The importance of having many interpretations

One of the major troubles in KDF longsword is coming up with workable interpretations, especially of the Five Strikes, that will keep us safe. Often we may develop an interpretation that works extremely well sometimes, but other times that same interpretation may fail and not keep us safe. A while ago, I suggested an interpretation of the Schaitelhaw that revolves around cutting from out of the opponent’s distance. This must be done with enough of a threat behind it to make the opponent raise their sword from Alber, so that you can bind with their sword, or with their hands (via a slice). I suggested that if someone was in certain guards, such as Alber, you had to besiege them to move them out of that guard and into a position that you could take advantage of. For more on the thought process that led to this interpretation, please read Rushing forward and besieging:

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The Mighty Staff Sling


So this week I have decided in the run up to Camp Loch Lomond 2013 I would talk a little about one of the more obscure weapons that participants train with, the fustibalus. I first developed an interest in this weapon when studying Vegetius De Re Militaria as part of my classics course in it he makes the first known mention of the weapon four times across the text.

“This was also the post of the archers who had helmets, cuirasses, swords, bows and arrows; of the slingers who threw stones with the common sling or with the fustibalus; and of the tragularii who annoyed the enemy with arrows from the manubalistae or arcubalistae.”[1]

“The archers and slingers set up bundles of twigs or straw for marks, and generally strike them with arrows and with stones from the fustbalus at the distance of six hundred feet.”[2]

“Cities and fortresses are garrisoned by such men as are least fit for the service of the field. They are provided with all sorts of arms, arrows, fustibali, slings, stones, onagri and balistae for their defense.”[3]

“Slingers with round stones from the fustibalus and sling killed both the men who guided the elephants and the soldiers who fought in the towers on their backs.”[4]

So what is this weapon that is accurate against a bundle of straw at 600ft, capable of use by any inhabitant of a city, able to effectively target and bring down elephant troops  yet seems largely forgotten about by history.

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Why do certain longsword techniques have a name, when others do not?

The first part of article will address a question that appears regularly in the study of the German longsword disciplines of historical European martial arts. The second part of the article will expand on the issue and offer a theory about why certain techniques receive names and others do not. Have you ever wondered why some techniques bear their own name, but other techniques are known simply by the generic name for that broad type of strike?

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Cutting with the German longsword, part 2

My last post, Cutting with the German longsword, (which you can find here: generated quite a bit of discussion on Facebook, so I thought I would write part 2. I wanted to clarify a few things, and also develop some ideas about when cutting or not cutting might be appropriate.

To start off with, a few people made comments to the effect that I thought cutting was unimportant, and I don’t hold with that. I believe strikes that do not cut are perfectly acceptable, but that is not the same thing as thinking that not being able to cut is good enough. It is my firm belief that you should never stop trying to improve. Ultimately we should all aim to be able to make very effective cuts with a very small cutting path, if for other reason than cutting cleanly without telegraphing is difficult, and aiming to be able to cut better will challenge you. There is no excuse to be lazy and never work on your ability to cut.

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Validating what we do in martial arts

Goliath (MS Germ.Quart.2020), folio 22r

It is important when we study martial arts of any description that what we do has some kind of purpose and that it is meaningful.

If the purpose is to learn self-defence then we must ensure that the self-defence techniques actually work and are not just empty gestures. Furthermore, we must ensure that the attacks used in the self-defence system are performed in a meaningful fashion and that they relate to sensible and real threats; without a real threat, a self-defence technique cannot be tested, and indeed training against empty threats will make it much more difficult to respond to a real threat effectively.

If the purpose is to reconstruct a historical martial art then we need to ensure that we are reconstructing it as authentically and honestly as possible. If the style uses a cutting weapon then we need to ensure that how we perform the strikes will actually cut; if the style involves parries then we need to ensure that the structures and mechanics are in place to form a competent parry against a strong and committed attack. Without the ability to make a competent attack, then the ability to practice forming a competent parry is reduced and compromised.

In the Academy of Historical Arts, we believe that “validation” of techniques is important. This article will seek to examine some of the tests that we use, and will attempt to explain why we believe that validation is important.

Definition of “validate”: To establish the soundness of; corroborate. According to

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