

Preservation, cleaning, and restoration of blades – historical and otherwise

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

This is a guest article by Adam Severa. Originally, Adam posted this to Facebook, and I asked if I could host it on my blog to help preserve the article for posterity and for more easy reference and access in the future. He kindly agreed, and gave the article a little editing before sending it over to me for hosting on the blog.

I’m going to preface this article with a disclaimer: I’ve restored and repaired a fair number of vintage and modern knives and blades over the years, but I make no claims to be a restoration professional by any means. What follows is based upon my personal experiences and observations – you should always consult an actual professional if there is a chance your blade has historical or personal significance.

Now that that’s out of the way, chances are you have a blade in front of you. Maybe it’s a sword, feder, knife, or some other previously pristine sharp object that isn’t so pristine anymore. You want to do something with it, but you’re not sure what. The purpose of this article is to explain what comes next and the differences between preservation, cleaning and restoration.

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Sometimes, people write a thing that has some value, and would like for it to be somewhere on the internet with a little permanence, so that it can be found again later. These guest articles can provide a variety of different points of view that I might not normally write about myself. If you have an idea for an article that you would like to see hosted here, please contact me with your suggestion.

Shelf numbers for books in archive

Real-size facsimile of the Codex Gigas. Image from Wikipedia, by Michal Maňas, 2007.

This article was originally posted on Encased in Steel on 24th February 2017. It has been edited and improved for posting here.

You may have observed that when discussing original source material, people will sometimes refer to sources by their shelf numbers: a series of letters and numbers, rather than using a more readable name. This much more common with medieval sources (particularly handwritten manuscripts) than with printed books, as printed books usually have their own title, whereas manuscripts often exist without a title.

What do these combinations of letters and numbers mean, and how can we understand them?

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

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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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.

What is survivor bias?

An antique broadsword from the Kelvingrove Museum, with accession number A.1954.118. The image is from the Glasgow Museums, hosted on Pinterest.

What is “survivor bias”, and why is it important in the study of historical artefacts?

When historical items of any sort are preserved in a collection of any kind, they can give us information about the time period from which they originated. They can tell us more about that kind of item, or the kind of people who would make it or who would use it. Such artefacts are an important element in the study of history.

However, items often end up in a collection for a particular reasons; collectors rarely buy just anything and everything. Therefore, sometimes the items in collections only tell part of the story, or may even give us details that are not representative of the typical example from history.

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Keith Farrell

Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers.

I have authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the award-winning AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and maintain a blog at www.keithfarrell.net where I post regularly.