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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 1:09 pm    Post subject: Review: Western Martial Arts Jacket made by Jessica Finley         Reply with quote

The short review: This jacket is AWESOME.

Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qRB6r8CpVY

Contact Jess Finley here: www.greatplainsfechtschule.webs.com

The slightly longer review: For anyone who studies the unnarmed portions of the medieval martial arts, you've noticed that a number of the plays require a person's doublet to be grabbed. Repeated practice of these techniques can destroy t-shirts or other garments worn for training. For many years students of these arts have either pantomimed those techniques, wore some form of Asian martial arts jacket, or sometimes even ignored these techniques.

A little while back Jessica Finley of the Great Plains Fechtschule decided that she really wanted a purpose-built wrestling jacket for Historical European unarmed training. Jess teaches historical Ringen, and has a background in Judo, and she wanted a jacket that did everything a Judo gi does: Take the strain of repeated forceful grabs, handle the wear and tear of being thrown to the ground over and over, and even more, to clearly look like a martial arts uniform that also happens to capture the general feel of a medieval garment, just as most Asian martial arts uniforms do to their respective historical cultures. I think she did a remarkable job.

The jacket is tough, plain and simple. We put it through many long hours of ringen practice, and it came through admirably. It could be violently grabbed and pulled with no visible damage to the garment, it survived hours and hours of me being thrown while wearing it, and I have full range of movement. Plus, its so comfortable that I've been joking with my students that I want to commission a second one for use as a bathrobe.

The jacket also looks *great*. It really does exactly what Jess intended: It looks like a martial arts uniform, and it happens to also look medieval. It doesn't look like garb, and in fact is definitely not historically accurate, but it still captures the general feel while maintaining an "all business" look to it.

Put shortly, I love it. I absolutely love it. The day after I first brought my jacket to class, Jess e-mailed me saying, "I guess the jacket must have worked for you guys, because I had three e-mails in my inbox this morning from students of yours wanting their own jackets..." Several more of my students have also expressed how they plan on getting one eventually as well.

You can see how well the jacket performs in the video review I linked to up above. I honestly can't praise this garment enough; It really fills a gap in the practice of historical European martial arts. People: Get in Jess's queue now while the waitlist isn't outrageous (and before she has to raise prices to keep people from overwhelming her for orders).

(Note that Pamela Muir and David Rowe in the video are wearing the Revival Clothing Wrestling Jacket. This is also a good jacket, particularly for the price. It doesn't quite compare to the Jess Finley jacket, but that isn't a fair comparison because 1) the Revival Clothing jacket is less expensive, 2) the Jess Finley jacket is a custom piece, and 3) the Jess Finley jacket has many details that simply aren't cost effective for a mass produced garment that has such a targeted niche market. As such, I still like the Revival Clothing jackets, and think they're a viable option, but I *love* the Jess Finley one and think its well worth the extra cost.)

(Also note: Yes, we're wearing standard Asian martial arts belts. Get over it. Happy That was our choice, and we're happy with them.)

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


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have the revival wrestling jacket and love it.

But now I want one of these.

Just Beautiful.

Ottawa Swordplay
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 7:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Shackleton wrote:
I have the revival wrestling jacket and love it.

But now I want one of these.

Just Beautiful.


That about sums up what happened to me when I first saw one of Jess's jackets. Happy

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


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 9:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sent Jessica an e-mail to ask questions and possibly make an order if the price is in a comfortable ballpark for me.

General fitting, pricing, ordering, target time from taking the order to estimated delivery time and design questions.

I'll keep this private as each case might be different and Jessica should be the one making details off purchasing conditions public.

Oh, I e-mailed her directly but haven't gone to the web site first: So some of my questions might already be answered there.

In any case this jacket seems like it's really worth it and I would probably get it customized to be useable as light under armour gambison as well as a general purpose wresting and training jacket.

Anyway, off the rack hasn't worked out for me in most cases except for the Revival Clothing Gambison(s) I bought that work and wear comfortably, but something tailored to fit properly would be very nice.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 10:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Went to the site but couldn't find any contact information there except for a phone number and there is no specific to this jacket information on the site. ( If contact information, e-mail, is on the site I couldn't find it ).

Since I already had e-mail contact with Jessica in the past I didn't have to do a search for it, but I suggest looking up Jessica's profile here on "myArmoury " and sending her a P.M. or e-mail if her e-mail address is accessible from her profile.

Profile here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/profile.php?mod...&u=494

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 10:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Went to the site but couldn't find any contact information there except for a phone number and there is no specific to this jacket information on the site. ( If contact information, e-mail, is on the site I couldn't find it ).

Since I already had e-mail contact with Jessica in the past I didn't have to do a search for it, but I suggest looking up Jessica's profile here on "myArmoury " and sending her a P.M. or e-mail if her e-mail address is accessible from her profile.

Profile here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/profile.php?mod...&u=494


I just looked, and found her e-mail is on the site here:

http://greatplainsfechtschule.webs.com/apps/profile/39130991/

It isn't in the most obvious place, though, so I see why you didn't find it right away. You should mention that to her, since you're already talking with her about commissioning the jacket! Happy

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


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 10:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Humm, I wonder if there is a longer version of the jacket. It would be a nice arming jacket that doesn´t have to be dry cleaned, along with something to use for grappling martial arts. I currently use my judo gi...this could be a nice replacement . Jess doesn´t seem to have any info about the jackets on the website though...is she planning on putting up soon? I was pondering getting a gambeson to replace my gi, but the dry clean only generally puts me off.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 11:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
Humm, I wonder if there is a longer version of the jacket.


Since she hand makes them, I'm sure you could just say, "Can I have one that is x length?" That's one of the beauties of a non-production garment, after all.

Quote:
Jess doesn´t seem to have any info about the jackets on the website though...is she planning on putting up soon?


I don't know if she is or not, but I do know that originally this was a project that was supposed to be on a small scale, where she would make these for students and a few other people who commissioned them from her. She's changed her mind and is now offering them to anyone who contacts her about them (several of my students jumped on this opportunity right away). So hopefully she does put more info up on her website, because I think its a really excellent product that a lot of people will be interested in.

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


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Patrick De Block




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Apr, 2010 11:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill,

Why do you want to get over it? Wearing a standard Asian belt just doesn't look right to me. Why don't you just use a length of rope. That would be more in character. Not that I really mind it, as I am in JMA myself. And, the jacket really looks great.
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David Teague




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 2:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick De Block wrote:
Bill,

Why do you want to get over it? Wearing a standard Asian belt just doesn't look right to me. Why don't you just use a length of rope. That would be more in character. Not that I really mind it, as I am in JMA myself. And, the jacket really looks great.


Rope? In character? I think not. Even among the poor the "standard" medieval belt was not a length of rope but made of leather....

Cheers,

David

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you, Bill! Your review is really wonderful, and I am so glad that you are pleased with your jacket.

Everyone:
Sorry for the lack of information on the website. As Bill mentioned, I really never intended to get into production of these jackets outside of my school... but there has been enough interest, and one thing has led to another and so there are a few of these out there.

In order to answer questions on the jacket ordering process, I have created a page just for that at our website: http://greatplainsfechtschule.webs.com/finleycustomuniforms.htm

I hope this answers most questions about how to get an order in to me, and if you're interested, just shoot me an e-mail.

As I mention on the site, my family is in the process of moving and I am voluteering for the Chivalric Weekend event this summer so I am taking a break from production. I will resume again in August, so if you'd like to get your order in I am happy to get you in the line, and will inform you when I get closer to producing your jacket.

I have taken the idea from Terry Tindell and how he produces his masks: no money out from the customer until production begins on that customer's project. I've produced 10 jackets this way and it seems to work well and keep everyone happy.

Pricing depends on what customizations you require for your needs. Some people have asked for buttons, some laces, some a portapiece for added protection, some for added layers across the chest and forearms for bouting... all of these are possible but alter the cost slightly. Additionally, people of different sizes require different fabric amounts and therefore the cost might vary for a XXL or bigger.

Due to this, I am reticent to quote a price until I get specifics from the customer, but at this time the base price is $250, shipped.

If you have any other questions, please send them my way at my e-mail, jessicafinley21 at gmail.com

Sincerely,
Jessica

Selohaar Fechtschule, Free Scholar
http://www.selohaar.org/fechtschule

Fühlen Designs, Owner/Designer/Seamstress
http://fuhlendesigns.com
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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
Humm, I wonder if there is a longer version of the jacket. It would be a nice arming jacket that doesn´t have to be dry cleaned, along with something to use for grappling martial arts. I currently use my judo gi...this could be a nice replacement . Jess doesn´t seem to have any info about the jackets on the website though...is she planning on putting up soon? I was pondering getting a gambeson to replace my gi, but the dry clean only generally puts me off.


Yep - I could make this as long as you want. I just posted more details, but yes, the jacket is machine washable. Basically, like a JudoGi, you can toss it in the washer and dryer if you want. But it will last longer if washed on cold in the washing machine and laid flat to dry like a sweater/JudoGi.

On using this jacket as an arming jacket: The fabric would need reinforcement to hang armor from it. While it's incredibly tough, it does have a bit of stretch to it. This is great for a jacket that needs to move with your body, but not so great for hanging weights from. I could do it, of course, but it may not be the best choice... then again, I haven't had anyone do it yet so I can't say for sure.

Sincerely,
Jess

Selohaar Fechtschule, Free Scholar
http://www.selohaar.org/fechtschule

Fühlen Designs, Owner/Designer/Seamstress
http://fuhlendesigns.com
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Michael B.
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is brilliant! Thanks Jessica for the work and the research that went into it. One thing that's started to bug me is the lack of distinction in the public eye from "martial art" and "Role Players", when we are practicing in a public place. Some groups use a t-shirt, or certain colors to provide a unified appearance, but to have a garment intended for the martial art is amazing. I would go with David on this one, a leather belt rather rope. A solid leather belt wouldn't snap and also would disperse the weight of a pull better than rope. Pressure on a rope would hurt like crazy...
I'm excited, I'll be putting my name on the list shortly.

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Patrick De Block




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, David, but Bill ain't medieval, neither is the jacket and Bill is a very poor man, he can't afford leather.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick De Block wrote:
Bill,

Why do you want to get over it?


Because, as I said, its our choice. Happy We're happy with them. But I somehow knew we'd get complaints over it. Happy

Quote:
Wearing a standard Asian belt just doesn't look right to me.


*shrug* I'm not saying anyone else has to do it. I've been doing historical Ringen for many years, and in the end, I find these to fit the function perfectly (since they're already designed for unarmed fighting arts) as well as still having a professional look. Not everyone will like them, and that's fine with me.

Quote:
Why don't you just use a length of rope. That would be more in character.


I wouldn't like to use rope myself, as I don't think it would look any better than a martial arts belt, and I also think it has more opportunities to hurt more during certain actions.

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


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 1:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick De Block wrote:
Yeah, David, but Bill ain't medieval, neither is the jacket and Bill is a very poor man, he can't afford leather.


I'm assuming that was a joke?

Anyway, I think rope has its own problems, let alone the fact that its not any more "correct" than a martial arts belt (people were more likely to wear a cloth belt than a rope in period). I'm also wearing modern pants in that video, and socks, and I'm sure someone can complain about that, too, but like I said: They can get over it. Happy

My issue with leather was that you then need a way to buckle it, which means metal parts, and I don't like the idea of metal parts scraping against my face when wrestling. Unless if you want to buy a strip that's some five to six feet long so that you can tie it the way we do our martial arts belts (which, by the way, we don't tie in the "traditional" Asian way, but in a way that's a little more Western influenced). Leather that long tends to have flaws on it where it can snap more easily unless if its very thick, and that isn't cheap. Believe me when I say that I've thought long and hard about my options, and tried a number of solutions, and this is the one that I'm most happy with. I know Jess mentioned using some form of ring-type buckle to avoid issues, so that might work for some people, but I'm more than content with the function, practicality, and the look of the martial arts belt.

Now, let's move on and go back to talking about the jacket, shall we? Happy

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


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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 5:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, we made belts from military belt webbing, purchased at our local Army Surplus store. We wrapped one end around two "D" rings and stitched it tight, and use them to cinch it tight. It seems to work fairly well, and the metal is very small and smooth and unlikely to catch on anyone's face/ears/fingers.

That said, I like Bill's solution as well.

The thing I don't like about an actual medieval belt (or any other belt), is that they have a metal tongue, which can *easily* catch on clothing and other people. In fact, shooting photographs using my medieval belt I have had this happen, and it's not cool.

Sincerely,
Jessica

Selohaar Fechtschule, Free Scholar
http://www.selohaar.org/fechtschule

Fühlen Designs, Owner/Designer/Seamstress
http://fuhlendesigns.com
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David Teague




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 5:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jessica Finley wrote:
The thing I don't like about an actual medieval belt (or any other belt), is that they have a metal tongue, which can *easily* catch on clothing and other people. In fact, shooting photographs using my medieval belt I have had this happen, and it's not cool.

Sincerely,
Jessica


But wait!

You can make a faux medieval belt without a buckle tongue and do the "SCA loop though trick" to keep it on.

Cheers,

David

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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Greg Mele
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yup, leather belt + "O" or "D" ring = problem solved. You'd really, really need to work at messing yourself up with that, in which case, maybe you should skip wrasslin....
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 7:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a better solution: don't wear any belt. Generally, illustrations of period wrestling don't show them, and only a technique or two even mentions them.

Belts in the 15th century are for holding things, not holding up your pants. If you're not carrying stuff, don't wear a belt.

Cheers,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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