Friday, July 4, 2014

Some changes...

Well, come September Lessons on the English Longsword will have been in print for four years. And while we've only just made enough from our meager share of the profits to almost buy that bus pass (no joke), considering the fact that it's a niche-of-niche market item, we're simply glad it's still going; particularly given the very rough start it had, with the heated, reciprocal talk of lawyers, the looming specters of threatened lawsuits and counter-lawsuits (hey, when compelled, I give as good as I get, however reluctantly), as well as all the rest of the drama with "You Know Who" and the Red & Black Brigade, and everything that came after that. It's a small book, but important to a few dedicated people. Thanks for your support.

As you have no doubt noticed, the juices have run dry here. There have been a few changes, and most of the content has been removed. This reflects changing priorities in our lives. While I can still muster plenty of fighting spirit when the situation calls for it, I'm no longer half as combative as I once was, and so much of my inspiration comes from fighting against something I disagree with. And while I still disagree with tournaments, bad interpretations of guards, most of the certification programs out there, etc., I've mostly lost interest. Couple this with the fact that I'm a rapidly-aging neurotic with ever-increasing hypertension. Unneeded stress is not something I'm searching for. It might just be the thing that kills me (again, no joke).

So, thanks again for the support you've  all offered the blog over the years.

And don't count this place out yet, there may be a revival in the future...maybe.

All the best,


Thursday, May 8, 2014


...allowing the fearful to practice the Art since the late 1990's. 

...if you are fearful, then you should not learn to fence.
- Master Hans Tolhoffer.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Leverage Based Art Benjamin "Casper" Bradak. It wasn’t long ago that I heard about someone who claims expertise in swordsmanship (European longsword arts, to be specific) claim that the said weapon is “not a leverage-based weapon.” Need I say more? Not likely, but I will anyway. It took me some time to wrap my mind around this truly fundamental lack of understanding (it is not a misunderstanding), but I decided it’s probably worth a few words in print. Firstly, this calls for some definitions. Leverage: The action of a lever or the mechanical advantage gained by it; the exertion of force by means of a lever or an object used in the manner of a lever; influence or power used to achieve a desired result. Lever: A rigid bar pivoted about a fulcrum, used to transfer a force to a load and usually to provide a mechanical advantage when pressure is applied to one end. I’m not a mechanical engineer, but as a professional martial artist, there are a few things you have to know about quite a few fields, including anatomy, physiology, psychology, biomechanics, and of course, applied physics, of which leverage plays a major part. You see, the martial arts, starting with unarmed arts, are based on the application of leverage. The arm is leverage based. The leg is leverage based. When you hit someone, you’re applying leverage fast. When you lock or throw someone, you’re applying even greater leverage, slow (relatively speaking). A punch is applied leverage. A kick is applied leverage. An arm lock is applied leverage. A throw is applied leverage. A weapon is added leverage; it is a lever; using it is gaining mechanical advantage through applying a lever. An assumption that you can take for granted is that when you take up a weapon, it is primarily because it gives Mechanical Advantage, which translates into a Combat Multiplier. The leverage a weapon produces increases with its length. The leverage of a weapon is the primary principle behind its ability to allow you to strike harder or lock up an opponent more easily. When you place an opponent in an armlock with a longsword or a club, it makes it easier. That’s because you’re using it as a lever (just like a crowbar). When you cut an opponent, the point moves faster than your hand and strikes harder, too, because it is being used as a lever. In summary, a lever amplifies an input force to provide a greater output force, which is said to provide leverage. In all, there are three classes of levers, and in regard to the longsword, it is usually used as a class 1 lever, though this can change depending on the techniques with which it is employed. With a class 1 lever, the fulcrum is in the middle, your effort is applied to one side, and the resistance is on the other. To further illustrate this, we actually use a moving fulcrum with two hands on the weapon. Your coordinated hand, the one by the guard, is the moving fulcrum around which the weapon pivots (not to be confused with the weapons center of gravity). Your other hand, near the pommel, is the one applying most of the force to the weapon. The blade is the resistance as you accelerate it and overcome its inertia, and the opponent becomes the resistance on the impact and follow-through of your cut. To think that any given weapon is not “leverage based” is a lack of understanding that cuts to the core and root of one’s knowledge base. Not only are weapons levers in and of themselves, in that if they were not, they would provide little to no advantage at all, but one’s body, and the martial arts in the entirety of their physical application, if not spiritual and psychological application, are inherently leverage based applications. But let’s look more closely at the longsword. If you’ve studied its use, you will know about the concepts of the strong and weak of the blade. To what does this refer? It refers to leverage, no more, no less, and certainly nothing else. One requires an understanding of leverage in order to understand its use at all. You have to understand how to apply the strong and weak leverage points of the blade. Not only against a target, but correspondingly against the strong and weak leverage points of the opponent’s blade, and how the applied leverage can affect his weapon, your weapon, how it can transfer, and how to adjust that leverage in the blink of an eye based on the feedback you get from feeling that leverage though each other’s levers. Just compare leverage. Try levering the point of your blade against the strong of the opponent’s, and see who has the most. Without knowing your own body's inherent ability to apply leverage, as well as that pf your weapon's, you are lost. In another age, it is swift death. As I’ve long said, the sole purpose of the martial arts is to make combat easier. In no small part, the arts make combat easier by the study of properly applied mechanical advantage, I.e. leverage. In no small part, this is exactly what Hanko Dobringer/Master Johannes Leichtenauer meant when they said If it were not an Art, the strong would always win.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lost Indes Postscript of Ringeck

Indes postscript according to the lost foliation (39x-39z) of fight-book MS Dresden C 487 by Master Sigmund Ringeck (1440s):

Indes nÿmmdt dein Eÿßkreme
Indes fäÿert deinem Vahrradtzeugding
Indes spÿelt die Trommelsolo
Indes bekommt die hübsche Fräulein
Indes iszt Nuklearvergeltunghk
Indes iszt JNRJ
Indes macht alles für Alle
Indes nicht bekomm nimmer Warumgrundt
Inthereof takes your ice cream
Inthereof rides your bicycle
Inthereof plays the drum-solo
Inthereof gets the pretty girl
Inthereof is nuclear retaliation
Inthereof is INRI
Inthereof does everything for everyone
Inthereof ain't got no reason why

~ JH ~

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thinking Outside the Bug-Head

Attention Sportfechter : What a real helm of the Chivalric Era looked like - replica of German Schaller circa 1470. (Steel Mastery EAS-03)
That Victorian skeuomorphism, that Olympic fencing abomination, that ultimately unsafe safety-gear, that ugly bug-head, which practically every fencer has had to wear & forbear in fencing practice, which can fail just like anything else, is going to fall to the wayside someday, it shall be evolved-beyond, it is not satisfactory. You know it, I know it, everybody bloody well knows it.

Only one other guy at another web-log has had the guts to question this bullshit, that being Devon Boorman of Canada, the leader of the one major non-evil fencing group in Vancouver BC.

Pursuant to that, I remind everybody, yet again, that we can think up a superior system. We can consider possible mask-helm / helm-mask systems for the schizophrenic modern pursuit of de facto synthetically armoured Bloszfechten. We can look to other things of far superior materials and intelligenter design and better concussive protection as the base for a new head-neck-face safety-system. We do not have to be beholden to the mesh-globe headgear forever. We must use some imagination.

Consider any of these half-dozen modern things to serve as the main element of a superior system to replace the bug-head.

Thing 1

There, there, there...I just gave you mo-fos more than you deserve, yet again, in yet another of my quixotic efforts to get you to change your minds, to get you out of your stagnant mindset, to get you outside that box around your head and into new and better possibilities.

And one more reminder : Johannes Liechtenauer will have his revenge on Atlanta. ~ JH

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bestest Sportfechter Armour Ever

Well, well, well...It seems that the Sportfechter now have the perfect "tourney kit" i.e. synthetic armour - for their superior endeavour, for their full-speed sparring, for their acceptabe behaviour, for their public fencing, for their not-being-candy-asses. Just grab a fashionable feder, and a historical fencer is good to go. (Hey, at least it has a real helmet instead of a bughead.) Do not even have to crowd-source fund the thing first. So hop on the next flight to that invitational tournament and whack away at each other to score the most points. Do not forget to say hello to Mom via the live web-feed. Enjoy your beers at the steakhouse afterwards. Collect all the trading cards. Throw that copy of Talhoffer into the trash the next day:

Acknowledgements to Stevie Thurston of the British Empire for alerting me to the existence of UWM.