Friday, January 23, 2015

Longsword on the New York Times site

This video link will probably disappear sooner rather than later but in the meantime it's an interesting look at one variety of HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts).  These people are inspired by the techniques of the late medieval German masters, but though they strive for historical authenticity in their moves they are not interested in other kinds historical re-enactment or re-creation.  No "thees and thous," as one of them puts it.  (But note that there is one guy on the sidelines who seems to be wearing some kind of medieval clothing and maybe a coronet.)

There is a wide variety of martial arts out there these days, different organizations pursuing different goals.  This may lead to the Balkanization of a field of activity once completely dominated by the Society for Creative Anachronism.


  1. Anonymous11:13 am

    I noticed the same fragmentation and infighting about five years ago. It always seemed to me that it was better to play up what one enjoyed about one's own activities than to talk down others, because that is more likely to enlarge the tiny number of people who have such hobbies. I don't think that Battle of the Nations ever cost a smallsword fencing club a recruit. And how is trying to use a sword like a 16th century Franconian burger not a form of reenactment? But the community in Canada mostly has backgrounds in living history or the SCA, and things are different south of the border.

  2. In Sweden, I teach sword fighting via the Avignon Academy. In this country, we see other, non-SCA groups too, including Viking reenactors who are quite numerous. They have their own system of fighting that is quite different from ours or from HEMA/WMA.

    Ultimately, the field is very large -- WMA, HEMA, ICMF, BoN, SCA, Vikings -- even perhaps we should count some of the LARP fighting, which has its own system. LARP is particularly well-defined in Russia, I've recently learned, with a carefully composed set of rules and tens of thousands of adherents -- we're now seeing some of them come to Sweden to try the SCA.

    Let's keep the tent very big, and why not? What do we really gain anyway by criticizing each other rather than learning from one another?