Something that I am asked quite regularly by people who have not flown to visit HEMA events before is how easy or difficult it is to travel with swords on a plane. The simple answer is that it is usually legal, it is easy enough, but it is a bit of a pain!
As it is the week before Christmas I wanted to write about something in the spirit of the festivities. Although I had a few ideas none really excited me until I was in the cinema and an advert for Sainsbury’s and the British Legion played. I am sure many of our British readers know the advert I am referring to but for those who haven’t seen it this is the link:
100 Years ago this coming Wednesday amongst the horrors occurring in Europe an event occurred simultaneously across hundreds of miles of disputed territory and although this phrase is used far too often on the modern internet I feel it is appropriate to say this occurrence truly “restores ones faith in humanity”, the Christmas Truce. Growing up in Scotland like most European children I was taught about the Christmas Truce, on Christmas eve soldiers from both sides met together in No Man’s Land and exchanged gifts, played some football and generally hung out before returning to their trenches and continuing the war. In most classes this was simply taught as a brief sidenote before we continued learning about the war. In my american education I cannot recall the event being mentioned (very little was taught that didn’t involve the americans). My point is I have known the basic story of this event my entire educated life but never before have stopped to properly consider the story. One aspect no teacher ever mentioned was the fact that someone had to take the first step and quite literally put their head above the parapet. It wasn’t until I saw the above advert that my curiosity was peeked and I decided to look into the situation further.
Today’s post is going to be relatively short and simple. I’ve argued before that a double hit is sometimes the fault of one fencer, not both. For instance, if my opponent is in Alber, and I strike a Schaitelhaw towards his head, there is no mention in any of the KDF longsword treatises of the person who is in Alber attacking back without first defending themselves. It is stated several times in the longsword treatises that if you attack an opponent, they must parry. Not that they might parry, or that they might not bother parrying, but that they must parry, and no KDF longsword master thought that the scenario where someone decides not to parry, but rather to just attack back without defending themselves was a scenario worth writing about. If I carry out a well executed attack, and my opponent does something stupid, that is their fault, not mine.
Yet under a lot of rulesets used in HEMA today, both fencers will be penalised. Some tournaments have very harsh rules where if there are a certain number of doubles both fighters will be thrown out of the tournament. These types of rulesets definitely discourage people from acting suicidally to some degree, however this is not perfect, and if one fencer is acting suicidally, and the other is not, then both can be punished for this. So fencers can be penalised because their opponent did something stupid, not because they did something stupid.
This list will set out a basic bibliography of 15 book that are a “must have” for the personal library of every serious practitioner of German longsword. The list is my personal opinion, based on several years of experience searching for and reading all kinds of books on the subject. It contains translations and scholarly works, but also contextual pieces of scholarship about arms and armour of the period, sword typologies and a study of the medieval concept of chivalry.
If you have read all of these books, then you will be well educated on the subject of German longsword, and will be able to hold your own in discussions about the history and context of the discipline!