Frequently Asking Questions

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Frequently Asking Questions

Postby Mobius » 04 Oct 2012 17:30

As I will frequently be asking questions I am starting this topic to try and catch the answers without bombarding the main forum areas. I thought perhaps it would be good to have a starting point for other newcomers and beginners.

I have a list of questions as long as my arm but as a starting point these seem to me to be the most pertinent questions to be asked by new comers. Maybe it's just me.

First Wasters and Metal Swords: Is it best to go straight for the metal blunt sword to practice ( non contact ) and feel the weight and movement of steel, or go for nylon or wood in order to get the feel of hitting a pell, or swinging the sword without worry.

Parry Positions: Some texts show or describe the parry positions as being very vertical and look as though the edge is used, whereas some hold the blade towards the opponent during a parry and use the flat. This is bugging me at the moment in particular.

Best Advice for Starters: That's always an open question and liable for a thousand opinions, all valid. There must be some tried and true pieces of advice though; such as training in public areas, insurance requirements, always wearing gloves, etc.

Common Mistakes: I bet there are things that instructors have seen a thousand times. Leaning too much into strikes, pulling the head too far back, leaving the thumb above the guard, breathing.

Buying Gear: No doubt covered in detail elsewhere and open to opinion and dependent upon the context, but perhaps there is advice on the process of buying; caveat emptor.

If there are answers to these or any other FAQs please add a title to the post, just a thought to help clarify, and thank you all in advance.
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby admin » 04 Oct 2012 19:02

I'm making this a sticky so that it can serve as a FAQ for new HEMA people.
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby admin » 04 Oct 2012 19:12

I'll take a crack at a couple of these, trying to keep answers as short and concise as possible:

First Wasters and Metal Swords: Is it best to go straight for the metal blunt sword to practice ( non contact ) and feel the weight and movement of steel, or go for nylon or wood in order to get the feel of hitting a pell, or swinging the sword without worry.


Some people will advise one, others will advise the other!
Personally I'd say start with nylon, as it's safer and less likely to damage your house, pets and family.

Parry Positions: Some texts show or describe the parry positions as being very vertical and look as though the edge is used, whereas some hold the blade towards the opponent during a parry and use the flat. This is bugging me at the moment in particular.


That's because both extremes are used in different systems, as well as everything in between! Some systems (eg. Fiore) use both options in the same system. You can do either, but the most important bit is to cross with either the strong or middle of your blade on either the middle or the weak of the opponent's blade. If you parry more vertically it is generally a stronger parry, but your hands can be more vulnerable and you may be more vulnerable to feints (because your point is not towards them). The point-online types of parry tend not to be such strong parries, or rather you have to be a lot more precise to make them strong parries.. but you have the point online to enable quicker thrusts and prevent a lot of feints and closing.

Parries can be done with the front edge, back edge or flat. Most parries in most systems seem to be with the front edge or with the front edge at 45 degrees (sort of oblique).

Parries can either be done as a 'static' block, or done as an oblique beating/deflecting motion, or as a circular deflect/envelope, or as a cut into a cut.
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby Joeli » 04 Oct 2012 23:21

Ok, here goes some ideas.

Best Advice for Starters
Remind yourself that after every class, you feel just great. And you tend to leave a class in a better physical shape that you came (well, this is not strictly true if you know how recovery works, but you get the point). In exhange for this, don't be just a freeloader; train dilligently and read your sources - not just for yourself but for the benefit of your training partners. Appreciate that different people do this with different goals - find yours.

Buying Gear
Check with the person responsible for the safety of the classes for the kind of gear you need. The training culture, source material and approach means that what's good for one club's classes isn't necessarily so for some other club.

Parry Positions:
Heh, read the source and try not to bring too many assumptations with you. Test your understanding with counter proposals and see how other (experienced) practitioners are doing it. But yes, with rapier one tends to parry with point in line, with rondell dagger one tends to parry horizontally. I know one treatise which even advices not to think about parrying in the first place, as it puts you on defence and gets you killed.
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby Reinier » 05 Oct 2012 09:24

Sorry, Joeli, I have to disagree here.

When I got started on rapier, I looked into the parry position a lot, and came to the conclusion that (Italian and related) rapier sources tell you to parry parry with the point (somewhat) offline, aiming at approximately the height of the top of the head, just above the shoulder.

This is much safer because it causes your blade to bind over the opponent's blade (in a normal parry in Quarta or Tertia, against a normal, bog-standard lunge). Furthermore, and importantly, your hand stays central and in front of you (rather than making big movements and moving more in-/outside than your point). If the opponent tries to force through your parry, his weak will slide to your strong/hilt, and you stay in control. If you keep your point online, your hand moves further (giving large openings on the other side), and you create angles between your arm and wrist that may become weak. If the opponent forces through, his strong will slide to your weak, and your weak angles get all bendy and you get killed.

From a bind-over-other-blade (i.e. offline) parry, your riposte is perhaps a bit slower, but not much, as you make a somewhat curved thrust, moving your hilt to the existing contact point against the opponent's blade, whilst dropping the point online and then pushing it home with footwork. This is a safe thrust the helps prevent that nasty double-hit.


Classical Italian foil fencing (according to what I found online) still uses an offline parry like this. It appears that the parry with the point online comes from (French) foil/smallsword fencing. Interestingly, IIRC, there was some historical source that says French people can't parry for shit but can thrust really well and are good at getting killed by each other. Having the point online makes the riposte faster/easier, but is less safe in the parry because it is easier to force through.
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby admin » 05 Oct 2012 11:01

Thanks guys, let's draw a line under the parrying question because I think there is enough above now. Further discussion of it won't increase clarity without either a person to person lesson or a video. :)
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby Paul B » 05 Oct 2012 16:47

Question:
What should I buy?

Answer:
The absolute minimum.

It's easy to spend way too much money on stuff that's not right for you or that you are only going to use a couple of times a year. Borrow what you. An till you have tried various bits of kit and can make an informed decision.

Oh, and GET A MASK!
.... or I could be completely wrong.

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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby Magnus Hagelberg » 05 Oct 2012 20:40

+1 on getting a mask. get a cheap one, just get it fast. head injuries are the most hazardous in the beginning (not to mention eyes!). And if annyone is having the tought -we might want to put on a mask for this excersize.. it should not be considdered an option, but rather manadatory at that point. Oh, and if you feel unease, state that straight away - sometimes even people who should know better, get homeblind/caught up about what is safe and what is not.

Swords: Get a cheap one. Wood is often a cheap option for solopractise, nylon when you start bouting. Thus you have something to start of with.
Secondly, try and get your hands to try as manny swords as you can. So you can better create an idea of what you want.
Thirdly -museums or museum grade replicas of historical swords - look at what was apropriate for your school of teaching, at the time of it all went down. how where the museum swords? Get to a handling session?
It takes time to develop an incline on what you want from a sword.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 08 Oct 2012 08:29

Mobius,

By keeping your costs at the minimal level you might be able to attract more training partners who won't be frightened by the requirement to buy an expensive sword even for solo training or drills. If you are a DIY guy, then you could even make such a solo drilling, light sparring sword yourself.

And yes, immediately after finding your first training partner and before starting paired drills it is important to buy a cheap mask (350N fencing mask), because essentially two beginners will be teaching each other, and the possibility of mistakes is much higher than under the proper supervision of an experienced instructor.
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby The Bald One » 06 May 2014 13:13

Hello,

A bit off the current topic, but is it feasible to get a solid grounding on HEMA from what I can find on the web/youtube?

I ask because there is no where close to me that teaches anything related to HEMA and so I cannot attend any training or sessions.

Thanks.
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby Magnus Hagelberg » 07 May 2014 05:54

To start on your own is a tough jurney. There are some material online that will be of great use. The troubble is often to stay within one school. As there are such a wealth of information out there.

It is of course doable with the help of internet, and the manuals- the manuals is the basis for most clubs I know of, so you making an interpretation of your own isn't a bad thing. Quite the contrary!

There are different levels of difficulty to start on your own.
A general rule is that the older the material, the harder it is to digest.
If you grabb a source for Sabre - It is potentially much easier than if you grabb a source for longsword.
Both of them are part of the Historical european martial art scene.

At the moment, I would list the following as the main weapons being used: Longsword(also in armour), Rapier, Sabre, Sword and buckler and dagger. On topp of this you also have wrestling in numerous constalations.

I do not presume to rank them in poppularity. If you go to a major event, I think you will find practitioners of all the aforementioned weapons- So go to an event. A weekend of martial wealth, to get you going.
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Re: Frequently Asking Questions

Postby The Bald One » 10 May 2014 02:44

Thanks for the advice. I'll probably focus on longsword technique to start with.

With longsword techniques, what blade type would be more suitable, a feder, or a standard longsword? Or are the preferred blade types more pertinent to a specific technique, I E Liechtenauer's or fiore dei liberi?

Aside from the fight camp which I have seen advertised on this site, are there any other events within the UK? Or a list of events related to WMA? I am really limited with regards to how far i can travel at the moment, and can only aattend things if they are close enough to me in east Kent.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 10 May 2014 08:21

Is it feasible to get a solid grounding on HEMA from what I can find on the web/youtube?

It depends mainly on your dedication. Most definitely!

Let's say with a lot of dedication (70%), some analytical thinking (25%) and some natural disposition to fencing (5%) you could achieve a lot.

One could ask many right questions, receive a lot of support and background information, etc., but at the end of the day you have to train systematically. Doing it alone it is really difficult, so try to find a reliable training partner.
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