The European Historical Combat Guild

Investigating Europe's Historical combative methods and behaviours

Saturday, 16 October 2010

More life in the shades of grey

This was a reply to a comment but developed in to something that I thought was worth posting on the blog.

Paul wrote -It was written by someone on the subject of training...and I paraphrase here "By the age of seven a child should have seen his blood flow, and heard the sound of his bones break"-

I would suggest that any child that has reached the age of 7 without seeing their own blood or been in a situation where they could have broken a bone, are either extremely lucky or they have lived in an overly protective bubble. I know for myself and everyone I know, that by the age of 7, had seen their blood flow and a number had broken bones, I have been lucky enough to not break a bone despite having been some dodgy incidents that could have resulted in it happening. At the end of the of the day it's called growing up. Also that is hopefully something that people have done before they come to me to start training with weapons, it is certainly not something I want them to be doing in my classes. However my experience, people who have not had this kind of experience are far less aware of the dangers in their training.

So I am not saying that that HEMA training should include blood spilling and bone breaking. I've also argued that in the past, though they may have been more accepting of the potential danger involved in training, serious injury was not promoted as part of training, though of course it could happen.

Of course, we can not say for certain what exactly what they did or how exactly how they trained, yet we may find educated possibilities. I am concerned sometimes that some people are desperate to re-invent the wheel.

Neither should new materials and methods be ignored, but neither should the methods of the past. I for one welcome Guild Study Group Leader Bryan Tunstal's new synthetic weapons, as they more accurately replicate a real sword than any of the wooden wasters on the market.

Anything that reduces the risk of injury is of course welcome,yet if the possibility of injury is unacceptable, then it is perhaps time to look for a new thing to do. However should bear in mind that if a tool isn't working it may not be a fault of the tool, it might be a fault in the way we are using the tool.


  1. Well the quote was directly referencing training, not day to day life. The point being made, was that when training warriors to survive battle, those methods may be a little more robust than are practicable for...well at least some us.

    Not that we shouldn't look for more authenticity in our training methods, but to accept the limitations. Dictated by the fact that most of us didn't start training as children (and yes I envy you that opportunity) Most of us cannot train each and every day with a swordmaster, and a myriad of other limitations.

    Acceptance of some pain is a given, of course it is. But when I find I cannot play my guitar following training because of a poorly executed or timed defense the day before. I am sure going to find better gloves, rather than give up a pastime that gives me great pleasure. Yes the tool user is most certainly at fault here, no argument there.

    Nor do I wish to re-invent the wheel...but I'm sure my constant requests for training material means you are well aware of that :-)

    Oh! and by the by, I was 43 before I broke a bone....more by luck than judgment, and when I did, I broke several at once. Making up for lost time I suppose.

  2. Paul, I know that you don't want to re-invent the wheel and the comment was not aimed at you 8')

    An interesting point to me in the quote was the age, lessons learnt young about risk are important, maybe not by 7 but young.

    None of my injuries have come from training with weapons or at least the ones I have received are minor and were all my fault at the end of the day. 8')

    Several bones at once!

    Well taken as a whole maybe as another quote. "That which does not kill us makes us stronger"

  3. Hmm...I may have got the age in the quote wrong, but I don't think so....ties in with the old "give me a child 'till he is seven, and I will show you the man" one as well.

    I agree, lessons learned in those formative years are driven deep. I can't tell you how much I wish I could have could have started this when I was much younger. Oh well, better late than never :)

    "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" LOL I mutter that every time I walk into yet another slightly painful strike....I'm not as quick as I was....sigh

  4. "That which does not kill us can still bloody hurt... or leave us with permanent, crippling injuries" ;-)

    @ Jonathan: can you recommend any particular resources or places to start looking, regarding how they trained back in the day? I'm particularly interested in the earlier years of the formalized longsword systems (Liechtenauer, Ringek, Fiore etc)

  5. oops. signed in last time with an old id. Sory, that bad quote was me.