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Robert Hinds




Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin USA
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Dec, 2010 7:11 pm    Post subject: ARMA or HEMA, which is rougher?         Reply with quote

I'm planning on joining a WMA group sometime in early spring, and I was wondering if anyone here who is in either of these groups, or as I understand some have been/are in both, could post which of these groups usually holds rougher free plays?

I know things like this probably are different in different study groups and what not, but which overall is rougher? And if it helps i'm in the Southern Wisconsin area, just in case anyone has personal experience with one of the groups in that area.

I've also heard there is a chicago sword play guild, or something in my area also. So if anyone has info on how rough that group is, it is appreciated. =)

I'm doing this not only for myself, but for anyone who is interested in getting into WMA, because information like this is not normally advertised on websites.

Any info is welcome, and thank you in advance! Happy

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Dec, 2010 7:41 pm    Post subject: What are you looking for?         Reply with quote

Hi Robert

I am not sure what you are looking for but defining what you are after in a martial arts practice might be a better way to find a spot for yourself. Rougher could be defined in several different ways and might include everything from where is the greatest challenge skill wise, to where do I have the best chance to end up in the hospital. One I would advocate as a goal the other not so much.

In the western arts community in this region there are several groups and they will have different approaches. Trying to put them on a roughness scale would not serve much purpose as it would be subjective and based on the personal experience of the one giving the information and may not well represent the majority of people who have interacted with the group.

I would search out some of the known and respected practitioners in the area and those that have taught in the region and privately ask their suggestions to gain the most useful knowledge. Posting critiques of groups online, no matter how fairly and even handed, is a challenge at best and can lead to the type of interaction this well run site strives to keep to a minimum.

Best
Craig
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Robert Hinds




Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin USA
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Dec, 2010 8:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alright, I will try and do that. Sorry if my question was not appropriate or possibly even not correct for this site. I was merely interested in personal opinions of people who belong to those groups as to the intensity of free plays, and did not intend to cause any problems or start any arguments or what-not.
"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Dec, 2010 9:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't compare these groups in detail as I'm personally not familiar with each of their fighting styles but I think a lot depends on what their concerns for safety and safety protocols in training or freebouting: Some groups will prioritize control and no touch at one extreme and others will try to keep things sane and safe by using protective clothing varying from fencing mask, gloves, gorget. gambison to use of full plate armour and little restraint in the force or speed of blows.

How intense may also be a question of how much competitiveness is emphasized instead of cooperative " play " with the main goal learning how things where done rather than winning " points " which may not be very realistic since sport like rules imply restrictions affecting targeting and force of blows so that everyone leaves with intact body parts and 911 need not be called after every training session to take care of casualties.

Intensity can also be a question of physical fitness and pushing warmups and the training to actually produce fit warriors. Wink Laughing Out Loud

Since most of us do this as a hobby, for a certain degree of physical fitness, as an intellectual pursuit trying to better understand the period techniques, extremes of testosterone fuelled combativeness is not desirable or attractive ( i.e. not MMA blood and guts ). The intensity may be more couch potato than Olympic athlete for some of us. Wink

Anyway, any of the serious groups are firstly interested in recreating the period styles of swordsmanship even if they may disagree at times about interpretations, they are all honestly trying to do it well. Groups will vary according to the personalities involved of their instructors and their membership and each may have a different internal " culture " and this can vary greatly from " chapter to chapter " of the more homogeneous groups and even more in the mostly independent small groups: So it's hard to say anything about intensity until one has seen a group in action I think ! ( Mostly just speculation and opinion here, so don't take the above as more than just my thinking out loud about the Topic's question ).

EDITED/Additional practial advice: If you have two groups available in your area see if you can go see a few training sessions of each or maybe participate in one training session before joining; Some groups will let new people try out one free session before joining ( Some groups have fees even if only to pay for a training hall. Some groups may just be a small group of friends without an official fee structure but might ask everyone to contribute something if some costs have to be covered. Most of the more organized groups will have some sort of membership fee I assume ).

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




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Dec, 2010 10:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just to clarify a bit!

ARMA is an abrevation of Assosiation of Renaissance Martial Arts and is a organization. HEMA is an abrevation of Historical European Martial Arts and is a collectve name for many different fighting styles. What you be training in ARMA would by some be called HEMA .

Wellcome to a great world of fighting!

//Martin

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Robert Hinds




Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin USA
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Dec, 2010 10:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wasn't going to post again, and let it die after what Craig said, but since my stuff always goes quiet after I post twice I think i'm good. Laughing Out Loud

Thanks for the advice Jean, I think i'll follow it and try a few sessions before joining anything.

incedentally by intensity, I meant speed, with a *slight* element of danger. I'm a very physical guy, and like to move around a lot. Cool Razz

And Martin, thanks for clearing that up for me. Happy

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Dan Rosen




Location: Providence
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 12:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sent you a PM Robert.

Best,

-Dan

-Dan Rosen

"One day there will be no more frontier, and men like you will go too."
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Nathan F




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 3:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

different styles different people each school within different organizations have different approaches some groups i know of and many in eastern europe are very physical but thats not a option for you.
each group is different and arma have their own feelings on things.

for here starts war carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl
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Allen Foster





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert,

I think your question is a good one and its answer really depends on a couple of things.

1) What is your definition of rough and 2) what type of groups are available in your area?

There are groups throughout Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA); Renaissance Martial Arts (RMA) and/or Western Martial Arts (known by many names) that cover the entire spectrum of roughness depending on what your looking for.

First of all you should define rough. Do you mean Martial Intent or downright fighting and swinging? The latter is not a martial art and can be learned at the local bar. If you mean martial intent, are you talking about martial intent with skill and control or are you talking about martial bravado? The first is about walking the walk and the latter is about talking the talk.

The second thing you should be aware of is that certain areas of study lend themselves to physical prowess (like grappling) and certain areas of study lend themselves to finesse (like longsword hand works). All of Western martial arts require one's intelligence in order to maximize your advantages and minimize the advantages of your opponent. All of it requires a well developed sense of timing and a learned instinct the Germans called "Indes".

In the end what is best for you depends on what is available in your area. If I had two groups to choose from in my area, I would probably decide depending on a number of factors.

--Do they focus on Grappling & Wrestling? Grappling and Wrestling is a good foundation for any martial art and can be pretty rough too.
--Are the instructors good teachers? A good teacher who can get his/her point accross and inspire students is a huge plus.
--Are the instructors good Martial Artists? Some people learn better by watching versus listening or reading. What type are you?
--Is their emphasis on control or absolute safety? I prefer learning control but also feeling the sting & consequences of bad technique (within reason).
--With regard to the historical texts, does the group promote a stringent dogma with no room for interpretation or does the group make stuff up as they go along. My view is that you should seek a group that is constantly questioning their on interpretations, but at the same time is firmly rooted in the historical texts.

In summary, it really depends if what you are looking for is available in your area. If not, you may have to start your own group. While folks in HEMA don't necessarily always get along with each other, they are always willing to help someone like you get started.

"Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face."
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Randall Pleasant




Location: Flower Mound, Texas
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 7:37 am    Post subject: Re: ARMA or HEMA, which is rougher?         Reply with quote

Robert

As other have already pointed out, HEMA is an art. and ARMA is an organizatio that studies that art. More specifically ARMA studies the Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe (MARE), which is a sub-set of HEMA. ARMA is composed of a number of study groups throughout the US, Mexico, and Europe and the one closes to you is located in Appleton, Wisconsin. Although it might be something of a drive for you I would suggest that you look into the Appleton study group, which is lead by ARMA Deputy Director and Provost Aaron Pynenberg. The Appleton study group is one of the more intense study groups in ARMA.

http://studygroups.thearma.org/~appleton/

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 8:02 am    Post subject: Another element         Reply with quote

Hi Robert

Had another point I needed to think over before posting and decided it was one that should be made in a discussion of this type of topic. Much of what you may experience in these issues in a group will depend a great deal on the character of the leaders of the group. What I mean by character here is there intent for the focus of the group and how well they fulfill there stated goal. There has been a great deal of discussion of martial intent in the community over the last few years and there are many opinions of what it actually means.

If the groups collective focus is on skills improvement and gaining knowledge of the arts as they where and we perceive them today, I would expect you to be in good hands. If the group has a focus on competitive bouts and they are enjoyable and helpful then it is great. If you come across a group where they espouse the above but you find it to be only a way for the leaders to exhibit their own perceived prowess and focus attention on themselves I would suggest you keep looking.

This is not only WMA or HEMA that suffers from this type of practitioner. I have seen it in many different forms from modern combative knife to eastern forms to so called lost arts. It is almost always a road of disappointment and pain when one travels in the company of such people.

Hope that helps some and drop me a note if you need more opinion Happy

Best
Craig
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Robert Hinds




Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin USA
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 8:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now that I know what exactly HEMA is, I feel like a complete moron for posting a topic like that. lol.

Allen thanks and by "how rough" I guess I mean "how close to 'real' is the fighting". Basically is example group A, more focused on slowly going through the moves and not much else, or focused more on free bouting where bruises/death is expected (both examples exagerated of course)? Razz

As to what groups are available in my area, so far I know of ARMA Milwaukee (branch of ARMA Appleton mentioned by Randall), Chicago swordplay guild (I think thats the name, been awhile since I saw their site) and St. Martins Academy (currently what i'm leaning towards since its only 45 minutes away).

And Allen I agree with you about the "sting and consequences of bad technique", if I don't do something right i'm not gonna cry if a blunt hits my shin or something. (might say something though Razz )

Allen and Craig, thank you for your input and advisement. Happy

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Randall Pleasant




Location: Flower Mound, Texas
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert

St. Martin would be a good choice. Bob Charron is a good person and a good insturctor.

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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Allen Foster





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 9:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't have any first hand experience with the ones you mentioned other than I have to agree with Randall that Aaron Pynenberg is one of the best in the business. I suggest you visit them all and make up your own mind. Another option for you is AES (Academy of European Swordsmanship) in Madison run by Jan Deneke. The founder of this group "Johanus Haidner" is also excellent. PM me if you want their ( AES ) contact info.
"Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face."
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Greg Mele
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Robert,

Yup, it is Chicago Swordplay Guild. We also have a study group in Milwaukee proper. We do engage in free play, and fence (aka "spar") at the end of classes, which includes cuts, thrusts, grappling, disarms, etc. Primarily, we use steel weapons. But fencing is a privilege: it comes as students develop a baseline of skills, can demonstrate control and focus, and have acquired basic safety gear. In your first year, you'll be doing a lot more drilling than fencing.

I don't know Aaron Pyneberg at all, so I can't comment on he or the ARMA chapter.

Bob Charron runs St. Martin's Academy. I've known Bob for about 15 years. If you are particularly focused on sparring or "intensity", I don't think that would be a very good fit. That's not a critique of Bob and his students (one of them, Chris Last, posts here regularly and can tell you more); just a matter of what the school's focus is upon.

I did not know that the AES now has a branch in Madison, but I do know and have had Johannes Haidner and several of his students in my classes at the Western Martial Arts Workshop (www.wmaw.us), so I feel pretty safe in recommending them.

Best of luck in whatever route you choose!

Greg Mele
Chicago Swordplay Guild

Greg Mele
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 6:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg Mele wrote:
But fencing is a privilege: it comes as students develop a baseline of skills, can demonstrate control and focus, and have acquired basic safety gear. In your first year, you'll be doing a lot more drilling than fencing.


Greg Mele
Chicago Swordplay Guild


Just a small comment about control, there are two types or definitions of control needed in my opinion each just as important and complementary:

A) Physical control of the sword where one has the skills to stop one's sword at will either just before it would make contact or pulled after very light contact when minimum protective gear is used. Heavier blows, but also controlled can be possible with more armour. Ideally one would have the capability to stopping on a dime very close to the target and adjust to heavier hits depending on engagement rules and gear.

B) Emotional control where adrenaline and enthusiasm doesn't sabotage (A) through excessive aggression, anger, impatience, competitiveness and forgetting that one's opponent is a training partner and not someone to win against at all costs. Or in other words not getting so wrapped up in the fencing as to forget safety and not be an immature " jerk " at worse or simply unable to control one's emotions. ( Can be a perfectly nice guy but too dangerous to trust as a bouting partner ).

In short (A) Skills (B) Good character.

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Greg Coffman




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2010 8:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It seems like you have lots of good help here and several good recommendations for people in your area.

I can provide information about how ARMA spars to answer your question about how "rough" it gets. We wear fencing masks pretty much all the time we spar. We wear cups. Gloves are a personal preference. Some people like thin leather gloves or none at all while other people try to get gloves with some level of padding. Any other protection is also a matter of personal preference. For example, I have a pair of martial arts forearm pads, but I only put them on when I've already taken several hits to my forearms. They allow me to keep fighting when additional hits there might hurt too much. Also, rapier fighters often like gorgets. But generally the trend in ARMA is that less padding is preferred (for multiple reasons which we don't need to get into here).

We do get plenty of bumps and bruises. But generally, we go slower, lighter, or less intense with new people. New people have not developed as much control and so don't know how to go faster with safety. But ARMA holds that sparring is one of the most important tools to our learning so we encourage new students to start sparring early, according to their ability and comfort level. We do grappling too, as wrestling alone, with dagger, and as grappling at the sword. We spar with wasters (wooden swords) and steel blunts (like Albion makes in their Maestro line). We sometimes use padding for spear tips or other polearm simulators.

I"m not really familiar with the other groups in your area or how they match up with this. Some groups in HEMA match up almost exactly. The recommendation that you go and see one or more groups before you make up your mind is a good one. Good luck finding a good group for you.

Greg Coffman

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Wed 15 Dec, 2010 12:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well if you want more rough and tumble and less combat techniques, the SCA maybe a good fit. Unlike HEMA, the SCA doesn't pull the shot at the end and does a full follow through attack. There is some armor and targeting requirements due to this along with grappling being banned...but if you don't wanna hold back and swing away, that is the group you want. Course, nothing says you can't do both. I don't know about the midwest, but the west fighters are pretty opening to incorporating HEMA stuff. One of the dukes (a high ranked fighter in the SCA) has been starting to use hutton saber techniques a bit and I have been experimenting with I.33 with stapped on shields for example.
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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Dec, 2010 1:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
Well if you want more rough and tumble and less combat techniques, the SCA maybe a good fit. Unlike HEMA, the SCA doesn't pull the shot at the end and does a full follow through attack. There is some armor and targeting requirements due to this along with grappling being banned...but if you don't wanna hold back and swing away, that is the group you want. Course, nothing says you can't do both. I don't know about the midwest, but the west fighters are pretty opening to incorporating HEMA stuff. One of the dukes (a high ranked fighter in the SCA) has been starting to use hutton saber techniques a bit and I have been experimenting with I.33 with stapped on shields for example.


without trying do be too OT I just have to clarify that this depends a bit on what HEMA group you join. Some of us do strike with full intent and have no pulling the shots. The technique can differ though because we simulate sharp weapons and rely on drawcuts and thrusts as well as full strikes.

Oranges and Apples you know!

I´m off in January to a SCA camp that focus on fighting focusing on manuscripts!

Swordsman, Archer and Dad
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Christopher Valli
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Dec, 2010 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Robert,
Sounds like you definitely have some options for training in your area. As others suggested, I would get in contact with the different groups, talk to the instructors, maybe sit in on classes if you can. That should help you find what you are looking for.

As for the idea of 'rough'- if you want to train in something rough, I would skip out on swordsmanship and move right into some of that modern MMA ground and pound training. With steel swords, there is only so rough anyone can be before broken bones and cuts become an issue. Western martial arts are about control not brute force, and new students need to learn that control before they can safely spar.

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