Some Cool Spear Work

Guys from the AEAA in Spain doing some sparring with spears. I’m not sure what system they’re using, but I can see that it has a lot in common with English quarterstaff, in principle, so it’s cool to watch.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Good Practice

Yesterday I started what I hope will become a routine, and took two of my friends out to introduce them to English swordsmanship and quarterstaff, with a focus on Swetnam. One of them worked with me in the early days of my Italian rapier work (we were far too influenced by sport fencing), and the other has some sport fencing experience.

This is both a blessing and a curse. They know what a lunge is, have experience manipulating their bodies for an antagonistic purpose, and are comfortable holding a weapon. They also drift into incorrect guards and put far too much weight on their front feet.

Overall, this is exciting, and I plan to use our practice sessions to tie together my bits and pieces into a coherent, cohesive understanding of early 17th century English fencing.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Exciting News

The Freifechter Guild is sponsoring the first Southeast HEMA Alliance event in Tallahassee, FL.

It sounds as though the event is exclusively focused on German arts, especially those of Meyer, but it should be interesting nevertheless. Mike, who has commented here, will be one of the instructors. He’s worked with folks I know in the past, so I know he’s been part of Florida HEMA for some time. I’m hoping to attend and compare notes, maybe get to meet some of the other folks doing HEMA in the SE.

Check out the site or this SFI thread for details.

Published in: on August 9, 2009 at 1:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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An Interesting Blog

Bill Carew of Collegium in Armis has a fairly new blog about “Longstick.”

In this case, “longstick” is just a term for, well, long sticks, generally used with 2 hands for combative purposes. Bill is posting tidbits about a wide range of longstick systems. They’ve been interesting so far – perhaps Swetnam’s staff will get a highlight at some point.

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Update and Current Projects

So, with my undergraduate thesis complete, where does my Swetnam research stand?

I do have one more illustration from the thesis to post here – if you’re interested, get in touch with me – there’s a lot of information and analysis that goes along with the images – I’d be happy to send you a copy of the thesis.

I’ve been working to expand my understanding of early modern English fencing, mainly by learning Quarterstaff as taught by Silver, Swetnam and Wylde. I’m using a wonderful video from Paul Wagner as the basis of our personal program, and supplementing it with the primary sources.

The staff work has already contributed greatly to my understanding of English fencing – it is the same system as the swordplay, but more clearly deliniated.

I hope to continue deepening my knowledge indefinitely, and I would like to use all of this as the basis of some post-graduate research. I talked with the folks at WMAI about publishing an article based on my Swetnam work, but they felt the article was not practical enough for their publication. I’d still be interested in writing a more practical Swetnam article for them, but we’ll see how that goes. The editor, Scott Baltic, recommended that I instead submit it to the Journal of Western Martial Arts.

JWMA has not updated for almost a year now, however, and I’m not sure yet whether I will submit anything to them. Any thoughts would be welcome.

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 1:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Weapon for the Duel

Following is some evidence that Swetnam viewed the rapier mainly as a weapon for the duel, in keeping with the idea of the rapier for honor, and the backsword for duty (who said that? I cannot recall).

Swetnam PDF p 20 [On rapier length]:
“Let thy rapier be of a reasonable length, rather too long then too short, foure foote at the least, except thine enemie do give or send thee the length of his weapon; then it is a point of manhoode to match him as neare as thou canst:”

And, again, he wants you to preserve your honor:

Swetnam PDF p 32 [On putting forth a token fight for honor’s sake]:
“…even so I wish all men, if the perceive themselves to be hardly matched, the wiser of them to yeelde upon composition, after reasonable triall made each one of the other, before any great hurt be done;”

Swetnam also advises that you use a quarterstaff if you carry a lot of money, and advises blunting your weapons for practice:

Swetnam PDF p 20 [On blunting tips]:
“Also in playing with sticks, without buttons, many (for want of skill) may loose an eie, as many have done heeretofore.”


Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Symposium Poster

This is a copy of the poster as presented at the UR Symposium at my Uni.

Symposium Poster

It’s roughly 2ft by 3ft, PDF.

Below is the handout that went along with the poster. It includes several quotes from the original publication, so you can see where I was pulling the illustrations from.

Swetnam handout

Edit: A few people have commented that they cannot open the files. You should be able to see the poster here.


Joseph Swetnam

Joseph Swetnam wrote The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence in 1617. In it he discusses fencing with rapier, backsword and quarterstaff.

Most interesting to me is the unique intersection of English and Italian tradition that his work on the rapier represents.

I’m currently working on a paper/project/thesis on this, using George Silver as my benchmark for the contemporary English fencing tradition and Salvator Fabris for the Italian.

Check back for my various thoughts as I compile data and write.

Published in: on January 7, 2009 at 1:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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