What constitutes a worthwhile tournament?

Tournaments come in all shapes and sizes, for all kinds of disciplines, with all kinds of competitors at different skill levels. They can be local club tournaments, regional tournaments, national or even international in scope. With such a rich diversity between types of competitions, are all tournaments equally valid? Do some tournaments “mean” more than others?

Personally, I believe that different tournaments are worth different amounts of respect and “street cred”. This article will attempt to explore my thoughts on this issue, and hopefully it will stimulate some discussion or thoughts for other people as well.

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Loch Lomond 2013


So I know I was going to be discussing the fusbola in more detail but due to circumstance I have ended up in the position of writing the 2013 Camp Loch Lomond review. I will be back to Fusbolas next time with the results of some of our tests as well as some details on how to make your own, but for this week here are my, rather rambling, thoughts on Loch Lomond Camp 2013

Group Pic by Elliot Howie 2013

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An Updated Visual Definition of HEMA

This is an updated version of an article I posted in March 2011. Since then, excellent new video material has become available, and unfortunately some of the material listed in the original article has become unavailable online.

How can we define “HEMA”, “WMA” and “historical fencing”?

It can often be very difficult to describe the concept of the historical European martial arts (HEMA) to someone who has never come across them before. To most people, “martial arts” are fighting styles from the east that use punches and kicks, perhaps grappling depending on the style, and are predominantly unarmed. The idea that well developed and comprehensive systems of fighting arts developed in medieval Europe seems to be a difficult concept to absorb for many people. This is mainly due to influences like early Hollywood films depicting medieval fighting as unskilled and brutish; to be fair to Hollywood, fencing masters such as Egerton Castle in the 19th century believed that medieval fighting from only a couple of centuries beforehand was a brutish and unskilled affair: he stated quite clearly in his “Schools and Masters of Fence” (published 1884) that the “rough, untutored fighting of the Middle Ages” was greatly inferior to the contemporary art of fencing. Indeed, even Thomas Page wrote in 1746 about earlier weapons: “yet of these the Form was Rude, and their Use without Method. They were the Instruments of Strength, not the Weapons of Art.”

The truth is quite the opposite, and rather than re-inventing the wheel by writing an essay on the subject when a much more talented and experienced researcher than myself has written about the exact same subject (http://www.thearma.org/essays/straight.htm by Matt Galas), I would like to show a selection of video clips produced from some of the most skilful and eminent groups, practitioners and scholars of the European martial arts today. Please feel free to browse this collection of video links, and enjoy this visual introduction to the martial arts of medieval Europe.

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