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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2011 11:39 pm    Post subject: Sparring Accident With Cold Steel Trainers         Reply with quote

Well, I'm a little embarrassed to report this, but I felt like I should, even though it's small potatoes to most of the injury stories on this site. It'll help keep me honest/humble, so to speak. Long post ahead, 'cause I like to monologue.

A friend of mine and I have been slowly working on the material in Christian Henry Tobler's Fighting with the German Longsword. We realized in performing drills that the steel blunts we were using were a little more dangerous than we liked. I for one lack good control and the very first strike I threw went right into the side of his head.

Thus we decided on the Cold Steel Hand-and-a-Half Training Sword for sparring purposes, intending to get some fencing masks and gloves later. While life moved on and we had a few more sessions, we started thinking (never a good thing Wink ) and figured we'd try some sparring. We thought as long as we didn't strike powerfully or thrust to the face/throat/groin/etc, we could safely get away with a certain level of free-play.

This worked fairly well the first couple of times, with some sore knuckles and forearms being our only injuries. However, today ended at the ER.

We went through some strokes practice and did a few drills for a good couple of hours, then sparred back and forth for a half hour or so. We're pretty bad at it, and often end up laughing as we hit or "kill" each other at the same time after a short little frenzy of clueless winding and binding.

At some point along the line I swung the tip of my "sword" across the pavement by accident. I glanced at it and it didn't look too badly damaged, so I returned to the "fight." On the opposite side of the tip that I had looked at though, it was a bit jagged. This was to be important shortly.

I believe we eventually ended up facing each both in right Vom Tag, though if he uploads the video he was taking at the time we won't have to rely on my faulty memory.

I threw an overhand strike at my friend's left forearm (I have found the forearms and hands to be excellent targets), seeking to simply outpace him and land the blow. I'm not sure whether I was trying to split the difference and maybe land a slicing blow down across head/shoulder and forearm, got closer than I intended, or he moved forward. I'm thinking it was probably the last option, but in any event I ended up dragging the jagged tip across his upper lip on the downswing to hit his forearm.

We stopped for a second. He didn't bleed immediately, and since he also didn't feel any pain from the surprisingly clean cut, we both were pausing on account of my successful forearm blow, perhaps followed up by a thrust to the body, not sure. Then he started bleeding all over the place, as facial wounds usually do. He still didn't feel anything and just sort of stood there looking at me like everything was fine while blood poured down his face.

It was rather deep, so we went to the ER, where he had several stitches put in. I offered to pay his co-pay, as I was the one who nailed him, but at this point he thinks his insurance will cover everything. He was pretty relaxed about it. "Thanks for driving me to the ER." "Ummm... Sure. I'm kind of the one who gave you a reason to go there..."

Next week we'll probably NOT engage in free-play, and I intend to put some serious effort into finding some fencing masks and gloves in the near future. (Maybe I'll splurge and get some gambesons as well.) A few sore spots are one thing, but slices and possibly missing eyes are another. We'll also put a little more care into ensuring our toys are in good condition before hitting someone with them and stop to fix them if anything goes wrong. My father suggested I further blunt the tips with my woodrasp, which I had already been contemplating before this.


Lastly, we're already feeling pretty stupid, but I'm wondering if anyone has any comments or scolding to do. We are aware that we shouldn't have been sparring without protective gear, and for that matter probably aren't really ready to sparr anyway, as you'll be able to see if that video goes up. That could have been his eye, and we were waving the tips around at eye level constantly to begin with.

I want to find some positive spin I can put on this or a good excuse for it, but nothing comes to mind, so I'll close by saying we feel stupid and won't do this again.

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
-Cold Iron, Rudyard Kipling
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Mike O'Hara




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 10 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 1:54 am    Post subject: Ouch - hope he's OK         Reply with quote

HI Colt

Thank you for being honest enough to post this - it is a salutory lesson that reminds us that we are using very dangerous weapons.

Unfortunately familiarity can breed contempt - I have a nice scar over my right eye from a waster from a situation which also should not have occurred.

We no longer do anything other than basic, staged drills without masks, gauntlets and at least gambeson level armour. I would encourage you to look to same. Even then, people can be hurt but at least you have covered the areas where most harm can be readily caused.

I also know how you feel right now - having also injured a fellow student.

regards

mike

MIke O'Hara
Location: Plimmerton, New Zealand
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Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 1:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, your assumptions about stupidity are correct ;-) Oh, no, I am not trying to insult you! I only want to say that you two are the ones and only ones to blame (the first impression I got when reading the topic title was that a sword was at fault). Pavement is harder then any sword so any sword could be damaged this way. You were neglecting safety rules and your friend paid for it. Thank the God that you did not accidentally thrust him in the eye. Use proper protective equipment next time.

When dealing with any martial art one cannot protect himself from all the possible injuries. You can get hurt even when practicing solo drills in full armor. Everyone should decide what is an acceptable risk level and use proper equipment and training methods to stay within this limit. Though one should never set this limit high. Even if it's OK for somebody to get killed during training, he should think of consequences that outcome may have for other sword-lovers. Just to insure that no-one gets insulted, this passage is not addressed to anybody in particular.
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Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 4:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for your honest and clear cautionary tale.

I'm going to throw something out there, because I think that this is an important fact that is often overlooked, and your story shows exactly what I mean.

Wasters are as a rule only slightly less dangerous than steels in a physical sense, and in some ways can be more dangerous. For example, they tend to break differently and have no flex.

But they give the impression of being safe, so people use them less safely.

This can make them more dangerous than steel, which most people have an instinctive respect for.

Thanks again for sharing this. In some ways you have received a lesson that could have been much worse. If someone else reads it and learns, their lesson is much easier.

Ottawa Swordplay
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Armour up if you are going to use blunts. To be fair most of the times I have done sparring with blunts we have had no real issues and used no armour. That said I think armour a good idea.

If starting out I might use wasters. That said I have been knocked unconscious twice by blows to the head with wasters. Once when I had figured the sparring session was ended and relaxed my guard to get hit on the side of the head. The second time I was hosting a sparring session at my home and when some one entered I looked to acknowledge them and got hit directly on the head, not even super hard but enough. Both times were my fault for not making sure my sparring partner knew what I was doing.

I think anyone in this hobby need keep safety on the top of the roll. Now lest you feel too bad a story for you. I was at an event where this gent and his group used edged steel blades. I was invited and declined for which I received no small scorning and such from them. When I returned the next day the leader of the group was gone and I found out he was sparring and has his THROAT sliced cleanly open and a trip to the nearest ER. The long and short of the accident was not just this person having a near death experience but those hosting said event never invited any one in the group back again. Personally I do not get why any one would use such equipment for sparring. I would not use a gun with live rounds to shoot at my friends for training. So remember if you are not comfortable with something, do not do it!

Good luck to your friend and recovery

RPM
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William F Cain III




Location: Apple Valley, CA
Joined: 26 Aug 2010

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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 8:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Heya Colt.

I write a blog for the HEMA Alliance, called Audacity, which talks about concerns of relevance to beginners in HEMA and like matters. Could I possibly reference you guys' story in my newest post? I promise not to be hard on you, we were all a little crazy once.

Do right, there is nothing else.
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Eric G.




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Colt,

I also have Christian's book and bought practice swords for this very purpose. I wanted steel, but once I saw how much cheaper the cold steel wasters were I decided to go with that. ...

... then I found a video online of demos of that waster. Wow. They chop a free-swinging cinderblock in half in one of those videos. I quickly decided that I did not want to spar with this. Like you I'm no pro, and unlike you I don't have a buddy to practice with on a regular basis.

So I immediately emailed KoA and asked for them to hold my order until I found something else. The obliged, and I quickly found this video from a medieval fencing school in Europe.
http://www.youtube.com/user/Nikos3000#p/a/u/2/2knwdZYXotY

They gave the swords a good rating, and they are much more knowledgeable than I probably ever will be, so I ordered these instead. KoA has single-handers and two-handers. They are twice as expensive as the cold steel ones, but still pretty cheap.

I use them and love them. Here are the links if you or anyone else is interested.
http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=600874
http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=600873

I use some old paintball masks with any sparring victims, er, partners that are brave enough. I will eventually get something with neck protection, but the paintball masks will do for now.


PS. I thought it important to note that the ARMA has a section on their site where they say that they tested a lot of these wasters and decided that the old fashioned wooden wasters are the best since they come closest to the real thing. I can't find the link right now, but it's on their site somewhere.

Eric Gregersen
www.EricGregersen.com
Knowledge applied is power.
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Randall Pleasant




Location: Flower Mound, Texas
Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 333

PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 3:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Gregersen wrote:
PS. I thought it important to note that the ARMA has a section on their site where they say that they tested a lot of these wasters and decided that the old fashioned wooden wasters are the best since they come closest to the real thing. I can't find the link right now, but it's on their site somewhere.

Although many still use wasters the Albion Liechtenauer has become the standard longsword for most ARMA members during practice and during sparring as we believe it is the closest to the real thing. Some ARMA members do use the Albion Meyer but we find that when a Meyer is used against the Liechtenauer in sparring the Meyer's ricasso can sometimes eat on the hands of the other while binding.

Randall Moffett wrote:
Armour up if you are going to use blunts.

I disagree. All one needs to safely practice and spar with blunts is a good fensing mask, a cup, light gloves, lots of control, and clean blades. My guess is that less than 5 percent of our members even own a gamason. We do suffer burising but not cuts from blade knicks. We rarely knick our blades due to the interpretations we follow and any knicks are immediately cleaned up. A blunt is not fit to spar with unless you can grab the ricasso and pull the blade through a tight fist without any scractches.

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 4:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Sparring Accident With Cold Steel Trainers         Reply with quote

Colt Reeves wrote:

Lastly, we're already feeling pretty stupid, but I'm wondering if anyone has any comments or scolding to do. We are aware that we shouldn't have been sparring without protective gear, and for that matter probably aren't really ready to sparr anyway, as you'll be able to see if that video goes up. That could have been his eye, and we were waving the tips around at eye level constantly to begin with.


The first and most important item of protective equipment to use is eye protection. A fencing mask does this well. Other forms of eye protection will be OK too.

Very easy to damage eyes, and this can be disabling or deadly. Even if no contact is intended, eye protection is highly desirable when waving points, even blunt, near faces.

Gloves are good, since hands can get hit hard, even when contact, or hard contact is not intended, and control is good.

Mouth protection (fencing mask does this too) and cup can be good, but are less essential. But one might like to consider the cost of dental repair.

I've drawn blood with, and bled from, the Cold Steel trainers. Same with wood. Not a bad injury rate compared with unarmed martial arts training. Often for non/light-contact unarmed training, the recommendation is mouthguard and cup. But one can practice safely enough without this. For some people's definition of "enough", but not all. For me, the greatly increased risk of dangerous eye hits with a weapon makes eye protection essential.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.


Last edited by Timo Nieminen on Fri 06 May, 2011 6:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 4:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall,

You need to read the rest of my comment before you disagree. I am not against fighting unarmoured.

Though I think that more minimal protection than what you have listed is preferred in my experience.

RPM
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Quote:
I think anyone in this hobby need keep safety on the top of the roll. Now lest you feel too bad a story for you. I was at an event where this gent and his group used edged steel blades. I was invited and declined for which I received no small scorning and such from them. When I returned the next day the leader of the group was gone and I found out he was sparring and has his THROAT sliced cleanly open and a trip to the nearest ER.


*Eyes steel blunts in the corner* Ok, so in addition to gloves and maybe bracers of a sort, I'll be looking into gambesons with high collars, three piece fencing masks with some sort of throat guard... and gorgets.

And just to clarify, you're saying these guys didn't just use steel blunts, but actual semi-sharp swords sans protective gear? 'Cause we're stupid young and crazy, but not that stupid young and crazy. WTF?!



William, I checked with my friend and we're ok with being mentioned in Audacity. "My name in print!" (Cookie for the reference.)



Eric, I had considered the Rawlings, but decided not to for price concerns. (My friend is also a Cold Steel fan, so he was thrilled to be given one of their wasters for his birthday.) Eventually I hope to be able to experiment with everything from my own wooden waster design to the finest in steel blunts, but that's not in the financial cards in the near future.



Randall Pleasant wrote:
Quote:
Randall Moffett wrote:
Quote:
Armour up if you are going to use blunts.


I disagree.


I knew when I started writing up this post that different groups do things differently, ranging from full armour for drills with padded weapons to just going at it hammer and tongs with steel blunts sans protection. However, this little incident suggests to me that I for one lack the control needed to go the latter route and should aim more for the former. (In case anyone is wondering, I feel that my friend has better control, so that's why I keep talking about my control and not worrying much about his. Maybe he'll prove me wrong later... Wink )

Randall Pleasant wrote:
Quote:
A blunt is not fit to spar with unless you can grab the ricasso and pull the blade through a tight fist without any scractches.


That's good advice there. We haven't done any sparring with my steel blunts, but they did get a little dinged during a few drills, so I ended up doing some filing. Probably unnecessary, since they still would pass the hand pull test, but I did it anyway.

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
-Cold Iron, Rudyard Kipling
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 5:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William F Cain III wrote:
Heya Colt.

I write a blog for the HEMA Alliance, called Audacity, which talks about concerns of relevance to beginners in HEMA and like matters. Could I possibly reference you guys' story in my newest post? I promise not to be hard on you, we were all a little crazy once.


Something just occurred to me:
I want to make sure you realize that although we are attempting to learn out of Christian Henry Tobler's Fighting with the German Longsword, we are NOT in any way affiliated with he or his group. This should not in any way be considered a commentary on his teachings or his students. As I mentioned, we probably shouldn't have even been sparring in the first place, regardless of gear used. Only really covered the first quarter or third of the book...




Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:

I only want to say that you two are the ones and only ones to blame (the first impression I got when reading the topic title was that a sword was at fault).


Yes, I should have been more clear on that point. Though I believe the jaggedness on the tip of the Cold Steel did the real damage (the jaggedness I put there), one cannot argue the foolishness of the act as a whole. So, I was mentioning that fact so as to let others know the Cold Steels can do that, as well as the main point of the accident. No different from the jagged nicks of a heavily damaged steel blunt I suppose.

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
-Cold Iron, Rudyard Kipling
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Andrew Shultz




Location: Boston MA
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Certainly the cold steels are more dangerous than many options, but none of them are what you would call safe. Most of them upside the head could easily result in serious injury or death.

You have to calibrate your speed and power to what you're using. If you're collecting uncomfortable bruises on places that can take it, consider what would happen if you happened to put your hand in the way or ducked your head right before that bruise came in. If that sounds horrible, you need to either power down or armor up. And remember that even if you control youself extremely well, your partner can still unexpectedly put themselves into the path of your blow which was "just going to hit their shoulder" as they try some maneuver.

While you went to the ER it sounds like all things considered you got off pretty light and now you have an experience in your memory that as long as you hang onto it will help keep you safe.

Also remember when you hear people say "we use X with Y and that's enough" that's them. You don't know from the internet how fast they go, what techniques they leave out, or how many classes get missed for injury. There's always someone claiming to be tougher on the net, but unless you shake their hand you can't prove they still have all their fingers. Or both eyes for that matter. ;) No one needs to prove their manliness to random people on the internet.

And at least you can always know that scary as this incident was you were still much, much smarter than the guys Mr. Moffett is talking about.

We've used a lot of different trainers and protections in our group, I'd be happy to give our thoughts by PM if you like, I've given up discussing that sort of thing in open threads since they degenerate into a macho contest more or less instantly.

Andy Shultz

Forte Swordplay: Boston Longsword and other Historical European Martial Arts


Last edited by Andrew Shultz on Fri 06 May, 2011 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2011 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would say "fight more."
And do it propperly.

First of all, get yourselfs a good pair of gloves, as fingers are one of the few things that can actually break if not protected. Thoothprotectors are a must for the same reason.
If you are using the lower arms as targets, get something to cover them and the elbows. Ditto for the legs if they are targets.
Gambesons and neck protection should not be neccesary. Kitting up should NOT be a substitute for controll and skill.

But the most important bit is that sparring should be a serious activity, not fooling around. Get the gear, and spend the required time to get used to it.
Practicing technique alone will not prepare you sparring, and might even cause you to try things that will not work or be dangerous the fluid context of a free fight. (which also demonstrates the importance of sparring for technique to be relevant)

First of all, you need to be able to instinctively judge distance, the way your weapons moves, and how to adjust to changing circumstances. We start all our trainings with what we call "calibration"; a series of blows against a first stationary, then randomly moving, person. The goal is to get the feel for the weapon, the target zones, and making nice, light blows. This is done with every weapon you use.
An simpled continuation of this is group calibration, which has all available hands moving in a relatively small space, striking at all available targets. This trains situation awareness and adaptation.

So, get a pair of gloves, and practice. Slowly at first.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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William Carew




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Jun, 2011 4:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
I disagree. All one needs to safely practice and spar with blunts is a good fensing mask, a cup, light gloves, lots of control, and clean blades. My guess is that less than 5 percent of our members even own a gamason. We do suffer burising but not cuts from blade knicks.


Randall, this is the second time I have seen you post advocating IMHO a sub-standard level of PPE for 'sparring' with steel blunts. I believe it is irresponsible to advocate such a lack of 'passive' safety measures, so I will repeat what I have posted elsewhere in response to you.

I strongly suggest safety should involve layers of redundancy, both active and passive. While learning to control your thrusts and strikes is obviously important (i.e. 'active' safety), wearing effective and appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and using safe fencing simulators is important for 'passive' safety in case the unexpected happens.

No-one has perfect control and accidents do happen, so when active safety ('control') fails, it's nice to have adequate passive safety (PPE) to prevent or lessen the severity of injury. Clothing such as padded jacks, doublets or the like were very commonly worn by fencers in period, even for blossfechten (unarmoured fighting) - they didn't free fence in flimsy cotton t-shirts, and we needn't do so either. FWIW, this doesn't mean that one must wear living history quality gambesons or jacks and turn shoes... modern PPE such as appropriately re-enforced and padded coaches fencing jackets are readily available and have the modern, professional appearance that has become important for many groups.

EMMV.

However, I *do* agree with you about the importance of keeping steel blunts clean and nick free - regular cleaning and maintance is a must.

Bill Carew
Jogo do Pau Brisbane
COLLEGIUM IN ARMIS
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Jun, 2011 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would agree that light gloves are not suficcient for sufficient for full speed sparring. Your hands WILL be hit, most often by accident when peole are aiming for something else or you botch a block. Fingers are frail things, especialy when clenched around a sword or polearm. I know several instances where people fighting with light gloves have suffered broken fingers.

but as for head protection, a fencing mask will prevent pretty much all injuries to the head except strikes to the back of the head.

But a gambeson should not be necesary. my experience, reliance on such protective equipment quickly becomes a crutch.
Worse, it results in a fighting style where serious injury, for instance to the joints, is more likely. When high powered blows become norm, it is a matter of pure statistics before a blow hits the wrong place (Hand instead of shoulder, elbow joint, hip bone...) or the equipment fails. (hits that bypass elbow or knee protectors, protectors that slide out of place, weak points on gloves, the back of the fencing mask)

As mentioned earlier, free fighting is an art in itself, which you must learn to master. Adding safety equipment to compensate for lack of controll is not the way to go.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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William Carew




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Jun, 2011 6:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
I would agree that light gloves are not suficcient for sufficient for full speed sparring. Your hands WILL be hit, most often by accident when peole are aiming for something else or you botch a block. Fingers are frail things, especialy when clenched around a sword or polearm. I know several instances where people fighting with light gloves have suffered broken fingers.

but as for head protection, a fencing mask will prevent pretty much all injuries to the head except strikes to the back of the head.


Elling,

A normal 3 weapon fencing mask is not really sufficient protection for any kind of serious blunt steel free fencing with longswords. It can be improved, by the addition of padded, leather covers and re-enforcements, but it is the barest minimum in terms of protection, designed only to prevent light, flexible modern fencing foils and sabres from injuring the face and throat.

This inadequacy of the unmodified fencing mask for longsword work is commonly understood and acknowledged in the HEMA world, and the search has been on for years for safer yet cost effective alternatives or augmentation. FWIW, I really like the cap design below being used by the Gesellschaft Liechtenauers, which greatly increases the protective value of a normal mask:

http://gesellschaft-lichtenawers.eu/tsc/en/home/news/55.html

Quote:
But a gambeson should not be necesary. my experience, reliance on such protective equipment quickly becomes a crutch.


One could equally say “seat belts and airbags in cars are unnecessary and quickly become a crutch because all that is really needed is good driving skill.” But that doesn’t make much sense, does it?

We know that defensive driving skill is important and is the first line of defence when driving on the road, just as good control and skill is the first line of defence against injury in weapon sparring… but I think we can also understand that there are circumstances beyond our control and when active safety (control/ skill) comes up short, it helps to have passive safety (seatbelts/ protective equipment) in reserve.

Everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it. But I think we need to remember, when advocating safety standards for people other than ourselves, that we do not know what others’ training methods, weapons, intensity, temperament or experience is like. Furthermore, there are lots of highly skilled HEMA groups around the world who free fence with skill, control and vigour while wearing appropriate levels of protective gear including torso protection – who are we to say they are just using it as a crutch for poor control?

Quote:
Worse, it results in a fighting style where serious injury, for instance to the joints, is more likely. When high powered blows become norm, it is a matter of pure statistics before a blow hits the wrong place (Hand instead of shoulder, elbow joint, hip bone...) or the equipment fails. (hits that bypass elbow or knee protectors, protectors that slide out of place, weak points on gloves, the back of the fencing mask)


Why assume that because one wears PPE such as torso protection, the power must automatically be ramped up beyond control? That is only the case if you allow it. People fencing in t-shirts can act recklessly and dangerously (indeed, have in the past) and people armoured to the max can act responsibly and with total control - it's a matter of attitude and experience.

Active safety (control) only takes us so far - with sufficient skill and under ideal conditions we can control what we do to a certain extent, but we cannot always account for the unexpected or what an opponent will do (e.g. charge madly onto our point) or what the conditions may throw up (e.g. tripping or slipping over during a technique etc).

If someone is going to 'free fence' in t-shirts, they need to accept an elevated level of risk or severely restrict (or completely prohibit) numerous historical techniques such as thrusting attacks. After all, it does not take much pressure at all for a rigid (even blunted) length of steel to puncture thin clothing, skin and flesh during a thrust, especially when it carries the weight of two colliding bodies behind it. Even without the serious injuries, it’s nice not to end a session covered in welts and bruises.

So lest this be taken out of context, I'm absolutely not advocating a mad, bashing style of fighting where control is thrown to the wind and people swing wildly. Nor is there anything wrong with placing heavy restrictions on the fencing (such as technique, target or force restrictions) to allow for lighter gear to be used. I believe in tight, efficient, controlled technique and motion. I believe a good swordsman should always be in total control of himself and his weapon.

But, I also know that we are all fallible and mistakes or misjudgements occur. When they do, it only takes an instant for someone to end up with a potentially crippling or life threatening injury. Wearing effective PPE helps manage this risk. It compliments control and skill, it does not substitute for it.

Quote:
Adding safety equipment to compensate for lack of controll is not the way to go.


And I for one have never said it is. I hope my detailed post has put that strawman to bed. Safety equipment can compliment control and skill.

Bill Carew
Jogo do Pau Brisbane
COLLEGIUM IN ARMIS
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Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jun, 2011 7:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William; I see your points, and the obvious advantages to HEMA practice offered by added protection. I am also in no doubt that you and your school fights well.

However, I'm not trying to convince you or other experience fighters to use less safety equipment. My point is that in a case such as the one the thread is about, where people are starting to experiment with free play, they should take the time to learn how to do so safely rather than buy a gambeson.
Then, as they gain experience, more armour and higher intencity can come as a natrual progresion. Be it as it may that they can't do every technique with full speed, force or correct angle from day one. Crawl before you can walk, and so on.

To clarify my perspective, I practice reenactment "line fighting" most of the time. Our rules are ligth/semi contact, full speed free fights, in teams. In addition to this, we suplement with full body target, HEMA style fighting in duels or small groups.
But most of the time, we run around in linen shirts and hit eachother with swords, spears and daneaxes.
While the linefighting rules are simplified to the point of the ridicolous, it gives lots and lots of weapon handling and free fighting experience, which carries over to more serious fighting. It aslo illustrates that it is possible to fight with light equipment without suffering serious injury, even at full speed.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Mackenzie Cosens




Location: Vancouver Canada
Joined: 08 Aug 2007

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Mon 27 Jun, 2011 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It appears that sparing means different things to different people. In my experience my first line for defense is my trust in my training partners desire not to hurt me and his skill, but the closer I get to real exchange the less I can rely on the generosity of my partner and the more protection I have to wear.

This is because of at least two reasons:
1: "sh?t happens" on more then one occasion wet turnshoes have put my face too close to pointy end of a longsword.
2: My partners intent changes from give me a predictable attack that I can counter to successfully land an attack despite my attempts to defend then we are getting into the territory of sparing. I wear protective gear so he can go with the intent to land successful attack and I am working against someone who will make committed attacks.

To paraphrase a prominent instructor: "Where protective gear so your partner can make a real and committed attack."
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