Priority and Convention

This post discusses priority or right of way rules. They are often seen as the symbol of sportification, but I have come to understanding them a bit better over the years: what they try to accomplish, but also what true shortcomings they have, especially in a HEMA context when you use them to inform the reconstruction of martial arts.

The Sword – Form & Thought

This post is a review of the exhibition and catalogue ‘The Sword: Form & Thought’. I have contributed a small part to both, working with Peter Johnsson on the computation and display of dynamic properties from his detailed documentation. The exhibition makes a beautiful display of various types of swords, and the catalogue contains a wealth of data and knowledge about the function and design of antique swords. Both highly recommended!

Capoferro weapon length

This post explores Ridolfo Capoferro’s advice about weapon length. Are the text and illustrations consistent? What measurements do they give? Are there original swords of such size?

The limits of experiments

This post adresses some of the difficulties that can arise when trying to experiment with martial arts. I feel these are important to keep in mind in order to avoid drawing overly broad conclusions from our modern experience, especially in the field of Historical European Martial Arts.

Rules of ‘la canne de combat’

La canne de combat (combat cane) is a French combat sport based on the use of a cane, a medium-length walking stick. It is visually quite original, very quick and athletic. It is also somewhat difficult to really understand from the outside, as the rules shape much of the action. This post provides a brief history and describes the main rules of the sport.

On Silver’s times

George Silver is the famous author of an early printed work on fencing and martial arts in English, Paradoxes of Defence (1599). He is often quoted for having layed out universal principles in the form of his hierarchy of true and false times. Sadly, the most common interpretation of these does not fit the whole text. This post provides the necessary quotes to understand the causes and key properties of true and false times, which are in my opinion more interesting and less open to interpretation than the hierarchy itself.

Fear and pain

Martial training generally comes together with initial fears and occasional pain. Some training methods point out fear as a pedagogical helper. They will use the fear of pain as a motivator to not get hit. They will use unsafe gear and say that the fear of accident increases the realism of the practice and help make the student focus. I personally disagree with these methods and would not fancy studying in such environments, for the reasons outlined in this post.

La mano presta como de gato

Speed Matters

This post explores the notion of speed in our sources, starting with the explicit admonitions to be quick, the reasons one needs to be quick, and then details the distortions to martial moves that are brought by low-speed work. I believe this information is important to keep in mind when discussing training methodology.

Visual representation of mass distribution

The mass distribution of swords is a well-known component of their performance and handling feel. Although sword makers have to control it through a variety of means, from a user perspective, only three parameters are needed to completely describe it: total mass, centre of gravity, and radius of gyration. They are well known of physicists. However, their values are not in direct relation with what we perceive when using a sword. Because of this, their usefulness has been questioned and their measurement in the sword community is still scarce. In this article, I will demonstrate how to build a more visual representation of the mass distribution of swords, with an application on five swords of my collection.