A Perfect Length

When buying a new weapon, you must think about the length of the weapon, in addition to price, weight, balance etc. If your weapon is too long, then it will become unwieldy. Silver tells us of rapier fighters:

and also their weapons for the most part being of an imperfect length, must of necessity make an imperfect defence because they cannot use them in due time and place”

George Silver, Brief Instructions Upon My Paradoxes of Defence, Introduction

He was greatly concerned about the new craze for what he viewed as overly long weapons, as these would be forced to rely on what he saw as imperfect defences, and in the event of their opponent coming in to grapple, it would take them too long to uncross and get their sword back to a position where they could use it again.

On the other hand, if the sword is too short, you lose range. If your sword is much shorter than that of the opponent, they will be able to attack you at a range at which you cannot attack them, giving them an advantage.

Plus certain weapon styles are better suited to certain weapon lengths than others. There would be little point in practicing the styles of Capoferro or Fabris with a 30 inch long blade, even if that same blade would serve admirably for practicing later smallsword styles.

The easiest way of deciding what length of weapon you need is to look at what the historical masters advised. Here I will be looking at what the masters recommend for sword lengths, and giving measurements of a ‘perfect’ sword. Please note that all measurements are for myself, if you are of a different height to me, you will need different measurements.

Read more

Range, Distance and Timing in Sparring

Last week Ben wrote an review of the camping event run by the Academy of Historical Arts. Some of the activities at this camp have given me food for though, and thus was born the idea that sparked this blog post.

In my opinion, an understanding of range, distance and timing is one of the most important skills for a fighter to develop, yet for many reasons it is one of the most difficult skills to train. Interestingly the skill is easier to train for unarmed martial arts such as karate while for armed martial arts such as longsword or Highland broadsword it is a much more difficult task. In this article I will seek to explain some of the problems inherent in training and developing this skill, along with examples and some practice exercise ideas, and hopefully I will inspire some people to look into this aspect of practice more for themselves.

Read more

AHA Summer Camp

This past week many members of the Academy had the opportunity to attend our annual summer camp on the shores of Loch Lomond, the event was once again a resounding success and we even had the pleasure of being joined by guests such as Tim Gallagher and delegates from RMAS in Dundee. Here is my review of the event although I am sure other reviews will be appearing on the forums in the near future.

Group picture

Operation Firestarter Underway

Read more

Twelfth Century: Renaissance or Dark Ages?

What Was New About The Cultural Developments Of The Twelfth Century?

Traditionally, the twelfth century has been seen as one of the central centuries of that era unfairly called ‘The Dark Ages.’ Such a title unjustly implies an era of primitive squalor and little of what we today would call culture, let alone any development in such fields as art or literature. Not only is this an unjust perception of the medieval era in its entirety but recent research suggest the idea of a twelfth century renaissance, filled with cultural developments. For the purpose of this essay renaissance shall be defined as ‘the activity spirit or time of the great revival of art, literature and learning in Europe beginning in the fourteenth century and extending to the seventeenth century, marking the transition from the medieval to the modern world or any similar revival in the world of art and learning [emphasis added]’ and as ‘a renewal of life, vigour, interest etc.; rebirth; revival: a moral renaissance.’[1]

Read more