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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2007 11:37 am    Post subject: Bastard/Longsword fighting in the SCA         Reply with quote

I'd like to divide this into 3 sub discussions. 1. Defence 2. Movement 3. Attack
I am looking on how similar different forms of fighting can be and differences in common technique.
1. Defence.

In fighting in the SCA, I use a so called "Bastard Sword" that does not incorporate a stabbing tip. This reduces my attacks to slash / chop only form. This is not the norm by no means it's just my preference for this Kingdom. (Ansteorra).
My defensive stance is this same as shown in Mr. Tobler's book in illustration 3.5 Pflug stance. I find this a very good all around stance in SCA combat with one difference.
I do have a fencing background and I tend to fall back on that training. My form tends to have the sword positioned at a center point rather than off set and I use the fencing mode of blocking. i.e. on point and using the lower half to block non head strikes.

Question: What is the advantage in this offset guard and not the center line defence?
Note: I do not own the book and only just visited the site and find it interesting. Also most of my opponites are using sword and shield and not a longsword.
Thank you in advance for your thoughts and critique.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2007 11:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Bastard/Longsword fighting in the SCA         Reply with quote

Gary A. Chelette wrote:


Question: What is the advantage in this offset guard and not the center line defence?


Plfug has several advantages, most of them relating to the use of the point.

First, when you bind swords, you will either bind in a pflug or an ochs position... 99% of the time.

Second, when you are bound in the pflug, you are automatically are lined up for a thrust to the other fellow's head.

As to it being offset, the major advantage here is that a line of attack is completely closed off. Any attack must come on one side of your sword, which makes you harder to fake out with a feint thrust on oneside, with a quick followup thrust to the other side. You may think "Ah, but I can sweapp fast to either side." Maybe you can, but can you revense as fast as he can circle your blade and thrust on the other side? Possible, but much much harder. Instead, you should counterthrust, and where your sword goes in the counterthrust is much easier in this position.

By being firmly on oneside, you choices are simplier, and your reaction time therefore faster.

Buy a low profile thrusting tip.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2007 11:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is important to note that the ward positions are how you should stand in the onset. That is a range where a pass step is necessary to reach the opponent. As such any attack takes time. So much time that I can have my sword entirely behind me (in zornhut) and still bring it forward in time to defend.

Also I can adequately defend from any ward position, so the centerline low guard is not preferable defensively. Any ward is good defensively. Each ward closes different lines of attack, and none closes all. As such I would suggest that the decision of which ward to adopt be based on offensive considerations. If you prefer a low line thrust or unterhau then adopt pflug.

You can throw a more powerful attack with the weapon chambered at the hip then with the weapon already partially extended, so if power generation is a factor then the pflug is preferable to the fencing stance.

If you cannot thrust with your weapon then you should enable yourself to throw as many cuts well as possible from your guard position. As such I recommend vom Tag at the shoulder or zornhut as both allow ober and unter haus, and all other cuts can be thrown quickly, efficiently, and with power.

Pflug is seldom described in plays and techniques as a starting position. It is much more common as a position in the war, once blades are crossed and in the bind.

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 6:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As George touched on, the reason to hold the sword off to the side is because it closes a line of attack. The idea is that you control your opponent: By closing off one side, your opponent now has to attack to the other side, allowing you fewer options that you will have to decide about in the heat of the moment. Holding the sword straight in the middle does not really do much for defense, and you have no idea which side your opponent will attack to. (this also is why in foil and epee you will hold the sword to the outside line rather than in the middle.)

From what I have seen of SCA combat, particularly if you are not thrusting, I recommend that should familiarize yourself with at least the four German longsword guards. Vom tag and Alber in particular for your style. These will give you far more options.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Mick Czerep




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary, gentlemen:
In Medieval German style of Liechtenauer and his closer followers the offside point-on Leger (Plow and Ochs) are specifically described as being provocative. As has been mentioned above by Bill they are supposed to make your opponent strike in an easlity pradictible direction, thus enabling you to pre-empt any of his actions. There is one central guard, Langen Ort (long point), where the sword is fully extended forwards. For striking, as suggested, Alber and Vom Tag are probably the handiest, though there are many funny and painful things you could try and do from the offside guards.

If you areat all interested in addind more historical-style movements to your technique I'd suggest Joachim Meyer, who taught a non-thrusting sports style in the sixteenth century. His style derives form the Lichtenauer tradition.
Cheers
Mick

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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 12:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Bastard/Longsword fighting in the SCA         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
[Buy a low profile thrusting tip.


True, but back when I first started in this kingdom, I was so hard to get these guys to call a thrust. But!, a good wack to the helm always worked! Big Grin I have used longsword with thrusting tips to great advantage.
Remember, most of my fights is against a shield. One line is already cut off, and I can use his shield to protect me. ( If you know how to work your opponate. Laughing Out Loud )
I try not to be a linear fighter. But all have interresting thoughts.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mick Czerep wrote:
There is one central guard, Langen Ort (long point), where the sword is fully extended forwards. For striking, as suggested, Alber and Vom Tag are probably the handiest, though there are many funny and painful things you could try and do from the offside guards.

If you areat all interested in addind more historical-style movements to your technique I'd suggest Joachim Meyer, who taught a non-thrusting sports style in the sixteenth century. His style derives form the Lichtenauer tradition.

Mick


Excellent! I'll look him up.
Though I do not have my center guard fully extended, I do use a short, quick push attack. It generates great speed and good (not great) power.
What about Posta Frontale? or Porta de Ferro? Fiore dei Liberi 's book Flos Duellatorum.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Gary A. Chelette




Location: Houston, Texas
Joined: 29 May 2007
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Posts: 337

PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 12:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:

From what I have seen of SCA combat, particularly if you are not thrusting, I recommend that should familiarize yourself with at least the four German longsword guards. Vom tag and Alber in particular for your style. These will give you far more options.

I do use "Vom Tag" as my guard but on the forward shoulder. "Alber" tends to invite an attack and a man with shield, I'd have to reposition.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary A. Chelette wrote:
I do use "Vom Tag" as my guard but on the forward shoulder. "Alber" tends to invite an attack and a man with shield, I'd have to reposition.

Why on the forward shoulder? As a static block for the flatsnap? I guess I'd have to see it done, since I can't see it being a good position to start from with a longsword.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We call the middle guard variation on pflug that a lot of new people do, the 'Star Wars' guard. There are a bunch of problems with that version of the guard, but it's natural to want to go into that when you are first learning HEMA and kind of taking tip toes into the cold water rather than take the plunge. I would personally reccomend that you learn the four basic guards and get comfortable with them, with transitioning between each guard, because there is a system which makes all these guards fit together. If you use them together you will find them exponentially more effective.

But we can also give you some advice on what each of the guards do and how they might work relative to your SCA fighting.

Bill Grandy wrote:
As George touched on, the reason to hold the sword off to the side is because it closes a line of attack. The idea is that you control your opponent: By closing off one side, your opponent now has to attack to the other side, allowing you fewer options that you will have to decide about in the heat of the moment. Holding the sword straight in the middle does not really do much for defense, and you have no idea which side your opponent will attack to. (this also is why in foil and epee you will hold the sword to the outside line rather than in the middle.)


Good points, but pflug is also a good defensive guard against strikes, it protects almost your whole side from strikes. This is another way the offset or bilateral guard (pflug in this case) is superior to the 'star wars' guard; it is a much stronger position against impacts. To see what I mean, stand in pflug and then in starwars, and have somebody take a few whacks at you. You will see pflug is much stronger, it's very easy in fact to knock a 'star wars' guard offline either with a beat or a mastercut like a zwerch, and jack you up. Pflug threatens in the center with the point while it blocks cuts from whichever side you are doing pflug on. It is also very good against thrusts because you can misdirect the enemies point (again, much more so than "star wars" because you are stronger in your control). Finally, maybe most important in HEMA, pflug is much better to protect your hands. Try another experiment, go in starwars guard and put on some heavy gloves and have someone try to strike your hands or forearms. Then go to pflug and try the same thing. I don't know if you can attack the hands in SCA or not but I don't personally like getting hit in my hands regardless.

#1 Defense I reccomend using pflug even without thrusting. Like Stephen, George, Bill and Mike said, it closes off one side, but the SCA guys aren't necessarily going to realise that. If you are facing a guy with a sword in their right hand and a shield in their left hand, most of the attacks are going to come from their right to your left, and over the top. Left side pflug will block all of the more or less strait cuts to your left side (while opening up a thrusting opportunity) Learn to transition from your pflug into right and left hangen guards (which you probably already know sets up the most simple and arguably most effective basic counter with a longsword - at least against non HEMA people), and you can deal with all the overhead strikes. Hint: this transition works best, IMO, with a passing or triangle step, forward, back, or to the side.

#2 Movement The problem with staying in the same guard all the time though is it's predictable. It's better to know the other 3 basic guards (or even 4 or 5 depending on which sub-variant of lichtenauer you are talking about) because that gives you a lot of other options to play with. For example, one of the most effective ways to use a pflug to stop your opponents strike, is to start in another guard, say wrath guard, and transition as they strike. This way you can really nail them in the timing and they will often be wide open for a counter thrust... even better, if they strike down instead of sideways, instead of doing that kind of simple hangen counter, you can do a zwerch (false-edge, high side-cut) which totally trumps a strait down cut; it will cut them and protect you at the same time. This is in Toblers book too. This is the kind of thing which allows you to really take advantage of the different guards. Or another thing i like to do a lot when threatened on my left side, is to go into a right side pflug, this gives me a lot of options as I step into krieg (striking range). For defense I can swiftly and easily transition to left pflug or left ox (usually while passing my leading right leg back), or do a hangen or zwerch counter against high attacks (usually with a step forward or offline), both of which are extremely effective. For offense I can thrust at any opening they give me, I can dopplehau (sort of a double strike or going around and striking) unterhau (move the point up and back and come around underneath) or strike at their legs, or quickly go to wrath or (especially) vom tag to do a high downard cut (oberhau),

#3 Attacking Like the other guys, I reccomend getting a thrusting tip. Most people will notice a hard thrust to the face or throat. Even if they don't agknowlege it, it will often distract them, and when you thrust you open up a lot of other options, and you can force them back, etc. Nothing like a good stop-thrust against a charging opponent.

Good luck, glad to see you experimenting and having some success with this. Keep at it!

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic


Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Sat 16 Jun, 2007 4:02 pm; edited 6 times in total
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 3:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh and another thing about Pflug; make sure your point is aimed right at their eyes. This has a strong psychological effect (especially if you occasionally thrust to remind them of your point) You can test this yourself; have someone stand in pflug, with their point off-line, and think about all of your options for attack.

Then have them stand in Pflug with their point aimed right at your eyes. See if you notice that your little list of options doesn't shrink down a bit to mainly things which will get that point out of your face. See if you notice that there is a difference in how you feel, I know it has an effect on me:)

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 5:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:

Why on the forward shoulder? As a static block for the flatsnap?


Correct. Into the block, go into a pflug and step forward at an angle to move right putting his shield between you and him. This gives you a second or so to setup for an over the top strike. It works. Trust me.
They never think anyone would use their shield as a platform to run the blade down.
Cool

Quote:
Jean Henri Chandler
Oh and another thing about Pflug; make sure your point is aimed right at their eyes.

Absolutly! The first thing they want to do is beat that tip away before the charge. And again, move to an angle attack after the Riposte.
You could also take the hit on full and angle step to the left and do a Moulinet . Not so smart with a bastard sword unless he's real slow or has never seen this type of attack. ( and there are slow ones out there ) Happy

Which comes to my second question. Movement.

I do not like true linear attacks or defences. I keep moving and circle looking for an angular attack and staying away from his right or strong side.
What is you favorite mode of attack? Forward attack, fall back and answer an attack, or a combo of each or others?

And thank you for all the great answers so far. This gives me new ground to cover. Exclamation

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
But we can also give you some advice on what each of the guards do and how they might work relative to your SCA fighting.


That would be great. I need to augment my moves and style.
Again, I'm not a longsword fencer and I face very few longsword duels in the SCA. Usually if I do, it only lasts about 2 passes. (Hopefully in my favor:) ) My biggest concern is against shields and polearms. Polearms I can deal with fairly well depending on the polemans skill.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 8:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary A. Chelette wrote:
I do not like true linear attacks or defences. I keep moving and circle looking for an angular attack and staying away from his right or strong side.
What is you favorite mode of attack? Forward attack, fall back and answer an attack, or a combo of each or others?

And thank you for all the great answers so far. This gives me new ground to cover. Exclamation


Linear can be ok, but stepping obliquely is usually better. It makes it harder for them to read your range and it opens up new lines of attack. Do you know what a triangle step is? That can be one (of many) good ways to step off-line.

Circling I think is kind of a waste of time and can get you in trouble with the range; then again if you are a master at timing and reading the range you can take advantage of that and get your opponent that way. I don't like to circle though.

Stepping in or stepping out can both be good. There is something called 'passing through' where (very loosely translated) you can move through the other guys attack and get him. I can take a more literal interpretation of it and literally pass by an aggressive attacker as he is coming in at me, this can work well against shields. For example, do a hangen counter and actually step past him as you strike, you can hit him in the back of the head, or the back of the leg for example. (To get an idea what I'm talking about, if you ever saw the original conan movie, there is a scene where Sandahl Bergman, who appears to have been the only even halfway decent fencer in the film Happy ... she does something similar to this to a sword and shield wielding bad-guy as they are escaping down a tunnel from James Earl Jones palace...)

This works great against beginner HEMA fighters using a longsword against sword and shield. I have done it to re-enactors dozens of times. This is how you can do it. Do you know what a hangen counter is? Against a typical non-HEMA trained sword and shield guy, you can step in, forcing (or at least tempting them to attack) it's good to start with your sword on your right side, pflug or wrath guard (on your shoulder) whichever you like, but be on your right side so you are offering your left shoulder as a target. If he takes the bait, you go into hangen, which means, your sword up, pointed horisontally to the side (in this case, probably to your left, but if he attacks to your right side, point to your right) when he strikes your blade, go 'soft', this kills his momentum... you steal it in fact and use it to snap your weapon around into your counter. If he is stepping in and you step in as you are doing it, you can literally get behind him as your counterstrike lands.

This also works backward, and stepping to the side, and in any combination. Stepping back though you would probably want to strike at his sword arm, or his leading leg.

For a hangen counter to work though the other guy has to make a commited strike. You cant wait in a hanging guard and expect him to strike your sword. You have to fool him into thinking he can get you, and it usually helps to come at him when he's not expecting you to and force him to make a decision on how to attack before he can really think about it. It works fantastic against beginners but not as well against experienced fighters. But even if he doesn't strike hard enough for a counter, hangen will often serve as a parry... not as good because he still has momentum, but better than being hit. Against an experienced guy you can still pull it off if they strike aggresively and you can mask the fact that you are prepared. Hangen is real good against the more unpredictable yet predictable (if you know what I mean) type of attacks a strong and fast amateuer will do, against real experienced guys I prefer using miesterhau.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun, 2007 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for all the information, guys.
I have some reading to do.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun, 2007 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How well does thrusting over the shield from an Ochs position work?
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun, 2007 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
How well does thrusting over the shield from an Ochs position work?

If you have a legal thrusting tip, quite well. Depends on the kingdom. Some require any contact to the grill to be taken as a kill. In these kingdoms, as you can imagine, it works quite well. Other kingdoms require "positive" force (has to push your head back), and those kingdoms it still works, but isn't always succesful, depending on if it glanced...

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun, 2007 1:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One other thing which could make HEMA difficult to translate, at least Lichtenauer tradition German stuff, is that you sort of have this divide between unarmored fencing, (blossfechten) and armored fencing (harnischefechten). The latter means full plate harness... but SCA is (if I understand correctly) sort of medium armor, mail hauberk, nasaled helmet etc.. That may make some HEMA tactics less than ideal. Probably blossfechten is more relevant though, certianly in the historical Judicial combats kind of medium armor was often worn.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun, 2007 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
... but SCA is (if I understand correctly) sort of medium armor, mail hauberk, nasaled helmet etc..


That is correct. Any touch to the face is suppose to be a score.

Are you scared, Connor?
No, Cousin Dugal. I'm not!
Don't talk nonsense, man. I peed my kilt the first time I went into battle.
Oh, aye. Angus pees his kilt all the time!
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun, 2007 8:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
One other thing which could make HEMA difficult to translate, at least Lichtenauer tradition German stuff, is that you sort of have this divide between unarmored fencing, (blossfechten) and armored fencing (harnischefechten). The latter means full plate harness... but SCA is (if I understand correctly) sort of medium armor, mail hauberk, nasaled helmet etc.. That may make some HEMA tactics less than ideal. Probably blossfechten is more relevant though, certianly in the historical Judicial combats kind of medium armor was often worn.


The last time I was involved, The idea was you have certain armor, but the actual practise seems to be more representive of medium leather, or even just loin cloths.

But the idea is extremely heavy greaves and gauntlets, mail everywhere else, and a light openfaced helmet. It's important to remember when these rules were made no one had any idea of just how effective a defence mail actually is, or that it's almost impossible to cut the plate armor of helmets, (thus the popularity of hammers and axes.)

It also makes little sence that you can penetrate a helmet with a medium power blow, but not the gauntlets.

Whilst much of that is is rather silly, the whole thing is extremely fun. The actual strike power and simulated effect has more in common with the combat of the dark ages , when metal armor was rare.

But again, extremely fun fun fun. I'll go back myself when I can get some proper protection togeather.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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