Swordfish 08

Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by Stolenbjorn, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I will attend swordfish 08 this year, an event gathering WMA'ers from mostly Scandinavia in the swedish city of Gothenburg.

    I didn't have the money to go last year, but Swordfish 06 was very good. I'm looking foreward to 3 days of seeing others' level in their arts, so I can compare myself with them, and I will allso post my evaluation of the classes I've signed in on.
  2. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Cool Stolenbjorn can't wait to read the review.

    The Bear.
  3. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    So, now I'm back from a nice weekend in Göteborg.
    Here are the courses I went to, and a brief (and subjective) rewiew:

    I attended two of Scott Browns classes + one seminar, so I'll rewiev them together

    Scott Brown
    Seminar on how to teach/coach/instruct HEMA

    He started with presenting a 4-stage-model used in modern Pedagogic, describing how a person learns: The unconcious-incompetent, the concious-incompetent, the concious-competent, and finally (the highest level); the unconsious-competent. This is the same stuff I'm beeing taught as a teacher in Norway, so if it's good enough for both USA and Norway's school-system, I guess it is good enough for HEMA as well.
    He then went on discussing how most HEMA-schools approaches students, and was critisizing the overly focus on advanced techniques, and a tendensy to neglect what he branded as "Basic skills" (An example of a technique is for example the "meisterhaus", while basic skills are more like accuracy in stabbing, timing, distancing, etc.) Finally, he divided the ones leading HEMA-schools into 3 categories; the Instructor, the Coach and the Teacher. It will take to long time to rezyme his entire line of thought, but the short version of it, is that he meant that the most efficiant way of learning HEMA, is to have someone who can feed you the correct matereal to drill, and the correct drill to learn it at the right time (a consept called "individually-adapted-learning" in Norway). I found the lecture most rewarding and inspiring, as I try to lead a very small class, where we have little input from other HEMA-groups, so we struggle a lot on our own. It was allso interresting to note that his thoughts on this topic seemed to conjure with my reacent theories, and allso the general agenda here on MAP, conserning aliveness, and free-sparring as somthing positive.
    Scott Brown
    Using advanced training methods to explore the conept of Abzug in the German longsword tradition

    This was more a lecture on training-methods than the techniques themselves. IMO Scott wanted people to understand the importance of learning judgement of timing and distance in swordfigting, and demonstrated some teaching-drills one can apply on students in order to improve theese fundamental skills. I found the lesson useful, and have allready applied theese techniques on one of my own students yesterday, and it worked fine.
    Scott Brown
    Using advanced training methods exploring the mechanics of the overbind from 1.33 (Lutegerus)
    Allso here, Scott was focusing on learning-methodic more than the techniques themselves, and demonstrated how one can aproach manual-techniques in a manner that enables the student to actually be able to do them in a free-sparring-environment. The class worked on flow-drills as much as possible; solo-flow-drills, or pairing up, doing them against a resisting partner, putting in the ocational break on ocations. I liked this way of teaching, as I agree with Scott that

    It seemed to me that Scott would feel at home on MAP, as it seems to me that he thinks alike us. It will probably allso warm Polar Bear that Scott took part in the tournament on saturday, and won it, so if he teaches what he practices, he can't be that bad :cool:

    Kim Moén
    Demonstration and lecture of Kampfringen use in modern MMA

    This lecture was about discussing the use of HEMA-techniques in MMA. As he was an active MMA'er, he probably knew a lot about the topic, but I didn't really fall for the lecture, as I find it a bit irellevant wether german ringen can be applied in the mma-ring or not.

    Dr. Milo Thurston
    Mendoza's pugilism

    Very nice class, where we learned some basic pugilism boxing. We allso had a little tournament at the end of the class, with helmets and gloves, and that was very fun! I think it is a brilliant way to end a class; trying out the stuff one have trained in a free-play-environment. (It's allso worth noting that Dr.Milo won the other tournament, the one Scott didn't win, and he said to me afterwards that he thinks that everybody who goes to HEMA-gatherings to instruct should have mandatory paraticipation in tournaments at such events :)

    Claus Sörensen
    Lecture: Master's thesis on Hans Talhoffer

    Evening lecture on Hans Talhoffers life. He was presenting his master-thesis, showing what sourses we have on mr. Talhoffer. It was a nice lecture in the pub, and it was interresting. (I'd wish I could teach at school with a glass of red-wine in my hand :) )

    Ilkka Hartikainen
    Freeplay preparation

    Again; a class fitting well with the main theme of Swordfish08; how to learn HEMA effectively and realistically. This system is (probably?) developed by Guy Winsor, as Ilkka is one of his students. The system was that in order to prepare students for quality-free-play, one can divie the students in 3's and let one observe, and the two others do a step-by-step-4-stage-exchange of blows, exploring attack-lines, counters, counter-counters, and a finishing technique. When one feels that one have found a nice sequence, one tries to do the sequense full speed and with more or less full force; stress-testing it. The observers main task is to point out weaknesses that the fighters mabye don't see or feel themselves. IMO this can be a nice way of working on stuff one don't seem to master properly. I'd apply it in a slightly other manner, though:

    I'd let the students freeplay, while the third party observes, then stop the students when one sees and can pick one weakness that hampers one (or both) of the freeplay'ers, then work on better ways of improving the weak-spot, then putting it back into free-play-context, checking if it have improved.

    All in all, I'm very glad I took the time and spent the money, as Swordfish 08 ended up beeing more relevant for me than I had anticipated.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  4. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    Your beginning post reminds me of the three surrenders in martial arts training.
    PASSIVE SURRENDER admiting you know nothing and studying basics of timing distancing and decisiveness,
    POSITIVE SURRENDER letting go of what you have "learned"
    TOTAL SURRENDER letting the principles "happen" without thought.

    Would love to have been there,thanks for the posts.

    regards koyo
  5. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Interesting stuff Stolenbjorn, I'm also for the "mandatory paraticipation"
    thanks for posting!

  6. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    Yep..get rid of the ref and the ball and let's get on with the game.

    regards koyo
  7. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Hi Stolenbjorn,
    Sound like a good time and alot of good stuff shown.
    What were the tournaments like. i.e. were they committed attacks? What type of weapons were they using?

    The Bear.
  8. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    [ame="http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=_P9W3bMQs_U"]YouTube - Anders Linnard vs Scott Brown Round 2 Swordfish tournament[/ame]

    I discovered some of the bouts are online. We my impression is that this is sports fencing with longswords. Very little intent (tippy tappy hits), poor footwork (bouncing!!!) and almost NO second intention. I realise using plastic weapons make binding almost impossible and therefore most of the German longsword system becomes usless which is why I can't understand why people use these appauling nylon weapons. I seen this style of HEMA taking hold in some parts of England now, so far the Scots clubs have refused to follow suit. I think my group is certainly going to be in the minority in future.

    The Bear.
  9. RAbid Hamster

    RAbid Hamster Herr Trubelmacher

    frankly theres little conviction in the bout at all, no consideration for the fact that the bod opposite is trying to kill you, some of the blows are down right pathetic and no second intent as the weapons will not support it.
    Longsword technique flows from second intent, from entering krieg, not from wafting a zero weight boffer in the general direction of the opponent and claiming a victory when you get a touch. Someone tried that with me they might claim a pitty pat touch but then have to pick their teeth out of their mask as I drove through. EVERY GCoD student is taught second intent as a fundamental.
    I dont know what that was but its not HISTORIC european martial arts - more like modern health and safety driven aerobics with a stick.
  10. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I think the tournaments suffered from beeing tournaments. I've suggested to the people that arrenged it that they next year didn't have a tournament, but a mandatory-free-play-session, withouth declaring winners, rather having a third party coming with suggestions to improvement.

    I allso think the tournament suffered from using shinai and nylon weapons, but I think the reason for this is the safety-aspect. At least 4 pepole were walking around with ice-bags on their thumbs and hands after the bout, and if they had used metal blunts, those ice-bags would probably have been replaced with gips.... I think that very few would dare to free-spar with someone from another group that you didn't know the standard of. It's not fun to have lost the ability to use your arm, bacause some unknown moreon from a "HEMA-group" from -say Norway sparred with you, and broke your arm. I spar with metal weapons, but most people I know dare not face a stranger whoose skill is unknown; not out of the fear of loosing, but out of the fear of beeing injured due to a too big gap in competence between them.

    Finally, I think the tournament suffered from the rules: 1 min.rounds, first hit only. I agree that second intent is important, and in my group, we have started to drill on free-sparring first to the second hit without pause.

    As for the realism shown in this video (which IMO is quite representive for the bout in gothenborg), I think this not nessecarily isn't very far away from what a duel might have looked like 650 years ago. As more and more people starts saying: historical manuals shows the advanced stuff, and here we are, trying to pull them off, without even vaugly mastering the basic skills. I know that I get my ass kicked by free-players that don't have even cast a short glimpse at any historical manual, even when we play by "my" rules. As one of my sparring-partners said after doing some free-sparring with me; why risk loosing an advanced binding-situation, when my hands was out there-unprotected? I saw a lot of "long-play" as the italians calls it, partially, because nobody dared goin inn all the way (as most techniques shown in manuals is about countering committed attacks, so statistically, those situations are the ones people are most likely to be able to win), but allso partially because of the rules, as I mention on the top of this section of my reply.

    Personally, I still think that the free-play sparring was very useful for those taking part, as they got to...
    *Feel the fear and adrenalin-rush caused from the stress of entering a tournament with audience.
    *Feel of facing someone from outside your group.
    *Getting to train timing, distancing positioning and intent. If one thinks that this was bad, it only proves that more sparring is needed.
  11. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    tournaments are fine as long as the contest is well thought out and the contestants understand what they are signing up for.

    Well TBH the protection level was that of rapier fencers wholly unsuitable for longsword fencing. Gambeson and armoured gloves should be a minimum.
    For my part I will face anyone with a longsword, if my arm gets broken I knew the risk I was taking stepping into the ring.

    It's isn't that it;s what happens after you bind. Everyone there backs off.

    Leichtenauer says once you enter Kreig you do not leave until your enemy is beaten. "long-play" is not the way of the German system. If we ever get to freeplay I will show you how I interpret this.

    Freeplay is an excellent training tool. It is why we expect our fighters to fight almost every week. Also to fight all comers at any event we attend. We steel but properly armoured.

    The Bear.
  12. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I know you don't like to have pictures of you on the net, and I understand sort of why. I still think that discussions like this is a good argument to actually post videos on the net. If it hadn't been for someone posting that duel between Scott and Anders(?), we wouldn't have this interresting discussion.

    I still think that you have to be extremely good at diming and distancing in order to get the techniques to work; I've been trying to get the winding into ochs to work for 2,5 years now, and they work only in 1 out of 10 attempts so far. If I lived in 1409 and were to fight somebody, I would probably be stupid to try any of the meisterhaus. I would probaby be best at doing half-swording and rushing in, as I'm relatively better at the close in-stuff than the meisterhaus, and if I were to face someone more compact and strong than me, I would probably leave that option as well, and then I would only be left with somthing like those dudes are doing.

    I think there's more to historical fencing than the meisterhaus from the krieg, and allthough I'm better at fiore than the german stuff, there's plenty of mentionings in german manuals that can indicate other stuff than the meisterhaus. In Talhoffer dagger, there is clear shows of the winner going for the hands of the opponent, as he enters with a comitted attack, and as that is far easier to pull off than any meisterhaus, I suspect that among common and ordinary fencers, hand-attacks would be far more logical than advanced winden.

    As for the other stuff you mention (metal vs. other stuff and hits withouth intent) I don't disagree with you. I spar metal blunt both with and without gauntlets, you think that it's a waste of time to spar with light contact?
  13. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    We use light contact as a means of training people to prepare for freeplay. Once you are cleared for freeplay then armour is worn at all encounters with another cleared member. We don't let people jump into freeplay as it required a significant level of conditioning. However once you are there is it unwise to let the conditioning drop by doing light sparring. So we maintain our level of contact and intensity of training.

    The Bear.
  14. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    What was different for me was that there seamed to be no continous attacks. When that fellow allowed the point of his sword to lower to the ground and leaned forward to"invite" an attack I guarantee he would have been struck well before he could counter or evade.

    More explosive attacks like below.

    This of course is only my opinion and should be treated as such.I certainly agree with your thoughts on halfswording and grappling. Maybe explosive continuous attack halfswording and grappling is the way to go?

    respects koyo

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
  15. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I think skill is the over all limit for most people doing HEMA today. I don't disagree with the critics you and Polar Bear is coming with, but more important, I don't think that the participants would disagree either. Actually all of the participants talked about how crappy they fealt, once in the ring, and that even the winners of the bout was pretty humble (at least tried to give that impression :evil: )

    I think that even the best HEMA-people (that I have seen) so far is far from good enough to master the master-techniques in most manuals. I haven't seen the Glasgow-duellists in action yet, and that I would love them to put on something for me to see; not nessesarily perfect; just something that shows the current level. If they are so good that they can pull off full-contact metal sparring where the masterstrokes hits home, I seriously would want you lot to start doing classes and demonstrations at events like Swordfish!

    It would anyways (for everybody) be interresting to film ones sparring, say every half year, so one can compare progress etc. -not nessecarily to post on youtube.
  16. Anders Nilsson

    Anders Nilsson New Member


    Since I was in the group that tried out and diskussed the rules to be used at Swordfish I think that I can fill in some questions.

    First of all it was all a big experiement to find a set of rules. It´s still a work i progress.

    It was a friendly tournament, not a fight. That changes it to a sport completly.

    2 tournaments was held one with shinai and one with nylon.

    The rules used was designed to be safe. Thats why the fights where stopped after a cut to the hand etc. In a real fight, the cut to the hand wouldn´t have been leathal, but it would have been crippling so a killing move could have been made. Just to be safe, the fights was stopped before the killing blow.

    The bout had 2 judges, 4 in the semis and final. The judges picked a winner based on style, controll, aggression, movement and use of historical technics.
    If the judges had picket different fighters, the hits was counted. If it was still a tie the fight would go to sudden death, the first hit wins.

    Pommeling and kicks was not allowed.
    Groundfighting and submissions was allowed in the nylon tournament.

    As for my personal opinion I think it worked fine.

    I would have allowed punching, pommeling and kicking as well, and I wouldn´t have broke the fights as early. But that changes the level of safty and not all fighters would like that.

    I really liked to use nylon. A good nylon has the same weight, flex and balance as a Liechtenauer. They are a bit tricky in the bind, but they are getting better. I think that nylon is going to be the future of HEMA.

    The main benefit of it all was the opportunity to meet other fighters. It was a great learning experience for all the participants.

  17. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Hi Anders welcome to map.

    I disagree that a tournament has to be a sporting event. I can be designed as a contest of skill between two martial artists.
    Recently at the BFHS event in Edinburgh there was 3 all steel tournaments all hotly contested and no injuries. So I fail to understand the safety arguement. The only way a steel tournament is unsafe is if you aren;t training your students correctly to act with discipline and control.

    I can't disagree more with this statement. Nylon is NOT the same a steel. It act the same, cut the same or bind the same as steel. Nylon blades are dead in the hands. I think it may be some people direction in HEMA however not everyone is going to follow and I think a split is coming based on this choice as how can you cross train with this fundamental difference.

    Indeed however if you can't freeplay and your focus on training is fundamentally different the value of cross this becomes less.

    The Bear.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008
  18. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Some more clips - Nigel Plum of Schola Gladiatoria (www.fioredeiliberi.org) challenged Andreas Engström of GHFS (www.ghfs.se) to a match using military sabre/backsword weighted shinai simulators at Swordfish 2008.

    The match was judged by Dr. Milo Thurston. The rules were that double hits don't count (though the judge breaks and restarts the bout), and the first player to receive three good decisive hits loses the match.

    [ame="http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpvor6wOBJw&fmt=6"]YouTube - Martial challenge Andreas Engström vs. Nigel Plum, sabre[/ame]

  19. Anders Nilsson

    Anders Nilsson New Member

    Well, since it´s about killing any tournament has to become a sport. Otherwise people would get killed. Mortslchag, armbreak etc, can´t be used in a tournament.

    Nylon is getting better and better. They will never replace steel as a training tool. I do belive that they will be a great for sparring.
  20. RAbid Hamster

    RAbid Hamster Herr Trubelmacher

    Perhaps the future of this sort of fencing would be better placed with sports fencing rather than within the martial arts sphere as I already see the propertied of the nylon 'blades' being used rather than good technique.

    You cannot train with steel then spar with nylon. they two materials will react completely differently and claiming that nylon is safer than steel if disingenuous at best ... control is required with steel, nylon is just an excuse for poor control and louzy techniques.

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