Five Years of Encased in Steel
Encased in Steel began in February 2011, meaning that this blog has now been active for 5 years. Our first ever post (Welcome to Encased in Steel) was published on February 17th 2011, although our first substantial post, a review of a joint event we ran with the Glasgow Company of Duellists, was posted the following day on February 18th.
In these 5 years, we have posted 272 posts to the blog (this being the 273rd), with 22 authors having contributed to the blog. When we first started the blog, we could not have imagined that it would run for this long, or that it would be this successful.
Going back through the archives really reminded me of how much Encased in Steel, and the Academy of Historical Arts, have accomplished in that time. As mentioned before, one of our first ever posts was a review of an event we ran with the GCoD, the first ever inter-group event we ran. The following week I posted a review of SWASH 2011, my first ever international event. On May 20th 2011, I wrote another review, this time of an event we ran with the Renaissance Martial Arts Society, or RMAS, based in Dundee. RMAS would later go on to affiliate to the AHA, and become a very important branch of our organisation, as well as having provided us with some truly excellent instructors, sparring partners and friends.
Another major landmark in the history of Encased in Steel was the publication of the Encased in Steel Anthology I, which we published in March 2015. If you have been a follower of the blog, and have enjoyed our posts, then I would urge you to support the blog further and pick up a copy of the anthology, as sales like this are what help to keep the blog running. The anthology contains many of our best articles from the earlier years of the blog, albeit with significant editing and in some cases expansion to improve the printed versions of the articles over the versions posted online. The anthology also contains several new articles written especially for the book, which are not available online.
In time we will of course be publishing an Encased in Steel Anthology II, but in the meantime, I thought it would be worth celebrating our fifth anniversary by looking at some of the posts that were written too late for inclusion in the Anthology, or were written after its publication entirely. This is not necessarily a “best of Encased in Steel” post (although I do believe the posts singled out are among our best), but rather I wanted to highlight the variety of topics on which we have posted.
Most of our readers are likely HEMA practitioners, and it has generally been the posts about HEMA that have generated the most discussion. Keith and I are both practitioners of the Liechtenauer tradition of longsword, and so many of Encased in Steel’s posts have been geared towards explaining our interpretations and our thoughts about how we believe KDF should be performed. For example see my post Fight with all your Strength, or Keith’s post on Feints with the Longsword, According to Ringeck. Both these posts heavily reference the manuscripts we work from, giving our thoughts on how to interpret their advice.
We have also produced more general training advice, which although normally geared to longsword can be applied to any weapon, such as Keith’s 5 Ways to Train the Abzug and Avoid an Afterblow or my article Practicing Slowly.
Not only have we discussed the methods of fighting within KDF and other traditions, but we have also presented research on the weapons that would have been used historically, such as in An Overview of the Term Longsword, or A Statistical Analysis of Longsword Lengths, or Keith’s What is a Claymore.
At other times we’ve asked some difficult and at times controversial questions about HEMA, such as in Questions on what is, and what is not, HEMA.
We’ve offered resources for those wanting to begin doing research or translation themselves, such as Meaningful Words: Comparing Translations of Historical Fencing Treatises or A Primer to Translating Historical Martial Arts Treatises.
We’ve also produced a series of posts on 7 rules for instructors, giving simple guidelines to help people become better teachers:
Alex’s Updated 7 Rules for Instructors
Ben’s 7 Rules for Instructors
Keith’s 7 Rules for Instructors
Daria’s 7 Rules for Instructors
While we are perhaps more recognised for the HEMA articles we have posted, we also have a lot of interest in general history, and have posted history articles often. Within this area I have focused on debunking sensationalist, but inaccurate, depictions of history such as in On Speed Archery, or Viking Warrior Women? Or, Misrepresenting Research.
Other articles have taken a more scholarly and academic approach, like Ben’s Asymmetric Warfare, or Reinis’ Degeneration of Chivalry in 1 Henry VI and 2 Henry VI. Our interest in history does of course not only cover the medieval period, but extends to relatively modern history, as can be seen in Ben’s discussion of the Christmas Truce in World War 1.
Unlike many other HEMA blogs out there, we have not been content to only be a HEMA blog. Instead we believe that any HEMA blog must also properly consider the historical context that these arts develop in. Additionally, we have wanted not just to explain our interpretations of the techniques and systems we study, but instead to offer a wider variety of resources to help HEMAists become better instructors, researchers, translators, and to become better practitioners of HEMA generally.
It has been a pleasure to have been a member of the writing team for Encased in Steel over these last five years, and more than anything I have enjoyed being able to write on a wide variety of different subjects. I can only hope that our readers have enjoyed following this blog as much as we have enjoyed working on it.