The European Historical Combat Guild

Investigating Europe's Historical combative methods and behaviours

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The discussion of free-play/sparring

The perennial discussion of whether one should free-play or spar is doing the rounds again on some of the HEMA fora.

Obviously there are a number of ways can approach developing the degrees of aliveness and spontaneity in how one trains. However in this case I am referring to free-play and sparing as the model of people wearing some kind of mask, generally following an unscripted format.

The usual arguments, mainly in favour of this kind of training have surfaced.
However there have been a few more people arguing for other ways to achieve the same goals without following this particular route. It has also been refreshing in the acknowledgement that not only that this may not be the only way, or even the best, but that not everyone wants to engage in this type of activity and that teachers job is to maximize the process and enjoyment of the students rather than enforce training models upon students.

However I am still, surprised and a little disappointed by the fact that many people view free play as the only or often, the best way to pressure test techniques or ones skills. Also that any kind of scripted or prearranged training sequence is at best, a way to aquire familiarity with the basic movements or is a form of moving meditation. This is generally because from my observations is that people have not explored the true depths of that kind of training. It is also because, people mistake the excitement and intensity of free-play/sparring for the truth of a real fight and can not wrap their heads around how something that is pre-set can reflect or prepare one for the multiple options and chaos of a real encounter.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


‎6th June, D-Day, in memory of all those who were then, were before and who have been since... putting themselves in harms way for us others who sit at home, so we can play at it....

Friday, 18 May 2012

New Exhibition at The Wallace Collection

I attended the official opening of this new exhibition at The Wallace Collection in London.
It is well worth a visit if you are in London between now and the 16th of September. Follow the link below to get more information.

The Noble Art of the Sword: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe


Saturday, 5 May 2012

What you feed in is what you will get out

Bad attacks/actions, lead to a false sense of security, the idea of getting something and "knowing" that it works.  This is something I have written about before, but I have seen a number of videos posted in various places recently where this happens.

Poorly delivered attacks, where the body moves into distance before the weapon, allows many actions to carried out, which simply would not be able to happen if the attack was delivered properly.
Now part of teaching is to work with the scholar and deliver actions in such a way to provoke a certain response. However this is not what we generally see.
So a false attack is made and sense that the response works, is sustained, however false knowledge is being built on top of another layer of falsehood. 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Interesting article on Georges Dubois, the Forgotten Master of Ancient Fencing (L’Escrime Ancienne)

Inspired by Egerton Castle and Alfred Hutton, he went on to write works on histroical martial arts, mixed arts self defence and stage combat, and all more than 70 years ago.

Find the article here

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone the very best for 2012....