First time swordfighting of the seasonΒΆ

Tags: swordfighting

Summer holidays are over, so my medieval swordfighting lessons started again yesterday. Yeah!

Swordfighting in our case means you learn the martial arts according to medieval manuscripts. The art of fighting was pretty well evolved in the late middle ages, as you can imagine. It is taught as it would have been in the middle ages, so not as a sport. We do sometimes spar (with some restricting rules), though, of course. About 1/3 of us uses metal swords, the rest (including me) uses wooden hand-and-a-half practice swords. To give an idea, here are some items of last night’s training:

  • Basic sword movements. This is a group exercise in which you all make the same movements. You start in a prescribed position (“von tag” (sword above your head)) and make a specific cut (“in through the neck, out below the armpit”). And then on to combinations. The basics are all-important.
  • Knife exercises one-on-one with a training partner. We mostly follow an Italian manuscript. Six basic attacks. Being the first lesson after the holidays, we just practiced making those attacks. No deflections and counter-attacks yet.
  • “Flow” exercise. It is important not to make loose, completely separated moves. Otherwise your opponent slashes you to bits. Your moves have to follow each other. They have to flow one into the next. So, again with a training partner, you had to do basic sword attacks one after the other one way down the room and then your partner got to do it the other way around.

Swordfighting is remarkably simple and hard at the same time. The basic principles are few. The basic stances are two handful. That’s manageable. But when it gets down to the details.... All at the same time, you have to watch loads of details. Some I have problems with:

  • Keeping my feet pointing in the right direction (they’re both aimed 30 degrees off: consistently!).
  • Standing upright instead of bunching up.
  • Moving my body a bit forward when making an attack to gain 20 cm “free” reach.
  • Sinking a bit through my knees.

Ah well, enough room for improvement.

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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