Some footage of my HEMA sparring, 6 months in.

Tony Dismukes

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(I’m the fighter in green.)

Obviously, I’m still a beginner in this art (6 months in), but I’m posting this so I can come back and post more sparring footage a year from now and see how far I’ve come. I think we have a few other members with HEMA experience, so feel free to offer critiques.
 

isshinryuronin

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Nice park.

Where does the knowledge of Middle Ages sword technique come from?
A. written texts of the period or shortly thereafter
B. oral tradition passed on from warriors centuries ago
C. newly developed techniques based on the weapon itself and armor of the time to approximate the original skills
D. other

Whatever the answer is, still value in its practice if the more or less universal principles of combat are followed. And, as others have said, looks like fun.
 
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Tony Dismukes

Tony Dismukes

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Nice park.

Where does the knowledge of Middle Ages sword technique come from?
A. written texts of the period or shortly thereafter
B. oral tradition passed on from warriors centuries ago
C. newly developed techniques based on the weapon itself and armor of the time to approximate the original skills
D. other

Whatever the answer is, still value in its practice if the more or less universal principles of combat are followed. And, as others have said, looks like fun.
Our particular club is primarily working from the material in Joachim Meyer's "The Art of Combat", originally published in 1570, as seen through the lens of a worldwide HEMA community which has spent the last 30 years or so interpreting the text and testing out those interpretations via sparring, comparison with other historical sources, and other methods.
 

Buka

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I love reading about things I know absolutely nothing about. It will be fun seeing your progress in a year.

You've always rocked, Tony. Just keep on rocking.
 

Steve

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You did a really nice job keeping the pointy end directed at the other person and the slicey bits away from your soft tissue.

how long as the other guy been training? You looked more comfortable throughout, especially with the sideswords. At least to my layman's eye. :)
 

lklawson

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Any of our more experienced HEMA practitioners feel up to critiquing my form? @Blindside , @lklawson ?
OK, since you asked. I only watched a little of the Longsword because I'm not a longsword type guy, my experience with these weapons, past several seminar classes, is actually more in 19th C. sporting Quarterstaff systems. What I saw there looked good. German, style, not Italian, right? Your circling and off-lining footwork looked pretty good but you neglected opportunities for the thrust. I don't blame you, actually.

With the Sidesword, again, my experience is in military saber, cutlass, and singlestick, but it's closer to Sidesword than sporting Quarterstaff is to Longsword. :) I loved the fact that you used your sword to cover and close distance to bring your off-hand to capture your opponents weapon. It's greatly a neglected in HEMA. FMA influence? But it worked so well for you that you focused on it when you could have brought other tools into play. Surprisingly, your footwork wasn't as good for the sidesword assaulting as in the longsword. Not sure why, possibly because it's closer and more compressed in both time and distance. But you should use more circling, side-stepping, and x-stepping in your sidesword, kinda like what you did for Longsword. You didn't thrust as much as you should. Your opponent had better thrusting and it took you by surprise a couple of times. A x-step or side-step with an inverted parry would have kept you safe, but that's easier said than done. I don't know if you're studying an integrated system from longsword and sidesword (Meyer maybe? Edit: I see that, yes, it is Meyer) but I think you have room to use exactly the same footwork in sidesword that you used in longsword and I think that would have surprised the heck out of your training partner; circle-step with a cutting attack to threaten and force a guard, then thrust under/over the guard. Sure, it's dual tempo attack but it works really well and I don't think your training partner would have been prepared for it. He also used very linear footwork. Is he an ex-sport fencer or an ex-karateka/TKD stylist? He just has kinda that "feel" to his movements. Offline footwork, force a ward, and thrust past it.

Not saying I'd do any better, just what I think I saw. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
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Tony Dismukes

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Surprisingly, your footwork wasn't as good for the sidesword assaulting as in the longsword. Not sure why, possibly because it's closer and more compressed in both time and distance
I’m much newer to the side sword (technically what I’m using is a Meyer style rapier, which is essentially a side sword on the first steps of evolving to what most people would think of as a rapier.) Our group focuses mostly on longsword and I only got my own side sword a couple of weeks ago. (I traded private BJJ lessons for it.)

I loved the fact that you used your sword to cover and close distance to bring your off-hand to capture your opponents weapon. It's greatly a neglected in HEMA. FMA influence?
Yeah, the techniques exist in Meyer, but my FMA and grappling background make them more instinctive for me.
Is he an ex-sport fencer or an ex-karateka/TKD stylist?
He’s been taking modern Olympic fencing on the side for a while now in addition to the HEMA. He’s not super advanced or anything, but he is training 4 days per week at our local fencing gym which just produced an Olympic medalist, so he’s got better muscle memory for the thrusts than I do. He’s also annoyingly good at disengaging when I want to bind.

Thanks for the feedback. I’ll have to rewatch the video with your comments in mind.
 
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Tony Dismukes

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how long as the other guy been training? You looked more comfortable throughout, especially with the sideswords.
I’m not sure exactly how long Dustin has been doing HEMA, but it’s longer than I have. He’s also trains modern Olympic fencing, is a Marine, and is about 30 years younger than me. However I have a few decades more martial arts experience in general and some of that carries over to the swords.
 
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Tony Dismukes

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Uh... I don't longsword or sidesword. :D I am mostly a low level British military saber/Scottish broadsword guy so I really don't have much to add.
Hey, you could absolutely use saber or broadsword techniques with the side sword. Plus you’ve got way more FMA and general weapons sparring experience than I do, so I bet you could offer some insights into things that I could do better from a general sparring with blades perspective.
 

lklawson

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I’m much newer to the side sword (technically what I’m using is a Meyer style rapier, which is essentially a side sword on the first steps of evolving to what most people would think of as a rapier.) Our group focuses mostly on longsword and I only got my own side sword a couple of weeks ago. (I traded private BJJ lessons for it.)
I read Meyer once (like a hundred years ago or something). IIRC, his footwork for the Rapier is the same as for the Longsword so he wants you to apply the same footwork, just with a shorter, one-handed, sword; pretend it's a Longsword with less reach. ;) I went ahead and watched all the Longsword bout. Every time you circle or cross-stepped you hit. When you used the footwork, your ability to hit your opponent was boringly reliable, and you did it a LOT in the Longsword bout.

Everything I write about Meyer is going to be "IIRC," but, IIRC, his Rapier was very "saber-ish," including moulinets. I don't recall his Longsword system being very thrust oriented. I think there is some debate over whether or not his Longsword was supposed to be competitive as opposed to deadly earnest so he didn't focus as much on the thrust. ...or something.

I have a buddy who studied his Dussack system. I kinda want to study it and drop it straight onto D-Guard Machette or large D-Guard Bowie.
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Yeah, the techniques exist in Meyer, but my FMA and grappling background make them more instinctive for me.
It exists but HEMA people don't seem to know how to do it. The Broadsword guys like to talk about "The Turkish Disarm," but 90% of them can't actually do it, probably because they misinterpreted the manual and didn't have some other base to draw from to tell them why their interpretation was wrong.

One of my go-to techniques with Saber/Singlestick and Bowie is to cover (or threat), crash guard, and pin my opponent's weapon limb. It shocks everyone but FMA guys who are surprised that a non-FMA guy does it. :D


He’s been taking modern Olympic fencing on the side for a while now in addition to the HEMA. He’s not super advanced or anything, but he is training 4 days per week at our local fencing gym which just produced an Olympic medalist, so he’s got better muscle memory for the thrusts than I do. He’s also annoyingly good at disengaging when I want to bind.

That explains it. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
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lklawson

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Uh... I don't longsword or sidesword. :D I am mostly a low level British military saber/Scottish broadsword guy so I really don't have much to add.
Meyer's Rapier is like 30% broadsword/saber anyway. He even has moulinets.

I hear you about the basic stuff. I prefer the basics. I like the le Marchant saber system but never really liked Angelo's stuff (father or son). I've been reading Tuohy. I think I really like his Cutlass system but I haven't really put it on the mat yet to find out.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
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Tony Dismukes

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I don't recall his Longsword system being very thrust oriented. I think there is some debate over whether or not his Longsword was supposed to be competitive as opposed to deadly earnest so he didn't focus as much on the thrust. ...or something.
He does have some good thrust applications, but due to my prior background I'm still catching up my thrust skill to my cutting skill. It took about 3-4 months of practice before I started landing thrusts regularly and even now I'm not as good with them. I just rewatched one of my other matches where I had some success with thrusts and counted 8 cuts landed compared to 2 thrusts. Clearly I have a lot of work to do in that department.

The historical context with Meyer is that in that time and place they would hold tournaments with blunted feders, the objective being to win by making your opponent's scalp bleed more. Since they didn't have modern protective gear, thrusts were outlawed in competition as they could more easily lead to fatalities. However Meyer was aware of the use of the thrust in Italian systems and the effectiveness of thrusts in real life or death battles. Therefore he talks about how traditionally "we Germans" wouldn't use thrusts against each other in honorable combat, but that it was necessary to be proficient in their use against foreigners and brigands. (Edit - I just double checked the passage, and he actually says that in the past Germans used both thrusts and cuts, but that thrusts had fallen into disuse by Germans "these days".)
 
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Tony Dismukes

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I read Meyer once (like a hundred years ago or something). IIRC, his footwork for the Rapier is the same as for the Longsword so he wants you to apply the same footwork, just with a shorter, one-handed, sword; pretend it's a Longsword with less reach.
One nice thing about Meyer is that it's really a unified system. His longsword, rapier, dussack, and polearm are all built around the same principles.
 

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That is cool.

Question, how safe are those headgear should the blade accidentally go straight towards your face?

You're not allowed to thrust into the face right? Looks very unsettling, even with the plug on the sword. How much pressure can that mesh withstand?
 
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Tony Dismukes

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That is cool.

Question, how safe are those headgear should the blade accidentally go straight towards your face?

You're not allowed to thrust into the face right? Looks very unsettling, even with the plug on the sword. How much pressure can that mesh withstand?
Thrusts to the face are legal, an important part of the art, and pretty safe. The grade of mask I wear is rated to handle 350 Newtons of force to the bib and 600+ Newtons to the mesh. It is important to wear a good gorget underneath the bib for additional throat protection. I’ve taken at least one thrust to the throat where I was very, very glad that I had a good gorget.

The mesh handles thrusts well and the shape of the mask usually helps to deflect the force. I did have one occasion where I walked into a perfectly placed thrust and it actually drove the mask back far enough that the mesh hit my forehead and left a little cheese grater mark. That is pretty unusual though.

BTW, in the historical period our art comes from they had blunted sword for tournament play, but no fencing masks. So thrusts were strictly reserved for real life and death combat and forbidden in competition. Their idea of “sport” was to hit each other with blunted steel swords to see who could make the other bleed more from the scalp, but they recognized that thrusts were too likely to be deadly even with blunted weapons.
 
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