Well the rentrée is upon us and, as promised, Académie Némésis has updated it’s website ready for the new academic year. The result looks very promising:
- Medieval course still running on a Tuesday
- Specific mention now made on the website of the historical sources of Talhoffer and Lichtenauer (hurrah! German school!)
The bad news is…they son’t start up again until Sep 10th, so that’s a whole extra week I’m going to have to wait. Hope it’s worth it. Really looking forward to going along and seeing how it is going to work out. In the meantime I’m devouring anything Lichtenauer I can find online…
When someone cuts against you from above from their right side, so cut with a strong Zornhau with the long edge from your right shoulder. If he is weak in the bind, thrust in with the point along his blade to his face, and threaten to stab him.
From Ringeck’s commentary on Lichtenauer
This is the kind of helpful information you find when you start researching historical fencing. What I should do is wait until I can get along to a club and start learning from the beginning. I don’t want to wait around all summer though, I’m impatient to get started, so I’ve spent a few weeks reading up on everything I can find online:
- How swords are made, and how they have changed
- What historical sources are available
- What the German and Italian schools are, how they are similar and how they are different
I found a whole load of interesting stuff. The quote above comes from a complete translation of Ringeck on the website wiktenauer. There are many more sites I visited and either bookmarked or, in some cases read and then moved on. A good example of the latter would be the website of the ARMA. Lots of articles and essays but in the end I thought just a bit too much of one man’s voice and his opinions.
My head is now stuffed with half-understood terms and techniques, a mix of Italian and German styles and precious little practical knowledge. I really, really want to start practising some of this stuff. Summer is nearly over and that great French event la rentrée is almost upon us, then finally I can start training.
After I realised that there were people out there learning to do ‘proper’ sword fighting, I got pretty excited at the thought of maybe finding a club near me. Of course, nothing is ever that simple.
Living on the France/Swiss border at Geneva I had to first find out what on earth this sport was even called in French. Having worked out it translates as “Escrimé Médievale” I then made it to the AMHE website, which helpfully has a map with various clubs marked on it.
Turns out there are quite a few places within a half to one hour drive. That’s the good news. Unfortunately there’s a little more to it. I tend to work weekends and will often be away from Thursday to Monday. This leaves….Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. My wife already has a gym class on Wednesdays so that restricts me somewhat to just Tuesdays. Basically I needed to find a club which practiced medieval swordfighting, within an hour of Geneva, which met on a Tueday. Hmmm.
Having looked at the various options I was seriously considering two.
- GaGSchola, Geneva. These guys look like they take it very seriously, studying the original texts ad trying to get the authentic techniques from the historical documents. Also they’re pretty close. Downsides? They don’t meet on a Tuesday, but on a Monday. I’d love to train with them but I’m pretty sure I’d only make about 1-2 sessions a month. I’m still planning to go and see them, to see what my options are.
- Académie Némésis, Nyon. Again this club seems to be keen on medieval fencing as a a sport rather than a theatrical display. Apart from that I’m not sure, I guess when they start up again in Spet I’ll find out as I’m planning to go along. I hope it works out OK because, crucially, they’re 25 mins away and meet on a Tuesday. Yay!
So these are my two hopes at the moment. Regular Tuesdays with Némésis and, if I can, some time with the GaGSchola. It’s a bit limited really as I’d like to be able to be more specific (for instance German rather than Italian school…of which more later) but I’ll start with what I can find and take it from there.
So, this first post is a quick explanation of how I came to be here writing this blog. Nothing really training/sword related, just background.
I guess like most guys I had a fascination for knights, swords and fighting in general. As I grew up I never really developed this though. I remember thinking back in my late teens that it would be cool to learn how to properly fight with a sword. I looked at fencing (modern) but didn’t really see anything there that clicked. It was too rule bound, too formalised and just not real. Those thin bendy foils weren’t my idea of swords. I wanted to fight with a proper sword, but never really found what I was looking for.
In the end it was a medieval festival that got me started. Every year there is a big event near us which I went to in May 2012. There was plenty to see including the usual displays of jousting and sword fights. These are great fun, but you do wonder why they spend so much time hitting their swords together like morris dancers, and not actually hitting each other.
Fighting a la ‘Spectacle’
I thought again about getting a sword and decided to look online, initially just for something I could take along next year. After lots of searching on the internet (including a very useful stop on this site) I knew a lot more about swords, specifically how badly made a lot of them were and what a proper sword actually was. I also stumbled by chance onto the section ‘How to use it’. That got me thinking again, if I was going to get a sword shouldn’t I know how to use it? I realised that there were now plenty of people looking at authentic techniques and teaching themselves from the manuscripts of the ‘masters’. Finally I found what I’d been looking for all those years ago.