The Characteristics of your Students

Earlier this year, Mike Smith from the Macdonald Academy of Arms in Edinburgh posted a message to the group’s Facebook page that I found to be rather thought provoking:

“Remember what the Academy is famed for, its control and composure. Don’t let these standards slip.”

I would be very happy if my school and my students were famed for their control and composure. This started me thinking about what I would like my students to be famed for, in an ideal world, and gave me the inspiration to write this article and propose this question for other instructors to consider:

If your school and students were to be famed for one or two characteristics, what would you want them to be?

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Comparing Objective and Subjective Rule Sets for Competition


When considering tournament rule sets for historical fencing with the longsword, there are two broad categories into which the rule sets may be divided: objective and subjective.

Objective rule sets tend to require more staff on the admin team to enable the tournament to happen. Some rule sets require three or four line judges plus a referee, and also a team of backup staff including time keeper, score keeper, arena manager, and sometimes other roles as well. This tends to require a huge logistical effort to provide the correct team to administrate the event.

These rule sets may also be rather complex in terms of what they require the line judges to be able to signal to the referee. For example, the Longpoint rules require the referee to ask the line judges for up to four separate pieces of information in order to make the final call and decide on the score for the exchange. This requires some significant training for the judges and for the referees, to be able to apply the rules correctly and to know what to look for within the fighting in order to describe the exchange properly.

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Family Heraldry

Hey Readers,

This week I have decided to post about an issue that is a regular topic that comes up for Keith and I during our job, especially during museum tours. Before I begin I am aware some people will not be happy about what I have to say and I am doing my best to reference strongly, I will also be requesting this post is reviewed by the Lord Lyons Court and I will edit with any suggested corrections they give me. As the title suggests this post is about the laws surrounding  the use of heraldry and most specifically the ownership of heraldry. When I am working in the US I often see “Family Heraldry” stalls in malls and at the Renaissance Festival, they prey on people who want to better understand their family history and heritage by suggesting that for a fee they will “discover” the heraldry owned by one’s family and provide it on some pseudo-parchment mimicking letters patent. Online a brief search turns up suppliers of this “service” all over the world and a quick walk down Princes Street in Edinburgh shows endless tourist shops offering the same. I hope with this post to clarify some things about the wonderful tradition of heraldry and to help our readers avoid these tourist traps.

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Review of The Noble Science event

Today’s post has been written by Tim Gallagher, and is a review of the recent The Noble Science event, which took place on the 12th and 13th of April.

I finally made it down to The Grange this time, having threatened to do so on 2 previous occasions, but life rather got in the way. I have always had an interest in the unarmed aspect if Hema since I became aware of it, and have been gravitating towards unarmed classes in the events I have been attending in recent years. The fact that Martin Austwick had organised an event devoted exclusively to unarmed material was simply too good an opportunity to miss.

For those of you not familiar with the venue, The Grange is where the Fightcamp event is held, just outside of Coventry in the west Midlands of England. Amongst the many plus points of this venue is a well-matted hall in which all of the classes took place. There is also ample camping space, of which I took full advantage. Before we even started, the weather was really quite nice throughout the weekend, and this really makes things go a great deal easier for any event.

We gathered for a very civilised start at 10.00am for our 1st lesson. I was, in fact, ready to go for 9, but the event website was a little coy about some of the details. No matter, as I used the spare time to do the necessary meet and greet and, vitally important, some stretching. We were a select bunch, with 8 fully functioning persons and 2 who joined in when leg injuries permitted. By all accounts, this was a smaller number than previously, so we were obviously the elite few of unarmed Hema in the UK.

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The Zornhaw plays according to the 3227a, Ringeck, pseudo von Danzig and Kal

For today, I wanted to briefly consider the Zornhaw plays, and how they are broken down in some of the major early Liechtenauer tradition manuscripts. It is always worth revisiting things that we might be tempted to think we know, like how the Zornhaw plays work, and to compare different versions of the same play across different manuscripts, bearing in mind that different manuscripts may present the same plays differently. Before we look at the glosses of the Zornhaw, here is Liechtenauer’s verse of the Zornhaw.

“That which cuts from above,
the Zornhau threatens him with the point.

If he recognises this,
so lift off above without danger.

Become stronger against
and thrust! If he marks this, take it below.”

(MS Dresd.C.487, 19r-20r, translation by Keith Farrell)

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