Ten or so months into my HEMA journey is a drop in the ocean compared to many of the practitioners I admire, and yet it feels like much longer as it’s quickly become such a big part of my life. I’ve always been the type of person to dive headfirst into a hobby, then quickly get bored and move full-throttle into something else. Even to my own surprise, not this time.
For a well thought out article about the impact HEMA has had on someone’s life – self image, general fitness, mental health – I’d recommend reading “I fight like a girl? Tell it to my sword” written by a fellow female HEMA practitioner. My experiences are very similar to hers, and the idea of becoming a better fencer motivates me as much as the sheer fun of spending my Sunday evenings with swords. 2016 hasn’t been the best year, but looking back it hasn’t been as terrible as I thought it was at the time. I’ve made some great friends, had some great experiences, and actually made some pretty good decisions – most notably recognising the deterioration of my mental health at the beginning of the year and taking time away from university to get myself back on track. And, y’know, taking up sword fighting.
I’ve done paid work in the field I hope to go into after graduation. I’ve travelled to and taken part in events for both HEMA and Steampunk and had a great time in both communities, and I’ve got plans to do even more in 2017. The year ahead is going to be full of changes and looks pretty daunting, but hey, I’ve got a sword. Bring it on.
I’m starting writing this with a cup of tea on the veranda of Newham Cricket Club listening to Queen, which is a good situation to give the feel of how this bank holiday weekend’s been; especially when you factor in the fact that it’s just started raining and if I look up there’s two zombie targets fifty or so metres away.
And now I’ve finished that sentence the sun has come out again.
It’s exciting times for Virtus Sword School Cardiff – we’ve been talking about expansion and improvement for what feels like forever (though it’s probably been a few months) and finally things are starting to move. Expect a lot of updates on what’s going on, because shameless not-quite-self promotion is basically what blogging is all about.
The idea is basically this – get the word out, get people in, ???, profit. Well, something like that. Our core group of members is incredibly excited about what we do, and we all get a kick out of telling people what we do on our Sunday nights. When you say sword fighting, it sounds fucking cool, right? And people get interested. But we’ve never really had any way of actually getting those people to come along and try it for themselves.
So, as promised, the most recent of my recent adventures: I sparred with steel and survived the experience.
A short background for people who have no idea what I’m going on about (people who do have an idea what I’m going on about, please ignore this part because I’m sure it will be a terrible explanation). I spend my Sunday evenings learning and practising HEMA, or Historical European Martial Arts. Or, I spend my Sunday evenings learning and practising hitting people with swords. HEMA is a lot more than that – it’s a scholarly pursuit and really interesting with my historian hat on – but let’s face it: when it gets to the end of the week what you really want to do is pick up a sword, learn how you’re supposed to use it and then try and hit people with it (using those techniques you just learned, of course).
My club, Virtus Sword School (Cardiff Chapter), focus on learning German Longsword, predominantly from a translation of Joachim Meyer’s 1570 treatise. We dabble in other things, but this post is about longsword so I’ll stick to that for now.
I’ll put a couple of links at the bottom of this post for actual information about HEMA and Virtus Sword School, which is the club I train with.
Back to the freaking out over a steel sword. Again for the people who have no idea what I’m going on about, they’re not sharp. But my god they can pack a punch. And the feeling is very different to what I’ve done before, which is sparring (and training) with a nylon synthetic sword.