Review of Ringeck Triathlon at AHA Loch Lomond 2014

Cutting at AHA Loch Lomond 2013; photo by Elliot Howie.

At the AHA Loch Lomond 2014 camping event, I organised and ran a triathlon style longsword competition. My intention was to create a new and unusual style of tournament, where competitors had to display a varied skill set with respect to the historical sources that we study, and I believe that the competition was very much a success, with some interesting learning points.

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Review of Edgebana 2014; including my learning points

Last weekend I participated in the Kaiser Steel longsword competition at Edgebana 2014, in Dundee. In this article, I will give a brief review of the event, and a more detailed look at some of my learning points from the day.

Previously, I wrote an article about “a methodical approach to using tournaments as part of your strategy to improve your fencing skills”, and entering this competition was part of my strategy to improve my fencing.

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Poor Man Book Scanner

This week I am going to discuss the construction and use of a very primitive book scanner.

As some of you may know we have been running a crowdfunding campaign over the last fortnight to fundraise towards the purchase of two antique texts. As the perks for this campaign involve facsimiles of the items I have found myself in a situation whereby I have to photograph and create high quality facsimiles. Now this does not sound very difficult and at first I just planned to use my trusty digital camera (a 2005 3.2mp Cannon Powershot A510…ah the trappings of wealth for a charity director) the problem with this is that perspective is a nightmare, setting up a shot takes far too long and shaking causes letters to blur no matter how minimal it is.

The solution was to look at what others used and this was when I began to learn about book scanners and the book scanning movement (as with everything on the internet there is a movement of people who take this hobby to quite fantastic extremes). Now normally I would pick a design, make my way to Home Depot or B&Q and build it. At the moment however, we are currently moving premises and I finally have my house as a home and not a workshop/warehouse. As such I have extremely limited access to my tools and no desire to undertake such a project.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention though and as I need to create these facsimiles even with my reduced setup I have had to come up with another method which I will share here.

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Practicing slowly

Today I want to talk briefly about why people should train at different speeds. There’s an interesting discussion going on at the moment on the HEMA Alliance forums, so I thought I might write about something on the same topic.

For reference, here are the links to the forum discussion and to two blog posts that were brought up in the discussion that I highly recommend reading:

About speed
Speed matters
I am slow

Firstly, I just want to say that I agree with Vincent, that training at high speed is essential, and that training at slow speeds does add several problems to the practice. If you can’t do a technique at speed, then you could never use it in a combative setting. This isn’t a judgement, there are plenty of techniques that I know but can’t reliably do at speed. However it would be ridiculous to assume that you can definitely carry out a technique at speed if you’ve only ever practiced it slowly.

That said, I believe slow practice is very important, and over the years, I’ve spent more class time practicing at slow speeds (as well as generally altering the speed my students are practicing at).

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