An Argument for Training with Diverse Weapons, Part 1

Recently, I was asked why we teach rapier and longsword together in our Instructor Intensives. The questioner postulated that it was like teaching sky diving and skin diving in the same program. Sure rapiers and longswords are both swords but aren’t they as distinct as these two types of “diving”? I think it’s a great …

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Mimicry: How to use it, how to beat it

Ever sparred with someone really good and felt like you were at your best, then right after sparred with someone less experienced and felt like you got as sloppy as they were? Mimicry is one of the brain’s most powerful tools for both learning and fitting in (an important tool for survival). Jared Diamond in …

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Choosing the Right Rapier for You

I am asked routinely how to choose the right rapier for practice. This article, cribbed from my forthcoming Introduction to the Italian Rapier book, looks at the range of historical rapiers and my opinion on how to best select a modern reproduction. The Real Thing Historical rapiers varied in dimension both throughout their evolution from …

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Collaborative vs Competitive Practice Environments

Early in my days of swordplay, I remember a common piece of training advice was to “never give anything less than 100% to your training partner”. Because the only form of training our practice group really did at the time was sparring, this often lead to situations where a more experienced opponent just hit a …

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SKIL: A model for learning martial forms

Many martial traditions, including ours, use martial forms (series of attacks and defences for solo or partnered practice) to help train martial precision, flow, and fitness. Having a form that you can practice without a training partner provides structure for improving and maintaining your martial ability when you don’t have the option of training with …

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Why Do We Fight?

To get out of danger. Self-defence is one of the oldest reasons for conflict. To uphold honour, right wrong, and make just. Both noble aims and righteous justifications. To tell a story. To explore characters, their conflicts, and their motivations and take the audience along for the journey. To challenge ourselves. Keeping the body in …

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A Conversation on Binding at the Sword

Not long ago, I had a conversation (online of course — who talks on the phone or in person anymore?) with my student Xian from Halifax. He asked a question about the nature of longsword fencing as it is often seen now in tournaments and in many videos online: “Why don’t we see more play …

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Benefits of Interdisciplinary Study

At the moment of writing I’m sitting in a plane seat on my way out of Duluth Minnesota. I’ve spent my weekend at the beautiful facility of the Avalon Educational Institute teaching a combination of sword alone, sword and buckler, partisan, and spadone. I love inter-disciplinary weekends. They’re an opportunity to connect students with the …

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Getting Started in Swordplay; Wherever You Are

Historical European Martial Arts are one of the most rapidly growing parts of the Martial Arts world with new groups, sites, and schools opening up all the time in both the West and East. Yet for a new practitioner, even with all this choice, it can be hard to know where or how to start. …

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Taped Up, Braced Up, and Strapped Down

I consider myself to be relatively lucky in regards to injuries when it comes to martial arts. I have broken some fingers in intense bouting, separated a shoulder while doing armoured combat, and have certainly had my share of sprains and strains. That being said, it has been a relatively healthy career thanks to a …

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