Fighting for Mastership

Fighting for Mastership

Do you want mastery of the longsword?

Bugheads & Breeches : Hutton Vs Castle

Here is summary of what the German Fechtmeister of Historical European Fencing, most notably High Master Liechtenauer, told you to do to learn swordsmanship as a martial art for killing your foes in duels and wars, for comporting yourself well before kings, princes & lords, etcetera:
Learn wrestling first as the relevant foundation for combat training.
Learn to fight full-circle with noble Medieval weaponry of spear & longsword & dagger; and to become a good horseman, warrior and hero.
Learn the Art of Longsword Fencing (Kunst des Fechtens), itself & directly, from historical Fechtmeister and/or from their primary sources the Fechtbuecher, because they have fought in real swordfights & have trained other men to do so.
Here is summary of what the USFCA masters & minions tell you to do to learn swordsmanship as an athletic sport for competing in modern tourneys, for pleasing crowds and cameras, etcetera:
Learn Olympic Fencing first as an irrelevant distraction from combat training.
Learn to bout linerally with ludicrous unweaponry of fleuret, épée and so-called sabre; and to become a good sportsman, politician and businessman.
Learn the Sport of Longsword Fencing (Sport des Fechtens), analogously & indirectly, from USFCA masters, because somehow they know better, they have the magical pedagogy you need, they have all the answers already, etcetera, even though they neither ever fought in a real swordfight nor ever trained any men to do so.
Recall that I foresaw USFCA usurpation long ago and famously said at that time: I hope it fails.

Recently many pursuing Historical European Fencing – especially those engaged in the respectable pursuit of Sport des Fechtens – have worked themselves up into an ape-rage about USFCA historical fencing masters certification. Justifiably so, yet to no avail, despite much ranting & raving at InterWeb forums and at FakeBook. Indeed, although USFCA intends to certify “masters of historical fencing” in order to teach, supposedly, the historical art of fencing with the longsword, most do not even teach their own respectable version of historical fencing, i.e. classical fencing, with the ancestral weaponry (smallsword, rapier, sabre) directly related to their own unweaponry (fleuret, épée and so-called sabre).

As if all that were not enough reasons for opposition to the USFCA and their historical mastership claims, there are further: For they are pretenders to the throne. For they have done none of the work yet want all of the rewards. For they have demeaned and disparaged and dismissed the manly & noble longsword for centuries, even as they have miscalled their own ludicrous unweaponry by the name of “swords”. For they have done none of the worthwhile research and revival of the True Art that others – who owe absolutely nothing to either USFCA or FIE or Olympic Fencing – have indeed done.

The smug bastards had over 400 years, literally centuries, to do something meaningful to revive Kunst des Fechtens. Yet they did absolutely nothing that whole time – despite superior fame, wealth and prestige. The entire empire of FIE, including its vassal USFCA, simply wallowed in parochial incestuous nonaction. They failed to do anything worthwhile with the rich hoard of resources. They utterly squandered their time & energy on bullshit, and only showed recent interest when it seems that now they might make money by fooling rich-kid newcomers by monopolising mastership. Moreover, they lie to you that somehow their fencing has even more relevance to Fechten than, for example, a real sword-art like Kenjutsu self-evidently does. The only lot more arrogantly perverse & sickening are the sado-masochistic cenobytes of Mensur.

Instead, it was a bunch of “nobodies” these past 15 years – persons with backgrounds in jujitsu, judo, kenjitu, kendo, wrestling, pankraton, combatives, boxing, karate, equestrian, theatre, re-enactment, anachronism or even nothing – who did all the meaningful scholarship, presentation, logistics, promotion, and yes, fighting which have revived and advanced Kunst des Fechtens of the real three weapons of Ritterlich Kunst – spear, longsword, dagger – whether unarmoured or armoured, plus horsemanship, plus wrestling as the foundation, etcetera. You shall find nothing thereof taught in any Olympic Fencing salle anywhere.

Incidentally, FIE is merely part of a larger conspiratorial Cabal that means to force Historical Fencing to become part of its corrupt athletica at the cost of independent enterprise, if indeed, it be allowed to continue at all. Said Cabal means to repress our European peers by forcing them to pay for “licensing” or else become crushed by governmental legal action throughout the Old World. This Cabal are the same well-dressed lefty Euro-twits who run the EU, hand out undeserved Nobel peace-prizes to popularly elected American presidents, and sell out the rights of Women to demonic Sharia law. These same bastards contrive to deny our European brethren their birthright of owning sharp replicas of European swords, deny them the natural right to keep & bear arms, and intend to force them to join the FIE via its various cthulhulian tentacled national bureaus and become nice civilised little Olympic fencers, if indeed, they are allowed to do any fencing at all.

But sadly, Sport des Fechtens, you are at least somewhat to blame. Your sportification of the Art has set you up for USFCA usurpation. You did not pursue mastery of the Art, hence an undesirable & undeserving sporting authority shall now provide masters for your sport. That is because Kunst des Fechtens stopped being your goal. You devolved your activities into organising, competing & socialising. You forsook control of the fight somewhere along the way.

Furthermore, consider the hubris of the latest infamous propaganda video produced by FIE-president & Bond-villain Alisher Usmanov (the worst person to plague swordsmanship since the miniature dictator John Clements), which immediately & dishonestly equates aforesaid unweaponry with swords, stating: Since the dawn of civilisation, the sword has played an integral part in our history. These evildoers are trying to usurp the very Queen of Weapons. They equate a universal verity with their insular falsity. It is even more phony than the Zweihaender choreography that Hutton and Castle used to do for the Prince of Wales and other degenerate Victorian British royalty for the actual purpose of tricking otherwise decent honest Englishmen into eventually becoming sport fencers with aforesaid unweaponry. Surely Master Silver would despise their deceptive schemes.

Now consider this: If somebody took three kendoka, or three wrestlers, or three dancers, or three gymnasts, or three decathletes, and trained them properly in longsword fighting, exactly according to the 17 Hauptstuecke of the Liechtenauer College; and then someone else took three fleuret fencers and trained them in longsword fighting according to the USFCA pedagogy; then do you really think that somehow the USFCA is going to produce better Fechter than the Liechtenauer College would? Do you really think so? Do you?

In the event that you were unaware of their significance due to enduring abusive Soviet-style Olympic fencing coach punishments, allow me to enlighten you: The 17 Haupstuecke constitute a complete & sound methodology, indeed a system, if only one understands it and devotes seriously thereto. They are a full, orderly, logical & unified curriculum. They are, quite simply, the teachings of the masters. If only you would open your doors of perception and learn therefrom. If only.

And realise that making money from deserved mastery is not the issue. Indeed, Master Talhoffer made his deserved living via the Chivalric Arts. Even today there are some in Germany and elsewhere in Europe who are deservedly doing the same. The issue is not that of the deserving but that of the undeserving. That of false masters bilking all the smurflike newbies out their money – whether that be ARMA or USFCA or whatever goddamned acronym you like. Got a problem with any of those fascists or bolsheviks making a quick dishonest buck? Then find your libertarian instincts and start charging to teach, yet offer something worthwhile to learn according to the Art.

By the way: It is reasonable that a master should both teach well and fight well. I think that makes sense. However, some do not. Why is that? I mean, let us think about a modern-day Ringmeister: Lt. Col. Joseph “Cyborg” Shusko of USMC, the leader of MCMAP. Anybody who seriously studies Ringen and who is decently aware of him might well consider him the modern equivalent of Meister Ott. It is doubtless that he can teach combatives and fight viciously. In an unarmed fight, he would kill any Islamofascist or MMA champion on the Earth. His peers are few and far between. He gets to do what he does because of his mastery of his martial art. His is a masterly ideal that behooves us to aspire.

Thus said, Historical European Fencing, you do deserve better, and I do empathise. And I am here to offer you my help. I offer you the following dynamic yet realistic solutions. They are based upon the premise that the threat is really as bad as you think it be. So if that be true – let me repeat, if that be true – then this is exactly what you need to do, what you must do, if you are to defeat and to destroy the machinations of Olympic Fencing. This is what none thus far have dared to advise. This is how you shall avail yourselves and protect your realm:
Make them fight you. Go to their salles and challenge these Olympic historical masters to matches with blunt training longswords. Tell them why they are wrong and that you are there to correct them. Seek them out and call them out in every way that is lawfully allowed. If they happen to prevail, then they shall have proven themselves. Yet if you prevail, then you shall have proven yourselves. This should help distinguish the Leichmeister from the Fechtmeister.
Make your own masters. That is right! Just go ahead and do that. Do not let even those within your own ranks censor you or tell you otherwise. Indeed, some of our German peers already do that, and justify it autonomously, historically & practically. Just realise that those who call themselves masters must be willing to protect and prove themselves. That way Master is a valid title, however you may deem to define it – whether that be by prowess, teaching, charisma, or whatever. If you can keep it then you deserve it.
Make yourselves better, yea and verily, the best at longswording, the best at fencing with all the chivalric weaponry. Keep training and researching. Keep outdoing them at the Kunst des Fechtens. Do not make your standard tourney success, as they do, but instead make your standard martial ability. Be the best Men you can be.
There you have it, a relatively simple plan, yet it does offer decisive action. And really, my final feelings towards USFCA and FIE and Olympic Fencing are summed up by these Soundgarden lyrics:

I don’t care what you got
I don’t care what you need
I don’t want anything

Good luck all ye fellows of Historical European Fencing.

The Norwood Dichotomy…

The Norwood Dichotomy…


This sucks. I’ve had to swallow most of my opinions–especially the strong ones–about HEMA stuff (especially Politics) for the better part of the last 10 years. This topic is no exception. Unfortunately a lot of people see things that I say and write as representative of my club, or the HEMAA, or whatever organization I belong to, etc. I can put disclaimers in my signature block, but it is what it is. I gave up the right to express my strongest opinions in the language that I would really like to when I accepted responsibility as a representative of an organization. It sucks, and one of these days I’ll probably snap and start a blog that puts LOTEL to shame. But until then…

I’m intrigued.

One can only say: BRING IT!

There are lots of things we feel we have responsibility to. I, for example, have a responsibility to what I consider to be the undiluted truth. And that means, even if I don’t like what Jake might have to say, I want to hear it.

You haven’t been president of HEMAA for a while now, Jake. If you have something to say, say it. The “I have a responsibility, but if I didn’t, boy I’d tell those motherfuckers a thing or two” seems a passive-aggressive dodge, especially when the mantle of responsibility is nonexistent. Marsden wears that mantle now. I do see that you’re sadly just as dismissive of the opinions of others as you were on Pendant Forum, however. A majority clearly has a problem with the Mondschein debacle, and a majority voted for Marsden.

But I digress, as I usually do.

Back on point: step up to the plate and say what you have to say, Norwood. You can call me bad names, if you like. Most of them will probably even be true. I think you’d have fun with it.

I’m waiting.

And I want to know.

The ARMA and the Art of Retroactive Appropriation…

The ARMA and the Art of Retroactive Appropriation…


Tonight’s vignette into mendacity is provided by Art of Swords, or rather, the man they interviewed here. John Farthing is the current Deputy Director of the ARMA. I’ve heard he’s slated to be replaced next month by an android programmed to be utterly devoid of free or original thought, as well as bereft of any vestige of personality, but for now he’ll do for Clements. He’s a self-confessed violent obsessive (See! I can play with context too, Herr Direktor), and he has some very interesting things to say.

The most interesting thing for me also happens to be the first thing to fly from his mouth:
“…I’m John, Deputy Director at Association for Renaissance Martial Arts, just a guy who is obsessed with understanding exactly how my Pan-European forebearers fought and trained to fight during the Mediæval and Renaissance periods. ”
I have three things to say about this: 1, we were, of course, the first to use the phrase “pan-European.” 2, he’s using it in a manner that smacks – rather unpleasantly – of things like “Pan-Africanism” (a nationalist ideology riddled with fascist concepts and undertones of racism). I don’t know if this is intentional, so I won’t mind read. However, his ancestors weren’t pan-European, because nobody’s ancestors were. Hell, I’m English, French, Italian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and even a little bit Anglo-Irish and I’m not pan-European. It’s the context he puts it in that is slightly off-putting. 3, it’s very clear that Clements and company are attempting to retroactively appropriate the pan-European Theory (while simultaneously and epically failing to understand the very thing they’re trying to appropriate).

You see, medieval and Renaissance Europe was simply the Art’s theater of action, or milieu. The feudal warrior class – the knights and men-at-arms – were the mechanism. Now, knighthood and the military paradigm of medieval Western Christendom were European phenomena (and certainly pan-European in scope), but had history gone differently, then not necessarily so. The way Farthing uses “pan-European” here is like describing a car merely in terms of its shell, omitting the chassis and engine entirely.

There have been some that have erroneously compared our position on the pan-European Theory to that of Clements’ position (and, by necessity, that of Clements’ acolytes). But this is false, and I resent and disavow, in the strongest possible terms, such false comparisons. Clements, et al, never developed any notion similar to our (meaning Benjamin “Casper” Bradak and myself) thesis beyond “It was pretty much all the same stuff.” They never put forth supporting arguments or analysis. Moreover, there was always a seedy underlayer of cultural hegemony to it that left even yours truly a little uncomfortable.

As for the descriptor “pan-European,” well, they can have it. I don’t want it anymore. As I argued here, pan-feudal is more accurate, anyway. I will no longer refer to our thesis as “pan-European,” because that’s just incidental. It’s not terribly intrinsic or even really important. If an identical class of warrior aristocrats and their military retainers – identically armed and accoutered; bound by identical oaths of homage, culture, and social contracts; employing the same methods of war, duel, and methods of instruction for such; and pitted against identical conditions, obstacles and opponents as their real-life historical European counterparts – had existed across the mystical island of Atlantis in some parallel univserse, then it would have been pan-Atlantean. Therefore, the terms I now prefer are either Greater Art Theory (GAT) or Core Art Theory (CAT). Either will do, really. Now, let’s hear the current Mouth of Sauron talk about his pan-feudal ancestors and just how very feudal…and stuff…they were.

The Mandrake…

The Mandrake…


To those who have contacted me to inform me of how angry, upset, or offended they are (all three of you) by some of my recent words on Facebook, I have only this to say: I was going to go away. I was going to leave off active participation in this subject, become a passive online participant who cranks out a video or so a month, but otherwise focuses on other endeavors. But now, you have reinvested me in the fight, and in the process have summoned up a bloody-minded demon you’re going to have a hard time shaking off. You don’t pull up a mandrake without expecting repercussions.

Of Trenches and Ramparts: A Final Word on the Dreaded Pan-European Theory

Of Trenches and Ramparts: A Final Word on the Dreaded Pan-European Theory


This little piece is for all the “pan-Europeanists” out there. It goes out to the intrepid souls that have braved the forums (one in particular, really) run by power cliques aligned and arrayed against us; those discussion boards dominated by dismissive voices that employ disingenuous and fallacious arguments designed to diminish our arguments rather than address them, and thus avoid grappling with their full scope and depth. You and I know that there are indeed many of us out there. We have communicated via email, Facebook, and even over the phone. Our detractors are ignorant of our true numbers. And that’s a good thing.

But on to the matter at hand…

Those looking for further arguments to bolster those already in existence may be disappointed. There are none. In truth, there’s simply no need. The case has been well and truly and amply made. All the deflections and dodges of those who disagree with us do not and cannot touch them. Any objective observer must agree that we reside upon the winning side. And truthfully, they’re not interested in debate (and I have challenged them to formal debate), because they know they can’t win at debate. They know we will eviscerate them in that arena. And even if they would debate, debate changes nothing. The ramparts are up. The trenches are dug. It is the nature of human beings to be stubborn, even if we’re not honest enough with ourselves to admit it.

But it seems those who deny our arguments know something that we don’t: they know that we can be right and still lose. They know that they don’t have to be right so long as they are more prolific in their activity than we are. They know that if they control the narrative, little things like facts and cogent argument don’t matter. It’s craven, but true. And sadly, I have once again come to the conclusion that the Wikitenauer may serve this purpose. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy, but rather something of a fait accompli. The Wiktenauer is a HEMAA vehicle. It is operated and maintained by HEMAA members. It is a thing belonging entirely to the HEMAA; and is a powerful resource that, by necessity, furthers HEMAA objectives, HEMAA interpretations, HEMAA narratives. As it becomes more and more prominent, it will inevitably become the instrument of an orthodoxy. Well, I’m a heretic. There are a lot of heretics, lurking in the shadows and residing between the cracks. And we don’t tend to go in for orthodoxies.

Thus, by slow degrees, do they seek to slowly choke the life out of us, to shout us down, all the while sniping and sneering in the safety of forums operated by those sympathetic to their views. HEMAA-related memes stating things like “We rule the Internet” can be seen on Facebook, and serve as a good example of this mentality. Though the HEMAA is hardly the only offender in this little cold war. And any who dare venture onto their forums is walking into a baited trap…

…So, what I’m saying is: STOP. Cease to post on their forums. No longer feed their agenda by serving as their foils, as a strawman for them to bowl over. Rather, expend your energies on building parallel structures, creating alternative choices. This is one of the things that I have been quietly working on in the shadows for quite some time. Our circle is much, much broader than they know, and we don’t have to match them in numbers or even in output in order to achieve our goals. We simply need to be a strong, viable alternative to the HEMA Alliance, the CFAA, WMAC, HEMAC, the ARMA and all the other acronyms. A real alternative. Not an umbrella organization with a governing body but a round table of equals.

I know we can do it.

We know who we are, and what we stand for. Not for us the gaudy false honor of medals. Not for us the easy route of not engaging those who disagree. We serve the Art. We stand with the masters.

What I speak of will unfold in time.

Is Swordsmanship a Martial Art?

Is Swordsmanship a Martial Art?

bradakThis article, entirely coincidentally, just so happens to indirectly support the martial purist’s view against the tournament as currently being put forth in Brandon’s excellent articles on the subject. Here, we continue to challenge the dogmas of the CMA revival.

But on to the point; Is swordsmahsip a Martial Art?

No. And I’ll tell you why.
Being a “swordsman” does not necessarily a martial artist make. Technicalities and semantics can be argued, but I would no more call someone who solely studies the use of the club, or the knife, or the tonfa, or what-have-you, a martial artist, and a fencer of any nation or style is no different. They practice a martial art aspect, but being a martial artist requires more. Swordsmanship is not “a” martial art, per se. It is not a martial art in and of itself. It truly requires too many other peripheral martial skills that culminate in good swordsmanship, not vice versa; These skills better go toward creating a skilled swordsman than swordsmanship alone goes toward creating one skilled in all those other aspects, particularly as it is not the foundation of this many-pointed pyramid. Now I know that there are entire organizations founded upon the reverse of this concept that would seem to be a given, and I can tell you exactly why that is, but I will not do more than touch upon them in this article.

In brief explanation, the sword was never used as a single means for combat alone prior to its sportification. I.e. the blade alone was never the sole means of contact with an opponent, and even so, would require other skills for the blade alone, numerous other techniques, and backup skills should the sword break or be lost or rendered otherwise impractical; first it requires a foundation in unarmed skills and theory, then to be supplemented by techniques with many other weapons, natural and otherwise, at many different ranges. It requires knowledge of grappling, striking with natural weapons, using parts of the sword other than the blade, feeling (which is not best learned by fencing), etc. As an extension of one’s body, would it not be best to first master the body? The sword was never, and could never, reasonably be used alone. One without a foundational skill in the universal common denominator of combat (one’s self) to build upon with a weapon art is, to my mind, one who only plays at the martial arts without bothering to put in the work to be truly skilled, rounded and knowledgeable. This is endemic in the HEMA –which is now becoming distinguished from the Chivalric Arts proper by such problems– where there are many who now nominally claim to be martial artists and study the martial arts (plural) but in fact are simply “swordsmen” (for lack of a better term), who, at best, only nominally study more than the sword alone.

Can one learn all of the necessary elements of swordsmanship by studying swordsmanship alone? Not to any high degree. Learning those elements by studying the sword alone invariably amounts to little more than gleaning. Those who would say otherwise are invariably those who have only studied the sword and are therefore ignorant of the depth of its individual defining elements. Most historical fencing organizations, however, are just that, and take this backward approach to skilled swordsmanship, defending it by countering the old masters, both to defend their sole skill-set and to justify the entire structure of their organizations, rank structures and curricula.

However, the requisite peripheral core skills are not only implicit in the medieval and renaissance technical references, by principle and sheer volume if nothing else, but explicitly admonished. Masters Silver, Fiore and Ringeck are all very particular on this point. But as I’ve said in other articles, many take issue when it comes to taking these (or any) masters at their word, and as I’ve lately seen, even making it commonplace to say the master was mistaken or incompetent in some regard should the depicted artwork not mesh with their preconceived notions or understanding of a technique, or their understanding of the text. However, as tedious as it may be to many a practitioner, let us see just what these masters have to say on the matter. Here are a few examples of my point being explicit in the source literature, from three corners of Europe and three time periods. In nearly all others prior to the Art approaching obsolescence, it is, at the very least, strongly implicit in principle.

Master Sir Sigmund Ringek
Alles fechten kompf vom ringen.
This I leave in the original language, because as with many phrases, it does not translate particularly well, but I will endeavor to convey the meaning. Most literally, it means that all fencing comes from unarmed fighting skills. “Ringen” is often translated as “wrestling,” but in the English language, it does not amount to a single word, as in the technical references, it encompasses virtually all unarmed fighting skills. But moving beyond the trivia, a truer meaning behind this apt phrase is that all fighting skills, principles and theory come from a foundation and root of unarmed fighting skills, principles and knowledge. Again, unarmed skills, and more importantly, principles, are the core, the universal common denominator, of any combatant’s repertoire.

Master Fiore de Liberi
(I am primarily referencing from M.S. Getty Ludwig XV 13)
Master Fiore is not nearly as succinct as Master Ringek, but his views are the same. In his treatise, he is very particular about reinforcing what I have explained about Ringek’s phrase by the very layout of his work. As Fiore, unlike most other masters, decidedly attempted to lay out the base of his entire system in one book, he lays out his work in order of importance; in the order in which he deemed it should be learned and taught; he begins with unarmed skills, and proceeds from there, thus setting the format for the rest of his treatise. He spends some time elaborating on basic principle and theory in this regard before moving on to the techniques, something he, tellingly, does not do with any other aspect of his Art. This is because that is all that the other elements of his Art are; aspects that revolve around the common core. His terminology proves this as well; most of his principles used with weapons use the same terms as the unarmed skills they are founded upon.

Master George Silver
Master Silver gives us an explicit short-list of the main elements that go into good combative swordsmanship. Again, none of these elements are well learned as peripherals to the sword, but to be truly effective, must be learned in their own right, and then integrated with the use of the sword. Silver says that swordsmanship with all of these elements integrated is incomparable. As he says, aside from the uses of the blade itself:
…their closures and grips (closing distance and range, and disarms), striking with the hilts, daggers, bucklers (use of off-hand weapons, two-weapons systems), wrestlings (grappling skills), striking with the foot or knee in the cods (kicks and proper targeting), and all these are safely defended in learning perfectly of the grips (one can only fight well against them if one has perfect skill with them)…and without this teaching, there shall never scholar be made able, do his uttermost, nor fight safe (without learning all these elements, a practitioner will never be truly skilled, will never achieve his potential skill level, nor be safe from those who have learned these elements properly).
Emphasis mine.
His purpose in this paragraph is obvious.

Swordsmanship alone is imperfect, and will remain so without the inclusion of myriad other elements, which cannot be learned perfectly by treating them as simple add-ons to the sword. The sword is an add-on to the system’s foundational element, and all other weapon-aspects of the Martial Arts combine to form good swordsmanship. NOT the other way around. The sword alone remains imperfect. It is not a true Martial Art if it stands alone.